Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Monday, 29 December 2014

Today Is My Birthday (Again)

©Brigitta Huegel

I should come to my senses. (Comment: I learned a long time ago that I might replace the word "should" by "will" - (or more often: will not).
I am. All senses. Enjoying and revelling in them, I mean.
But being finally ready to tell anybody my age? No: I keep my mouth firmly shut.
("Why, for heaven's sake?" you might mutter, "It's not that interesting").
Why indeed?
My mother (as Shirley Conran said: "A mother's place is in the wrong") had a very problematic attitude concerning old people - coming from a family of (minor) aristocrats, marrying a man from the working class she might have had her reasons. I loved my charming, lively grandmother (the one with the red blood). So I grew up in ambiguity. The old people were "Them" - a class of their own, born that way. But my grandma was not old in my eyes. And although I knew I would grow old one day,  in my heart I didn't believe it. (Most people don't for their own person: a research statistic shows that the typical woman feels about 18 years younger than she is).
From very early years on I started to collect what I could find about getting older - especially older women as role models. With fourteen I told my astonished girlfriends  "I look forward to being thirty - then I will be able to wear big hats". It is a metaphor, of course (and I pushed the line of years a bit further) for growing up. I envy the fashion of my mother: it allowed women to grow up proudly, and the advertising motto of „Baldessarini – separates the men from the boys“
should/must be coined for women into "separates the women from the girls".
I am glad that fashion this year started to become a bit more grown-up too:

©Brigitta Huegel

But I look into the media, and what do I see? Scorn of older people, amost hate. And it seems to me that the last taboo beside death is (sex and) old age. A society that defines itself mainly through images is shocked. I really considered founding a group "Anti-Discrimination of Older People" - but I didn't because I do not want to get angry all the time - so unbecoming... So I keep the topic private. (Very :-)
From my Prussian mother I learned to love discipline and 'attitude, poise' (the German word is "Haltung", the English pendant might be "stiff upper lip"). I sincerely and deeply feel with everybody who suffers from pain, and I listen with compassion - but I get unnerved when someone is going on and on about trifles, and many women, growing older, do complain about a lot. (Interesting: those who have really reasons to complain about something as a "new" knee or gastrectomy: they do not complain, they are so brave!)
So it is not a surprise that you find me very often among young(er) people. I love laughter more than champagne. (Come to think of it: give me all three - it's my birthday!)
Though - if they are too young - sometimes I get a bit - bored is the wrong word - languid?
I enjoy the company of my contemporaries very, very much - I see beauty in silver hair and wrinkles of laughter around the eyes; I love wisdom and humour, courage and experience in every form - a life well lived. "Seperates the men from the boys"... :-)

©Brigitta Huegel

(A morsel of wisdom in between: the most important aim is that you nourish them (and of course yourself!) well: body, soul and wit).

©Brigitta Huegel

"How Not to Look Old" is the title of a book by middle-aged Charla Krupp (hahaha - I use the word "middle-aged"in the pejorative way, out of sheer spite :-), who dishes out all the old chestnuts that are not true ("Don't wear colours, don't wear too much eye-make-up, don't wear silk stockings" - and always the verdict: " makes you look OLD!" Message: "Buy a burka - then you are no longer a rival to us")
My dear: I do as I please.
I don't botox, I don't use fillers or plastic surgery, I don't colour my hair, and I don't diet.. All that is not a question of morale for me - everybody has to find out her own way of what works for her: to feel good in your skin (and soul) is what counts, and this is my way.
I do it without the witch doctors. I eat well and healthy, I do a lot of moving, in body AND brain. I am curious. Am really interested in people and life.
And I feel very, very fine.
But I won't tell you my age.... in the good company of Oscar Wilde:

One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.”

I won't.        As I told you:  I do as I please.             And this is one of the gifts of getting older. 

Friday, 26 December 2014

Joanne Noragon's beautiful handwoven Etsy Scarves

©Brigitta Huegel

©Brigitta Huegel

This was a very special Christmas gift to myself:
as soon as I saw that Joanne Noragon had opened up her virtual Etsy Shop, I not only liked that on Facebook, but, of course, ordered the only

                    PINK SCARF                                       

instantly. (Sorry Mise, I was quicker!)
It arrived in due time from America, much earlier than I had expected.
And it is oh so beautiful!
And oh so soft and warm - I LOVE IT! 
It has character, is individual, handmade and of visible quality. Already two unacquainted women in Berlin asked me where I had bought it, and I happily gave them the link:

If you look into that shop, you have to hold yourself back not to snatch a lot more of her beautiful creations! Joanne is a very industrious woman, with many years of weaving knowledge, and you can find the history of that on her blog "Cup on the Bus".

