Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

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. 

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.