Welcome! Honest Lies is the personal site of a 24 year old graduate electrical engineer living in the UK. Covering every day life, books and various other randomness. Read more about me and the site here.

“And the river grows inside of me”

When it comes to driving there are three things I am most afraid of – a collision when I’m driving (I see the aftermath of these too often on the road to work), hitting an animal when driving (see road kill too much too), and crashing into one of my co-workers cars when parking at work. (Well, I fear crashing when parking all the time, but most keenly at work. I do not want to have to face one of my co-workers everyday knowing I smashed up their car. It’s not something that should or does happen.)

Guess which one occurred yesterday?

I drove into the work car park and there was a small crowd of people gathered at the smoking point there, a couple of them hanging in the road. I was too aware of them. I didn’t position myself properly and as I drove in to the bay and felt myself coming too close to the car next to me I didn’t stop and correct it I just thought it should be ok because I wanted to get parked and away from the stares of those people. The two standing in the road, their jaws dropped as they watched me smash into the car next to me. I can’t forget the look on their faces. It was loud, it was obvious, it must have looked quite aggressive. I somehow managed to correct myself and get into the parking space, turned off the engine, then I covered my face with my hands and wished fervently for the ground to swallow me whole. I felt so stupid and embarrassed and scared. I tried to phone my dad but couldn’t get through, then I googled, became even more scared from the results, tried again and again to phone my dad and finally got through. The tears came then. I sobbed down the phone at him, but thanks to him I at least had a plan (and some reassurance, too. I badly needed that…) After the phone call I gave myself some time to cry and panic some more, then I forced myself to calm down. I took pictures, I went to reception and asked them to look up the details of the car owner, who was thankfully not part of my immediate team at work, and she came out and I had to tell her I had damaged her car. She took it well, seeming more surprised than anything else (who can blame her. Its a ridiculous situation) I took her email. Later, much later, after I had time to process and phone my insurance I sent her my details and the photos.

Now I wait. She hasn’t responded yet and she wasn’t in the office today. I don’t know what comes next.

I can’t believe this happened. I feel deeply embarrassed. I’ve spent so long learning to drive and I’m still…not very good at it. It was very hard to drive back from work yesterday, and then to drive again today. I feel vulnerable and scared. I’m worried for what I’ll do, what wrong judgement I’ll make next.

Mostly, have I mentioned that this is extremely embarrassing?

In the end though, as embarrassing as it is at least it is just embarrassing. At least I didn’t flatten some poor innocent animal or drive a car off the road or get driven off the road. I didn’t even dent either of our cars – it’s superficial paint damage only as far as I could tell. Nothing was hurt but my pride. (And, I fear, my reputation at work. I don’t think anyone else knows about it but I fear it becoming known…)

Checked on my fish tanks this morning to find that my Betta fish had built a huge bubble nest. Overnight. It certainly wasn’t there last night….But look at it now! He has sort of built these nests in his old tank but never at this scale- it was usually nothing more than a small clump of bubbles. Look at this thing though! I’m a little taken aback by the size of this, and the timescale of it (overnight!!). I’m taking this as a sign he really likes his new tank.

(Technically this is a breeding behaviour ingrained into the fish. They build these nests to keep the eggs in and keep said eggs oxygenated – yes, the males look after the eggs. According to some websites, Bettas will build these even in sub par conditions as it is such an instinctive behaviour. But then other websites say they’ll only build them if comfortable and happy. So who knows, really…the internet is a confusing place for research. I should probably buy a book or go the library…easier to Google though! 😅 )

