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

Friday 26 June 2020

Stairway to Heaven? (Does anybody remember laughter?)

photo Britta 

Dear You,

Yesterday I had an appointment with my dentist

I must show you the flight of marble stairs quite typical for the Bayerische Viertel, the Berlin quarter where I live - oh yes: of course there is an elevator when you reach the first floor (er - yes - that's where the railing ends! And should I better use "if"? If you reach the first floor? Don't worry: a doctor is in the house...) 

I might have told you (have I? I learned a very valuable lesson there a few days ago) that my fitness-studio still offers only a third of the work-out places: so my dentist offers me a good training. For free! 
No problem for a fit person as I... 

Unnecessary to mention that the elevator is - locked down

A dentist can not easily treat patients who are wearing a mask over their mouth :-) 
Another valuable lesson here: We have to trust each other. 
(When my sister was five, the dentist in Bremen sent her home - she refused to open her mouth...) 
But I am (almost) grown-up: 
I gave him a big smile. 

And smiled even more when I heard: "Everything is ok"

Almost lost my glass slipper when I hurried back down! 

Yours truly,

PS: The house where I live is a bit similar, but luckily there are only three marble stairs till you reach the little elevator. 
Our stair carpet is brown, not red - and can you imagine: a thief silently robbed all the brass poles - up to the 4th floor! Nobody noticed... 

Monday 22 June 2020

By-effects of the lockdown

photo: Britta 

I read Rachel's post and answered this way (added here a bit):

"Many friends, including me, feel odd these days, Rachel (as you write: only sometimes).
One word, should I describe my feeling, is "UNREAL".

The many pretty trees (I love them!) in Berlin help to get that impression: you walk in a street and the light is green - as in a fishtank.. :-)

Unreal, because everything fades a bit, loses colour (only a bit), the sounds become muffled (or are not there).
I never had one, but to me it seems like a global depression: we are waking up in the middle of the night, worrying about the world of thousand things, monkey mind active like hell...

A feeling, that the world around us is still THERE  but covered in a ball of cotton.

There, but in some distance (might I make an educated guess? 1,5m distance?)  

The world is THERE (of course, and will be there long after us), but my feeling signals: it is not really HERE, the world.
Query: maybe I am not really here?

I love fairy tales more and more. I feel like Snow White in her glass coffin - I am alive, but sort of sleeping.  Want to disgorge that poisoned apple.
Feel thin-skinned. Vulnerable. Prone to tears. Unreal. Locked in <- That word describes it nicely, I think. 
Or even better: locked down.

Well - I'll drink a tea now. Might start to read Wilkie Collins again: "The Woman in White".
Or "Wild Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys - or Jane Eyre - all locked up women...

Song in the background: "Wake me up, when it's all over..."

Sunday 21 June 2020

Summer Solstice and Midsummer Madness

You might wonder about this photo - I took it in Noordwijk where I saw that the evening sun in my back was mirrored in the window of a holiday apartment.

As to solstice: the Flying Dutchman mentioned it quite often last month - and I always reacted a bit annoyed: Why mention it NOW? Why not wait? What do you want to express with it?
(I learned that the Dutch fear darkness - darkness in "full" daylight, I mean - and right they are, too many grey clouds can get you down. BUT: why think about that when the sun is shining brightly?)

I am not a paragon of patience.
My friend Christine tries to teach me for years (she is a paragon of patience!): "Don't cross the bridge before you reach it!" 

And though I am a great midnight rambler (to be exact: I ramble at three o'clock in the morning, heavily trying to puff up many balloons of worry - and I have a lot of breath!) I can abstain from worrying about the rhythms of the year.

I love spring, I love summer, I love autumn, and yes: I love winter too.
I see qualities in each of the seasons and do not want to miss one.

Tom is polishing his silver candlesticks. He is prepared. The Flying Dutchman is that too.
I - honestly - lit the 5 candles on my candlestick every day when I eat dinner.
Paradox: I make that moment special by something I do every day.

Though I confess: I break out in spots if I hear another mentioning of "Achtsamkeit" = "mindfulness" (a whole industry is thriving on this) - of course I enjoy when people really enjoy things -- but spontaneous please, not "holy" (if you get what I mean).

PS: Where is the Druid, the blogger Heron, by the way? 

