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Everything posted by dstanners

  1. How long to wait after making an offer on a house?

    You'd normally get a response pretty quickly (a day or two) unless the house is being sold as part of an estate requiring approval from all beneficiaries, then it can take a week or more. Two issues: 1) it's a sellers' market at present (I live near the RLP border), and 2) the price negotiations aren't as common a practice as they are in the UK/US. Taking those points in turn: 1) The houses I've seen for sale over the past 6 months have all gone for at least the asking price. Most have gone for more. 2) Even when it is not a sellers' market, from my experience there are plenty of Germans who put their home for sale at a price without really considering the possibility that someone might make a lower offer. If their house doesn't sell at a particular price, they might lower the advertised price at a later date. If you make a lower offer, many of these folk would assume you cannot afford more.   So, as @karin_brenig has suggested, if you are genuinely interested in the house, call the seller (or agent, if one is involved), let them know that you remain interested, and ask for their view on your offer. Don't get your hopes up though - my guess is that they have sold it to someone else.    
  2. Permit for modifying garden

    It sounds like you are just making cosmetic changes to your garden and not building anything, so it doesn't inherently seem as something which would require a permit. For info, you can take a look at para 62 of the NRW BauOrdnung, which lists the buildings which do NOT require a permit: SGV § 62 (Fn 15) Verfahrensfreie Bauvorhaben, Beseitigung von Anlagen | RECHT.NRW.DE From what you have described, at most, placing some tiles would be a form of "Aufschuetterung"  covered by sub-para 9, and given you wouldn't want them to be over 2 meters high, under 2 meters deep or cover an area of over 400 square meters, you should be good to go. If you are still unsure, call your local Bauamt and ask them. In my experience, they are surprisingly helpful.
  3. Who to vote for, Bundestagswahl 9/26/2021?

    I missed that comment, but that was pretty much what I was thinking too. Scholz seems to be a shoe-in. I'm not really convinced by him, but he is a slick operator when it comes to handling the questions from both the moderators and (when he thought it was useful) the other participants. It seems that alone might be enough to win him the election. Although voting by post makes life easier, there's just something about voting in person which I prefer. We often have "Wahlschoppen" here in the village too which makes it more of an event: we had a turnout of almost 90% for the EU elections a few years ago.     
  4. German Einschulung vs. American 1st day of school

    Great summary of both the first day of school in the UK, and how it compares with Germany. From my experience, kids here in Germany are quite a bit more positive about school in general, than in England. I wonder whether it is precisely this sort of start to school life which sets them up for a more positive experience? 
  5. Brexit: The fallout

    Does your team have an German supporters' club? They might have their own scarves made over here. By default I am almost certainly the German supporters' club of the Mighty Terras (that's Weymouth FC on the off-chance you aren't a follower of non-league football). Of course, if I'm wrong about being the only Terras fan here, and you are also a fan of the South Coast's Sleeping Giants, I'd be prepared to have a go at knitting you a scarf myself.
  6. Cool stuff worth sharing

    Ha, yes, @emkayI have seen those. Of course along with Indiana Jones the 80s also gave us those Kathleen Turner/Michael Douglas films Romancing the Stone and Jewel in the Nile, which had plenty of treasure hunting in too. I remember liking those two films at the time and finding them pretty funny, but I guess the fact that neither seems to get an outing on TV any more (even in Germany) would suggest that perhaps neither stood the test of time. Whilst it isn't as selfless as skipping treasure hunting, when son 1 was born I had tickets to England v Wales at Twickenham and for son 2 I gave up a ticket for an Ashes Test at Edgbaston. So, I lost kudos for poor sporting attendance, but gained a bit in family relations...my kids would give me grief if they discovered I'd chosen to watch sport instead of their births, and my nephew is still very grateful for the tickets he ended using.       
  7. Cool stuff worth sharing

    A year or so ago I watched a programme about a Polish team who were convinced they'd found the Amber Room on a train abandoned in some sort of collapsed mine. From your article it would seem that their hunch didn't work out as hoped. I enjoy Indiana Jones films too much not to be interested in these sorts of stories, but the cynic in me can't help but think the most likely answer is that it was all destroyed by bombs in the war. Still, diving for treasure in the South China Sea sounds brilliant.  
  8. Who to vote for, Bundestagswahl 9/26/2021?