For me the most astonishing thing is that something so beautiful materialized "out of the air": I know Joanne only via the Internet -

but now the link between imagination and touch is there -
something for the senses -

thank you, Joanne!

PS: I add another photo taken by daylight, because above the lamp-light changed the colour of the scarf very much. Since a few years we have an (awful) law in Germany that forbids selling the oldfashioned lightbulbs - instead we have to buy energy-saving bulbs (which kill especially red colours - and people, if they fall down on the ground and break - no joke: they are highly poisonous and can contaminate a whole room). Now the politicians simply want to sneak out of their responsibilty (and the light industry will be even happier than now: another change, more money!) - and we get the better LEDs, not as cold blue-lighted as before (when I bought a LED- lamp at Ikea, I asked for a second bulb - "Oh no, we don't sell them - when this bulb dies after twenty years, you have to buy a new lamp!" Insanity - but eco-friendly (they told us that about the poisonous too).

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I wish you...

©Brigitta Huegel

                      ... a Merry Christmas! 

Dear You,

I choose the pink ribbon especially for you... 
and put into the golden box exactly what you are longing for... 
Happiness, Love, Gratitude, Contentment, Health, Beauty and Wisdom - and a little secret, just for you, you know what I'm talking of... 

Have a wonderful time - you'll hear from me soon. 

Yours truly 

Britta  XXX 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Already In the Christmas Spirit?

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 

I have to admit that I am still not in the Christmas spirit at all (though Berlin's merchants try to cure me in every possible way - which makes me even grumpier...)
So I made a list of what might help:

1. Drawing or crafting your own Christmas cards.
    Above you see a feeble attempt of mine: Knut, my little red Fiat 500, makes an effort to put a spell on me. I check out the giving-is-better-than-getting-mood - but only for the Christmas Season! - and fulfill his dream: I write his name with "C" (you remember, we live in the quarter with many gay people, and Knut is a bit effeminate, even might insist soon on being called Trans-porter).
And no: the Christmas tree is still in the woods.

2. Buy a Christmas cactus. 
    (Never two: you might find it hard to use the plural)

©Brigitta Huegel

3. Take an evening bummel across the Ku'damm. 

©Brigitta Huegel

You see the smaller one of the two towers of Egon Eiermann, built 1957 as appendix to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächntiskirche, which was partly destroyed in World War II - they keep it that way to remind us.

©Brigitta Huegel

4. And then you can go to Käthe Wohlfahrt - a Christmas shop opened all year round. In the four years we are living here, I hadn't been in once - now I jumped inside (outside we had biting - 3° Celsius, so one can't be too choosy) - and almost suffocated:

©Brigitta Huegel

Sorry - I am not that needy for Christmas spirit - out! out! - it must be the Tower of Babel - so many international tongues, so many hands grabbing what they can get (I've nothing against Kitsch in small portions, it warms the heart - but this is too much for me).

Next time I might show you a few of the over 80 Christmas markets we have in Berlin - that might help even me to sing Jingle Bells....

PS: Hope nobody is offended by my little joke on C Knut - it is approved by my many gay friends who thought it witty.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

"They all ask me to jump to invigorate and to play soccer, to run, to swim and to fly. Very well. " Pablo Neruda

©Brigitta Huegel
Dear You,

Outside for the first time in November temperature sank below zero.
So it might be a bit strange to tell you how I learned to swim - but Tom's blog  inspired me.

