Sunday, September 30, 2018

October 2018 Things

The last day of September. It has been a good month for me and I have enjoyed the last week too. Today I put flowers on Birgit's grave and sang 'Happy Birthday To You'. It would have been her 66th birthday. I was with her son and small granddaughter. Nice to have shared the event with them. It was also the anniversary of my father's death. They share the same day but for different reasons.

Now looking through my diary to see what is waiting for me in October. The weather forecast is for the arrival of autumn from tomorrow. Must find warm pullovers and jackets. On the 3rd of October we shall enjoy a national holiday to celebrate German Unification. On Saturday I am meeting my Kowalke Gang to catch up on news over a long late breakfast!

I start my Photoshop course with Stefan on Friday 12th and a day later I shall be in a full day SPD conference in a town east of Berlin called Erkner. One of the SPD Oldies died recently. His wife asked me to prepare a photo to show at his funeral on the 18th. I have done this and just need to print it out. Apart from these things, October is full of the usual monthly meetings with different people and organisations to enjoy as we settle into autumn.

Who has a birthday in October?  My nephew Andrew will be 41 on the 5th and celebrate with his family in Addingham - it's not far from Silsden.  Nephew Warren will be 42 on the 12th and celebrate with family and friends in Silsden.  Bro2 will be all of 16 on the 13th and celebrate in Berlin. On the 14th my dear sister Frances will be 72 - and again the celebration will be in Silsden.  Falk from my Muggelsee Gang has a birthday on the 15th. My old friend Marita, who now lives opposite my place, will be 68 on the 21st. Sure to be a nice party with a few glasses of sekt! Dianne B. in Keighley will be 72 on the 27th and 'Family Sister' will celebrate her 10th birthday in Berlin on the 28th. Tanya B. in London ends the month with her 54th on the 31st October.

Other dates: 11th October marks my father's funeral, the birthday of Tessa who sadly took her own life, and is the same day when my good friend Hermann died just one year ago. The 29th marks the death of my mother in 1967. She was only 49. I often wonder how my life would have been different had she been there to advice, comment and share as I got older. Perhaps I would have made less mistakes and gone off in other directions. Who knows? I have always missed her. I was too young to lose her.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Cycle South

Yesterday I met Imre for a bicycle tour. Earlier I had an appointment with a doctor specializing in spine and collar bone problems. It was my second appointment. I arrived at 10.00 am and waited, and waited! The place was full of 'Oldies' many of whom were bent over and/or could hardly walk. At 11.10 am I decided to forget it and put my coat on.

I had agreed to meet Imre at 11.30 am at a local station to take the S-Bahn south to our destination. As I walked to the door the doctor's assistant called my name. My meeting with the Doc took about 5 minutes. She looked at my X-Rays and explained what the pictures meant. I got a prescription to have 6 meetings with another practice for stretching and bending sessions.

I left for home to pick up my bicycle. I called Imre and explained what had happened. He said he would wait. One hour later than agreed, I arrived at the station and we got into an S-Bahn. I took this photo of Imre with bicycle number 3. He said he had not brought any of his 3 cameras. He seems to have 3 of many things! I told him I had my camera and that was enough.

We headed south to a town called Zeuthen. A very nice area of rivers, lakes, woods and a mixture of houses and villas on the waterfront. As I looked at the large private villas with gardens and berths for boats, I wondered what one would cost and who actually lived in the properties. I think we are talking at least a few million for such a property.

The weather was pleasant with late summer sun so Imre decided we should start the tour with a stop at a local bakery where we ate fruit cake and sipped coffee. We then started a tour of the area with lots of stops to enjoy the scenes. At one stop we got into an interesting conversation with a lady who told us what it was like to live in that area in the period of the DDR. I wondered if she lived in one of the villas but did not ask her!

On and on we cycled until we came to our return S-Bahn station. Opposite was a bar with a large garden so we relaxed there and I enjoyed a very cool local beer. Imre does not drink alcohol so he always enjoys fruit drinks. A nice way to end the cycle tour and slowly head home.

