This painted city

Today I was out and about in Berlin a little bit because I had my first one-to-one lesson as a cover for another teacher.  I had to go out east through Charlottenburg, a direction I hadn’t taken before.  I forgot my book today and thought that I would regret it during all my s/u bahn journeys, but in fact I was very happy just to stare out of the window and see how the scenery changed.

As I watched the city go by, with deco buildings cheek-by-jowl against distinguished Altbau buildings and new ugly/brilliantly designed blocks, I realised something. It’s a very painted city.  Of course, I’ve already spent a lot of time snatching pictures of the graffiti and street art that’s plastered thickly across any number of likely and unlikely surfaces, but I hadn’t consciously notices how many of the buildings are painted up in colours too.  Ochre yellow is popular, but so are the blues and greens and even pinks of Bristol.  It suddenly clicked that this is one of the reasons I identify this city with Brizzle, even though previously I couldn’t perfectly explain it.

I don’t have any photos to exemplify this for you right now, but I’ll work on it.  In the meantime, I have a building that I found very funky, against a sadly grey sky.

and pollarded trees taking a starring role too

Anyway, the lesson went quite well, the student was very lovely and we had good chats about his work, London, Shanghai, village life, Berlin building sites and so on.  After I finished the lesson, I trotted down the stairs, only to be completely smitten by this chair.  It just begs to be added to my library (modern incarnation thereof) and curled up in with a suitable book, such as 1984 maybe.  I particularly love how the plant and the chair complement each other here.  If I could have sneaked them both out of the building and got them home, I think I’d have been tempted…

This clearly put me in the mood for appreciating orangeness in life.  It’s not normally one of my favoured colours, but when I went back down to the U7 (turquoise line) I was struck by this most excellent ceiling stair arrangement (apologies for the blurriness, it’s not too bright down there.

And now that my eyes were opened, I started paying attention to the walls of the platform itself – how I missed this tiling before I cannot imagine.

Nor was Willmersdorff to be outdone.  If anything I think it may be more splendid.

But that’s enough for now.  It’s suddenly become much later than planned as I’ve been chatting away to you lovely people, so I shall go to sleep and dream of perfect flapjacks.  Anon!



Here endeth the 2nd weekend of moving in Berlin.  Thanks once again are due to the strong arms and endless patience of the much tried LTN.  Not only did he help me carry everything across Berlin again (and somehow my meagre belongings keep growing into more bags but I don’t really have anything here, I just don’t understand it) but he also took me to IKEA, twice!    Honestly, this deserves a medal.  I am not good at IKEA.  It has many things that I’m not good with: a confusing layout with evil intent, too many people, too much choice.

I must say that he handled several potential nervous breakdowns with much aplomb and we managed to equip the new room with some stylish essentials so that I feel quite happy with what I’ve got, even if the bigness of the room is somewhat unfilled.  Maybe this is my year for minimalism.

In other news, I have more strange classes to look forward to for next week – some 1 on 1’s.  Alarming, but hopefully they’ll turn out to not be too scary.  I’m also going to get a haircut, finally!  That’s more money I don’t have, but since I look like a scarecrow with surprisingly long hair, I think it’s time for a tidy.

Plus, I’m looking forward to coming home and seeing everyone.  Really can’t wait!

And because I just read it, I need to quickly mention one blog I particularly enjoy following –  the Yarn Harlot.  There are many things to be said in this wonderful woman’s favour.

  1. Best blog name ever.  Harlot is a brilliant word, and yarn harlot just sums up so beautifully the wanton relationship addicts have with all things knit related.
  2. She knits ridiculously well.  For example, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able (skill/patience) to make socks as beautiful as these. (her picture right). Bear in mind that I’ve never made even a single sock and you begin to get the idea…
  3. I love the way she writes.  Even if I weren’t interested in her knitting skills I’d probably follow her anyway just because she’s so very entertaining, whether discussing triumphs or tribulations it’s always witty, gently poking fun at herself and her foibles…
  4. …she hoards, she starts too many projects at once, she gives herself impossible deadlines and is astounded if she meets them/not so much if not.  She seems to particularly enjoy making things for her family, but also has projects simply for the love of the wool/pattern/both.
  5. She reminds me of myself and my Mum for all those reasons.
  6. She always puts nice pictures of her projects into the blog, and it’s pretty inspiring.  I think I need to start planning my next project, somewhat limited by the fact that I only have the left over wool from LTN’s hat here, and the needles from the same project. Hmm…

tired now and must get up to lesson plan betimes in the morn.  Goodnight and sweet dreams x

Books on shelves

I’m fantasising about bookshelves.  There, I’ve admitted it.  I have frequent day dreams about many things, like the artistic tours de force I could create in knitting or tailoring or prose for that matter if only I had a little more talent.  There’s also the planning of all the things I could learn to do and all the countries I could live in if only I had a lot more money  z.B. if anybody cared to donate their lottery winnings since I can’t hope to win it when I don’t play it.   And often, I think about ‘my house’.  As the fam’ly knows, ‘my house’ has been in existence for a very long time.   It’s a never-ending expansion project full of rooms like the infinity hotel, always room to squeeze in another one.  This isn’t because I want to live in a big house, I think I’d probably hate it, but in ‘my house’ I’m going to have a room with….chinoiserie wallpaper…..a projector and wall to wall cushions……a big leather Chesterfield sofa with wonderfully soft wool rugs to snuggle into….Gustavian grey walls and a porcelain stove…..minamalism (hah!)….whatever I see and fall in love with goes into my house.  And don’t even get me started on the garden, in real life it’s going to have to be big, in my head it’s the secret garden gone mad.

