Left bed

Concert

Dec 02 2021

I went to the Berliner Philharmonie last Sunday afternoon. I went with Johanna and two other nice ladies. The concert started at 4.00pm and about 80% of the seats were taken by an audience most of which were older than 65. The cold but dry weather with sunshine perhaps played a part in bringing so many to the concert hall. Everyone was controlled at each entrance and had to show evidence that they had had anti-corona injections and passed an infection test. This is becoming part of normal life here now.

The Sinfonie Orchester Berlin played, and was directed by Radek Baboräk who also played the horn. He comes from the Czech Republic from a musical family and started playing the horn as a schoolboy. Later he moved to Germany and began to make a name as a skilled musician. There were 4 pieces of music to listen to and it started wit Jean Sibelius, Finlandia Op. 26. Then we heard Mozart’s Konzert für Horn and Orchester Nr. 4. Es.Dur KV495 followed by Peter Tschaikowsky: Romeo und Julia, Fantasie Ouvertür nach Shakespeare. Then it was time for a break and the concert ended with Tschaikowsky’s Symphonie Nr. 4 f-Moll Op. 36. Lots of clapping to show that the audience had enjoyed the concert then into the early evening and off home. A really nice way to spend an afternoon.

December 2021 Things

Nov 27 2021

I’ve been busy since Thursday showing Tony and Rita around parts of Berlin. They live in London and I met Tony many years ago when I went to university. He is now a lecturer at London University. I last saw them about five years ago when we went to Ian and Birgit’s chalet in Austria to enjoy a week of skiing. Tony had been to Berlin before but not Rita. They both settled very quickly into life here and even visited a friend from the US who lives in the west of the town with his family. On Thursday I met them at their hotel on Fischerinsel in the centre. We explored the area taking in the town hall and many other interesting buildings, statues and historical sights. We ended the day at my place for supper and agreed on a plan for next day.

We met and took the S-Bahn to Potsdam. Here we visited all the main sights in the old centre of the town including a number of palaces. They later met their friend and went back with him to have a festive evening with his family. Today I took them to Müggelsee to Berlin’s largest lake. They really liked it and now have a list of other places to visit on their visit to Berlin planned for next Spring.

Who has a birthday in December? Stephen Block starts us off with his 61st on the 7th in Berlin. Over in the UK, Evie will be 13 on the 18th. Over in Yorkshire, Julie Bolton will be 47 on the 29th and shares the day with Thomas from Berlin who will be 61.  Also in Berlin, Broz-1 will be 21 on the 24th. On the 28th, near to Brighton, Neil Dickinson will be 75 and shares the day with Stefan Schöneberg who will celebrate his 38th with his new wife! Ian Maxwell over in Australia will be 62 on the 30th and ends this month of birthdays. Have a great day no matter where you are!

Normal

Nov 23 2021

I’ve had a normal week since my last post. Nothing of particular interest to report. You know I had a corona test nearly three months ago. I was near to the same test centre late morning and decided to go in. It only took about 20 minutes and I was pleased to receive a statement saying I tested negative — hooray! People are being urged to take more and regular tests. There has been a steep rise in the number of reported corona cases. The same is happening in the UK. On Thursday I’m meeting a couple from London at their hotel in the centre. They are here until Sunday so I shall help them to discover the many faces of Berlin. Looking forward to that.

Quiet

Nov 14 2021

It’s been a relatively quiet week since I last posted. I have only gone out for fixed appointments or for shopping. Why? Because the number of covid cases has climbed to a record high. The same happened in the UK. Given the high number of people with injections against covid here, I really cannot understand why there was such an increase. I had a couple of visitors and enjoyed sipping a glass of something nice with them and catching up on news.

I went to the orthopädie clinic on Monday only to discover me health insurance card was no longer valid – although the date on the card said it was valid! I received a temporary card yesterday so I am going back to the clinic tomorrow. I also needed to replace another card at my local government office only to be told it was no longer possible in person. I had to send my documents by post. Still waiting for them to be returned to me. The big event for me today is to watch Germany play against Armenia at football, starting at 6.00pm local time. Guess which team I want to win! Enjoy your Sunday evening. Result: German team won 4:1

Bonfire

Nov 05 2021

It is the 5th November which means it is Bonfire Day in the UK. Lots of fireworks with the fires in the evening and toffees, grilled food and of course, all washed down with a beer, or two! The origin was a few hundred years ago when a man called Guy Fawkes and friends put gunpowder into the cellars under the Houses of Parliament to blow up the King and members of parliament. They were arrested by guards before they could light the gunpowder. They were later executed. Now it is a festival in the UK. Have fun and enjoy your sausages grilled in the bonfires!

