Tag Archives: london

Picnic at Lincoln’s Inn Fields

I’ve passed this beautiful spot, ate my packed lunch or had a nap during the hours in between lessons, so many times. In the evenings there are soup vans providing free food to homeless people.

Last week is was cold even though the sun was out…but that didn’t stop some to take their lunch in the park.

IMG-20160430-WA0000

 

Picnic at Lincoln’s Inn Fields

 

He took his seat, after he’d laid out

his coat with great care, on top of the grass.

 

He pressed his bent back against his black

rucksack, and then stretched his legs. Blissful sigh.

 

He watched an army of people, that matched

spring’s vibrant colours, eat their packed lunch.

 

The midday sun warmed his face. He stretched his

neck and felt the heat spreading in his body.

 

To the cheerful chatter and occasional

loud and hearty laughter he fell asleep.

 

In the evening he stood outside the nightly

locked gate, queuing to wait his turn for some

 

hot food and a cuppa, listening to the

silent chatter of his fellow vagabonds.

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Heat…or better…A hot ‘n steamy summer’s day

P1030301The hottest day in Britain has come and gone (Wednesday, 1st July), phew…and no, in case you thought I’m about to complain about the hot weather, I’m not, no no no, ’cause I WAS prepared!! Yep, ice pops came to my rescue, hehehe.

Actually, I’m STILL prepared for the next few days of glorious summer-sunshine 🙂 … hm, let’s see, disposable BBQs, beer, sausages, all the stuff necessary for gazpacho, beer, salad, courgettes, hand fan…and beer… uhm sun cream…oh and look there’s my old sun hat…haha very fashionable, still… so….yes….think I got all the really important bits for summer survival…

 

‘Heat’ or perhaps  ‘A hot ‘n steamy summer’s day’ 

 

At the speed of light

you conquer me

leaving no time

to make up my mind:

shall I run or go on a spree?

 

Trickles of sweat

run down my face and back

to the crease between my buttock(s)

and I think,

Might cutting my hair

allow all of what’s left

of that steamy air

caress my neck

like my lover’s lips?

O please, that’s all I need to

get back in sync.

 

I’m gasping for breath

as I decide to wear a skirt

only to discover later, that I

relish the stares,

that follow my laboriously

shaved now snow-white legs.

 

How you turn this town into a place of swelter

and I’m so looking for shelter.

 

With rail tracks melting,

I arrive pelting

one hour late at my destination,

where it’s 2 degrees cooler,

where I feel like a ruler,

where I wear my hair up

embracing a soft breeze

and suddenly feel at ease

 

with you,

you naughty tease.

 

icecubes donw your back

Remember Remember the Fifth of November

Having managed to see a big firework display on bonfire night at Blackheath Common last Saturday, I suddenly remembered that some years ago on that very night we lit a fire in our fireplace for the very first time.

fireplace

Guy Fawkes Night

 

While seventeen burning crosses

were carried through the streets of Lewes

we lit our first fire.

 

It was only a month earlier

that our chimney had been swept,

a chimney pot and bird guard fitted.

 

Smokeless wood logs

were lying carefully arranged

inside a wicker basket

ready for their

final resting place.

 

A poker, log grabber, ash shovel and brush

hanging from their stand

next to old newspapers and a box of firelighters,

were the only other conspirators.

 

Eager to do our part

on this cold and rainy bonfire night

we scrunched some newspaper into

loose balls,

placed them with two logs

inside the cast iron basket,

following only our own novice logic.

Then we lit four firelighters.

 

In front of the orange blazing blissful heat

we embraced staring mesmerized at the

dancing figures appearing in the fire

Before they transformed

into thick dark smoke

rising up to the fire alarm fitted to the wall

on top of the stairs

awakening our bewilderment

resulting in frantic waving of wet towels

before the noisy device as we burnt to

silence the deafening noise

running around headless

to open every window and door

to let our neighbours know of the failed attempt

and let the dark smoke escape.

 

Remember remember the fifth of November we always will.

Remember, remember, …

While waiting for my next module (January 2014) at Goldsmiths I thought of enrolling to the Ways into creative writing class at City Lit.

So, after a couple of weeks’ keen anticipation I finally found myself contentedly amidst my new creative-writer-student-colleagues. Then suddenly and without any warning shortly after the lesson started a sudden paralysing feeling of terror rushed through me – the result of having been informed that 1. not only should we complete a 10 minute writing exercise, but 2. read it aloud to our new classmates.

