Thursday, 1 November 2012

Blown over, Berlin and a blanket

The end of month view for October is a depressing sight.  In fact it is so depressing that my laptop seems to have lost the pictures.  If I can raise the enthusiasm I will go round again but in the meantime I can give you a verbal picture: blown over, brown, grey and green, tatty, floppy, flattened.

There is a lot still to do in the garden but I am suffering from my usual response to putting the clocks back: I want to stay in and keep warm.  I have managed to plant out practically all of two hundred new daffodil bulbs which I had ordered and I have some bare rooted plants coming this month so will have to force myself away from the fire to get them in but in the meantime I am ignoring the falling over fennel and the shabby Shasta daisies and getting excited about blankets instead.

These are the new daffodils, to add to the thousands I have already:
February Gold

Actaea

Pueblo

Thalia

Peeping Jenny

All the images are from Peter Nyssen's catalogue.  I use them a lot and find the bulbs of good quality and well priced.  He also has a fabulous range of tulips.  So these are in and holding the promise of spring in their tightly furled bulbs.

So we distracted ourselves from the blown over garden and dark nights with a flying visit to Berlin.  Berlin is one of my favourite European cities: cosmopolitan, complex, swift moving with friendly people and fabulous public transport.  We have been before but this time we were with some good friends and being with others makes you interact with a place differently than when you are on your own or with your long time partner.  You stop to look at different things, you take more time, perhaps you miss things because you are talking but they are compensated for by the things that you notice because you are sharing someone else's way of looking.


We went to the Neues Museum where the building, a marriage of new construction with the old musem which was severely damaged in the Second World War, is as fascinating as the hugely fascinating contents.


We walked amongst the blocks of  the Holocaust Memorial


and went to the Jewish Museum.  While the memorial and some parts of the museum are overwhelming in different ways, the Jewish Museum in particular is an uplifting as well as distressing experience.

We also ate lots of good food, wandered lots of leaf strewn streets and ate the best breakfasts in the world at the Art'Otel in Mitte, once part of East Berlin.   It's ten years since we were in Berlin but it is still a forest of cranes and construction sites, particularly in the former East.

We went down to Sans Souci in Potsdam, a summer palace built by Frederick the Great to his own design.  It stands above terraces of vines and figs and is on an intimate scale.  Luxurious and deeply decorated though it is, it is still somehow a place where you could see yourself living.


I love the fact that Frederick had had the ground terraced before he decided to build the palace, like deciding to live in your garden.  Perhaps this is his version of my shepherd's hut.


We went up Norman Foster's dome for the Reichstag at night, magical.



I love Berlin in all its complexity.  I almost feel I could live there although I would have to somehow combine that with living here.  I am still digesting what I have seen and reading a fascinating book by Richard Stern, "Five Germanys I have Known", which ties the story of Stern's own professional, middle class Jewish family in Breslau to the history of Germany in the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth.  I am still thinking about it.

And home to the domestic scale of the fire and the garden and the shepherd's hut.  I need a blanket for the hut and have been playing with crochet stripes.  So, from the large vision to the small, here is the start of it.


It is such a lovely thing I might have to save it from being the bathetic ending to a blog and give it a post all to itself.

What a strange and complicated thing life is.  I do love mine.

I have gone back to Dynamic Views, just for a change really and because I do like the look of it.  I know when I used it before that some of you didn't like it or had problems with commenting.  Please let me know what you think - I don't want the new look to be a pain for anyone!

24 comments:

  1. Good evening Elizabeth!

    Splendid! All is splendid. You have this way of wrapping It All up in one blog post; shepherd huts, (one day we will own that gypsy caravan I have been dreaming of) bedraggled gardens, blythe daffodils, and fabulous, modern, concrete Berlin.

    The Holocaust, Elizabeth, has weighed hugely on my mind ever since I realised as an adult that a few decades could never cushion us from that Evil. For those who have often retorted that cruelty exists, sadly, in many shapes and forms in our present day too I reply simply that The Holocaust is my version of Hell.

    Sorry to end on a negative note. Your post was, as often, a pure joy.

    Stephanie

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    1. I totally agree about the Holocaust and that is why I mention the Richard Stern book as it looks, in part, at how such a cultured, civilised nation as Germany could have produced the National Socialists. Really fascinating reading. I recommend it!

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  2. Excellent photos which put me in touch of a Berlin I have not visited. Profound it must be to make a walk through the Holocaust Museum.

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    1. I think many people do not really know Berlin. It is a fascinating city with a whole island in the middle devoted to museums. Really worth a visit.

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  3. Winter is depressing and its coming can seem more drepressing than the actual fact! Peter Nyssen is great and he send to Italy and other European countries, such good prices and the tulips, as you say, are superb. You make me want to visit Berlin, somewhere I've never been. Christina

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    1. Another Peter Nyssen fan! I didn't realise they posted to Europe too.

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  4. Would the first museum be the one with a statuette of Cleopatra's head? As a student I used to visit our replica in the Cultural History Museum, before the new South Africa became PC and that museum now focuses on slavery in the Cape. We have a holocaust museum, but I've never found the courage to visit it.