November 2021 Things

Oct 30 2021

I recently listened to a BBC Radio 4 late evening news broadcast. The interviewer was a woman and she talked to two women. I was surprised to hear so much ‘modern’ English in their exchanges. Here are some of the things I heard –

wiggle room / an up tick / a backlog of issues / leveling up / an uplift / down the line / to partner up / to be best pleased / a step change / a pension dashboard.  I really wonder where the English language is going when I hear such things.

Who has a birthday in November? Daniel in Berlin starts us off with his 25th on the 2nd November. Jeff over in The Netherlands will be 66 on the 19th. Sarah in London will be 61 on the 22nd  followed by Stephen (Seitz) in Berlin who will be 64 on the 29th and so ends this birthday month. Happy Birthday to each and all no matter where you are!    

Shock

Oct 29 2021

I watched  M’Gladbach play FC Bayern for a place in the German Cup last Tuesday evening. I was not the only one to get a SHOCK.  Gladbach scored a goal within the first 2 minutes. My mouth dropped open as I struggled to believe what I had seen. They then scored another 2 in the first half and added 4 and 5 in the second half. The Bayern team seemed to be on another planet. I have rarely seen them play so bad. The TV commentators were of the same opinion – in additional to a lot of viewers.

Today is a special day for me. My mother died on Sunday 29th October 1967 in Keighley General Hospital at 6.00 pm. She was 48 and I was 24. All of 54 years. I wonder how my life would have been had she lived. I was the last person to see her. I lived in Nottingham then and had visited the family home on Saturday and also visited my mother in hospital before my Sunday visit. I remember holding her hands as we talked and she tried to smile to hide any pain. I hugged her and gave her a big kiss then moved to the door. There I turned and saw her smiling at me as she tried to hold back tears. I always have that vision in my head when I think about that visit. I can see her tearful smile as I write these words. My biggest regret is that we were not able to get older together.

Visitors

Oct 24 2021

I had three very nice visitors on Friday afternoon. Yes, it was ‘The Boyz’ and Sis. Here is a photo of them and you can see they are clearly growing up. Bro2 was 19 a week ago and is still growing. He is now the tallest in the family. I sent them to my local supermarket to buy what they wanted to eat for a late lunch. They did just that and then we settled into sipping alcohol-free beer while Sis enjoyed some healthy orange juice. We caught up on each others news before I heard the expected words. “Opa, I’m hungry”. 

The Boyz went into the kitchen while Sis started to draw at my desk in the living room. She has a talent for shape and colours and just relaxed as she drew an ‘abstract’ image of what I guess is an ice cream-lollypop with lots of colours and internal shapes. Then it was time to eat. They enjoyed the food and cleared all the plates.

Later we relaxed and talked about many things including school-college and The Boyz plans after their studies. And so the day moved into early evening and it got darker. They said their goodbyes and headed home with a box of chocolates I had bought for them to share with their parents. I really enjoyed seeing them again.

The weather here is clearly moving into autumn and the trees are shedding leaves. Here is a photo of the main tree opposite my balcony. You can clearly see the change in colour and now it only has half the leaves you can see in this photo. At least we are enjoying cool days but with lots of sunshine and blue skies – without rain!

Brahms Requiem

Oct 18 2021

Yesterday afternoon I met 5 nice ladies and we went to the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. Johanna had organized it all and thanks to her for that. It was an afternoon concert starting at 4.00pm and well attended, but I noticed most were 65+ just like us! The music was played by the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra and the chorus was from the Philharmony. I have heard this music many times on the radio but this was the first time I had been to a live performance. The singers and players were excellent and deserved the lasting applause at the end. I went on the internet to get more details about Brahms and this work so here is a selection of what I found.

