Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 11 April 2021

A Sign of Life


Dear You,

just a sign of life: this is the view from my new domicile in Bavaria - isn't it ravishing? 

At the moment I am back in Berlin: I got the offer for my first Biontec shot two days ago, and thought that so important that I entered the ICE and will stay here for a few day. Hustle and bustle - but also 

                                                            Joie de vivre!

Monday, 29 March 2021

(Britta)'s On The Road Again


Dear You, 

I haven't use the photo above (which I took years ago at V&A) for a long time, and you know why. 

But now, despite the lockdown-lethargy, I am in the middle of an adventure. 

At the beginning of 2021 I decided that I do not like to feel remote-controlled. 

So, after having not seen the triplets since February 2020 (!) I acted: I had luck to rent an apartment in the village where Son, my Daughter-in-love and the triplets live. To be precise: it was my DiL who told me that the apartment was there to be rented, one street away from their house. 

I thought: "OK - at least it is far enough away that one has to put on a jacket to visit each other".  I don't want to intrude into a family - though welcomed and hopefully able to really help with three vivid little girls, no longer the babies I saw last year but little children who run around, start to speak - and love to lie on the ground and "read" a book. 

I rented without having seen the apartment except on photos - (though Son went and looked at it once). 

I keep my huge apartment in Berlin - by now I know myself: I am a city-girl. 

I could buy the whole kitchen including all machines; and a good-looking big wardrobe in the bedroom. Yet the van the caretaker and his son filled today with the sofa, the bicycle, ten moving boxes and a lot of other things is full - tomorrow I will manage to climb inside, and then we three drive to Bavaria. 


The janitor and his son are part-time knights - living in medieval tents, being able to fight with real swords, and hunt with real bow and arrow, so I see it as a sort of crusade: 

Time to fight the dragon Corona, time to move again. 

Wish me luck - and forgive me if you do not get comments at the moment: for some time I will have no Internet, though after five days quarantine I will try to get a connection to you in the house of Son&DiL. 

On my smartphone I can see your comments (and will find out, how I can read your blogs too). 

So: Toodle pip! 

Saturday, 27 February 2021

DELIGHT Two: SHOPPING in small towns and villages


photo by Britta Hügel 

No travels to little towns and villages at the (long) moment, AND the shops are closed everywhere in Germany. 

The only living person a lot of people nowadays see at all is the Amazon delivery man. Or the postman - which makes me think of the time when little shops in villages were also the post office... 

But I agree with Mr. J.B.Priestly: shopping in small towns and villages is fun and a delight. 

"We begin (to shop) as small children clutching our pennies and staring over the counter in a sweet agony of indecision." 

Oh yes: I remember Mr. Meissner, the chemist's, just over the street - you could go there with 1 Pfennig (!) in your little hand and he would take down an enormous tin can, open it (ahh - that heavenly smell!) - and took out one heaped teaspoon of black sharp salty rhombic salmis - mmmmhhhh! 

"We who begin to buy only when we are at the mercy of our instinctive drives do not want a whole floor of neckties or saucepans, with lifts to take us to cushions or tobacco. It is when shaving brushes and cheese, toffee and potato peelers, liver pills and socks, are heaped together that we go berserk, shopping like mad." 

Every time I see the scene in the village shop when watching "Saving Grace" with Brenda Blethyn, where the two elderly ladies, having drunk a very special tea, hide behind the counter, pop up with big goggle eyes that pop out of the spectacles from the joke items - I have to laugh out loud, every time! (Well, you could put me beside an old-fashioned laughing bag and I would roll around with laughter 😂) 

What do you think about shopping in little villages - or do those kinds of old-fashioned shops still exist in your area?

PS: As Tasker and Joanne asked ... here I will try to explain what "Salmis" are. One picture says more than hundred words - though in this case I doubt it. 

See why: 

"Ah, liquorice!" you might say. 

Yes and no. They add something that sounds horrible: sal ammoniac - which gives a sharp tang and taste (liquorice is more sweet, salmis are WHOW! Salty-sharp). 

People in northern countries love them and have many varieties: the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden - and the region where I come from, Bremen in Northern Germany - countries that are more cold. 

It drives up your blood pressure - maybe this is why we Northerners love it (though I searched for it in Edinburgh in vain.) 

