My favourite Berlin building?

To (almost) complete the set of Festival photos, I’ve saved one of my favourite buildings for last.  Yes, it’s the Berliner Dom.  It reposes elegantly by the river; next to, but maintaining a dignified distance from, the Museum Isle, with the Lustgarten and fountain laid demurely out in front – a tempting spot for sunning yourself and thinking big thunks.

Some of my favourite Dom moments?  Meeting LTN there after a lesson, eating cake and listening to a random man playing a grand piano set up apparently on a whim. On another day with LTN, racing to reach the balcony for views of the city and the sunset – my first time inside the church and astounded by its beauty.  And finally managing to be there at dusk to watch the starlings wheeling in endlessly shifting formation around the main dome and smaller towers; a  mesmeric show which was particularly special because Mantha was with me,  a completely unplanned treat for us both in the middle of her visit.

So I really wanted to see the projections and wasn’t disappointed. I took quite a few photos but they didn’t come out very well.  It was cold, my pod was small and we were a bit tired. But here are a few that I like nonetheless.

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p.s. I’m writing this in the dark because Eri is asleep, and just a few minutes ago a spider appeared out of nowhere into the glow of the screen, bungee jumping from the ceiling.  I nearly fell out of my chair.  But I finished the post, even though he’s somewhere near me in the dark and I don’t know where.  That’s the level of my dedication to you, dear Reader.   Goodnight and sweet dreams.

p.p.s. I think I need to brush up on my comma and semi colon usage rules.  The punktuation is definitely getting out of hand!  Better go though, I think I’ve woken Eri, bad me…

Brandenburger Tor wiz lights

The festival of lights wasn’t only the bridge, oh no.  It was also the Tor.  I had a little more difficulty here, because my gorillapod has short little legs, and there weren’t many places to stand it, so I knelt among the crowds and looked silly.  Once again, Dad was tolerant, and I tried to put him in the photos as a reward.  You can judge the results, but please, be kind!

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lighting up the bridge

Berlin just had a festival of lights.  I didn’t get to as much as I would have liked to but I enjoyed some parts very much.  Dad has been visiting, as you know, and was incredibly patient as I tried to take respectable photos.  So to start with, my favourite bridge…

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Sorry it’s not very formatted or wordy, I’ve been a lil bit ill and so I need my bed.  More anon x

The trouble with Tronquoy

From Mr Murray, enjoy:

The Trouble with Tronquoy

“Mr Murray… Ms Newcombe will see you now”

“Ah Murray. Do come in. All well in the engine room?”

“Yes Ma’am. All cylinders firing. All systems go”

“Good, good. Now – I need you to watch over the place again. I’m popping out for… take your hat off when I’m addressing you boy, and for God’s sake clean yourself up… As I was saying I am popping out for a few days. Pappa Newcombe is in town. Now, you know the routine, don’t you; Check the windows, run…”

“… the taps, Ma’am”

“Excellent. Now – there are a couple of small jobs to keep you busy: previous posts need to be filed into order; the photo gallery needs a dusting; and the Punktuation drawer keeps.. argh *thump*.. jamming. Now – under NO circumstances do you smoke in here, lay your hands on any of the wines, and you do NOT post anything until I return. We’re running low on words as it is until the next delivery. Verstehen?”

“Clear as muck, Ma’am”

That was several days ago. In the sparse and ramshackle bowels of this Berlinian blog, I sit and I stew. Cast adrift from the outside world, bottled up within this webpage, I cut a tetchy, isolated figure, running low on food and the will to live. An expanse of Germanic evening air is all that separates me from the medley of worldly wines lined along the wooden shelf, and their inevitable crestfallen consumption. A sip of something poison, to pass the time. I’ve filed the filing, and the drawer simply required a little caretaker whizkidery, involving a can of oil and a comedy-sized mallet. I grab a bottle named Tronquoy. French by the looks. Ah.. ‘Le Vin’ – my very raison for unnecessarily using French words. I power through the Tronquoy and power on the TV. It’s the news. In German. Angela Merkel is on, looking stern and counting out pennies, handing them to Berlusconi and his Greek counterpart, whose Scrabbletastic name I won’t even attempt to type. She’s muttering something along the lines of “don’t spend it all at once”, “feckless morons”, “I can’t keep bailing you out”, etc etc. “Si! Si! Grazie!” chirps the squat, mischievous Italian. All the global figureheads are there; the pint-sized, sniggering Sarkozy, The Big Cheese of China whose name you may not know but to whom who will all soon bow down, Bono – “every toime I click moy fingers, another European country goes bust”, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hannah Montana, Stephen Fry, ‘Call Me Dave’ Cameron and his half-American, half-African, half-Asian, half-Irish chum Barry O’Bama.

