Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Fitness versus Cigarettes



In this opulent building, Greater London House, the London Kieser weight training center is housed. (Though, before you get envious green eyes like the cat: it is in the basement).


I think it quite ironical that the building formerly has been The Carreras Cigarette Factory - a huge Art Deco Building in Camden. One brand of cigarettes was The Craven.

"The building's distinctive Egyptian-style ornamentation originally included a solar disc to the Sun-god Ra, two gigantic effigies of black cats flanking the entrance and colourful painted details. When the factory was converted into offices in 1961 the Egyptian detailing was lost, but it was restored during a renovation in the late 1990s" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carreras_Cigarette_Factory - it's worth reading!

Well, people changed their minds, and now in the upper stores are media and advertisement agencies.







Back in Germany in a month I will have to make a decision:
my membership at Kieser runs out (I have been there now for 7 years, can do the exercises in my sleep, but get good results. They have only weight training).
Additional I have another membership in a posh fitness club around the corner (you can't go there without elaborate make-up :-) - I used it mostly in winter for running on the cross-trainer, when rain, cold and snow made me sit on the sofa instead of walking through Berlin. This club is an Eldorado for almost everything: weight training, aerobic, large swimming pool, Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates - whatever you want. The fee is much higher than Kieser's - though, if you decide to come in the morning between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. it is affordable.
I got a training in different weight machines there the day before yesterday. Went again today, leaving the house at 9 p.m. Coming back I looked at my watch: oooh - 2 1/2 hours... (Kieser takes this time too, with going there by underground, BUT I can come in the afternoon, in the time when my vital spirits have sunk a bit.
My "prime time" for working (with my head, not 'out') is between 7a.m and 12 o'clock. So - if I come home from Elixia tired, take a shower, dress anew - my first 'best time' is gone. The second one will start later.
They tell you to come three times a week.
And now I have to read "Your gym is punk-ass compared to this in the Ukraine!" Look at those pictures! http://bzfd.it/14ciEq4


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Berlin, I'm back!


On the photo above you see what I left when I went to London, to the Chelsea Flower Show: my balcony started to bloom, my roses were in buds, 'Gertrude Jekyll'  opening one eye.
I don't show you what it looked when I came back.
But it took me some time - to be exact: Tuesday to Wednesday - to work through 'Moomin Valley's Jungle'. My balcony-sitter - only watering, 'practically' putting all 'things' down on the floor - had left for a well-earned holiday - just before Berlin was hit by a three-days heat-wave (over 32°C) - so first I saw "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" - better: "The Dead, the Yellows, and the Ugly". All roses faded (hope some will forgive me and show up at a little forgive-and-forget party in early autumn). But they live - as the bux, the Japanese quince (well, sort of...), the vine, the morning glory of Karl Foersters house, and a few others.
And a surprise: the lilies from last year are in full bloom (yellow, as last year - but beggars can't be choosers). So: I can put my machete down for a while, rest a little - though it's cold again, and rainy, and I won't sit long on the balcony. As Gertrude says:

"A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness, it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust." 

That I'll need.




Sunday, 23 June 2013

London at Your Feet

Britta Hill




Yes, we did it!
I had wanted it so much, to go up the Shard. 310m it is high (though the visitor comes 'only' to 232m high)
The ride with the elevator was not as exciting as I had hoped (you know, I am an absolute fan of the moment an aeroplane takes off ) - no, it was moderate, no tingling in the ears or butterflies in the stomach.
You descend on level 68: a great view from inside through some of the 11.000 panes of glass. 
If you climb a few stairs up to level 72, it gets a bit more adventurous: still glass walls around you, down to your feet, but also fresh air and wind coming from above your head - and London looks even more like a mass of tiny toys a child has wilfully thrown out of a box:

Britta Hill



Britta Hill




In the ample month I have been here in London I have seen so much (even the list of the gardens I have seen would exhaust you!) - my sweet Landlady asked every morning: "What are you doing today?" - and when I told her in the evening what I had done, she often was more than astonished.
For example: the day before Hans arrived I had:
- wandered through the whole (!) beautiful Battersea Park 


