Britta's Letters from her life divided between city-life in German's capital Berlin and life in a Bavarian village

Tuesday 25 December 2018

"Old and New" - "Happy New Year"!

"Old and New" - that is how the Dutch call New Year's Eve
I like that - and it gives me something to think about. 
Some of you might have noticed that I (megalomaniac as ever) started a new blog - in Dutch
I do it to force myself to write a tiny coherent text (though: coherent...mmmh...) 
I started to learn Dutch in autumn 2017 - and really work a lot to grasp it. 
Reading and translating it is ok (at the university we have to read literary texts that a lot of Dutch people will not know); understanding conversations is ok, though one has to listen very carefully, and writing, well... Very difficult: to speak the language, fluently I mean. 
At the university I wondered: in some language courses we had to discuss (the modern method of learning a language - just jump). I was flabbergasted: we greenhorns (some even from other countries and thus with an interesting accent different from our also interesting German accent) discussed in little groups of three or four - and the teacher often was far away in the seminar room, helping other groups smattering... hahaha, that (and I mean the students, not the teacher!) reminded me of the German saying "The Blind leads the Lame". 

Now, Mrs. Hill - concentrate: why "Oud and New"

Because all my life I tried to keep my "old" friends when Pomp and Circumstances drove me into other parts of the world (I moved 17 times...) - and I managed that fairly well. 

So: I want to have the cake and eat it (oh yes - not only megalomaniac but also immodest! - though this might be two sides of the same coin).

I want to keep you, dear old friends - and the new Dutch ones.
(And there are many things that connect you - think of 1652 - 1654)
(Not only megalomaniac and immodest but also insolent - which reminds me of a politician... what was his name again?) 

Oh: WOW - Google reminds me - the words jumps up in the right corner of my computer display - "Second Christmas Day - Tomorrow" 
Had I but known! Thank you, Google!

I wish you a Happy New Year - Oud en Nieuw - and "Stay with me!" dear friends! 

Britta XXX

PS: If you are learning Dutch too - or want to make some educated guesses - this is my new blog:

Sunday 16 December 2018

A very special demonstration

In Berlin we have lots and lots of demonstrations. It is the democratic right of persons to utter their opinions - and sometimes you see 100 policemen protect a group of five lonely demonstrators, and the people wait - passengers on foot and cars - to go further, and sometimes we are not that full of inner peace as Christmas promises...
"No!" I thought yesterday - "another one! Right in the middle of the highest traffic, right in front of the KaDeWe!"
And than they came: hundreds of Santas and angels on motorbikes -

                             WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT!

I wish you a merry 3. Advent!

Monday 5 November 2018


Since October the new semester at the Freie Universität Berlin - short: FU - has started.
As you know I do "Dutch studies" - the philology of the Netherlands -so  I learn Dutch as a language, but also about history, literature and linguistic analysis.

I love it!

Learning the language comes easy to  me (though of course I have to work a lot - but I enjoy that). Sometimes it is confusing - e.g. when I search for my blog for an English word - but Dutch turns up! (Which reminds me of the fabulous short story Cicerone by Atte Jongstra. He is a postmodern Netherlandish poet, who in that story compares his brain to a warehouse, where the salespersons run to bring him his memories - but they are sometimes unruly - take a long time, get lost in the storeys or the cellar, or turn up deliberately with other items than those he asked for.
Postmodernism wants to show that language or a text is not "plain truth" - every reader puts his own interpretation into a text.
As we all know when we talk to someone, or write something, and are misunderstood. (N'est-ce pas, Tom?)

Arriving at the university on an early (very early) crisp November morning is bliss.

And I am utterly proud (and have to brag a bit about it) that I connected easily with the young students (I was the only silver-back among 22 young people, the oldest (haha) of them being 25, the youngest 18).

That is one of the big nice surprises in my advanced life!