I cannot say more to it - you have to taste it. For a lot of people ONCE is enough forever - the others I would call dangerously addicted  :-)    (you can buy it in every chemist's shop...) 

Sunday, 21 February 2021

DELIGHT One: Fountains


The last days I was a bit "under the weather", although the sun came out and I got some (personal) very good news. (I will tell you another time). 

So I did what I always do when I feel sort of blue: I looked into my bookcases and took out "Delight" by J.B.Priestly. It was first published in 1949. 

" FOUNTAINS. I doubt if I ever saw one, even the smallest, without some tingling of delight. (...) The richest memory I have of the Bradford Exhibition of my boyhood, (...) is of the Fairy Fountain, which changed colour to the waltzes of the Blue Hungarian Band, and was straight out of the Arabian Night." 

Priestly complains that there are only few fountains in Great Britain: 

"We hunger for them and are not fed." He asks for letters to The Times and even for demonstrations to get them. 

"Their cost is trifling compared to so many idiotic things we are given and do not want. Our towns are crammed with all manner of rubbish that no people in their senses ever asked for, yet where are the fountains?" 

The fountain on the photograph I took at the Victoria Luise Platz, a few steps from my home. The man who designed in 1902 the whole quarter, Mr. Haberland, insisted on many "Schmuckplätze" - Ornamental Places? - where you will find every time a fountain - in always diverging design. 

When they start to sparkle after winter, you know: now it is really spring.   

Query: What do you think about the delight of fountains? Are there fountains where you live, or nearby - and/or do you remember a very special one? 

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Haircutters and Political Mutants


Hahaha: the BZ (= Berlin Newspaper) is sort of equivalent of The Sun. Gossip and "sensations" - like our infamous BILD Zeitung, horror, but often amusing headers. 

Here they title: 

                   "Berlin Hairdresser continues cutting during Lockdown. 

                     Policemen among his customers! 

                    Appointments via Dating-App!"

In Germany the haircutters are not allowed to work during lockdown - so you see many lopsided self-cut fringes, striking white streaks amid the parting of deep black hair etc. 

The Germans are very angry to see many of our politicians mysteriously immaculately coiffed - although they should look like this by now: 

1: "Open the hair salons! 

2: More and more mutations in Germany!"

(If you know some of these politicians, but not the mutants, here they are: first our Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, third chancellor Merkel, last Bavarian governor Söder) 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Creativity in January


photo Britta Hügel 

Snow can be fun! 

Photo Britta Hügel 

                         Then I didn't trust my eyes: such a beauty! With a veritable camellia! 

photo Britta Hügel 

photo Britta Hügel 

...he even put another real camellia on the box border:

photo Britta Hügel

... but I enjoy the simplicity of the "Bauhaus"-version too

photo Britta Hügel 

PS: It is a bit unnerving to put "photo Britta Hügel" every time by the side of a photo (and I do not even know if it protects against photo-thieving). I have forgotten what I formerly knew: how to put a copyright-sign into the photo. 
And it isn't vanity: I wouldn't be so prim if I hadn't found one photo of mine (a really beautiful peacock-photo) on a Russian website - and it WAS mine, I can prove that. It just annoyed me. 
What do you do to protect your copyright? 
(The copyright for the term "Bauhaus-version" for these snowmen belongs to Klaus W., a friend of mine)

Sunday, 24 January 2021

The Beatles - Help!

I am happy to welcome my 60th follower: TheMerryNeedle! 

And I do have a question: 
is there an easy way to find out whether a follower writes a blog too, or is (hopefully) just enjoying to read mine? I cannot find out how to do that in the new version of Blogger. 
Joanne Noragon helped me to insert a follower's blog - as for instance follower number 59, Tasker Dunham - into my blogroll here on the right. Thank you again, Joanne! 
So I hope: We can work it Out! 

I wish you a beautiful Sunday! 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Tea, Coffee or ...?


The "old" pretender, my "retro" coffee machine went kaputt

I mightn't have noticed for weeks - I am not a heavy coffee drinker (till I was 50 I didn't drink any coffee at all - it was too bitter for my child-like taste). I still prefer strong tea. 

Now I drink at the most 2 cups per day. (My neighbour told me about her awful headache- she was, her words, on "coffee-withdrawal" -- later I found out that she drinks two strong cups per day - tja).  