Copenhagen Day 4/Hamburg Day 1

German ICE Train
Tuesday 11th October 2016, 21:48

I am now in Germany! I got a direct train from Copenhagen this morning and arrived four and a half hours later in Hamburg in the afternoon. I was a bit nervous about the journey before hand – I had been keeping an eye on the information boards at Copenhagen central station to see where/which platform the Hamburg train leaves, but I couldn’t see a Hamburg train at all. Thankfully I managed to get to the station early enough that I could ask at information. They confirmed my platform number, seat reservation and the directness of the train. Sure enough, Hamburg HBF was listed at that platform as the service after next. I waited around, munching on Danish pastries which tasted much the same, very disappointedly, as those you get in the UK, feeling quietly excited for the journey to come. As soon as the Hamburg train became the next I went to the platform, I got out my phone and readied to video the train coming in. I was so curious as to what German public transport was like.. the train came right on time. It was a fairly small train, but then it has to be I suppose as it has to fit on a ferry (wait for that), and there didn’t seem to be too many passengers. There was a mix of people travelling but most actually seemed Danish or German.

First Class Seat in German ICE Train

Inside the Train
I had treated myself to first class as it wasn’t more expensive than standard, so settled in to my spacious seat…after taking many pictures. I was so excited. And impressed. The train was spacious and clean and well aired and at a comfortable temperature. We got going and sped our way through Denmark down to Rodby, at which point the train was driven onto a ferry. I don’t know the logistics, but there is a compartment/section on the hull of the ferry with tracks, and somehow these are aligned to the tracks on land, they must be, as we drove slowly but surely into the hull of the ferry. There were trucks being driven in either side of us. It was so surreal and so freaking cool.

Disembarking from the train, some views from the Ferry
As soon as the train stopped we disembarked and climbed up to deck for the crossing. The ferry seemed huge. There was the hull with our train, and two columns of trucks either side, and what seemed to be two levels of cars above that. Then there was an indoors level with restaurants, shops (duty free even, but only about…I think it was 18 minutes into the journey? Clearly we had to pass into international waters first / beyond the authority of Danish maritime authorities) and seating areas, and then a top area divided into indoor and outdoor seating. Sadly it has been a gray, cloudy and damp day so the views were rather dreary and it was drizzling. I started to feel a little seasick, so overpaid for some coke and chips. I sat out on the deck in the rain, sipping coke and breathing in the cool air, tinged by diesel fumes and cigarette smoke, but clean enough and still better than indoors for my queasy stomach. I must have looked a little crazy sitting out in the rain but oh well. Soon enough we were called to embark. I didn’t waste any time and joined the small trail of people heading back to their cars and to the train. I managed to get some pictures of the train in the hull but as much as I was curious as to the logistics if it all I was wary of lingering, fairly certain there would be no headcount. There was none. The train started up and was driven off the ferry in about five minutes after we were called. There were trainspotters watching us coming us off the ferry and I badly wanted to see what they saw. I don’t really understand how DB Bahn was pulling this off. It was the coolest nonetheless.

Train in the hull of the ship, tracks on the base of the ship

Puttgarden was our next immediate stop and our first in Germany. It was then another rush through Germany down to Hamburg. I felt tired and queasy and although the scenery was pretty, with surprising wildlife (herons, deer, birds of prey) I kept dozing off. My first class seat was very roomy and very comfortable . Although the train got a bit busier at Puttgarden it was still lovely and quiet.

Danish Scenery versus German Scenery. :| There were a lot of wind turbines on either side.

We arrived into Hamburg at 14:21 after leaving Copenhagen at 9.37am. I disembarked and went up to the main station and immediately had my senses assaulted with the rush of people and noise. Hamburg is crazy. So much busier than Copenhagen was, though I do recognise I was in Copenhagen predominantly over the weekend, and Hamburg now in the week. Thankfully it’s well sign posted so I could find the tourist office and pick up a map and some leaflets. I hadn’t really planned this part of my holiday at all and wanted to do some while resting and being still.

