Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The Essentials

I'm okay and hope you are. My allergies are aggressive at the moment. There are 5 trees in the garden and all on my allergy list. They are 'blooming' at the moment so I go through lots of sneezing and nose blowing. Like you, I spend most of my day at home with the windows and doors closed. When I go out, mainly shopping, I wear a mask and gloves and disinfectant my hands when I enter/leave my local supermarket and chemist's.

What have I done since my last post? Last Tuesday I went to the Radiologie for another scan. The result is on a disc and I have to give it to my specialist doctor at my next meeting which is 25th May. Long waiting periods here. Perhaps its the same where you live. I then went to Johanna's birthday lunch party. Next day was an appointment at the hospital for another injection to my lower back.

Last Sunday I went on a bicycle ride with Johanna. Nice to get some fresh air and enjoy the sunny weather.  The last three days have been quiet and I have stayed at home. Tomorrow I am meeting Johanna for another bicycle ride. On Easter Friday, I am meeting some of the Ko-Gang for breakfast at Jutta's. It is a tradition. On Saturday I shall take flowers to Birgit's grave and on Easter Sunday I am meeting the Ko-Gang again for a special lunch.

Talking of food, here is a photo of me eating a traditional German meal. Very tasty. Johanna took it when we ended a walk and went to a restaurant. Now that is not possible. All restaurants are closed. I think you know why and it is the same in many other countries. Finally, I got this photo of G&T from Ian and Birgit. They said it was 'back-up' in this time of shortage! In addition to food, clearly another essential as we move to warmer times :-)

Monday, March 30, 2020

April 2020 Things

It's snowing. I think it is the last burst of winter for we have had a relatively warm one. Perhaps another reason to stay at home in this coronavirus time. Here is what my local area looked like when I went for a walk a few days ago. My diary for April is empty for meetings etc. Some of them have moved to Zoom. Big expansion in this on-line communication service.

Who has a birthday in April? 
Uli from my Muggelsee Gang in Berlin will be 73 on the 6th April, His wife Petra has her birthday on the 8th, followed by Daniel Bateson who will be 42 on the 9th and celebrate with his wife and baby son in Australia. Dennis Hickman has his 65th on the 11th April. Sure to be a big party for that special day with his family in California. Neil Deane, academic and author, hits 63 on the 13th. Matthew Bolton will celebrate his 22nd birthday with family in Yorkshire on thge 14th. My grand-nephew Henri will be 10 years old on the 18th and sure to celebrate with his family in Hook which is in the south of England. My ex-business partner Mathias Gellrich will be 56 on the 19th and sure to celebrate with family here in Berlin. Peter Legarth over in Alt-Landsberg hits 57 on the 22nd and is sure to celebrate his big day with Andre and family. Closer to home, Birgit Fedor celebrates her 56th birthday on the 24th and so ends our birthday month.
Happy Birthday to all no matter where you are!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Face mask

Do you have a face mask and wear it when you go outside? I didn't until yesterday. A friend called to say that a local clothes repair shop was producing and selling them. I know this shop and nice lady who owns it. I wandered down to the shop and had a little chat with her before buying a couple of face masks. When I go out many people walk about wearing one or you see them in the supermarkets. I can join their numbers now.

I have never liked customers in supermarkets who pick up all the fruit, press them, smell them and then often put the fruit back. I only buy fruit in packing so that my fruit does not have the germs of others on them. Its on the packing which I throw away as soon as I get home then wash the fruit. This is particularly important in these days of coronavirus.

A couple of times recently I said to such customers that they should not press/pick up all the fruit. Last time it spread into a discussion with 6 customers and all critical of the 'Presser'. The 'Presser' moved away without saying a word.

When I got home from a walk this afternoon, I checked my e-mails and found a really good one from Birgit. Here it is and takes us back to a face mask but this time with a nice liquid. I must look for such a face mask, or else I'll take the cartoon to the lady in the clothes repair shop and ask her to make me such a face mask!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Laptop

Weather here is still blue sky and sun but cool. Due to have a cold spell starting on Sunday. The anti-corinavirus measures are as strict as ever. Most shops closed except for supermarkets, chemist's and bakeries. Still no toilet tolls or tissues in my local supermarkets. Perhaps you have just heard in your national TV or radio that Boris Johnson and the Health Minister have been diagnosed with the virus. I wonder how they will handle staying at home for the next few weeks.

