Monday, April 27, 2009

I bought a bike! (2)

I bought a bike ... this time for real, from eBay, yesterday afternoon. Here it is in all its splendor. I have just been for a test ride and I feel as if I am riding a Harley Davidson - it is one of those sort of bikes. It is a very sturdy bicycle. You sit upright (or almost) on the (very comfortable) seat and feel like the queen, as if you should be waving to passers by as you pedal. Now all I need is a pair of white gloves.
The bike is bigger than it looks. When I sit on the seat my feet are at least 5cm off the ground....

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Yesterday I went on two excursions with different art classes. In the morning the class on Art and our Biosphere went to the Botanic Gardens. The gardens are extensive and beautiful. This sculpture of a shepherd with his lamb was in the 'European' section. The students in this class are a mixture of design and art students and we toured the gardens with the research leader whose enthusiasm for this garden was boundless.
Olive trees don't grown at this latitude (54N) but the olive tree in the Botanic Gardens is in a glass house which is on rails and which can be rolled off the tree in summer.
In the afternoon I joined another group going to the Hamburg Art Gallery. We saw an exhibition of the work of Sigmar Polke called 'Wir Kleinburger' [We Bourgeois] in the Gallery for Modern Art. Our Professor (shown here with his jacket over his shoulder) had known Polke, had been a student of his for a time. We then all traipsed through long corridors, up steps, through a restaurant, down steps, through more galleries to get to the main building and an exhibition called Nicolai Abildgaard, Der Lehrer von Friedrich und Runge. [Nicolai Abildgaard. the teacher of Friedrich und Runge.] I stood in front of the famous painting by Caspar David Friedrich called Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer [The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog] and asked our Professor 'Did Friedrich paint lots of pictures with this motive?".
'No," he replied, "this is THE picture!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tulip time

It is tulip time and by now everyone here is commenting about the weather, how it is more like summer than early spring.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Not Tchibo but maybe eBay

I got a form letter back from Tchibo: 'Aufgrund der großen Nachfrage ist das attraktive Angebot bereits vergriffen, aus diesem Grund können wir Ihnen das angeforderte Holland Fahrrad leider nicht mehr zusenden.' (The bikes have sold out because demand was high.) Well, what did I expect!

Perhaps the bike would not have suited me anyway and I have decided to go and sit on a few bikes in a bike shop before I buy, probably through eBay.


The unfolding leaves on the beech trees shone pinkish in the early morning sun this morning. I opened the roof window for a better look and a chill wind blew in from the cloudless sky.

The village has been overtaken by a different pink. The row of cheery trees look like candy floss on sticks.
Cherry blossom pink seems to look more at home in gardens surrounded by other plants.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What bike?

When I ordered my bike from Tchibo (the coffee shop people) on 14th April I got an email confirming they had my order and telling me I would be contacted by a transport company to arrange a time to deliver the bike. On 16th April after waiting for two days for the transport people to call I got another another email from Tchibo saying 'sorry, the bikes have sold out'!

I would have thought that a slick company like Tchibo would have stock management systems that refused orders (or at least didn't confirm them) once stock had sold. Hmmm. My formerly warm feelings towards Tchibo have cooled considerably. I am wondering just how many Holland-Fahrrad were actually for sale?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I bought a bike!

(Photo from Tchibo website.)
Yesterday I spent ages looking for the university second hand bike shop but I discovered when found it that it was a repair workshop and the second hand bikes they had were expensive. Then I saw a Bikes For Sale sign in the Tchibo coffee shop, celebrating Tchibo's 60th birthday. The bikes are simple but robust and I bought one (online) as soon as I got home. Now I am waiting for a call from the delivery company. The sale sign is gone both from the shops and from the website as the bikes have sold out, even though the sale lasts until end of May. Tchibo is one of the companies that continues to do very well despite the downturn - they have clever marketing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


On Wednesday I am starting in the print workshop. Gray-black tree trunks, woodland paths, early spring colours; these are the images that keep reappearing as I consider where to begin.

Spring is sprung

It only takes a few warm days and suddenly early blossom is everywhere and the leaves start unfolding. As I rode my borrowed bicycle along the hedgerows and fields today I felt an overwhelming gladness. These fields feel like a piece of home to me, even though it is so long since I lived here. This afternoon there were a lot of people out walking, riding bikes or guiding children on horses. The sun is shining and it is easy to forget that the world is beset by financial and environmental crises.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter table

In Germany Easter is celebrated almost as much as Christmas. Tables are set, eggs are coloured, easter bunnies appear from under the bushes. Yellow is a predominant colour - daffodils and forsythia.

Early Easter Sunday

Early on Easter Sunday morning the sun was shining on the daffodils

and Feldweg 78 was crisp and beautiful.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Die Raupe

The sun is out, the buds are swelling .... and some of them host little caterpillars like this one.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm in!

After three days of running up and down staircases in tall art school buildings, I am now officially registered as a guest student. I consider myself very lucky as the school, and particularly the painting department, is over subscribed and really had no guest-student places to offer. I was told several times that getting a place would be impossible, but in the end I was able to sneak in. My experience in Germany has often been that if people see you are really keen they do their very best to help you. But you have to be keen!

I am not exactly sure where the boundaries are for a guest student and the information on available courses and lectures is not exactly easy to understand, so the next weeks will be a learning experience. I was told the school is the free-est in Germany. I believe it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lots of walking for little return

I found my way to the Hamburg University of Fine Arts today. It is about 43 minutes train ride from where I live and housed in great big old buildings with high ceilings and enormous corridors. As I wandered up and down the stairs trying to find someone to ask where the admin office is I kept thinking how many studios you could fit into those wide corridors. Although the term has started the whole place was empty. People are on their Easter break and there is not much happening until after Easter. I couldn't even register as the admin office is only open Tues/Wed/Thurs. I asked for information and was told that everything is online now as there is no money available to print lecture schedules.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Through my eyes

This is what I see as I write ... the view from the window of my host's study.

The village of Rissen, about 10 minutes walk away.

Spring flowers outside a grocery store. The shop displays are so charming that window shopping is a real pleasure.

Happiness is ...

... an attic bedroom in a good friend's house.

Friday, April 03, 2009


I had a good flight to Frankfurt. I flew in one of those A380 huge aircraft to Singapore and it was so much more comfortable than the normal jumbos that I would actively search to book on an A380 next time I fly. The rest of the flight was in a normal jumbo and I was so tired I slept most of the way. Despite this I slept 13 hours last night ... and am still feeling sleepy.
Why does flying (and eating 3 dinners in a row) make one so hungry? I seem to have eaten enough to feed two cattle beasts this morning.