A German Requiem, to Words of the Holy ScripturesOp. 45 (German: Ein deutsches Requiem, nach Worten der heiligen Schrift) by Johannes Brahms, is a large-scale work for chorus, orchestra, a soprano and a baritone soloist, composed between 1865 and 1868. It comprises seven movements, making this work Brahms’s longest composition. A German Requiem is sacred but non-liturgical, and unlike a long tradition of the Latin RequiemA German Requiem, as its title states, is a Requiem in the German language.

Brahms’s mother died in February 1865, a loss that caused him much grief and may well have inspired Ein deutsches Requiem. Brahms’s lingering feelings over Robert Schumann‘s death in July 1856 may also have been a motivation, though his reticence about such matters makes this uncertain.

His original conception was for a work of six movements; according to their eventual places in the final version, these were movements I–IV and VI–VII. By the end of April 1865, Brahms had completed the first, second, and fourth movements. The second movement used some previously abandoned musical material written in 1854, the year of Schumann’s mental collapse and attempted suicide, and of Brahms’s move to Düsseldorf to assist Clara Schumann and her young children.[1]

Brahms assembled the libretto himself. In contrast to the traditional Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, which employs a standardized text in Latin, the text is derived from the German Luther Bible. In 1866 Brahms made an arrangement for piano solo of the six-movement version of the Requiem, which he revealed to Clara Schumann at Christmas of that year.

Books

Oct 14 2021

I had a nice surprise on Monday afternoon. The doorbell rang and I opened the door to see a delivery man holding out a package for me to take. I opened it to find a book inside. It is, ‘Britain’s War : Into battle 1937 – 1941’ written by an academic historian called Daniel Todman. I recently read volume 2 covering the period from 1942 to 1947. I thought only Ian could have sent it and he later confirmed he had.

I like the author’s way of exploring his subject and style of writing.  In the introduction he sets out his approach. Here are a few quotes: “In a way no other book has done, these two volumes join together histories that are usually told separately – strategic, political and economic, military, cultural, and social — as it prepared for war”.

This morning I turned on my WLAN Radio to BBC Radio 4 at 10.00 am Berlin time. Just in time to hear a discussion led by Melvyn Bragg. Hi guests were three academic historians including Norman Davies who wrote two books about the history of Poland. I have posted about book 2 before. The topic today was the history of the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth, which became a Republic from 1569-1795 when it was absorbed into Russia, Germany and Austria and ceased to exist until 1918.

In 1385 there was a personal union of crowns by a constitutional union which lasted for 407 years. The Lithuanian state was founded in the 13th century by a team of warriors. It changed its name and constitution a number of time such as  the Poland-Lithuania Republic 1569 – 1795. Some say it was the largest and strongest state in Eastern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Poles are historically a branch of the Slavs.  I shall enjoy reading more history in Book 1 which will be a nice contrast to reading Todman’s book (above). Have fun with your books as the weather takes us into autumn.

Injection

Oct 13 2021

I had my third vaccine injection against Coronavirus yesterday. It was at a shopping centre on the Frankfurter Allee. I had to join a queue but within 20 minutes I got my jab. My doctor insisted on speaking to me in English. I then discovered he came from a German family which moved to the USA, where he was born, then back to Germany when he was ten. He also said he takes any opportunity to speak English so he doesn’t forget the language.

I had to wait in a room for 15 minutes to make sure I was okay after the injection.  Again, no problems. The reason for the jab was that my second one was just over 6 months ago and given that, and my age, I was advised to have a third jab. The record of my injections is in my ‘Impfbuch’.

Last Sunday I watched an interesting football game on TV. It was Germany -vs- North Macedonia. The play was very even in the first half. In the second half the German manager took off a couple of the new players and put some older and more experienced players into the team. The result was Germany 4 and Macedonia 0. I think that says a lot about the quality of the replacement players – even if older than 20!

Blue Sky

Oct 08 2021

Nothing special has happened since my last post. Another ‘normal’ week but with more meetings and less via Zoom. I’ve had 2 meetings with my Physiotherapists with different treatment. I now havean A4 paper with images and instructions about stretching and moving which I have to do each morning at home. Hope that works.

