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

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Today is my Birthday


drawing by Quentin Blake

... and I am happy to be here! 

It was a very strange year for all of us - but as a wayward taoist I accept change, though I always try to find a few balloons which make wafting through life a little easier. Of course "wafting" has, as most things and situations, two faces. Some will call it "living in a bubble", I call it "looking for happiness even in tiny things". I believe that many days consists mainly of tiny things. 

This early morning I looked at the water-grey sky of Berlin (in my dressing gown, on the balcony, clutching a warm mug with strong tea in my hands) and I had to stare very hard, but then I saw them - sparkling in a hazy misty way: five stars! 

As long as I am able to enjoy that, life is beautiful and my greatest gift.  

Sunday 27 December 2020

Christmas decoration

This little crib my son made in kindergarten when he was four years old. 
Here it stands on the long table, but then it is put under the Christmas tree. 
It is very handy:  you can put the parts together in a flat box (decorated with potato print :-) when you want to store them for the next year. The star is hung up on a tiny nail. I love it very much. 
Christmas was fine, very tranquil. I hope you had a good time too! 

Thursday 24 December 2020

Merry Christmas!


photo: Britta Hügel 

                                        I wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 


Don't lose courage - though this year we learned the hard way what beloved John Donne wrote in 1624: 

'No Man is an Island'

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

I do hope with all my heart that there is still a lot of time till that happens - 

and that we enjoy our lives, feeling grateful among all our sorrows, grateful for being alive.  

photo: Britta Hügel 

So:                                    I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

                                                                                Britta XXX 

Sunday 20 December 2020



 photo Britta Hügel 

I wish all of you a Happy 4th Advent! 

This year was very, very different - for all of us -  from what we had expected. 

And I feel for all people who have lost a loved one, or lost their job or have fear to lose it. 

But I get a bit bugged by those ones around me who bath in lamentation, wallow in bad news while sitting on a sofa, whining about to have to wear a face mask or not to be able to visit a cinema. 

"As we get older, we (...) learn to focus on what's not right, what is lacking, missing, inadequate, and painful." writes M.J.Ryan 

This year maybe we had to learn to be less critical, to appreciate unexpected kindness, smiles under a mask and friends who thought of us. Not to rush around like mad - we had no chance to jet just for a weekend to Venice - for 14 Euro! - and jam the streets and canals there, and disturb the inhabitants with the rattatatatt of trolley bags. 

Don't get me wrong: I love to travel. I love to walk through my city, 

But if it is necessary - and in Berlin we have a strict lockdown, though not as heavy as now in London - I nevertheless can find something beautiful in my day - and be thankful for it. (Look: the geraniums on my balcony are still flowering - in the midst of December! A red squirrel runs over my balcony lattice, here, on the second floor!) 

As a topping I douse this with a little sweet sauce of Ralph Waldo Emerson: 

"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common." 

Friday 4 December 2020

Advent calender

This is my Advent calendar for this year. I bought it in November - because I found out that Father Christmas is on this calendar not only utterly mobile, using trains, sledges, ships - but also carries the national flag. 
And The Father Christmas who comes to the Netherlands is there in two versions - two times!  


Wednesday 2 December 2020

Birds and blossoms


photo: Britta Hügel

December 2nd --- Since three days (and nights) it is very cold in Berlin. My rose geraniums (Pelargonium odoratissimum) still bravely defy the cold - but I have to think about my oleander:  I have enough space, but all rooms are heated, and in winter the plants want it cold. The cellar is no alternative - in Berlin we have long-distance heating - and the pipes run through the cellars - good for furniture that you want to store there - but, as it is warm, it's No country for Old Geraniums. 
And I have to think about the birds too. They are regulars for water - the sparrows, blackbirds, a pair of jays, (the magpies do not come). The doves and hoodiecrows I shoo away- especially since I know the Latin name of the hoodies: Corvus corone cornix (Apples autocorrection turns that foresightful into "corona"..)
I love the tits (birds) - and for all of the above mentioned (and sometimes a squirrel) I put out grains etc to feed them. 
Sparrows are the typical birds for Berlin: cheeky, bragging and in loud huge groups. They go to MacDonals and eat French fries, they sit on coffeetables and pick at your cake, if you don't watch out - and when I read in a photo-book that is impossible to take a picture of a sparrow I went out and proved the opposite. 

