Thursday, December 31, 2015

Guten Rutsch!

Just got time to post before my guests arrive. Not sure how many now and one lady may bring her dog. At least I know it is a small dog but it can be very 'Yappy'!

I checked the weather reports again about Silsden and the north of the UK. Looks like the worst of the storms and floods are over - for the moment. Here is an image of Silsden in warmer, sunnier times.

I shall slip into the New Year in bed and probably asleep - as usual. I have never celebrated the event. I wonder why I have never been able to jump about and get all excited because of a movement in time. It happens all the time.

Later, German speakers will be wishing their family all the best for the New Year so here are a few phrases. You can learn them for the New Year :-))
Ich wünsche Euch allen einen guten Rutsch.
Ich wünsche Euch ein gutes neues Jahr
Ich wünsche Euch alles Gute im neuen Jahr.

Have fun learning this nice German and I wish you ALL lots of happy, good things and most of important is GOOD HEALTH!  Prost!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bits 'n Bobs 'n Beards

I've been listening for weather news from London most of the day and looking online. More storms in the north west of England in addition to the north of Ireland and south of Scotland. It seems that Silsden is not under further threat - and I still have not heard anything to the contrary from family there so I can breath out.

Before writing this post I thought about what I had recently posted and realised I had not completed a number of things before we slide out of this year and into another. I noticed I had not reported again on Goofie the Goose. Sad news! He didn't make it through Christmas. I wonder if he found the answer to his question. "Is there life after Christmas." His goose was certainly cooked!!! See photo.

The other was that I told you Marcel came to visit on Christmas. I forgot to follow up except that we went to the cinema last Monday. It was a nice surprise to welcome him on the 25th. We quickly caught up on news about his family who he recently visited in Budapest and at the Balaton. He returned to Berlin for Christmas to prepare for an important examination early in January. I really applaud his learning/studying discipline.

He has also found a new room. The move is in a couple of weeks and again convenient for travelling to his university. More about this in the new year. As soon as we met there was talk about his full beard. Yes, it is his first full beard. He has had a chin beard, shaped beard, clipped student beard but this was his first full beard! Here is a pic. Not bad.

By chance I listed to BBC Radio 4 a short time ago. I heard Laurie Taylor's programme called Thinking Aloud. The topic was Fashion and Beauty. This included a report about Male Beards historically and the current trend. Yes, most males over 18 in Berlin have beards of many shapes, sizes and colours.

 I thought back to Marcel's growth as I listened. In the historical section of the programme I thought about myself. I first started to shave when I was almost 15. Yes, rather late and one of the last boys in my class to grasp a razor for the first time. By that time I was getting comments about my struggling teenage beard, and wasn't it time I.............. Yes, I agreed, it was time.

I duly bought a Gillette wet razor with metal blades, soap, brush, with money earned from my paper-round. The first shave was a bloodbath! I not only removed the hair but half of my skin and skimmed the top off all of my puberty spots! I emerged covered in bits of paper stuck to my face to suck up all the blood.  No-one in the family said anything. They just giggled!

I never grew a beard until I was 28. Much later than Marcel, but then I was not a student. Here is the only pic I can find of me with a beard. I was on holiday on/in Corfu. How about those Marks and Spencer's underpants!! Actually, not a bad beard there John! I had one during my first tour of India in 1976. I wonder where those photos are?

Later I grew thick black eyebrows and heavy black moustache. I realised they didn't really suit me except when I was in the Netherlands. And that is a long story we won't go into :-)

Tomorrow is the end of one year in which we celebrate the start of another. I have some Oldies for Kaffee und Kuchen but I suspect they will hang around for even more in the glass and later for supper. Let's see. I shall shave before they arrive, but his time with an electric razor and less blood!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


How strange is the weather at the moment? I looked at World Weather Reports over Christmas and saw there were storms, heavy rain, forest fires, floods, cyclones etc. in South America, The USA, Africa, parts of east Asia, China and houses burnt down on the south east Great Ocean Road in Australia.

There was also more flooding in north England. My ears pricked up when I heard of flooding in Leeds and York in addition to more towns and villages in the north of Yorkshire and Cumbria. The names of the villages and rivers I remembered from childhood. Day trips in summer to these places to play in the water and nearby fields where we had picnics.