I met Johanna during the week and she helped me to understand a 4 page letter I got from my bank. Even she is critical of how ‘business and legal’ German is used and says it could all be written in simpler language and shorter. We are going to a meeting with my Mugglesee Gang tomorrow starting at 3.00pm. Looking forward to seeing them again and catching up on news.

The weather here has been really nice. Just look at this photo of a tree opposite to where I live. I really like how the leaves are turning red before falling to the ground. Tomorrow should also be sunny before it gets cooler and rains on Sunday. Guess what I am going to watch on TV this evening. Yes, you are right – a football match. Germany is playing against Rumania. Which team will I be cheering? UPDATE: Germany won 2:1   –  But— The Rumanian team were dominant in the first half and played very well throughout the game 🙂 Final Game: Yesterday evening I watched another football game. It was the UEFA Nations League Finals. Result was Spain 1 – France 2. The French team played well and deserved to emerge the winners – but then part of me would have been happy if the Spanish team had won!

 

Neil

Oct 03 2021

I met Neil Deane yesterday. I have posted about him on my blog before. He is now a lecturer at the University of Duisburg- Essen and currently writing his 4th book. This one is a novel and I look forward to reading it at the end of the year. His 3rd book is called – Liverpool: gateway to heaven and hell. A personal odyssey. Neil was born in Liverpool and grew up there. He moved to Berlin in 1979 and it was during the early 1990’s that I got to know him through membership of the new teacher’s association. Later we lived in different flats in Scharnweber Straße and I got to know more about his experiences in Liverpool. The book really is a ‘must read’ and I can recommend it to anyone interested in the city and growing up there at the time of The Beatles and other bands.

Yesterday we met on the platform at Friedrichstraße and walked across the bridge to his favourite restaurant. Over a very tasty meal we caught up on what we had been doing since our last meeting – also in the same restaurant. He was visiting old friends in Berlin and just enjoying walking along streets that reminded him of his time in Berlin. He’s going to tell me when his new book comes onto the market for I said I would read it and send any comments back to him. It was very nice to see him again and catch up on news. I look forward to our next meeting.

October 2021 Things

Oct 02 2021

We are clearly moving into early autumn in Berlin. Leaves dropping from trees and it gets darker earlier in the evening. On Friday 1st October, Thorsten arrived in the afternoon with a USB Video Camera and installed it as I watched with an open mouth. Amazing the skills some people have. He installed it on my desktop computer in the living room. In the kitchen I have my laptop and recently had problems to connect to Zoom meetings, hence installing the camera on my desktop. He checked that the microphone worked okay and then the job was done. I just need to learn how to use it !! After, we sipped a drop of ‘Red Medicine’ as we talked about changes to equipment in the ever growing ‘computer world’.

Who has a Birthday in October? My nephew Andrew in west Yorkshire will be 44 on the 5th, followed by nephew Warren who will be 45 on the 12th. Back in Berlin ‘Broz2’ will be 19 on the 13th. Back to south-west England to greet my sister Frances who will be 75 on the 14th. Back in Berlin Falk from my ‘Mugglesee-Gang’ has his birthday on the 15th. My neighbour Marita will be 71 on the 21st. Over in west Yorkshire Dianne will be 75 on the 27th. On the 28th, ‘Sis’ will be 12 years old and celebrate with her family in Berlin. Over to London and we find Tanja will be 57 on the 31st and so she ends this birthday month. Happy Birthday to each and all no matter where you are 🙂

Birgit

Birgit would have been 69 yesterday. Sadly she died on Friday 27th August 2004 – 17 years ago – and how

she is missed. She was a remarkable women who liked to be in the company of other people, be it in a party or just for a chat and a drink. I first met her when I came to Berlin and went looking for work. Birgit was the head of a language school teaching English to ex-DDR citizens and she gave me a job. I have happy memories of working in her school and with the students. Later we worked together in another private school in the centre of Berlin. She also moved into a nice flat with a garden in my district so we saw each other more socially then.

Her sister Heike contacted me about meeting and going to the grave together. We did just that. We bought some flowers on the way and I had already bought two small bottles of sekt. On arrival we greeted her as I sang ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and we poured a little sekt onto the top of the grave. We later sat nearby and sipped the rest of the sekt as we talked and remembered happy times with Birgit. Later Heike and I went to a restaurant near my place for lunch and more talking about a person who is sadly missed.