Tuesday 1 December 2020

"Rest You Merry" by Charlotte MacLeod


photo by Britta Hügel 

Chapter 1

"PETER SHANDY, YOU'RE IMPOSSIBLE!", sputtered his best friend's wife. "How do you expect me to run the Illumination if everybody doesn't cooperate?" 

     "I'm sure you'll do a masterful job as always, Jemima. Isn't that Hannah Cadwall across the way ringing your doorbell?" 

     With a finesse born of much practice, Professor Shandy backed Mrs. Ames off his front step and shut the door. This was the seventy-third time in eighteen years she'd nagged him about decorating his house. He'd kept count. Shandy had a passion for counting. He would have counted the spots on an attacking leopard, and he was beginning to think a leopard might be a welcome change. 

     Every yuletide season since he'd come to teach at Balaclava Agricultural College, he'd been besieged by Jemima and her cohorts. Their plaint was ever the same: 

     "We have a tradition to maintain." 

(.....................................................................................)  ....something snapped.  (...) 

On the morning of December 22 two men drove up to the brick house in a large truck. The professor met them at the door.

     "Did you bring everything, gentlemen?" 

     "The whole works. Boy, you folks up here sure take Christmas to heart!" 

     "We have a tradition to maintain", said Shandy. 

"You may as well start on the spruce trees." 

     All morning the workmen toiled. Expressions of amazed delight appeared on the faces of neighbors and students. As the day wore on and the men kept at it, the amazement remained but the delight faded. 

     It was dark before the men got through. Peter Shandy walked them out to the truck. He was wearing his overcoat, hat, and galoshes, and carrying a valise. 

     "Everything in good order, gentlemen? Lights timed to flash on and off at six-second intervals?" Amplifiers turned up to full volume? Steel-cased switch boxes provided with sturdy locks? Very well, then, lets's flip the power and be off. I'm going to impose on you for a lift to Boston, if I may. I have an urgent appointment there." 

Every year I read this very funny Christmas-detective novel (it appeared in 1978 - if I'd count the way  Professor Shandy does that would be....?...times...) 

The photo above I took yesterday evening - in Berlin they start their Illumination tradition too! 

(I have typed the whole text by hand - hope there are no typos) 

Monday 30 November 2020

Contact Restrictions of a Special Sort


30th November --- The supermarkets silently have raised the sum you can spend with a credit card without using your PIN - (45 Euro now). Till The Plague Germany was the country of cash - the Flying Dutchman always aghast, because in the Netherlands you even pay for five bonbons with your card (Memo to myself: should avoid self-censorship by turning harmless use of "five acid drops" to even more harmless "bonbons" - fearing unwelcome associations .. the Netherlands with their free grass politic...) If you pay cash in NL and the sum is "0.36 Euro" they round up to 40 cents (the Dutch always were great merchants!)
In Germany you had to spend hours in the queue before the till because a person tried to hand over the exact sum of money - "Wait!", fumble, fumble, "I think I have it exactly fitting..." fumble, fumble, then, after felt ten minutes: "Oh no, doesn't match!" and uttering a little (lonely) pearl of laughter hands over a 10-Euro note. Now Grim Covid educates the Germans moneywise... 

See that little wallet-safe above? I bought it for my credit cards, but didn't use it - until some weeks ago Francine and I sat at Ishin, the Japanese restaurant. The waitress took my credit card - and stopped midway: "What? I did not even put it on the cash-reader - and yet it has already deducted the sum!" 
Oh! - I became quiet...thought... I mean: I live in Berlin... to avoid a shit-storm I want to phrase it politically correct: we have a very mixed public... thimblerigger playing their criminal games on the Ku'damm, though it is legally forbidden ("C'mon", laughs permissive Berlin - "that is piffle, look at our clans which work in other dimensions, think of the recent Great Treasure-Robbery in Dresden...) 
But "Many a little makes a mickle" (or as we Germans say: "Small livestock also make dung-shit"). 
The thimbleriggers do not care about contact restriction, they search contact -"Oh, sorry!" - having this little cash reader in their pocket which can work without the contact of a card - hoho. 
From that day of satori, Enlightenment, I use my beautiful Wedgwood-blue security cardholder - you bet!



