Monday, November 29, 2010

December 2010

December and things

Nearly into the last month of this year. It is now really cold in Berlin and forecast to reach -7°C on Wednesday. Brrrrrr! Just think of warm summer days, John. Okay, I will!

November was generally a good month for me. I made some important changes at the start of the month and can look back and say I made the right decision(s). My left leg got worse over the month and I may have to consult my quack sometime over winter. I have put it off so far for I think he might send me back to hospital for checkups.

Andrea got back to Berlin last weekend after an interesting work experience period in Budapest. As well as  learning the work of Parliament, she spent some time with senior politicians including talks and dinner with the Hungarian President. Wow, Andrea but there is nothing so grand waiting for you in Berlin.

She sent regular reports to friends and photos but she embedded all in PDF format. I couldn't access them to get at her photos and post them to this blog. At least I saw them and can confirm that they showed her having a very interesting time. I want to take her out for a welcome back meal when she has time. Soon I hope. As you can see above, I have my knife and fork at the ready!!

It snowed here a couple of days ago. I took a photo from my balcony of the big tree in my back garden. I rather like it and the contrast of colours from my surviving flowers on my balcony. Forecasters say we are going to have a cold and long winter, on a level with last winter. Any of you thinking of visiting should wait until Spring. Berlin looks at its best then.

Who has a birthday in December?  Micheal N. hits 47 on 5 December here in Berlin, Stefan our Photoshop Guru will be 50 on 7 December. My brother-in-law Geoff has his birthday on the 13th. Jordis celebrates her 31st with Mathias on the 19th. Julie B celebrates 36 with her family in Yorkshire on the 20th. Ian the Banker ends the month with his 49th on the 30th of December. Happy birthday to each and all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fontane Correction

Fontane Correction

On 20 November in the heading 'Kirchhofstahnsdorf' (see below) I wrote that Fontane was one of the famous people buried there.

Stefan of Computer and Photoshop fame, and who is the only follower of my blog (Thanks Stefan:-)) sent me a correction in the 'Comment' section which you can find under each post I write. I have left it open so anyone can write a comment. Try it!

Stefan quite rightly said that THE Theodor Fontane from Neuruppin is not buried there. Here are his words. " Theodor Fontane liegt in Friedhof II der Französisch-Reformierten Gemeinde in der Liesenstraße in Berlin Mitte."  Correct!

So who is the Fontane in Kirchhofstahnsdorf? It is his second son also called Theodor Fontane. His claim to fame is that he collected, published and promoted his father's works.

 In case you read this and are not German, Theodor Fontane is a very famous writer, particularly for his collections in which he recorded his travels through and around Mark Brandenburg.

Here is a photo of me at the memorial to 'Papa' Fontane near the centre of Neuruppin.

Mauer Walk

Sunday Mauer Walk

 So what did you do yesterday?

Yesterday I joined a gang of Oldies at S-Bahn Lichterfelde Süd to a walk along part of the Mauer/Berlin Wall that ran from there to S-Bahn Wannsee.

This was planned about a week ago and the weather forecast was for a fine day with mist in the morning leading to sun and blue sky in the afternoon. And so it was.

I  think that was the reason why so many Oldies moved themselves and got onto the public transport system to arrive at the meeting point for 10:30.

 I have never seem so many in a group - even more than Frau Backmann's trip to Rostock last summer. A gentleman called Wolfgang introduced himself and said he would be leading the group that day.

I liked his next comment of, 'We are not here to race along but walk and enjoy the views. There will be two coffee breaks and a room has been booked in a restaurant at the end.' Now that is what I call organisation and just the right approach. I smiled!

I took a number of photos as we walked along the Treptow Canal and I really liked one of the mist hanging over the water and a branch in the foreground with drops of water collected from the mist. I also took one of the sun starting to shine through the trees as noon approached and the mist cleared.

The group stopped at a memorial for the second coffee break. I also took a photo. The rusty metal one is to four young men who were shot trying to cross to the west. The stone one was added later to remember all those who died trying to cross from east to west. If you walk along the 'Mauer Weg', which is signposted, you will see a number of such memorials.

Just before our final stop we crossed the main Berliner Ring Autobahn and I took a photo of a Cafe/Restaurant/Filling Station with a large parking area at the side. This was the border crossing before 1990.

The travellers from the West had to stop here for checks by the DDR Customs and Police. It all seemed like a distant world to me but for most of the Oldies it was something they had experienced and was a real part of their lives.

And so to the restaurant newly opened at S-Bahn Wannsee. It is run by a Russian family and we found the service and food to be excellent. I can certainly recommend a stop there to anyone travelling in the area.

 The day ended as the sun went down. We all slowly moved to our different trains to take us to our homes in different parts of the city.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More fun

More fun with Photoshop

Last Friday the 'Photoshop Gang' met again for a cheery chat over coffee and biscuits before starting the next part of the course. Stefan had already prepared the lesson. It was to add images onto/into windows or doors in other background photos. He had prepared on using my face superimposed on a window and he had added a cat and post and a piece of clothing.

