HoL H20 cosiest restaurant yard

Pedalling home along a tree-lined street which is set aside for bicycles, I heard a crash. A man reaching up to put his brown wine bottle in the brown glass bin had tipped forward and toppled like a tree – at first I thought he must be drunk. He actually flung his legs up in […]

HoL H2O uh berliner kotti

I was walking home up our rainy street when a woman popped her head up and spoke to me. She had the doors to her car standing open and was looking put-upon. “Entschuldigung,” she said, imploringly, “ich habe eine Bitte.” Excuse me: I have a please – a request. “Yes, gladly,” I said, as Germans […]

HoL H2O doorway Europe

Across town today I had the impulse to come through an overgrown island of trees that surrounds a church, and went wheeling my bike along its narrow, littered path where, if I tuned out the traffic, I could feel as if I were in a tiny woods. Someone is living there and had stacked their […]

HoL H2O yellow archway bird

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

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

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]