- crossed the Albert Bridge by foot

Britta Hill

- walked along the Thames to the Chelsea Psysic Garden
- and of course visited it extensively (will write about it on my blog  'Gardening in High Heels')
- had lunch there and talked for half an hour with a very interesting couple from Northern London
- then I walked towards Sloane Street, decided it was time for a coffee, and visited The Old Pensioners 
- there by chance I met my old acquaintance from the last time, when I had been there with Anne - and he gave me a special tour through the whole building and its surroundings, afterwards we went to a Café near Sloane Street and chattet
- then I went home by bus.
That was a normal day. As in Bath, where I have seen so many attractions.
So: when I leave London, I do it with mixed feelings: I love to be here very, very much. I love the people, who are so friendly and so charming, I love the city, that is even more lively as Berlin, has a more daring architecture, and so many treasures. I was glad to meet representatives of the Old England, and of the Modern England, the mixture of many cultures and different people.
Samuel Johnson said "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."
I can't imagine that I will ever get tired of London.
Though - today in the evening, I have to confess: I am a bit tired. Just so, in a normal way.
I will fly back to Berlin tomorrow, and of course I look forward to our home, and my balcony, and lovely Berlin. So: See you there!

Britta Hill


Just meet me at the Shard, on the secret platform 9¾ , we'll have only to jump through the glass wall ... 



Britta Hill


Happy Birthday, Hans!

Britta Hill

Today was Hans' Birthday - and we celebrated it in London! He had arrived on Thursday, and today, after a wonderful dinner in the Orangerie of Kensington Palace he had to fly to Berlin again - I will follow tomorrow.
The days have been packed full with adventures - and were over too soon!

Britta Hill



Thursday, 20 June 2013

"Pretty Cool for a Pensioner"??


Britta Hill

First I want to say: I really adore Joanna Lumley!
I LOVED her as Patsy in "Absolutely Fabulous" - so hilarious, so blunt - so wonderful!
Then I loved her campaign for the Gurkhas.
And I think she is a very pretty role models for the "Young at Heart".
But I didn't like her last advert for "In the home with Sky Go":  www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLCGphxg6ds
There she is shown as a lovely to look at person - but behaving like a woman of the Fifties.
I don't believe that she (!) all these years had endured to watch (for her: boring) motor races with her husband without going to buy her own television set... And a bigger one as that little laptop she uses in the kitchen!!! I firmly believe that Joanna has what Virginia Woolf called "A Room of One's Own." (And she was not speaking of the kitchen).
But what really annoys me is that seemingly everbody does believe that people, as soon as they become pensioners - and in lovely England they can become that with 60 years, I have heard - get weak in the brain, lose their marbles, suddenly don't know how to use a mobile or computer.
Hey - we are speaking of people who became pensioners - so they must have been working somewhere - and where do you not need a computer nowadays? So: people who where managers, actors, mothers, whatsoever - suddenly are depicted as Rip van Winkle? König Rotbart? Having overslept the technical inventions of the last decades???
"Pretty silly", I say.
You are a great person, Joanna, you are a role model - don't play "Little silly me, not wanting to annoy big mighty husband". You are worth far more than that.
And: Old is not a synonym for stupid.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Plans versus Trial and Error