The wooden sculpture of the little fox which you see above - and which I love as a symbol of "intelligence" - has gone. Vanished.
(I will not overdo it - but it reminds me of a book by Cees Nooteboom's Nachts komen de Vossen" - "the Foxes come at Night". I hope this one does it too! )
So the campus looks in the early morning a bit void - but still beautiful.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

"You just can't get decent help these days!"

...says Walter Matthau - and he is right! 

Shouldn't you have told me?? 

I mean: it WAS a mistake when I wrote in my last post that I was reminded of Katherine Hepburn in "Cactus Flower".
Because it was Ingrid Bergman.
Well, well, well - now I know.

By the way: Look at this, please: 

Saturday 27 October 2018


Honestly: I can't remember when I bought my last cactus.
More precise: If I ever bought a cactus. 
I had one or two as a "teenager" - they were very easy to maintain, but my heart was not with them.
In the shopwindow of "Urban Outfitter" at the Ku'damm stood a whole collection - tiny, very tiny - the photo above only makes it appear big.
I stared.
Went in.
(And fretted about my motivation. I mean: A cactus?!? The thought of a movie with Catherine Hepburn made me think even harder - was it a symbol? Do I become unruly, cross-grained, in my rebellious search for the Holy Grail?).

A cactus is a pricky, evil little thing.
In the store I thought them "funny" - and that is a word I learned to become very cautious of in connection with clothes or furniture, for instance. It always means: "funny" only for a very short time - then regret sets in, because most often it is - kitschig.
This one too.
Look at that pot! (Well, I can turn it around, then it is plain white).

What astonishes me most - beside the fact that I bought a cactus - is, that I even didn't buy the one I wanted (a miniature of the huge proud cacti with "arms" pointing up into at a relentless burning sun and blue sky in the desert Gobi...)
No, I bought that little fat one.

Because I saw that it was the only one (amongst about 50 others) that had little buds.
Pink. (You have to stare very hard to see it).
Sometimes one has to - stare very hard - to find a bud nugget - but it might be worth the effort!

Sunday 21 October 2018

Enjoy What Is

At breakfast I sit near the balcony, door open, the cool air of autumn comes in (and yes: since a few days I have added the rose-coloured dancer-Warm-up stockings, that have exactly the color of the rose in the photo above, to my dressing gown ).
The rose is "New Dawn", she accompanied me from Hamburg to Berlin, and never complained that here in the Big City she has to live in a huge pot instead of crumbly rich garden earth.
(Maybe you cannot even call it "a life" - but: she exists).
She is a fighter, a tough little person - able to look after herself (with "A  little help from her friends"), so by no means unprotected.
And this morning at almost the end of October I discover a new blossom - porcelain rose-coloured as always.
Wonderful smell, light shining through.
I think that this is how it should be:
Be tough, but also gentle, accept where you are (I am not talking about me - I WANTED to go to Berlin!) -  and let the light shine through, do not harden your heart.
Yes - I also see the little brown spots at the outer petals - but which life is without bruises? I see much more beauty, and willpower - signs of life, signs of braveness, signs of triumph over circumstances.

                                                     It's  LIFE we're talking about! 

Monday 15 October 2018

Google swallows my comments

I am vexed: I wrote a long-ish comment on Rachel‘s post „Soulmate“ - had to give in my password for my google-Account - said „publish“ - and all of it vanished in the sky.. Might be that this only happens on my I-pad, because I thought (but still have to check) that I have commented on Tom‘s blog. This is all so annoying and time- consuming!  

Sunday 14 October 2018

Back from Portugal and The Netherlands

I took better photos of beautiful Lissabon, where we have spent a marvelous week. With mostly 30°C the temperature was so high that we gained another week of summer.
I do love Lissabon very much - I was there for the first time - and above you see the view from our phantastic hotel room.
As you know, I never announce in advance that I will travel, because I am always a bit afraid that someone on the shady side of The Law might use this knowledge to his advantage.

Now I am back - after some sunny days in the Netherlands.
And will unpack my suitcases for a while.

See you!   

