Still Tuesday 12th April 2011 - this may take three posts as so much happened.
So, we had lunch and continued unpacking while Rhiannon ran amok in the expanse of garden.
Suddenly the door buzzer sounded - an unpleasant noise making us jump out of our skin. I lean to look out of the window and see dustmen asking for our wheelie bin which is behind a locked gate. I try to tell them that no, we don't have any rubbish, but they don't understand.
Quick, where are the keys? There's a box full to the brim of random keys in the kitchen and Tim has put his set somewhere 'safe'. Luckily, Tim found his keys and dealt with the men. I hadn't realised we even had wheelie bins...
Getting in and out of this house is a major palaver. There's a high gate to the front garden that can only be opened with a key - from both inside and out. Then there's the key to get in the front door. If the front door shuts behind us and we don't have our key... that's it, we're stuck. Oh, and there's yet another key for the rickety fence-mounted mailbox. Upon opening it, I was thrilled to find two "New Home" cards from very thoughtful and lovely friends.
Then it was time to visit the international school we'd chosen. Tim phoned for a cab (using the number in our handy home-guidebook) and managed to speak to someone who understood English.
How did we select this school? Some friends are amazed that we hadn't made the 24 hour trip to visit various schools beforehand. But seriously, it's too long a trip to do that. I did a lot of internet research instead. I did feel a little nervous about it all - our choice of school in Tokyo turned out to be a big mistake.
Here we had a choice of four schools; I discounted two instantly as they didn't run the full British curriculum (I think this was the reason - it was all done a year ago) and we will probably have to return to the UK after this posting.
Of the two that were left, I was very reluctant to choose one from the same family as the Tokyo school but tried to remain open-minded. However, after doing all my research I decided on one, based mainly on the photos of the buildings and grounds - possibly not the most relevant reasons! Actually, I'm just kidding - their pastoral care and certain other aspects really appealed to me and I thought it would suit Rhiannon down to the ground. But I left the ultimate decision to Rhiannon, without telling her the names of the two schools.
She chose the same as me, but for very different reasons. The shoes she could wear! One school had a yellow uniform - "No way, Mum!" While the chosen one allowed ballet flats and a pretty summer dress. Shallow child.
Coincidentally, a friend of mine from Tokyo is also moving to Berlin later this year and visited last summer to look at all the schools. We have different criteria for our children so she chose a different school, but was able to report her findings back to me which was useful. After the earthquake in Japan she came to Berlin for a while but sadly we just missed each other by a day. I'm really looking forward to seeing her again later this year.
We arrived at school a little early and were astounded by its sheer beauty. The grounds are extensive and a pair of red squirrels bounded across the lawns. Lawns! In Tokyo the school playground was on the roof of a seven or eight storey building or on Astroturf.
The headmistress was absolutely delightful. She showed us the various buildings and found Rhiannon's new class where she asked two girls to come out and show Rhiannon around the school. They skipped off together very happily.
The head told us they never accept children without seeing them first but she made an exception for us because Rhiannon's native language is English and her school reports were so good. Did she read the wrong ones?
Then we were introduced to another woman who will be the new head from September. Again, she was very personable. I was seriously flagging with jetlag by now though. So when she asked me what I was doing on Friday I said, "nothing".
"You are now," she laughed, "I'd like you to come and speak at our primary assemblies about your experiences in the earthquake in Japan."
Armed with the times of the assemblies we collected a very happy Rhiannon and headed for home. She has already made two friends of the girls who took her around. And found some conkers in the school grounds. Red squirrels and conkers - what a lovely place.
The school have also invited Rhiannon to come into school for the rest of the week so she can find her way around and settle in; free of charge, meals and bus included.
Yes, this is the best bit ever - the school provides a door-to-door bus service. I will never have to do a school run again. Sweet heaven!
For this, I will talk to the children about anything they ask.