Tuesday, December 31, 2019

January 2020 Things

As we enter a new year, the news from Australia is not good. More fires in the south-east and thousands have fled to the coast-beeches to escape the flames. The navy is sending ships to rescue them. Hope Colin and friends are safe and not threatened by the new outburst.

Moving to Europe, the UK has problems with flooding and here in Berlin it is just cool at 7°C. Later I am meeting my Kowalke Gang ladies to go to Berlin Cathedral for a New Year concert. After, we are going to Johanna's to drink a glass of sparkling wine and see in the New Year. Hope you have a happy day and all the best for the New Year.

Who has a birthday in January 2020? 
My wonderful little Emma will be 3 years old on the 10th. She's waiting for the birth of a baby sister in mid-February! Hannelore in the south of France will be 77 on the 13th and sure to celebrate with Peter in a local restaurant. Back in Berlin, Harald P. will be 55 on the 21st followed by Dr. Peter who will be 36 on the 24th. Over in New Zealand, Paul B. will be 35 on the 27th. Moving to Yorkshire in North England we find my niece Scarlett O'D will have her 12th birthday party on the 29th. Back in Berlin, Frau Fox will celebrate her 79th with Michael on the 31st and so ends the birthday month.
Happy Birthday no matter where you are!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Big Pot

I visited Imre yesterday. I was invited for lunch at 1.00 pm and arrived on time. Two days before he had cooked a traditional Christmas dish. It has to be made in advance of eating so that different flavours can soak into the meat and vegetables. It is made of meat with rice, garlic and other spices, which is then pressed into balls and wrapped in large cabbage leaves. In German it is called Kohlroulade and very popular at this time of year.

He reheated it then put some onto our plates. To drink he had bought a red Hungarian wine. He doesn't drink alcohol so the bottle was for me to sip with the food. Very tasty. We then moved into his living room where he showed me lots of photographs covering his life. He also showed me his complex musical system and we listened to some of his favourite bands. His collection is mainly pop and rock music from the 1970s and 1980s.

More talking then coffee and cake before I left for home in the dark and rain. He gave me an umbrella which I shall return when we next meet. A very interesting and relaxing day. Thanks Imre.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

I hope you are enjoying a relaxing family day. You don't have to be a Christian to enjoy the holiday period. In fact, most Europeans are not but they all enjoy what is now clearly a family holiday. The origins of Christmas are in north Europe and they pre-date the creation of the religion which claimed it for itself. Santa, Rudolph and the gang existed before Christianity.

One of the high points of my Christmas Day is opening Christmas cards. This year I got 29 and I am sure a few more will arrive in a couple of days taking the total to over 30. Some of the cards had additional information about family or photographs. Great to read and store for reading again later.

I also use the opportunity to toast my family and friends at 12 noon = 13.00 CET. It links many people in different countries around the world and I like the idea that we are all sipping something nice at the same time! In the second photo you can see my glass with a small bottle of sekt.

I'm having a quiet day and in a few hours Jan and family will arrive. I'm looking forward to seeing Emma again and playing 'Opa John'. Enjoy the rest of the day and tomorrow which is part of the festive period.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Ow's yer ' and

Last Friday I picked up a surgical glove from a medical centre. My Dr had sent me to a specialist Dr who wrote a prescription for a glove. That was sent to my health insurance which eventually agreed to pay. It was not cheap at Euro 144 of which my share was Euro 26. The problem started over a year ago.

I began to notice the muscle between my thumb and first finger was getting smaller. People said it was an age problem so I put a bandage on my left hand and got on with enjoying the year. It got much worse as the year advanced and now I have this strong type of medical glove to stop deterioration and support my hand. Here you can see it.

 I have to go to an X-Ray centre on 8th January for x-rays so my specialist can see what is happening under the skin. On the 9th January I have to go to a hospital for more checks on my face. Still lots of blotches and hard type of spots - which have nothing to do with adolescence!

 Last Wednesday I started with pains in my lower right leg. I went to the Docs this morning and got a prescription for tablets called 'Doxycyclin AL 200 T'. I have to take one each evening before supper. I also got some bandages for my leg. They are slightly elasticated and I have to wind one tightly around my lower leg. Busy time with Drs at the moment. Hope you are keeping well and healthy.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Mixed Wednesday

The day started by going to the gym-training centre where I go each Friday morning to enjoy being with Kerstin and her Oldie Training Gang. We were joined by members of her Wednesday Oldie Gang. We started by raising a glass of sparkling wine at 12 noon to toast each other and to wish all good health and more training in the new year.

The tables were full of food in addition to more sekt bottles. Lots of talking as each tucked into the range of home made traditional dishes. Mmmmh..very tasty! I had to leave at 3.00 pm for another meeting so I said my goodbyes and set off to Lichtenburg by tram and U-Bahn.

I arrived at the Lichtenburg Museum a little late but in time to hear the welcome speech by the Director. Then it was time to tuck into afternoon coffee and cakes followed by a range of traditional snacks and drinks including local beers. I chatted with a couple of people I know before I had to put on my coat and head for the bus to take me home.

