Frau Illig

When we decided to live in the apartment provided by my husband’s work, I knew there would be creative compromises. This place isn’t exactly Buckingham Palace (I know for sure, now that I’ve seen it). The carpet looks like it belongs in a government department building. The lounges look they belong in the lobby of some sleazy hotel. For a girl brought up on Country Living magazine, this is quite the aesthetic wound. If I sound like a complete whinger here, please bear in mind that if you’re an at-home mum in a new country where you don’t speak the language and the temperature is zero, you spend alot of time staring at your domestic surroundings. For a few days I was feeling a little desperate about our smoky, ugly new home, itching to look for other places. And then I met Frau Illig.

Frau Illig is the person in charge of accommodation at Max Planck Institute. She’d promised to arrive at 11am to oversee the installation of a new dishwasher. She arrived exactly then. She spoke just enough English to tell us funny stories about the professors at Max Planck. Did we have any questions, any problems? One light globe was missing, and the oven had a dodgy hotplate. A blind had come off its runners, and the drying rack for clothes had collapsed. Well, she was back the following day. She’d bought us a new clothes rack and collected our old one. She kicked off her shoes, stood on a chair and screwed in a new light globe. The following morning, our blind was fixed. One week later, in came Frau Illig, followed by two men with a brand new oven.

What impressed me most about this chain of events was how far it was from the fifty phone calls (literally) and disinterested real estate agents you have to go through in Australia to get anything fixed at your rental property. But it wasn’t only this. Frau Illig was the first person in Germany to care about us. When you don’t know anyone in the whole country, it’s easy to feel like you might just fall off a cliff without anyone caring, or even noticing. But after our visit from Frau Illig, I  felt like at least one person might just give a damn if our dishwasher broke. Frau Illig is my new favourite person. And in honour of her, I think we might just stay in our sleazy, government building-style apartment.

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3 Responses to “Frau Illig”


  1. 1 Martina March 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Ally!! So wonderful to find your blog and hear of your expeditions so far. What beautiful photos of your little girl in the snow. I hope you are feeling slightly more settled this end of the week. Amanda and I caught up today and we wondered how you were doing, I shall text her this website- it’ll be lovely for us to keep informed of your movements. We are both well, the boys are growing and very playful, Imogen is a real little sweetie and I am now 21 weeks and have found out we are expecting a girl- July will be here before we know it! We look forward to your updates and photos, and will be praying you quickly pick up the language and find a church family. Much love to you and your 2 gorgeous people. Martina.

  2. 2 Martina March 11, 2010 at 1:31 am

    P.S. Apologies for not making it to your BBQ Farewell. I checked my old email acount the other day and found your invitation. I do hope it went well. Also, thank you for the bath- it will come in very helpful! And I’ve passed on the CD’s to Jen too. xoxox

    • 3 mavisandfrank March 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Hello lovely Martina,
      I’m thrilled to hear you’re having a girl! A girl’s gotta have at least one daughter, I say. I’m so sorry I didn’t get to come round before we left, it was such a rushed time that its all a bit of a blur to me now. Rose and I are missing you and Manda and the boys already. She took her first steps the day after we arrived! Love to you all and keep me up to date,
      Ally


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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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