    Our family doctor was a German Jewish refugee, and once, shortly before he retired he was reminiscing about being in Namibia during the War. Meeting a childhood friend, fighting on the other side. And how carefully he steered the conversation between 'friendly small talk' and not revealing information. He was a doctor who believed in tincture of time.

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    1. It is the museum with the statue - beautiful and ageless. One of the fascinating things in the Stern book is the places that people went to in their flight from Germany. I also hadn't realised how many doctors in Germany were of Jewish origin, in part perhaps because even in the nineteenth century when middle class Jews thrived they were excluded from some occupations such as the civil service. I hope your doctor had a good life there in South Africa!

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  5. I'm glad you were able to rescue your post and end on such a positive note. I'm struggling this week to love my life - despite knowing all the good things that make it up. Perhaps it's the black dog of November. Anyway, reading your post was rather uplifting for me, so thank you.
    I've never been to Berlin but it is a place I'd love to visit. I'll look for the book you mention - thank you, again.

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    1. I do identify with the black dog of November! I have had a couple of months of struggling myself with various family health things but have somehow emerged again into a better place. Odd really, since nothing external has changed that much. Life comes and goes. I hope you are soon on the up and do look for the book. I am sure you would find it fascinating.

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  6. Berlin looks fabulous. You'd have liked meeting Rory Maclean on my recent course - he lives there and is writing a book about the City and its creative heart. He writes a fine blog here http://blog.goethe.de/meet-the-germans/archives/242-Halloween-in-Berlin.html

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    1. Sounds a great book and just my kind of thing! Such a pity I couldn't get there - next year maybe?

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  7. Right thats it Berlin is the next overseas trip the boys and I are doing - if they still want to go away with me in 2014. It looks fab and I havent seen photos of most of those places so thank you very very much. If I do end up going I might have to ask you for some pointers.

    Actea and Thalia are amongst my favourite daffs. I have planted probably 100 today and thats in my tiny garden.

    Unlike you I like the clocks going back as it means I get up for work in the daylight which is a treat, before then I go to work and come home in the dark which is horrid.

    Anway, thanks for joining in again this month - soon be Spring

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    1. I don't know if you could really call it joining in with no pictures and not much to say! I didn't dare link from yours!
      Sure you and the boys would love Berlin. So much to see and such a lot of energy!

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  8. Berlin looks fascinating. It is not somewhere I had thought of visiting before, but perhaps I ought to give it a go.
    Love the colours in your blanket. Very autumnal.

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    1. I think Berlin is not on people's lists of places to go in the way that Paris and Rome say are. Worth going though!

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  9. Love the crochet!

    You've really given me something to think about on Berlin. I've never been... I find Germany difficult because I'm (well, almost - my French dad got out but most of his family didn't) what they call 'second generation'. I find myself looking at elderly people on trams, etc, and thinking 'hmm, what did you get up to?' It doesn't make for a relaxing experience, and it's not entirely fair (dad was always at pains to stress the immense bravery of German resistance). Have you read Christabel Beilenberg's amazing book 'The Past is Myself'? If not, you must try and get hold of a copy - very strongly recommended, well-written and a somewhat unexpected side to the Third Reich (she was a Brit married to an anti-Nazi, with three small kids).

    And I love Thalia. So delicate, and so pretty.

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    1. I have read "The Past is Myself". Great book, really memorable. I do understand what you mean about the difficulty but, having worked with quite a few Germans in my professional life, I do find the younger generation admirably open and engaging. Would love to know what you think about the Stern book.

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  10. I'd love to go to Berlin and I'm envious of your ability to crochet, especially as it's leading to a thing of beauty.

    Thalia's one of my favourite daffodils - I had big bowls of them on the patio a couple of years ago and their scent wafting up at me on sleepless nights when I put my head out of the window to sniff the spring air was marvellous.

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    1. I love Thalia too. In fact I love it so much that at one point it was my intention only to have Thalia and the Tenby daffodil in the garden but somehow I have strayed away from that!

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  11. Berlin has been on my wish list for years and yet I didn't manage to plan a visit. Meanwhile I could enjoy your pics and you thoughts about the trip. You weren't very lucky with the weather apparently but I guess you are more than used to it considering the Country you live in... :)
    Only a couple of weeks ago your garden looked fantastic and it's pretty difficult to me thinking of it blown down, grey and muddy!
    Good choice with the narcissus, I was very interested on pueblo so I'm looking forward to seeing your hundreds (wow!) of daffodils next spring!
    Alberto

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    1. I do like the look of Pueblo. There is always such a tricky balancing act between using new varieties and not having enough of a single one to make a real impact!

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  12. I think bulb planting is the perfect antidote to the clocks going back. I've never been to Berlin, but like you I always enjoy visiting places with different people, you do inevitably see things differently - and different things - as a result of the company. I particularly like going to art galleries with like-minded friends, I enjoy going by myself, but sharing perceptions over coffee and cake in the cafe afterwards is much more fun. I have no problems with dynamic views, but would absolutely love it if you could add a "follow by email" button, I would be able to keep up with your posts so much more easily... Happy bare root planting, I always find it scary, planting sticks in the dead of winter in cold wet earth, but it always seems to work a treat.

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  13. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
    The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.

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