26 May 2014 by victoriaknowe
I step back and survey my handiwork, as the first apartment-cleaning-frenzy in my new home draws to a close. One of the advantages of being the first tenant in a newly-built apartment is the unbelievable cleanliness. You know those wine stains on the wall? Those chips in the paintwork? Those patches of dirt and hair under the fridge and cooker that you can never quite get rid of? Non-existent! Everything is as clean and shiny as the day it was made.
Well, everything WAS as clean and shiny as the day etc etc… That is not quite the case any longer. Those automatic cleaning robots were an optional add-on sadly beyond my meagre budget. Nor does there seem to be an adequate population of friendly house-fairies. After four weeks in a progressively less-sparkly apartment, it was time to take action.
I began by the front door, which is large, solid, made out of black metal and would not look out of place fronting an interrogation room, yet for all that, surprisingly friendly. Just inside the door, the floor is made of warm grey tiles and there is a place on the left to hang coats and leave your shoes when you enter. I usually come through the door and straight away press the light switch, before remembering that there is yet no lamp attached to the switch circuit. While cleaning here, I take the opportunity to remove some of my winter boots which still linger next to the pile of slippers and sneakers. The weather has become summer-like in the past few weeks since I moved in, making them surplus to my needs.
The bathroom is off to the right, far larger than I really need. It has bright lights, hot running water and a washing machine whose current primary purpose is to act as a shelf for my toiletries. Like most Swedish apartment blocks, we have a washing room in the basement that all tenants can hire for 4-hour slots during the day. I have just found out the hard way that there is a limit on the number of times you can use it each month. Lucky for them that I have enough underwear to last the week.
As I progress into the apartment, the kitchen area is on the left, already clean of course, because I always do the washing up immediately after eating (you believe me don’t you?). To the right is the main space, and facing the kitchen is a balcony door. Does it lead to a balcony? No, but if I should ever tire of this earthly existence, I have a readily available solution… Actually, since I’m only on the 2nd floor and have a soft flowerbed beneath, if I jumped I would probably only succeed in locking myself out. Still, handy if there’s ever a fire.
In the corner to the right of the (ahem ) balcony, there’s a little alcove, which is intended for sleeping, but which I intend to use as a study, as soon as a desk, which I have been promised, arrives. If you sit in this corner, you are out of sight of the rest of the apartment, and out of reach of all possible distractions. I suppose I’ll have to get some work done once that part is sorted. There is no dust here because I haven’t yet used it. With a clean conscience I can go back to more important pastimes.
The area where I live is a 15 minute cycle ride from the centre of Lund, in a green and leafy housing estate with buildings in groups, reminding me of the Hitchcock film Rear Window. If I ever broke my leg and was forced to sit by the window for my recovery, I would not be short of drama to observe. One of the most interesting things about my new area is the fact that mobile phones do not seem to work indoors. I have never experienced this problem myself, but have noticed all my neighbours emerging, in various states of undress, phone glued to their ears, to have what look like incredibly interesting and absorbing conversations. My lip-reading is improving no end!
To the South is a building just like mine, except it took them a bit longer to finish building it, and it must be of great architectural interest. I know this, because they left it standing empty for an extra month while crews of important-looking men, sometimes with rolls of paper (blueprints?) under their arms, donned hard hats and were shown around it. I would see them go in and then emerge onto one of the balconies and they would point at indistinguishable dots on the wall with great enthusiasm.
The people have now moved into that building, greatly improving my viewing interest. There’s the family with children, who load all of the toy bikes and scooters onto their balcony. There’s the South American pair, who are always arguing, until one of them gets a phone call and is forced to rush outside. My favourite old couple live on the top floor. I recently watched them putting the finishing touches to the arrangement of elegant lawn furniture on their balcony, before bringing out a laden tea-tray and settling down. Unfortunately for them (fortunately for James Stewart and myself), they were interrupted by the arrival of another gang of important men, who had made concessions to the building’s completion by leaving their hard hats at home, but were still bearing the indispensable blue-prints. They stood outside the front door, shading their eyes and pointing at important structural features. From the direction of their pointing fingers, I could see what was coming, and sure enough they ended up on the old couple’s balcony, pointing and talking, while the man stood there, politely indignantly Swedish, and waited for them to go. They haven’t been back since. Perhaps their study is over? Either way, I’m glad that my own building is plain and architecturally boring!
At the end of the road where I live is a supermarket (which only seems to stock expensive things), a library (never seen it open) and a pizza place, cleverly disguised as a bar. In other news, we were recently attacked by a stray balloon, which ever so nearly scraped the roof of my building, and flattened the farmer’s prize grain in a nearby field.
That’s all for now. Until the next exciting episode….