    According to Wahl-o-mat I should vote for the Pirate party. It must be my seaside roots...although the other day someone posted a picture of an unmanned, automatic tanker (from Norway I believe), which did make me think a career change to piracy could work. I haven't seen any of their candidates on any of the TV debates so far... 
  9. Cleaning a clogged bathtub

    Firstly, it's worth double-checking whether it is just a soluble blockage. Just try some Natron (bicarbonate of sodium) and vinegar. It costs pence and works better than any drain unblocking chemicals.  I would also consider using a bit of hose pipe down the sink. Waste pipes generally increase in diameter from relatively narrow (by the sink) thicker (toilet waste) to largest (soil pipe into the main sewer), so if something is a bit stuck at the top, it should (in theory) be less stuck as it goes down. It is of course possible that your dishwasher problem and the bathroom problem are linked, as they will all connect to the soil pipe somewhere. In the meantime, it is worth checking that the impeller on your dishwasher (the little rotating propeller bit through which the water drains) is not being blocked by anything. There are loads of videos on youtube showing you how to access it depending on your model (usually it is only one clip or one screw to remove, located near the filter).   If you are not confident with doing any of the above, then it is safest to get a soil pipe inspection, whereby folk will turn up with a camera on a flexible hose and find your blockage. They'll even give you a CD, but expect to pay about two hundred euros by the time they've added travel etc.  
  10. God and the German School

    Sadly @MikeMelga, I can imagine a local priest around here doing that too. Down in Iversheim, an Eifel village heavily hit by the floods, I spent a few hours with some folk cleaning mud (and worse) out of the Catholic church. An hour after clearing it, I was asked by the Army to speak with the Church Vorstand (who had seen us do all the shovelling) if the church could be used as a place to hand out coffee and food. I agreed to ask, because for me the answer was obvious. It turns out the answer was equally obvious for the Church, but different to what I had expected - a straight "no". After that brush off, I then asked whether we could use the Church hall for that purpose instead...the answer was: "but we've just fitted a new carpet, we can't have all these people bringing mud in there. You can only use it provided you agree to replace the carpet!" Seriously, you could not make this sh:t up. In the end, it required a Judge to speak with the vicar and tell him that if he didn't make the space available, she would take photos of the clean, empty hall, alongside pictures of the destroyed village and filthy helpers and residents, and let the press decide what to make of it. It's a pity that threats were the way to get him to move, rather than a simple desire to help.  
  11. God and the German School

    Thanks for the reply @kiplette, that was what I was hoping. I was just feeling a bit worried about it because I was at a funeral here in the village a couple of weeks ago, and the vicar gave a "fire and brimstone" speech for about half an hour, which completely threw me...oh and earlier in the summer one of my youngest son's friends suggested they play "confession" with the whole hail Mary stuff chucked in. I'd hoped Evangelisch might be a bit more "religion-light", but with the Germans I'm never that sure that they do anything without claiming to be 100% certain that their way is the only right way.   
  12. Nightlife in Cologne

    Had a look at the list of pubs and bars in Cologne on this website, and most of the reviews are about 10 years old. Any recommendations for decent pubs in Cologne for a group to have a night on the beers? Preferably somewhere central, but I'm not looking for the usual expat bars or first hits on Google. I asked a local the other day who told me: "Zulpicher Strasse is looking pretty f@cked up as usual, so maybe something to avoid", which doesn't really mean anything to me, or help me at all. The person who said it is only about 25, so perhaps he was just trying to politely point out that I'm too old to go drinking somewhere near a university.   
  13. God and the German School

    As the last post was 10 years ago, I'd be interested in any more recent thoughts on this, because my oldest son has just started Gymnasium and has been put in the philosophy class, rather than one of the religious classes. Like many folk in England (the vast majority in my day), I was brought up C of E and even went to a church school, but in terms of religion it very much accorded to the old joke: "are you religious? No, I'm Church of England". As such, I suppose I'm agnostic. Over here the folk seem to take religion much more seriously: particularly here in very Catholic Eifel, but I'm aware down south it's also a big deal. The Evangelisch course has fewer pupils than philosophy, and according to older kids at the school, it's  the easiest to pass. That made my son interested (nothing to do with any preference for any or no religion). I don't really have a problem with my son changing on that basis, but if the course is dogmatic (i.e. "this is the right way, all others will burn in hell") I'd rather he avoided it.  Any of you have recent experience as to how the religious courses are currently being taught in German schools, and if so, any views as to how it compared to a typical RE class in the UK?   
  14. de-register the car

    Put the car details into this website:  Autoverkauf - Gebrauchtwagen einfach verkaufen (mobile.de)  and you'll get quick, genuine offers (from my experience) from traders near you.  If you think the offer is a bit low, because there is something special about your car which isn't in the information provided, you can try to haggle when you get to the garage (it's worked for me). Equally, if the offer seems high (for example, the information you provide won't mention a huge dent on the bonnet, or a knocking sound as soon as the engine starts), prepare to justify why it is still worth near the offer price. Always best to go armed with a few adverts for similar cars in the area too. A trader will typically be prepared to do the deregistration for you.  
  15. What made you laugh today?