I'm looking for a laptop. It's not for me but for The Boyz. They arrived on Wednesday afternoon to work on my laptop and printer. One of them has moved into a high school and has lots of work to do writing applications for training courses. Like most people their age, they can use a laptop with no problem, but they need one to prepare school work. Have you, or do you know of anyone with an old laptop at home or in the cellar? If so, please contact me.

Bro2 arrived clean shaven, as you can see in the photo. Here he is trying to imitate Dracula by biting Bro1 in the neck ! He did some English homework as Bro2 worked on the documents he needs for when they are allowed back to school-college. It is always nice to see them and we talked about many things including the coronavirus. They said they were hungry an hour after their arrival - but that is normal. I let them make snacks which they consumed while sipping water and fruit juices. No beer or alcohol. Hope someone offers a used laptop for it would make life easier for them in their studies.

The nice Irish Water from Ian and Birgit was tested last week. You can see the full bottle looks very happy next to the empty Glenfiddich. I had a visitor so it was a good excuse to open it and compare the taste. It has a very strong warm taste when you first sip it and then it melts into a very pleasant aftertaste. It was so nice we had another glass :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Wo 2 Du

What do you do when you have to stay at home for 2 weeks, or more, because of the coronaviris risk?  I have heard some discussion about this on various radio programmes both in the UK and Germany. There seems to be general agreement about reading, watching TV, listening to the radio, take up drawing or painting, knitting, needlework or any neglected hobby or interest and keep-fit exercises. You could also take up collecting Blah-Blah. Here is a recent collection taken from BBC Radio 4 programmes, mainly news or Any Questions discussions. All came from the mouths of 'native speakers' I wonder where the English language is going when I hear such things. Here goes 


Health messaging / to listen back / the source individual / the risk remain low / I am suspect of this idea / a big, big job of work (thanks Boris Johnson for that!) as we speak at the moment / we have a window of dry weather / to bridge something through / there are issues around / the people issue / a raft of people / discussions around individuals / system to individual side / things shake down / make a judgment call / speak to in real time / life critical / taking such huge action / it could re-benefit them / to better choices / to retro fit / to crowbar your agenda /

Hols

The sun is shining, sky is blue but it is cold. New measures against the spread of coronavirus start today. They include closure of all restaurants, bars, pubs and more police on the streets to check on why people are not at home. Words like 'lock down' are being used and 'hamster shopping' in TV and radio reports. I hear that there are no toilet rolls or tissues in any of the shops in my area. That means no change since I went shopping last Friday. I had two nice phone calls asking me if I was okay and if I needed help at any time then I had to phone them immediately. Nice offers!

I also got two postcards. One was from Heike who always wanders around the globe on cruise ships. This time it was the Aida starting and ending in Mauritius taking in La Reunion, The Seychelles and Madagaskar. She said the temperature was 30°C and 26°C in the water. Just right for a swim! She didn't mention the virus and checks on passengers, but then her cruise started in mid-February when the virus was mainly in China. I believe that many cruise ships are now docked in harbours

Max and his 'better-half' were also on holiday. They were in the Republic of Ireland. They had a very nice time exploring parts of the country even though the weather was "mostly Irish". He wrote, "We found footprints of your clan in An Coiaen and a park named after one of yours". Here they were on the west coast. The traditional O'D lands are further inland but still in the western area of the island. They were part of the Kingdom of Leinster. He said they visited the cliffs at Kerry, the harbour of Portmagee, ate fresh fish, and hiked to Bray Head on Valentina Island. Sounds like they had a great time. Nice places for a holiday - but after the coronavirus has been controlled.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Whiskey Walk

Yesterday I went for a walk with Johanna and Martina. We met near the U5 rail line that goes to the eastern parts of Berlin. We walked to the end and turned right in the direction of Kaulsdorf. Then we turned to the south and picked up the little river that flows into the River Spree at Köpenick. That was our destination. We had a couple of stops on the way to enjoy the weather and views of trees starting to bloom. The stops also allowed my fellow walkers to have a picnic-snack.