Here you see me on a photograph in Austria. The two little blond girls at the right are my little sister and I (the other people I don't know).
But what I know is that we weren't allowed to go on a boat trip without being able to swim.
So I learned it in the lake Wörthersee in Kärnten.
First we swam around with a swimming ring - I still remember the strange feeling in the arm pits. Again and again our father showed us how to make the movements with arms and legs.
"Now you can do it without that swimming ring", he said after a while.
I might - but I wouldn't - being a coward with too much imagination.
So I swam around happily with that ring.
Into the lake run a long wooden bathing jetty. One day I was standing at its end, peering into the water.
"Jump!" my mother called.
"No - not without my bathing ring!"
"If you do, you'll get an ice cream!" I heard my father shouting from the boardwalk.
"No!" (You won't bribe me).
"Jump!" my little sister cried, sitting nicely at the shore.
"NO!!... - SPLASH!!! Splish! Splutter!! Gurgle! Gulp!!!"
That was me - struggling to keep myself over water - then swimming like a fish.(Without fishfinger coating swimming ring).
My father had lost his patience (which he seldom did otherwise, but he hated seeing me behaving like a - what said Tom so aptly - sissy). So he had sneaked clandestinely behind me - and pushed me in.
After the first shock I liked it."Come in, it's easy! Jump!" I called my sister.
I don't know whether she did.
But I remember we both got an ice cream.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

(TBC): She Who Must Be Obeyed

©Brigitta Huegel

I'm not good at "to be continued". (Didn't even know the abbreviation for it - when I took the above photograph at an Elvis exhibition in Hamburg, years ago, I wondered what TBC meant, and maybe it means And Now for Something Completely Different  - but I like the design).
Maybe I am too impatient.
(November is a month for insights).
Impatient - a word I should not use when I'm near the --- thing --- the Cat --- the Tamagotchi,
or, as Rumpole of the Bailey would have said: "She Who Must Be Obeyed." (Though he was speaking of Hilda, his over-ambitious wife). I wouldn't obey anybody as long as he/she isn't carrying a gun or highest authority (it is November... in June I would have written: Anybody - but that simply/sadly isn't true).
So: maybe my Tamagotchi is mirroring me?
Bit complicated, bit opiniated, bit willful - but sophisticated and shining, too? And reliable when you know how to treat her?
But knowing and taming takes time, as the fox in The Little Prince said. And times were rough at the beginning.
Much of that time I spent - as a scholar, nothing else - with the kind man at 'Saturn' - him a specialist for this coffee-machine (THAT should have warned me - they have a special expert for this - thing!)
Oh, come to think of it: Maybe I should have added megalomaniac to the charming list of my attributes.
I mean: I don't have a degree in precision engineering, nor am I a computerfreak. (Both would be very helpful indeed).
The manufacturers had put a little brochure into the huge packing - thus suggesting: "So easy to handle!" Just a few comic pictures.
"Oh, it is easy", said the kind expert.
Of course: everything is easy if you know how to do it.
When I was a child, I loved one book on my parents' bookshelves especially: "The Home Treasury of Humour" - one story in that huge anthology was given the title: "The Malice of the Object (though the dictionary proposes: "The (general) cussedness of things")." How come that I remember this caption just now?
How come? Why didn't the author just called it 'Philips Saeco Exprelia'?
Cat lies in wait for me when I tried to make an espresso: "Fill the watertank!" she commanded (the programmer of that machine is from the 'No-Time-for-Politeness-You -Moron-School - not knowing the word "please", though he would have had place enough - maybe he had used it to fill in 'idiot', 'jerk', 'dope' --- (yes, yes, here I can use the abbrevation "TBC" again) ... but the company forced him to delete it, because in times of the internet even an imbecile as I can tick a rating scala and publish it on Facebook...
"Haha", I thought: "next time I know" - hastily filled the watertank before it could cry out - then: "Empty the container!" it spit (the box for used pressed coffee- which I don't know the English word for - my kind man at Saturn (really) calls it "marc/rape/pomace" - which astonishes me, but in his former life he (really) had been a sommelier...)
So:  I emptied the container, feeling smug.
Then I put a cup with a bit of sugar under the coffee-fountain -- "Plörr!" -- out came only hot water -- "Flushing!" the cat snarled. (It has a lot more of those little informations, but we all have work to do - who wants to read "War and Peace - with a Coffee Machine"?)
I surrendered - put the DVD from the huge box into my computer (as husband had told me from the very beginning - himself keeping away from IT . Hint: you might look up the point: my megalomania again)
My computer flashed over 70 pages with hints "How to Use this Easy Machine in a Jiffy (you Moron!)  at me. Oh.
Well - when I get angry ... I become VERY accurate - read the over 70 pages, copied their little drawings by hand (I mean: the machine is in the kitchen - not on my desk beside the computer).
Sadly they omitted one little drawing, just one little step (Hahaha!)
So I met my kind ex-sommelier again. And he explained to me the secrets of opening a very-complicated-lid&pressure-high-frequency-unit-Thing. Aha!
Walked home again (so good for your figure. No need to do weight-training or running on the treadmill that day).
"You seem to be a bit uptight, a bit jittery", remarked my beautiful young Italian massage therapist.
"Too much coffee", I mumbled.

