Friday, 28 February 2014

Old Street - Angel

Few weeks ago I met up with my fellow blogger friend and together we stalked a part of London´s East End in order to take pictures. As you maybe can see, it was a fantastic day and I´m quite pleased with the results - can´t wait to explore the next corner. Just looking at the photos triggers some serious homesickness...

Thursday, 27 February 2014

final curtain

Germany, the curtains are shut, always.

UK, the coffin is on display.

Is death more of a taboo in Germany? Are Brits more eager to show off their flower arrangements? Is their maybe no reason behind it at all??
If you have any idea how or why this difference evolved then please let me know!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

"everyday" (part 8)

some weeks into this little project I still notice how simple it is to try and do/experience/hear/see/taste/make one new thing each day - my awareness has risen and it turns out, there usually is more than one thing. Feels good, try it for yourself!

 19. - 25. February

19.2. went swimming and walked a slightly different route back
20.2. cooked a lasagne with savoy cabbage and for the first time made a bechamel sauce from scratch
21.2. walked through the interesting and charming Nordend of Frankfurt
22.2. went to see "Nebraska" in cinema
23.2. turned 32 for the first and probably last time
24.2. visited the Fasanerie in Wiesbaden and heard a lynx making grunting noises, never witnessed that before!
25.2. finally went to the Italian supermarket near Mainz to stock up on fancy pasta, Gorgonzola, fresh bread and tinned cherry tomatoes

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


director: Alexander Payne
year: 2013
with: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, etc.

plot:  Woody Grant is an obstreperous, hard-drinking man, now elderly and confused, who becomes convinced by a magazine sweepstakes mailer that he has won a million dollars. When he persists in leaving his Montana home in an attempt to walk to Lincoln, Nebraska, and claim his prize, his son David takes him on a road trip that will revisit the sites of his father's youth.

what I liked: It's unbelievably sad without ever being sentimental, it's hilariously funny without being bromidic. And if that is not enough - it's filmed in black and white.

what I didn't like: again, nothing - two great films in one week, lucky me.

verdict: A quiet film that has been stripped to the basics which works wonderfully. Laughed, cried, felt reminded of my own experiences with distant family and wish this film all possible luck for this year's Academy Awards!

Monday, 24 February 2014


Sometimes I wonder if I'm actually a plant.

My daily life at least seems to be greatly influenced, if not ruled, by sunshine.
Late winter, the sun is out:
"It's spring! It smells of spring!! Vitamin D! Life has a meaning again! I wanna travel, go shopping, change my life, eat salads, take photos, climb Kilimanjaro, etc"

Late autumn, the sun is out:
"Who knows when it ever will be like this again. It might be the last time I see the sun. I'm feeling sorry for myself, very sorry. Best make use of it while I can!"

I simply need to be outside...preferably sitting on a sunny bench somewhere doing some serious people watching...and coffee-drinking...and reading...and writing.
I can have an important exam the next day and piles of work to do - stuff it, the sun is shining!
I NEED to go out (and can always get stuff done at night...turns out I can't as sun worshipping makes me tired too. Well, still passed everything I needed to eventually so must be doing something right)
Remember when I was trapped indoors during school or uni and I really suffered, worked myself up over the fact of missing out and got really cranky.

Shutters, blinds, curtains  - in my opinion all completely useless. Every ray of sun has to come in...after all nothing makes all the dust that has gathered inside stand out so nicely, doesn't it!?! Better to gain some wrinkles from squinting than sitting indoors with artificial light.

I'm a voyeurs dream and have been known for getting changed in bright light with the windows open too.
If you find nothing better to do than watching that's your problem, I don't care.
I can't sleep when it's completely dark in a room as I always fear I might have turned blind.
Nothing better than waking up with the sun tickling your face...or taking a nap in bright sunlight ...
Even though I'm not a sunbather and would never try desperately to tan and burn myself or enter the realm of a tanning studio, I'm a sucker for light.

Anyone else amongst my readers who simply cannot stay inside when the sun is shining and wonders if  they are a plant too?

