Monday, April 29, 2013


I went to a concert at the Philharmonie yesterday afternoon. It was given by the Sinfonie Orchestra Schöneberg. This is a district in the southwest-centre of Berlin. It is an amateur orchestra of music students, school music teachers and talanted no-professional musicians.

Supporting their concerts is now part of the annual pattern of life here. I became part of Wolfgang's 'Music Gang' some time ago. It is nice to meet up, exchange news, enjoy the concert and cheer on the players. The main surprise was the performance of Hans Pfitzner's Cello Concert in A.minor op.posth.

He wrote it in 1888, when he was 19 and studying music at the Frankfurt-am-Main Music Conservatory. It was played for the first time in 1977! On hearing it I could not believe it had taken nearly 90 years to appear in a concert hall.

It is described as late-Romantic with a ' Brahmsien feeling'. He called himself an anti-modernist. What surprised me was how he managed to integrate the almost intimate sound of a cello led string quartet within a concerto, particularly in its soothing end. I must add it to my collection!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Peter was fifty last Monday. We celebrated yesterday. He was in one of my first classes in the school led by Hannelore.

If you remember, I posted about her last week. He later took the Cambridge First exam and got a very good result.

There were others at the party who were in his class. It is remarkable that so many people have kept contact over such a long time. It is also rewarding to see how their careers have developed. A group of very talented people.

Peter bought himself a new laptop. I was allowed to play with it! It is a Dell and can be used as a standard laptop or as a tablet. It is all controlled by how you open the lid. If you open and turn it you get a laptop, if not, you get a tablet. See the photo.  Very nice! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

More Old and New

On Thursday I went  to my AG60+ SPD group breakfast. As the name suggests, we are all over 60 and enjoy meeting up just to chat and exchange views over breakfast. I am now a regular so a place is always set for me - even if I arrive late!

I then went to the Unemployed Centre where I teach English to a beginner and an advanced group. I started two weeks ago. At first I rejected the request to teach but finally agreed to meet them. I then found it difficult to say 'no'.

My weakness is to say no to people who are poor and unemployed. Why shouldn't they have the same chance? Stupid question for we know it depends on having income/money. If you have the money you can buy everything - or buy yourself out of every situation!

Today I went to Kerstin's Keep Fit Group for Seniors, and noted there was a lot of talk about life in the 'DDR', before leaving for my Photoshop Gang. I was not in good shape. Allergies really hurting, particularly burning eyes and sudden explosion of sneezing and runny nose.

That is why I did not create a new masterpiece. Even so, I managed something on the theme of Old and New. It is very subtle. The original photo was taken in 1984 and not far from where I used to live!


On Tuesday afternoon I went to Oranianburg. It is a town north of Berlin and infamous for its concentration camp. To the south of the town is a campus built in the 1930's for the SS. It has now been modernised and used as a Police Academy.

Some of you may remember that I worked with Dr. B in Bernau before I retired. He is now the main English teacher at this academy. He invited me as a guest speaker to meet officers at the end of their course.  It was great. Very good English and lots of humour.

I really enjoyed it and meeting 'The Boss'. He spoke better English than most native speakers, was about 2 metres tall and looked like an advert for muscle training. I was asked if I would come back to talk to the next group. I quickly said, "Yes"!

Later I went to my local SPD office for a meeting. It was to set up a Migration-Integration Advisory  group for my district. I was elected to one of the four committee positions. I said I would take on the task for one year and also find a younger successor, perhaps from the Vietnamese community, which is one of the main immigrant groups in the district.  Here a photo of some members who elected me.

Next day, in my 'new' official capacity I went to a meeting of the SPD Annual Meeting for Migration-Integration Groups in Berlin. It was held in the Berlin Parliament House. It was a new experience for me and took me back many years to when I used to attend such meetings in the UK.


