Weekend Playlist 24.01.16

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Sunday ♥️

This morning I practiced flipping pancakes, I’m getting quite good at it.

I ate some with brown sugar and some with regular sugar and lemon. And drank copious amounts of sweet tea.

Later my friend Maaike is coming over to help me eat the rest of the pancakes. Maaike is very spiritual, and reads a lot about numerology, astrology, energies and lights, and tells me about them. Whether you’re into all things less tangible, I think self-reflection is always a good thing. Understanding how and why you respond to the world and energies around you 🙂 She and I emit the same frequency, she says, and that’s why we get along so well.

Maaike likes to joke that she pursued me aggressively as a friend, playground-style. For some reason she decided that she and I should be friends, that she liked my aura! And so she told me, and that was that. I’m quite a, I don’t want to say repressed, but kind of introverted person, but I took to Maaike very easily, she’s the kind of person who just lets you be whatever and whoever you are. I’m also not a very touchy person, so she likes to ‘Fockerise’ me. I think it’s working. Anyways. My point, I seem to have lost it. I think the one I was trying to get at, convolutedly so, is that self-reflection is a great thing, but so is getting out of your own head. And for that, there’s music.

Here are a few of the songs that have soothed, comforted, energised me and made me dance around while making pancakes this weekend:

Patti Smith is great for making pancakes, or just in general.

And then, sometimes, lyrics will jump out at you and make you realise what you’re feeling, or have felt. Or just make you wonder 🙂 And Annie Lennox is a beautiful, bittersweet unicorn:

Some things are better left unsaid
But they still turn me inside out.

How beautiful is that?

P.s.: The photo is of sea ice frost flowers, from Nick Cobbing’s gorgeous instagram account.

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The Ambition Bird

I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the past few nights.

It happens sometimes, when i’m not aware that something is on my mind, or when I am 🙂 I always liked to stay awake when everyone else was asleep. Have you ever read Tom’s Midnight Garden? It’s a children’s book from the 1950’s that my mum got for me when I was about 11, about a young boy who goes to stay with his aunt and uncle, and discovers that he can enter a beautiful Victorian garden whenever the grandfather clock strikes 13 at midnight. He befriends a young girl called Hatty, in this midnight garden, and whenever he goes back it’s at a different time, and she gets older. The whole book has a strange and lovely, almost ethereal feel to it. I guess that’s that feeling I get from being awake late at night, when everyone else is asleep. A feeling like dark blue. Everything is quiet, it’s when I’m at my most productive. At university I would stay up to write essays until 7am, although I’m not very good at sleeping during the day to catch up on sleep afterwards. So it’s not very sustainable 🙂 Now, with a 9:30am-6pm job, I’ve gotten better at going to bed early. But it’s different when you’re unable to sleep because your head is buzzing with thoughts, and your heart is beating fast and loud in your ears.

A few nights ago I was looking through a book of poems by Anne Sexton. I love Anne Sexton. She writes some of the most honest things I’ve ever read. And also really beautiful, in the way that truth and honesty can be. Not very polished, but raw.

Anyways, this one is called The Ambition Bird. It sprang back into my mind last night, as I couldn’t sleep.

It goes:

 

So it has come to this —
insomnia at 3:15 A.M.,
the clock tolling its engine

like a frog following
a sundial yet having an electric
seizure at the quarter hour.

The business of words keeps me awake.
I am drinking cocoa,
that warm brown mama.

I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box.

It is my immortality box,
my lay-away plan,
my coffin.

All night dark wings
flopping in my heart.
Each an ambition bird.

The bird wants to be dropped
from a high place like Tallahatchie Bridge.

He wants to light a kitchen match
and immolate himself.

He wants to fly into the hand of Michelangelo
and come out painted on a ceiling.

He wants to pierce the hornet’s nest
and come out with a long godhead.

He wants to take bread and wine
and bring forth a man happily floating in the Caribbean.

He wants to be pressed out like a key
so he can unlock the Magi.

He wants to take leave among strangers
passing out bits of his heart like hors d’oeuvres.

He wants to die changing his clothes
and bolt for the sun like a diamond.