When I arrived I found Daniel waiting in the entrance. We had arranged to meet but he arrived early. No problem. I made tea and sliced some Stollen Cake as we caught up on news. His studies at the University are going well and he only spoke English with me - and with no mistakes! This morning at 8.00 am he got onto a plane in Berlin and flew to Moldova. Two hours flight to the capital city.

He is spending a couple of weeks with his grandparents and plans to just relax and switch into his first language! He will also be spending some time with his girlfriend. I hope they have a wonderful time with each other for they deserve it. He brought me some presents. Both the bonbons and liquor come from Moldova. What a nice surprise!

I'm going to share them with my Kowalke Gang when we meet on the 24th December. Everything tastes better when you share with such nice people :-) Here is a photo of presents I got earlier in the week!

Berlin Dom Concert

On Monday I went to Berlin Cathedral (Dom) for a concert. Most of my Kowalke Gang were there with friends so there were 12 people. It was for me a very special concert. How many of you have been to a Swedish choir concert? I hadn't so was looking forward to the event. We got tickets for seats in the 9th row so were fairly close to the choir. Nearly every seat was taken.

The topic was 'Lucia - The Swedish Queen of Lights' and given by Stockholms Musikgymnasiums Kammerkör conducted by Helene Stureborg. There were no musical instruments - only the choir made up of young musical talented people.

 It was interesting to listen to how they moved through many ranges of music and volume with such confidence. They also sang in Swedish, German and English. If you get the chance then go to see/listen to them.

On Tuesday afternoon I went to the Christmas Party given by my SPD Oldies. A mixture of speeches, comments, jokes, food, coffee and sparkling wine. A very entertaining few hours and a nice way to relax and end the day.

Sunday lunch

Imre rang the doorbell at 12.45 pm on Sunday, as agreed. He came to my place on  Bicycle No.1. He left the other 2 at home. He also brought 3 smartphones and 2 cameras! He relaxed in the kitchen and started to sip orange juice. He likes all fruit juices. We caught up on news as he sipped. He spoke mostly about his lady-friend, family birthdays and his job.

We left for the Czech Restaurant a few streets away. It had been reserved for a family event so we could not stay. We decided to go to an Italian restaurant at the end of the road. We had been there before so knew the menu and service. Imre wanted to sit at a window seat and so it was agreed. He then confessed to having cooked a large pan of food and eaten some of it for breakfast, therefore, he only wanted to eat a salad.

Even so I wondered if he would still try to eat from my plate. I ordered tagliatelle with small pieces of chicken breast and vegetables. He ordered a salad and started to eat. He looked at my dish then suddenly his fork picked up some chicken and he ate it. No surprise there! Later we returned to my place where we had coffee and more chat. He is working over Christmas so we decided to meet again when he had a free day and he would call me to arrange that. Always interesting to meet him and listen to his news- Looking forward to more of that in the New Year.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Bear Day

Last Wednesday evening, as the Brits were preparing to vote, I went to my local SPD meeting. It was held in an Italian restaurant in our local shopping centre. There was no official business for we had gathered for a Christmas party.

 In this photo you can see about half of the members in attendance. Lots of political talk including a number of comments about the UK election and Brexit. There have recently been some changes at the top of the SPD, so there were lots of comments about that.

A few days before then, Hertha had her first birthday. I can hear you asking who Hertha is. She is a bear. Here you can see here trying to bite into a large fruit ice, and being helped by her mother on the right of the photo.

They live in Tierpark which is a zoo opposite the shopping centre and restaurant where I met the local SPD members. She is the biggest attraction in the zoo, particularly for families with young children. They love to visit and wave at her. 

Guess who is coming to visit tomorrow ... Yes, Imre! He called and suggested we meet for lunch at the local Czech restaurant. He likes it. I wonder how much of my food he will eat?

Friday, December 13, 2019


Wherever you live your national radio and tv stations will have given you details of the election in the UK yesterday.  I was not surprised at the result but am very disappointed. Five years of a conservative government led by Boris Johnson. How could the ex-labour voters have switched support and voted for such a party and leader?

 The conservatives have a majority of 80 now, they got 44% of the vote and an additional 66 seats. The Labour Party got the worse result since 1935. They got 32% of the vote, lost 42 seats and ended with 203 seats.

Perhaps Brexit is the best that can happen by the end of January 2020. Goodbye Brexitland!

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Rixdorf Christmas Market

I met friends and The Boyz yesterday and we took the Ringbahn to Station Sonnenallee. We walked about 1 klm and arrived in Alt Rixdorf for the Weihnachtsmarkt = Christmas Market. There are many at the moment in different parts of Berlin. I told The Boyz to come with us for they had not been to one. They readily agreed.

The market area was absolutely full. This market is only on 3 days and the stalls are provided by lots of social / voluntary associations both advertising their activities and selling things. In addition, there are lots of stalls selling food, snacks and hot mulled wine -with or without alcohol. We drank some without.

