Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 19 July 2015


©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
see: one must 'only' have the idea to change something ordinary into something that makes us smile. (I photographed this street barrier in Hamburg).
Which leads me to barriers we build ourselves within and which might stop us from smiling. To be specific: I looked for the reason why I didn't write that many posts in July.
The answer surprised me: I felt overwhelmed!
I really wanted to tell you about the gorgeous trip to New York with my daughter-in-love, and our meeting with a wonderful blogger there, staying overnight with her in the breathtaking surroundings of the Hudson-River. I haven't told you about all that (or shown any of the more than 600 photographs) - partly because I'm too lazy at this hot time of the year - yes, Berlin is boiling, and I don't complain! - partly because I am still travelling the world (haha: world - this time to Hamburg and Munich - LOVELY!).
Well, and as you all know by now: ths wayward Daoist tries very much to "live in the moment" - which often conflicts with another person in me, the diligent chronicler.
But it is way too hot to fight... even with myself - can't see my Jungian shadow because the sun seems to stand right above me... (is this a good metaphor/ picture? Too lazy to think about it).
Can you imagine: I even didn't learn any Italian the last weeks, acciderba!
Know what?
I just don't care. (Knowing myself I know that I will start again with Love in a Cold Climate).
So: I'll prepare a nice breakfast and sit on our balcony - it is still early, the air is mild and the birds look reproachfully at me (they don't dare to sip water from the birth bath on the little table).
Please don't join in! (Looking reproachfully, I mean).

Sunday, 28 June 2015

"It must have been difficult to leave".

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You,
"It must have been difficult to leave", you wrote in your comment, dear Emma.
And it was.
Not that difficult on an emotional basis (I will come back - so I am pragmatic), but on the everyday level: while on arrival I had been picked up by car at the airport of Heraklion, I had to cross the whole island on my own when leaving.
The flight started around 11 o'clock in the morning - "And don't believe that busses will be punctual in Crete!" a Lady in a Berlin travel agency uttered pessimisically.
But they were punctual! (More than our S-Bahn in Berlin at the moment, where one strike haunts the other).
But of course it would have been a stressful undertaking, so I arrived one day before leaving. First I took a taxi, than from Ierapetri a bus - which was very crowded, though nobody carried a chicken or a goat, which wouldn't have surprised me. It took hours, but those were amusing, because I could talk with a French Lady.
Husband had booked me a lovely hotel room in Heraklion - yes, now I indulged in luxury without a bad conscience - and I gratefully accepted to become even upgraded to a room with a balcony overlooking the harbour.

©Brigitta Huegel

In the evening I strolled about the old harbour,  

©Brigitta Huegel

and visited the Fortress of the Sea - a tower that was built in Hellenistic times, than rebuilt in the 7th or 8th century, and was called after the Venetian Conquest Castellum Communis - after a large earthquake in 1523 it was decided to replace it with the existing fortress.  

©Brigitta Huegel

All day it had been a bit rainy, first time ever, and the sea and the sky painted wonderful pictures. 

©Brigitta Huegel

...the last one almost a Dutch painting... 

©Brigitta Huegel

Saturday, 27 June 2015

From Crete with Love

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
NO - it wasn't us - if you scrutinise the graffito you will see that someone did it in 2013, so: "Proved to be innocent". 

Yesterday I went to a lovely party and came back this morning at 2 o'clock, so I'm still a bit tired, but as fresh as a daisy, having followed Queen Mum's example - sticking to G&T. 
So I hope you will be sympathetic about me doing my school work in a somewhat slack way... 

Showing you pictures of my stay in Crete.
Look, Mise: see my pink little rucksack on my bed? A torch of luxury in a rural though wonderful surrounding.

©Brigitta Huegel

The little cottages my Italian friend bought are under preservation of sites of historic interest - I felt a bit like a damsel (but not in distress - not even in the last week, when I lived there all on my own, I had no fear. Somewhere were neighbours... :-) - and the one green snake I met on a walk was quicker moving away than I.

©Brigitta Huegel

©Brigitta Huegel

But no WiFi, but beautiful nature - this whole part, Aspros Potamos, is proud of staying as much as Walden Pond as possible. (Of course Walden Pond is my interpretation).
But you might know me by now (a bit): even in the deepest wilderness this woman - The Lady of the house speaking - is Keepingup Appearances (hint: look at the tea bag):

©Brigitta Huegel

One has to walk 1 km through olive olive groves to come to the village of Makrygialos, and the sea.
I had a special place in a wonderful Gelateria, with homemade icecreams - but as I confounded the strict regulations about the permissible maximum weight for the flight luggage and mine, most of the times I took only a cappuccino. On the other side of the sea is Africa.

