Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Lewis Carroll's remark on My Luggage

When I told our son what I have packed into the two suitcases for the houseboat-trip, he sent me this (from Lewis Carrol: The Hunting of the Snark).

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Tao of Wishes

Brigitta Huegel

One of the books my dearest English friend, Stephen Russell, The Barefoot Doctor, has written is called: 'Manifesto. How to get what you want without trying.
Had I but thought about it a bit longer! 
But no - carelessly I told Husband that I would appreciate to live on a houseboat. Very much. (I had seen some nice exemplars like that above on the Spree). 
"You?", asked Husband. "On a boat? Living on a damp, narrow, moving boat?
I felt piqued. Said: "Pshaw - I have many undiscovered facets you don't know!"  
The Tao listened. And laughed. 
And so a few days ago I got a surprising offer. 
A friend - and friends of him - will make a trip on a narrowboat from Bradford-on-Avon to Bath, direction Bristol, and back again. 
From the "(2 x) Three Men in a Boat" two had resigned - so Husband and I were asked. He, deep in writing an essay on "Luxury", has no time - but I..? 
For a second I hesitated. Then, without batting an eyelid I stared into Husband's eyes (did I imagine that I saw deep laughter in them?) "Of course I go", I said. "Such a big chance!
Which it is. I hope that the weather will be fine. 
But not being THAT starry-eyed anymore, I bought a dream-shiny-fuchsia Max Mara-down-vest - beautiful,slim and snuggly warm under my Burberry-Jacket. Then I rummaged through my winter wardrobe and pulled out the long black woolen-silk wool-pants with frills around the ankle. 
Yes! I know chapter 3 of Tove Jansson's 'Comet in Moominland' by heart, headline:  'Which is how to manage crocodiles' .  
So: come what may: Be prepared! 

P.S. For those who don't  know Tove's book (which is a fault!): Moomin's mother unnerves the young adventurers before their trip to take wool-pants with them (that's how mothers are) - and later, when they have to fight off crocodiles in a water tunnel they throw the heavy wool-pants into the wide open claws of the crocodiles. Saved! 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Autumnal joys

To show you that I am a very practical person too! (The wasps already know it).
And I have a big (travel) surprise in store (well: for me it was). Will tell you soon.

I COULD have given this little post also the enticing title: "How to stay young" (together with the so-called plum-cake-diet it would assure me approximately 10.000 clicks on this blog :-)
See: I found a very simple way to stay young: forgetfulness. Without any doubt in my heart I honestly wrote in the post about 'Kitchen gardens and Dig for Victory gardens' that son was five years old when I wrote that post. That's true. Then I added: "I wrote this essay 14 years ago".
And I believed it when writing that, thinking: "14 years ago? Time flies!"
Next morning I had a strange feeling... 14 years ago? But - oh -- then son would be 19 years old now. But he isn't.
He is 29 by now.
Well: what is a decade for a woman like me? I will remember most of it - but forget to add it mechanically to my age... Give me the wonder-cake, please!

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

Just got the wonderful email from Gay that she plays in this production in the Apollo Theatre in London's West End. The play is based on the novel by Mark Haddon.
I am so glad, and as shared joy is double joy I recommend it to those of you who are in or near London - I'm sure it will be worthwhile!

Friday, 6 September 2013

My ÜberIch (Superego)

Brigitta Huegel

This morning I was roused from sleep two times: first by our neighbour above (to be exact: 3.80m above me, yes, our ceilings are high - and yes: our floors are all parquet which makes a jolly sound when you buy yourself new shoes, as he seemingly did, and then hustle and bustle through the wide rooms - at 5 o'clock in the morning!!! Main destination, so it seemed: the corner above my bed). 
The second time - it was now 7 o'clock, very late for me, but I had to catch up on some sleep (see above) it was my strong ÜberIch that whispered into my ear. 
To be more exact: it gave me a lecture. 
"What were you thinking of when you wrote that last post in 'Gardening in High Heels'?" "Häh?" "Don't say 'häh' - a groomed German Lady says 'Wie bitte'?" "What??" 
My ÜberIch took a seat at my desk and changed its contours to look like my beloved German/English - teacher Frl. Dr. Mergel (you know her by now). 
"If you had given me that as an essay, I would have written "Beside the point!" under it - in red ink.
I rubbed my eyes. 
"Under the admittedly quite catching headline "Kitchen gardens and Dig forVictory gardens" - what do you think people will expect?" "Ehm... äh..." "Don't mumble - speak clearly!" "Well, I would think I get some information on kitchen and victory gardens." "Bravo! But what did you serve? Eh?" "I...äh...I..." "Don't stutter. You served a - to stranger's completely uninteresting little story - about what your 5-year old son said - instead of facts, quotes, thoughtfulness." "Sorry!" "Yes, you can say that. If you weren't adult (hahaha) now, I would give you an hour's detention." "Ouch"
We made a deal - because I wanted to have breakfast, and she wanted - I don't know... Hopefully go one storey up and teach our stamping neighbour a lesson - in form of his old  teacher. 
The deal is: I inform myself on Victory gardens. And tell you - as soon as I find time. 
"I heard you", she said ,while her wonderful cherry-red ladies costume and then her figure and face dissolved, "I heard you humming under your breath!" 
And then she sang. 
In French this time:

(...Mais le soleil se fit taquin
Me cribla de carton d'éculaire
Et fit lancer sur mon bouquin
Des lutins à barbe séculaire
Géométrie rassurez-vous
Je serai fin prêt pour septembre
Mais à tout choisir je vous l'avoue
Mieux vaut le sable que la chambre

Yes - she knows my tricks by now, though I never played truant - maybe that's why she is called ÜberIch. 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Jamie Oliver and "Poor" Eating

Brigitta Huegel

As most of you will know, I'm really interested in nutrition.
When I see so many obese children here in Germany - sitting in the underground, drinking lots of Coke, one kid occupying two seats, I think: "Poor, poor kids!"
These children are often scolded by other children pitiless, they refuse to play with them, shun them. Obese children are victims of their upbringing. Often parents, who don't "Have" enough time for them, give them money instead - I watched little schoolchildren coming from school, which in Germany often ends about 1 a.m, going to McDonald's or buying sweets at the kiosk. Sadly, the meals in full-time schools are often cheap, but nutritionally cheap too. 
Would it help to bring back into school the class for basic cooking and household knowledge, that long time ago was abolished? Give a net, teach to fish, make children independent, give them a choice? Of course those classes must be for girls AND boys. Showing a football-hero cooking, a singer sitting with her children at a table and eat - pipe dreams? 
A few years ago Jamie Oliver attempted at a school to teach children how to eat in a healthy way (and there were rumours that mothers and aunties stood at the fence of that school and gave the 'poor children' chocolate bars...).
I think it is a very, very good thing to teach and try to enable a change.
Give role models. Not (though well-intentioned) laws as the Green Party in Germany tried to advance, suggesting that everybody in Germany MUST have a vegetarian day once a week. Telling people what and when to eat is no good: in a democracy you can teach, try to convince - but then people have the right to make their own adult choice, as long as they do not hurt the health of others. Laws that make sugar expensive, or forbid trans-fats (the cheap fats in so many 'convenient' food) might work. But look at the attempt of NY's mayor to forbid the huge Coke-bottles. I heard that even Michelle Obama had to change her fight against the food industry to the (also convincing) 'Let's Move Campaign''. I really admire her attempt to change nutritional habits, but do also believe that the food industry has great influence (look at the following post - I don't know which political direction Marion Nestle belongs to, but her arguments sounds convincing:
Jamie Oliver talked of 'people staring at a huge TV screen, eating out of styrofoam-boxes". He accused poor people to spend their money on 'entertainment' instead of spending it for valuable nutrition.  
In London I had the impression that supermarkets offer a lot more convenience food - and in huger portions - than in Germany. I loved the picture of hundred of Londoners sitting on a sunny day on the steps of St. Paul's, eating out of little card boxes. Because I have nothing against meals out of card-boxes, it can be fun, like a picnic: it depends on what is in the box
Or on the plate: in the little restaurants in Berlin or London where people order 'Business lunch', I fear that the three decorative lettuce leaves often only hide that these dinners might be not much more valuable in nutrition as styrofoam boxes and lunch-bags. 
That's why I added the Punch-and-Judy-photo (which I took in Russel Square): it is so easy to hit a certain group, while another group is 'sinning' only on a higher level...
The suggestion of home-made food - or 'Naturally Fast Food', as LEON called it rightly - is good! Takes often not more than half an hour. (OK - you have to shop).
But I fear it is often sheer laziness (or exhaustion): people - rich or poor -  love to look at cook-shows in TV, but it is more comfortable not to cook. Not to clean-up afterwards. Or have to do the dishes.

Jamie Oliver said that it is not more expensive to feed your family with fresh home prepared food. Buying at the farmer's market instead of huge units in the supermarket - and then throwing away half of it, because it rotted. 
I'll tell you about my field research "Farmer's market versus Supermarket" in the next post. Looking forward to the face of the farmer when I ask for '10 mange-touts' - or 'grab them', as Oliver said. 
See you! (Hopefully)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fanfare! My new Website.

Brigitta Huegel
So it is ready: my new website! 
Have a look (yes, we managed to keep the same address as before): 

But that is almost all we kept. 
Thank you so much, Michael Felix Kijac, for the lot of work and ideas you put into it. 

There is more content now, but it is easier to read: 
a short teaser, and then, if you want to know more, you can cklick and see (and if you wish: download) a detailed Pdf
And here comes my plea: 
a professional translator always translates only from the foreign language into his own. 
Here (as in my blogs) I translated from German into English - and am fully aware that you will find a lot of faults: grammar, vocabulary, idioms... 
I would be very, very pleased (yes, really!) when you give me a hint where I have gone wrong. When Michael returns from his journey to Belgrade he will fill in all your corrections. 
Of course I don't expect you to read all those long texts - but if by chance (chance? hahaha) you notice a big blunder, I will be very thankful for your advice. 
Thank you so much!