Often I prepare my cup with the Nespresso machine - not good for the environment, I know, and I suspect not good for the body either, with those aluminium capsules... But a coffe machine is not good at preparing one cup - and I tried it with a porcelain filter: not very convincing either. 

The Flying Dutchman drinks coffee like a fish. That's why I used the machine. He is highly amused that I call her my "Russell & Hobbs" - well-knowing that I must say "Russell Hobbs" - but I don't care, I do it my way 😋. And Amazon came very handy in these days of closed shops: next day I had a new "Russell & Hobbs" - though a different design - fake "retro" is out - and that is not a big loss, I think.

And that coffee smells delicious - on Sundays I add a little oriental trick: I add a slightly crushed pod of cardamom - the Arabs put one into the nozzle of the coffeepot. 

Smells like heaven... Add a lump of sugar and a little bit of cream and there you are - in heaven. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Fondness Might Change over Time

When I worked on the manuscript for the book that should give German Detective-story lovers an overview about how many, many British gems on DVD  exist, of course I saw the screen adaptions of Dorothy Sayers marvellous detective Lord Peter Wimsey again.  

Sadly, most Germans know only a few films such as Caroline Graham's 'Midsummer Murder' or Agatha Christie's 'Miss Marple' (and then the version with Margaret Rutherford, not the outstanding Joan Hickson or the version with the late Geraldine McEwan)

TV in Germany tries its best to enlighten them, but what I had in mind is a sort of "opera guide" for British detective TV series from the beginning till now - available on DVD. 

I admire Dorothy Sayers so much - a witty intellectual, so much fun to read - and I have to confess that each year since the 1970s I read at least two or three of her novels per annum. 

And I can recall vividly my disappointment, when I purchased the first DVDs starring Ian Carmichael, OBE. "Clouds of Witness" was filmed in 1972 - at that time I was a very young student - and THAT was NOT MY Lord Peter! For me Ian Carmichael was an old man, sorry to say. When in 2003 the DVDs with Edward Petherbridge appeared, I was a bit appeased. 

Now I saw the series with Ian Carmichael again. And think them very well done. 

Yes - he still is a bit old for Lord Peter - but not THAT much as I saw it in 1972.   

He didn't change - I did. 

Which is - all in all - a good thing.    😀


Sunday, 10 January 2021

Better late than never...


Times flies by, and I know it is a little late to wish all of you a Happy New Year - but I do, with all my heart. 

It is very cold now in Berlin. And empty - the lockdown is rigid (but that is ok) - now we are allowed to meet only one other person who is not living in our household. (Though that is strange too: nowhere you can find out if you are allowed to meet fifty people in your house in succession - one after the other - or only one a day, or a week?)

And those towns and cities with high 7-day incidences can order that people are not allowed to move further than in a 15km radius. 

Sounds sensible - but isn't: it means that people here in Berlin are allowed 15 km from the border of Berlin! Meanwhile you can flip through the city (if you are with no consideration for others) on 892 square kilometres as long and often as you want...  

I think what really tires us in Germany are the contradictory rules that change daily: do the children have to go to school - or not? (If they have to, they sit in cramped buses!) Do we have ordered enough vaccine or not - or, when I follow the latest news: do we Germans have to be ashamed to want more than is our due? And on and on and on - and each federal state in Germany also can do as it pleases... and does it... 

No control anywhere: people who do not wear the mandatory mask on the Ku'damm don't have to pay a fine, because they smoke grinning a cigarette or hold a coffee mug in their hands - and then they are allowed to wear the mask around their neck instead covering mouth and nose.. Honestly: I think that they must have to choose: stay away from those streets if they have to smoke  - or wear a mask. Period. 

We others then sometimes feel like obeying idiots. Or, worse, are attacked for being obedient: Yesterday a man from Africa boxed very hard into my little leather rucksack when I friendly (!)) asked him to keep the distance from 1,5m.  (There was lots of space to do that, no need to rub against my coat). 

Come to think of it I (being alone - in bright daylight) was lucky that nothing worse happened - luckily I am tall (1,78m), can look like an attacking tiger over my mask, and have a body language that signals: though I am a woman I will hit back. That makes them overlook that I am old and slender - the mask shows only furious tiger-eyes...    

(This photo is a year old, when I walked the catwalk as a silver-model). 

Well: I hope that the year 2021 continues in a more friendly way... for all of us.