I turned on my computer and typed in Silsden. I discovered that there was no serious problem apart from high water in The Beck near to the post office before the water runs down to the River Aire which is one kilometre away. Silsden has known other high water threats, as you can see from an old photo, but it is higher than the Aire which can flood into a wide valley without reaching the town.

I shall watch weather reports in the near future. I have received no phone calls, or other forms of contact, from family and friends living in the area, so I take it that no news is good news! Meanwhile, I saw the new Star War film yesterday evening.

I met Marcel and we settled into a large cinema, with 3D glasses perched on our noses. It was in the Cine Star in the Sony Centre in Potsdamer Platz. They only show films in the original language. I think it was right to see the film in 3D, which supported the 'Surround' sound system. We both enjoyed the film and it was clear that it was the start of a new round of such films.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Cheers again!

And now it is time to raise my glass to all family and friends in the UK for they have just arrived at 12 noon on the 25th December 2015. I notice I have had a number of views to my blog in the last hour. Hope you liked what you saw.

So now I am enjoying the aftertaste of my sekt again as I think about all who sent me cards, news and greetings. Yes, but where to begin? I was surprised by how many of you added a comment that you read my blog, enjoy my comments about life in Berlin and hope I continue.

Now that was a surprise. How many of you knew that I was thinking about closing my blog? Can you pick up 'vibes' over so many miles? I decided to wait until we were into January to make a decision. The other option is to reduce the period older posts are available. At the moment you can read things back to 2008. I wonder if I should reduce this down to two years.

Meanwhile, I was overwhelmed by the greetings and kind messages. I was also concerned at news of health problems, operations in the recent past or waiting in the new year. I shall of course only communicate directly in such cases and not over this blog.

One thing that brought tears to my eyes was opening a thick envelope from Jan and Arancha. In addition to Christmas wishes were six 'old fashioned' photographs of their wedding and I was on three of them. I shall have to share this in a later post. Memories of a day I shall never forget.

I also received surprise gifts of music CDs from two ladies in my Oldie English classes. We talk about our musical tastes so they know mine. Nice of them to send me these presents. There was also a surprise gift from Ozland. Big thank to Ian and Birgit. I look forward to reading it as we move towards Spring and to sending you my comments.

To end, I shall add photos of the cards, photos, presents I received. Thanks to all of you and I look forward to seeing many of you in person in the New Year. Later this afternoon Mr Muscles is dropping in. Yes, he is here in Berlin and not in Hungary. Nice surprise for me and I'm looking forward to hearing all his news.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to family and friends wherever you are. I started a practice, which has now become a tradition, of raising a glass - or three! - at noon on Christmas Day.  I shall do this in two minutes.

I shall repeat it in 1 hour when my UK friends and family catch up. 

Here is the pic of my glass and bottle. It is a German sekt and I look forward to tasting it in 1 minute.

It is now 12.00 CET so...PROST!! Here is to your very good health and wishing you lots of happy, nice things in 2016.

Mmmmh..but this tastes nice. A half-dry bottle but with lots of non-sweet tastes that change as the liquid melts on your tongue. Must have another 'Schluck' so Prost again.

Now back to opening the rest of my cards and reading greetings and messages. That is the high-spot of my day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve in Berlin as I type these words. I've had a really pleasant day. It started with being lazy and reading a book as I sipped a cup of tea. Then I decided I needed to vacuum my place, shower and slowly get into the day. My lazy plan was ended by a telephone call.

It was from Gerald and Jutta to say, "Wo bist du! - where are you? They were waiting for me to have Christmas breakfast with them and the rest of the Berlin Gang. I just left everything where it was, had a quick brrrrr with the shaver over my cheeks, ran through the shower and jumped into some clean clothes.

Packed presents into my rucksack, picked up my bicycle and set off for their place. It is all of 12 minutes but it took me 15 for I had to slow down to avoid dozy late shoppers who wandered onto the cycle tracks. Yes, we have such things in Berlin! I got there just before 11 am - only two hours late.

