Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

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" http://www.burstingwithhappiness.blogspot.de/ , 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 http://mpg-trier.de/d7/read/hebbel_herbstbild.pdf)
"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:

http://londonist.com/2014/09/surprising-photos-of-st-pauls-revealed.php

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  http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.de/: 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.