Monday 24 September 2018

I promised Geo. the photo of a raindrop

I took this photo on my narrow boat trip in September 2017. Rosemary will instantly see where I found this subject.

A subtle hint: 

A hint:

Who got it??

Thursday 20 September 2018

Thank you - and flowers for all of you!


It works!!!
After I tried out all your advices, (and honestly: I do not know which one helped in the end - I saw stars in front of my overworked eyes) - but the result is here:

                                           Google gave me my identity back! 

(I feel a bit as the German philosophy booktitle: "Who am I - and if: how many?")

And I learned something which seems to me to be too profound to be applied only to computers:

"Sometimes it all goes a bit weird for me, but corrects itself later." 

Yes - a metapher for Life!!!!  So:

                                    THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR HELP!  Britta XXX 

Wednesday 19 September 2018


I wonder (and worry): I answered the comments of Gwil and Rachel - but cannot publish them, and my Google profile is not to be reached (thus I cannot comma on your blogs either). Has anyone here the same problem? And what can I do? Thank you for your help, Britta (hope I can publish this)

Sunday 2 September 2018

Do less, get more

Yesterday I went to Dussmann in Friedrichstraße - oh no: not a simple bookshop! - it calls itself a "Kulturkaufhaus" - a shop to buy culture, mmmh, mmm, mmh - would be a nice thing for some people in Germany...
It has a special section, the "English Bookshop" - and that most often gives me ideas, and I seldom leave with only one book.
(Nowadays - even if you buy for more than 20 Euros - they give you the book you paid for over the counter, just like that.
Then I put on what I call my Freiherr von Knigge-glance -- very haughty, very severe - and ask: "Will you PLEASE put it into a little paper bag, dear?"
(I had to ask at Peek&Cloppenburg too, where I bought an Armani-dress for summer: they put the dress into my hand and thought that I would walk away with it, just like that!
And if you do not pay attention, they forget to give you the receipt too - I mean: with all the security guards and detectives around: how will you prove you really paid for it??
The book above is a reminder:
spend more time on things you love - and not on chores you think you have to do.

And that reminded me that I love blog-writing (even if I have - as everybody else - little time) - and that I should just try to keep it simple, not being a perfectionist about photos e.g.

So I will give my blog-writing what they call it in modern relationship-babble:


Wednesday 8 August 2018



It is summer, and it is hot, hot, hot. 

So hot that people wear little nothings - men open their shirts and their huge bellies have the freedom David Hasselhoff was fighting for; and extremely well-nourished women wear mini-shorts, and thousands of them display huge tattoos. 
Everywhere you look at their generously exposed bodies. 

The University of Leipzig estimated that 
19 million people in Germany have Tattoos. (A third of the people under thirty has at least one). 
And these tattoos are not the teeny weeny Chinese ideographs (how come that I first wrote "idiograph"?)
(The photo above I found in a glossy magazine) In Berlin you can admire hole landscapes on legs, arms, shoulders, backs and sometimes even on  faces. 

Tattoos are not without risk. 
Everybody (!EVERYBODY!) in Germany who owns a "starter kit" is allowed to tattoo his victims prey  customers. 
- You risk an aesthetic disaster (just look around!!) 
- You risk your health:  There might be poisonous parts in the colours which are not designed for tattoos, but for car paint (honestly!). 

And if you want to get rid of "I love you, Annicka!" for "I love you, Babette!"? 

Well: You have to pay: sometimes thousands of Euros if her name was a long one (choose Babs instead next time!)

You can a) let somebody cut it out (iiiiih!); or b) let them use chemical etching lotions (ouch!)  or - and that will be the choice of most: c) laser. 

I hope that these three painful methods are used by doctors only. 

So, don't hum Bob Dylan's song "Don't think twice - it's alright!" when you enter my tattoo study --- it might be the wrong song.  
Better hum: 

           "Needles and Pins!"

Thursday 2 August 2018

Some Cannot Boil an Egg!