Britta Hill

Here in London I found out, that a plan is good - but then one has to be willing to give it up, if necessary.
"It seems to be productive to admit our personal insecurities, instead of merely continuing to pursue the rationalized and standardized approaches", writes the Icelandic artist Olaf Eliasson - proposing experiments as the ideal method for times of uncertainty.
Which I experienced.
How often had I to admit my personal insecurity to find a certain street or building (I will not speak about the different way men and - some, including me - women look at a map - I am only glad that my friend Anne goes unfailingly - AS I - into the wrong direction after looking at a map) - and so I asked people. They were always very friendly and tried to help. Some were so eager to help that they didn't want to admit that they had not the vaguest notion of  where that street was - helpfully they sent me into the wrong direction. (And only once I was a bit angry about it, when I schlepped my heavy suitcase the many steps down to the wrong side of the Underground... otherwise I took it with humour - I had time). 
Interesting, how many, many people didn't know the church behind the corner of their street, (that was my longest Odyssee, to find "The Browning Room" in the St. Marylbone Parish Church. I saw five churches (!) before I finally was there - then the room was closed.
People kindly took out their i-phones to have a look at the map, that helped a lot. Others said: "Really? THERE is Dr. Johnson's House? Gosh - everyday I pass by it, and I've never seen it!"
And today I was looking for Frederik Topolski's 'Memoir of a century' - and couldn't find it. It was near, very near - I could almost feel it... but not see it. Then it was closed for repair.


So I gave up my plan. And had the funniest and most astonishing walk since long. The beauty of the London architecture is so stunning!


Britta Hill



Britta Hill

I found an orchard in containers, then a garden project on the embankment,

Britta Hill

and then I even discovered a garden that was not on my list: I recommend to everybody who is slightly interested in gardens (and in London, near Waterloo Station) - the St. John's Church Garden! Such a bright gardener, with such a keen sense of colour and plant structure! Utterly lovely!
While I was looking at some mosaic containers,

Britta Hill


Britta Hill


a very adventurous looking young man came and asked me: "Do you like it?" "Yes!" I smiled. And he said proudly "I made it!" "How wonderful!" I said, and he told me about the project where young people were giving their time to doing mosaics. Just so.
So: I found out: often, when I wanted to see something desperately and had to search for it for ages, it was either a) shut, like dear Topolski, or b) not worth the trouble - as Dr. Johnson's House: I think they didn't do the exhibition lovingly. This is a simple example:


In Sir John Soane's House, they had put a dried thistle on every chair they wouldn't have you sit on; in Leighton House it were cones - here they just took an old string they found in a glass of pickled onions...
The positive thing I found out:
whenever I let myself drift, followed my instincts, joined the flow - I always found something miraculously, ever.
As our famous German plant breeder and gardener Karl Foerster once said:
""Suchet und ihr werdet noch ganz etwas anderes finden“- 
"Search - and above all you will find something else"

Britta Hill


 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Tooting: Bingo!!!

Britta Hill

An interesting article by India Knight on luxury made me hurry to The Bingo Hall in Tooting earlier than I had planned - I mean: who can afford the expensive life in London for long? I didn't want to be seen in Selfridges - yes, I was there, at The Sales, and at Harvey Nichols and Harrods - crying: "Does my purse look squeezed in this?" (the headline of another article about the frightened middle classes, also in the Sunday Times, by Laura Weir.)
To be honest: most luxury clothes from last season look very much like luxury clothes from - last season. Most of the things I wouldn't have wanted even as a present. My glance fell on things marked "New" - not because 'New' meant 'High fashion' - but because they looked comfortable and warm - they start the Winter Season now (for the first time I thought: How sensible! instead of: How crazy!)
Back to the Bingo Hall. It was opulent - it was awesome!

Britta Hill

It was built in 1931 by Cecil Massey in full Art Deco beauty (first cinema under Grade I Listening). .
The interior 'was designed by Theodore Komisarjevsky, a set designer, making use of ornamental plasterwork by Clark and Fenn. It has marble foyers both at the main and balcony entrances, and a hall of mirrors and deep ceilings more suitable for a palace than a cinema.'

Britta Hill




Britta Hill



Britta Hill



Britta Hill


Today the over 3000 seats (in Golden Times filled) were empty, and only a few old ladies played Bingo down in the huge ballroom (or whatever). 
                    Did I win? I love mysteries ... by the way: have you seen my new car/yacht/castle and horses?
Oh, sorry: almost forgot about the law lex sumptuaria...