Just before I say goodbye...


There is so much to do, so much to say and so much to bake and yet the minutes are slipping by even as I write. I find myself in a race against time and (reluctantly) have to accept that it isn't one that I'm going to win. I promised you another recipe but that will have to wait; this week food has been the thing most lacking in my life and often I had trouble getting the opportunity to eat anything at all in the day, let alone something inspiring and more complicated things had to wait until the evening when photos were no longer really possible. But I wouldn't like to leave you without saying goodbye and turning my focus to the (for me!) real meaning of Christmas - sheer capitalist greed or in plain English, what I'd like as presents. This may seem egocentric but as Pia rightly said, Christmas is the only time when we can make wish lists without having a complex so here goes:

Top of my list has to be a camera. OK, I only got a new one in the summer but you can never have too many, right? Actually, before I started this blog, I'd never really taken photos before but now the very sight of a camera shop makes me go weak at the knees, especially the fabulous one at Viktoria Luise Platz. Seeing Julia's amazing photos makes me dream of getting a Canon EOS 350 or any nice DSLR, although I have the feeling Santa might already be over budget this year so it will have to be a present to myself in 2010.

Linked to cameras are books on photography. One of the best books I read this year was Robert Capa's Slightly Out of Focus which was funny, touching and compelling. I lust after Magnum Magnum, amazing books on Henri Cartier Bresson and also the cityscapes of Andreas Feininger. It won't come as a surprise to regular readers that I'm not a very technical person - my toothbrush is more hi-tech than my mobile phone and that lovely Robert Doisneau picture someone gave me is still on my floor because I haven't quite managed to get the three nails in the correct places and after making a lot of holes in my wall, I'm hoping for a kind visitor to offer to help me out. Therefore, learning more about technical aspects of photography is a must. I never expected Andreas Feininger's Foto Lehre to be so interesting or readable so have already got my eye on his große Fotolehre. Let's hope his influence rubs off on me ;-)

There's also the question of mugs and crockery. Since I don't have my dream apartment, beautiful things to eat and drink from are essential. This year, I started my collection of mugs and am completely addicted to the Penguin Classics ones so want to expand my collection very soon. My favourite is the one from the incredible Barter Books in Alnwick which is perfect for tall teas to accompany your winter reading curled up on the sofa. You could also surely do no better than the beautiful one on Patoumi's blog with the wooden cover.

Highlights of my reading list this year were two new books by my some of my favourite authors, even though they've been dead for some time. While I don't agree with the Frankfurter Allgemeine that Meine Preise is Thomas Bernhard's best book, it's certainly one of them and full of humour and his usual provocativeness which I love so much. True Bernhardologists also shouldn't be without Thomas Bernhard: Leben und Werke in Bildern und Texten with amazing pictures from the places which inspired him, like his house in Ohlsdorf which I visited from the outisde this year, alongside extracts from his writings. I covet this book every time I go into Dussmann but somehow manage to find the self-control to resist buying it. No lover of germanophone literature can have missed the Herzzeit Briefwwechsel between Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan. While I'm a great admirer of both poets, even those who feel intimidated by their complex works and sombre tone will find something touching in these letters of two people who loved each other so deeply but could not find the words or the way to stay together. Einmal muß das Fest ja kommen: eine Reise zu Ingeborg Bachmann is an amazing book that I'm always drawn to, a travel journal to the places and her works for those who find amazing beauty in her dark and difficult texts.

As an insatiable Proustian, I'm always on the lookout for new and inspiring books. While Proust Among the Stars is in my opinion, one of the very best books ever written about the Recherche, top of my list after the camera has to be Painitings in Proust, beautifully illuminating his amazing words with the paintings to which they are so closely linked and it's perfect for Proustians and also those new to his work.

If I had a bigger place to live and a strong coffee table, I would almost certainly order myself a copy of the Ingmar Bergman Archive, a 5 kg heavyweight book full of amazing photos and complete texts of the gloomy Swedish director that I can't seem to get enough of.

Tomorrow will be my last night in Berlin before I leave for the UK and will be away from this blog for the next week. Somehow it always hurts a little whenever I leave my beloved city. I think of all the days and evenings without it when my footsteps won't echo in it's empty streets and all the buildings that I'll miss seeing every day. Yet I know Berlin is part of me now and that it will never leave me, wherever I may go. On my way to the Christmas market tonight, I looked out from my usual U-Bahn route to the skyscarpers of Potsdamer Platz, one of the places I visited on my first visit to Berlin in 2006. Back then it seemed too modern and lacking in charm but now I somehow find it a comfort to see the green light at the top of the Daimler building and the bright roof of the Sony Center when I look across the skyline. I remember my last day in Berlin. It was a grey, wet day but I walked through Tiergarten to the Siegesäule with the pattering of the drops on my umbrella crossing only were reluctant cyclists. At that time, it seemed unlikely I would ever return and it seemed so cruel to leave this place so full of unexplored horizons and energy. But now it's mine to return to next year when I will have seen and done so much; it will be waiting for me and I'm sure that my heart will beat faster, just like it did when I finally moved here in 2007 and set eyes on the dome of the Reichstag after a long journey from Basel; it was truly of the happiest moments of my life and I find it hard to express the emotion. There's simply nothing like the feeling of coming home.


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