Friday 19 June 2020


Today I did something VERY unusual for me - to be honest: I think it was the first time ever. 

A friend of my friend Anne had told me that I MUST watch a TV series, MUST!  
She is Scottish, I didn't know her, but liked her, thought "MUST? I?" and when I heard "Outlander" I thought: No way - Fantasy is absolutely not my cup of tea. 

Later I bought it, stacked it away, didn't watch it, almost forgot it. 
But today I suddenly thought: "Well - might have a look." 
(It was a sort of Scottish day - rainy... And now so stormy, that I cannot upload a trailer or a photo...) 

You must know that I am a great fan of Scotland, and to the surprise of everyone I even love bagpipe music (normally you can make me mad with many sorts of music - I hear like a bat and really suffer). 

Well. And there I sat. And stared. 
And fell in love immediately, without any sign of forewarning. 

Well - I only saw the first episode - but I think: "Louis, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." 

Better late than never.    😂 

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Fata Morgana 2 - more photos than text

photos Britta

Here you see "the back" of the Charlottenburger Schloss 

A baroque garden, beautiful and well-kept borders - here it seems a bit unkempt...

Normally the bridge is painted in beautiful red 

Huge! Flowering soon. 


(How can I delete it?? Only the photo - I love the statue of the Alte Fritz, our King. )

I do hope they don't mess up his pedestal (as with Churchill's statue), or even dump him into the Spree...

The front of the Schloss 

I have just this photo from many, many years ago, a class trip from Bremen, where I come from, to Berlin - then I stood with some pals of mine here and look at him, "Der Große Kurfürst" ---

The Schloss is well protected: 

and now you will understand, after seeing a third of it, why I missed it so very, very much. 


A Fata Morgana - Revisited (1)

photo Britta 

So long it was forbidden ground for me - the lockdown draw a railing around my mobility - I could only go where I could - go. Felt like sitting in a golden cage.

Almost every day I walk about 10.000 steps - but that would be not enough to reach the Charlottenburger Schloss - Google map said: 2 hours walk to and fro - but then I wanted also to walk in the beautiful baroque park!

The Schloss became a symbol, a Fata Morgana, almost an obsession.

Yesterday, which was warm and the air was filled with the intoxicating smell of flowering lime-trees, I got plastered by that.
Got reckless (in a very cautious way: took my unsightly anti-virus-mask - I do have beautiful ones from van Laack, almost an accessory, but they are not so effective), took all my courage into my gloved hands,
- and for the first time since February I walked into the Berlin version of Hades, the underground:

photo Britta 

As you see: not many people here! (I chose a time when people don't have to go to work).
I did not enter the nearest entrance, U Wittenberg Platz, because there is the luxury store KaDeWe, which is open by now and visited by many tourists. I also avoided the next stop, "U Bahnhof Zoo" (a very very bad station even in normal times, and a traffic junction, and a junkie junction..) but of course had to walk a long way to the (hopefully) "more harmless station" Ernst Reuter-Platz.

Only three stops later I was there - "there" means: again a very long walk through Charlottenburg (which I used to visit an acquaintance - the goldsmith Anne Rink - often a costly chat - yes,  yesterday too :-)  - meaning: I had to run back to a bank... and then back to her - but I wanted a symbol of my new freedom.

Then I had to recover from that, which I did by visiting one of my favourite cafés, Café Reet;

... they have the most wonderful Tarte mousse au chocolate - which is not fat, I always wonder how they do it - it slightly crumbles in your mouth in the way cracknel crumbles, but very softly.
Thus strengthened I walked on.
And felt a bit like her:

Minerva - or Athena - a statue created by the Dutch sculptor Bartholomeus Eggers (*1637 in Amsterdam, died 1692) - which stands now in the Charlottenburger Schlosspark.

                               Pallas Athena: goddess of wisdom, strategy and combat. I love her!

(to be continued)

Sunday 14 June 2020

Elderberry (sambucus) for a trial

This is my first try with the new blogger version
You see one of the sweet smelling elderberry flowers I photographed in the Netherlands. 

I love elderberry - 
in Germany it was a sacred house-tree. We call it "Holunder" which refers to "Frau Holle" - a figure in Grimm's fairy tales who shakes up the eiderdowns (then it snows on earth), but cares about other housework too. And can become very angry if you don't do it well: look at the fairytale "Frau Holle". 