Friday, 21 February 2014

La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

director: Paolo Sorrentino
year: 2013
with: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Galatea Ranzi, etc.

plot: Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, but after his 65th birthday and a shock from the past, Jep looks past the nightclubs and parties to find a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.

what I liked: 142min felt like 90min, I left cinema in a state of inspiration, enchantment and melancholic contentment - loved it! Amongst thousand others things the extremely mixed soundtrack impressed me. Of course I watched it in subtitled Italian  - don't slaughter it by watching a dubbed version.

what I didn't like: the audience (more about this in a later post)

verdict: Many people won't be able to enjoy a single minute of it, that's for sure.
It's absurd, long, sometimes brash and pretentious, then philosophical and sorrowful. It hasn't got much plot but offers stunningly beautiful images, has a wicked soundtrack and a superb main actor - I think I have found another film for my personal "Hall of Fame"!
Sensuous and hovering somewhere in the non seizable but blissful room between meaning and hot air.

barred windows

Do I really wanna be in a position to review this !?!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Middlemarch - The Trilogy

theatre: Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond
author: George Eliot, adapted by Geoffrey Beevers
director: Geoffrey Beevers

I went on one of their popular trilogy days which means, the novel has been split into 3 separate plays, each lasting 3 hrs, but all get performed in one single day. I bought the cheaper standing ticket.

plot: In Dorothea's Story, the young and intelligent Dorothea is enamoured of the intensity and greatness of the academic Reverend Casaubon, so much so that she marries him, much to everyone’s shock. On their honeymoon in Rome a meeting with Casaubon’s young cousin Will Ladislaw arouses suspicions in her new husband and he will do anything he can to stop Will’s quest for Dorothea’s heart.
In The Doctor's Story, idealistic Doctor Lydgate arrives in Middlemarch determined to achieve great things. The mayor’s beautiful but self-centred daughter Rosamond has her sights set on him and as he is tragically torn between his ambition and his loyalties, he is drawn into an alliance with a corrupt banker with a secret past.
In Fred and Mary, Fred is trying to please his parents and become a country gentleman, but his childhood sweetheart Mary will have none of it. Set amongst those dependent on the countryside, this poignant but light-hearted story shows the importance of true and shared values in love and work.

what I liked: Who doesn´t like a nice bit of period drama!?
The actors were all playing soundly, nothing broke up the illusion of 19th century rural England. The director avoided unneccesary props or breaks so the transission between scenes went smoothly.

what I didn´t like: I didn´t like pretty much the same things - it was like watching a live version of a BBC period drama so in theatrical ways they played it safe, very safe, a bit too safe for my taste that is toughened by German experimental State theatre productions.

verdict: It was a nice escape from reality to immers myself for an entire day in 19century England. Bought the BBC TV adaption on dvd now and will start reading the book soon. More worth seeing if you love the book than if you are after some exciting theatre.

So how was it to stand for roundabout 9hrs in total? Well, with a lot of wriggling, re-positioning, leaning and stretching it was ok - actually it got easier some hours in than it was to start with. Not something I need to do each week but all in all in was alright. And I just can´t resist taking part in slightly obsessed things like this :-)

"everyday" (part 7)

12. -18. February

12.2. served pizza as a starter due to a lack of ingredients as the weather was too horrible to go shopping
13.2. got served a Moevenpick raspberry yogurt on my flight LHR-FRA
14.2. saw "Glaube Liebe Hoffnung" on stage in Mainz
15.2. went to Darmstadt to visit the "Georg Büchner " exhibition
16.2. had Penne all'arrabbiata without parmesan as I forgot to buy any...crumbled some feta cheese over the top instead and it tasted delicious
17.2. saw "La Grande Bellezza" in cinema and absolutely loved it!
18.2. walked a different route to visit a friend in Mainz

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

England smells of fat and soap

I'm an olfactory person.
I might remember things I saw, things I heard, my mind is quite good at remembering names and I never forget faces but one thing dominates it all. The whiff of a certain smell and boom - I'm catapulted back to a certain place, a certain time, a certain mood.