We arrived at S-Bahn Köpenick . I was hungry for I had not taken food for a picnic. We went into a restaurant - pub opposite the S-Bahn. I used to go there whenever I came into the area. They had a one menu meal on offer and well priced at 6 Euro. Not bad! We all drank beer for we had walked 10 klm and needed some liquid. The beer went well with the food and it gave us the chance to relax and talk about future walks and who was to organise what.

On returning home, I checked my e-mails and found a small message from Ian and Birgit saying that Irish help was on its way. At first I could not understand until I remembered my last but one post. Then I understood. This morning there was a knock on the door and Mr Postie gave me a packet. Inside was the promised Irish help. Here you can see what has now replaced my bottle of Jura. Big thanks to Ian and Birgit for being so generous. I have spent the day in 'self-isolation'. Have you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Hamster Shopping

Perhaps you are suffering the same as we are. I mean something called Hamster Shopping. Go to any supermarket here and you will find all the shelves for toilet rolls empty. Those for tissues are almost empty. All as a result of the spread of coronavirus and requests for self-isolation. News broadcasts are full of politicians asking German people not to 'Hamster Shop'. Seems like a lot of people are not listening.

All my regular appointments have been cancelled for the next five weeks. I decided to spend more time alone with a book. I selected one called School Grammar German for children in the 5th Class. I flipped through it and noted all the exercises had answers in the back. Easy for me to cheat! I read Unit 1 about Articles and Nouns and did the exercises. I was sure I had all correct and so turned to the answer section. Ohhh Noooo....they were all wrong! I decided to take the book and learning activities more seriously as I stay at home to avoid corona virus carriers on the street.

Last Sunday I met Johanna and Martina. We set off for an old industrial complex on the banks of the River Spree south of where I live. It is near the building where I meet Kerstin and the Oldie Keep-Fit Gang each Friday morning. That has now been closed for 5 weeks. In the complex is a building in which many artists paint and make sculptures.

One of them is Maud who is Johanna's daughter. I have been to her exhibitions before and posted reports on my blog. The artists were giving another exhibition of their works and we all enjoyed wandering around the rooms seeing their works. I took a bottle of my favourite Spanish sekt and so we started with a sip of that to thank Maud for the invitation. Here is a photo and she is in the middle. Thanks Maud for a nice time!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Whiskey Boots

I've had a good week including meeting some friends at my place. They like to drink black tea with no sugar or milk, but with a drop of 'medicine'. This visit they finished off a nice whiskey from Scotland called Jura. It has a very round, warm taste and does not burn as you move it into your throat. If you get the chance I suggest you buy a bottle and judge for yourself.

As we finished the Jura, we noted we still had a lot more tea to drink so I opened another bottle of 'medicine'. I am sure you know the name Glenfiddich. You will find it in most airport shops and stores where you live. We sipped some and compared the taste. It is good but ..... I found it lacked the warm round taste you get from Jura. My visitors agreed!

On Tuesday I was in local store and found shoes/boots on special offer. I found a pair my size and bought them. Guess where they were made? You are right --- in India! They feel comfortable and are just the right things for my feet as we still have cold and wet weather here.

The coronavirus has now spread around the world. In Germany there is lots of discussions about how to respond. Yesterday, I got e-mails saying meetings with my Oldies would be cancelled from next Monday until further notice. I can understand the decision but I shall miss meeting them each week.

My meetings with Thorsten to learn how to use a Tablet and a Smartphone have also been cancelled. Pity for I have always liked the meetings and trying to catch up with 5 year olds who use a smartphone all the time! Take care and stay healthy.

UPDATE: I watched the local news programme and heard that the Berlin government decided to implement a series of closures including schools from next Monday. Also, that the number of infections and deaths has increased. 

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Fruit Salad

I've always liked different fruit salads and my grandmother made some very tasty ones for me. At home we kids grabbed all the fruit as my mother unpacked it, and straight into the mouth. No time to make a salad! The Bros also like salads, as you can see from the photos. I made a mixed salad but with a lot of strawberries.

They arrived late Sunday morning to pick up some clothes and school materials I had been given for the family. They said they wanted to speak English when they visited. I asked why. The answer was that their school English was terrible and they were looking to the future and work after school when they would need English. I just nodded and smiled, but they only spoke English during their visit.