My mistake for I thought the invitation was for supper and not breakfast. It was great to see my Berlin Gang again. Lots of talking, catching up on news, good food and drinks. Then I told them I had brought my camera for I wanted to take a couple of photos to send to Colin and his Gang in Australia.

You know them all by now for I posted about them when they were in Berlin during summer. My Berlin Gang readily agreed to have their photo taken, so here are a couple of shots. I have just sent them to Colin so he can share the moment when he wakes up in a few hours and emerges into Christmas Day with his family on their dairy farm north of Sydney.

My place still needs cleaning - perhaps tomorrow :-))  Have a great Christmas Eve. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Add a comment

This post is about how to add a comment to anything I post on the blog. I decided to make this possible on my blog for I enjoy reading comments from readers. Many are funny and show an appreciation of words, wordplay and of what is in the blog post.

Colin recently asked about how to add a comment. Others had earlier asked so here goes:
1) At the bottom of each post is the word "comment". It is in blue which means it is a live link to the add a comment facility.

2) Click on comment and a new window will open in the top left of your screen. Within this is a smaller screen with the words "Leave your comments". Type in your comment and look down to the next task.

3) There you will see the words "Choose an Identity!". There are four.  First is Google Account, second is Open  ID, third is Name/URL and fourth is Anonymous. I advice you to click on number 4/Anonymous for it is the easiest to use.

4) Then look further down the page and you will see the words "Prove you are not a robot". This is for security. There is a small rectangle with a square in the right side. Just click into this square and a small task will then appear. It may be to spell a word or ask you to find a flower in a picture. If your response is correct a green tick will appear in the square.

5) Next step is to publish your comment. You will see those words so just click on them. That is it apart from closing the window.

6) Look at the top right of the Comment window and you will see the words Close This Window. Just click on those words and it closes.  You may have to wait a few minutes to see your comment added to the comment window. It depends on how busy the server is.

Now that was not difficult was it?  Here is what half my garden looked like when I was searching for the too early buds this afternoon.

Spring is sprung!

There is an old 'Britsh' English word play based on the first signs of Spring. Here it is with a small change made by me. 'Spring is sprung, the grass is ris. I wonder where Christmas is!'  Instead of Christmas the last section should be - '--- I wonder where the Birdies is!'.

I thought about it this afternoon when I took the rubbish out to the bins near the garden. I wandered into the garden when I saw some buds on a small bush which, at this time of year, should not be there.  I have heard reports of "unseasonal" weather in the UK, particularly the north of England, including storms and flooding.

The weather 'experts' seem to agree that it is much too warm and generally dry for the time of year - north England being the exception. I wonder if I will be able to sit on my balcony in the sun on Christmas Day. Now, that would be nice.

It has also been very hot 'Down-Under' recently. I got an interesting E-mail from Colin in the south-east of Australia. They had a period of nearly 40°C. Now that really did make me want to be there! At the moment it is cooler and there is rain. He said the plants and gardens need the rain.

He's already headed north to spend Christmas with his family at their dairy farm. Wonder if  they'll be having a 'Barbi' on the 25th with 40°C in the shade.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Yuk! How can anyone eat this? It is called Hackfleisch in German. In English this means minced meat. I think I posted a similar comment last Christmas, but I am sure most of you have forgotten. I thought it was only eaten in Berlin, but friends told me it can be found all over the country.

They also said it had to be eaten while still 'fresh' and not left to stand on a table for hours. It is raw meat. Yes, I wrote the word raw!  I took this shot with my phone camera last Friday. It was after training with Kerstin's Oldies.

We set the tables and opened a few bottles of sekt. This bowl of minced raw meat was set in front of my place. I quickly moved it. It is smeared onto bread rolls, topped off with freshly cut onions to which you add salt and pepper...... then stuff into your mouth!!

Yuk....oh no!! How can anyone eat this? I never was a great meat eater, and for many years was vegetarian, so that may be why I find it so repulsive. I called it 'cannibalism' on Friday, but my fellow members of Kerstin's Gang just smiled. chewed on more and said, "Yummy".

Apart from that I had a pleasant week. Hope you did too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Goose Theology

On arriving home from the parties yesterday, I checked my postbox. There were a number of letters, cards and this postcard. It really made me smile and think.