    I don't know why, but this article made me laugh:  United Airlines reminds crew not to restrain unruly passengers with duct tape | Airline industry | The Guardian This is either genuinely good deadpan writing, or the author seems to have missed both the opportunity for more humour and the point: the examples where duct tape were used all end with trouble makers being stopped, whereas the example in which it wasn't used ends up with blood and missing teeth.  Alternatively, perhaps, "don't duct tape passengers" could be alongside, "don't waterboard people making complaints"?  I would have liked some better pictures too. Are the trouble makers being gaffered into their seats, or are the attendants sticking tape over their eyebrows as a retrospective punishment (a non-permanent branding)? Either would make for good before and after pictures.    
  16. Why are you happy today?

    On his first ever "live" test, my three year old Labrador (Fritz) found 3 truffles.  I started training him during truffle season last year, but after a year's break, we've only had two practice sessions in the garden this week, so I was amazed when he started digging them up on demand (and perhaps more importantly, dropping them on demand too).      
  17. Brexit: The fallout

    I've mentioned this before, but as it is such a commonly held misconception (the UK press loves nothing more than blaming poor people for being poor), it bears repeating.... the farm owners (so far at least) don't want to give the jobs to Brits because they don't require the accommodation (caravans) provided by the farm owners to foreign workers, which they then deduct from wages so the effective cost is less than minimum wage. The fault for that broken system lies with the supermarkets who can force farmers to cut costs or the farm owners for that questionable practice...or is it just easier to blame poor people for not wanting sub-minimum wage work...or the EU? Of course, this might change as I understand from calls to my family, that the supermarkets are low on stock. Perhaps they (and the consumer) will have to start paying a higher price, to allow suppliers to engage workers at minimum wage. Higher food prices...another win for Brexit?  
  18. moving to NRW from BW

    Neus was flooded around Easter, but you could live not too far away in Monheim, which has low tax and is protected by some sort of drainage area (I didn't quite understand how it worked when I was being "talked at" about it last week, but I'm sure you could find out). There are lots of pretty areas in NRW and it is not all densely populated: this is where I'd usually put in a good word for the Eifel, but that's probably a bit too far for you, and if floods aren't your thing.... 
  19. Climate change

    Absolutely! There were some folk in my village (up a mountain) pumping rain water from their cellars, which would have gone straight down the valley to the already flooded villages below (in fairness, at the time they were doing it, there were no warnings or sirens highlighting the plight of the neighbouring villages - that is another issue though). Once the villages were flooded there was nowhere for the affected houses to pump the water.   What beggars belief is that there is an intended development of 50 more houses on the outskirts of our village where the official plan is that in the event of excess water, they will allow rain water, "to drain naturally into the valley". I wonder how happy the villages down the valley will be with that plan now. The reason for the decision was that the developer would find the obligation to pump the water uphill or building a new Wasserspeicher too expensive for his project. Too many councils here are keen to get extra tax payers into their towns/villages, and see selling land to the developers as a win-win, without thinking through the longer-term, infrastructure costs.    
  20. Why are you unhappy today?

    I'm in a fortunate position that I have the time and resources to help, but to be honest, anyone who (like me) witnessed the scale of the damage would feel compelled to do something. What has really given me faith in the world, or at least the future here in Germany has been "the youth" (a term I have mostly and thoughtlessly used in a derogatory manner over the past few years). I have been repeatedly amazed over the last week how many teenagers have been helping out. Each day I've gone down there, our babysitter has asked to jump in the van, stuck on a pair of wellies, grabbed a shovel and really got stuck in. Other teenagers living in houses I've cleared out have then picked up spare shovels and joined in as we've gone from building to building: even though so many of them have been left with nothing themselves. Upon seeing their schools damaged, dozens and dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of these teenagers have gone into town to try to save the buildings. This isn't the the self-absorbed, all-too-easily-offended generation portrayed in the media, but good people, seeing a need and acting out of community spirit. Sure, whenever they've come here there has been a run on electrical sockets and mobile phone chargers (I now know "an influencer"...I think - she has almost a million followers, which sounds impressive to me), but they've used the Insta-Tok et al that I've always derided, for good, to arrange help and support.   
  21. Why are you unhappy today?