On Monday, I went to the Doc and got some new medicine for my lower right leg. It is now getting better. I also started with a bloodshot left eye. No idea how or why it started. I got drops for that which I have to take three times a day. Imre sent me a collection of photos taken at his big party. Nice to see the guests again and the tables of food and drinks :-)

On Saturday, a memorial was held in Brighton to celebrate the life of the musician Glen Capra. A lot of people attended and a text was written containing things said about him. My text was included. His family sent me a copy yesterday. Very sad to read it but it brought back many good memories and I learnt more about him and his life after I left Brighton. I shall always value the e-mails he sent me just before his death.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

March 2020 Things

I had a good week with nothing special to report. The big event was yesterday. I went to a teacher workshop followed by the AGM of eltabb. I co-founded eltabb 25 years ago and reported on the party  to celebrate that event a few months ago. Eltabb means English Language Teachers' Association. Most of the board members and management committee are women. They do a superb job and I was happy to vote them back into office.

Next week looks like last week in terms of appointments and meetings. Nothing special except seeing the doctor on Monday morning. I have a skin infection on my right ankle to lower leg. I got medicine a few weeks ago but that hasn't helped. Perhaps a different medicine next Monday. Let's see.

Now to ask - who has a birthday in March 2020? Colin over in Australia starts the list with his big day on the 19th, Dr Günter Porsch in Berlin has his celebration on the 22nd, Dr Bernd Wittek will celebrate with his family near Berlin on the 28th. My wonderful friend Johanna celebrates her birthday on the 31st and so ends the month. Happy Birthday no matter where you are :-)


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Party Time

I had a really nice long lazy lunch with my Kowalke Gang ladies yesterday. We sampled the wine from Portugal I told you about in a recent post. All but one found it delicious and we slowly finished the bottle over more conversation. We started the meal with a glass of sparkling wine (sekt) to welcome Emma's baby sister into the world. Very nice!

Later I set off to another part of Berlin to find the place where Imre was going to celebrate his 65th birthday. It was not far from his local SB-Station so I got there on time. It was in a community centre and Imre had organised a wide range of food from a local catering company.  There was also plenty to drink! Many guests were already settled in so Imre introduced me to them.

I then went for a drink and there I met one of Imre's sons. I hadn't seen him for a long time so we caught up on news. It was really nice to see him again then suddenly Imre announced that the food tables were opened so we rushed to fill our plates. There was more that enough for everyone so many guests went back for more - and more!

As we finished eating, the band prepared to play. Imre is a great fan of music from the 1960s-1970s, including heavy metal and he still goes to such concerts. I was surprised to see a women on the drums and how well she played. In the break I told her how much I had enjoyed listening to her - I got a beaming smile and 'thanks' in reply! I stayed longer than I thought I would and went home feeling very happy to have been invited to such a remarkable birthday party. Thanks Imre :-)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Tiny Feet

At a hospital in the north of Spain a baby entered the world at 2.15 am on the 20th February 2020.  Jan and Arancha have produced a playmate for Emma. Both mother and child are well. I am really happy and can't wait to pick up Sara-Sofia and later hear the patter of tiny feet as she learns to walk!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Wein-Messe-Berlin

I went to my first Wine Fair Berlin last Sunday. It takes place over three days at the Messe Nord/ICC which is at the other end of Berlin from where I live. I settled down in an U-Bahn and got out to find Thorsten waiting for me on the platform. Regular readers know he is a computer specialist who helps people each Monday afternoon in a Meeting Centre opposite to where I live.

He managed to get Free Tickets and asked me if wanted to go. It took less than a second to say, 'Yes'. There were many people there. I was surprised. On entry you get a wine glass in exchange for €5 and then off to explore the wine stalls. They were from many countries and represented family wine vineyards. We tried different kinds of wine before finding three stalls from family producers in Portugal.

I confess to knowing almost nothing about wine production in Portugal. I know Spanish, Italian, French and German. I have only been to Portugal once and that was to Lisbon for a week to attend a conference. I cannot remember anyone telling me about local wines. I asked a lady for information at a stall and she answered me in English! She comes from England but is now part of the family which owns The Azamor Family Estate in Alentejo in the middle of Portugal.

