“Well then, Sir, why aren’t you laughing?”
It’s often baffling how things can change so quickly without you even noticing them, however that just wasn’t the case with the fickle temperament of the weather during this past week! I seemed to have jinxed the weather situation after my comment about global warming in my last post, as since then I’ve taken to wearing trousers all day long (even in the shower). From glorious sunshine and clear blue skies it’s suddenly turned bitterly cold, turning the timeless notion of a cold student house (we rarely had the heating on either last year!) completely on its head. One thing that has seemed to have changed without me noticing mind you, is what Anke described the other day as ‘Stern Syndrome;’ the feeling of uselessness when I have my days off. Nowadays it just doesn’t feel right when I’m sitting around doing nothing (something that is normally quite natural for me as many people know), and so I’ve often been helping out behind the bar even during free time!
Before I begin a quick thank you to everybody for your comments over the past week, in particular Dave Partridge, Sarah Cole, Tom Morgan, Dad and Ella. It always makes me laugh to read about your reactions to what’s been happening over here! I’m expecting the arrivals of my uncle Geoff, Aunty Linda, and Grace in just over a week so I’m really looking forward to physically showing people the magical mystery tour which is Gasthof Stern. I’ve already experienced one unexpected visit from a good friend of my uncle Geoff called Frank Gillard who turned up for a meal at the restaurant last week and introduced himself to me as the best man from Geoff’s wedding, what a small world eh. Looking forward to seeing more familiar faces in the coming weeks!
You won’t be surprised to hear that as per usual there’s been lots going on over here, and once again not all events can be listed as ‘waitering.’ Well, not if you class espionage, woodwork and interpreting as part of the job anyway! On the personnel front we’ve had four new additions to the Gasthof Stern team (approximately 2 weeks ago); Oleg, Irgina, Veronica, and Gabriella. They’re all 18 and come from the Czech Republic, doing the equivalent of the work experience that we do in England and they’re here for about a month and a half. They are all really good additions to the team as they bring a fresh vibrancy and enthusiasm to the hotel which makes everybody smile. It’s always particularly funny after work has finished as Bernd normally gives us a training session (which starts around 12 in the evening!), which covers the particulars of the menu, nuances of waitering, debriefing and generally helping us to settle in! Irgina is the only one who speaks both decent German and English so it’s very amusing when we’re all trying to converse with each other as everybody invariably gets lost in translation. I’m convinced that most patrons of the hotel are themselves confused at points as to which country they’re actually in as it’s just as common to hear Czech and English as it is German! Seeing as all of the interns are studying a vocational hotel management course they haven’t needed much training behind the bar, in fact Oleg often pours a better beer than I do (which is really embarassing), and also takes over from me on occasions saying ‘No no no Kit,’ as he reckons I’m doing it wrong! Oleg’s other favourite phrase is ‘pulieren pulieren jeden Tag jeden Nacht’ (polish polish every day every night), as polishing the glasses is a seemingly endless task here in the restaurant.
As you may well have guessed from the images above one of my odd jobs this week was to stock up the wood for the fire place in Bernd’s living room in preparation for winter. At first I thought that it would be a piece of cake and was pleased with the assignment as I would be able to do it in my own time, listen to a bit of The Beatles (“Get Back” on repeat), and sit down when I felt like it. Put it this way, it took longer than I expected! Trying to fit all of those pieces of wood into the fireplace was like trying to complete a jigsaw where only about 2/8’s of the pieces fit. I had to force most of the pieces in with the odd oath every now and then! Anyway, as the pictures show I finally completed it, and as my Ipod showed I’d listened to “Get Back” 20 times. For my troubles I was treated to Schäuferle for dinner by Wolfgang the cook, which is roast pork with LOTS of crackling. Job well worth it in my opinion!
In between this and the next most interesting event the usual waiter business has been going on. The odd dropped glass here and there (I dropped my first one on Sunday, and to make matters worse it was over somebody’s lap), everybody getting a bit grouchy by the end of the night, and the same rehearsed answer being given to every customer asking me where I’m from and what I’m doing here :). I can’t complain mind you, I regularly receive tips for being a foreigner, it’s great! In fact people around here are on the whole are very generous I’ve come to notice. It was only on Saturday when Oleg performed a little act for the customers (he juggles wine bottles), and in just thirty seconds he had earned himself 25 Euros, nothing to be sniffed at!
However, the main event this week has got to be my little escapade on Sunday. I don’t want to call it spying, but I’ve got to admit that it was! NOTE: This is a secret between you (the reader), and me! Bernd had asked me during the morning if I’d be willing to casually go around the other 9 restaurants along the main street in Göβweinstein that evening, order a drink here and there, if I fancied buy myself some dinner, and whilst doing this discreetly count how many people occupied each restaurant. I’d never done any covert work or undercover operations before so I consented without thinking twice. Being a massive fan of James Bond and John Le Carre’s novels “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” I had some ideas of how to make a good spy / agent! The whole evening was pretty funny and I felt REALLY cool doing it (I was imagining that I was some kind of James Bond /George Smiley / Alec Leamas hybrid), although it was really embarrassing drinking and eating by myself, and I hope that the other people in the restaurants didn’t think that I was weird. Bernd was happy enough with the information I returned with mind you, so all went well. Yet another thing that I can add to my CV!
So, I’m really really enjoying myself working here at Gasthof Stern now. I’ve adjusted to the long hours and know my roles and responsibilities, so I tend to embrace them nowadays and not think of working late into the night as necessarily a bad thing. The team spirit here is second to none, indeed I’d say it’s almost like we’re a big family, and that goes a long way to driving us along. I’ve been really pleased to read about how everybody else is getting on on their year abroad, I like to assume that everybody has settled in and nobody is having any problems. I’m very impressed with Grace Scott for how hard she’s been working on her nutrition course (miss you lots), and am honoured to know that Nathan Ellisdon reads my blog religious (true legend / King Arthur).
As always, all the best to you all and I’m sure I’ll have lots to report during the next instalment! I leave you with a couple of snaps that I took during my lunch break of one of the better views of the village.