HoL H2O yellow archway bird
4

Had to change trains twice to get home and I was reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, great, familiar, female, underrated. On the second train I glanced up when somebody laughed and saw a short, beautiful African man gazing longingly at me. It was so startling. I hurried back to Cranford, the village where the old […]

HoL H2O syrian platter
4

This is the lunch I had today, in a Saturday cafe set up by a refugees welcome committee (one of the many) in Berlin. When I ordered, a smiling Syrian woman plump and beautiful in her brown scarf came out to me carrying this bowl: a dish I had never eaten before, and when I […]

HoL H2O apple heart feather
6

On the subway a woman suddenly opened her mouth and began to sing. Her voice was tentative and good. She had a little loudspeaker rigged up through her mobile phone and had set herself to perform some songs in her own native Spanish. She was rugged up like the rest of us in a puffy […]

hol-h2o-fez-archway-brides
6

The young man in the place where we are staying is Moroccan and comes from the desert, which he describes to me as ‘sympa’, sympathetic, a kind place. As opposed to the hustle and throng of the medina where people greet us ‘welcome, welcome,’ and return smiles with great warmth and ease and employ the […]

hol-h2o-jpw-felix-unterm-tisch

I’ve joined a Facebook group which posts pictures of people’s dogs. The rules are long and repetitive: only dog pics and pics of dogs being doggish and cute: no lost dog posts, no questions about dog food… just hounds. In the last week this group has taught me all kinds of new vocabulary. Boop is […]

hol-h2o-train-lamp-clock

In the supermarket carrying my two jars of honey, because it’s been nonstop chai masala weather, I fetched up queuing behind a guy in a vinyl blouson jacket who had just unloaded his entire cart. He turned his back on me to demonstrate that there was no way he would be letting me in front […]

HoL H2O jpw bird in hand

Went for a long wander in the forest with a local acquaintance to guide me. We climbed Berlin’s highest peak, which sounds more dramatic than it is. The lake is called Muggelsee and I had to use actions rather than words to explain what is a muggins, or muggles, in English: the kind of affectionate […]

HoL H2O three tablespoons

My parents have a spare room which they have been eager to put to use as Dad’s medical expenses mount, so I offered to manage it for them as an Airbnb listing. Airbnb has been so problematic in rapidly gentrifying areas of Berlin that it’s actually been outlawed: developers were buying up whole buildings and […]

HoL H2O kirstin birthday bokeh

Walked into a Turkish convenience store late on Friday night, they sold water pipes as well as a dazzling array of alcohols and sundry sweet snackettes… behind the counter stood a very untall & wizened woman wearing a scarf, her hands on the counter at chest height in front of her, and beside her a […]

HoL H2O jar of spanish bloom
7

Heavy in the heart today and the German man I ran into at the mailboxes, who returned my hello so cheerfully, was a shaft of light. Coming through the heavy courtyard doors a moment later he met me and my bicycle coming out, and backed up his bulging wheeled suitcase, his handful of mail, his […]