We tried different red wines from her vineyard and all we could say was..'Mmmmhhh' after each sip. Wonderful round full aftertastes. You can get information about her estate on the internet. Just type in Azamor.com and also look for a shop that might sell her wines near where you live. I bought a bottle of 'single estate' red wine. I am meeting my Kowalke Gang for a long, lazy lunch on Saturday and plan to share it with them. I should have bought two bottles :-)

Friday, February 14, 2020

Three Days

On Wednesday I went to a local community centre to meet members of my SPD district. It was our AGM or 'Wahlversammlung', They always last a long time. This started at 7.00 pm and ended at 11.00 pm! I stepped down from the Committee and received these nice flowers and a book about what local people from different cultures eat. A very nice present! I helped with vote counting and was very pleased to see many new and young members voted onto different positions.

Thursday 13th February was the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden. There were 4 raids between 13th and 15th February 1945. 722 heavy bombers of the British RAF and 527 from the USAAF dropped more than 3,900 tons of high explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city. The centre was destroyed and an estimated 25,000 people killed. Most were civilians and the bombing remains controversial even to today. My parents told me about this when I was still a child. They believed the bombing was not necessary to end the war. Others had/have a different view.

Friday 14th February. Yes, it's Valentine's Day. I hope you bought your 'better half' something nice. Just imagine how many millions of people have kissed each other today! I did that yesterday for this morning I went training with Kerstin's Oldies, then had a haircut and went shopping. I'm meeting another nice lady tomorrow morning so I know I shall get a BIG kiss - and enjoy it as always :-)

Monday, February 10, 2020

Two Gangs

Two of my Gangs met yesterday evening. The Muggelsee Gang met the Kowalke Gang. Where?  At the Kammermusiksaal, in The Philharmonie. We went there to listen to Amina playing in the orchestra called, 'Junge Kammerphilharmonie, Berlin'. She is one of the daughters of a couple in the Muggelsee Gang. Her twin sister also has such musical talent but plays in another orchestra.

It started with an introduction to the music we were about to hear. At least 100 people listened to a member of the orchestra present an analysis of the music and with short musical examples. Very interesting, and it prepared us for what we were about to hear. Perhaps more concerts should start with such a presentation. This is what we heard:
 Prokofjew, Sinfonietta, A-Dur, Op 5/ Kodaly, Marosszeker Tanze/ Sibelius, Symphonie Nr.3, C-Dur.
Very well played and a good mix of music.We even managed to get a glass of wine in the break. Prost

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Nice Words

Just read the words on the card headed ' The Rights of the Child' and the other card. Your heart will melt! Mine did. I got them from Alan and Lynne. They came with a programme from Leeds Playhouse about a production they had seen called, 'Dr. Korczak's Example'.

Janusz Korczak was a writer, doctor, storyteller and broadcaster. He was a Polish Jew who ran an orphanage in Warsaw. When the Nazis invaded he and the Jewish Children were put into the ghetto, where he continued to treat the children with respect and dignity. James Brining the Artistic Director of the Playhouse commissioned a play about his life. That is what they saw and Alan wrote that it was all connected with memories of Auschwitz.

Hope you are having a happy and positive week. Today we had sun and blue skies but it was still cold. I'm meeting Johanna tomorrow, then Kaffee und Kuchen with some friends and a meeting in the evening for a beer. Read those words again and think about the person who wrote them.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

February 2020 Things

Nothing special to report about last week. I stayed up late last night to watch BREXIT reports on different TV channels. I heard nothing new, neither from Brexiters nor Remain speakers. Let's see what Boris and his Gang can deliver before the end of the year. That is how much time they have to negotiate now they are outside the EU.

It is a gray, wet day but the temperature has risen to 13°C. I plan a lazy weekend. Next Tuesday evening I shall attend the Berlin Labour Party AGM, Some new, younger members are standing for positions so I shall vote for them!On Thursday afternoon I shall share Kaffee und Kuchen with a couple from my Keep-Fit Gang  - Brexit is sure to come up in conversation! Next Sunday I am going to a concert at the 'Kammer-philharmonie' with some of my Kowalke Gang.

