Visitors, visitors, visitors

Today is the first day, without people visiting us.

On Saturday my sister and her husband were here, because he had to shut down his professional apartment in Berlin and move to his new job headquarters near Munich. We had a nice roast beef with carot vegetables.

On Sunday the Prenzler family was here and helped us to build a few furnitures from Ikea, as a reward we had a wild boar leg with ratatouille and potatoes. And for those who do not like Ratatouille, there was still some carots left from the day before.

After clearing the apartment Petra and Thomas were with us again on Monday, but this time we did not cook, but Thomas invited us to dinner in return for my assistance in the final inspection of his flat. We went to Schneeweiß, a restaurant very well visited for a Monday, obviously because it is recommended in many foreign travel guides, but the food is absolutely worth it.

After breakfast on Tuesday both then wanted to go for the final handing over of the Pankow apartment. This was however disturbed by the fact that some thieves had smashed the rear window of Thomas’ company car and stole the navigation system, radio and a couple of suits. There were obviously professionals at work.

After all this excitement we enjoy being alone again.

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Deadlines

28/01/2013 (Mon)

Today is again a Monday not moving over to Hamburg. The occasion is an appointment with the ENT woman doctor in preparation for the sleep lab. And she did find some things that could be important in relation to breath disorders. This requires of course some more tests. Maybe these then will bring more opportunities to stay a day longer in Berlin.

29/1/2013 (Tue)

In Hamburg, back again for a week of hard work on a deadline. We were successful last year with a proposal, being one of three that were selected from hundreds of applicants. Unfortunately we had overlooked a clause that limited the allowable day rates for personnel. The European Commission had negotiated the project accordingly, but unfortunately one of our partners took this as an opportunity to withdraw from the project.

The EU wants the project to go through, my boss wants it, so a new start with a reworked proposal. Unfortunately, my boss was in Brussels for 10 days before the deadline and furthermore caught a nasty virus, so I’m suddenly had to lead the proposal work with the support of a colleague. So long working days, today and tomorrow.

30/01/2013 (Wed)

I had been promised the numbers for Monday, when I did not get them, I had set a deadline for Wednesday 16:00 h, finally the data were dispatched past 17:00h. Then incorporated into the documented and loaded up to the Commission server. The submission of proposals nowadays is mostly electronic and usually it is good practice to upload a version in time to avoid heavy loadsjust before closing time. In another large research framework program one may upload a newer version again and again until the final deadline. But not here: uploaded, the got the message: now you are no longer allowed to, the proposal is locked in its current state!. Well, fortunately everything needed was in the document, the only thing I wanted to do still was nothing but polishing.

In the evening, I went to the Italian Mercato Ristorante once again, but this again lost a point: I feel slightly deceived if they give the impression that a menu depending on market conditions has been developed by shoowing the disheswritten on a blackboard. But then, if after a week it still says exactly the same thing, then I think it is nothing but a bad marketing ploy.

31.01.2013 (Thursday)

Today, as I had the deadline, I had postponedan appointment especially from the morning to the afternoon, to allowfor the last finishing touches to the proposal. But, as it was already locked the day before, I had some time to relax. Incidentally, for those interested: the application was on the subject of “Knowledge Alliances” as part of the Erasmus programme. In this project, courses are developed in partnership with industry to train entrepreneurs.

The appointment I had postponed was one with a professor with whom I cooperate on another project, the meeting focussing on personnel and staffing issues. The Prof had gone into retirement last year and his graduate students obviously had put together a book of his research career through the research papers he published over the yeara. And he gave me a copy, I thought that was a nice touch.

02/01/2013 (Fri)

Today is the most beautiful day of the week it is homeward!!

2/2/2013 (Sat)

Linus am Computer

Hanna received an unexpected Skype call today from an old classmate whom shhe deemed in Costa Rica. And of course she has invited him for lunch/dinner at our place at once. Otherwise, we had a leisurely day, also with computer games, when Linus is extremely fond of lying between us and tries to make using the mouse difficult for Hanna. To eat, we had a very simple but extremely tasty dish: pasta with a sauce of bacon, mushrooms, pine nuts, parsley, garlic and sour cream, topped with freshly ground parmesan cheese.

Pasta with bacon and mushrooms

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The week after

You would think that I would enjoy the newly renovated apartment once done. But no, the week from the 21st was the first full five-day week in Hamburg in 2013. So everything was back to “Normal”.

***

21/01/2013 (Mon)

The first full week of work in Hamburg and it begins likek that as well: the train stops on the open track, of course not far from the destination. Obviously, the train driver had to check some brakes for malfunction. Result was a delay of 30 minutes. No, exactly, it was one of 29 minutes. Have you announcements? 9 minutes then become “about 5″ and 29 “about 25″.