A particular wooden wallboard - the school gym. A certain tobacco - sitting on my dad's photo case eating a hot dog on some military airbase in the 80's. The coffee shop inside the"Waterstones" bookshop in Horsham - opening the door to my grandparents flat in order to chat and have some coffee.

Smells can make an ordinary moment special to me or put a big damper on my mood.
I know this is not unique and that at least the majority of women will have a similar connection to their limbic system. There are 1000's of examples and stories I could tell but one inspired me to write this in particular:

Late summer 2000, the final year of school.
My English class has decided to spend a week in England.
I'm against it, I hate the idea! Why the fuck do I have to travel to England only cause English is one of my major subjects?!? (Now I know how stupid I was)
A week away in a country I have no connection with whatsoever, together with a bunch of people I don't mind but still...the young, hyper-sensitive, slightly awkward and highly prone to homesickness me is against it. But there is no way out, taking part is a must and I'm not that stupid to rather break my leg than accepting my fate.

I arrive at the station scowling, the journey takes ages (as we went by train and boat cause a certain someone refused to fly - yes, it was me, the nowadays frequent flyer. Well...the times they are a-changin).
An accident on board of the hoverspeed ferry calls for a rescue helicopter and slows us down a lot. We arrive in the evening, tired, exhausted, hungry.

I hate the youth hostel, I hate the other hostile German school group that is already residing in the building, the stink of deep fried eggs, bacon and bread wafting from the kitchen in the basement in the early morning makes me feel sick. All I can smell is grease. I eat my plain toast with a bit of marmalade, drink coffee that could be mistaken for machine oil and feel sorry for myself fighting back tears.

On the morning after I wander disheartened into the town centre to wait for our German tour guide.
The sun comes out, the high street is lit up and: I'm in love. 
I don't know why, I cannot explain it . something in my soul and in my heart has changed from one second to another and suddenly I can't get enough of everything, getting bedazzled with pretty much every place and thing that I am going to discover in this week. The beginning of a life changing relationship.

We spend a lot of time in the pretty town centre of Canterbury (or Canterburz as I call it as all our paperwork before departing spelled it that way due to the American keyboard of our teacher).
We go to London, visit a school in Tunbridge Wells, get shown around Brighton.
There I am introduced to my first ever Lush shop, the smell imprints itself.

And there we have it - the mixture of old frying fat and soap, nothing else triggers more longing in me while making me happy.

Monday, 17 February 2014

1980 - A piece by Pina Bausch

theatre/ensemble: Tanztheater Wuppertal/ Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
choreographer/idea: Pina Bausch

plot: In its 40th anniversary season, Tanztheater Wuppertal return to Sadler’s Wells to perform one of her most acclaimed works from the early part of her career: 1980, A Piece by Pina Bausch. Rarely performed, the piece was created following the death of her professional and romantic partner Ralf Borzik, who played a key role in the forming of the visual style of Tanztheater. Featuring an astoundingly diverse score including works by Beethoven, Debussy, Elgar and Brahms, it is a wistful elegy, dealing with nostalgia, childhood, life and death.

what I liked: After all the conservative, safe and realistic theatre experiences in London recently I was lusting after something more edgy, something I can't grasp but marvel at instead.
Found it here - I failed at decoding many scenes and details but it really didn't matter. There was some kind of hypnotic undertow I was happily to just let my mind flow along with. Left inspired, relaxed and happy.

what I didn't like: Maybe it's misleading to show this piece in the Sadler's Wells, London purely dance theatre as it is not really a dance performance.

verdict: I can't really explain what it was that I saw but I did thoroughly enjoy it. Everyone expecting a lot of dance, a straightforward plot or loads of music will be most definitely disappointed.
It's subtle, weird, surrealistic, funny, thought provoking, touching and repetitive in a good way.
Some people left the performance fairly early, I left it being an even bigger fan of the late Pina Bausch.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

balm for the soul

Yesterday I went to an exhibition in Darmstadt, Germany.
Before I was allowed in I was forced to leave my bag and coat in a locker.

