Wednesday, February 27, 2019

March 2019 Things

End of February and I am still coughing which is now compounded by the start of my allergies! We are also having sunny days with blue skies. I note that there have been outbreaks of 'bush fires' in different parts of the EU. One was on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, which rather surprised me. But then they also recorded record temperatures for the time of year. What is happening to the climate and I wonder what it all means for the summer?

I've had a week of trying to return to normal with my usual meetings. Not always successful as sneezing and runny nose attacks made me decide to stay at home on a few occasions. I had a nice start to the week when I met Barbara. I have already told you she is my new(ish) German teacher. We settled into chatting as we sipped coffee and I munched on a few biscuits. Later she checked my 4 pages of writing and then I did a dictation.

While having another cup of coffee she gave me some presents. The background is that an old friend of hers died recently and she has been busy helping to clear out his flat. She found a large collection of films, music of all kinds and TV shows from the DDR. She decided to share a few things with me. I got a DVD box of Beethoven, a DVD box of Mozart and 10 CDs of Chopin piano music. What a wonderful surprise!

Karajan and Böhm are still world famous conductors so I had to smile when I later saw a joke about a conductor. I hope you can see 'the notes' clearly :-)) The Beethoven set includes the voice of Gundula Janowitz, who I discovered many years ago. I just 'freeze' when I hear her voice and have to stop whatever I am doing just to concentrate on her singing. Wonderful!  A quiet weekend is on the agenda for me, so let's see who has a birthday in March?

Actually not a lot! My MacBook will be 11 years old on the 19th - a day it shares with Colin in Australia who will be a 'bit more over 60'. Dr. Porsch will celebrate his big day with family and friends on the 22nd here in Berlin. Dr. Bernd W. has his big day on the 28th and will celebrate with his family in Bernau-to the north west of Berlin. My special friend Johanna will be 'over 70 again :-))' on the 31st and I am sure there will be a big party with her friends and not only with family.  Have a wonderful day no matter where you are!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Kitchen Takeover

Yesterday afternoon 'The Bros' arrived but this time 30 minutes early. Wow - but that has never happened before. They asked to visit to do some work on the computer and some more 'chillen'. Bro1 opened the laptop and started looking for names and addresses of companies offering training courses to young people in the final year of school. He had assembled a number of companies before he arrived so added a lot of new ones to his list.

Meanwhile, Bro2 opened his English Grammar Exercise Book and started work on that. After an hour the expected cry of, 'Grandpa, I am hungry.' was heard nice and loud. I had earlier told them they had to select what to eat and they did just that in my local supermarket. This time no Pizzas. On returning they took over my kitchen. I just sat in a corner and smiled.

They produced a large green salad, big sandwiches, and burgers which they cooked themselves. This was washed down with water, fruit juice, cola and sprite. I still sat and smiled as I watched all this take place and then wonder where they put all the food as they munched away. Later Bro1 said

he was tired so I told him to doze on my bed. As he dozed, I got into another conversation with Bro2. It covered many topics and I noted how he jumped from one topic to the next without any apparent connection. One started with his question, "Grandpa, what does democracy mean?"

'Answers on a postcard to' ...... !! More work on the laptop followed and more English homework. I noted how they had both accepted that improving their English was to do with post-school life and work rather than passing a test at school. Some progress there! The took some of the food with them to share with other members of the family and so ended a very interesting time. I look forward to the next visit for I never know what will happen when they open the door :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Cough, cough!

I coughed twice just after I typed the title words. Pity I had to stop the comment facility on my blog to protect readers from selfish 'scam' people posting links. I am sure I would have got a number of comments about my cold and progress in getting over it.

Since Monday, I have cancelled 8 appointments/meetings. I decided to do so to protect people from getting infected. I take medicine three times a day and that is slowly showing results. 'Coughing my lungs up' is now only when I get out of bed. Sales in the tissue industry are doing well at the moment thanks to my purchases.

 I found it boring sometimes to have to stay at home. I did a lot of reading, German grammar exercises, listening to music. At the moment I am listing to J.S.Bach on BBC Radio 3. He is the Composer of the Week. Try to listen to the programme via internet. I like the explanations given about each piece played.

The next few days look to be quiet, so more medicine and sleeping so I can emerge into next week full of 'vim and vigour'! I decided to add an image of Bertie the Bear. Seems like he is also suffering from at least a cold!  Come on Bertie - take your medicine like a good bear :-))

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Why me?

I had to cancel a meeting this morning and have just told my Ko Gang that I cannot go with them to the Philharmonie this evening. I shall miss an evening of music by Brahms and I am not happy about that! I got a call from The Boyz asking if they could visit tomorrow. I told them, 'NO!' Why? The answer is that I now have a very bad cold and do not want to infect others.

Why me? A good question. I recently boasted to friends that I had got through winter so far with no cold, flu or other seasonal illness. Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut! But then about every third person in Berlin is suffering from a cold or flu. I asked someone why me and they smiled as  they replied, "It's your turn!"

I'm also have problems to sleep. My nose gets blocked and I can't breath so I have problems to sleep. At least I have a large reserve of tissues! I've resigned myself to a weekend behind closed doors, keeping warm, sweating and hoping to get over the worst by Monday. I have a lot of meetings then and don't want to infect others. I hope you are well and not suffering from a seasonal illness.

I recently met another Gang. One of them had been to Australia to attend her sons wedding. She brought back some Koala Bears. She added chocolates to their arms and presented them to us. I really had to smile and hope they make you smile as well. Later I dropped my computer mouse onto the floor and it stopped working. I wondered what was inside so with the help of a hammer and screwdriver I found out. Now you know. Enjoy your weekend in good health:-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pizza Bros.

