Day by Müggelsee lake

The five us went to Müggelsee for the day, a large lake in south east Berlin. We took the S-Bahn and walked down to the lake front beside some breweries. Our walk took us through a cool, tiled underpass built in the 1920s and decorated with period green tiles.

We sat by the lake for a while and the water was tempting and warm for swimming. Sadly it was too breezy and a slow exit on the gently shelving beach would have made for a cold exit from a swim. We had lunch in a bräuhaus close to the underpass, which sold some lovely dunkel beer and I tried a currywurst, which was fruity and went well with a Pils.

Our €6 day travel passes included a ferry, which we took into the Keiner Mügglesee and then down a small river towards Dämeritzsee.

We got off the ferry at Am Küstergarten and got a bit lost in the all the small streets around there, trying to find our way to Neu Venedig. The whole area comprises small plots of lush land, arranged around series of canals. Some plots had small beach-hut-style holiday homes and others had expensive-looking modern architecture. Our walk took us through Kuckucksnest and Plutoweg. We stopped at another beer place at Neu Venedig, on Finkenweg and by a canal and sat enjoying watching the river life drift by. This was a good spot to end our tour.

A quick walk up Kuckucksteig and Schönbliker Strasse to get to the Wilhelmshagen S-Bahn.

It was a quick trip back to our apartment. We had dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant close by the S-Bahn, called Viet Fun. I had sushi, which all the Vietnamese restaurants seem to sell.

In the evening we went to a local trendy 70s-styled bar called “Willys” for two-for-one drinks before 10. Four of us had nine large beers for €16, which is amazingly cheap. In fact Berlin has been very good value for everything. Malcolm and Andrew went off clubbing afterwards in a local club. Michael came back to the apartment to keep me company, nursing my cold still.

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To Berlin with Malcolm

We arrived in Berlin on the morning of the Royal Wedding, after a fun journey by train from Cambridge. We met Malcolm at St Pancras Station where we were taking the Eurostar to Paris.

From the Gare du Nord it is a quick walk to the Gare de L’Est and we stopped en route to buy some sandwiches and a bottle of wine: Malcom’s excellent French got us a free corkscrew too, so were were able to open it! The preparations turned out to be a very good idea as there was no buffet car on the sleeper train, even for the 14 hour journey to Berlin. We had three berths in the compartment and it was pretty comfortable, but no room to sit and natter so we were quite early to eat and bed. Malcolm was on top.

Decent sleep overnight but our Train was unfortunately an hour late when John and Andrew met us the main station. We had breakfast at a small bakers round the corner from their apartment in Penzlauerberg, close to Schönhauser Allee S-Bahn. We had a good, fresh and light lunch there, with cake! John went on to kindly sort out the keys for our rental apartment, while the rest of us headed in to see the sights of the city: everything it seems is one stop away on a train.

We started at an exhibition for the Berlin Wall at the Mauerpark at Bernauer Strasse, with a great ariel view of a preserved section of wall, with guard tower. There was some good video footage in the exhibition of people fleeing into the West as the wall went up. Walked from there to the Nordbahnhof, which still looks pretty much as it would have done when it closed in the 60’s. We headed next for the iconic Brandenburger Tor and a walk to the Reichstag, for a glimpse of the Norman Foster dome. The queue was rather too long and the day too hot to want to go inside.

Our Next stop was a welcome Haufbräu Weiße for us at the Bräuhaus which is part of the smart Sony Centre (next to the Legoland giraffe). Good weiße beer in a nice fun spot. We met up with John there, then walked past Checkpoint Charlie to the Terror Exhibition, which is a fascinating series of story boards about the history of Berlin and the Nazi Party, leading into the present day.

From there to Aleksanderplatz to see the Fernsehturm TV Tower, an icon of Berlin.

Walked from there to Rundschau in Bellevuestrasse, for Haxe in schwarzbiersauce, mit sauerkraut and brot. Massive slow-cooked pork knuckle with free beer. Lovely pork, but rather filling.

Michael, Malcolm, John and Andrew went out clubbing for the evening. I had an early evening, nursing a cold that I’ve had since I left home on Thursday. The apartment no. 4 at Rhinower Strasse 9, is smart and comfortable (also good value for money at £70 per night for the three of us). Impressive mural on our bedroom wall:

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Of Mutability

Michael bought me a collection of Jo Shapcott’s first three poetry collections, Of Mutability. I’m browsing through it now—it’s fantastic. Great titles to her poems, she’s visual, off the wall and surprising. I’ve enjoyed:

Somewhat Unravelling
Tea Death
I Go Inside the Tree
Myself Photographed
Uncertainty is Not a Good Dog
Piss Flower


The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury tales

Geoffrey Chaucer; Oxford University Press 2008

I really enjoyed this modern verse translation, by Peter Levi, of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It’s taken a while to read my way through, I started the book in January, but well worth the effort. Levi’s verse is excellent and colourful, Some fun quotes (just realised they are all rather focussed on getting old…)

The Reeve’s Prologue

There’s life in the old dog yet; It’s long ago
Since first my tap of life began to flow;
For surely it was Death, when I was born,
That drew the tap of life and let it run,
And it’s been flowing ever since, so fast
There’s little left in the neat empty cask,
A few drops only, on the barrel-rim.

The Reeve’s Tale

And, as her pedigree was a bit smirched,
She stank with pride, like water in a ditch;
Was full of supercilious disdain
Because—or so it seemed to her—what with
Her family and her convent education,
A lady ought to keep herself aloof.

