Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Friday, 6 August 2021

How to Spoil Yourself


I love to make presents - of course most are for other people: 

                                                      and some come as threesome. 

And before you needle & pin me on the board-of-shame with a hashtag, I can assure you that toy-boys would get the same toys from me! (I might even add a pinafore!)  

But sometimes, maybe on a grey rainy day, or a day when your heart has tumbled into a thorn bush, then it is time to make a present to yourself. 

Which I did - see the beautiful fat book "Portrait of an Artist. A comprehensive chronicle of David Hochney's life and work" by Taschen. 511 pages! 

It arrived yesterday. Hurray! 

(By the way: on one of our narrow-boat-tours the whole entourage visited the Salts Mills in Saltaire near his hometown Bradford - they host a great part of his oeuvre). 

And it might have been a thick thorn bush, because as dessert I added something else:  

 Very fulfilling: The Complete Mary Poppins by P. L.Travers - 767 pages! 

Sunday, 1 August 2021


First day in August 

Last rain was in May 

When the rainmaker came to Kansas 

In the middle of a dusty day...

It is a mystery how memory works (and my computer: cannot change the font!)

Of course the outer givens are clear: 

- today is the first day in August - but there have been many since 1969, when Harry Nilsson published this song - and only 3 less when I got the record around 1972 (as a present, and not my favourite music). 

- and it rains after a long spell of hot days in Bavaria, so the rainmaker must have been here. 

But I haven't thought of that song for years. I see it as a symbol for ingratitude - the people of Kansas were stingy and didn't throw any money into the rainmaker's  hat when he had conjured the rain. 

"And the rainmaker's eyes and the Kansas skies /Well, they both became a darker gray". 

Then the people of the town 

heard the sound of his laughter 

And they knew the rain had 

come to stay.

I do hope that it will not stay here for the whole of August : 

IF it does, I might re-read a novel by Edna O'Brien: "August is a Wicked Month" , published in 1965. (Must have been Tom's post about boring Herman's Hermits, which beamed me back into the Sixties...)

Yours Truly will drink her first cup of coffee - and: coming from Bremen (same weather as in Hamburg or the UK) I actually love rain. For a while... Toodle-pip!

PS: First sunray of the day: a new follower - welcome Mark Charlton! 

Sunday, 25 July 2021


 Dear Emma, dear Rachel: I don't know what happened. At the moment I cannot open the post on my "Day out". Thank you for your comments - I was glad to read them. And yes: I will talk about the city Fürth (I only saw a little part of it - so it will be a very personal description). 


Tuesday, 20 July 2021

First time EVER that I ...

 ... missed a train! 

"My" Bavarian village owns a luxury item: a little red train which comes every half hour with a loud "Tooooot!" Here you see the station one village further - with two tracks and two platforms - while we have only one track and one platform - and the Flying Dutchman's standard joke is "Remember: departure from Track 1!" 

The trip from Nürnberg to Berlin is quick: I can use the super-version of the ICE, the "sprinter", which sometimes makes 300 km/h - at it's best it needs only 2 hours and 50 minutes for 379 kilometres. 
(The fly in the ointment: to get to my village the little red train needs about 25 minutes for about 25 kilometres, ok - but I have to wait for it in Nürnberg 56 minutes! Almost an hour!) 

Well - another Buddhist lesson in acceptance and serenity. 

My father trained me to become a traveler of the punctual sort (success!) and the relaxed nonchalant sort (dead loss!) - he always (!) walked with me along the whole waiting train, outside! - to find a "better compartment". As you might have noticed children are often very anxious "to get in" and push and shove. So: sorry but my father's educational method to steel my girlish nerves were not successful. But:  
Never in my life I missed a train. 

But here, where the station is only 5 minutes away from my lodging: IT happened - I missed it! 
I was awake so early, prepared my apartment for a happy return, even had a nonchalant chat with my neighbour - and went, without hurry. 
At the foot of the hill I saw the little red train. It seemed to wait. (Village-kindness!) 
Strange, I thought - must be going into the other direction. It is too early. 

No! I was too late! 

The battery of my smart little ( analog) Longine wristwatch which I love so much that I only seldom look at the digital fitness clock on my right arm had run low...  

Sunday, 18 July 2021



From Bavaria to Berlin, from Berlin to the Netherlands, then back to Berlin, and now Bavaria again. 

After wearing "The Mask" from Schiphol to Berlin (and then in the public transport the S-Bahn) - meaning 7 !!! hours without a break, my head felt like the photo above - muddy, even the next day I wasn't completely "there". 