I woke late on Sunday and slowly emerged into the day. I made a salad and did some paperwork, then I heard the bell ring. It was 2.10 pm and The Bros/Boyz  arrived. I was surprised that they were only 10 minutes late. Timekeeping is improving! We sat around the table, drank tea and fruit juice and just talked.

I raised something in the news. It was another set of killings in Afghanistan and Middle East countries and all in the name of Islam. That really got The Boyz talking. It developed into a heated discussion which I ended by congratulating them on being to talk about such killings. They are old enough to have an opinion and feel free to voice it. A central tenet of democracy and Free Speech.

Then I heard the words I was waiting for. "Opa John, I am hungry!' I put the salad onto the table and pushed the pizzas into the oven. They made short work of the salad and ten minutes later sank their teeth into the pizzas. I always smile when they eat pizza for they smother it/them in tomato ketchup. You can see that in the photo here.

Later they went through my DVD collection and found 20 they want to look at in future visits. Given our earlier discussion I suggested they watch a film called, Lawrence of Arabia. At different points they stopped the film to ask about men who later became kings and about the countries formed when the Ottoman Empire ended in 1918/19. It was like taking them on a visual history lesson but they found the film interesting and said they learnt a lot.

It was then 'Haircut-Time' The Boyz cut each others hair. Lots of directions to do 'A' and not 'B' and they emerged with a style which is now common in Berlin - for the below 30s! Then Bro2 said it was my turn and I let him give me a similar cut. To do so we ignored the 30's age rule! More snacks and drinks before they put on their warm winter coats and said goodbye. An interesting visit.

Monday, February 11, 2019


What does eltabb mean? The answer is: English Language Teachers' Association Berlin-Brandenburg. I co-founded it 25 years ago and we shall be celebrating that later. I was made the first honorary member when I hit retirement age. It offers professional development to members via a range of activities such as workshops and guest speakers. It works closely with language schools and publishing houses.

I went to a university building on Hardenbergstr. on Saturday morning. I used to teach at the British Council school which was just around the corner then. Nice to see the area again. We started with a workshop given by Dr. Michael McCarthy of Cambridge University. He has built a career on statistical output from corpora to learn about vocabulary. For example: which words are commonly used, or not, and why.

We then retired to another room for lunch and lots of talking to friends. In the afternoon we had our AGM. I am sure you know it means Annual General Meeting. I always like to attend to see how one board ends its elected period and members elect another board. Here is a photo of the new board. Nice to see many women elected to office. In the evening we retired to the nearby Cafe Hardenberg for food, drinks and relaxed chats with other members. I enjoyed the whole day

Friday, February 08, 2019

More Chillen

The Boys are on holiday this week. That is why they asked to visit again and arrived at 11.00 am yesterday. Very early for them. We went to my local supermarket to buy things the wanted. Mainly soft drinks and snacks for I told them we were going out for lunch.

Walk about 4/5 minutes from my home in the direction of the local S-Bahn station and you will find the Gundelfinger Restaurant. It is run by a social organisation to train people with physical and mental disorders to become cooks and waiters They offer a set lunch from 12.00 noon to 3.00 pm on Monday to Friday for only 5 Euros. This includes a mixed salad starter, the main dish, which was lasagna yesterday, followed by a dessert.

It was the first time The Boys had been there and they liked the atmosphere as we settled around the last empty table. It is usually full of local office workers or 'the elderly', who like me find the lunch offers better than cooking at home. The Boys enjoyed the food and cleared their plates much quicker than I did.

Back home. Bro1 wanted to do some internet searches to find advise organisations. He needs advise about if to study further, go to college, how to finance it or just look for a job after July this year. Little Bro decided to 'chillen' on my sofa and listen to music via his phone and my WLAN. As it got darker they closed down and said goodbye with lots of thanks for the meal and using my computer.

I'm going to the English language association AGM tomorrow. It follows a teaching workshop and so my time is booked out. The Boys said they wanted to visit again on Sunday. Hope they do!

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Boys Chillen

Last week I got a call. It was from Bro2. He asked to visit me on Sunday afternoon. I agreed then asked if there was a special reason or need, such a homework. He said no special reason, just wanted to see me and "chillen". That made me smile. It is modern, young German 'Denglish' meaning to chill out = relax.

He duly arrived, as you can see in the photo, wearing appropriate clothes against the cold weather. The usual settling in based on what he wanted to drink and/or have a snack. While doing this he told me about his latest school report. He got it last Friday. This week is a school holiday. He proudly told me he had got a 2 for German and English. This led to a longer conversation.

It took us into looking into his future after school. I told him he would be up against competition for a job, or a place to study, and that the competition would probably have better English. He listened intensely. I added that he needed to improve his English to work outside Germany.  I said that he should start now to improve his English and use the books I had. He then nodded his head and said he agreed and could we start now. I gave him a low level grammar practice book, with an answers section, and off he went.

He then said he was hungry. No surprise there! I had already prepared some food for when I heard those words. I warmed it and he had a double helping. Just then his mobile rang. It was Bro1 asking if he could join us. Of course I said yes and so later the bell rang and in he came. He also said he was hungry. Fortunately I had held back some of the food so he got a full plate. Happy faces from both, then they asked if they could watch a DVD. They selected one and settled onto the sofa for a period of 'chillen'. Here you can see them 'chillen'. I always enjoy their visits. They make me smile :-)