My translation of the German words is: ' Do you believe in life after Christmas?' The question is being put by Goofy Goose on the left and Charlie Goose on the right is turning his head slightly to show he is pondering the question :-))

The photo was created by a lady called Anja Kramer. Well done Anja - you deserve a glass of sekt for this idea!

Perhaps the geese were on their way to a Goose Church, in which case they would have been able to 'quack' over the theology in the question with Priest Quackery, followed by a tasty lunch of roast goose!  Quack, any more sekt, quack?

Seasonal Presents

I had a very nice Monday and Tuesday. I went to the AWO on Monday afternoon for the last lesson with my Oldies. They had already prepared the tables with decorations, plates, cups, saucers and glasses!

They were in the mood to relax and enjoy the time with each other. Even so I did get them to do a couple of Christmas games, which they enjoyed. They had some presents for me. See the pic on the left

The main present was the selection of whisk(e)y from the USA, Canada, Ireland and Scotland. The bottle of sekt and After Eight mints were left over from the party, so they were pushed into my bag. I didn't object!

The other pic is of presents I got from my Tuesday Oldies. The pattern of events was very much like on Monday but they had nice coffee. My Monday Oldies drank hot, spicy 'Glühwein' ,which I don't like. I just sipped a glass of sekt.

My present from the Tuesday Oldies was a bottle of sekt. As they cleared the tables at the end of the party a range of things were dropped into my bag. Again, I didn't object!

From there I took the U-Bahn to another AWO building where my SPD Oldies were having a Christmas Party. We had a lot of guests including the local Mayor. Always nice to see her. Lots of talking, coffee and cakes interlaced with speeches as different guests said how pleased they were to have been invited!

We all got a bag of seasonal cakes and chocolates plus a small bottle of ....... guess what! Yes, sekt. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and was one of the last to leave.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Spot the Koala

Just opened my E-mail account and found a very nice message and photo. I just had to share. It was from Ian and Birgit who called me earlier to ask if I was okay. Yes, they live in the opposite part of the world - and it is warm and sunny!

They recently went on a long weekend tour down what is called the Great Ocean Road. I guess it runs along the coast from Sydney. Next time I go there I would like to take a tour down this coast road.

Correction from Colin: No it doesn't, the road is "way down south - about 2 hours west of Melbourne". That means it runs along the south coast of Victoria. Thanks for this, Colin. 

This morning they had breakfast and went into the garden of their B&B. They looked into this tree. Where is the Koala?

Many thanks to both for sharing with my readers, most of whom live in the cold, winter north of Europe. Isn't it nice to see this non-winter image? Just look at that blue sky and the blue sea.

Nice present

Last Friday started, as usual, with Kerstin's 'Stretching and Movement Course for Seniors' at 10.00 am. We were a small group. No surprise there for it is Christmas shopping time. Next Friday we are having our Christmas Party after training. I'm looking forward to that. My contribution is to take two bottles of Sekt = Sparkling Wine.

I did some shopping for the weekend on my way home in the afternoon. I was lazy and did not update my blog!! I took out Daniel's file and waited for him. He rang the bell early and entered. We talked about the English he had to do over the Christmas holiday and started to plan his writing.

We also discussed his holiday plans. He is going to Moldova with his father on a very long bus journey. He is looking forward to seeing a certain young lady again :-)) as well as seeing his wider family.

He reached into his rucksack and pulled out a very nice bottle. Wow! A present from his family to say thanks for helping him with his English. Thanks family. I wonder what it tastes like for it is new to me. I'll let you know in a post-holiday report.

Find me

After lunch with the Foto Oldies last Wednesday, I relaxed at home, didn't update my blog :-(( and packed my papers for a meeting. It was time for my local SPD committee meeting. Yes, I was elected to the committee in 2014. We allow one hour to discuss matters before the doors are opened for a general members meeting.

We followed the usual format last Wednesday evening with time to nibble on Christmas cakes, chocolates and sip a hot spicy wine only drunk at this time of the year. The meetings covered many topics and ended later than I wished. Even so, there are elections within the party next year so we had to cover a wide range of topics.

On Thursday I was lazy again. I didn't update my blog :-((  In the evening I opened my computer to watch the BVV Lichtenberg meeting live broadcast. The Silsdeners are most likely saying, 'What is a BVV?' and rightly so. Standby for this example of a BIG German noun.