Who has a birthday in February? My oldest and best friend Alan Bateson will be 77 on the 3rd of February and sure to celebrate with Lynne in Castleford. He shares the day with Imre who will be 65 and plans a big party in a couple of weeks time. I wonder what will be on offer to eat :-) Jens W. who lives on the Muggelsee, will be 50 on the 4th. We then jump to the 18th when Dr. I. Pardon will celebrate her 72nd. Not sure if the party will be in Berlin or St. Petersburg. Eleonora will be 61 on the 22nd. Moving to London we find Adrian Bridge will celebrate his 60th on  the 25th February. We end the month in Australia where Peter Bateson will celebrate his 40th on the 28th.      Happy Birthday to each and all no matter where you live!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Nice Week

I've had a nice week and hope you had the same. It started with a German lesson with Barbara. We focused on new words and how they are used in daily speech. Then I met my ladies to practice more English before I went to the meeting room opposite where I live to meet Thorsten. I practiced using the Tablet again and agreed to meet tomorrow to change the operating system on my laptop.

On Tuesday, I met my SPD Oldies for Kaffee und Kuchen and meeting three candidates for a soon to be vacant position. They introduced themselves and we could then decide which one to nominate. All of which was done privately. On Wednesday I met a new group of Oldies with an interest in improving their English before I went to the Gündelfinger Restaurant to meet Imre for lunch.

He ate the 3 course set lunch menu plus my pudding and then ordered a plate full of chips - he was still hungry! We then went back to my place for more chats and coffee. He said he was full and did not want any cakes with the coffee. What a surprise! On Thursday I had a quiet day and Friday started with training led by Kerstin. Tomorrow I am going to a New Year festival given by Vietnamese members of my local AWO. I was there last year and really enjoyed it. Perhaps the ambassador will be there again! Thanks for the photo Jutta.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Language Book

I've had a mixed week. Visits included to a new family of refugees, to the hospital to have my hands x-rayed, meeting with the Kowalke Gang for a long lazy lunch on Thursday, training with Kerstin on Friday morning as usual and to visit a special SPD event on Friday evening. Between these and things like shopping for food, I opened another book.

It is amazing. It is called The English Language and written in 1985 by Robert Burchfield (1923-2004). He was born in New Zealand, fought in WW-1, returned to New Zealand and started an academic career. He won a scholarship to Oxford University then edited the Oxford English Dictionary for 30 years.

He also wrote and edited many books. He has complete knowledge of the language in showing how English developed and emerged from contact with many other languages. He also makes clear distinctions between regional dialects and the emergence of written English and spelling.

I recently received an invitation to the Jahresampfang 2020 (annual reception) of the SPD Lichtenberg. This is the district I share with about 270,000 people! It was not the first time I had received such an invitation. As usual it was held im Festsaal (the festival hall) of a local hospital. The hall was packed with members and guests.

Two members received honorary prizes for their work in the community. One was a retired music teacher and he quickly got the members to join him in a song. This was followed by a large buffet with drinks. I met many people I had not seen for a year or more and really enjoyed the evening.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Coffee Talk

Settling back into routine after the Christmas and New Year breaks. We got news from Colin that all is well with him near to Sydney. The flames have moved to another area. There are forecasts for storms and heavy rains in the UK this evening and tomorrow. Also, of high temperatures and fires in the south of the USA. I am sure you get reports on your national news so I won't go on.

I got a very interesting card from Neil Deane. I've posted about him before and now can tell you that he is writing another book. It will probably be completed by late summer and on sale in autumn. Hope to get a first copy to read and write a report - as I have done before. His other job is Prof. of English at Essen University so his time is very limited for writing.

I like his card about the advance of coffee language over the years. It really makes you think. Read the comparisons on the card he sent and judge for yourself. I have also collected more 'Rubbish English' over the last couple of months. Most come from interviews with politicians, business people, sport speakers, journalists being interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and a few from The Guardian.

Here goes: mansplaining / manspreading / upskirting/ anthropomorphising / seriously good / a marmite politician / waspy women / to front up / a pledge card / driving through efficiencies / a huge massive thing / I absolutely think..../ an upfront fee / footfall flags / tomorrowness / freeness / deniability / to delay out / that is a big ask / take brexit off the table.  UPDATE: a concerning issue / hugely being damaged / to reach outside the box / impactful / in battlement looking in / a car-crash interview/ it's less good / it becomes a coin toss / They are the frog in the boiling water/  under what she done/ wokeness has been weaponised / a less big thing / 'Think Before You Speak'. 