Next to me on the train were two models talking in English. One was obviously from Toronto and one from Austria. They talked about their jobs, the agencies and photographers. And the job can probably be pretty hard, one was afraid of a date the next day, where she was booked for photographs of summer fashion. Fear because the photographer obviously loves the outdoors, shooting the light garment in the sub-zero temperatures we had then. What struck me about the girls was that they are very tall and, well, were very slim, but that they had had completely featureless faces. Must be so, so that the makeup people can express themselves freely.

***

22/1/2013 (Tue)

In Harburg, I tried a new Italian restaurant, the Ristorante Mercato in Neue Strasse. Decorated like a typical trattoria, of course with red checkered tablecloths, many bottles, Ferrari models to a full-blown Vespa. I had very good spaghetti vongole, with a lot of fresh garlic and a little on the sharp side. For dessert there was a parfait, with outside coconut on the outside and inside with a Limoncello cream. Delicious.

***

24/01/2013 (Thursday)

And nothera visit to the Ristorante Mercato, although I usually go really rarely eat dinner. This time I took the test that I perform always with Italians: the Carbonara test. Taking German shool notes,I would give this a 2- (“just about good”). Actually, they were good, but unfortunately the Parmigiano was already added to the pasta in the kitchen, I’d prefer to do it myself at the table.

***

25/01/2013 (Fri)

For the return trip on Friday I have now discovered a pleasant ICE. Usually the trains to Berlin leave Hamburg shortly after the hour, but since beginning of the new timetable this one goes at 14:38. Since it’s obviously not as well known, it is so beautifully empty that I (on Friday!!) do not need to make a reservation and have a whole table to myself. Ok, this one takes a little longer because of stops in Ludwigslust and Wittenberg, but the train scheduled half an hour later I could not take because all the seats were booked.

***

26/01/2013 (Sat)

How I missed it! When I used to live in Hamburg, I had a regular card playing evening, a German game called Doppelkopf for which you need four people. We met monthly in turns and had lots of fun. Here in Berlin we had tried several times but we were never successful in finding a round. Today we had Manuela and Michellewho usually clean our flat. This time it was a private visit with Flo and it turned out to be a fun round, so that I hopeit can also become a regular institution. The food in between, the wontons, I’ve already briefly mentioned above.

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Vietnam

For our card playing evening last Saturday night Hannah had promised to make wontons, small Chinese dumplings with various fillings. But where to get her the dough if you do not want to do yourself?

Last time I rented a car, it was from Enterprise Rental in Herzbergstrasse in Berlin-Lichtenberg. On my way there I passed a factory gate, with “Dong Xuan Center” written on it. So I have searched the net and found the website.

So we went there and strolled through just two of the many halls. Here one finds not only Vietnamese grocery stores, but clothes, many nail salons (the Vietnamese seem to be specialized in nails), flashing Asian kitsch, whatever. And this is not limited to Vietnam, we have found an Indian store selling vegetables from India and claiming to operate the only Indian restaurant in Berlin, which serves authentic Indian food cooked with original ingredients in an authentic Indian cuisine. This we want to try some time for sure!

So if you are looking for something Asian or simply want to enjoy the atmosphere: well worth a visit.

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All new in 2013

After spending two nice and quiet weeks together in Berlin, we are now back in the normal work routine.

Last week was very busy, on the one hand, I had to submit an application along with a scientist from Switzerland, a research project on cloud computing, which had cost me almost the whole weekend, and we also had our flat renovated from fron to rear within five days. But that was absolutely necessary, as you can see on the wall with where we took down the pictures.

Living room before redocaration

The first time I had “full service”. Two men took care of the painting and moving the furniture, and the two women who usually clean up with us stood by to empty the furniture, clean it and fill it again. To make the whole thing more effective Flo and Andrew have even stayed with us, the guest room was not only used as a storage room for various things that were removed from elsewhere, but also as a craftsmen sleeping room overnight.

Guestroom during redecoration

I’d been sitting at the computer and worked (ok, sometimes also played) and all decorating activities were going on in the background. And four and a half days later the apartment was renovated, and the proposal delivered.

Thanks to Flo, Andrew, Manuela and Michelle!

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Week from Oct 29 to Nov 4

Somehow starting into November also means starting into the most difficult month of the year. I bet you know it all (in central to Northern Europe): the warmth has gone but the real cold not yet arrived. You gain an hour during the last weekend in October due to the change of time, but what do you gain if you have to get up in the dark to go to work in the coming weeks and when you finish work, it will be dark again.

***

Of course it happened as it should have been expected. Last week Monday I did not feel too well and stayed at home for fear of my catching a virus. Hanna had a court appointment as a (reserve) lay judge, so that I thought that I did not even could enjoy her company being forced (or able) to stay in Berlin. Fortunately the case (about corruption) ended in a deal, so that she was back rather soon. From next year Hanna will move from reserve to regular qand then will have to go to court more often. Well, usaually I am not at home anyway.

***

Tuesday I still did not feel well enough to go to Hamburg. And in the evening Hanna as well had to lie down. But the preventve measures obviously had worked as neither Hanna nor I showed further symptoms during the next days.