It means: die Bezirksverordnetenversammlung. Phew, but is that a mouthful and it is not alone. The language is full of such things. They are sometimes called Compound Nouns and can be formed from 3,4,5 or more nouns! Even German comedians make fun of this aspect of the language.

So I watched the BVV live via the internet. Here is a pic of our Mayor addressing the meeting. Guess what? She is from the SPD :-))  My local party has a webpage and posts reports and photos about meetings. I went to that webpage during a break in the live broadcast. Guess what I found?

Yes, this photo. It was taken a week earlier when the SPD Lichtenberg had a special 'Future Policy' meeting which I attended. There were nearly 100 members present who formed 6 groups to discuss what policy the SPD should follow locally from 2016 to 2025.

I was in the migration and integration group. Now look at the photograph and FIND ME! You can post your comment/opinion direct to this blog, or call me/send an E-mail. I do not have an account in what is called 'Social Networks'. I don't grunt or twitter for I am not an animal or bird!


Yes, I've been lazy this week and not posted anything. No excuse for my laziness. I just kept putting it off until tomorrow. This morning I got a call from the other end of the world asking me if I was okay because I hadn't posted for a week. How nice of them.

The week started with teaching my Monday Oldies followed on Tuesday by more Oldies. Wednesday started in Alexander Platz at the Ministry of Education canteen. I met Maria there at 11.00 am. It is always nice to see her. We went through the Spanish homework I have to hand in on Tuesday.

She's flying to Spain with her husband so that was the last  chance to meet. She helped me again with word order and pronunciation. We parted and I took an U-Bahn back to Tierpark stop and walked around the corner to a German restaurant.

It was time to meet my Fotoclub Gang for Christmas lunch. It was good to enjoy simple tasty traditional regional food again, plus a small glass of beer. We talked about themes/topics for photographs in 2016. We agreed a list of 12 starting next January.

Last Sunday I met three lovely ladies for Kaffee und Kuchen at my place. Later we went to the nearby church. Yes, it was time to enjoy Bach's Christmas Oratorium. It was a very professional performance given all but the singers are amateur. Here, you can see the programme and information.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


Two faces to make you smile. The first is of......yes, you guessed right. It is Jan. It was great to see him on Monday. He looked really well given a rather hectic weekend of visits. Arancha was in a business meeting, and not in Berlin, so unfortunately I could not meet her.

I offered Jan, water, green tea or coffee. He just smiled, walked to the fridge, opened the door and said he had sound something better :-))) We caught up on important news and then it was time for me to leave for teaching. He offered to drive me there.

I accepted immediately for it meant we had more time to chat and catch up on news. He is now back home with Milady A. They are going to Spain for Christmas/New Year, so I shall see them again when they visit in 2016.

While waiting for him I created a face. Yes, I know I am a little late but I enjoyed creating Freddie the Face! I hollowed out the centre and placed a 'tea candle' in it. I could then see how it looked in an illuminated state. I could see the eyes were not right.

They were too small. Back to the knife and my 'creativity'. I made the eyes larger then noticed Freddie looked rather bland. A thick black pencil was the answer. I gave him eyebrows and a mouth, but then I noticed it looked more like a moustache!

Freddie will be the table decoration on Sunday when three nice ladies drop in for coffee and cakes in the afternoon. I'm sure Freddie will make them smile:-)  After that, we are going to a concert to hear the Christmas Oratorium by Bach Snr.

Monday, November 30, 2015

December 2015 Things

Waiting for Jan to arrive. Later I am teaching my Monday Oldies. They are so called to differentiate them from my Tuesday Oldies! After that I am going to a(n) SPD conference. Members will form 6 groups to discuss policies for the district to be pursued over the next ten years.

December has the usual meetings and activities, but so far with five parties planned! Next Sunday I'm going to the local protestant church with Johanna and Gang to enjoy a performance of Bach's Weihnachts(Christmas)oratorium.

I recently got an e-mail from Holger. He was sorting through some papers and found a couple of photos. He sent copies to me. What a surprise! They were taken in 1987 when he, Gabi, Rolf and a couple of friends did a UK tour taking in Brighton, which is where I met them. Rolf is in the photo and I think he is smoking a cigarette - as usual!