Sunday 29 November 2020

How to Stay Supple Through Pre-Christmas Season


29th November --- Got this funny drawing per WhatsApp. (Query: Why? Is it tongue in cheek - or just funny? Muse on humour as a funny thing...)

Translation (utterly superfluous for Yoga-afficionados): Die Tanne = the fir; Der Braten = the roast; Die Waage = the scales; Die Kerze = the candle. 

Take out my appointment book and write: "Cancel Fitness-Studio", though I would love to be there, being unsporting since February. Before work-out with weight 3 times a week. Now my muscles try to impersonate a jellyfish (Memo to myself: Try not to overdramatise - at least I do around 10.000 steps a day. With FFP2 as an extra-weight). 

So:                        Happy Supple First Sunday in Advent! 

Saturday 28 November 2020

Let There be Light - but not too much, please.


photo by Britta, chandelier 10 times brighter 

November 28th ---
All morning busy. My "Good-man-for-the-house" (have to remind me to become more careful with language: first I wrote "I was busy with" - which might be a quite harmless half-sentence, but as today I made a big blunder (in German language!) my confidence is shaken. 

I said to him: "First we'll have to have a test-run in the bedroom" - thinking  of my beautiful net curtain and KNOWING that I spoke of them before - but of course he grasped the chance for a wicked manly laugh.

So: he is an all-round talent and helps me with those things I myself do not dare to tackle - which are not many, but I my rooms are about 4m high and there is no one around to pick me up IF... I learned - late in life, but better now than never - to require help if I need it. (Memory to myself: The art is to have the insight that I need it - I am still a bit megalomanic). 

But a very high ladder intimidates me. 

It was the third time he moved up to change the chandelier bulbs - they were still too glaring, they bit into the eyes - 18 bulbs gave me the brightness I missed before - but their intensity was too much... 

Now it is better, but still not good - so a moment ago I ordered via Amazon chandelier bulbs that I can dim. I did not know that they exist - I mean those you can work with a remote control - because before I had looked at the fine stucco on the ceiling and thought: I do not want a cable above! 

Ha - now I am wiser - and he likes to come - even if it means to climb the ladder the forth time. 

Friday 27 November 2020

Finger exercises 2: Eating at Home


photo Britta Hügel

26th November --- Wonderful lunch with my friend Francine. Wednesday "in normal times" is the day we meet at a restaurant - often at the excellent and very reasonable priced Japanese restaurant "Ishin" (sporting the secret charme of a disinfected third class waiting room), and on special occasions we book a table ("YES - for only two persons...Yes.. and please in the rear of the restaurant, we don't want to sit in that draught of the entrance door") "Colette" of Tim Raue: a celebrity cook who makes it possible for ordinary mortals to pay his bill by offering "business-lunch". (Business-lunch exists on an exceptional broad scale in Berlin). 

Cannot suppress the feeling of sadness that so many restaurants will be forced to close forever now - so very, very unfair, because they did so much to keep us safe - bought expensive air cleaners, put distance between the tables thus reducing the number of (paying) guests to half, the waiters, almost fainting, had to wear masks all day long, collected lists with names and address of the guests (among them an astonishingly plenty of Smiths and Joneses), and, and, and - yet nothing helped. 

Yes, government will support them - they talk about an 'anticipated payment' of 10.000 Euro - but that is the crux: politicians talk and promise, while administration is busy to create application forms in an even more cryptic language. 

Well, we mustn't forget: the legal profession has to live too. 

And, as the proprietor of more than one posh restaurant in Berlin yesterday on TV said: 10.000 Euro will be just  enough to pay his 80 employees for one (!) day.

Yesterday, when Angela Merkel gave us new orders how to live till Christmas and New Year,  I saw on TV Tim Mälzer (another famous German cook, the forename Tim must be a guarantee for gourmet success ) - he resembles a bear, and that fine figure of a man, always an optimist and a doer - struggled to gain his composure, chin quavering, eyes filling with tears - he left the discussion forum for a break - men still don't cry -- though we all did cry with him.  