“North Africa is burning and warring, the American dream has awoken to a cold, harsh Dickensian morning, and  the once mighty Europe – of Empires and arts and language and blood-sport – now, poetically, lies bleeding, dazed and beaten on the canvas” muses the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, ruthlessly efficient news anchor. Italy, having pawned off its expensive scarves and decommissioned its Vespas for scrap metal, has well and truly had its Dolmio Day; while dear old Greece – by Zeus! – is bouncing down Threadbare Street on the bare bones of its buttocks, tearing down its iconic monuments simply to make ends meet. A sight so sad it would turn Aristotle to the bottle were he still around today, rambling drunken think-splurts of logic as he panhandles in the backstreets of Athens. “They could have sold all their crockery. If they hadn’t smashed it all” I muse. Europe aint what it used to be – gone from unstoppable steam-powered gravy train to spluttering 1978 Ford Fiesta, all comical backfiring and grinding gears.

I’ve pretty much drunk all the wine now. Tetchy has turned to talkative and intrepid. I pour myself a flagon of the White Lightning I brought along as my ‘unscrew-cap-in-case-of-emergency’ back-up, to coat and defend my bones from the devilish October cold. I set about dusting the gallery of photos exhibited on the blog. The ‘Street-Art’ problem which I brought to light in my previous Nickysqueaks night-watch – which she has been forensically documenting on these pages of late, no doubt to build up a CSI-style case against the vagabonds who carry out these freehand doodlings – has escalated. Everything and everyone from spacemen to London buses, Jack Nicholson to John Lennon have been daubed along the concrete canyons of Berlinia. I guess Ms Merkel is simply too busy with the monkey enclosure of EU meatheads to get a sufficient grip on this. Sure – things aint much better back home. London has its problems; what with its infestation or rats, yuppies and Australians, its soaring cost of living, its swaggering hooded yoof and their daring Charge-of-the-Light-Brigade raids on Foot Locker and electrical appliance stores, and its buffoonish, straw-haired mayor.

I’m pretty drunk now. Blunderous and imbalanced. I think I can probably risk a smoke if I crack the window wide and apply some Shake ‘n Vac before she gets back. I wander out into the hall – with all the grace, poise and aplomb of a one-man band tumbling down a spiral staircase – and decide to introduce myself to the blogs next door. What with being a complete embarrassment to society from an early age, I have always tried to improve my status by stalkin.. Stealthily associating myself with some of life’s more successful folk: city-slickers, vagrants, convicts, X Factor rejects, etc. So shooting the breeze with the bloggers on this Brandenburg block would be a significant social ascent. Directly across the hall is ‘A Lego a Day’. Sounds charming. Though somewhat minimalist. No answer. I guess their day is done. The next door – ‘Bookshelf Porn’. Crikey. I daren’t knock. I’d only ruin the moment. Then – CRASH! BANG!! KER-PLUNK!! – reverberating from Nickysqueaks HQ! Bollocks – I left the window open. Damn. If Ma’am finds out she’ll well and truly throw her Spielzeug outta the Kinderwagon. I charge headlong down the hall and towards the door, pausing to compose myself like a cavalier swashbuckler entering the duel, run through the collective moves I recall from Karate Kid parts I & II, and decide on a suitable Steven Seagalesque line to impart before wrestling the assailant to the floor, tying them in cartoon knots and Fed-Exing them straight into the arms of justice. Ahhh.. it’s Nicky. Phew! Oh. Shit. She looks thunderous. Eyes of flames, like a Phoenix arisen.

“Where have you been Murray?”

“Bookshelf Po… nowhere. Checking the, erm, engine room. I.. I left the window open. Sorry. And the TV on. Oh. And the wine! They took all the wine!! UNBELIEVABLE!!”

“Who? Who took the wine exactly?”

“Aristotl.. erm..”, reality comes flooding in like sunlight through a dusty, stupidly-left-open window. “T’was I, Ma’am. I t’was drunk the wine…”

She shuts the door and sets about breaking the record for profanity in one brutal minute of bilingual, ball-busting beauty.

Marching orders: received. Caretaker position: vacant. I take flight into the night. Left to limp along a world of empty streets, with my pride in a sling, and that comedy-sized mallet firmly lodged where the sun seldom shines.  I’ll return one day.. when I’m a better man. For there’ll always be windows that need a-checking, and taps that need a-running.

