Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

'The House In Good Taste'

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
On Sunday husband and I talked about 'home' as (one) expression of ourselves.
People are always quite astonished at how we live.
Their fantasy paints pictures that might stem from husband's profession - "a university professor" at least in the German mind has a special image, and we often brim over with mirth when we remember a quote that son brought home in the days he still went to grammar school:
"I see you and your parents", one learned teacher told him, "in the evening - all three of you making Hausmusik in front of your fireplace." 
(If any student of Hans reads this, he/she will roll on the ground screaming with laughter too).
The second 'label' was quite correct: books, books, books (and some more books). Most of them in the three-room-study in our house in Hildesheim (above our big flat where we, the family, lived - and also many books in that too). Most of them are still in Hildesheim, (although 6000 went as an endowment to the Literary Archive in Marbach - though that didn't help much to create more space: miraculously the shelves filled up with lightning speed). "They are my tools", Hans says apologetically, and he is right - now they wait for him three or four days of the week in Hildesheim, because in Hamburg, then in Berlin, I wanted less of these dusty friends (there are still enough!).
A friend, an architect, said after his first visit to us: "I am so happy! I really feared what might have been your interior design - but I think it is absolutely you!"
You bet! A very mixed style, not many antiques (as a lot of people seem to expect), nor stylish modern "design". (I put it in brackets, because everything is design).
And my kitchen - which I like! - is a shock for all these dream-kitchen people, who look at the advertisements (where - in a ridiculously spacious kitchen - huge - grey - with a bar and lacquered shining fronts -  you might find after look hard enough somewhere in the vast wilderness a chic little couple, lacquered as their empty kitchen - maybe they discuss whether they will order something from the Chinese take-away, because that sort of kitchen isn't made for cooking). Or those baths: when I see the altars - oh, sorry, got the wrong impression: it is the bath tub, not an altar - also in a room as big as a football field -- I wonder... though I admit that I would like our bathroom in Berlin to be a bit bigger - (as it was in Hamburg) - our bath now in the 180 square meter flat has somewhat Spartan features - but then: we can live with that.
What we love and want most is space and light.
Except twice we always had Art Deco flats in the many cities we lived in - high ceilings, high windows, pitch pine or beautiful parquet, folding doors, stucco. In every flat each of us had a study - a room of one's own.
Our guests have to sleep on a comfortable daybed for two (I tested it) - if you need two seperate beds we have to think hard and please tell us before your visit.  
PS: The title of this blog is from Elsie de Wolfe's lovely book "The House In Good Taste", first published in 1913, written by 'The First Lady of Interior Decoration'.
I hope very much that you find that the Quiche and the lamb's lettuce and the home made mousse au chocolat will provide the good taste when you just drop in...


Friday, 14 February 2014

A Valentine for A.A. Milne - who reads from Winnie-the-Pooh



Dear You, 

I found the reading by the author himself on http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/02/13/a-a-milne-reads-winie-the-pooh-1929/ - a very inspiring blog with oh so many interesting subjects.
And as I love Winnie-The-Pooh so much, I wanted to share it - enjoy (the story starts after a few seconds).

So have a lovely Valentine! My next blog will follow soon, but now
I have to leave - I have something to do - I suppose I really ought to do it now. (...) It isn't the sort of thing you can do in the afternoon, (...), it's a very particular morning thing, that has to be done in the morning, and, if possible, between the hours of - What would you say the time was?" "About twelve," said Winnie-the-Poo (...). 
"Between, as I was saying, the hours of twelve and twelve-five. So, really, dear old Pooh, if you'll excuse me - 

Yours
Britta


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Berlinale 2014




Tilda Swinton was here at the Berlinale  - the film "Grand Hotel Budapest" was shown 7 minutes away from our flat at the Zoo Palast - and I missed her! 
I already missed her in Edingburgh , where I was at the Film Festval in 2010 by a hair's breadths:



Well, in Bremen we have a saying: "Three is the inhabitant of Bremen's right" - so hopefully next time.
And  I will see "The Grand Budapest Hotel" - quite certain.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players

Britta Huegel

Today I got a letter from a class-mate I haven't seen for - um, well... let's say: for a very, very  long time. To be accurate (haha): since our A levels.
She sent me this photograph - guess who of the four beauties I am in this Oscar-winning play?
Oh - you only guessed because I was tall even then - here stooping because I was insulted by that old bickering witch  decent housewife with the unbecoming headscarf - and you'll never guess what I was accused of...  
I played a lot in amateur theatre - and I liked it so immensely that I wanted to become an actress.
I may have told you before that the theatre of Wilhelmshaven (I lived in Bremen) offered me to play there - I repeat it, because I'm still a little bit cross at my parents, who received the letter with the the offer and didn't show it to me, of course as always meaning well for me - they suggested I should study something sensible.
Well, nowadays I see that maybe they were right (though I would have preferred to decide myself). Thinking of most of the other parts I played, they always showed a lot of leg, I was often wearing chic hats, and had to look vain (evidently the 'stage directors' didn't recognize my inner beauty). With that haircut - I thought - I could have run through Paris, "Out of Breath" together with Jean Paul Belmondo! (I  often tended more to Modesty Blaise than modesty. Glad to have outgrown that).
Later my employer, the Federal Employment Agency in Nürnberg, discovered my hidden talents and I acted in two films ("Counselling in Groups" and "Data Protection" - not very glamourous, I fear - though even then I tried my very best).
We have some actors among our friends, and I see that their life isn't always easy. But - and that is oh so important (to me, at least): it is very exciting, always. (You won't chorus my parents' song now, don't you - I know it - by heart).
Growing wiser (my best running gag, I know) I see the global play:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143 
 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Lady-in-Waiting


Dear You, 
oh I have to post the email I got today! As you hopefully have noticed, I gave you the address where you can order the wonderful CD "Wild Goosechase Expedition" of Scottiswoode & His Enemies from which I nicked the video "Beautiful Monday" in the last but one post. If you have forgotten were you put it: you can find the CD here:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/spott7

Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions - Yes... You Can!