The photos were taken outside my flat. Vernon Terrace if you can remember. My flat was on the second floor and behind the three bowed windows was the living room.

It was here that I finished my academic writing, fell in love with Anne, went with her to classical music classes, had to stay in hospital with first suspected heart attack, and planned my escape from the UK. Very mixed memories. Thanks for the photos Holger!

Who has a birthday in December? Michael N. starts the month with his 51st on the 5th, Stefan of Photoshop fame will be 55 on the 7th, 'Bruv-in-Law' Geoff will celebrate his birthday in Silsden with sister Fran on the 13th. My great niece Evie will be all of 8 years old on the 18th. Julie B. will be 41 on the 20th which she shares with Thomas here in Berlin who will be 55 on that day. Neil D. will be 69 on the 28th. On that day Stefan Sch. will be 32. As usual, Ian in Australia ends the birthday list with his 56th on the 30th. A day he will no doubt celebrate with Birgit.

Happy Birthday to each and all and have a wonderful day with family and friends! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tablet grandson

My iMac got a grandson yesterday. Yes, strange but true. Just look at the photo and you can see the baby happily sleeping against Grandpa - Ach wie schön! The background to this story is not so nice. Get a glass of whiskey and settle down to get annoyed!

The story begins last mid-July. An elderly gentleman called 'Oldie H' had a mental breakdown. I have mentioned him a few times on this blog so regular readers will know about him. He had earlier suffered heart problems and had a number of operations.. This time he said his neighbours were all Nazis and wanted to kill him to get his flat.

Before this revelation, he went into a branch of a large chain of electrical stores near his then home. For some unknown reason he bought this Samsung tablet and a large modern 'smart phone' including contract to use the things online.

He has a laptop and apart from writing a few e-mails doesn't know how to use it. He also has a WLAN router but even after two installations from 'specialists' it doesn't work. He has more than one mobile phone but only uses them to call people. In short, he has no idea how to use his new Samsung tablet or his large new smart phone and he does not have the system at home to support them.

I recently visited him in his new flat and discovered this story. My first reaction was to take both pieces of equipment back to the store, find the salesman and then stuff both down his throat. The Samsung first and then the smart phone as dessert!!! He asked me to take the Samsung home and get it working. I  did this as you can see.

The Samsung also has a chip so it can be used as a phone. He bought this later and installed it but never used it. When I tried to activate it the thing asked me for a PUK. I talked to Oldie H this morning and brought him up-to-date. I told him he had to find the PUK and get his WLAN working. Let's see what happens.

Meanwhile, I wonder what someone would do with this salesman in a Tarrentino film. I think it would be worse than forcing both down his throat!! What do you think?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Potsdamer Platz

It snowed a lot earlier. I ventured out to buy food and things for the weekend from my local supermarker, then retreated to the warmth of my palace! Jan and Arancha are in town. They have a busy schedule and I shall probably see them on Monday before they depart.

Looking forward to that and catching up on news. Meanwhile, I recently opened a magazine and read a report about Potsdamer Platz. I then realised I had never posted information about it on my blog. It is now a major tourist attraction and a place I enjoy visiting.

As you probably know, it houses three cinema complexes with a total of 30 screens in and around the Sony Centre. One only shows films in the original language so that is where I go to watch films such as the latest James Bond film called Spectre. I found a brief history of the area. Here it is:----

Potsdamer Platz  is an important public square and traffic intersection in the centre of Berlin, Germany, lying about 1 km (1,100 yd) south of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag (German Parliament Building), and close to the southeast corner of the Tiergarten park. It is named after the city of Potsdam, some 25 km (16 mi) to the south west, and marks the point where the old road from Potsdam passed through the city wall of Berlin at the Potsdam Gate. 

After developing within the space of little over a century from an intersection of rural thoroughfares into the most bustling traffic intersection in Europe,  it was totally laid waste during World War II and then left desolate during the Cold War era when the Berlin Wall bisected its former location. Since German reunification, Potsdamer Platz has been the site of major redevelopment projects.