I saw it - and I wanted it.

It will save so much space  - and time - and it  looks so cute!“ 

Though I live on 180 square meters, I bought it.
In the Netherlands I had learned The High Art of Boiling an Egg.
Which implies not just boiling- oh no: boiling the egg for precisely 4 and a half minute - after asking  myself: „Am I -  just now - above or below sea level?" How come that at that point I always had to think of M.F.K. Fisher and her fabulous book: „How to Cook a Wolf“ ?
In Berlin I found a few flies in the ointment of my new kitchen device:
- it takes an awful long time
- the outside which you have to touch to stop the high pitched "stop!"-button gets really hot
- AND: it is not only designed for a dwarf´s kitchen (hope that I do not use a political incorrect word - I’m speaking of fairytale dwarfs) - it also needs dwarf fingers (for my 1.78 m I have astonishing little hands, and they are very capable for everything in craftwork),
- no: it also demands utter precision (also no problem for me - for some time I wanted to become a pharmacist because I like using pipettes and tiny scales).

But worst of all: It cannot boil a soft egg!
Golf balls: yes, thank you: here it manages well.
But soft eggs -  whatever I tried - NO.

When comes the day when you ask yourself:
Is it worth all the efforts?

In this case I decided after three weeks: NO!

(PS: Does anyone remember the hype in the Nineties (I think) about „Feng Shui“?
Change your fate by just moving some things around - and if you want a happy partnership, NEVER buy a single item, always (!) buy pairs.
A single-egg-cooker - I am sure - would have meant „bad Feng Shui“, even a thousand years ago.
Though I cannot verify that - I tossed out all my Feng Shui books a long time ago.

As I will do with that cute little egg-boiler!

Wednesday 9 May 2018

A Connoisseur of the Art of Living

The German word "Lebenskünstler" - which  literally means "an artist in/of life" - has no real equivalent in English.
The dictionary offers me "hedonist" and "spiv" and "person who makes the best of things" - but that's not quite "IT".

Well - here you see one of my neihbours (no privacy intruded) - he is a real "artist" in life, meaning he works in varieté and does many, many surprising things with his body (walking on a high rope is only one of it).

And he kows how to live his life in the most creative and happy way.
He does not own much - but he has ideas. Sees chances - and grasps them.

A year ago he put two chairs into the wildernis of our Hinterhof (our absentee landlady does not permit to use it or make a garden out of it).

Then one of the chairs (if you stare hard you might find it at the left side) became what I will call  "the poetic idea of a chair", a mere quote, because  it misses the important part of a chair: the seating surface.
It is very Zen-like, very Buddhistic, this chair!

But our artist used it the other one today - the second chair, which still is sort of ok - and as we have the third day of summer in Berlin (28°C! in mid.May!), and he, different from us, has no balcony - uses the wildernis in a very creative way.

And, as you might have noticed:

He follows the sun!

Friday 6 April 2018

Houses in Berlin

People buy and buy property in Berlin (as they do in other big cities) - with the result that the prices (and rents) go up like skyrockets...
People think of it as an "investment", they often do not intend to live there, but use it as a holiday flat once or twice a year.
I know rich Italians who did not even come over to look at what they buy - they told their estate-agent what they were looking for and he bought.

They might be in for a big surprise :-)

Oh YES: the beautifully renovated house is right beside the KaDeWe, our imposant top luxury department store. (OK - maybe the estate agent forgot to tell them that from 6 o'clock in the morning the less stylish vans and trucks come and bring fresh goods for the gourmet-floor...)
And it was better that they did not see the house before the renovation, which was done in a surprisingly quick and superficial way by poor people from Poland (or beyond). Who wants to know that it had looked like The Castle of Otranto, or something taken from a Gothic movie...
No - now it has the certain je ne sais-quoi (though ...I do ... know... :-)
And yes: it HAS an elevator.
What they do NOT know is a speciality of many old Berlin houses:
you have to climb many many stairs too reach the first floor - where the elevator starts! -  (if it consoles you: the many many steps are very steep, but made from marble!)
Above I show you the photo I took at my dentist:
I am convinced that some people will need no anesthesia, when they reach the elevator at the first floor... they might be very sedated, utterly numb...