Silke came to visit after my breakfast with Hannelore. I told you that she had found a good tripod for me at a reasonable price. She gave the wrong address to the delivery company and so started a period of non-delivery and getting it right.

I finally got the tripod and liked it immediately. The first thing I did when she arrived was pay her for she had covered the cost for some time before I got it. We had a test run and took a number of photos using different settings.

We hope to have a session with cameras and tripods in the local zoo. We just need to find time when we can both be there. Thanks Silke for you help!

UPDATE: I told you about the old Mercedes in my Grunewald blogs. The owner did not turn up or call so no old Mercedes. Perhaps he got a better offer. I am not having much luck with cars at the moment!

Sunday Breakfast

Last Sunday  I cycled to Monika's house to join her, some of her family and Hannelore for breakfast. It was a sunny warm Spring day and ideal for a happy family breakfast. I tool a cool bottle of sekt from Spain to start breakfast. It is done for a special occasion.

Hannelore told me about her Saturday when she went to a class meeting to celebrate 50 years since they passed their Abitur/High School Exam and left school to study at university or start work. Lots of catching up on news, particularly about families. No surprise there!

We sat in the summer house as I showed them pictures I had made in my Photoshop Gang. They had earlier expressed a wish to see them. This generated lots of talk before we moved to the garden to relax in the sun.

I called Hannelore just before she flew home. We confirmed that I shall spend some time with her and Peter in early September. Looking forward to seeing them in Clavier again

Friday, April 19, 2013

Old and New

After stretching and relaxing with Kerstin's Oldies this morning, I left for my Oldie Photoshop Gang led by Stefan. Three were missing due to health problems. A smaller gang hit the computers after the usual period of coffee, cakes and conversation.

Stefan had prepared some black and white images of 'old' Berlin, plus some of new/modern Berlin. We cut, copied. reduced. moved and made many mistakes in the process of creating new images. Here is my work of art.

I then rushed back to where I live and a really nice cafe called Paulina opposite the S-Bahn Station. I arrived at 4.00pm, as arranged. I met Hannelore who flew into Berlin on Wednesday night from Nice where she now lives.

She arrived to attend the 50th anniversary of her 'Abi' class (High School Certificate/Graduation) which takes place tomorrow. She arrived with Monika, a school friend who by coincidence lives 6 minutes walk from my place.  We are meeting for a long breakfast on Sunday. Looking forward to it!


I've had a very nice day. I think these buds say it all. They symbolise new life, new hope, new experiences and much more. I took these photos early afternoon as I left for my Photoshop Gang. The trees are in my front garden.

I wanted to test my camera to focus on the buds rather than the branch or background. I succeeded with two of my four shots. I like them. As I was taking the shots an elderly women came out of a flat and looked at me. She asked what I was doing. I said I was taking photographs - as she could see. She looked puzzled and asked why. I answered that I wanted images of spring and new life.

She smiled and relaxed. She again asked why. I told her I wanted them for my group. Which group - she asked. For my Photoshop Gang, I replied. I think you now have a good idea of how the conversation developed. She was very interested, surprised and pleased that a group of seniors meet weekly to work on images. She left happy and smiling. A nice meeting!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I went to see King Tut yesterday afternoon with 12 Oldies from my Tuesday AG60+ group.

This is part of the local SPD organisation - for Oldies! It was in a converted bus/tram repair building on the south bank of the River Spree.

We all met at the entrance, as arranged, and descended on the cashier. Lots of negotiation because of our age and that we were a group. We got a good discount and moved into the exhibition. We all received headphones with something that looked like a mobile phone.

This gave instructions and information as we entered each room with exhibitions. You could also key in numbers to repeat or get more information. It was all linked to lights which lit up different aspects of each presentation.

It was better than I expected and I can really recommend it when you visit Berlin. It is open until September. No surprise that we ended in the cafe for coffee, cake and comments about the exhibition.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I've had a nice week which saw the end of winter and spring slowly pushing its way into the cycle of seasons. I went to an 'Oldie' breakfast on Thursday morning after being asked a number of times. I enjoyed it and have added it to my weekly routine.