Well, Francine and I, accepting the inevitable of restaurants closed, rushed instead to Butter-Lindner at the Wittenberg Platz - an exquisite delicatessen - because we wanted to celebrate the now so rare occasion when we can meet each other. 

Then back to my apartment - I give it three stars: very good ambience, lovely food. No draught.  

We dined and then chatted till 7 o'clock pm (meeting at 13:15). 

Not to be able to hug each other when we parted is absolutely sad. 

Thursday 26 November 2020

Finger Exercises 1: Sleep

November  25th. --- Wake up very early this morning - a quarter past 5. Why? I think, staring into the dark sky of Berlin, no star to be be seen today - Why?  

I might sleep as long as I want to, because a week ago I took my heart into both hands, or better: one, because in the other hand I carried the dustbin on my way down to the cellar where the 6 big dustbins for the whole house stand (the two for plastic constantly overflowing). 

In the courtyard a week ago I had heard steps behind me - AND THOSE STEPS I KNOW! 

The Flying Dutchman calls the owner of these steps "Pantoffeli". The Dutch have the tendency to make everything small and harmless by adding the syllable "-je" to it (a diminutive as "- let" in English) - and the Dutch use it in abundance, living in a small-sized country. 

Pantoffel might be translated to "clogs" in English (though I remember the old English word "pantofle") 

I say Hi and try to put some warmth into my eyes. In daytime neighbour is unremarkable, but at night he turns into a monster - murders my sleep with wooden clogs in the apartment over my head.  

Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! I sit bolt-upright in my bed. Every night, at least two times, at least since a year - yet I cannot get used to it.  At three o'clock it's prostate-time: Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! For me the perfect moment to send out Red-golden Love to all Beings in the World - yet that often fails because I am at the same time busy with incarnating a pressure cooker before explosion. 

To cut a long story short: I spoke to him. 

Very very friendly (as no-one loves to be rebuked). Not his fault, oh no, I say - of course he is a free man who can do as he wants - and nothing to complain about clogs in broad daylight (which is almost the truth), but at night... could he be so kind and spare a HSP like me, a fragile little woman (here I try to hunch my 1.78m  a bit) that stomping at night? Entirely my fault, I repeat, and the fault of a typical Berlin pre-WWII-residential building with beautiful parquet (Query: do I overdo it and sound like Hyacinth Bucket?), and  could he kindly change his clomps to bedroom slippers at night? 

He smiles benignantly at me. Had I but spoken up earlier! he says. I button my lips, because three years ago I had - which gave me more than one year of undisturbed sleep, then he must have discovered his favourite Pantoffel again ... 

And away he walks, rattling with his knight's armour ... can I trust my eyes: is he emanating a weak aureole of Red-golden light?   

Whatever: it worked!!! I can sleep through till 5 or 6 o'clock, undisturbed at eleven, midnight and three o'clock in the morning! Bliss!!!

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Starting a Kind of Berlin Diary

I adore Tom Stephenson's blog, and Rachel's and Joanne's and Cro's, and one of many reasons is that they all write a sort of diary. 

I write diaries since I can write. 

The first one (I still own it) is a little vocabulary book sewed (by me) with big stitches in a green & white striped paper cover. I wrote with pencil, and was furious when I discovered that my little sister had crossed out some sentences - she thought a correction of the "quarrel" between us was necessary. 

Since that day I made sure that nobody could get at my diaries - and what I try here on the blog will, of course, differ very much from the private ones I write for myself, though I will give you my personal view of my living in Berlin. 

I am curious how it will work out. One thing is sure, little sister: 

                                                                  I'll do it my way. 

The Knack of Books... And How to Get It (Them)

photo by Britta Hügel


In Covid-time I have to pull myself away from Amazon & Co... because as I do not want to shop much, I look into Amazon's offers. 

Yet often The Good in me gains the upper hand:  I call my bookshop - and next day I take a walk and have a nice talk with the bookseller, and she often presents new books, so I get ideas and skim and buy - thus hopefully supporting Berlin's economy. 

But I have to confess that the man I see on an even more regular basis is the Amazon delivery man - he really is a marvel, always laughing and so beaming that one feels the sun goes up - he is from Africa, black, shiny, and full of joy. 

We talk and laugh a lot, and I have the feeling that the world is a good place to be in.  