Vote

Sep 26 2021

The word vote can be a noun = a vote, and a verb = to vote. I voted this morning at 11.00. There were more than one voting rooms but it was well organised and I only had to wait 20 minutes before voting. We voters had to wear masks as we shuffled towards the voting rooms/booths. This time we in Berlin had 5 different voting papers and not only for a new central government. I shall watch the news on TV later this evening to see who/which party has collected how many votes. At the moment, the news broadcasters are talking about the CDU and SPD having the same number of votes. Let’s see what the results are later. Here is a photo of some of the adverts I got from different parties.

The weather today was really nice. Lots of blue sky, sunshine and no clouds. Very nice. Last week was as usual except for Friday evening when I had two visitors I hadn’t seen for 2 years. We went to a local restaurant, enjoyed good food and wine plus lots of talking. Next week looks like the same as the last one. Hope the sun keeps shining!

Mixed Week

Sep 17 2021

I’ve had a very mixed week which I enjoyed. The first thing to note is change in the weather – perhaps its the same where you are. We are slowly moving into Autumn witnessed by trees shedding more leaves and it gets darker earlier in the evening. In my last post I said I was going to meet a small group of ‘ELTABBERS’. I went with Johanna and we met the others in Potsdam Platz. After greeting each other we set off on a walk through parks and woods while still talking to each other and catching up on news. We entered one park to discover a number of monuments to composers. Here you can see us standing in front of the one to Beethoven – who just happens to be my favourite! Off again and then we came to a museum on the side of the River Spree and close to the building where the German Prime Minister works. We sat outside the museum restaurant and ordered ‘Kaffe und Kuchen’. There were lots of people there and lots of boats sailing past. Then we walked on and crossed the river. Later we went into a restaurant on the riverside but Johanna and I left and headed to the nearby Main Railway Station. Johanna is looking after a neighbour’s cat so had to leave early. We agreed to meet up again for another walk before the snow arrives and winter sets in.

I had two physio appointments last week and felt much better after each. On Tuesday evening I met other Berlin Labour Party members via a Zoom meeting. I have another two Zoom meetings scheduled for this weekend. I also watched two football matches via TV and enjoyed both. On Tuesday afternoon I started a new English group and another one on Wednesday morning. We are now into September so people are returning from holidays and joining such groups. I know all of them from courses before the onset of Corona cancellations. Nice to see them back again and listen to their adventures during summer – but only in English! Johanna visited this morning and helped me with some paperwork including trying to understand some words of 30 or 40 and more letters! Civil Service German is not so easy to understand even for many Germans. I also had a visit from The Boyz. Ian and Birgit had sent some money for  them and their sister and so I handed it over and made them smile …. and smile! Were they happy! They have just started new schools/colleges and need more books, sports clothes etc. Here you can see them smiling:-)

Quiet week

Sep 11 2021

I’ve had another quiet week since my last post. The week started with some of my KO-Gang meeting in my garden to relax and sip a glass or two of cool Sekt. Lots of talking, jokes and some nice snacks. After they had gone I was able to join a meeting via Zoom.

Next morning I met a small number of people at an AWO centre. They wanted to talk about starting a new English course. We agreed to start one this Wednesday at 11.00am. I put their level at A2 so they are not absolute beginners. I then went to my physio and felt better after the treatment. Later I watched the German football team win a match.

On Thursday I met Andrea and enjoyed pushing the pram around with her little treasure in it. What a nice day that was. A meeting with friends was cancelled on Friday when there was a heavy storm with lots of lightening and thunder.

My meeting with Imre today was also cancelled. This was due to him having to stay in his flat and wait for workmen to arrive to work on his electricity and water systems. Tomorrow I am meeting Johanna and we are going to Potsdam Platz to meet some members of ELTABB for a walk and then a nice meal together.  Enjoy your Sunday!