He wants, I want.
Dear God, wouldn’t it be
good enough to just drink cocoa?

I must get a new bird
and a new immortality box.
There is folly enough inside this one.

I guess I’m digesting the year that was, and feeling more thin-skinned as the year rounds off. Things are resurfacing, or surfacing, thoughts about the past, and the future. Sometimes I think how beautiful it would be to only think about the now. But then where would we be 🙂

And yet. Wouldn’t it be
good enough to just drink cocoa?

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Beautiful Berlin (Or: That Time I Ate All The Food)

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Last weekend I went to Berlin to visit some friends and family (my brother and sister in law live there, so I try to go once a year). And boy did I eat. This also happened the last time I went – I don’t think Berlin is famous for good food, but it should be!

The sun shined gloriously most of the time I was there, and we even had to take our coats off at one point as we sat in the sun drinking an apfelschorle, after walking around for hours playing tourist (Checkpoint Charlie: check; The Jewish Memorial: check; Under den Linden: check; East Side Gallery: check).

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I’m not very good at remembering to take a picture of my food before I eat whatever I’m about to eat, so alas, I have no photographic evidence. But I have addresses! And some were just too good not to share. So here goes 🙂

DINNER

I’ve been to Berlin twice before, and last time I went, for my brother’s birthday, we had THE BEST Mexican food this side of the equator. I kid you not. I find that good Mexican food really isn’t all that easy to come by in Northern/Western Europe, none that I’ve tried anyway, other than really mediocre Tex-Mex that could very likely give you salmonella (true story).

But thankfully Maria Bonitas is nothing of the sort, and I highly recommend that you try it, should you find yourself in that neck of the woods. It’s a tiny sort of ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant, with a few seats inside, if you’re lucky, and two or three tables outside during the Summer months. Located in Prenzlauer Berg, their motto is ‘Eat More Tacos’ – and we did. I had the tinga de pollo burrito (slow cooked chicken with caramelised onions and refried beans), with guacamole and tortilla chips. Portions are massive, almost so much so that I wish they had a ‘I’m very hungry but maybe slightly more medium-hungry than that’-sized portion, because as good as it is, I didn’t manage to finish, this time or last. Although the boys seemed to have less trouble. Long story short: well worth the trip, and I’m most definitely going back 🙂

Tacos

BREAKFAST

On Saturday we had breakfast in a lovely little place that is well worth a visit, Malinikoff, a sort of German-French café on Helmholtzplatz. I had a croissant with butter and blackberry jam which I’m still dreaming about, blackberry jam is my jam (pun intended). I also had a big old cappuccino, a fresh pear juice, and lots of bread and butter. The others had soft-boiled eggs and fresh fruit with yoghurt, but I was too wrapped up in my carb-fest to try any of their stuff. Apparently their food was also delicious, and the service was super friendly (a rare treat in Berlin 😉 ).

SNACK TIME

Another little gem is the Hokey Pokey ice cream parlour, which just happened to reopen after the Winter hiatus on the very Saturday we were there! We had the salted caramel ice cream, which was so good that we’d planned on going back the next day. But then it rained and we got side-tracked by other culinary delights. I’m told they also sometimes do a salted caramel with sour plums ice cream, which is apparently to die for. Next time!

LUNCH

We also visited the street food fair in the KulturBrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg, which is on every two weeks on Sundays – and luckily for us fell on the Sunday we were there. We had these amazing pulled pork burgers from a big green van, the name of which I’ve unfortunately forgotten (but it’s this green one, at the bottom!). The others had the Southern pulled pork burger with coleslaw and BBQ sauce, and I had the Classic: homemade burger bun, BBQ sauce, succulent pulled pork with green salad and slices of crisp apple. It was the bomb.com, and totally made up for the rain and wind and frozen legs and feet, and we ate them huddled around a gas heater under a parasol. No regrets.