This is the antique elevator:

Nice - really! - but it comes along with a large manual how to use it. ("I never in my life have used it", said the doctor's receptionist and shuddered slightly, and then added in a dark low voice: "You are really courageous!" ) 

I am not courageous, but I am curious. It was a very funny rideI And ended with a heavy bump.
(Yes: I was a bit scared when I had to try and try and try to close the strange doors 'the right way' until  finally I got the old chest moving...

The huge old mirror inside reminded me of those in the funfair, House of Mirrors, where some mirrors draw you thin and tall, or as here: compress you to plump and stout...
But this woman takes up her cross and banishes her vanity ... all in the pursuit of an interesting photo.

And then you are down again (hopefully):

And you stagger down, and step outside, into the lovely sunny spring air, and you see the first blossoms on trees, and you are
                                                            YOU ARE FREE AGAIN!
                                                              YOU ARE OUT!
                                                             BACK TO EARTH!

Tuesday 3 April 2018

Wishful Thinking

©Brigitta Huegel

I took better photographs of the big starfish I found in Noordwijk, Netherlands.
But I cannot find this photo at the moment - the only choice now is between NOT to write this post or use this not so perfect photo.
Reality versus perfectionism.
Sign of beginning wisdom that I let realism win?

Why "Wishful Thinking"?
Well: about two weeks ago, walking at the shore of the North Sea in Holland, I thought:
"I want to find a seahorse."
(It is always good to aim for something high: genus hippocampus is nowadays so rare in the North Sea, that a few years ago the fisherman Manfred Sophra in St. Peter Ording (Germany) who found a litte seahorse among the caught fishes and crabbs, brought it instantly to a breeding farm).
Yet I wished.
And No - I did not find one.
But I found something else (though took it not with me): a starfish.
When I showed the photos to Wietske, who is in Berlin my Dutch "tandem" and friend, she said: "I NEVER found a starfish, NEVER."
I did. Expecting something extraordinary sometimes help. (Advice: Never be too specific if you are looking for something - all women know that: if you err through a department store in search of the cobalt blue blouse, you will find lots of pink, white and green ones --- but cobalt blue? Sorry..).

I love this little story about starfish:

A young man and his friend walked along the sea, and on the shore they saw many many starfish after a storm, still living. 
The young man bent down, threw a starfish back into the sea, bent down again, threw another one back into the sea - until his friend asked:" What are you doing?" 
"I throw them back to the sea, so they can live." 
"But", said his friend, "look at the shore: there are hundreds and hundreds on it! Honestly: it will not make any difference if you throw a few ones back to the sea!" 
"To this one it does!"  answered the young man and threw another one back. 

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Arthur & Claire

Now I am well again - a little feeble maybe after being sick from undercooling, as the blossom of this magnolia, but underneath I am still "steel".
I lost two kilogram and weigh now 59,4 kg - not so much for my 1.78m.
But one visit to the Netherlands will change that again... :-)

The film "Arthur & Claire", with Josef Hader and Hannah Hoekstra was a very funny, black comedy (nowadays they would call it "bitter-sweet") - two suicidal persons spending a night in Amsterdam.

"Do you always invade in someone else's room? Do you Germans still do that?" cries the young Dutch Hannah outraged, when Arthur enters her hotel room to hinder her to swallow an overdose of lethal pills.
"No idea", he replies, "I am Austrian."
"Even worse", she replies.


When she asks him why he choose the Netherlands and not Switzerland as country for legal assisted suicide, he replies:

"By no means I would die in Switzerland. There you will not even realize that you are dead."

Mmmmh, mmmhhh, mmmh. May be I should eat a cream tart to gain weight and glee. mirth and cheerfulness again?