Papa and Son

I had the pleasure of welcoming Father and Son(2) to my place this week. I got a call from Papa and we agreed to meet on Monday morning. He wanted new photographs to send to family and friends. Why? Look closely and you can see that he is now sporting a moustache and 'chin' beard.

He said that both sons had told him to grow a beard and he finally gave in but not a full face beard. I told him the boys had also said their 'Opa' should also grow a beard but I told them I only had grey/white hair now and looked like Santa Claus' grandfather! No way.

It was nice to sip a cup of tea with Papa and catch up on news. I took a range of photos with and without a tie and jacket. Difficult to choose which one to share but I think this one may be the best.

Two days later Son(2) rang the bell and came for a visit. He needed help. He had a document from his school about a 'Praktikum'. This is period when students get work experience to help them choose a job when they leave school.

As I have told you before, the family does not have internet or TV where they live and so Son(2) came to me to use my system. He went onto the internet and we quickly found a number of companies offering the kind of training he was interested in. Then we had to contact each company via e-mail. That was when the problems started.

He uses Gmail but in Persian. He had lots of problems to reformat so he could write his applications. I printed out his work and we noticed it was a mix of the two languages and layouts. We still sent them out and hope he will be successful in finding a suitable Praktikum place. Nice to see him again and note how easily he used the computer :-)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mr. Curtains

As mentioned in my last post, Daniel arrived yesterday afternoon. He immediately placed a drill  onto the table. I opened my toolbox for the screwdrivers and other things he needed. 'Mr. Curtains' then dismantled my damaged curtain rod and started work.

He measured the old and new rods and decided to put the new one into the old drill holes. But, he had to drill them deeper and wider for the new screws were larger. Lots of work with different screwdrivers and finally we were able to put the curtains onto the new rod and then place it above the doors leading to the balcony. Well done Mr Curtains and thanks!

It was then time for a cup of tea and to relax. Later I went through some of his English homework and noted that he had almost all exercises correct. I think he could do the FCE exam now, but he wants to settle into life at university, which starts next week, and do the exam early next year.

I had a 'normal' week and enjoyed the late summer. This came to an end yesterday evening with high winds, dark clouds and gusts of wind. The forecast for tomorrow is cool and rain and for the rest of the week. At least the trees, plants and flowers will be happy about that.

 I had planned to go on a bicycle tour tomorrow to the south of Berlin with Imre. We have just spoken to each other and cancelled. We shall meet next Wednesday for lunch in Alexandra Platz. Hope the sun will have returned by then.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Percy and Speakers

I told you I had problems with my old speakers on my new computer. Last Friday I went into a local electrical shop and looked at a range of speakers. I was surprised at the price range. I took my time to look at all on offer within my budget then asked an assistant for advice. He agreed with my choice so I bought them. You can see them here in front of the computer.

Daniel arrived on Saturday morning. He helped to replace some runners on curtains. Next visit he will bring a drill and new curtain rail. The one in the kitchen needs to be replaced. After that we discussed a plan for our next meetings to prepare him for the FCE examination. I then gave him a set of grammar tests. He got 95% correct! Remember that English is his fifth language.

I did some shopping after he left then decided to tidy away some things as we say goodbye to summer. I wondered where to store my sunglasses when I heard a squeaky voice. It was Percy the Penguin. He flipped the glasses onto his nose, said he would look after them over winter and jumped off the balcony. See you next Spring, Percy!

Early Sunday afternoon I had visitors, Yes, the 'Boyz' arrived. They just wanted to 'chill out' and watch a DVD on my system. First they helped me to switch computers on my desk. Not easy with so many wires and connections but they did it all in five minutes. Reward was coffee and slices of fruit cake. They found a film they wanted to see and settled down.

Meanwhile I prepared some food in the kitchen and made sure they had enough fruit juice and water to go with the meal. After a break for the meal, they returned to the film and chocolate pudding. Here you can see a shot of them enjoying the pudding. The film was in English and Bro2 kept stopping it in order to ask me what some words meant.