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LOPPIS (flea market) AND GLÜHWEIN

After the street food fair we strolled around the flea market in Mauerpark, and I unexpectedly found a stall selling Danish salty licorice (!!!!), so I was VERY happy. I also bought some fridge magnets with dancing cows and robots on them, and some old tins. Although I’ve imposed an ‘old tin-embargo’ on myself, because I have such a ridiculous amount of old tins in my apartment that it’s becoming a problem, I feel as though all bets are off when you’re abroad. The Mauerpark flea market is on every Sunday, and includes an outside food area with a little inside bar, where we took refuge from the rain and wind and had a glühwein. When we came back out the sun had reappeared, and we had the market mostly to ourselves compared to how crowded it normally is, so the rain had done us a service. Although it wasn’t on this Sunday, during the Summer months there’s also outside karaoke right next to the flea market, which is really fun and entertaining and well worth a visit, and provides a nice break from the usually very crowded flea market lanes 🙂

MORE DINNER

Berlin is divided into a number of boroughs, and although we walked around a lot of Berlin, for some reason most of our meals were consumed in Prenzlauer Berg (probably because we were staying there, and also because there’s a lot of good food around that area, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?). But for our last meal in Berlin (this time around), we ventured all the way to Mitte, for cocktails and burgers at Hans Im Glück. This is apparently a chain, and is a bit gimmicky, but what it lacked in ‘artisanal feel’ (I’m sorry I just said that), it made up for in cocktail and burger originality, so who gives a hoot. We were seated amongst a bunch of tree trunks that go from floor to ceiling, and which serve to break up the massive restaurant and make it feel a little more homey than I imagine it otherwise would, and although the place was super crowded and there was a long line of people waiting to be seated, we had no problem hearing each other over the hubbub. I had a spicy veggie burger with garlic mayo, and a ginger and elderflower virgin cocktail (I decided to go forego the boozey cocktails because we had to get up at 4.30 to catch a 5 am train the next morning). They also had a really delicious burger with goat’s cheese and fig sauce, and I’ve definitely been inspired to up my burger game at home.

So that is the story of how I ate my way around Berlin 🙂

 

P.S. / A FEW OTHER EATS WORTH A MENTION: Last time we also went to The Bird (there are two of these, the original one in Prenzlauer Berg and a second one in Kreutzberg which opened a year ago, but I would recommend the Prenslauer Berg one. The Bird is known for making some of the best burgers and steaks in Berlin, and I had the best club sandwich in my life there, and was really sad not to be able to fit one in this time around – but I just didn’t have any space left in my belly, and it’s such a popular place that you usually have to reserve a table well in advance); and Due Forni (according to my brother, the best pizza and pasta he’s had outside of Italy, Due Forni is a kind of grungy/punky cantina-style Italian restaurant with a massive terrace, slow service, but really good and cheap food, and very good tiramisu! My sister-in-law had the spaghetti carbonara, and it was seriously good). Both very much to be recommended!

 

 

 

The Sea (and Fudge!)

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I went to Brighton this weekend to see my friend Tash, and ate my way through a lot of fudge. A lot.
A lot-a lot.

There’s a little shop in The Lanes that has very good fudge – my favourite is the fudge with sea salt. The runner up is the one with maple and walnuts. I basically end up just eating my way through the box looking for a piece with sea salt, which is how I end up giving myself heartburn. What a tough life I lead. Still, 3 am fudge-induced heartburn is no joke.

It was brilliant to get a good dose of salty sea air and pale Autumn sun.

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We went on the worst, least scary and very rubbish, and therefore most awesome, haunted house ride, the Horror Hotel, on the rickety Brighton pier. And did you know, in Brighton there’s a place called Doughnut Groyne? I kid you not.

We went to the beach and took off our boots and listened to the sea for a while, and I found a bunch of very cool rocks to bring back to Brussels, and managed not to get pooped on by any seagulls.

Also, this happened:

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We took a side trip to Lewes (which is apparently pronounced ‘Lewis’) where we had a pub lunch and a wander around the country side, and saw a cloud shaped like a long-necked dinosaur.

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We also saw several brilliant signs:

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I ate bangers and mash twice, and drank a lot of tea, and stocked up on mini cheddars and M&S percy pig gummies before catching my train back to Brussels.