Grave

Sep 06 2021

Last week went as planned except for Friday. I met Johanna and Martina as planned but we changed our walk. At my request we walked to the ‘Socialist Graveyard’ which is north of where we all live. It is famous for the memorials to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Hundreds of people gather there each January to remember them. In the centre of the graveyard is Birgit`s grave. It was 17 years since her untimely death. I bought 3 roses on the way: 1 from me, 1 from her sister and 1 from her son. I put the flowers on the grave as I told her how much she is still missed. We then walked north through the graveyard for it has a lot of trees and parts of it look like a park. We then took a tram back to our starting point and went into a newly opened Armenian restaurant. I ate fish which was very tasty.

 

On Sunday afternoon I went to the home of the Pardon family. I really enjoy meeting them. There is also a connection to Birgit – she used to teach in a school run by the Pardons! Lots of catching up on news. Inga teaches at a university in St. Petersburg and speaks fluent Russian. Another glass of sekt and a snack and more talk and then it was time to go. I hope we can have another garden party like that before winter arrives.

September 2021 Things

Sep 01 2021

I have another Physio appointment this afternoon at 2:15. Then rush home to greet two old friends who decided it was time we met. I expect lots of talk as they relax with Kaffee und Kuchen. On Friday I’m meeting Johanna and Martina for a ride to Straussee to the east of Berlin. Its one of my favourite areas. We’ll also have lunch there, perhaps at a restaurant overlooking the lake. When I arrive home I shall meet another two old friends who I haven’t seen since the start of the Covid pandemic. They said they will take me to a local restaurant. I accepted their offer. Looks like Friday will be a day of eating for me! I have two Zoom meetings over the weekend and so starts my September.

Who has a birthday in September?    Lynne starts the birthday month with her 74th today over in ‘Casland’ with  Alan. I wish I could be there with them. Arancha will celebrate her 37th with Jan and daughters over in Den Haag on the 6th. She is followed by Andrea here in Berlin who will be 36 on the 8th. I’m travelling to her home next day for the second day of celebrations. Gabi over in Bremen will be 55 on the 11th. Nephew Stephan over in Cambridge will be 51 on the 22nd. Robert Gast here in Berlin will be 43 on the 23rd and Sylvana follows that with her 61st on the 25th. Back to Cambridge where Stephan’s father, Lew, will celebrate another birthday on the 27th. Here in Berlin Sylke will celebrate her 50th birthday on the 28th. My nephew Jefferson will celebrate being 48 on the 29th with his family at their home in the south-west of England. Have a great day no matter where you are!

Little change

Aug 25 2021

Since my last post there has been little change to my routine. The weather is showing signs of moving

into autumn and some trees are shedding leaves. It has turned cooler and we are having more rain. The big event for me was on Sunday when I went to Martina’s birthday meal/party and listened to the adventures of the Ko-Gang who were present.

I had two zoom meetings and noticed problems with my camera on the laptop. I could not get a clear image. The picture of me was split in at least 6 sections. Thorsten will check this out when he comes next Monday. I had my first Physio treatment a few hours ago. I feel much better now and it will be repeated over the next 6 weeks.

I’ve had some interesting telephone calls from friends who I haven’t met for some months due to Corona virus. We plan to meet up soon. Just have to organise that. This week ends with Angelika’s birthday party at the family house near to Mugglesee. Looking forward to that!

Test

Aug 18 2021

Guess what I did this morning. First, I went to my bank, then to a nearby Corona Test Centre

Tests are free so I decided to enter and find out what having a test means. Nice person at the registration and only needed information from my nationality card. That done I was asked to go to the test room. A lady stuck a thin swab into my throat as I said, ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ then up my nose. It only took a couple of minutes.

Then I had to take the tube to the next room which was the test room. I was asked to come back in 15 minutes for the result. I went to Aldi which was nearby and returned after 15 minutes. I was given an A4 document which carried the words I wanted to read. Here you can see for yourself. Yes it is —- negative!! Whippeeee was I happy!

To beard or—

Aug 12 2021

To beard or not to beard, that is the question! I have changed a famous phrase to describe something that happened recently. It all began with a visit by The Boyz on Saturday. Bro2 then told me he was going to shave off his beard yesterday (Wednesday) I asked why and he said his mother wanted him to do it so he would look younger. He then said I could shave off my goatee beard as well.