Which it is: I am so thankful that I can breathe in deeply the crisp fresh air when I finally pull down the mask. That I can smell the special odour of autumn leaves, savour a cookie, see and smell the fine spray when I peel an orange and read a book - so: it is so lovely to be ALIVE.  

PS: Some of you might have noticed that I twisted and maltreated my headline to make it resemble one of the very first films I saw in the cinema (as I am 1.78m tall I could smuggle in very young, a little lipstick and kitten-heels from my world-wise girl-cousin Ragnhild helped ...): The Knack ... and How to Get It, by Richard Lester.. I have it on DVD and still adore it! 

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Quarantine through Art


Dear You, 

maybe you know this video already. I was so glad when my friend Anne sent it to me! It made my day. 

Hope yours too! 

Yours Truly, 


Sunday 15 November 2020

Enthusiasm, Rapture, Excitement...

photo by Britta Hügel

Dear You, 
Recently I read that we need "enthusiasm" to feel alive - and I thought: Yeah, that's IT! 
I have always been a person who easily falls in rapture about something. 

Friends who influenced me were always people with a lot of energy. 
The prototype was Roswitha, as I four years old, calling: "Tom, Didda, tom!" (she was not able to say "Come, Gitta, come!" - - but while I talked like a waterfall, she acted - she lured more timid Me into adventures (come to think of it: I lured, but she acted that out, pulling me behind her :-) . 
And Atie - my best girl friend at school: glowing dark eyes, full of verve (my parents called that "exaltation" - and they might have had a point - some time after we had lost contact because in her eyes I was too "bourgeois" and I really grieved over that deeply - her parents, standing very high on the social ladder, had to start a search for her by Interpol, because she was trafficking cars to Libanon). 

End of October they deactivate the fountain here on the Victoria-Luise-Platz - summer is over - but for me a fountain like that is rapture pure...
photo by Brigitta Hügel 

What about you, dear friend: what makes you enthusiastic, full of life, bursting with joy? 

Waiting for your answer, 
Yours Truly, 

 PS: The glowing evening sun above is taken through the window of my room with a bay window. 

Friday 13 November 2020

Setting NO example

Dear You, 

these two guys are from the Ordnungsamt (public order office - with glee they give you a fine when your car parks 2 minutes too long - sometimes I really watched them waiting!). 

The day when the stronger lock-down measures were imposed by chancellor Merkel on Berlin, ordering among others compulsary masks on certain streets - as for example Ku'damm - Tauentzien and Wittenberg Platz - those two went directly in front of me - without a mask

Polite but bluntly I asked them: "Why do you not wear a mask?" They waved at the street sign and said: "Still 10 centimetres to Tauentzien, haha!" 

Well - that is Berlin (impossible in Munich!). 

Still a bit angry (but of course not officially complaining - I am no deputy sheriff), I wondered what you would have done? 

Yours Truly


PS: Of course I never say something to civilians who do not wear a mask (though I give them THE LOOK) - only when someone comes too near I say politely: "Please - would you mind to keep a little more distance?" and smile (which you can see around the eyes over the mask). I know that not much air especially under FFP2 masks make people really aggressive... and when you live in Berlin... 

PPS: The Look: 


Wednesday 11 November 2020

How I outwit myself in Lockdown-times (my resolution no.3)

Dear You, 

you wrote that you fear to become a couch potato in these lockdown times, and I can understand that very well. But...

photo by Britta Hügel 

To stay fit you have to eat well. 
I eat each day what Gaylord Hauser called so appropriately "Sunshine Salad". 

I am a big fan of late Mr. Hauser (though "big" might not be the right word 😀) - but also a bit lazy: To cut all these carrots, peppers, courgettes, cucumbers, radishes and "all you can eat"! is Zen, meditative - but also a bit of a nuisance, sometimes. 

"Sometimes" begins around lunchtime. 
So here my lockdown rule number 3

I do that in the morning, right after breakfast - because I know myself pretty well:  around lunchtime a mysterious lethargy sets in - I just don't do it! 
So I have to outwit myself. 