It really is worth taking time to explore the area when you are next in Berlin. Near to my favourite cinema complex is the Philharmonie Centre where you can hear the world famous orchestra in its local hall famous for its clarity of sound.  Treat yourself to a concert, and there are lots of restaurants and bars to relax in before or after your concert --- or film! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Yes, it is snowing and the temperature on my balcony is 6°C. It is the first snow of the season. Perhaps the heavens decided to open to welcome the new 'Genosse-Vertreter Johannes' :-))

I woke early and found my head full of ideas to write a pamphlet to the EVM-Genossin I now represent. I decided to take this week to do it and then have it checked by Marita. When printed out I shall deliver it to each member's post box. That way they shall quickly get to know Vertreter Johannes!

I started the day with a strange urge to clean my fridge-freezer. I discovered a lot of fish in the freezer. They all went into three different cooking pots as I continued to clean the fridge. My flat stank of cooked fish as I pushed on with the cleaning.

I now have a very clean fridge-freezer and lots of fish to put on the menu this week. I wonder what to cook with the fish to make it/them interesting and edible?

Next week looks very much like last week for appointments. The big test will be on Friday. Let's see if Daniel is able to sort his diary out and get to my place at 5.00 pm, as agreed last Friday.  Daniel .... note that it is pm = evening, and not am = morning!!!

Genosse-Vertreter Johannes

Yesterday afternoon I was voted as a Vertreter (Representative) for people living in my area of the housing association of which we are members. I can hold office for 5 years. Since I moved to this part of Berlin and joined the housing association (EVM) I have complained at the lack of representation.

I always wondered why my fellow German association members voted in the elections but none of them stepped forward to represent their interests. I talked about this to a number of members and friends. They had no idea why the Lichtenberg/Karlshorst members were so passive.

In a recent discussion, one of them said I should stand for office and both shame the other mainly younger members and also start to activate them. In short: Shut up or put up! I decided to stand for office. I was partly motivated by the new construction opposite my flat and knowledge that about 300 new members would be moving in from next April.

From that number I am sure I shall find some activists who I can work with, and who can take over my office, for I am only going to stand for one term. I prepared a speech and Marita checked it for grammar. I practiced it with her a few times.

Yesterday was election day in the Town Hall of an area called Neue Kolln which is next to the district where I live. Two buses were hired to take members from my area to  and from the meeting. We arrived okay and I took my seat. I was the 6th speaker of the 31 candidates to be elected to the 13 seats.

I did not feel nervous as I walked to the front and faced the microphones. It was not very different from meeting a new English class!! I delivered my speech slowly and with emphasis as I had practiced. I noted I had the attention of all just after I started and they even laughed at my joke as I ended my speech. I got a very good round of applause as I returned to my seat.

Three other speakers referred to my contribution and said they agreed with my points. Others said it was the best speech of the meeting. After lunch we got the result of the vote. I came in at No:8 and so was elected to represent my area.  I can now call myself SPD-Genosse and EVM-Genosse-Vertreter Johannes :-)))

Friday, November 20, 2015


There was an appointment with Daniel in my diary at 4.00 pm today. In German this is 16.00 Uhr but we always agree to write out our appointments in English. I waited, and waited, and waited. He only has a 'smart phone' which I called five times between 4 and 5.00 pm. No answer.

I wanted to ask the standard question, 'Where are you', but couldn't. I couldn't understand why he didn't have his phone on and/or with an answer phone service. I even have all these services on my 'non-smart phones'!

At 5.00 pm he rang my doorbell. I asked him about his phone and he said it was at home! Do you buy a smart phone to leave it at home? I told him he was late and so there would be no lesson today. He wasn't happy about that. I asked him where the note was on which I had written the appointment for today. The answer was, 'I don't know!'

Being a nice person  :-)) I offered him some tea and McVitie Digestives. We started with the originals and then I offered him a biscuit with milk chocolate. He liked the chocolate digestive better so I gave him the rest of the packet to take home.

He then asked me why I had not up-dated my blog for a week. My answer was, ' I had nothing of interest or important to say'. He just stared at me in surprise.

We then agreed to meet next week and I wrote the appointment in my diary. He wrote it on a piece of paper and then he left. As I closed the door I looked at my diary. Guess what?  His note was still on my diary.

