Sunday, 31 August 2008

Mountains and waterfalls

Kochelsee and Herzogstand

I seem to be having a love affair with my Bavarian mountains, lakes and waterfalls this month. At least, I don't remember being out there as often as this holiday period. One bonus is that I don't have to fly there, and they are simply beautiful - lovely cool water, green hillsides, distant blue.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Reasons for not working, one, two, three, four



Being self-employed means I have to grab every bit of work that comes my way, or end up self-unemployed. I have recently had a quiet two months except for regular short articles on consumer behaviour I write for a market research company, and ended up with a wonderful summer. But now work is being showered on me and I am grabbing. Looking forward to a busy autumn - except for a long week in Scotland early September.
A lot of people protest they couldn't live without working. What?? Assuming you had enough money to live on, who REALLY wants to get up at six every morning, sit on a crowded train and then "work" with a bunch of strangers all day? come out when it's dark, having missed another sunny summers' day, and still never have more than just enough money?

Instead, you could be doing what you feel like doing all day? Hello??

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Ode to Barista

My neighbourhood is full of cafés and bars: for a start, the most famous ice cream parlour in Muenchen is on my street corner. There is the Greek, a couple of Italian places, a lovely Indian restaurant with individual cushions on the chairs. There are also some good old traditional Bavarian pubs left, where you smell the sauerkraut as you are passing. I am fond of them. But the best of all is Barista, a place that sells antique and strange coffee machines and old crockery and tins and stuff, and over time is has become a full scale café that makes lovely coffee. It is not at all cute, or nostalgic, or trendy. It just is what it is - a jumble of stuff to do with coffee.

You can sit outside on nice colourful chairs, (oh and by the way if I had gorgeous thick curly gray hair like that I would not bother colouring it)
or inside, where the delicious cakes are
they make probably the best cappuccino outside Italy (I know everyone says that of their favourite café but it is true here)
And you can even continue the class struggle here:
(Eat the Rich. Please order at the bar.)

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Three of myself, taken by others

I love these three pictures with me in them from the past very happy and holidayish week.
Tony and I looking at his fotos of the incredible downpour we fled from into this pub.
Here we are on a walk along the Leitzach river, very cold but I just had to have a little dip in one of its pools. I am wearing Isabel's straw hat, Bine's skirt and my beloved jumble sale rucksack.
In this one our Mum took me and Luisa to a new café where she had iced coffee. She was not happy, because she is still in pain after her operation. She really does not like being old, but still always finds a way back to her younger self that knows how to laugh. She says she doesn't want to eat but always takes us to new cafés and restaurants. Travelling does not appeal to her any more, but when we talk about places she has been she is like "yes, let's go to Schloss Linderhof, and up the Wallberg, and maybe walk around Simsee". So, I am not too worried.
I am wearing a blouse Rachel gave me about twenty years ago, a necklace Luisa gave me, a new Triumph bra for the fuller figure which set me back 50 euros, and my own prescription sunglasses - looking like I am in the wrong movie here.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Licht und Schatten


Where there is shadow, there must be sunshine!

In the rain, there is only reflection.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Staying alive

After many days in the countryside, today it was back to the city. "Police action" was holding up my underground train today for about ten minutes. Trains get stuck in tunnels all the time in London which was one of the reasons I avoided travelling on the tube. It practically never happens here, and if it does, I don't even panic, because the tunnels are so wide and there are little portholes everywhere to get out.

I read something funny today about defibrillators, which are now in every station and supposedly easy to use for any one in case someone has a heart attack: You do the de-fi following the instructions, then mouth-to-mouth, and in between you massage the person's heart roughly to the rhythm of "ah-ah-ah-ah staying alive, staying alive". I will always remember it now.

Got home to the strains of a street party in our local square, the usual band of hobby German musicians playing anything from "Bang bang Maxwell Silverhammer" to "Sweet home Alabama", note perfect and annoying. And we missed the Theatron in the Olympic Park altogether this year, a month of young and/or new bands performing free in a gorgeous amphitheatre on a lake.
Ah well. we saw this marvel instead, on Friday in Bayrischzell:

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Ah - the mountains!

To the right of the chapel, you can see the dear little train that takes you there.

Breakfast with a view on our balcony

Like my sister, I love the mountains. Over the past years I have developed a tedious fear of heights, so unlike her, I like to see them from below - or a quarter of the way up. I am just back from a long long weekend in Bayrischzell, action-packed: started as a foursome on Saturday with friends from London, on Sunday my sister brought my Mum over for lunch and coffee in our holiday home.

