A room of one's own


"Sometimes I imagine living in a big house with a room at the top for myself where I could work undisturbed. In winter, I could nestle in its warmth and hear the sad song of the wind and rain lashing against my window. Sometimes I would awaken to a thick covering of snow which had silently come to occupy the city while I was sleeping and would rush out to the park to watch groups of children making snowmen or sledging. In autumn, I could observe the changing palette of the trees like an expressionist painting developing before my eyes. In spring, there would be the joyous explosion of colour accompanied by people sitting outside on café terraces and aimlessly strolling hand in hand. In summer, the evenings would be filled with the gentle caresses of the setting sun followed by the melancholy tenderness of moonlight. I could sit outside on the balcony, watching the people on the street below or close my eyes and simply listen to the hum of the city around me."

Those were the first words of a diary I wrote all too sporadically last year. I often regret not being more disciplined with keeping it up to date becauseI find it interesting to go back, even just a few months and rediscover those feelings and sides of yourself which you'd forgotten. My longing for a place of my own is familiar to you but now I can finally tell you that the dream is coming true. Two rooms and 50 square metres just for me. The area I'm moving (back) to is however, nothing new. During my time in Berlin, it has been an important location; it was there that I first stayed for my visit in 2006 and where J. and I moved together in summer 2007. Every time I leave, there's a terrible sadness at the thought that I'm closing the door on a chapter of my life and yet I always seem to end up returning to it. This time though I will be alone. Back in the days when I shared it with J., I would often cook things for us in the evenings like moussaka or lasagne and suddenly feel excited hearing the sound of footsteps on the stairs, imagining that a few seconds later the front door would open. Those days are gone but I still feel it's somewhere I can truly make my own. From my top floor window, I remember how much I loved watching the shoppers on Saturday and families on Sunday walking back and forth, seeing the people down below play volleyball in the hotter months and waking up to glorious sunrise over Alexanderplatz in the distance.

I'll miss my neighbourhood too though. Charlottenburg has been good to me these past two years. The market, my beloved bookstores, the Schlosspark, the Indian restaurant; of course, I can come back whenever I like but somehow it's different not having them on your doorstep. I'm trying not to feel nostalgic already though and simply enjoy the remaining time here. I've been taking a few trips to places on my list for a quite a while. 8 days ago, it was to the area around the ICC trade fair in the West. The exhibition hall is a metal hump of a building but somehow I'm fond of it because of its appearence in Wenders' Himmel Über Berlin (Wings of Desire). The evening I went there was the end of a swelteringly hot day with barely a cloud in the sky but by evening a storm was brewing and it was simply nice to feel the breeze in your hair again. In spite of the fairly modern architecture and the traffic, I felt at home here. Now all I need is the room of my own.

Hotting up...

The calm before the storm

At the Avus, a former racing track close to the trade fair

Evening falls on Theodor Heuss Platz

Peonies are my favourite flowers. I bought these last week and loved having their wonderful scent fill the kitchen and watch them burst open just after being put into water.

At the market on Karl August Platz this morning

Normally, I don't take pictures of people but this girl with her lovely hat and box of strawberries charmed me so I couldn't resist getting a shot.

Luckily, last Saturday was a touch cooler so I made another recipe from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries. I'm so addicted to this book, I think I could happily use only his recipes. It might seem strange to make a hot dessert like a cobbler in summer but cooked fruit with a light topping and some whipped cream is an irresistable combination for me, plus it's something you can put together in no time. I expected it to good but it was amazingly delicious and my only regret was being too full for second helpings. Those of you keen to get another recipe should go to Lazaro's blog to find my guest post. His blog is always inspirational and full of wonderful things so I felt very honoured when he invited me to write something.

Peach and blueberry sour cream cobbler (from Nigel Slater's the Kitchen Diaries)

3 ripe peaches
250g blueberries
the juice of a lemon
a heaped tablespoon of sugar
a heaped tablespoon of plain flour

For the cobbler crust

250g plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
6 tablespoons butter
a small container of sour cream (around 100g)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. To make the crust, place the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and mix together then add in the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture ressembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Slice the peaches, remove the stones and place them in an ovenproof dish. Add in the blueberries, lemon juce and sugar and give everything a good mix with a spoon so it's evenly coated.
3. Mix in the sour cream to the crust mixture until it forms a soft dough. Break off pieces about the size of a walnut, flattern them a little in the palm of you hand and place gently on top of the fruit. Continue until you've used all the dough and the fruit is covered with a crust. Sprinkle some sugar on top and bake in the oven for approx. 25 minutes when the top should be golden and the fruit bubbling. Serve with ice cream or whipped double cream.


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