One was, 'What is the difference between hug and cuddle' I explained but noted they did not understand so I got Bro2 to stand up and I gave him both. Then he said, "Now I understand!" with a big smile on his face and gave me a cuddle :-)

After the film we just chatted. Mainly about school and careers. We also talked about the latest political situation. You probably know about the recent demonstrations and rise of the political right wing. The Boyz said they knew about this. And so it came time to say goodbye. They left with crisps and bananas in case they felt hungry on the way. As we moved to the door they turned and said," A cuddle please."They learn quickly!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Rather late with this post. Since the last one I have returned to most of my routines and meetings. For example: Monday and Tuesday last week saw the start of new English lessons at the AWO. I didn't have to say much for the members just talked, and talked about their summer and all the interesting things they had done and places they had been too. Very nice to listen to them,

I also met Daniel on his return from seeing family in Moldova and a 'special lady'!. He looked very healthy and happy. We talked about a study plan and sources to get him through the Cambridge First Certificate examination. On Wednesday I did some necessary paperwork then had a visit from the ex-sailor who taught me to steer his boat many years ago. It was nice to see him again and catch up on news of his extensive family. Now he talks more about his great-grandchildren rather than his grandchildren!

That evening I joined a Labour Party International meeting online using a programme called Zoom. Perhaps some of you know this. Thursday evening I relaxed in front of my TV to watch the Germany - Peru football match. The German team won 2:1 and it was a very good match. On Friday I went to Kerstin's Oldie Keep-Fit Gang and enjoyed that. I spent most of the weekend on my bicycle or on public transport visiting different place outside Berlin.

You know that I bought a new computer recently. I have been having problems with the stereo system so I took the computer back to the shop yesterday and they checked it with three different systems. All worked OK. Seems the problem is my stereo system which I shall have to replace. This evening I have my local SPD meetings and tomorrow afternoon I shall meet Daniel to look at what he has done in the last week.

What has this to do with scaffolding? Two days ago a group of men started to erect scaffolding on the flats making up the block where I live. When complete the painters will arrive and by the end of October we shall all emerge with new gleaming colours on the walls. We have to clear our balconies which from the photo you can see I have done. Now it is only a question of time before the scaffolding arrives on my walls!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Last Summer Concert

I met my Kowalke Gang last Sunday at Ostbahnhof (East railway station.) We jumped onto the RE1 train for just over an hours railway journey to Stadt Brandenburg. Nice to see all again and catch up on news.

We decided to walk to the central area to the Dom (The Cathedral). The weather was pleasant as we slowly marched towards our goal. Near the island area on which the Dom was built 700 years ago, we stopped at a restaurant. We had booked a table earlier so sat in a corner with a clear view onto a river/bay.

Most of us ordered fish for the area is well known for the variety of fish and ways of cooking them. I enjoyed mine with a cool glass of white wine before we started again on our journey. We arrived at the Dom and got our tickets for the last summer concert there.

We entered the cathedral and founds seats at the back. The concert was three pieces of music written by Franz Schubert. The concert was sold out and most of the audience were over 60! It started with Symphony No. 4 followed by his Magnificat and ended with his Stabat Mater.

The music was played by the Brandenburger Symphoniker and the choir was the Brandenburger Kantatenkreis. We settled into the concert and then all suddenly paid attention to the soprano. A truly individual voice. Strong and effortlessly moved up and down the musical scale as well as loud to soft and with no strain or effort in her voice.

 I was surprised that I had not heard of her before. Her name is Eva Friedrich and if you ever have the chance to listen to her sing then rush out and buy a ticket. I do no know why she is not known around the world!

We slowly walked back to the station and the train to Berlin. We all talked about how good the concert was and the soprano. A really enjoyable day to mark the end of summer.


I left the Fire Brigade Party and took the S-Bahn to Rummelsburg. It is two stops away and a sub-district located on the River Spree, which flows through Berlin. There is a nice promenade on the side of the river called the Rummelsburger Bucht (bay or cove in English). You can see this in the photograph above. And there I went to enjoy the annual Water Festival.

There were lots of stalls from local organisations plus some selling grilled sausages but only one selling beer. There was always a queue there :-)) The local museum had a stall and I had registered to help them. I did just that for a couple of hours. Here is a photo of the stall with the lady in the middle who heads the museum support group.