©Brigitta Huegel

And the people were so very, very friendly! Even though I confessed being German...(the only grumpy person was a manager in a bank, but we laughed about him and enjoyed the cherries a man had brought with him and shared with all of us).
Weather: end of May/ start of June: utterly marvelous! Lots of sun, and in the second week the water was warm too.
In that (solitary) week I met a lovely couple from Herfordshire, a Godsend, and we did and laughed a lot together, They even walked me back at night half of the way through the olive groves.
Though I already had started to become a courageous woman anyhow:

©Brigitta Huegel

here you see me after a ride to the monastry of Kapsas, where a Flamish translator took me (you saw the lovely stone pattern in my last blogpost).
Imagine: the last time I sat on a motorcycle behind my Dad I was five years old! Now I felt like Albertine from the film "Zazie dans le Metro" (and I told you, my Dad's name is Albert)
To drive the long winded road along the coast on a scooter was an adventurous treat!!

And yes, I will be back in Crete - maybe in September (but then my friends are waiting for me to join another narrowboat trip, different route), so maybe I will be back next year in early summer.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

A Plunge into Monks' Work

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
I'm back from my utterly gorgeous holidays. First almost two weeks in New York, then almost two weeks in Crete.
I will tell you soon about it, I have many adventures to sing about, and many photos to show.
But since I'm back I felt somehow overwhelmed when I thought of all that I want to talk about, and refrained. Kept my mouth shut (very unusual for me).
Then I looked at the photograph of the frontyard in Kapsa's Monastry on Crete - and found the answer to the "Why?" for my reluctance to write.
It seems like work to me - and (real) work I have enough at the moment.
As always I need more patience. 
So I will start and put one little stone after the other onto the ground - not all at once.
"Monnik-werk" - "monk's work" this kind of floor is called, a Flamish translator on Crete told me.
And if one is very diligent, something beautiful might become of it.
So I'll start - otherwise I'll might stare at my heaps of beautiful little stones - and keep silent forever, overawed.

©Brigitta Huegel

Friday, 8 May 2015

"... 's on the Road Again", lalala

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 

I'm so sorry: I really had no time - neither to write, nor to read your blogs or to comment.

"Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty, but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history."

Robert Kennedy said it in his speech in Cape Town in June 1966.
Please wish me creative energy.
I'm about to leave on Monday, together with my lovely daughter-in-love (yes, yes, I know the right expression - but I prefer this beautiful phrase coined by Susan).
Imagine: We'll go to New York!!!! (Only for a week, but nevertheless)
(Husband in Berlin and her husband - my lovely son - in Munich) will house-sit, while we are having fun.
And then, back again, after a very short pause I'll visit Crete for two weeks.

See my long-known photograph above, which I took years ago in the Victoria and Albert Museum?
It became a sort of emblem for me - and I love it!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Atonement and Acknowledgement to Mise

In her last blog Mise complained about not getting enough acknowledgement.
:-)     :-)      :-)    (Of course I would prefer little hand-painted periwinkles as on my Royal Doulton to these gross smileys, but on my computer there aren't that many left). In our modern and hectic life I learned that it is a fault not to use emoticons - nobody seems to  understand a little irony, especially the British people sadly lack it, though in former times it was one of their most famous literary virtues. (To be on the safe side:
:-)    :-)     :-)

The Irish people have kept their sense of humour. Especially Mise. See for yourself:

Oh, I got it a bit wrong: acknowledgement she gets, for her academic publications, but not elaborated and magniloquent enough, with far too few adjectives, on the whole far too tight-lipped - "insufficient" in one word.
Maybe you read my post "The Admirer" a few weeks ago - which I sent into the nirvana of blogland for some reasons I will not discuss here, where I spoke about my newly invented profession of "admirer" (well, after that I had some of them in my tows... they reminded me of Major Wilton-Smythe or Violet's husband Bruce. The Major has a way of conducting himself when in my presence that I do not always find helpful to me in my role as hostess. It is difficult to maintain one's dignity, which is so much part of my candlelight suppers, if one is continually being referred to as 'my little minx'.) 

Oh yes, it is a fact: nowadays people are praised far too little!
In my old blog "You are witty and pretty" (why did I ever give it up? I had a sort of column were I acknowledged my followers/bloggers from "The Bouquet residence - The  lady of the house speaking".
After that I became lazy with praise.

So I will make atonements here and praise Mise:

I love your blog - I should write "I LOVE your blog", because it always makes me laugh out loud, or at least smile.
Your writing style is as superb as that of the Provincial Lady (whom we both admire), it is not only about keeping up appearances, but also deeply profound.
As soon as your memoir or autobiography is on the market, Mise, I will buy it and put it into my book section: "Improving the Mind".
I mean "it would be entirely wrong of me to limit your social and cultural horizont by letting you know what I read and appreciate. However, since you have asked, I will admit that my favourite authoress is Dame Barbara Cartland. The fact that she has been honoured by Her Majesty to whom she has also been a kind of step-aunt-in-law, has nothing to do with the acceptability of her books, of course. But they are innocent, life-affirming and entirely without any untoward biological detail. And short. 
Other aristrocratic authors are less reliable. Ever since I once read something about Lord Byron, which I do not need to repeat here, I have been wary of members of the nobility who write. Sir Winston Churchill is a safe bet, of course. I have a picture of him on my dining room wall. His books were rather long, but entirely safe to lend, even to one's grandmother. 
Art is a different matter." 
To this delicate topic, might I refer to: ) ?