(One of my pet hates!!! Why oh why do German galleries/theatres/libraries/museums make it so bloody hard for people to visit? What am I going to do with my handbag - knocking someone out whilst breaking their jaw? Bagging the entire exhibits in order to sell them on the black market? Argggh)

Anyway, stripped of my coat and scarf I went in, showed my ticket and then the most amazing thing happened. The girl at the door looked at me and said "I love your jumper!"
It felt sooooo amazing.
And I have been good - I smiled and said thank you and for once didn't spoil the moment by quickly downgrading it with "Oh, this one? It was cheap, nothing special. Got it on sale"
Even though it was a cheap, nothing special "C&A" jumper I got on sale.

Maybe it's time to start a fashion blog ;-)

Glaube Liebe Hoffnung

Autor: Ödön von Horváth
Theater: Staatstheater Mainz
Premiere: 7. Februar 2014
Regie: Alia Luque

InhaltElisabeth, die nichts mehr hat und gleichwohl alles geben muss, geht als beinah unverwüstliche Optimistin durchs Leben: trotzig und zäh auch dann noch, wenn sich alles gegen sie kehrt. Wenn ihr gerade mal 150 Mark fehlen zum Erwerb eines Wandergewerbescheins für Miederwaren. Wenn sich das Wohlfahrtsamt nicht für sie zuständig fühlt. Wenn man sie für „eine bestimmte Damenkategorie“ hält. Im so irren wie rigorosen Geflecht von Bürokratie und Borniertheit, von sozialer Kälte und einer gnadenlos selbstbezogenen Gesellschaft, will Elisabeth die Hoffnung nicht einfach fahren lassen: Irgendwo muss es doch auch für sie ein Glück geben...

was mir gefallen hat: Die Buehne ist offen, alle Darsteller schluepfen am Rande sichtbar in ihre Rollen - das hat was. Unterbrochen wird das Geschehen von einer als Matrosen verkleideten Blaskapelle die eine Art schrillen Trauermarsches spielt, dies ist optisch wie akustisch eindrucksvoll.

was mir nicht gefallen hat: Wer ist Elisabeth und warum soll ich Mitleid fuer sie empfinden? Warum schluepfen Maenner in Frauenrollen und andersherum? (Anscheinend soll das fuer die Austauschbarkeit ihrer Person und ihres Verhaltens stehen, alle sind gleich - schlecht). Manchmal wird mit Dialekt gesprochen, dann wieder nicht, alles bleibt fragmentarisch. Man guckt zu, fragt sich wann es losgeht, es zieht sich gleichzeitig in die Laenge und dann gehen die Lichter wieder an. Ulrike Beerbaum als Elisabeth sticht als einzige heraus aus der Riege der Schauspieler, leider ist sie mir unsympathisch - keine optimale Vorraussetzung.

Fazit: Die offene Buehne ist aesthetisch ansprechend, die Blaskapelle dominiert das Geschehen...aber der Rest ist unheimlich belanglos. Kein Mitgefuehl, keine grosse Kunst, kein gar nichts.

PS: Hier noch der offizielle Trailer...der im uebrigen stimmungsvoller als der Abend an sich ist!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Cuckoo´s Calling

author: Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
published: 2013

plot:  Afghanistan veteran Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers...

what I liked: I´m new to the genre of detective novels so didn´t know what to expect. To my own surprise I was drawn into the story immediately - no blood, descriptions of violence or grime, "just" an extremely gilded and well written investigation.

what I didn´t like: As much as this surprises myself - nothing!

verdict: An interesting story, authentic characters, and a plotline that had me guessing all the time (well, I´m simply not trained in that field...yet). London was evoked on every page, I could already imagine the film version in my head - brilliant. Looking forward to the next novel featuring hairy Cormoran Strike!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

"everyday" (part 6)