But honestly: the movie was great!

Saturday 3 March 2018

Horror trip with train(s)

©Brigitta Huegel

We have here minus 12° (or, as they describe it nowadays on the Weather App: "feels like minus 17°).

Can you imagine that at these temperatures the Netherland and the German Trains broke down on Tuesday. 1. March, (I came from Amsterdam) - a breakdown of energy - so we had to leave the train in Amersfoort, and stood there - hundreds of people! - for over an hour in the biting cold - without shelter, without information, and all they said was "There will some busses come to take you to Bad Bentheim".
The people: very civilized - the busses came not quickly one after the other, yet almost nobody pushed in rudely.
The busses brought us to - Apeldoorn. Out again.
Then a small train to Hengelo.
From there busses to Bad Bentheim - Germany. The only official person there saw us - and buggered off!! No waiting room for us, no toilets, no informations -  but half an hour icy wind.
Then came out of Nowhere a little train. Someone said: "Those who want to go to Berlin should leave in Rheine - a slow train will bring you from there to Hannover, and from there you can go by taxi to Berlin." 
The distance between Hannover and Berlin is 286 kilometers.
And I said: "Oh no. I will not leave in Rheine. I go to Osnabrück and take a hotel there."
The others left the little train obediently in Rheine, I clung to my seat.
In Osnabrück it was weird: a station like a Hopper-painture - and a small empty glass-box in dark colours: the Information-Point.
I pushed the glass door. It opened! 
Behind a desk hid a little man.
"Do you see any chance to go to Berlin tonight?" I asked him (more a rhetorical question, to be honest).
"Nah!", he said, and scrolled listlessly through his computer.
Then - after a pause - he exclaimed:

"I can't believe it. Never ever before has an ICE stopped in Löhne (40.000 inhabitants!) - but now one will. Take a little train to Löhne, you will catch it." 

To cut a long story short: I did! Arrived in Berlin a quarter after midnight at the main station.
That was my very private "Miracle of Löhne".

PS: The ones in the slow train could not catch the ICE when it stopped in Hannover.

PPS: Although there were many, many trains affected by the breakdown of energy - in the Netherlands and in Germany - there was not one word in the newspaper about it. Which I think very, very strange...

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Use Your Eyes!

©Brigitta Huegel

Berlin has a lot of cinemas - and I am so happy: I have a subscription that allowes me to visit all 12 Yorck Kinos (the photo you see above is one of the smaller 6 cinema halls of the newly built delphilux - smaller hall used to show films in the original English version) -  and a whole year long I can watch every film as often as I want.
(Come to think of it: I could almost give up my appartment... and the seats are very comfortable  :-)
I counted: this week just the Yorck cinemas offer 98 films - though of course in some cinemas they show the same films. (And if you find nothing that might please you: there are so many, many other cinemas in Berlin).
On Sunday, when I was in dire need of a pause, I watched "The Dark Hour" about Winston Churchill.
I was very moved - and learned more by watching than I had learned at school.
Although I read at the moment further "The Churchill Factor. How One Man Made History" by Boris Johnson, it was the fim that reached my heart.
Which was, of course, their intention.
 Well done!

Monday 12 February 2018

Hurrah! Juchhu!

©Brigitta Huegel

I am so happy: everthing was fine! 

And now I feel as if I have wings again - 

and there is so much time to choose from 

(or so it seems at the given moment - but you know me by now :-) 

Saturday 10 February 2018


©Brigitta Huegel

Only a few words, as I am occupied, having verbal exam on Monday - in Dutch...
Our seminar starts at 8:30 - yes: in the MORNING! - and over the term I witnessed the sun rising earlier and earlier. As I  ("I'll follow the sun" :-)
A few days ago something was different.
The wooden sculpture of a fox stands there. 
Well-chosen for the aim of an university.
Wich reminded me of my old blog-titel - I frickled it into my header by now, to remind us all that we are both: "Witty and Pretty".