Two days as a threesome brought us a total of 9 hours walking in the most gorgeous sunny green countrside, with refreshing dips into icy waterfalls and streams (that was just me).

On Friday, we will go back for a very short weekend as a five-some.
The woman who runs the café told us to eat up!

An old lady who keeps a little café cum B&B by the river Leitzach (more of that later) told us that "in the old days, people came and staid for three weeks and really relaxed. Now the average stay is 3.8 days." I stayed pretty much 3.8 days.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Airport Angst


Apart from its name (it is named after one of the greatest rogue Bavarian heads of state, Franz Josef Strauß), Munich Airport is quite a pleasant place, designed in an aesthetic and also quite practical way. There are colouramas like the above to be seen as you waft down the walk bands, and you can drive your car directly to any of the terminals - if you are mad enough to drive. There is a fast train, the S-Bahn, that takes 30 minutes to the city centre (it only costs €10 per person, or €18 EUR for up to 5 people. Beat that, Stansted greedy Express! or Sevilla ( taxis only,no public transport at all).
Nor can it be blamed for me spending two hours waiting for an Easyjet plane from London bearing my friends, which ended up being cancelled (they arrived this morning with our order of cheddar - one daren't think...) But the airport can be blamed for the dearth of its food and drinks offerings - compared to Stansted there is simply nothing edible there, neither outside nor inside the departure lounges. The Bavarian national snack, the Leberkässemmel, available from butchers throughout the land for @1.20 to 1.50, here costs four Euros, if you can find it at all. Poor tourists, you are robbed.

Foto: Leberkässemmel (Brezen roll with Leberkäs)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


I got a new painting from my friend Margret Greenman today - on loan. She thinks it's a failure, but I like it because it's of a house in Murnau, the town where the painters,
Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky (or Dan Kinski as my boyfriend calls him) lived together for a while, in a house just like this one in the picture (from Wikipedia).

It must have been a domestic and intense period, because many paintings exist of that time. He probably got restles...and left. She painted a lot of little pictures, like this (Galerie Neher, Artfacts)

Now, Margret's painting is in one of the rooms of my flat.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Three wishes

.
What I wish for myself:
everything in my life remains as it is
the greatest danger I experience is that I get salad dressing on my new white t-shirt
What I wish for the rest of the world:
probably the same as you, if you read the papers at all!

Crowded


Suddenly August which stretched ahead, sans work, as a month of pure hedonism, is already a quarter over...time is so stealthy, sneaking up and overtaking us just when we think we have lots of it. Where does time go? Sure, I have been doing a lot of the things I love, like swimming and baking cakes and going out to eat in splendid gardens with my Mum and assorted family members and friends. I have been playing with my fotos and cooking meals and reading books, I did my yoga and went out to yodel and sing. Booking my travel arrangements to go to Scotland was already like anticipating the trip, going on the overnight train from London to Fort William, waking up to see Loch Lomond and having my breakfast on the train watching it stretch by... But - I also had to spend hours in a police station while an apprentice policeman painstakingly wrote up how my bike was stolen, and I have been doing my tax and hassling employers to pay me and I spent time shopping and taking bottles to the bottle bank and filling in forms for renting a holiday place. Someone drove into the back of my car and fled, and now I have to go to the police again, to find out who it was. Action replay. All this is where time goes, instead of lingering lovingly and waiting to be needed. There is not enough of it to read poems or to go for long car journeys through the Alps. Unless you MAKE it, of course, at the expense of all that petty shit. And take a break from it all.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Here comes the weekend


with thunder, cooler temperatures,
and freshly home-made redcurrant muffins.
Actually, they look better than they taste - a little bit doughy.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

My olympic fire


Lighting a candle for everyone I can't save.
For all the people who lost their homes and their lives so there could be the best the biggest and the most polluted "games", ever. The show is going on, in China, and everywhere else.
Yes, I am an armchair socialist, a bleeding heart who just wants a quiet life. For everyone.
Olympic Games, boring at the best of times, now once again, a shame