I was then asked if I would teach a few of them after each breakfast. I agreed and will start next week. I was also asked to take over two other classes of oldies each Thursday afternoon in the middle of the district where I live. I met them and they seemed to like me for I was then asked to take on the groups. I agreed.

Today I did some stretching and movement in Kerstin's Oldie Gang after a two week holiday break. I felt much better. I then went to my Photoshop Gang and continued the butterfly work I started last week.  This time we got them to fly around - as you can see here.

PS to my last post. Many thanks to all who sent comments via e-mail and telephone. I understand why you did not want to post to the Comment service on this blog.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Party Time

Hurray, Hooray, Hurrah ... hip, hip hurray! It's party time. Thatcher died today!  Millions in the UK will be celebrating tonight - with countless others in different countries.

 I shall take sekt when I visit people this week so they can join me in celebrating the long awaited end of a hated and despised person. Prost!!!

UPDATE 1: BBC Radio 4 reported street parties to celebrate her death in many towns/cities yesterday. There was a large one in  Bristol which led to clashes with the police. Six police officers had to be taken to hospital. Similar in Brixton and Glasgow.

UPDATE 2: BBC Radio 4 now reporting that 2,000+ people have been invited to Thatcher's memorial service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Among others, the President of Argentina and I didn't get an invitation. I wonder why?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Strange Animals

Surprise - blue sky and warm sun today! More please. I blew off the dust from my bicycle and cycled to Tierpark. It is my local zoo and I have a ticket for free entry. There were many visitors with children. I think the sun brought them into the zoo-park.

There are some strange animals there which in some ways seem semi-human. I first met them last year when I went with Silka. They are in a seperate enclosure and do not seem to worry about humans wandering through.

Here is one I had a conversation with. It was sitting around and I wondered why it wasn't galloping around and jumping in and out of trees. This is the answer I got!

Tired paws? What? Then it surprised me even more with its final question. What are other visitors giving them?

Grunewald - 4

From the Jagdschloss, we walked along the south side of the lake. More dogs and they all made for Marga to be stroked and told how nice they were. This opened opportunities for owners to talk about their pets.

It made a change from talking about the cold weather! Marga said dogs had always been attracted to her and some people think she gives out some kind of 'vibes' that attract dogs. They never come to me -- except to bark aggressively!

You can see that part of the lake in the photos. Arriving at the end of the lake, we climbed the steps to a part of Grunewald where only villas seem to have been built.

Marga showed me where the British Ambassador lives. There were two police officers and a police car outside so you can't miss where an ambassador lives - and there are a lot of them in this area!

The final walk to the S-Bahn and then a short journey to S-Bahn Charlottenburg. From there we went to our favourite restaurant.  A very relaxed place with good food at reasonable prices.

And so ended a really memorable day. Thanks Marga!

Grunewald - 3

Next leg of our walk was to Jagdschloss Grunewald built on the south side of the lake. More background for my Silsdeners: Our old friend Kurfürst Joachim II Hector ordered that it be built in 1542/3. Das Jagdschloss means Hunting Lodge in English.

He apparently wanted such a place for hunting weekends when he galloped down the Kudamm on a Friday - then back again into the office on a Monday!  Another reason was that he used it to house his new mistress and their children. Not a bad life being a Kurfürst! I bet he would have bought old Mercedes cars if they had been around :-)

The building was rebuilt in the Barock/Baroque style on the orders of Kurfürst Friedrich I, also known as König in Preußen when he was there. The bricklayers and others jumped into action and it was finished in the style we can see today. See photo. There were some changes made about 1900 such as installing bathrooms and water toilets, but this did not change the external appearance.