PS: All in all I seem to be getting onto the driver's seat, so to speak (or is it 'into'? 'under'?).
And I found another photo from the Elvis exhibition: "TCB - Faith, Spirit, Discipline".
I think I might need them all...

©Brigitta Huegel

Thursday, 20 November 2014

My newest Tamagotchi

©Brigitta Huegel

A 'domestic animal' - in Berlin? Even if you call it a 'house pet' it would not be happy here: only one big balcony (l)imitating nature, a flat with many square metres, but on second floor, so you won't draw a dog from the woodwork with that...
Instead I bought a pet machine. A sort of Tamogotchi. (You remember the Tamogotchi, created in the late 1990s, a virtual chicken that needed as much attention as a real animal?).
More precisely: I just asked for a coffee machine, a good one which can make coffee, espresso, cappuccino and latte macchiato. Till now we had a Nespresso machine, which worked quite nicely. (We started drinking coffee only a few years ago - and Nespresso even did an interview on TV with me, but I think some of you still have to wrest yourself free from 'Roger Moore and I', two posts down, so I will spare you this one).
I wanted to wrest myself from Nespresso. It started so harmless:
I only wished to recycle the Nespresso capsulesIn the Nespresso shop - which is very handy in the emporium KaDeWe six minutes away - they gave me - reluctantly - a solid brown plastic (!) bag. 
When I saw at home how quickly it filled up, I thought: oha!!! (This German cry of astonishment might best be translated to: Wow!
Then this woman started to calculate: one capsule costs 39 cents. If we buy (very good) fresh coffee beans, we will have generated the price of the 'Porsche among the coffee machines' depicted above in two or three years (don't try to prick a needle into my little bubble's daydream: contrary to my normal behaviour I even bought an assurance for the machine).  
So I bought it.
Husband arrived with Knut, my little red Fiat 500, and schlepped the machine to the car.
And that was the first time I should have become suspicious: I had to walk back, while the machine was driven home comfortably!! (the big box with the coffee machine refused to take a place in the backseat).
At home La Macchina got unpacked. I read the user's guide. Carefully.
Not much to read - mostly lovely pictures. Drawn like a comic. I proceeded to action.
Espresso: wonderful! Cappucchino: bellissimo! Then I got daring and tried my luck on Latte Macchiato.
At that moment the wild animal in the machine woke up.
First error of judgement on my side: it was not the Imposter of House-Pet-Dog  - which I thought at first and thus tried to house-train by stern discipline to show it who is The Master ( = Me).

No: It is a cat. 


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Thing T. Thing - or: "Che Gelida Manina"

Brigitta Huegel

You know my enthusiasm for hats - the bigger, the better. (And I wear all of them, in real life).
And I had a shoe-tic, tamed by now (hahaha). 
When I still wrote my blog "You are Witty and Pretty", I carried the torch for the fashionista - but soon I got bored tired by all these blogs counting up what they bought here, and then there, and you had not to be Einstein to calculate that their armoire, (never a simple cupboard), must be as big as our posh emporium KaDeWe in toto - and the blogger's gloves and scarves they had to put on the Tauentzien & Kudamm together for want of room.
So the "pretty" gave way to the "witty" - at least I tried, till at last I gave up.
But back to fashion:
I now add gloves (sort of) to my passions.
Aren't the lacy-ones above beautiful? (And practical: you still can write an SMS).
The painters and artists among you know: nothing is as difficult as drawing hands - and photographing them - on your own - isn't easy either. So please don't look with a too critical eye at the way my arm looks in the photo- and no, I didn't overdo my weight-training, I only stem the wall...
These one - manufactured by Karl Lagerfeld - were a present from my young Hamburgian friend:

Brigitta Huegel

When I wear them - especially in Hamburg, the city of the very mighty and very rich - some older gentle(?)men in Brioni-suits get a certain glitter in their eyes - as if Gabriella Cilmi sings in their mind  "Nothing's Sweet About Me".
So hastily I counter-trill from Puccini's La Bohème: "How icecold is this tiny hand" -
and wait for even colder days to carry my newest trove:

Brigitta Huegel

PS: As I joined Joanne Noragon's brand-new Facebook-site which shows the beautiful scarves she weaves, their might be a new mode en vogue for me...

