Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Digging up Time - the London Garden Museum

 NO - I DON'T want your guesses what this may be:

Britta Huegel

This indespensable Cucumber Straighter was developed around 1850 -  on one of their many holidays working assignments the agricultural ministers of the EU must have been here, and impressed created a new norm for the straight cucumber - you remember it? Sadly it was abolished - but there is hope that another backbencher will dig out the old joke useful norm again... Till then I'll have to drink my Pimm's No. 1 with crooked cucumbers - nothing is perfect... 
You see: I spent part of yesterday in The Garden Museum near Lambeth Palace. Once it had been a church, as you still can see:

Britta Huegel

It has a beautiful little walled garden with a knot-garden, designed by the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury after her famous knot garden in Hatfield House. (I was there at noon - that's why I won't show you a photo - they look like spinach). The border outside was done by the garden-designer Dan Pearson ("The Green-fuse"):

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

Britta Huegel

The museum has an excellent cafeteria with wonderful and unexpensive vegetarian food (they use goat cheese etc) - and is really worth a visit!
I talked a lot with the helpful volunteers, and promised that I will keep my eyes open for another ingenious device that the Victorians had developed (at first they thought I was joking - I could only convince them of my solemn sincerity by pointing at the cucumber straighter):
little appliances made out of wire, like a muzzle, that were bound around the mouth of guineas pigs - and allowed them to nibble the grass on the lawn to one exactly even size. No need for these noise-makers:

Britta Huegel

What made me a bit pensive and musing was how practical the English are - you have to look hard to see how the cycle of life works everywhere, and sometimes nearer as one thinks: Between the composters you see a venerable tomb.

Britta Huegel

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A Day Like Milk And Honey - Visiting BATH

Britta Huegel
Royal Crescent

the river Avon

I was so lucky! The most beautiful weather made the honey coloured stones of Bath soft and welcoming. I saw so many gorgeous sights (and could take photographs for my working project too), that Picasa on Google will throw me out again if I post all the photos I like. So I have to choose, which isn't easy, as even the dinner in a quite normal restaurant was an architectural event:

And all the time I felt a bit like a figure in a novel of Jane Austen: like sitting in a georgeous ballroom and waiting who would appear - because, as you might know, I was to meet my fellow blogger, Tom Stephenson, for the first time and in person. 

Britta Huegel
The Assembly Rooms

When I read the blog of another person I get an impression, form a picture in my mind, and have a distinct vision how he or she will be. I'm so happy that I can assure you that I was right - a wonderful, witty and handsome man he is, and before you recommend me to plunge into the famous Roman Baths

Britta Huegel
 Roman Baths
 or even start to pray for my soul

Britta Huegel
Bath Abbey

 we were four: Tom, his lovely wife H.I. and  her daughter. We all talked so lively, that I managed just in time (running like a hare) to catch the train back to London.
Thank you all for a really lovely day!

Britta Huegel

 We'll meet again - in Bath or Berlin - and with Husband.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

When Push comes to Shove

Britta Huegel

"Oh, that silly woman! Wait, we'll march through together", she said, putting her arms around me closely and pushing me in front of her through the opening barrier.
What had happened? I thought English people keep themselves to themselves - but this Lady gave me the closest body contact of the last 9 days! At Regent's Park tube exit a muddled woman in front of me had placed her handbag (!) on the place sign for oyster-cards, then marched on - hesitated - came back two steps ... her gates closed - but in the meantime I had put my traveler card into the slot of the machine - the gates opened - she marched through - but they were closed for me. (Good for the woman, come to think of it: the queue behind me gave her a few names I am eager to learn...)
Of course there was no assistant near - but, as you see, this damsel in distress, Yours Truly, was rescued by that courageous forceful maid who followed me. 
I then walked into Regent's Park (alone) - and visited Queen Mary's Rose Garden. But of the many, many roses there only 'Gertrude Jekyll' had opened her eyes (husband told me the same happens at the moment on my balcony in Berlin - as Getrude was a very stern and no-nonsense Victorian Lady-gardener and artist, neither cold nor rain can stop her (and of course I bought the rose named after her long time ago).

Britta Huegel

Though I saw I was right not to order "Sexy Rexy" (I believe that rose was named after the actor Rex Harrison, who earned that label) - but maybe the plants in Regent Park were just very young, baby vegetables, so to speak.
But the day itself: it brimmed over with sunshine.
Which I will try to capture with this cunning device: they little Ladybird-backpack contains a cord - so the mother has a grip on the child who can't get lost in a crowd.