Sad little hotel room.
My hotel was thankfully just over the road from the station. It’s great location is pretty much it’s only standout. The room is cheerless and sparse. Tired and lacking in any kind of decoration. There isn’t even a coat hook, or a nice seat. There is a bed, a table and stool and a wardrobe. There is an aging bathroom, clean enough, but also so tired looking it makes you feel a little tired and depressed to see it. What a sad, dreary room. It’s no smoking but it was definitely smoking at one point – there is the unmistakable smell of it sunk deep into the surroundings. Worse, the door is flimsy, the lock flimsy, the front desk never seems to be manned, so anyone could come up here, give the door a good kick and get in. There’s no safe or locker. It’s a tiny bit worrying. Oh and the walls are thin and I am acutely aware of my neighbours. It’s like being in student dorms again. Oh well… the location is amazing and that’s what I need. (Also the room is warm. The hotel in Copenhagen the heating refused to come on making for a slightly chilly stay. So now I am warm. Yay for small victories?)

Hamburg Art Museum

Hamburg Art Museum
After a little planning I ventured out for a quick poke around the art museum. There was no map available, none I could see, so it was quite confusing and a little overwhelming trying to make sense of the maze of rooms. I found myself going back on myself and getting lost. It’s a weird experience getting lost in a museum. After that I went to check out Lake Alster but I felt tired and still fairly queasy so although I did see the lake I didn’t do much walking around it as planned. I headed back instead, treated myself to a bratwurst and chip supper takeaway. Then holed up in my sad, dreary little room to finish planning and rest.

Hamburg HBF

“Dates only make us aware of how numbered our days are, how much closer to death we are for each one we cross off. From now on, Punzel, we’re going to live by the sun and the seasons.” He picked me up and spun me around, laughing. “Our days will be endless.”

– Or Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller

In this book, 8 year old Peggy is taken by her survivalist father to live in a remote cabin in Germany. When she complains that she wants to go home, her father tells her that there is no home to go back to, that they are the last two people alive on earth and that everything beyond their patch of forest has been lost to “the great divide”. Peggy’s father is very young, it is suggested, filled with paranoia and ideas, and obviously traumatized by something in his marriage (which is hidden for the majority of the book). The book switches between sections of Peggy and her father making their life in the forest, with Peggy (or Punzel as she names herself) growing up in the shadow of her father’s increasing eccentricity and within the harsh environment of the forest, cut off from the rest of the world. With Peggy firmly believing her Father that there is nothing left but them and this life, and suitably afraid of exploring too far from their cabin. The other sections are Peggy at 17 years old, having returned to live in London with her mother, without her father, and clearly very sick herself.

We are told from the start that Peggy is an unreliable narrator, suffering from a memory disorder due to diet, and we can see her penchant for stories and make believe, so it makes sense that the book takes on a rather unrealistic, embellished feel as Peggy looks back over her past. During her time in the forest Peggy is writing herself a fairytale, of which she is the princess, to cover up the true horrific nature of what she experienced. It makes sense the way the story hints at various existing tales, as if Peggy is drawing on the stories she may have listened to as a child.

But it is a bit frustrating to read – although the writing is beautiful, it is also disjointed and the scene/subject often switches abruptly, leaving a previous idea hanging with no resolution. It is slow paced, meandering its way to the final reveal. The late nature of the pulling together of all the hints, pulling back from the fairytale to the reality, did make this a difficult book to read. Combine that with the disjointed ideas and slightly unrealistic feeling to it, I almost gave up on it. I’m mostly glad I didn’t. I spent a lot of the final chapters of this book anticipating the final twist, and reveal of Peggy’s condition, and the final set of revelations still did shock me. I didn’t really want to be right.

The book came together wonderfully. And yes, it is beautifully written. And the use of music , so wonderfully captured in the audio book , is amazing. (I was startled to read about what a “piano with no sound” was.) I wish there was an epilogue though, to see what came next, after the final reveal. It’s a bit annoying to stick with the book so patiently for no real resolution. It felt like we were just really getting into the tale, when it abruptly ended.

Audio book notes- this was a stunning audio book. The narrator effortlessly switched between male and female, spoken and song, and English and German. I am fairly sure the audio book quite possibly made this more engaging than it could have been, and it certainly brought the musical parts of the book alive.

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