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sir Roger Moore (and I) in a Short TV Interview


Five years after its taking, I've found it again: the lost video above - with a snippet of a TV- 'interview' of me that was made in Hamburg when Sir Roger Moore presented "My Word is My Bond: The Autobiography". You have to be patient (though I only give you a shortened version), because it is mostly in German - except a few words in English by me (you might have read Tom's comment on my accent :-) - and a bit more by Sir Roger Moore - so wait for the Lady in Turquoise and you might get a fleeting impression of me.
It was shortly before our move to Berlin. I had plucked three especially beautiful different roses from my garden for him: Roger Moore - the actor I'd always admired.
I had missed him a few years before when husband made the catalogue/anthology for an exhibition in Hildesheim - "James Bond. Schauspieler und Spion" (James Bond. Actor and Spy") - he couldn't come, though at that occasion I had the honour and joy to dine with Desmond Llewelyn, the inventive engineer "Q" (who sadly died a short time after in a car crash).
When I find the black&white photo of us I will show it to you.
But back to Hamburg.
Sir Roger Moore introduced his book charmingly and witty.
Then the reporter chatted with me. With her last question (in German) she almost knocked me out of my silken stockings (and High Heels): she asked with the impertinence of (not that fresh) youth, in an incredulous voice: "Do you think he is still a sexy man?"
Rude in oh so many ways: the question in and of itself, then in his vicinity, but most of all: how odd to think that sexiness depends only on age?
I was so glad that I was not too shocked to answer (I seldom am - shocked or silent).
And the answer came from my heart -  I meant as I said.

PS: (And if not I wouldn't have answered otherwise).

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Spreewald and Bliss

Brigitta Huegel

 On a very sunny (!) 2nd November (!) with 19°C (!) husband and I drove to Schlepzig in the Spreewald, where I had never been before. Above you see a women in a traditional costume - worn for the tourists now - who punts a boat with up to 20 guests on the many rivulets and rivers. 
The Spreewald (the Sorbian word for it was 'Biota' = swamps) is a huge area with bogs and marshes, protected as a biosphere reserve, in Brandenburg, which was formed in the glacial period.

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel

One and a half hour we were punted by a nice man (who viewed the wild woods merely with the eyes of a treefeller: "Here I was allowed to axe a broken tree - there I collected five trees... which brought me fine fathoms of stovewood for my 'Bullerjahn'.. ." (a special sort of oven - and I think they really need the heat in winter - even in Berlin we have Siberian frost sometimes).
Inwardly, I believe, he thanked his silent little helpers: about 50 beavers live around Schlepzig, and they are working hard. Over hundred years there hadn't been any (only being thought of in the social-critical comedy "The Beaver Coat" by Gerhart Hauptmann, for which the Berlin Board of Censors predicted in 1893 : "Petty painting without any plot of relevance...that dull pathetic effort will not see many enactments" - and thus erred enormously: it became very, very famous).
So  in 2003 the first beaver immigrated back to the Spreewald - hailed by environmentalists, while the LUVG printed a little brochure "How to live with the beaver".

Brigitta Huegel

After dinner in the beautiful Landgasthof 'Zum Grünen Strand der Spree', which is very proud of its Private Brewery from 1788 we went back - finding out that my Knut, as you can see clearly in this picture, hadn't been idle either and had used his time by transgressing boundaries to flirt with a(nother) beautiful Italian,..