I take the marvellous glas bowl (you see: it has a lid!), cut all the vegetables into pieces, put the lid on, back to the fridge (I know that I will lose some vitamins on that short run - but honestly: who wants to be perfect? And better 2/3 of all those vitamins than none at all!) 
So at lunchtime I only have to pick the salad to pieces, add pumpkin seed and feta cheese, and my homemade salad dressing 

(If you want to try it: 1 Tbsp Balsamico vinegar, 1 Tbsp Maple sirup, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, a little dollop of Dijon mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and, if you have, some herbs - lovely - it is the maple sirup that does it...)  And always remember: 
"Vinegar like a scrooge, oil like a squanderer"

Add it 
"et voilà!

Stay healthy, dear friend - and look after yourself! 

Yours Truly, 
Britta   XXX 

Wednesday 4 November 2020

"If the Weather Permits..." (My Resolution no. 2 in Lockdown-Time)

photo by Britta Hügel 

Dear You, 

thank you for telling me how you overcome Lockdown-blues by cherishing memories of past journeys!  

My second resolution in Lockdown-time is to stay curious. It is so easy to become bored and, as the radius for walks diminishes, think: "Oh, I know it all... blah...."

No, one doesn't know it all. In Zen they recommend: Look at everything with beginner's eyes. Which of course I cannot. But when I take my camera with me, or try to draw something, I look more attentive. 

And if it rains, I just take a beautiful umbrella, and the world looks friendly again. 

And when I'm not sure IF it might rain - I take this tiny one, not heavier than a bar of chocolate, mere 100 gram.  

So: The weather (almost) ever permits. Give yourself a little push - and go out and walk, even if it  is everyday the same route - try to see what changes. 

Hope to meet you outside! 
Yours Truly 



Friday 30 October 2020

Imaginary travels in lock-down times:


Dear You, 

you might remember this curious "map" which hangs on my kitchen-wall. 
I bought it at "Dussmann", the greatest bookshop in Berlin, Friedrichstraße - a boulevard that seems as far away as London in times of an almost complete lockdown in Berlin... 
That map was "only" a gift wrapping paper which I framed - but I love to sit at the table in front of it, studying the drawings which of course are not true to the scale :-)  
and know that I walked through all (yes: all!) those streets on my month-long stays in London. 

I miss it. 
I miss London, I miss England (and Scotland too). 
Green is the colour of hope, we say in Germany - 
so: it has the right colour. 

You asked me how I cope with being so much alone (as most people are these days). 
In the following days I will write what I do to avoid to not become depressed. The order is of no importance - I just like to start somewhere, so here it is: 
1. safe-bet (for me): 

1. Make a bucket list of places you want to see again

Look at your photographs, or your diary, or call to mind what you especially loved. Write about your imaginary trip, draw, dream. 
Be thankful that you had the chance to see it at least once. 
And: - I try to learn taking nothing for granted and  
 be grateful! 

What are you dreaming of, dear friend? Which Fata Morgana runs through your head? And what are your best hints?  

Waiting for your answer 

Yours Truly


Saturday 24 October 2020

Autumn is Beauty

In autumn I always like to draw a little bit - the colours are so tempting...

BUT: the real thing is better :-) 

Abundance ... or  


Always a feast for the eyes!  

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Surreal Impressions of Berlin


Dear You, 

Here I show you some of the photos I took on my very first ride in Berlin. (I never use photoshop). 

Enjoy my little pleasure trip as much as I did! (Or does that sounds like Hyacinth Bucket - eh, Bouquet - with her Waterside Supper with added Riparian Entertainments...?)

Somewhere I read: "Courage is fear that has said its prayer and decided to go forward anyway." 
Yes - it was a victory over myself - but no need to instantly build a victory column! 


Wednesday 7 October 2020

I took my courage into both hands...


Dear You,

"I conquered my weaker self" - (the Germans are are bit more drastic - "I conquered my inner Schweinehund - "swine & dog")

My weaker self did not want to bicycle! You know, I did it (under protest and very wobbly) in the Netherlands. And decided: After so many years of abstinence - why now? Now there is a real risk - especially in Berlin. 

Then I went into my cellar. There it stood: my "new" (because I never used it) Kettler-bike. The proverbial quality of German workmanship. Almost as old as my son, who now became 37. 

The owner of a typical Berlin-Bike-Shop said: 

"Wonderful! Wow! I have fans who would buy it instantly!" 