Britta Huegel

Saturday, 1 June 2013

"Puttin' on the Ritz" - or whatever you want

I always marvel when I catch that very special moment when something  is coming into reality, that weeks before was only an idea rushing through my head. There I started to think about it, planned, worried, stopped worrying (humming "What you focus on grows") - and then: a snap of the finger, and - whizz - I am actually here, standing on Trafalgar Square, or meeting my Facebook-friend Louise from Dover, or take a picture (precisely: 281 pictures) of the Chelsea Flower Show.
Now I am in London; having managed to bring my suitcase the long way through the tube, stopped worrying if someone will not be disillusioned by meeting me, and - wiser by being no spring chicken any more - I look left AND right when I cross the road, because I finally accept I will never learn that. 
I am here - in REALITY, not in dreamland! 
Above you (hopefully) see a dance from Top Hats - a musical I saw today - though it never crossed my mind that I ever would (normally I'm not much into musicals). Only a few days before, when Anne and I hastened through ice cold rain to Lincoln's Inn, she remarked: "Look - the Waldorf! And there - such a row of theatres with musicals!" 
And today I was sitting - well, not in the Waldorf - but in the musical Top Hats, because my lovely landlady invited me to a wonderful oldfashioned theatre with plushy seats, and a musical that gave us absolutely good spirits with its dishy tap dancers!  

Britta Huegel

This photo is not - as you might think - part of the musical, but a wall and the backside of seats in a restaurant were we (and sometimes 'Boris', as rumour has it) were dining before the musical.

Friday, 31 May 2013

"Take your brolly - they said it will rain!"

Britta Huegel

Well - I have to jump right into the puddle - writing, I mean - otherwise I have those lots and lots of things I want to tell you - but the good intention becomes the victim of perfectionism (as in "I shall tell about the Chelsea Flower Show first!") but I don't feel like it at the moment (though it was absolutely gorgeous!!!!)
And if I start to complain about the cold and the rain (and my envy about people wearing their winter coats and funny knitted caps - they were warm!) it is, as we say in Germany, also "snow from yesterday" - because today it was HOT! (And, to be fair: on Saturday at the Flower Show too, and the day when Anne and I were in Kensington Garden too; most of the people were lying on the green, green grass (a very posh gentleman in his immaculate suit, with a golden wristwatch and very fine shoes was lying for half an hour while speaking into his cellphone - all the time - but the sun even shone on him. Anne and I had the time to look at him because we recovered from the tour through the Kensington Palace, a wonderful meal in the Orangerie, and an extensive walk through the park).
YES, we have seen so much (this was not the programme for the whole day, oh no!) - and my friend is even more energetic than I (and she had only four days for a stay, so one day when we came back from Richmond, visiting her friend who proudly showed us her working place, the complete German school and its surroundings, and seeing polo players and walking miles along a lovely misty river Thames, then visiting the House of Ham, and then (!) Hampton Court, in and out, and then - coming back to Earl's Court, where our hotel was - she asked: "And what are we doing now?"
By and by I will tell you - but not now, as you might get tired.
Anne is back in Germany, and I am in Battersea now, and when I came back this evening the visiting sister of my lovely landlady and her niece said unisono: "So you are Britta - we heard of the many things you do and see - wonderful!"
Well - if you are in London now and see a tall slim woman running up the endless escalators of the tube - yes, the one in the leather jacket and a dark blue skirt and ballerinas (sign of how sensible I have become!), a pink little scarf and a dark-pink umbrella - that's me!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

To Whom It May Concern

As I have an appointment at the the RHS Chelsea Flower Show,

Britta Huegel

I will not be able to read posts or make comments for a while, sorry! 

Britta Huegel (photo), suitcase V&A

PS: The flat is under the vigilant watch of husband :-) 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Planning ahead!

Britta Huegel

As I am going to London next week, today I will only give you a part of the hilarious "The Diary Of A Provincial Lady" by E.M.Delafield -  (another part on Sunday) - to show you my mood and my amusement of watching myself...

July 17th. - Robert sees me off by early train for London, after scrambled and agitating departure, exclusively concerned with frantic endeavours to induce suitcase to shut. This is at last accomplished, but leaves me with conviction that it will be at least equally difficult to induce it to open again. (...)
Arrive at station too early - as usual - and fill in time by asking Robert if he will telegraph if anything happens to the children, as I could be back again in twenty-four hours. He only enquires in return whether I have my passport? Am perfectly aware that passport is in my small purple dressing-case, where I put it a week ago, and have looked at it two or three times every day ever since - last time just before leaving my room forty-five minutes ago. Am nevertheless mysteriously impelled to open hand-bag, take out key, unlock small purple dressing-case, and verify presence of passport all over again.
(Query: Is not behaviour of this kind well known in therapeutic circles as symptomatic of mental derangement? Vague but disquieting association here with singular behaviour of Dr. Johnson in London streets - but too painful to be pursued to a finish).
Arrival of train, and I say good-bye to Robert, and madly enquire if he would rather I gave up going at all? He rightly ignores this altogether.
(Query: Would not extremely distressing situation arise if similar impulsive offer were one day to be accepted? This gives rise to unavoidable speculation in regard to sincerity of such offers, and here again, issue too painful to be frankly faced, and am obliged to shelve train of thought altogether.)