There’s one thing though that is always in the plan for the house – a library.  I want a room with a least one wall of floor to ceiling books.  Tattered and pristine, well-loved and to-be-read, coffee table beauties and pocket penguins with classic design.  They’ll all go in there.  Hopefully there will be space for a ladder on rails that I can woosh round the top shelves on, and if the daydream gets really indulgent maybe a gallery level too.  It’s an amorphous room, one day there are big windows with deep cushioned window seats, the next it’s cosy and firelit with table lamps casting pools of golden light on the winged leather armchairs.  But always books and a few good places to curl up and disappear inside one of them, and somewhere close by to put your cup of tea.

You may be wondering why I brought this up.  I’m not even sure myself but I think various book type things have collided in my head and created this sudden need to share.  For example, Intelligent Life had an article on hotels with libraries, I want to go and stay in them but they seem unreasonably expensive, especially compared to hostels with tatty collections of books to swap and pass on.  That article then reminded me of the blog that The Guardian introduced me to (which can be seen in my blogroll stage right)  There’s inspiration to be had there, for sure.    The word want comes into my head inexplicably often when I look at those photos.

Anyway, all this reminded me that LTN has promised to raid the public library for me again before he visits next week (yup, my hero).  I’ve demolished Sahara by Clive Cussler and am about to move onto his non-fiction offering, now I’m to suggest new titles to direct his search.  Given that my usual way of finding a new book is to wander around the public library reading backs and random pages until lightning strikes, this seems challenging to me.  But wait, what about one of my previously favoured websites? Why have I callously abandoned Goodreads?  Yup, I definitely need to go in there, get my bookshelves updated and get some suggestions for further reading.  Plus, when I need to go home, I need to retrieve the copy of The book on the bookshelf from where it languishes on my handcrafted boards-balanced-on-bricks-fits-the-gap-perfectly-I-don’t-need-to-build-proper-shelves.  And then I need to re-read the Secret Life of Trees and finish it this time (no reason, just because).

See, that’s what I call a plan.  Booklovers of the world, rejoice!

p.s. we have a chair like this, it lives in the summerhouse.  Maybe it should go in a library tho….mmm, cushion.

From French by design (via bsp) a rather pretty looking blog I may have to explore further.  Ah, le web, c’est fantastique.

Listing a little to the left

Today I’m trying to re-enter the real world, and boy it’s trickier than I imagined. Potential distractions are manifold, only exceeded in number by the items on my to-do list, so this is likely to be an erratic kind of post:

  1. get a job
  2. get a German phone number and some kind of pay-as-you-go set up.  Anyone know the German for PAYG?
  3. find a place to live ready for the sad day when I have to move out of this beautiful flat which I’ve scored for 3 weeks (more on that anon)
  4. get my Anmeldung, or registration of address
  5. open a bank account
  6. register for official residency
  7. get a tax number
  8. buy health insurance
  9. live an organised life where I keep receipts for tax purpose, learn how to bill in German and be an actual real life teacher. Gulp.

While not doing any of these things I found a rather funky version of I wish I knew how it would feel to be free by John Legend, on chromemusic, a site you may have heard me mention before.  Actually there’s lots of fun stuff on there at the moment, check it out.

Then there’s the personal life to do list:

  1. birthday presents to get sorted
  2. cards for birthdays to be sent
  3. wedding presents to be bought
  4. gaps in bag collection to be filled – a) more practical everyday bag for portering of laptop files and general doodahs; b) not so broken carry-on bag for regular trips home and general fun
  5. banking tidying up
  6. planning of adventures, meet ups and so on
  7. getting to know Berlin

This all follows the end of the course.  I can’t quite believe how quickly a month rushed by, and indeed it still strikes fear in my heart because in all those weeks I made precisely zero progress into finding accommodation, and had to be saved at the wire by the lovely Claire.  I’m now in her ridiculously stylish apartment in Kreuzberg, which she tells me is the Shoreditch of Berlin (Miss Tea, eat your heart out). 

Claire is from London.  We bonded while lesson planning for the ‘Soho School of English’ and as we chatted about my impending homelessness she suddenly realised that she would be away for 3 weeks at exactly the same time. Solution: I could sublet from her.  Life saver.  My jaw hit the floor – she barely knows me but she’s giving me the run of her flat.  I’m paying her of course, but still. I LOVE her for it.  So now I’m here trying to resist trying on all her many shoes >>>

and musing about how easy/impossible it’s going to be to find somewhere I can make half as nice.  I’ve never lived on my own before, so now that LTN has left it feels a bit strange, but I think Berlin may be the place to try it – for the first time I can possibly afford it, and I want to have space for all the people to visit!

I’ve had a little bit of London nostalgia tho, post course I’ve got more time to miss it, and of course the visit made me wish I could be at home with you all some more… I was looking at I know a great little place and wishing I could go to some of the random nights they’re showcasing (YOUR MISSION – GO AND TRY THEM OUT FOR ME!) and then I saw their latest post and giggled lots at this:

Truly, I am being easily diverted from the path of productiveness.  I shall close this off now, and start anew with tales from the first visit – LTN style.