Friday, June 17
Today We Joined The Petty Bourgeoisie
Today I feel an odd mixture of guilt and happiness: happiness because yay, we exchanged contracts and got the keys to our new Amsterdam flat this morning, but guilty, because now this means we're property owners, and as any good socialist knows, all property is theft - particularly so when what you've bought is formerly social housing (it should still be social housing, but the Dutch housing corporations have been privatised and are now divesting themselves of huge numbers of properties to raise capital; not to mention putting up rents). The part of Amsterdam we are moving to is just north of the Ij river, a couple of minutes from the 5 minute ferry to Centraal Station, in a neighborhood called the Vogelbuurt (the bird neighbourhood) as the streets are, guess what? Named after birds.
The Vogelbuurt in 1983
I've decided just to enjoy the happy, the liberal guilt can wait till 3am one morning when I can't sleep. Also i need to take my mind off medical matters for a while; the hospital just rang, and the current kidney infection isn't responding to the antibiotic that turned me into a walking chemical factory this past 10 days. Now they want to try another, which in practical terms means yet another flavour of horribly upset stomach. The new one is amoxycillin - when the clever stuff doesn't work, they revert to the old faithfuls. Amoxycillin is what you get as a child with a throat infection. To me, that says this kidney infection is streptoccal. Lovely. So you can see why I want to concentrate on the happy...
Lookit the pretty amoxycillin
We now have an awful lot to do. Although the new flat has been renovated it's all very bog standard; walls papered with chip and painted white, wood work done in that disgusting Dutch institutional cream colour. The floor is concrete and we plan to install a hardwood floor if we can ever make our bloody minds up about what wood and what colour. The kitchen while new, is exceedingly basic and also has a weird tiny worktop, made of pressed aluminium, that I've noticed in several flats here. Because they're textured metal they're impractical for food preparation and difficult to clean. What a dumb idea.
It's all going to be a fair amount of work, but we should have sufficient time and person power. The good thing about the flat is that in the tiny garden there is a huge, brick-built shed with light and power outlets. So we're converting it into a study/spare bedroom as it's ideally sized, is just a step across the garden to the kitchen, and means we get some privacy as well when we have visitors.
Hmm, I note I've used the word tiny twice in describing the flat. Amsterdam flats are tiny on the whole. What you pay for here is space and location: a 1 bedroom flat in the south of the city, depending on location, can be listed from 200,000 euro and house prices genrally are very high. Not as silly as SE England, but still way beyond the reach of anyone not having two well-paid white collar family incomes. This is not a place to live spaciously, unless you're an expat on a generous housing allowance.
Still, we managed it, and I can't wait to survey my new domain now. I've loaded the bike panniers with all the necesssaries to camp out while we redecorate and rebuild: (loo-paper, tea milk, sugar, mugs, cleaning stuff and so on), let me at it. And how often do you get to go shopping for oooh-shiny things without any guilt over being extravagant? Tomorrow we're going to spend a lot of money on flooring, and no-one is going to moan about it.
On second thoughts I think I'll wait till Martin comes home before I go over. It seems only right that we should make our visit as the owners together. Besides, I'm tired and I need tea.
But first those bloody antibiotics.
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004