The Rixdorf Market is also famous for showing a stall with donkeys, as they used to live many years ago. It also has a 'Schmiede' where some smiths heat metal then form all kinds of things which are later sold. It also has a man on an organ playing traditional Christmas music. You can see some of these in the photos.

I talked to the boys about going to the Spandau Christmas Market with their parents and sister next Saturday. They liked the idea and said they would talk to them about it and call me in the week. I hope we can all go there for I have heard it is the largest such market in Berlin and it would be nice to experience it with the family.

Now to get some lunch then start to write Christmas cards. I'm late this year. At 4.30 pm I shall leave home and walk to my local protestant church. There I shall meet the Kowalke Gang and settle down to enjoy J.S.Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium Kantaten I-III.    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


This is very popular and part of German food culture in the Christmas season. It means roast duck. Look at this photo of 'Donald Duck' I took yesterday. My Kowalke Gang met at 1.00 pm for lunch.

Nice to see them again and we started with a glass of sekt which I had brought with me. A semi-dry sparkling wine from Spain and one of my favourites.

Then the food was placed on the table. In addition to Donald, we had potatoes, and a dish made from potatoes and flour, red cabbage, apple sauce and lots of tasty gravy. As desert we enjoyed a mixed fruit salad. Lots of talking covering many topics and so the afternoon went by.

I then said my goodbyes and headed off for the tram to take me to Karlshorst S-Bahn. I missed both by less than a minute so arrived late at my destination. This was the station Ostkreuz on the Ring-Bahn. My friends and The Boyz were waiting for me and so we set off to visit a Weihnachtsmarkt.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Mixed week

Another mixed week is drawing to a close. It is getting much colder now with minus temperatures at night. My German teacher Barbara is still ill. Her cold has returned and she is taking stronger medicine. Stefan from the Photoshop gang sent out a message this morning saying the session this afternoon would be cancelled for he was ill - again. I have decided to stop attending that group from January.

I learnt a few things about how to operate my smartphone last Monday and next Tuesday I am going to a lesson at the AWO. It is called 'Smartphones for Seniors'! Last Wednesday I met Max and his lady for a late lunch cooked by him. Very tasty and he has a talent for cooking. This morning I went to Kerstin's Keep Fit Gang and found this little present on my training mat. We each got such a present - it is to do with Advent - and we started the session with a cool glass of sparkling wine :-)

On  the way home I stopped at Aldi and bought some wine glasses. They were on special offer. I need them over the holiday when I have guests for over the year a number of glasses have been broken, either in use or when washed. In a couple of hours I am meeting Jutta to go to a local church to hear the choir from Humbolt University give a concert of Christmas songs. The start of a nice weekend!

National News: Frau Merkel has just visited Auschwitz for the first time. She was with the Polish Prime Minister and other ministers. She announced a donation of €60 million to a fund which maintains the site. 1,1 million people were killed there - mainly Jews. Just over 2 million people visited it last year with the numbers rising. I visited it many years ago and will never forget it. When I think about what I saw I wonder just how evil people can be to each other.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

December 2019 Things

I've had a mixed week. It started with a call from Barbara, my German teacher, to say she had a bad cold and would have to cancel out meeting on Monday morning. Instead, I went to the AWO office opposite where she lives and had a chat with the new boss. I also paid my membership fee for 2020. On Wednesday afternoon I went to another AWO building. I had been invited to a party to thank all those who supported their activities.

On Thursday morning I went to my dentist. It was for a check up and to get a stamp on my health insurance papers. I have a health insurance card and it did not work in the dentists payment machine. The staff called the insurance company and they apologised, gave no explanation as to why it didn't work but sent the dentist a fax saying they would pay for my treatment. I was also told they would send me a new card. So far nothing has arrived!

After that, I went to Johanna's home for Kaffee und Kuchen, a chat and to go through some documents. On Friday I went to Kerstin's training session for Oldies, but not to Stefan's Photoshop course for he cancelled it again. I got an e-mail from Jan. It was about The Spiegel doing a report about the Berlin Labour Party.

A good report and linked to events in the UK. Yes, the General Election is only 2 weeks away. It also said that 16,000 Brits live and work in Berlin = more that I thought. Later I got a link from Holger in Bremen. It was to say that he had appeared in a film in Platt-Deutsch. He likes the language. I looked online at the advert for the film. I would like to see more. Just type 'Boot un Doot' into Google to see the advert and Holger!

Who has a birthday in December?
Michael Nixdorf in Berlin starts the month with his 55th birthday. Stefan who leads my Friday Photoshop Gang will be 59 on Saturday. Evie will be all of 11 on the 18th. Julie Bolton in Yorkshire will be 45 on the 20th. A day she shares with Thomas in Berlin who will be 59. Jonas, in Bremen, will be 23 on the 22nd. Broz2 hits 19 on the 24th of December. Over in the UK, Neil Dickinson will be 73 on the 28th and he shares the day with Stefan Schöneberg who will be 36. As usual, Ian Maxwell ends the month with his 60th birthday. This year he will celebrate in Singapore with a special lady. Happy Birthday to each and all no matter where you are!    Here is a pork pie for each. Mmmmmh...tasty :-)