It passed into the hands of the state in 1919 following the end of the monarchy and became a museum in 1932. It is now a museum and art gallery showing paintings by Lucas Cranach, and others, but many were looted at the end of the war in 1945. Another claim to fame is that it is the oldest surviving Schlossbau in Berlin. And all this on a nice days walk!

Grunewald - 2

The bus took us along the Kudamm to Hubertus Alle then briefly into Hohenzollern Damm before taking us along Clay Alle to our destination. I had the window seat behind a women with a little girl and a baby boy she was holding. The baby had blue eyes like 'Mutti' and smiled at me all the way. I just melted. I wanted to take him from Mutti and hold him - and for a bonus, to take him home!

Mutti turned to see who the baby was smiling at, saw me and then smiled at me. I melted again! I noticed she was also listing with interest to Marga and I speaking in English. She clearly used the opportunity to do some listening practice! When we got off the bus, I smiled and waved at the baby. He smiled back and Mutti took his arm to wave to me. Aaaah! 

The bus dropped us south of Grunewaldsee. For the 'Sildsdeners' - See means lake and not sea = das Meer - the exception is the Ostsee which is the Baltic. This is getting too complicated!  It is in the western part of Berlin and covers a large area before melting into Potsdam and its rural areas. When Berlin was divided into East and West, this was sometimes called the 'Green Lung' of west Berlin. It was a favourite spot for west-Berliners to visit, enjoy walks in the forests, swim in the lakes and sun themselves on the beaches.

As we started our walk I noticed nearly all the other walkers had dogs with them. I began to wonder if we had wandered into a dog event! We passed a car. An old Mercedes. I got into conversation with the owner. He finally accepted my offer of €90 and said he would deliver next Friday. That was all the money left from the wine advertising campaign I reported earlier on my blog. Even so, I need more for insurance. I wonder if he will deliver on Friday.

Marga and I then entered The Chalet Suisse for a coffee to celebrate my becoming a new 'old' Mercedes owner. It is a popular stop for coffee and meals. I really liked the place and took a shot looking into one of the two dining rooms. I liked the statue of the man staring into the red wall about the fireplace burning logs. A very welcoming place.

Later we came to an even more imposing building on the side of the lake. It is called 'Forsthaus Paulsborn am Grunewaldsee'. It was built in the 1870s and is now a hotel and restaurant. High quality reflected in the prices. A room for the weekend would cost me my new 'old' Mercedes and a bit more! Forsthaus translates as a forester's lodge or inn. You can even take your dog there - if you pay an extra €7.50 a night. Woof....woof!

Grunewald - 1

Yesterday I took a regional train from my local station to Charlottenburg station. See the photo.  Marga was waiting for me in the relative warmth of the underground connecting passages. We had decided to get out of our respective quarters of Berlin and breath some winter air in the woods.

We walked down to the Kudamm to get the bus to our destination. For the 'Silsdeners' reading this, I shall try to give you some descriptive detail as I go along. You are probably asking what a Kudamm is. Back in the 1540's a man with the title Kurfürst Joachim II Hector decided he needed a road to get  from his Stadtpalast to a new place he was having built in the woods to the west of Berlin.

This track/road was then called Knüppeldamm. Don't try to translate the first word :-( but the word damm you can translate as road or track or carriage way. Over time the people called it Kurfürstendamm probably in memory of  the man galloping up and down it to get to his new hunting lodge. Berliners don't like to say anything long if they can shorten it, so the name of the road became Kudamm. Now you know!

In 1871 a new country was created in Europe. It was called Deutschland or in English it is known as Germany. The first Kanzler/Prime Minister was a man called Otto von Bismarck. He decided the Kudamm didn't look grand enough for the capital of a new country so he ordered it be changed. It duly was,  including widening it to 55 metres. It was modelled on the Champs-Elysees in Paris - which is actually double that width!