From there I went to the SPD stand which was next to the museum stall. There I helped out. This included helping children to turn the wheel you can see in the photo. There were three win points all marked by 'SPD' in red. The kids turned the wheel and did not notice that as it slowed I stopped it on one of the red 'SPD' win points. The kids all won prizes and were really happy. Some parents noticed that I was cheating for the kids but said nothing. They just smiled!

From there I walked to some boats with a group of SPD members who climbed into one. There were other teams and all raced across the bay. We did not win but all had a great time and enjoyed the event. In the photo you can see some of the SPD rowers leaving the boat. A really happy event with sunny weather and lots of families with smiling children. A great way to spend an afternoon.

Fire Brigade

This means Feuerwehr in German. I left home last Saturday afternoon and noticed lots of people and loud music at the end of my street. I wondered what was happening. I walked there to discover lots of people, many were young families with children, enjoying a 'Fest' = a festival or party in English.

It was the local Fire Brigade Festival when they open the doors to the public. In the photo you can see a nice old redbrick building. This is my local fire station. Behind it is a large green, garden area and once a year there is a party.

Lots of music, some live, lots of stalls selling mainly food and drinks and play areas for children. There were also demonstrations by firemen/women to show the public how they work. They are held in great respect in Berlin for we all know how we depend on them when we need their help.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

September 2018 Things

Ooops but I made a mistake a month ago and didn't notice. I forgot to post about August 2018 Things! Liebe Andrea sent me an e-mail recently saying I had forgotten and that she missed all the information about who had a birthday or event, during that month. And so I begin this month on time with the correct starter post.

Yesterday I met the Kowalke Gang for a very pleasant evening. We had three extra members, two of whom are visiting from Australia. We went to our district hospital which is situated in a very large park. It is also one of Berlin's oldest hospitals.  I am an ex-patient.

We met at the large fountain in front of the main office building. We were led by a musician who directed us to 10 sites to see dance and dramas with more music. It was based on the musical concept called 'Pictures at an Exhibition' by Modest Mussorgsky. The event took place in some of the park areas and in old buildings, such as the museum.

The second stop was at the war memorial where the dialogue was about War and Peace. We then went into the chapel to see scenes from Faust with additional organ music. In an area called the Labyrinth we watched a dance performance. There were 10 such stops in all with a 20 minute break for refreshments in the middle. A very interesting evening made special by bringing us all together.

This afternoon I am going to an area called the Rummelsburger Bucht for a water festival. It is a harbour area on the River Spree, which as you know flows through Berlin. There will be boat races, swimming competitions and lots of places for snacks and something to wet your throat! There are also information booths including one from the SPD and our local museum. I was asked to help on both so that is my duty for the day.

Who has a birthday or special day in September? Lynne in Cas starts us off with her 71st birthday today. Sure she'll have a happy day with Alan. Three people share the 6th. Charlotte will be 27 in London, Nevand hits all of 14 in Berlin and Arancha will celebrate her 34th in The Netherlands with Jan and Emma. Jan's sister Andrea will be 33 on the 8th and will celebrate with Marco. David K. who is an active local member of the Young SPD will be 18 on the 12th. In a recent conversation he admitted he did not have tie. We agreed to meet for me to buy him one. My nephew Stephen in Cambridge will be 48 on the 22nd and Robert G, will be 40 and celebrate with his family in Berlin. Sylvana celebrates her 58th with Mathias and family in Berlin on the 25th. Stepen's father is called Lew and will celebrate his big day with my sister Pauline in Cambridge on the 27th. An old friend called Sylke will be 48 on the 28th and celebrate with her family here in Berlin, My nephew Jefferson hits 45 on the 29th and will be sure to celebrate with his family. And so his big day ends the list of those with birthdays to celebrate with family and friends. Happy Birthday to all and each and have a great day no matter where you are!

There are three memorials. Birgit's funeral took place 14 years ago on the 15th. I can't believe it was so long ago. Her birthday is on the 30th September. She shares this day with my father who died on that day in 2004.  On the 16th my cousin Jean died and how she has been missed over the years.