That was it. Thoughts of shall I stay or shall I go were racing through my head – similarly nerve-racking like Formula One’s Vettel and Alonso racing and competing for victory. Come on girl, I thought, act like an adult. So I stayed put and for the next 30 minutes tried very hard to remember something fairly entertaining. Naturally, during that time I was only half listening to our tutor. Disappointingly the only thing that kept coming to my mind was the image of the severely corroded valve of my ancient boiler. Just a few days earlier that same valve was the culprit of tripping the RCD switch, as water silently dripped into the electric part of the valve.

In the end I did produce and present a short piece. However, instead of my desperately intended wish for describing an interesting and fun childhood memory (I sooo wanted to impress my new classmates!) I only just managed to describe my experience of a boiler break down – an inconvenience feared by many with many more probably still recovering from their own traumatic memories of getting a non-working boiler repaired.

For homework we were asked to complete three further I remember and one I don’t remember pieces, which I wrote on a train traveling to Glasgow. The following I remember … piece was presented (word limit 500) the following week:

the willow tearoom_Galsgow  highland cow2 

I remember my first visit to Glasgow. It was in late September 1995. I still have the one week bus pass and  when I look at it, it reminds me of my first impressions of the city which I would visit many more times.

The air being fresh and crisp compared to the car-polluted smoke in London, for example. The air in Glasgow reminded me of the air in Austria. Yet on a couple of days Glasgow’s air would smell peculiar. I was told that my nose had picked out the scent of malty Whisky coming from some long slim chimneys of the malting house of a Whisky distillery in Glasgow. 

I remember visiting Rennie Macintosh’s tea room, sipping Earl Grey Tea and eating delicious cakes.  Glasgow reminded me of Vienna with its beautiful Art Deco buildings and welcoming coffee shops. It felt strangely familiar and comforting sitting in that busy tea room with its cheerful waiters.

  I remember Pollok Park, a huge country Park within Glasgow and visiting the Burrell collection. Inside this huge park I saw Highland Cows or coos for the first time.

I remember feeling sheer joy and excitement watching the beautiful, big eyed fluffy beasts, who were munching graciously the lush green grass of the park’s meadows. After some encouragement they would approach the fence and I could touch their soft long brown hair. Their hair on the head fell lightly over their big brown eyes. I instantly fell in love with them.

I liked J’s mum Margaret, a soon-to-be-70-year-old-no-nonsense-woman, who enjoyed sipping Whisky that was mixed with the very sticky brightly orange coloured Scottish national soft drink IRN-BRU, whilst playing cards. I remember the three of us playing either Domino’s, Chinese Patience or Trumps and Margaret uttering Och, I don’t know! ever so often to fill some of the silences. I remember asking J what it was that Margaret didn’t know.

tea and buiscuitI remember that on my first visit Margaret offered me Tea or coffee, hen? She would emphasize that I was a guest and guests were served unlimited cups of tea or coffee. I especially liked the big plastic container, which was the home to any kind of biscuits imaginable and the faithful companion of the freshly brewed afternoon tea served in a medium-sized stainless steel teapot. As soon as the plastic lid was removed a sweet smell of chocolate, toffee and sugar filled the air of Margaret’s sitting room and I enthusiastically accepted  her offer to There you go hen, take a biscuit hen.

However, within a couple of days I would no longer be a guest but a git. So, to ensure to stay in the good books I had to fulfil my part of duty in putting the kettle on. Once the water had boiled and the … popped I poured the freshly boiled water over 3 teabags, which were carefully placed at the bottom of the stainless steel pot, before placing it on the electric stove where the tea could finally brew. It was important that the tea would not brew too long but just enough. A terrifying task for a novice tea-drinking-Austrian.

Autumn Blues or Autumn Joy?

Hurray! Hurray! First signs of autumn are showing. Earlier sunsets. Pleasantly refreshing rainy days. Even more so are the nights. Trees delight with colourful displays in parks and alongside roads. Smells of lit wood burning stoves. Hurray! Hurray!  Autumn, favourite season of the year, announces itself.