Britta Huegel

Can you imagine?
It took me five years - FIVE YEARS! - in which every year I wrote down the good resolution (among others): "Learn to prepare a Bavarian cream". 
Well - though I love to cook and bake, and prepare an excellent Mousse au chocolat, I was too anxious to make this crème bavaroise. Pretended to have too much to do, though actually I feared words like "beat the egg-cream diligently in the bain-marie to a 'rose' - you recognize that rose-state when you blow softly over the wooden spoon and there forms itself a rose" - aha! I also have high respect for 'gelatine' - in Germany you only get it in form of stiff leaves, which you have to water, then press the water out, then slide them one by one - softly, softly - into the hopefully stiff beaten egg cream.
So every year I used my stays in Munich to go to the gourmet food - temple Dallmayr near the Marienplatz (http://www.dallmayr.de/delikatessenhaus/) and bought it there, highly content with what I got - and even more intimidated (Pearl of Wisdom: if you compare yourself, don't do it to the professional's ideal).
But this year I said to husband: "I will do it - now! Don't want to face another New Year's Eve with this unfinished business!" 
Of course I said this on the morning of Christmas Eve - still having to do the elaborate and not utterly uncomplicated Christmas Dinner for next day, of which the Bavarian cream should be the dessert (I was at least clever enough to arrange a meal in a beautiful French restaurant for the second day). So you saw this woman swirrling through the kitchen (YES - one has to prepare a raspberry puree too - haha: also with gelantine..)
Well: it worked out lovely.

Britta Huegel

You see that on my happy face:

Britta Huegel

So I am really proud of having done it. Finally. And I see - again - that many 'fears' are unfounded - but that I can only find out by doing it
So - after this deep insight - you might ask: what comes next? And you might hear me call:

                               WHERE IS MY HARLEY-DAVIDSON? !? Pronto! 


Monday, 6 January 2014

Beautiful Monday


You can order the CD "Wild Goosechase Expedition" by Spottiswoode & His Enemies here: (17 titles, very different and worth each of them!)
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/spott7 or https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wild-goosechase-expedition/id421044813
Dear You,
can you imagine that I DO LOVE MONDAYS?
People stare at me and wonder - but for me, Monday is like a clean sheet, a promise, a little new start every week. Of course I love the big start - New Year's Day - as well. Love Filofaxes to be filled with projects and plans, new lists, crisp new address books - in short: I love 'new' beginnings (but am faithful to old ones, too).
                 And I do love surprises: we had so many even in December and January:
- First on my birthday two days before New Year, when around noon the bell of our flat was ringing. Imagine:  for a tiny second I thought: Who is this beautiful tall young man standing in front of me? It was our son! He had come all the way from Munich to see me - and our lovely daughter-in-love came too (she had been one day in Hildesheim to see her parents), and so I got the biggest birthday surprise + present of my life!
- Second on New Year's Eve: we greeted it in Berlin from a roof-terrace in Prenzlauer Berg - the Fernsehturm was surrounded and illuminated by a gorgeous firework, and we were among a lot of friends of many nationalities, singing and celebrating and eating a dinner that a famous American Macrobiotic cook had prepared with other friends - utterly delicious.
- And then, two days ago, I met Jonathan Spottiswoode again, whom I first had come to know on the evening in London before we entered the narrow-boat - together with Matti (the friend and musician I showed you some posts before) and Angie Stricker (a beautiful singer) he sang in "Gelegenheiten", a little bar in Berlin, housed in a former butcher's shop.
Jonathan has a passionate, wild & tender husky great voice, very sexy, and the lyrics of his songs are stunning, giving us insights by putting something we all might have experienced too into a new perspective, focussing it, and you think "Yes, exactly". Beautiful lines about love of the seemingly ordinary, passion, acceptance, courage, willpower - strong and stirring.
Back to the bar 'Gelegenheiten' in Neukölln (Berlin): come to think of it this is the third remodelled butcher's shop I saw in a row: they opened a little café in one b.s in our street, we ate a gourmand French dinner in another b.s. in Prenzlauer Berg - and now this bar - it seems to be highest fashion to remodell and integrate the old painted tiles and stucco into a new destination - all dating from the beginning of 1900.
               So: What a great start with so lovely music and people this year! 
And today - Monday! - we celebrate our Wedding Anniversary!
After that I'm looking forward to a bit more routine and everyday life. But - although most of us have made resolutions for the umpteenths time - you know me a bit by now: presumably that time of 'routine' will not last very long...

My best wishes to you! And remember:
"Take another look at me: We all are beautiful! And we're all gonna make a difference. Beautiful Monday!" 

Britta