Mise, I'm waiting for your memoirs or autobiography - "let us in on some of your more precious secrets, so that we too will learn how to become the focus of our neighbourhood, and to be considered as central to our own social whirl."
I'm absolutely sure: Your book (served in floral endpapers - I hope you choose PINK flowers!) will be "broadening the mind" - and our smile!
And when the numbers of your sold books soar up to the millions, which they will in a second, I will invite you to one of my famous candlelight suppers, given: "for all those who delight in sophisticated conversation in spotless surroundings with the best crockery and cutlery"

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Rumpelstiltskin (in My Garden! - Ground Elder)

©Brigitta Huegel

Today I feel like the greedy king in the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin.
You remember: the miller, to make that already lovely maid even more attractive, bragged to the king that his daughter could spin straw to gold, and then the poor girl sits in one of the King's big chambers, filled with straw, and can make it only with Rumpelstiltskin's help. But as in most fairy tales once is not enough: three time's the greedy king lusts for more, and each time the amount of straw she has to spin becomes more and more...
And why do I feel like this?
Well, today is the first time of this year that Julia came, Julia who helps me to pretend that it is Me who is in charge of my garden - being the king of the castle, so to speak.
Last year we put up a brave fight against the green weedy members of the occupying forces on the long gravel walks, so I think Julia is now sophisticated enough to become consecrated into the secrets of battling ground elderwhich has as many names as rhizomes: bishopswort, ashweed, goatweed, pigweed, English masterwort, herb gerard, and, and, end! - lets do the only sensible thing that gardeners all over the world do when talking to a foreign friend: they use the Latin word, Aegopodium podagraria, and everything is clear.    
In the mind - not in the garden beds.
On the gravel walk it is almost impossible to make a mistake, but that is a place which ground elder seldom chooses - no, it prefers the herbaceous perennials, penetrates them lovingly by crocheting its rhizomes deeply into their roots. (It is not for nothing that you speak of garden beds).
That, like a strong spouse, provides it with the best possible protection you can think of.
First I tell Julia that she has to be gentle and careful with the perennials.
Then I show her the other plants that have to be spared - they are almost invisible among the gay green entanglement of bishopweed's leaves, wearing their magic hood on the silver-green lancet-shaped leaves of the faded snowdrops; the dark green spiky leaves with the white stripe in the middle of faded crocuses; the just now unfolding lime green powdered leaves of the auriculas; the pale pink waxen shoots of the bleeding hearts - they all must be lovingly protected from damage, while eliminating bishopsweed thoroughly.
Julia does her job very well, and she tells me that she almost enjoys weeding ground elder.
I share her feelings: when I do it, especially after a light warm summer rain that areates the soil, I sometimes fall into a kind of trance - I am hooked in more than one way, become cunning, hoe into the earth and triumph when I succeed in catching a particularly long string of a sub terrestrial rhizome.
At night after such a weeding orgy it can happen that I lie in my bed, my back hurting like hell, and behind my closed lids I see rows and rows of tiny dark red heads, helmets of an unending army of bishopsweed; I see the Chinese Terracotta Warriors and I feel as deadly exhausted as Qin Shi Huang Di. 
There are little triumphs, reminding me that nothing in life is only good or bad: if you have The Knack and neither pull too firmly nor too meekly, you might catch 50 centimetres or more of the rhizome, and tearing it up you gloat with pride and call yourself a Master of the 5. DAN and wrap your Godan around your hurting hips and Julia calls you RHENSHI.
Dream on... -  in the end there is always only ONE winner - and that's not I...
Cut ground elder's rhizome with your spade accidentally, and it will behave like Rumpelstiltskin, who out of fury ripped himself in two parts at the end.
See? SEE, gentle reader and knowing gardener, where the author is leading you to? Yes: as a connoisseur you see the Learnean Hydra, raising her nine ugly heads and be sure: you'll always come to the one that is immortal and thus indestructible, and your labour will start again, my dear Hercules.
And why am I feeling like the king in Rumpelstiltskin?
Well: Julia cheerfully worked two-amd-a-half hours in one flowerbed.
But then, when this task is done, and the new day dawns, a glance at the bed behind the rose trellis will reveal another chamber, twice as big, filled with the double portion of straw -- err, no -- a bigger bed, filled with ground elder....