He is a good guy. He could have talked me easily around buying a new one - I would have believed him. Or at least he could have sold me new tyres. But no: he just checked the bike through. "Everything utterly ok!

No wonder that the company Kettler, the manufacturer of this bike, went bankrupt - which reminds me of the movie "The Man in the White Suit" with Alec Guiness. 

But I was so pleased! Bought a bicycle basket and two bike locks from him. You need them in Berlin as I cannot carry the bike over the very steep basement stairs - THAT would be REALLY DANGEROUS! So it stands in the Hinterhof, the backyard. 

And I use it - hurray! (TBC)

Sunday 30 August 2020

Would You Entrust this Mail Box with Your Post Ballot?


Dear You, 

I read Joanne's vibrating post about the American election and that she distrusts the post to deliver the post ballot

Here in Germany we hear about that distrust a lot, and if I were you I would walk miles to the next polling location to give my vote personally to be sure that it counts. 
But what of the old people, the infirm, or people who have or fear to catch Corona? 

In the Sunday paper "Die Welt am Sonntag" I found an interesting article about the American postal system. 

The United States Postal Service was founded by Benjamin Franklin because the 13 British colonies strived for independence. "The postal system" so the journalist Matthias Heine, "thus was older than the 1776 founded country which it served." 
And, he emphasises, it is the office the contemporary Americans trust most. 

When president Trump and administration chief Louis Joy, who was assigned by Trump,  now remove many, many mailboxes and lay up post sorting machines, Trump's political opponents see that as an attempt to manipulate the election. 
Instead of 33 million Americans who voted 2016 through mail, now - because of Corona, so Heine, it could be the double number of mail voters. 

As literary scholar (and always loving "the little peculiar things") I was amused to read that
 William Faulkner and Charles Bukowski worked in post offices while preparing to become authors. 

Faulkner opened his store only if he wanted, he played cards in the back-room while people waited outside, read the letters of other people and threw away what he thought unimportant. 
Charles Bukowski (you can read that in his novel "Post Office") worked lazily, but stayed 11 years. 
They could not fire him. 
And the journalist Heine ends his article with the words: 
"Trump would find in the novel (= Post Office) a few more good arguments for his distrust of the Postal Service." 

But don't get that journalist wrong: he is not pro-Trump. Some lines before he writes: 

"Trump has manifold insinuated that through post ballot on a massive scale it could come to massive election fraud - against him, of course" (Matthias Heine, tongue in cheek). 

Yours Truly,

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Language, Decency and Manners


Dear You, 

if you look attentively at the picture above - which shows the Victoria-Luise-Platz in Berlin, one street away from my home - you might notice a little turret with a wind vane. (I do have a much sharper photo - but can't find it in the "cloud" of my computer among those over 16.000 photos... ). 

The turret is on the house number 9 where Victoria Luise, only daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II (he had six sons) lived before her marriage on 2 storeys - there she went when she wanted to be alone, without the surveillance of the Imperial Court. 

I could tell you very much about that place (and the idea of the garden design; or the inhabitants of the gorgeous houses)  - but I do not know whether you are interested in historical details. 

Half a year ago, inspired by Rachel, I started reading biographies - and find it very rewarding. 

At the moment I read the autobiography of Victoria Luise. 

I don't want to judge the interesting and well-written book in regard to the deep prominent partiality and glorification of  the Emperor and the aristocracy. 

But remarkable is the "bon ton", the decency and deep respect in which this autobiography is written. (Easy, you might say, if you live on two storeys and are the daughter of an Emperor)

But that is so different from our hysterical media-world, where in serious broadcast discussions people use words full of hate and derision and vulgarity. 

Yesterday I heard a prominent young woman call the president of a well-known country (who also uses hateful foul language) "a bag of shit" - the fact might be true - but one could word it otherwise. 

What I mean is - though I might sound very old-fashioned: I miss something:  reverence for nature, for people, for ideas (also if they aren't mine). 

I am grateful to live in a democracy where I can say everything I like - but "It's not what you say, but how you say it"

The Media in the last 20 years gives more and more attention and voice to the vulgar. That might bring higher viewing figures - as bad news do (how they gloat each evening like vultures over little ugly morsels of corona!). I honestly want to be informed, but I don't want to be incited - thus I often choose to read a good newspaper instead. 