For me that means no more feeling guilty of staying in bed longer or staying at home at weekends; reading all the books and watching all the DVDs which were acquired during the last few months and were with no further thought left unopened on the shelves in the living room. It also means experimenting with new recipes. A fan of sweet potatoes, for example, I started trying different kinds of Sweet Potato soups, stews and spreads – roasted and mashed up ones were well-practiced around this time last year. Another ingredient is Polenta. Having been in Transylvania this summer together with my parents to visit Dracula’s castle (sooo predictable) but more so to visit the villages, towns and cities of my Transylvanian Saxons ancestors, I re-discovered  Palukes or polenta. I remember scoffing freshly prepared hot Palukes, adding a bit of ice cold milk to it, whilst sitting next to my grandmother in the living room watching a thriller in the cold winter months. That hot Palukes would warm you up nicely, just like porridge does.

Anyway. In addition I decided to use my guilt-free-spare-time,to tidy up, ahm, files. Not the ones on my desk, which are piled up half way to the ceiling, or the ones under desk, which are actually piled right up to the bottom of the desk or the ones left on the window sill or next to my bed…no, those ones are next on my list. But first, I’ll start organizing the ones carelessly dumped on the desktop or USB sticks or in some  doesn’t-make-sense-to-me-now folders AND sub folders…arghhhhh!

desk full with books and filesPhew! It wasn’t so bad after all. After having spent all Wednesday afternoon and early evening reorganizing and deleting files I now have my German language lesson files nicely organized in perfectly presentable grammar folders and sub folders, sorted into discussion, listening, reading (subgroup: newspaper, books), pairwork, group work folders … yes, the list goes on a bit longer, but I spare you with all the details.

Whilst tidying up, I came across the OU (Open University) folder from 2007-10. Scanning through some of the essays I have written, a few also in German during the Level 3 German module, I noticed just how similar some topics were back then to my current studies now. I enjoyed re-reading some of the shorter essays and perhaps will upload one or two, whose topics (dialects – cultural heritage or speech barrier?), are close to my heart.

Gosh, it seems that list to fill my guilt-free-spare-time is getting longer. And Saturday morning is already over. So I better rush off. Will visit B&Q and IKEA for some DIY double glazing kit and some felt underlay to get my little house ready for the really cold winter months (I have just read that).

Vegetable paradise in my backyard – potatoes for beginners

Really happy with my first-steps-towards-a-grow-your-own-vegetables-paradise-in-my-tiny-backyard thanks to D. who encouraged me to take up the relaxing, satisfying and affordable hobby of growing your own in pots and bags in my tiny and quite shadowy patio.

That is why one day in mid-May day after our weekly 90 minutes German class – that day we learnt fruit and vegetable vocabulary, after which D. could list all vegies and fruits he has got in his garden (you name it, he’s got it) I headed straight to the nearest Robert Dyas store, found the gardening section, picked up a giant growing bag together with a King Edward seed potato taster pack, carrot, onion and chive seeds.

giant reusable grow bag

After filling the big green bag (see picture above, taken from RD website) with compost most seeds were planted by the following weekend…and as the giant bag is not that giant after all for all the seeds I had, I continued planting them in some unused flower pots. To be honest, I did not plant any flowers this year as I assumed that we would not get much of a summer. Couldn’t have been more wrong!

patio2

All started to grow really well. I checked on the young plants first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I began to hate snails, particularly slugs, after discovering how they would feast on my potato plants. I discovered slug/snail pellets. I enjoyed pottering about my patio. Then, all of a sudden came the unexpected prolonged heat wave a time when I was away in Spain experiencing a ‘proper’ harvest with a harvest machine (will upload some photos in separate post).

Anyways. Once back in London and after worrying about my own possible gnocchi-sized-potato-harvest I sighed with relieve when I discovered that the potatoes have survived and the prospect of harvesting proper potatoes, some onions (most thought have been eaten by a mysterious animal) and carrots.

But for now I keep enjoying this small but cosy outside space.

patio3

“Bad Science” and “Bad Pharma” by Ben Goldacre

2 or so years have passed since I’ve read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, which reached nr. 1 in the non-fictive charts and was translated into 25 languages. And yesterday I had the chance to listen to Ben giving a short talk at the Philosophy Now 2012 Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity held at Conway Hall, London, where he also presented his new book Bad Pharma.

Bad Science is a highly entertaining book about the misuse of science by quacks, journalists and big pharmaceutical companies and it might well change the way you look at drug companies, researchers and journalists.