So: A wonderful day for all of us! 
(or in my four new words of Italian): 

Una Festa Sui Prati! 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Autumn, and Berlin's Leaves Fall

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel

Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
here you see my problem. Better: you don't see it - because I couldn't find it.
I was looking for a special photo I took: beautiful yellow leaves on a shining turquoise engine cover - it looks really lovely and I can recall it before my inner eye - but I forgot: when did I take that photo - in 2013? 2012? Couldn't have been in 2011 when we moved to Berlin..?
Yours truly has written a book about order. I love order. I love systems to get the chaos into a sort of order - but though I have entitled my photo-files, these titles are not always totally enlightening - I mean: one title for my 10 days stay in England this year - with over 1000 photos - and what might hide under "miscellaneous/ October 2012"?
So above you get substitutes - not bad, but not what I wanted as an illustration for "Autumn".
Though I should better use the word "Fall". Because the leaves fall.
In the Berliner Zeitung I read that in Berlin each year the trees throw down 70.000 tons of foliage.
Can you imagine that?
Seventy-thousand tons! 
(And they are not counting the leaves of the forests as the Grunewald).
Berlin has about 438.000 trees lining the streets. In summer one often thinks one is walking through an aquarium - a deep shadowy green wavers up to the third floor of the houses, no need for sun protection at the groundfloor - better buy a torch - and with mixed feelings I look from my balcony on the second floor at the oaks in front of our house: they grow, contrary to folks belief, rapidly, and in autumn you hear their funny plop, plop when they throw their acorns on the cars. The car owners don't laugh, but the squirrels and the jays do.
And each of these 438.000 trees has about 50.000 leaves.
The main trees are limetrees/linden trees, followed by plane trees, oaks and chestnuts (in Berlin, the newspaper says, each year they get almost 5.800 tons of acorns and chestnuts for feeding deers etc), maple/acer, robinias/ locust and birchtrees. If you add on the trees from our parks and city-gardens, Berlin has about one million trees.
A very, very green city.
You think I ramble? From the photos to the trees?
Oh no - I follow abundance.
Both - photos and leaves - have cumulated.
One has to get rid of some (the chestnut leaves that are infected by the leafmining moth; the photos which are blah or not pretty).
60.000 tons of the leaves are changed into 40.000 tons of compost (the remaining 10.000 tons of leaves they experiment to change into briquetts form).
Might be a good ratio for my photos?

Saturday, 25 October 2014

'Herbstbild/ Picture of Autumn' by Friedrich Hebbel

Brigitta Huegel

Dies ist ein Herbsttag, wie ich keinen sah!          This is an autumn day as I have never seen before!
 Die Luft ist still, als atmete man kaum,                 The air is still, as if one almost doesn't breathe,
Und dennoch fallen raschelnd, fern und nah,        And yet fall rustling, far and near,
 Die schönsten Früchte ab, von jedem Baum.        The loveliest fruits from every tree.

O stört sie nicht, die Feier der Natur!                   O don't disturb it, nature's feast,
 Dies ist die Lese, die sie selber hält,                       This is the picking that she does herself.
Denn heute löst sich von den Zweigen nur,              For today from the branches only drops  
 Was vor dem milden Strahl der Sonne fällt.         what falls by the mild rays of the sun.

Friedrich Hebbel (1813 - 1863)                               (rough translation by me)

Britta says: You might wonder whether you stranded on my blog "Happiness of the Day" , my playground for poetry.
No - I just love that poem of Friedrich Hebbel very much - even though I just read an elaboringborate interpretation of these eight lines - on 12 (!) pages, very learned, and very critical, (didn't find a name, only the link
"The title 'Autumn Painting' might lead you astray - the poet isn't painting" the little crocodile critic says (sorry to fall into Fielding's titulations). Well - as a translator one stands (?) always on wobbly ground - but I would dare to maintain that 'picture' might be used in more than one way.
But I do not want to bore you - this I leave to another person, who rigidly comes to the conclusion (on page 12!) that poor Hebbel, being a dramatist, "forms the whole too much by coming from thoughts", "explains the depiction with too much logic", "doesn't espress himself spontaneously enough, speaks in a too reflective way".
Well, well, well, -- be that as it may --- I pick up an apple and dream myself into this beautiful picture poem. In Germany we say you "put a maggot into something", when you want to run something down.
I find this apple poem perfect.

(Though my translation is not - please feel free (as ever) to correct me!)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Studio l'italiano!