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Singapore

I had a very happy few days in Singapore a few years ago. It was a stop-over on my way to Sydney in Australia. I liked everything about it and noted it was a multi-cultural place. I posted a story and photos to my blog, but you don't need to spend time trying to find them!

Ian and Birgit decided to divide their time between Sydney and Singapore and so found a flat in Singapore. They spent Christmas and the New Year there. They sent me a couple of photos. One of them is of the forest in the north. Very nice and relaxing to look at.

The other is of a tray with vegetable biriyani. Very traditional Indian and a dish I like a lot. In Singapore you will find people from many backgrounds including India. India is also part of Ian's background.

He knows about the history and cultures of the country - and regional food. We spent some time there many years ago with friends from our university. I hope you enjoyed the biriyani, Ian, and keep sending the photos.Now back to life in Berlin :-)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

January 2020 Things

As we enter a new year, the news from Australia is not good. More fires in the south-east and thousands have fled to the coast-beeches to escape the flames. The navy is sending ships to rescue them. Hope Colin and friends are safe and not threatened by the new outburst.

Moving to Europe, the UK has problems with flooding and here in Berlin it is just cool at 7°C. Later I am meeting my Kowalke Gang ladies to go to Berlin Cathedral for a New Year concert. After, we are going to Johanna's to drink a glass of sparkling wine and see in the New Year. Hope you have a happy day and all the best for the New Year.

Who has a birthday in January 2020? 
My wonderful little Emma will be 3 years old on the 10th. She's waiting for the birth of a baby sister in mid-February! Hannelore in the south of France will be 77 on the 13th and sure to celebrate with Peter in a local restaurant. Back in Berlin, Harald P. will be 55 on the 21st followed by Dr. Peter who will be 36 on the 24th. Over in New Zealand, Paul B. will be 35 on the 27th. Moving to Yorkshire in North England we find my niece Scarlett O'D will have her 12th birthday party on the 29th. Back in Berlin, Frau Fox will celebrate her 79th with Michael on the 31st and so ends the birthday month.
Happy Birthday no matter where you are!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Big Pot

I visited Imre yesterday. I was invited for lunch at 1.00 pm and arrived on time. Two days before he had cooked a traditional Christmas dish. It has to be made in advance of eating so that different flavours can soak into the meat and vegetables. It is made of meat with rice, garlic and other spices, which is then pressed into balls and wrapped in large cabbage leaves. In German it is called Kohlroulade and very popular at this time of year.

He reheated it then put some onto our plates. To drink he had bought a red Hungarian wine. He doesn't drink alcohol so the bottle was for me to sip with the food. Very tasty. We then moved into his living room where he showed me lots of photographs covering his life. He also showed me his complex musical system and we listened to some of his favourite bands. His collection is mainly pop and rock music from the 1970s and 1980s.

More talking then coffee and cake before I left for home in the dark and rain. He gave me an umbrella which I shall return when we next meet. A very interesting and relaxing day. Thanks Imre.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

I hope you are enjoying a relaxing family day. You don't have to be a Christian to enjoy the holiday period. In fact, most Europeans are not but they all enjoy what is now clearly a family holiday. The origins of Christmas are in north Europe and they pre-date the creation of the religion which claimed it for itself. Santa, Rudolph and the gang existed before Christianity.

One of the high points of my Christmas Day is opening Christmas cards. This year I got 29 and I am sure a few more will arrive in a couple of days taking the total to over 30. Some of the cards had additional information about family or photographs. Great to read and store for reading again later.

I also use the opportunity to toast my family and friends at 12 noon = 13.00 CET. It links many people in different countries around the world and I like the idea that we are all sipping something nice at the same time! In the second photo you can see my glass with a small bottle of sekt.

I'm having a quiet day and in a few hours Jan and family will arrive. I'm looking forward to seeing Emma again and playing 'Opa John'. Enjoy the rest of the day and tomorrow which is part of the festive period.