So, Marga and I arrived at Kudamm. We passed a childrens playground on the way and I really liked the animal lurking there :-) See the photo.  We took a bus from a stop directly opposite the building where I used to teach. The school is now located in Alexander Platz. What a  coincidence to start the adventure from that spot.

April 2013 things

One week late with this update! I have no idea why. Perhaps the Easter weekend confused me about time and change including the clocks. As you know from an earlier post, I had a lazy start to the month via the long Easter weekend and more snow.

Then back to teaching in/at Alexander Platz with a new student and accepting an offer to teach a group of Oldies each Thursday afternoon. I did a 'Probe' and found them so nice that I decided to take on the group regularly. I went to a 'Farewell Party', had some important calls to the UK, had my hair cut, went to my Photoshop Gang and skyped Ian and Birgit in Ozland yesterday. Always nice to talk to them.

Yesterday I met Marga and we headed for Grunewald. I took some photos and will tell you about that in seperate posts. The next few weeks look 'normal' except for different SPD meetings starting tomorrow evening with an exhibition to mark the 150th year of its founding. I shall be there! 

Yesterday, when walking, I saw this car. You know I had hoped for a RR or Bentley from the adverts but alas it did not happen. I decided to buy this Mercedes with what is left. I beat the owner down to €90 to be paid on delivery next Friday afternoon. I know it is a little old but the motor still works! What do you think of my purchase?  

Who has a birthday in April? Horst started the month with his 79th on the 4th, followed by Uli at 66 on 6th who is followed in turn by his wife Petra on the 8th. We don't know her age! Dennis will celebrate his 58th with family in California on the 11th. Neil hits 56 on the 13th, which he shares with dear Marga. She will celebrate her 65th then! My great-nephew Henri Lynch will be all of 4 on the 18th, Mathias will celebrate his 49th with Sylvana on the 19th. Peter will be 50 on the 22 and I am going to his party:-) Birgit F will be 49 on the 24th and I hope to have at least a coffee with her then.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO EACH AND ALL!

Friday, April 05, 2013


My post-Easter week was 'normal' with the exception of an event yesterday. I was invited to a Farewell Party given for Frau Heike Marquardt. What a nice originally French name! She was the Integration Officer for the area where I live.

UPDATE: 26 April. I got an interesting e-mail from Silke, with a url, to say that Marquardt is not French but German in origin.  Seems to be a difference of opinion between the two ladies!

Yesterday was her 60th birthday and 22nd year in this position. She took early retirement and this event was given to honour her work in helping people from different national, cultural and language backgrounds.

I have known her for a number of years. She happily greeted me when I went to the ceremony last year to get my German citizenship. We also have a common interest in teaching. I really enjoyed the party with multi-cultural music, guests, speeches and big, happy smiles!

This morning I didn't go to my Kerstin Oldie Training Group. Kerstin is on holiday so there was no training. I later left for my Photoshop Gang led by Stefan. Nice to see all after the Easter break. We did some more work involving cutting and moving to build a new image.

I selected these butterflies, cut them out and moved to a tree background. Here you can see the result. I selected this to remind me of colours and Spring, which we are all waiting for in this corner of the planet. Have a nice weekend each!


I recently got a Comment from a dweller in 'Ozland' about my 'Easter Snow' post. It was about my winter shoes. If you remember I told you I bought them at the onset of winter. I think it was last October.

I called them my 'Hummer' shoes. A Hummer is a large military mobile machine that looks like an over-muscular SUV. You must know what an SUV is! Okay, you don't. It means Sport Utility Vehicle. In London they call it a Chelsea Tractor!

I called my new winter shoes 'Hummer', because the vehicle can go through any kind of snow, water, mud, sand etc conditions, and do so without a toilet stop or food break. The 'Ozzer' asked me if my Hummers had stood up to the challenging winter we are slowly leaving.

The short answer is, 'Yes, they did!' Here you can see the result of many months of wear. Note the tread on the beasts. You can go through anything with these on your feet. Just like a Hummer!