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Breeze


My bedtime reading at the moment is "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith, and "Hundstage und Krokodilstränen" by my sister, Luisa Francia, which I have named "the little green book". Zadie's book is so lovely, a proper old-fashioned novel with a contemporary feel to it; I am really enjoying reading it. I found her first "White Teeth" really interesting, too - but it was what book reviews like to call "flawed", it didn't really flow, it stumbled over its own ideas and descriptions which, however, gave insights into a world of London immigrants that was pretty much unknown to me. "On Beauty" is a much more familiar format, a novel about two families, about academia, about ideas, about race - but in such a lovely non-banner-waving way that you can't help but getting sucked into it. My favourite character is Levi, the youngest son - he is so mellow, so devoid of badness, so lovely, and just a little bit dumb.
About Luisa's book, sadly available on ly in German, all I can say is - it makes me laugh, it makes sense, it's provocative (oh - really??) and I think it should become standard reading for everyone who gets on a soap-box about the environment and carbon foot prints etc.

Monday, 4 August 2008

A story from the old old days


My Mother, her friend, her friend's mother, and I. Why?

My Mother told us a story yesterday, when we pestered her with THE question again ("did you really not know about anything during the war"?) No, she really didn't, she was young and she was having a whale of a time all through the war. For her, a good time mainly meant skiing and walking in the mountains and giggling with her girl friends, and when the air raid alarm sounded they all went to a friend's garden and played cards. In 1945, when no-one was allowed to travel anywhere, she and her friend walked illegally across the Austrian border to collect their skis which they had left up in a mountain hut in the winter. Skiing, in those days, was nothing to do with jet-set and white-painted lips and ski-lifts: you put hairy skins on your skis to walk up the hills and then you skied down (I still remember that from my childhood).

Once, she cycled all the way across Bavaria - illegally - to visit her sister in hospital with a broken leg. Another time, she had to go up to Munich to find a hospital place for her dying father: she did not recognise anywhere, because it was all rubble.

She had a beau, an American soldier stationed in her town, who walked her home from work every day. And every day, when she said good-bye to him, he asked: "Why?" She didn't know what "why" meant, and asked the neighbour upstairs, who told her what she thought he wanted. But my Mother had no answer for him - or I might be American now.
"Why" is probably a good start for a lot of things.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Holiday begins at home


Summer...

Street parties - dinner in a country barn - hardly any work pressure - our Mum back on Sunday outings
birthdays - sunshine - plum cake
and i finally got paid...its all too good to be true at the moment.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

August 2nd


Before we went to have dinner at Nomiya with my sister whose birthday it is today, M. and I went to the coolest record shop in München, Optimal. They were having a street party with the band BrassBanda (out on Trikont Records, the old home of the Resisters and many other off-beam, leftie and global bands)
and we bumped into a series of friends.
Here is Ulla, for example.
Munich still in party mood, the bridges full of bands, stalls, buskers and instant beer-gardens, everyone seems to be either milling about or sitting outside food stations.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Bells ringing


I just watched a little programme about Dunwich in Suffolk - on German TV, mind. About two young architects from Munich who applied to build a sculpture to memorize the lost city of Dunwich which was washed away by the tide. The project was rejected by the 114 locals, who bravely resisted becoming another art tourism venue.
In 1086, just 20 years after the Norman conquest, Dunwich was a thriving town of 3,000 people. with 6 parish churches. Apparently, the one thing all visitors ask the locals is "can you still hear the bells ring under the sea?" Fancy people seriously believing that - doesn't that show how desperate we are for wonder!

On the official web page for Dunwich there is a poignant note:
"Local teenager Luke Durbin went missing on May 11th -2006".

The coast is still being eaten away by the sea, slowly slowly.

The English east coast is lovely from bottom to top Southwold, Aldeburgh, Cley-next-the-Sea, Cromer, Holy Island, Robin Hoods Bay, Whitby, Amble, Berwick-upon-Tweed. One day I want to see it all, again.

Summer and food


It's been really hot squelchy summer at last, this week was madly busy with things like looking after Mum who just came out of hospital - she is fine but needs to be encouraged to eat. A woman who used to love and celebrate her food, she now looks at her food like a child faced with a bowl of spinach!! I have the secret suspicion that both she and my Aunt never really liked my home-cooked food, despite friendly protests to the contrary (no it's delicious! Just don't feel hungry right now)...There is something I just don't do right for the dear Oldies...Still, when we go out, she still tucks in quite happily.
Last night everyone was out by the Isar, where preparations were made for the weekend's Brückenfest, "Bridges Festival"

München is like one big garden at the moment, with everyone sitting out. I have been eating and drinking outdoors every single night this week!