Introduction to the Sergeant-at-Law’s Tale

I tell you, sirs, that Time wastes night and day
And steals from us in secret while we are sleeping,
And through our carlessness when we are waking,
Just like a stream that never turns again,
Descending from the mountain to the plain.
Seneca and many a philosopher
Laments for time lost more than treasure;
For, as he says, lost wealth’s reparable,
But time, once lost, is irrecoverable.
It won’t come back, any more than Molly
Gets back the maidenhead lost by folly;
And so let’s not get mouldy doing nothing.

The Prologue of the Wife of Bath’s Tale

But age, alas, that cankers everything,
Has stripped me of my beauty and spirit.
Let it go then! Goodbye, and devil take it!
The flour’s all gone; there is no more to say.
Now I must sell the bran as best I may;
But all the same I mean to have my fun.
And now I’ll tell you about my fourth husband.

The Pardoner’s Tale

O paunch! O belly! O you stinking bag!
Filled full of dung and rotten corruption,
Making a filthy noise at either end,
What an enormous labour and expense
To keep you going! These cooks, how they pound
And strain and grind, and transform and transmute
One thing to another, to placate
Your greedy, gluttonous lustful appetite!

Tweets this Week (2011-04-24)

  • MailRail London #
  • Looking forward to the Easter long weekend: pint of Wainwright and dinner in the garden of the Free Press is a great start #
  • "Clandestinos" is good film but the ending was rather too neat. Israel Rodríguez is beautiful. 🙂 #
  • Our Solomon's Seal has grown up monstrous this year! It needs thinning. #
  • Lunch, wine and first swim in the river this year. Glorious afternoon at the Riverbank Club. River is 4°C but feels warmer. Sun is burning. #
  • Correction river is 14°C! 🙂 #
  • Flaming BBQ for dinner. Feel a bit sun burnt, but I'll survive! #
  • In Wendover for an afternoon of GoApe. But lunch first. Better make it a light one! #
  • Wendover Forest #
  • Hilarious show on Radio 2: Going out with Alan Carr—mostly him and his co-presenter cackling infectiously over their camp humour! #
  • Curry and Chips at Taybarns all you can eat. Https:// #
  • Mobbed by a curious herd of cows across a dark field on the way back to Hamsteels Hall. The horses were more intimidating though. #

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Go Ape with the family

We met up with Christine, Adam, Jessica, Lewis, Gemma, Tony, Hannah, Colin and Christine at Go Ape in Wendover  Woods for a scorching day in the trees. We met up for lunch at the Cafe in the Woods, and then had our course booked for 1:30.  Our instructor, Tristan, was good fun and ran us through the safety quickly. We had seven up the trees, and four participating on the ground, so quite a large group of us heading around the course.

The three children did really well and were very brave. The last stage of the course is pretty high and gave me vertigo, as it was right next to an open space above a road! The long, fast zip-wire out made up for it. The day was a scorcher and it was so nice to me met by Gemma with a bottle of water and some simmel cake. The most difficult parts of the course was the Tarzan swing on stage 4. Lewis took some persuading, but got a real ruch from making it over! Here’s Michael scrambling up the net, with our ground participants cheering us on. Ook!

The course seemed better fun than our previous Go Ape in Thetford.

Tweets this Week (2011-04-17)

  • Platitude of The Day – Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings #
  • iPad 2 and iPhone 4 3D demonstration, no glasses required #
  • Ironing this shirt is so hard on the eyes. Ouch. #
  • Lovely pint of Icarus (Milton) in the Devonshire Arms with Kiran and Elton. #
  • Almost in Bristol. Why has the train stopped? I think we are the only passengers on it. #
  • Michael's found us a lovely pub, The Kings Head, good atmosphere, lovely tramcar snug—but don't know the beer! #
  • Coffee in Clifton. I'm not used to hills! Nice peaceful atmosphere here. #
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge: we're here! #
  • We've done a lot of walking this morning. Having a wee rest in the park before exploring Southville (and lunch!) #
  • Walk through Hotwells was a bit grim—inner city dual carriageway and pedestrians need to pick their way through. #
  • Spicy tagine and a great rest! (I'm at Souk Kitchen) #
  • Took an open top bus tour round Bristol in the afternoon—once we were exhausted from walking. Now I have sun burn! #
  • The (ok) free bottle of wine from the hotel got us off to a good start (and, yes, there's still lots left). Off to explore the Old Market #
  • Dark Star Hophead. (I'm at The Bank) #
  • Meeting my two sisters and families for lunch in Covent Garden. Ethan (1) can try some curry today, after his sushi on Friday! #
  • Lovely morning to sit and people watch in central London. #

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Tweets this Week (2011-04-10)

  • Great to have dinner in the garden—first time this year. What a lovely evening. #
  • Polished off the Madeira with our neighbour, David, and his friend Lorna. No doubt we'll bump into them at future wine tastings. #
  • Off to meet Jay at the Emperor for open mic night. Looking forward to a beer. #
  • Amazing Tom McGlochlin at the Emperor: great guitarist. #
  • Enjoyed Open Mic Night at the Emperor: incl. the MC's poetry #
  • The Daily Mash – Increased drinking caused by cancer fears #
  • Hyde Park is gorgeous and full of people sunbathing. We're off to an exhibition in the Serpentine Gallery #
  • Diverted on the way home from the station for a pint in the evening sun at the Cambridge Blue. Licher Wiesse and Tring Wooden Wonder—tasty #

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Fitting Out Lunch

Another day in London this weekend for the S&CA Fitting Out Lunch and AGM at the London Corinthian Sailing Club in Hammersmith.

Michael bought us a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to go with the paella lunch, which was good. The Club house was very smart and the temperature for the afternoon was probably around 20°C.

We sat next to Simon, David, Francesco Steve and Lee. It was great to meet Lee—we’ll be sailing with him and Jase in July.

Lovely walk beside the Thames, with crowds enjoying the sun.