I remember the scent from my earliest days: my grandmother (the red-blooded one) had a pergola with climbing roses, and behind it stood an elderberry tree. 

I love elderberry cordial, become sick when I eat blue elderberry soup (part of the little stems are poisonous) and haven't tried "Holunder Küchle" yet, where one big flower is covered with pancake batter (hopefully without those myriads of black lice elderberry is prone too!) and then deep-fried. 

So: still something to discover. 
As there will be on the new blogger version, I think. 😀


Saturday 13 June 2020

(After) Life on my Balcony

all photos by Britta 

When I came back from the Netherlands, I was in for a tiny shock. Normally the little sons of my neighbours earn a bit of money on their first job ever by deluging my plants. This time their mother had told me that they had to go away for a week,  because her father was sick - but I would stay longer away, so that was ok.

When I came back the air in the big apartment smelled stale. And the sight of the flowers an the balcony: shock!
(Being a people-pleaser, as Tom reproached me recently, I cannot change instantly - Query: do I want to change and become a grumpy old woman instead?  : here on the photos I show you the result of my hard labour AFTER the little turmoil).

"I think maybe the neighbours had to stay for longer - the situation with the father might have turned worse", said the Flying Dutchman (right he was), but I heard it only from far away, already running with my green watering can to and fro from balcony to bathroom, from bathroom to balcony (which is a big one).

The lucky thing was that I had bought some white "pots" from Lechuza which promise to water your flowers for two weeks in your absence. They kept their promise.

The roses in the big pots - no photo here - sulked a bit, but I could coax them back to life (they are not spoilt on a balcony).

The oleander thought deliriously that he was back in Italy - hot air, no water.

Yet many plants in little pots had wilted and died - especially the herbs. I tried to copy the cool Moomin-Mother philosophy: "There had been WAY TOO MANY - anyway."

And enjoyed buying and planting new ones.

So, now I am able to invite you again - come in, please: there are more fine nooks and crannies on my balcony you haven't seen yet - please take a seat, and do you want a glass of wine, or some juice?

Let's enjoy the beautiful view of the evening sky!  Bliss!

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Just to show you...that Noordwijk had some stormy clouds too :-)

photo Britta

photo Britta

photo Britta

photo Britta 

PS: I wonder - I have difficulties with loading up photos from my smartphone... did I miss the "new blogger thing"? 

I'm so tired...I haven't slept a wink...

photo Britta

In my head drones the Beatle's song "I'm so tired".

Tired of all those horrible news, tired of feeling like the personification of Anais Nin's title "Under a Glass Bell" because of Covid-19, really, really tired.

I went to bed early - result: I woke up at two o'clock in the morning. Hoping to sleep again - 45 minutes later gave up that hope, tiptoed to the kitchen and sipped a glass of hot milk with honey.

Which makes me think of novels by Barbara Pym where the sleepless spinsters are always drinking Horlicks and hot cocoa.

No sleeping pill has ever passed my lips - and I'd never had one in my house.

I look at the beautiful photograph of papaver somniferum - which I took it in Noordwijk. I know an even paler lilac coloured version of this plant with silvery leaves - and instantly feel sleepier, as "somniferum" means "bringing sleep" - (yes, not everything "natural" is harmless :-)

Did you know that in German prisons it is forbidden to eat poppy-seed cake?
Because it is not possible to distinguish between the results of drug-abuse and the remains in your blood after a big yummy piece of cake.

I remember that as children we were always warned not to eat too much of this cake - and that is not an old-wife's tale: poppy-seed cake contains Thebain, which you earn by using the milk of unripe papaver somniferum poppy-seed capsules. In cake you'll normally find very low amounts, but new ways of earning and processing the seeds can let it soar.

Well -- I'll give Morpheus a second chance. Nighty night everyone! 

Thursday 4 June 2020

Dutch Seaside

photo Britta

This is a picture I took in Noordwijk (as Guusje in the recent post so quickly discovered).

Beautiful weather (changing now):

photo Britta

sea and dunes - 

 photo Britta

... and not too many people on the beach - (the cruisers you see at the horizon have to rest).

 One can dream a bit and look into an almost aircraft-free sky.

 photo Britta

photo Britta