    DVI Dorfverschoenerungsverein Iversheim Raifeisenbank Voreifel eG IBAN: DE35 3706 9627 2303 3620 13 Kennwort: "Flutopferhilfe Iversheim" Hopefully my delay in providing this info is understandable. A few of you have kindly asked whether it is possible to help. Fortunately, folk here have been quick to donate food, clothes etc. So much so, that my wife and her friends have been busily sorting out parcels and bundles of donations for weeks. Without meaning to sound ungrateful, that means that the best way to help at the moment is financial, so that the helpers can buy what is needed when it is needed.  My neighbouring village is called Iversheim, and they are using their "Dorfverschoenerungsverein" account for donations.  Thanks for any donations.   Without wishing to make a sad story even worse, I understand that there are villages in Ahrtal where they are still fishing bodies out of garages. Perhaps @Namu you also have similar village accounts for donations?   DVI Dorfverschoenerungsverein Iversheim Raifeisenbank Voreifel eG IBAN: DE35 3706 9627 2303 3620 13 Kennwort: "Flutopferhilfe Iversheim"          
  22. Why are you unhappy today?

    From here in Bad Muenstereifel, I can only say that I'm absolutely with you on this. Today is the first day I haven't been into our neighbouring village to shovel mud out of homes, and throw away other people's possessions (my wife was on food/drink duty instead). It's a surreal situation here: I live less than five hundred meters away from a completely devastated village, but two hundred of those meters are straight up, so my house survived pretty much untouched. Every evening we've got folk here for food, showers, charging phones etc, and I'll stick the barbecue on, hand out a few drinks as everyone sits back enjoying the views over the mountains here and everything looks lovely. Then, everyone gets into my bus for a five minute drive back to what resembles a war zone. Several friends have lost houses, Nightmare stories of having to carry kids across rooves in the middle of the night so they could be evacuated prior to houses collapsing. I was clearing out one beautiful old house when the Statiker turned up and put a blue cross on it (condemned). The owner was just devastated, and had to be taken to hospital. I was about to take the van down to help someone move the remains of their belongings into a new home, but she's just cancelled as she's been told she's too unwell. Too many sad stories. Hard to put into words, or any sort of structure. On the first day I took a photo because it seemed so unreal, but then immediately stopped, precisely because sadly it is all just too real. It's not just possessions, but people's hopes, dreams. Gone.    
  23. Euro 2020 and 2021

    I thought the ref had a really good game yesterday too. Whilst overall it didn't work to England's benefit (a few advantages were allowed, when England would have probably preferred free kicks), I thought he did a great job in keeping the game flowing: never an easy thing...particularly for games involving Italy.    
  24. Euro 2020 and 2021

    Disappointed, but on balance Italy deserved it. Close game though.  I've read a couple of articles critical of Southgate for not putting more attacking players on, but overall, he set up the team the way he wanted for the whole tournament, and there no shame in losing a final to Italy (who had already knocked out Spain and Belgium).  I wonder if there'll be less England bashing now we didn't win?  One thing I'd like to see consigned to England's footballing history from last night's game is the bl00dy stuttering penalty kick run-up. It seems to unsettle the kicker almost as much as the keeper. I'm always surprised more players don't focus on emulating Le Tissier instead (off the top of my head, I can only think of James Beattie who has copied his technique, and had a similar success rate). He always did the same thing, and scored all but one of his roughly 50 penalties.      
  25. Euro 2020 and 2021

    I agree it's annoying, but it is absolutely not unique to England. Even in the other semi-final the Italians boo-ed whenever Spain had the ball. I'm hoping for an England win of course, but I reckon the fans would need a decent set of lungs if they are seriously going to boo all the time Italy has the ball tonight! There has been an awful lot of anti-English sentiment in the media here and even on this site: yes the "En-ger-land" fans are a pain in the ar$e, but they really aren't the majority, and far from the only supporters to make derogatory and offensive chants. Likewise, Sterling "diving" after minimal contact in the penalty area: it has been a good 30 years since the days when British players didn't dive, and I can't think of any international team which doesn't have a good share of players who do exactly the same (or worse)...anyway, just a few more hours. Come on England.