That was a big change for he has always said I should keep my beard for it shows that I am an Opa (Grandfather). I only grew it when he kept asking me to do so. Here is what he wrote in an Email yesterday.

“Hi Opa John – I will shave my beard in five minutes and I think its a good idea if you also shave your grandpa beard. All the best Opa.” I’ve asked him to send me a photo of him without his beard. I wonder if he will look younger!

Flying

Aug 06 2021

Here is a photo of me taken by Jutta at a recent ‘Ko-Gang’ meal. She has eye-sight problems but is still able to produce nice images. Thanks Jutta! Now for a comment about flying.

I have just returned from my local Travel Agents. I have always bought tickets there for they give a good service and are much quicker than I would be booking a flight on a computer at home. I asked about flights to England for a two week holiday covering the last 2 weeks of August. First I asked about direct flights from Berlin to Manchester. There are none! You can fly there but with 2 stops to change planes, and it would have cost €630-00. No thanks!

We next looked at flights to Leeds. KLM offers flights but with long stops of over 3 hours, and a flight change in Amsterdam. There and back costs €580,00. Also not cheap. Another problem is that I would have to arrive at Berlin airport at about 2.00am to deal with all the waiting, paperwork and checking that I have had corona jabs and getting a new certificate showing that I tested negative for the virus. It all takes time.

We agreed that I return to the agency on Monday and tell them to book the Leeds flight — or not! I’m going to think about it over the weekend and call my family to get their views. How different flying is now compared to the early 1970s when I traveled with BOAC and enjoyed the services they offered. A luxury compared with today.

Update: I decided not to fly to the UK. The deciding factor was an appontment with an Orthopädic practice and then with a Physiotherapeut. I have to start a 6 week period of treatment which includes the two weeks I was thinking of spending in the UK. Instead, I am thinking of having a short holiday on the Ost See.

August 2021 Things

Jul 31 2021

Still confusion about conditions for flying to the UK and flying back. I thought I had understood the regulations then I heard of more changes in the news yesterday evening. I am going to my local travel agency nest week to see what the current conditions are. I also need to talk to family and friends to see if they will be at home in August. No point in flying there to find them all gone away on holiday. Still enjoying the sun on my balcony in a morning while reading another book. My diary for August shows many of the same things for July. I shall take more trips out into the countryside and shall go on a short bike ride to test myself after having two falls. Just need to clean the bike. In a few hours I shall be going to Johanna’s to meet some of the Ko-Gang and have a meal and chat together. Looking forward to that!

Who has a birthday in August? Shirley in Florida starts us off with her 82nd on the 1 August. I have happy memories of staying there a few years ago and we still keep in contact. Martina from my Ko-Gang will be 73 on the 19th and sure to celebrate with her family. Angelika in Berlin will be 69 on the 25th followed by my sister, Pauline in Cambridge who will be 77 on the 26th. Friend Dieter over in Jüterbog will also be 77 but on the 27th. The month ends with my wonderful Jan who will be 38 on the 28th and celebrate with his family at their new house on the Netherland coast. Happy Birthday no matter where you are!

Surprise

Jul 25 2021

I’ve had a quiet week, including sitting on the balcony reading my book. It ended in a nice surprise yesterday. The story begins with Martina from my Ko-Gang asking me to go  to her place for a meal. She cooks very well so I immediately said, ‘Yes’. We agreed that I go to her nice, big, flat yesterday at 5.00pm. I arrived on time and there was Jutta who also greeted me and joined in the meal. She is also from my Ko-Gang and has a talent with images and computers.

As we settled around the dining table, Martina gave each a glass of sekt as Jutta placed a wrapped paper in my hands and they said, “Congratulations dear John!” I opened the paper and then understood. Here you can see the document produced by Jutta. It celebrates 9 years to the day when I got my German citizenship. Yes, it was on Tuesday 24th July 2012 at 1.00pm that I was asked to step forward and receive the document from the Mayor of Lichtenberg = the district in which I live.

If you go down the photos on the left side of my blog you will find a photo of me with the Mayor and the document in my hand and a BIG smile on my face! What a day that was and one I shall never forget. I was surprised that Jutta and Martina had remembered and planned the happy meeting yesterday. Many thanks to both of you.