5. - 11. February

5.2. worked out that you can pay with gift cards on the self-servie check outs in M&S (I know, what a revelation ;-))
6.2. been to the dentist and got the back of one canine tooth sealed to prevent decay
7.2. explored London's East End and had a Wiener Melange at "Kipferl" in Islington
8.2. ordered a Chilli Murgh
9.2. seen "1980" by Pina Bausch and the Tanztheater Wuppertal at London Sadler's Wells
10.2. took pictures of the remains on Brighton's West Pier for the first time since it split in two during the last storm
11.2. took part in another Heathrow Terminal 2 trial, this time starting at the Renaissance Hotel where the food was significantly better than last week

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014

I´m late as usual as the exhibition actually closes tomorrow but anyway:

As in the lasts years I recently went to the National Portrait Gallery in London to look at the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 entries and winners.
The overall impression was very good again but, for me, there were no real highlights this year.
Some excellently crafted photos, some very touching stories and striking poses for sure.
But on the other hand too many photos of sujets that are simply over-used and hackneyed (e.g. the proud girl/boy/family from the ghetto/township/village, colourful Irish traveller families and twins - they really included too many twin portraits this time)
Nevertheless worth having a look - not just for art lovers and/or photography geeks.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

"everyday" (part 5)

29.January - 4.February

29.1. tried dark chocolate with juniper and pine - disgusting!!! The first ever chocolate I had to bin.
30.1. walked along the top level gallery of the greenhouse at Kew Gardens
31.1. been to Epsom (clearly NOT worth it - who ever rated this town as one of the best places to live in the UK?!?)
1.2. been to the Capitol Arts Center in Horsham and saw "August: Osage County"
2.2. had a walk through Bedfont Lakes Nature Park
3.2. seen Rupert Grint, Ben Whishaw, Daniel Mays and Brendan Coyle (Mr Bates!!!) live on stage in "Mojo"
4.2. took part in a trial to test the check-in at the new terminal 2 at Heathrow which will open to the public in June 2014, great fun

Monday, 3 February 2014

August: Osage County

director: John Wells
year: 2013
with: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, etc.

plot: A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

what I liked: The surely all can act...I was especially amazed by Julia Roberts as I haven´t been a huge fan of her so far.

what I didn´t like: This family cannot get more "fucked up" (I´m allowed to write´s a quote anyway). It´s hard to watch at times and at the end nothing is resolved - they arrived and gathered together as wrecks, fight and leave, even more wrecked. The opposite of feel good movie.
Not sure why talents like Ewan McGregor and Benedict Cumberbatch have been casted - next to this overload of female power and aggression they simply disappear.

verdict: It is based on a play and still feels like one. This leaves room for some great and intense acting but makes the whole film slightly claustrophobic. After 120min you wana run away from this dysfunctional family as much as it´s members.
If your inner psychiatrist needs feeding and if you are a big fan of Streep and Roberts then go for it. The others might as well leave it...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

My Animals and Other Family

author: Clare Balding
published: 2012

plot:  "I had spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and suspect I had aged in dog years. By the time I was ten I had discovered the pain of unbearable loss. I had felt joy and jealousy. Most important of all, I knew how to love and how to let myself be loved. All these things I learnt through animals. Horses and dogs were my family and my friends. This is their story as much as it is mine"
TV presenter and journalist Clare Balding grew up in a rather unusual household. Her father a champion trainer, she shared her life with more than 100 thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals and ponies, as well as an ever-present pack of boxers and lurchers. As a toddler she would happily ride the legendary Mill Reef and take breakfast with the Queen.

what I liked: She clearly can write and has a very honest attitude enriched with subtle humour. What fascinated me most was the fact that a seemingly down to earth and healthy woman has come out of a relatively difficult family.

what I didn´t like: If you are not really into horses ( I am not) and haven´t got a clue about racing and the vocabulary that comes along with it, sometimes it can get a bit boring. I read this book over several months.

verdict: A well written and interesting autobiography, cleverly crafted around family pets and horses. Recommended if you love horses and like seeing her on tv. If this is not the case then you can give it a miss.