Check out Ben Goldacres blog

About the Awards for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity read Philosophy Now Editor Rick Lewis’s description of the award’s purpose in this article in The Telegraph: ‘The world’s biggest problem is stupidity’.

A possible English Leonardo da Vinci?

Last weekend I made my way to Greenwich in order to see Hanging Hooke, Siobhán Nicholas extremely enjoyable, educational, well acted  and energetic play at Greenwich Theatre.

If you get the chance (sorry UK only) to see it … go and see this play! You can find upcoming performance of the Take the Space Theatre Company here.

The play, inspired by the folio of Robert Hooke , a manuscript found and auctioned in 2006, which are notes made by Hooke during his time as Curator for the Royal Society. Since the auction the folio’s new home is at the Royal Society in London and on their website (link above) you can view it and it is now also acknowledged that Hooke worked together with his friend Christopher Wren on the Monument and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Within the last few years Hooke has been credited for his contribution and if you go to the Monument/St. Paul’s look out for his plaque and the memorial tablet respectebly.

The play tells the story of Robert Hooke, who not only was a contemporary of Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren but also “curator of experiments (…) at the Royal Society and is now thought by many to be our English Leonardo. A genius of the 17th century; architect, engineer, chemist, horologist, physicist, astronomer, artist, even musician but Hooke provoked intense loyalty, jealousy, controversy and hatred. (…) This tale of intrigue and betrayal explores the captivating C17th world of new science and discovery.” (Take the Space) Chris Barnes gives “an inspired performance to complement some exceptional writing” { British Theatre Guide]

La flor de mi secreto

Having seen many Almodovar movies I couldn’t resist the temptation to watch “La flor de mi secreto” on a big screen during the Spanish Film Festival. Previously, probably about 12 years ago, I watched the movie on video on my small TV. Then I just started learning Spanish, then I watched the whole film without subtitles, and missed a lot. A lot, if not all, of the fantastic dialogues.

On a Tuesday evening 12 years later – equipped with more Spanish – I  sat inside the cinema at the French (!) Institut. This time I could follow all the dialogue…but not because my Spanish had improved that much, but because of the English subtitles, and gosh, did I enjoy that evening!

“La flor de mi secreto” was introduced by the wonderful Marisa Paredes, (winner of 3 x Best Actress) who would also join the audience after the screening for a short 30 min Q&A session.

At the end of a wonderful evening I concluded that it is hard to believe that Almodovar’s „La flor de mi secreto“ is already 18 years old…for me this tragic comedy is fresh and colourful and after having watched all of Almodovar’s movies I got surprised after realising that the black novel (plot: a young mother’s  daughter kills her husband because he tried to rape her, the corps ends up in a fridge) in the movie has the same plot as Almodovar’s “Volver”!!

Before falling asleep that night, I tried to decide which one of the many scenes is to be my favourite one. But I couldn’t. I loved the movie from start to finish. However, I did select the following 3 scenes that particularly stuck to my mind.

1. When the junkie tries to take off Leocadida (Leo’s) boots – you can just about see that one boot comes off but is quickly pushed back on :-).

2. When Leo visits her sister’s (Rosa) small apartment, which she shares with her husband and mother. Look out at how Rosa dresses and has her hair done.

3. After a great artistic performance of Leo’s household help and her son (Joaquin Cortes) we see Rose again dressed up to the occasion and having come straight from the hairdresser, fantastic scene!!

Scence “en casa de Rosa”

Leonardo’s Drawings at Buckingham Palace

Had a lovely Saturday in London with my Spanish friends from San Sebastian, Spain. We set off early to see the Leonardo Da Vinci Drawings at Buckingham Palace. I was in awe!! I can really really really recommend this wonderful exhibition, but hurry, it finishes this Sunday (7th October). Leonardo’s’ drawings of the human body are in exacting detail, you can, for example, admire his drawings of a fetus in utero, the heart and vascular  system, sex organs, and other bone and muscular structures, which some are of the first on human record. Afterwards I kept asking myself: When did this guy sleep? or find the time to paint? or write? or study plants? or architecture? and engineering?

Afterwards, we strolled through St. James’s Park to the National Gallery for a well deserved coffee and muffin and after a visit to Covent Garden and Camden Market – yep, had to do a bit of the touristy program – enjoyed a very late lunch at Ping Pong (dim sums, yummy) at the Southbank.