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.

Spaceman

Endlich, and entirely by accident, I ended up in a position to take a picture of the spaceman in Kreuzberg.  I’ve been admiring it from the train since I first moved to Berlin but have never quite had camera, time and geography coinciding helpfully until now.  Just don’t tell me if you don’t like it as much as I do.  I don’t want to hear it.  I think he’s wunderbar.

ooh and I keep forgetting to give you an important newsflash:

The Bike is roadworthy!  I picked it up on Tuesday evening, fixed the light on Thursday and now even the chain is working beautifully after its application of oil.  Ok I haven’t ridden it much but I’m still feeling pretty bloody proud of myself.  This truly has been a year of doing new things and overcoming small yet significant challenges.  And big ones too actually.  Hmm…  Can anyone tell me how I take the next step?  In which direction?  Gaaaa…….

Waiting for the light

It would be true to say that Tea and I covered a lot of ground over the weekend.  We walked a lot and talked a lot.  We walked down by the river on Sunday via the East Side Gallery and saw the sun set over the river before going for a pre-dinner boogie at Club des Visionnaires.

looking West from the Oberbaumbrücke

We had started Sunday pretty slowly with a long late brunch and both had forgotten to take out our proper cameras so I snapped the lovely light with my compact.  I couldn’t resist trying to catch the moment and despite the poor quality I really love this picture.  Doing motion!

S crossing the Oberbaumbrücke

Catching the light exactly is something I’m trying to work on with my photography.  Tea and I had a few chats about it, and discovered that we both had the same wonderful book, Waiting for the Light by David Noton, who I was lucky enough to meet by accident at his exhibition at the Oxo Gallery.  If you’re at all interested in photography, find this book.  It’s inspirational.
This last picture is actually from Saturday evening so the light was quite different and honestly you can’t see here how beautiful it was, but I think that the cranes and streetlights are pretty so I’ll show you anyway.

Unter den Linden unter die Krane

Actually Saturday night was one of the many highlights of Tea’s visit because we had a long overdue Skype reunion with Cee.  She’s over in the USA naming toads after us and then studying their sexual behaviour (or lack of it).  We still love her though and it was the most wonderful thing to spend 3 hours, a couple of bottles of wine, and some beers, nattering as if no time had passed at all.  We’re all in such different places from where we were 18 months ago but the beauty of girly nights doesn’t change.  T & C were fantastic housemates and they are still amazing friends.  Lucky me!  Now if only we could have worked out a way to beam Cee over to join us for the Sunday night dancing…..

not all there

For once during his visits, LTN and I had some good weather, seized the moment, and went a’wandering to find new streets, new faces, new things. On our way towards the canal we discovered any number of little street arty treats, a selection of which I’m now going to share with you lovely people. Snack away.

the next big thing

This appeared recently in Kreuzberg.  It’s hard to miss, that’s not a small building.  This is all you can see from the top of the street

then you step through the door of Kiosk and see that there’s more, in fantastic juxtaposition with the bright parasols

I assume it’s by Roa, I’ve seen some of his stuff before and after only a very little searching I’ve discovered that he is apparently Belgian, but spreads his work all over the world.   see some more of his work here. It’s all a little bit dark but incredibly realistic.  These photos were taken at the beginning of an LTNsqueak ramble through the streets of Xberg; it turned into a bit of a street art fest of which you’ll see more later.  I struggled to get the whole thing in frame at once, but here is my best shot at it.