So, I’ve promised you a guest post, and as a reward for patiently bearing my days of silence, you have this absolute beauty.  Of course I’m not sure that I can ever post again since this is so beautifully crafted and wittier than I can imagine, and besides I’ve been outed as the despot I am (although appallingly careless with my punktuation, tis true).  But it’s worth it.  Thank you, kind sir.  Please do come again!

triceratops and a ghost

my favourite dinosaur? Quite possibly...

 

I found these on Saturday during my Spaziergang through Prenzlauerberg.  They have nothing in common but they were close together and caught my eye.  So here you are.

floating above the wall?

In other news, I have high hopes of treating you to another guest post soon (or even two if you’re very lucky).  Watch this space!!!

getting reacquainted with my bike

Families enjoying Tempelhof

This weekend was definitely a good’un.  It was cold but clear and sunny, in fact the light was all syrupy and golden, wonderful.  It’s funny how the minute it gets cold you start to notice that the people in the sunshine are actually turning their face towards the light like plants, their eyes are usually closed and you know that they’re savoring the feeling of the warmth kissing their skin, in the hope that they’ll be able to remember it on the endlessly grey days that make you feel like it’s never going to be sunny again.

I was determined that I would use my bike this weekend, and use it I did.  I rode to watch the rugby match on Saturday morning, a journey that started off absolutely freezing and ended unfeasibly sweaty as there were some mini hills and I was late.  The rugby was showing in a deep dark pit, and poor Wales wuz robbed, so it wasn’t quite the sunniest possible start to the day, but the bike ride helped.

I left the bike alone for a little bit to get coffee with Kate and then took it off towards Prenzlauerberg, the market (falafels, crepes, nom nom nom) and the wool shop.  I’ve decided to try and knit myself an earflap hat for skiing, and want to try colourwork for the first time, so I needed equipment.  Hopefully it will result in something like this on the right.  Picture by Tienne Knits, the pattern designer.

Fernsehturm from the Wasserturm

I had a good bummel around the kiez, tried on lots of hats at a fabulous but pricey hatshop, and found a watertower and amazing view over the city.

As ever with Berlin, you have to be mindful of the history, the tower and adjoining machine shed were once a small inner city concentration camp, but it’s now a very peaceful place indeed with Berliners enjoying a quiet afternoon.

Sunday was a sun day indeed, absolutely gorgeous, and so I wobbled off on the bike again in a southwesterley direction, down to the Mehringdamm for a British Sunday Lunch with Danni.  Sadly no roast but the fish and chips and the company were fabulous.  We finally parted company around 4 which meant it was a bit late to head off towards Olympiastadion or the Grunewald, but it suddenly occurred to me that I was near Tempelhof, the ex-airport now park, which I’d heard lots about but never been to.  So off I went and found it.  According to Wikipedia it’s “one of Europe’s three iconic pre-World War II airports” (very interesting wiki actually, have a read) and it still looks fab, don’t you agree?

view of the radar tower and terminal

While the two main runways are still clear, much of the other hard surfaces are adorned with weeds, but this doesn’t stop countless folk from using the park in any number of ways: kiteboarding, windsurfing on wheels, rollerblading, cycling, running, ultimate frisbee-ing and playing a bizarre looking game which the internet tells me is called Jugger (watch, and be confused)….and those are just some of the energetic things. The sheer number of kites in the sky was mind boggling.   I had a lot of fun cycling around as much of it as possible, and taking silly pictures.  I particularly enjoyed shooting into the sun…

runway rollerblading

and the fact that even my leisurely cycling allowed to me to criss cross and circumnavigate, people watching all the while, without being overwhelmed by the scale of it.  Late afternoon autumn light is brilliant, the shadows are long and lean and it just feels like a special, fleeting, must-be-captured-before-it’s-gone treat.

fence between the terminal and where planes taxied to the runway

You’d think that such an empty place would be boring, but in fact I think it’s a boon to the city to have such a versatile space so accessible to so many, and for free too. So I’ve come to the conclusion that not all parks need flowers and trees.   I bet you never thought you’d hear that from me, did you?  I’m not alone, there’s a very nice article by the Independent about it, if you care for more words, but I must admit that I also loved my foray through Hassenheider Park on my way home, which was full of trees.  And now, I’ll finish this extraordinarily long post and let you go.  Auf wiedersehen, pet.