Britta Huegel

Dear You,
I did it - for the fourth week now each Monday evening you find me sitting on one of the dwarf-chairs of an Italian-German primary school in Berlin, trying to "parlare - parlo, parlai, parla" in that beautiful language, Italian.
I have to confess that I always looked with a sort of prejudice at women who started to learn Italian when advancing in life and years - those that I know were always at the shady side of forty
(hopefully reading books like "The Tao of Turning Fifty" or "Younger by the Day" - the latter an excellent book by the way, written by Victoria Moran). They were always members of a posh tennis or golf club, flirting somehow desperately with their coaches (insegnante for tennis or Italian - it was the same to them - only young he had to be, and beautiful).
Of course now, when I signed in at the Italian cultural institute, one of my acquaintances thought it illuminating and helpful to remind me of my beautiful Italian massage therapist.
'Innocent until proven guilty' will hopefully apply to me, too (and by the way: he speaks German, so why bother?)
Why bother indeed? 
(It is not that I have a trauma as the photo above might indicate, taken at one of my youthful stays in Italy, entitled : "All dressed up and nowhere to go" - in German we say "booked and unclaimed", which doesn't sound better). 

My reasons: 
- I love the language
- I want to train my brain, yep
- maybe we will at one stage of our life live in Munich, and then Italy is oh so near
- I want to read Fruttero & Lucentini in Italian

Those of you who know my deep passion for E.F.Benson might fear of having a "déjà-vu", entering my salotto:

'Georgie found Britta Lucia very full of talk that day at luncheon, and was markedly more Italian than usual. Indeed she put down an Italian grammar when he entered the drawing room, and covered it up with the essays of Antonio Caporelli. (...) 
"Ben arrivato, Georgio," she said. "Ho finito il libro di Antonio Caporelli quanto momento. E magnifico!" 
Georgi thought that she had finished it long ago, but perhaps he was mistaken. The sentence flew off Lucia's tongue as if it was perched there all quite ready. 
"Sono un poco fatigata dopo il - dear me how rusty I am getting in Italian, for I can't remember the word," she went on. 
(from: Make Way For Lucia)  

If you think, as many of my friends do, that it must be EASY- PEASY for me to learn Italian, because I'm quite fit in French, and less fit in Latin, and know those beautiful English words that have Latin roots, you are wrong. It isn't.
Take the word: "to repeat". In French: répéter. In Italian: ripetere.
See it at one glance? "ripetere" - but the French é instead of the Italian i is not easily erased from my mind.
But though I have to cram hard, it is fun - our (female!) teacher is an Italian who writes her dissertation on Kierkegaard here at Berlin's university, and she and my classmates are very interesting and funny.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Excuse me, Mr. Wordsworth - today it's Albert Bridge.

Britta Huegel

I do love bridges oh so much - and when I am in London I have the chance to really indulge myself. And always - always! - I walk over this bridge. Of course that means a lot of walking - but who will complain on a day like this?

Britta Huegel

Will you join me? You are welcome! And don't be a coward when you see this sign: all that walking has kept us fit and slim.

Britta Huegel

And the beautiful painted bridge pillars look quite solid to me.

Britta Huegel

But of course I must ask you to put your sneakers on, as so many of you want to march across my absolute favourite bridge. Ah, and please remember: break step!

Britta Huegel

 Glorius sight!
Britta Huegel

 I LOVE when engineers start to become poetic! (I once even loved... - but that's another history).

Britta Huegel

 So this is Albert Bridge. (A German friend of mine thought it necessary to correct my pronunciation of "Albert" - there are two versions, I know - but as my dear late father's name was Albert, too, I pronounce him with the German accent, and 'Albert Bridge' stubbornly with an English accent - correct or not. ..)

Britta Huegel

You feel a bit tired? Oh no - just think of what I plan to do with you in my next post - we'll walk through Battersea Park, Oh yes, we'll do... 

Britta Huegel

Friday, 10 October 2014

What does a blogger think about?