He had forgotten to pick it up. Here it is. I wonder if it has anything to do with being nineteen or even twenty for Marcel has a gold medal for being the worst time organiser in Berlin! Marcel - be careful for you have a new competitor for your title!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I saw the new James Bond film called Spectre yesterday. I met Marcel and Kyrill outside the Sony Centre Kino where they only show films in the original language. Both wanted to see it in English, which is a compliment to their language skills.

I was surprised at how good the film was and that it developed themes/plots seen in the last Bond film. It starts with Bond being nice to a lady :-) before he goes off to kill some 'baddies', in the course of which things get explosive! I can really recommend that you find a cinema showing this film, settle into your seat, and just enjoy the fantasy world of Mr Bond.

I have no appointments today - hurrah! I slept a little later before starting the day by reading a few chapters  in my German book and noting new words, which were in a kind of Platt-Deutsch/Low-German spoken earlier in East Prussia. Then a bit of tidying up and checking e-mails.

I got some nice images from Ian and Birgit in Sydney. Here they are. You can see that Spring is 'Sprungening' in and around Sydney. They recently moved to a new house a long stones throw from their old one.

One photo is of the flowers in front of a neighbour's house and the other is of the entrance to The Barracks. I spent a few hours there on a conducted tour when I was in Sydney earlier this year. It was late summer then so not as colourful as now. Happy memories!

Now to wash-up and see what is for lunch apart from dry bread.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Busy Boy

I've been a busy boy today. It started with talking to Ian in Australia. Later I went for a walk and took some more photos of the building opposite my flat. The weather was surprisingly good with a blue sky and sun. It even reached 20°C on my balcony!

On my return I did the lesson plans for my Oldie courses tomorrow and Tuesday. I have never been able to enter a classroom without some kind of lesson plan, no matter how short. Interesting co-incidence that the guest in Private Passions on Radio 3 was an academic originally from north India. I listened as I wrote.

He has developed a theory about how children learn. He says they don't need a teacher or classroom. They only need each other, a task and someone like a grandmother to support them. A very interesting argument, but I am taking my lesson plan tomorrow. All of my Oldies grew up in a standard education system so have preconditioned expectations!

Later I did the ironing then started on the main task. Yes, I cooked. It was an all veggie event based on seasonal root vegetables. Included were two beetroot so I ended up cooking them separately. The rest was cooked in two pans.

One started with garlic and onions fried in olive oil. I then added aubergines and a green root veg. The others were cooked in water separately before adding to the other cooked veg and beetroots. Very tasty and I have enough left for two meals.  I even managed an afternoon snooze after the veggie lunch. How was your Sunday?

Rent a Pad

I have just talked to Ian in Sydney via Skype and so had the chance to get more information about the place he rented in summer. A few of my German readers asked for details. Perhaps they want to 'rent-a-pad' for next summer!

The building is called Auchinleck House near the town of Auchinleck, in the east of Ayrshire, in the south of Scotland. It is on the site of the older Auchinleck Castle, which was the seat of a family called Auchinleck, who also had a baron title and was first recorded in 1241.

Both remained in the family until 1504 when the only surviving daughter marred a gent called Thomas Boswell. He got the property and became the Laird of Auchinleck. This family is famous for a friendship with Dr. Johnson, as you surely know. The house you can see here was built in 1760, probably from the stones of the old castle.

Many such families had problems to maintain such properties and this was the case with the Boswell family. In 1986 the property was taken over by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust and in 1999 it was bought by The Landmark Trust. You can find a lot of information about this Trust on their website. The function of the Trust is to preserve old buildings and let them for holidays.

Nice idea and long may they do it. Ian and Birgit found the house on the Trust's website and rented it for 10 days last summer. They invited friends with their children and enjoyed time together. You can rent this too. It sleeps 13 people, has a large kitchen and dining room for communal eating and is cheaper per day than a hotel.

Here is a photo of the hosts at the entrance to the mansion. I plan to visit England next summer so now I am thinking about having a large family gathering in such a place. Must look on the Trust website to find a suitable 'rent-a-pad' not too far away from a plentiful supply of Fish 'n Chips and Pork Pies :-))