Quiet

Jul 18 2021

I’ve had a quiet week. Spent a lot of time in ‘isolation’, as usual, and enjoying the morning sun on my balcony while reading my current book. The weather here was generally warm and sunny. Very different from the storms that caused much damage and more than 150 deaths in the west of Germany. Frau Merkel is visiting the area today. The German President was there yesterday. Back in Berlin, there were a couple of changes. On Tuesday evening there was a meeting of Labour Berlin in the garden of a restaurant in the centre. Members had to sit distanced from each other and wear a mask, but it was the first such meeting in a long time. The same happened on Wednesday evening when SPD members of the local party met in person, in a garden and with distance and masks. Again, it was the first time in ages that we met in person and not via Zoom. Now back to the rest of this quiet Sunday. Where did I put my book?

A Concert

Jul 11 2021

I’ve enjoyed the last few days, mixed weather including. I planned for my Ko-Gang to relax in the garden on Friday evening but had to cancel due to rain. Instead, we met at Johanna’s place for a pleasant evening of food, good wine and nice conversation. She had a visitor from Poland who spoke very good German and it was interesting to listen to her opinion about different things. When I first came to Berlin I spent a lot of time travelling through Poland and have happy memories of my time there and of the people.

Yesterday I went to a concert with two of my Ko-Gang. It was in the Pierre Boulez Hall of the Barenboim-Said Academy. I’ve been there before and posted to my blog. This time we had to sit apart from each other and when not sitting, we had to wear a mask. The event was called,’Akademiekonzert zum Semesterabschluss’. Basically it is a concert given by young musicians who have completed their music courses and got their degrees. It was really good and I could only marvel at the talent of the young musicians. I hope they all now find a position in an orchestra and bring their musical skills to more people. They played music by Dvorak, Beethoven, Misek and Mozart.

Today we have warm weather and blue skies in Berlin. A young family is having a party in the garden to celebrate their daughters 4th birthday. Nice listening to the kids as they play and enjoy the day. I don’t think they will be watching TV this evening. Footie Final: Yes, many people are bracing themselves for the final of the European Football Championship this evening. It is England vs Italy from Wembley. I shall be watching and hope that the English team win. Enjoy the game! UPDATE: In case you don’t know the result it was Italy 3 and England 2. The game went into penalties. I still think the English team played well!

A Book

Jul 04 2021

I opened my door yesterday and found a package on my mat. I opened it to discover a book. There was no indication of who had sent it, but I am sure I know who sent it – he lives in Singapore at the moment! It has 917 pages, lots of photos, diagrams and maps. I settled onto my balcony this morning to enjoy the sun and opened the book. I can hardly put it down. The opening sentences clearly reveal the approach of the author:

“This is a book about how Britain fought, endured and won a total war, what it cost (and to whom) and how the country emerged into a much changed world a very different place —  it combines military, political, economic and social history to help explain not only why events took the course they did, but how they were represented and understood at the time.”  I found it difficult to put it down so I could have lunch. I’m really looking forward to reading more.

More Footie : You probably know by now that the English football team won 4:0 against Ukraine in Rome yesterday. I was surprised at the result and am sure I am not the only person. The English team is playing better than expected at the beginning of the games. I hope they continue to win, starting with a game on Wednesday in Wembley against Denmark. I shall be watching!

July 2021 Things

Jun 30 2021

I am sure I was not the only person to get a shock yesterday evening. Yes, the football match between England and Germany. By the end of the first half there were no goals, but I felt Germany would score in the second half. Big mistake: England improved their game and ended with a 2:0 win. I think a lot of the English fans present at Wembley were also surprised, but they certainly cheered a lot. I read that 27 million Brits watched the game. A new record! The next game for England is on Saturday. I shall be watching.

Who has a birthday in July? Laura Bolton in Yorkshire starts us off with her 23rd birthday on the 1st July. Back in Berlin, Jutta Müller will celebrate her 73rd on Friday 2nd July. I have been invited to her Birthday Breakfast and am looking forward to that. Back to my family to find Krystle in Yorkshire celebrating her 36th with family on the 8th. And so ends the short list of birthdays in July. Happy Birthday to all no matter where you live!