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
I was so glad that the little exhibition about my very beloved illustrator, Quentin Blake, was still there when I arrived in London. (If you never have: please read "The Hermit and the Bear" by John Yeoman, illustrated by Quentin Blake; hilarious and wise - only second-hand available).  
You see one of his other drawings above: "What does an Illustrator think about?
Good question. Leading me to another one: 
What does a blogger think about? 
At the moment I am thinking hard. 
See: I was only 12 days in England - but took 1292 photos. For me: interesting. For you: maybe not. So I have to choose wisely if I do not want to lose you. Or hear deafeningly snoring. Skip our trip to Newbury and Hungerford
Skip photos of my solo travel to London: for example the beautiful huge soap bubbles over the Thames. Glorious architecture. Interesting people I met. And will give you only a few photos and short texts in small doses (reaching the Zen-cherished 'present moment' assumingly in 2017, hahaha). Will skip interesting exhibitions I visited ("Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision", "Horst: Photographer of Style", "Bond in Motion" --ah, those beautiful cars!! -  only to name a few). I even stop now reciting the many, many events I've seen (whizzing through London like a bee) - though in my next blog I will show a few.
See: as a blogger I think that it is very difficult to keep the golden mean
(I have a learned Facebook friend who complained bitterly that not everybody was constantly 'liking' his texts - completely forgetting that HE never ever likes texts of other people (or were it just mine?) - however, as I quoted to husband LK 6:41; NIV (you know: about the speck of sawdust and the plank in one's own eye) it gave husband the chance to pour some Latin over me in form of "Do ut des". Think I digress? Oh no: if I don't comment your blogs, sweetie, you will - after a short while, I don't have illusions about human nature - rightly stop to comment mine - which heaven forbid, I would miss you! So I read a lot of very interesting posts. Do it with pleasure. But - as I said somewhat complaingly to my new fitness trainer, who named many wonderful exercises I could add to my extensive routine: "Sir, I have a life beside the fitness room!" (He looked interested...)

Will say: 

- a blog mustn't be too long - you, my dear followers also have a vivid life of your own, and work hard, panting to comment on oh so many interesting blogs 
- of course I could write every day - but ... see above... 

So I will not slay you with texts and photos. 
Maybe we both will feel like that, then (Quentin again): 

Britta Huegel

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

"Why You Need to Brag More...",

Britta Huegel

...and 3 Ways to Do It" is the title of a recent article by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D.

I know more than three ways, and entirely without the help of a Ph.D. -
After reading year after year the hymn of praise on my modesty in my school reports (believe it or not!) at the working place I woke up, decided not to be overlooked anymore and trained myself hard to change - with success.
(Nowadays I am trying to become mellow and modest again).
Will you think it is bragging when I show you of a link at The Londonist:

and then murmur under my breath: "I love the two photos I shot from St. Paul's this year, - may I add them?"

Britta Huegel

PS: The title of Drexler's article reminds me of the (still) hilarious first film I ever (!) saw in a cinema: "The Knack... And how to Get It" by Richard Lester, with Rita Tushingham. (I was a tall girl and thus could add a few years to my tender age - now I do the opposite :-)  

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Downton Abbey or Highclere Castle: the Seeming and the Real

Britta Huegel

"As Hamish talked, it all seemed very far away - the image of the castle (...) like something remembered from a film at the cinema."
"Death of a Gentle Lady"  M.C.Beaton

Dear You, 
maybe you know the book "Frederick" by Leo Lionni (published in 1967, which I discovered only in 1986 when I read it to our son). It is for very young children and tells the story of some field mice, who work hard to collect hoards for winter, and the mouse Frederick, who doesn't - he collects sun rays, colours and words - "because winter is grey", and he uses them, when the provisions are eaten up, and the mice become discouraged, to give them hope.
It is a wonderful parabel about the insight that not only practicality is useful.

So: Anne and I collected sun rays (and were lucky to find so many) and colours and words.
I will show you a few photos, speaking for themselves:

Three nights at Marco Pierre White's The Carnavon Arms (grade II listed), the former coach house to Highclere Castle:

Britta Huegel

Beautiful landscape: 

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

The vast gardens of Highclere (The Secret Garden, The Walled Garden, The White Garden etc):

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

Long, long walks (we were the only ones who walked - everybody else came by car or by bus). Surprises: three times - at different occasions - English women talked to us in German! (Always excited about lovely Munich). We were not allowed to take photos of the rooms in Highclere Castle - but those interested will have seen them in full splendour in 'Downton Abbey'. 

Britta Huegel

Here you see Anne, who is a teacher at a grammar school (English and French): she has four lovely daughters, renovated a huge mill, where she lives with her husband, created a beautiful garden, has now written her thesis on a German poet, owns a marmelade cat - and: 4 sheep! (That was my first idea, as 'Highclere' also found on Rosemary's blog I really tried to buy a special English sheep for her - but that was too difficult). Anne and I are often taken as sisters - here she is looking at a piece of art, the sculpture of a sheep's head (one item in The Carnavon Arms). 
We saw Newbury and Hungerford (I spare you lots of photos from there) - then back to London, where Anne left for Germany - and I stayed another 9 days.