But am now: here

Bathing in nature and calm. Wide view. 

Though I enjoyed the Big City too. 

Monday, 21 June 2021

The Day I got Lost (slightly revised)

A few months ago, during the height of Covid-19-time, I bought a wonderful edition of the fairy-tales of Die Gebrüder Grimm. Might have been the same longing that brought many people to start examining their family history - fairy tales are a bit the family lore of a nation. 

The Gebrüder Grimm started to collect those tales from 1819 on - writing down what till then was only told verbatim - and thus endangered to get lost. They didn't add anything, and we are so thankful for their great work. 

Fairy tales are for children, one often thinks - especially when you know only the sweet Disney movies. But a long long time ago, when mankind told these stories around open hearths or at the spinning wheel on long winter evenings, they were cultural transmission. 

Some fairy tales are outright cruel. Some are not easy to understand. As a child I only loved those with a happy end, those which made me laugh. But now I see that a lot more of the wisdom of the not so nice  tales is stored inside me too. 

What I esteem: the fairytales taught children - different from nowadays overprotective helicopter parents (no chance to become that with triplets!) - that the world is a colourful but not always a peaceful place, that not all people are interested in that proud parents' Unique Sweet Child, as lovely and pure as it might be, and that the world sometimes is not fair, although fairy tales also often tell you that virtue is rewarded. 

One of my favourite fairy tales are "The Bremer Stadtmusikanten" (The Town Musicians of Bremen, where I come from) - its mantra for living-on is : 

"Something better than Death you will always be able to find."  

I'll drink to that - and cling to the antiquated syntax! 

Now to my adventure of getting lost: 

"In the Olden Days when wishing still has helped..." (fairy tales often start like that) - so, in my modern language: the day before yesterday, I went to the next town by train to buy some bread, and, as the weather  was hot and beautiful, decided to walk back to the little village where I (part-time) live now. 

That would make about 3 km, and I thought I knew the way. 

So Our Heroine started - with lovely fresh bread and no stones in her knapsack. 

Two times she asked Friendly Strangers if she was still walking into the right direction - and got somehow muddled advice about being quicker on another route. She walked on confident.  

When suddenly the road went uphill, she started to wonder. (Having a good sense of locality, why did she go further up, knowing that the little village nestled into a valley?) 

After a while she saw an ugly Old Woman, accompanied by three barking dogs, coming out of the woods, and she asked her: "Is this the way to Arcadevillage?

"Yes, my dear! Just go through that wood and you will be right there!

Our Heroine overlooked the strange glint in those eyes, didn't notice the cackling and was afraid of those Cerberous dogs.  

WELL...   This was what followed: 


After about seven miles through the wood and then many more miles through oven-hot dry fields she finally reached home. 

"And if she hasn't died she is still alive".  (Oh yes, she is!

After a few deep breaths she looked up the name of that wood and that little river (and I swear it is the truth and nothing but the truth). It is: 

                                                               Devil's Ditch.   


Saturday, 19 June 2021

Morning Fog and Name-dropping


Another very hot day will unfold - the last two days we had temperatures of 34° C, which make you feel as being clad into hot blankets. 

In the early morning mist rises from the meadows on the low ground near the little river. It is always a stunning sight.                                                   

So: No walk with the triplets' electro mobile - but I brought two watering cans, thus we spent a very vivid and wet afternoon in the garden - little hands slided into the cans, discovered how to splash fountains - and the sun dried the clothes at once. 

I wonder how I shall name the triplets here - to respect their privacy. They have very beautiful names (and each of them has three - fortunately we only use one, otherwise they would be up and away while we stand around and call them :-) 

Elizabeth von Arnim called hers fictional "April, May and June". Might bring confusion to the readers, especially in months with the same name? 

Maybe I call them by the name of the Three Graces: Euphrosyne, Thalia and Aglaia - but Euphrosyne is a bit long - and my son detests abbreviations...  

So: I will call the unidentical triplet "Igel", which she choose very early to name herself, meaning hedgehog - in the beginning her abundant hair stood away from the head in little spikes; so she heard it very often. Now the spikes changed into a sort of long curls.The uniovular call her "Igel" too. 

The first uniovular triplet calls herself "Ada" (which I adore!). 

The second uniovular, who is very determined and fearless, has the name of a strong Nordic goddess - the name is short so she can pronounce it almost correct. She is the third of the Three Graces, Aglaia- so I will call her Glaia.  

Igel, Ada and Glaia -time will show if that fits.