***

Wednesday I went to Hamburg yet, due to the lack of symptoms. Wednesday and afterwards Thursday were strange days for me. Wednesday was Reformation Day, a day which was not a holiday during my school time, but everyone in school together went to church that day. In the meantime this day has become a symbol for some loss many of us “Westerners” had with reunification. We lost a holiday in November (Repentance Day) while some of the “new Länder” took the opportunity to declare the 31st of october a public holiday. I had to go to Hamburg however, especially as I had an appointment on Thursday with one of the professors at the university.

***

Again I was confronted with the German holiday situation. AllSaint’s Day it was, a holiday not only in Brussels with the European Commission, but also in the southern parts of our Federal Republc. However, neither in Hamburg nor in Berlin. Maybe someone should start a scientific study concerning the fact that the German Länder with the most public holidays, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, are also those with the strongest economoies. Just chance?

***

When walking to the university I had the impression to watch a live crime story: On the main road just about 300yards from our office a dark van was block by three heavy limousines with flashing blue lights on their roofs. 2 persons first had their hands against the van and afterwards were being handcuffed. Those shackling them were in civilian clothes, just one or two had warning vests with POLICE written on them. But most noticable was that all policemen were wearing balaclavas, so that I instinctively looked for photographers or TV teams. However, I did not see any.

***

Thursday night I took the train back to Berlin as I had booked a car for Friday morning. Originally we had planned to to drive towards Karlsruhe for the birthday of Hanna’s cousin. But we did not have the southern holiday mentioned above, which meant that it would have been slightly exhausting for me, not only for Hanna. Therefore we had chenged our plans and took Dagmar and Hans-Peter for dinner, something we had planned for two years now. But that never worked out as Dagmar became seriously ill. Now it was posiible and all loved the evening.

***

During the weekend we cancelled all plans for excursions and similar and just chilled, as one say in modern lingo. But probably that is one of the best things to do in November anyway.

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Lecture in an Anglican Church in Hamburg with an Australian Chaplain

Anglican Church Thomas Becket Hamburg

Wednesday I was in church again, first time in years, in the Anglican Church Thomas Becket in Hamburg. Reason however was not a service, but a lecture about the British occupation of Hamburg. The lecture was part of a series of events on occasion of the 400th anniversary of the church in Hamburg (you might realize that Hamburg has an anglophile attitude traditionally).

Of course I had lived in Hamburg for a long time and therefore was interested in the topic. But normally I would not have heard of this lecture if my English boss had not had a significant part in the preparation of the festivities. So it happened that my company had lent a beamer for the Occasion which I could take back in the evening after the event.

The lecture could have been realy interesting and good. But the experience was hampered quite a bit by the lack of fluency in the English language of the speaker, Dr Michael Ahrens. Even if he wrote his PhD thesis on the topic, he had to ask for words quite often and therefore the talk lacked a bit of levity and esprit, especially when trying to tell anecdotes.

However, the church’s chaplain gave an introduction to the evening, which itself was worth attending. Reverend Matthew Jones came from Australia a short while ago and he talked lively about the differentes in the parishes. In Australia he was at the oldest church in the country, about 150 old. And then he comes to Europe, to Hamburg, which is an Anglican diaspora, only to find a congregation of more than double the age and church bukt in 1838. And then he suddenly is confronted with problems like how to heat the church, something he had not encountered before in his professional life.

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Heavy duty bicycle

Offroad Bicycle

Good that we had cleared our terrace yesterday as a former colleague of mine visited us today. He came to us by bike from another part of Berlin with his bike which is suitable for heavy terrain, even when he only had to use “civilised” roads on his way here.

Somehow from time to time we happen to come across muscle-powered offroad vehicles like the monowheel below which we encountered on station in Berlin some years ago. Obviously both have no rims, maybe a speciality of Surly Bikes.

Mountain Monocycle

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Preparations

Clematis

If you just see the picture of the Clematis above in her full effort to produce nice blossoms, one would think the spring has just begun. But, to the contrary, yesterday we have prepared our terrace for winter with the help of some neighbours.

Terrace prepared for winter (1)

Particularly remarkable is the absence of our terrace’s landmark, the Oleander. But gone are also several Fuchsiaes, Hortensiaes, Dipladenias, not to forget such tasteful small plants as our strawberry. All have been removed to the surrounding staircases.

Terrace prepared for winter (2)

One or the other of our readers or visitors remembering the sight from summer might think that the terrace is looking very tidied.

Usually we combine the tidying up with the end of the BBQ season, so we had one of the last BBQs as well yesterday. AMong others we had spicy shrimps with hot sauces and Canadian maple syrup.

Scampi

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Revival

Ok, this blog has been sleeping for about 4 years now. Main reason was that I felt that not enough people were interested in this one. Well, maybe that has changed, therefore I will start to translate interesting posts from our German blog and publish them here as well. And, as is an important thing with blogs: comments show that people have been here and think stuff interesting. Or even write that they don’t give a damn.

Enjoy!

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