Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cutting out the commute

Tall town house
Berlin, March 2013
There's been change at Lola Towers, in as much as I'm not at Lola Towers at the moment. I have found a room in a shared house which is just three miles from work, and I'm staying here for four nights a week, travelling up on Monday morning and back on Friday afternoon.

The quest for accommodation was not without its difficulties. Rather than traditional letting agents or small ads, I used the Interwebnets option. Landlords upload vacancies, potential tenants get in touch electronically, details are confirmed, viewings take place, negotiations follow and an agreement either emerges or it doesn't. I went through the cycle just twice - I was being fairly selective, and there are a lot of shared student houses in this city with two large universities very near to the hospital where I work. I didn't want to find myself in a house sharing with teenage students who are getting up just when I'm going to bed.

On Sunday I moved into a small single room in a house shared with two young professionals who seem to spend the majority of their spare time watching TV together. I am not a natural TV watcher, although for the sake of sociability I did join them on Sunday night for one awful hour of a British magician accosting holidaymakers in Las Vegas and foisting his magic tricks on them. I don't deny that the magic tricks were good, but while I watched I had the feeling of my life trickling down some plughole. The sociability was confined to commenting on the programme - we haven't yet had a proper conversation beyond "How was your day?" - and after a while I fired up the laptop and confined my attention to my online life. It's not so much more constructive than TV, but makes me feel more like an active participant in life.

The commute time to work by car is about 20 minutes - 15 minutes on one short stretch of road between the house and the first roundabout, and about 5 minutes for the rest of the journey. You will deduce that this equates to an average of 9 miles per hour, which is not much of a rate. My plan is to resuscitate my bicycle, which has been languishing at home, and is probably in a state of decay. The hospital has a very well-publicised 'Health and Wellbeing' team including a great deal of support for cycling, so I fired off an email to enquire about cycle storage and showering options. The response was that the person responsible is on holiday until 22 July, so I'd have to cycle quite slowly until then.

I have already been in touch with three different individuals regarding playing badminton, of whom just one replied. I went along to their club on Monday, and it was busy and very hot, but friendly and a similar standard to my usual clubs, whom I have now abandoned with some sadness. During the summer they play only once a week, but starting in September it should be twice a week, which is what I'm looking for. As I want to exercise twice a week (and spend as much time out of the house as possible), I'm trying to think of alternatives for another night of the week.

The cost of the accommodation including bills is about the same as the fuel I was using to commute, and other expenses will remain about the same, so I don't expect to be worse off financially than I was before. Of course there is weekday separation from Mr A, but we have methods of communication, and I gain sleep undisturbed by snoring while he gains life undisturbed by nagging. We'll see how it works out, and in the meantime my Team Leader has mentioned that discussions will soon take place over whether my contract will be extended or not.

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