Sorry that I moan so much this time (which I seldom do, as you know). 

But I wish: 

Let decency, respect, democratic thinking, tolerance, awe for the beauty of creation come back

Mankind is fallible and weak - always was - and power and greed corrupts many.  I am not naive. 

Yet I hope. 

What is your opinion? I am really interested! 

Yours Truly 


Sunday 23 August 2020



Dear You, 

yes, you were right: I took the strange photo in the Netherlands, and yes: I took it because it really reminded me of Magritte. 
It is the enclosure of the huge terrace of the house in Zoutelande (the other walls are covered with plants and trees) - but I will not show you a photo of that, though I have lovely ones - I want to keep the atmosphere enigmatic. 

For me that photo also is a sort of symbol for how I feel in Corona-times: 
I know that I live in very lucky circumstances (though as everyone I have my share of sorrows). 
Yet even the nicest place - and I count Zoutelande in Zeeland as one of those, and the fine hot weather was the cherry on top of the cream - often gives me at the moment the feeling of being "walled in" (though beautiful and with sun and an almost pink sky). 
Well, I will not be the only person who feels it - 
and life goes on - as the windmill above, built in 1722! which is still in use. 

You might remember: I am a wayward taoist - believing in Yin and Yang, "What goes up/ must come down" - and 
Though Corona gives that knowledge a little kink --- the way David Bowie sings:  

(Turn and face the strange)
(Just gonna have to be a different man)
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same. 

If you like: come and sing along, and I send you my best wishes! 
Toodle-pip!    Britta 


Friday 21 August 2020

Wednesday 12 August 2020


Dear You, 

do you remember how exciting in Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" the purchase of hats for the five sisters was? And so costly, that some years they must do with new ribbons to pep the old hat up. 

Yesterday in Delft I suddenly saw the sort-of-hat I had tried to order online, twice - and every time it was "Sold out" - 

here you see it on my knee (with the dress), it shows the colour better. 

and it was just in that pale blue that I wanted! 
Although till now I have kept my resolution not to buy new clothes this year, I became "hairsplitting": a hat is not a dress - a hat is a hat is a hat...

So I bought it - the shop assistant cried: "Oh, just the same lovely blue as in your dress!
Come to think of it: I was in Delft, famous for it's Delft blue pottery... 

I am 1.78m, so: tall. Which is a good thing for such a hat: I had never imagined when I looked on the photos online that it is so big! 

It is VERY helpful in this heat. What do you do to cool off a bit? 

Yours Truly, Britta 

Monday 10 August 2020

A Walk in the Morning


Dear You, 

because of the heat I went quite early in the morning -- come to think of it: not THAT early, it's holiday time -- to the wilder part of the dunes here in Noordwijk - and again the mysterious thing happened: 
one is almost alone. 

Of course even then I remain on the paths that are allowed to be walked on. 
Sometimes the sand is thick - that's why today I had a big blister on my right foot: a little grain of sand had dropped into my shoe...  

So this morning for the first time in my life I walked on flip-flops into the village (I bought the second pair in my whole life here to use it - sometimes - on the strand, when the seashells are too pricky and cut into my feet). 
The chemist's offered "Two for one"-packs of blister-protecting plaster, which I bought - hoping that I will not need all of them -  because tomorrow we will visit Delft! 
(And you will not see me with flip-flops there!)

I walked along a little wood with many pineapples on the ground, 


saw seabuckthorne that (sadly) no-one will gather to make syrup from 

and at the end of the walk some beautiful houses facing the sea - this one is "Te koop!" - you can buy it 
(I think I can't 😊) 

Well, I love the sight of it, and that is that. 

I wish you a beautiful day - and share with you what I just found out (and maybe million of Chinese before me) that helps me when I am tired at the end of the day because of the heat: 

I drink a cup of hot green tea (which I normally do not like very much - I'm a fan of fine Drajeeling or honest red British brick-brew that you call "English Breakfast Tea", with milk and sugar ). 

Yours Truly, 

PS: Can anybody tell me how I can watch "preview" on the new blogger? I tick on it - it says: preview will be prepared - and then: nothing happens. 

Sunday 9 August 2020