The photo of me was taken at our summer get together at Familie Schröder's garden house. When I saw the pic of me I burst out laughing, and said we could use it to scare children with if the misbehaved! Or we could add it to a scarecrow to scare the birds away from growing crops.

The next one I created from a background shot of a print-photocopy shop round the corner from our meeting place. I added faces of our gang into the windows on the right, then a new image on the door and finally added a shot of our picnic at the Schröder party into the left hand side window. I then put back the window frames - and all with help from Stefan. A really enjoyable afternoon and still learning interesting things.

Off on another walk tomorrow so I hope to post a story and photos of the day. It is Sarah's big 50th birthday party in London on Monday. I forgot to add her to my monthly birthday list. Sorry Sarah and have a wonderful time on Monday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Kirchhof Stahnsdorf

Last Sunday the sun shone and we had temperatures as high as 18°C in and around Berlin. Not at all usual for the time of the year. It was a reason for thousands of Berliners to leave their homes and take in some fresh air and exercise. I got a call from one of my Oldie Groups to ask if I wanted to join them on a walk to Stahnsdorf.

I said;"Yes", without knowing where and what it was! I got on a very full regional train at my local station and noticed that every second person was an 'Oldie'. They were the ones who were the first to open their picnic packs and start munching - even though we were only 10 minutes from the start!

We later arrived at Wannsee and waited for others who were arriving by S-Bahn. There were eleven of us and so off we went on a trail to the south and then the west towards Potsdam. We followed the track of a railway that was built in 1913 just to take people from the Wannsee station to 'Sudwest Kirchhof Stahnsdorf'.

This cemetery to the south west of Berlin was started in 1903 and finished in 1909, because the inner city cemeteries in the south west of Berlin were nearly full. Logical really to create a new one!

The novel idea was that this one was created as a planned landscape. I must admit that the concept works really well even one hundred years later.

The little railway was discontinued in 1976 and the tracks removed on the orders of the DDR Government. This was because they ran from the West to the East of Berlin which was then, of course,  blocked by the Berlin Wall. We followed the trail until we got to the old bridge taking the tracks over the canal. Surprise! It was blocked and with signs saying it was dangerous to try to cross.

Not being crazy heroes, we took the easy solution and that was to walk down the canal until we reached the bridge at the ship-lift. Also built about the same time. It connected water traffic between the Oder and Poland with the River Havel and then onto the Elbe and the port of Hamburg.

I liked the old tram on display so took a photo. At this point we went into a restaurant for a coffee break and snack.

When we arrived at the cemetery I was surprised to see so many people there. Then I heard that it was Remembrance Sunday. I also noticed a group of elderly men at the entrance wearing full Scottish dress including kilt and lots of medals. I talked to a few and they were there to lay wreaths and play a lament on the bagpipes.

Why at this cemetery I asked them. They said there was a large section where soldiers from the First World War were buried and they were there to honour them.

 I left them and walked around. In addition to the war section I saw some graves of many famous Germans including Werner von Siemens who founded the firm that still carries his name.

Others were Zille, Langenscheidt, Richthofen, Ullstein, Fontane, Humperdinck in addition to many other famous writers, scientists, playwrights and actors.

A very interesting day indeed and one I would never have thought of on my own. That is one benefit of being in Oldie groups - someone always has a good idea where to travel to.


McThai Photo

What is that? It is a small 'snack bar' round the corner from our Photoshop course building. I know it means nothing to English speakers but for Germans it does.

Some marketing idiots many years ago in Germany came up with the idea of adding 'Mc'/'Mac' to a brand/shop to indicate that goods/services were cheap. It still annoys me whenever I see it for I know the history of how this image of the Scots came about.

I told Stefan about the new snack bar and name, so he took a photograph and used it as background to insert photos of us at our late summer meeting in Schröder's garden house.

He prepared it all for our last lesson and so I start with Stefan's very professional work, where he put our dancing Helga behind the tables and chairs.

I could only manage to put her on the bottom of the pic for we didn't have time to hide her non-existent legs behind the furniture :-)  In the next lesson we are going to do this.

Friday, November 05, 2010



Nice to see all of the 'Photoshop Gang' this afternoon.  Before the lesson, Stefan helped me to sort out the problem of my Ubuntu OS not recognizing the in-built camera in my 'baby' Asus. I hadn't activated the driver/Treiber. Easy when you know how!

We learnt something about working with photos to form a panorama today. I think I shall experiment with this when I have taken a range of photos. We started by forming a panorama from 5 photos taken outside our meeting rooms. Having done that we moved onto the harder task of forming a panorama from 20 photos.

Hard work for the computer, and the programme, but we all succeeded. Here you can see my results. My programme at home worked just as hard to reduce the two images so I could meet the limits for posting to this blog. Any more comments from you, Jan?