Start slowly and let the chaos linger.

The day has come to empty the bottom of the house, and thus facilitate the floorboard removal. More boards are wobbling and the kitchen tiles cracking at an unprecedented rate. The little munchers have done their worst.

Rentokil assure me the munchers are dead. I’m sure they are right, but the floorboards are so weakened that they continue to disintegrate, which is why the furniture removers arrive tomorrow to relieve the downward force, before the boards give way.

Books and more books

And the omnipresent worry – would the builders, heating engineers, storage company, turn up at the appointed time or would I be left with workmen spitting feathers because they can’t get on, but demanding payment, nevertheless.

Everyone has confirmed their commitment. The Airbnb is ready for us. What can go wrong. Let the destruction commence.

All our downstairs library, taken to safety.
Picture gathering

We’ve Received Your Application

We have received your application, your novel suggestion, your job application, your book of poetry, your whatever.

Who gets a reply like this, these days? If you have to apply, you are sunk. Head hunted, commissioned – that’s a different matter, but for that you have to already be known, well known even.

It’s the vicious circle. You can’t get known until you can present something and you can’t present until you are well known. Nothing new there!

And if you get off the roundabout it is even more difficult to get back on, because you are unreliable, a trouble maker, someone who bucks the system which was set up by the system.

Right. Where’s this going? I was an authority on brewing historical beers, 20 years ago. I got off the roundabout to do something else and now I’m a nobody. But this last month, I’m suddenly selling books – beer books on pale ale and porter brewing. Patience is a virtue. These readers will talk to other readers and they might be moved to buy as well. Suddenly I am famous again – perhaps and yet I am the same person throughout.

Beer History to enhance your brewing
Delve into the past to discover where you could go next

My books haven’t changed, nor has my brewing wisdom.

Let’s see what happens next.

Fictive Dream

by Ruth Brandt

YOU’RE STUCK AT home on your slow laptop with the crud that gums up the N key, and you’ve been applying and applying and no one, and that means no one at all, comes back to you about any of your applications, other than the odd automated We’ve received your application and will review it shortly. It’s like yelling in the woods when there’s no one to hear you. Like standing on a hillside with the wind blasting regardless of whether you’re there or not, blasting and bashing and not giving a shit. Like that. So, you’re sitting against the pillows on your bed—why get up? why get dressed?—and it’s such a shame that your name is Frank Nelson, because that’s three clicking Ns you have to ease the key back up from every single time you write your name. Could have been the Q. No…

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Destroy a house and enjoy the chaos.

This could be a short series of posts. I might crack up on day 1, which is 5th November. We have woodworm, which means floor out, so why not go for underfloor heating? And while we are at it, let’s have an airsource heat pump.

A beautiful house set to be destroyed, and then reassembled.

Total cost, around £21000, half I will get back from the government. Time taken – 2 to 3 weeks. We will have to move out, which will be odd, living around the corner, and the furniture goes into storage around another corner.

We will visit daily and commiserate with our poor house of 40 years.

The woodworm of course is just revenge for not paying for things – stealing, in other words. It wasn’t me who was the thief. I wasn’t alive, but back in history wood was stolen from far eastern forests and electricity meters mounted on planks made from it. They were woodworm infested and now most old houses where I live are too.

‘Get it treated!’ I hear.

I did. And it was guaranteed for 30 years. Be warned. It’s an insurance scam. The chemicals are only good for 7 years and the insurance company hopes we have lost the documentation by the time we notice, say 15 years later.

Watch this space for progress and relive my pain of going green.

I wonder what holds the bay up.

Another yarn. A friend living round another corner, had to have her floorboards removed and the plumber found, bones. The police were involved and after forensic investigation were found to be bovine.

So how do cow bones get under floorboards. Parts of her house are 400 years old, so we will never know.

Where does mindfulness come in? Have a woodworm infested house and see if you are not mindful.

Haiku and Photography

It’s simple.

  • Take a photo.
  • It doesn’t matter how good it is.
  • Look at it later, on a large screen and begin to study the things you failed to notice when the camera was out.
  • Let some ideas flow. It’s up to you whether you stick to the Haiku format or just have a post-photo ramble.
  • Write about it and you will discover its meaning – the meaning that made you take the photo – but now you can define that meaning.

A few I have done.


Are German beer purity laws a hindrance?

A beer mug picked up at a flea market, celebrating laws over 500 yrs old.

Time to let go!

Remove the ball and chain from your leg, brewers!

German beer purity laws date from the 16th century, and were needed to stop the worst abuses by brewers, who added everything in the garden and beyond, in order to get the drinkers happy, but it came with a price to drinkers’ health and eventually laws were passed in Bavaria, allowing only malted barley, hops, water and yeast to go into beer. The result is that only such pure beer can be marketed as Bier.

This was most laudable once upon a time, but centuries later we have pure tasting ‘Bier’, but pale Bier such as Pilsner, or Dortmunder taste pretty much the same throughout Germany and are boring compared to British, American, Belgian, French etc. beers. And German dark beers don’t excel in any department, either.

Of course, the German brewers are protective of their product and market aggressively in order to keep ‘beer,’ out and pretend the Reinheitsgebot (1516) is a good thing but they will lose the battle. English pubs usually have at least 6 beers on their bar, all splendid and all different, but that is poor compared to a Belgian pub, which is likely to have 60 distinctive samples. Drinkers have begun to cotton on and Craft Beer Pubs are now all the rage in Berlin.

Home and Craft Brewers are free to do as they wish – and they do. They can go for total purity, which I do with my 19th century pale ales, or go whacky with herbs, spices and other malted grains such as wheat and oats or use some unmalted grain.

Most of these would pass the purity laws in Germany, so it’s hard-hat time for the stick-in-the-mud Braumeister and his boring brews.

Try the Historical Companion to House-Brewing for a complete rundown of styles available, or Brewing Porter and Stout to get into brown beers. My favourite remains Pale Ales and India Pale Ales for the best beer flavour ever invented. All my books work on iPads, Android and Windows devices as well as Amazon Fire tablets.

A legend from the 90s
The book that rewrote home brew.
Brown beer revival – bitter and strong.

Brexit Armageddon at Ferens gallery.

Two exhibits at the great annual Ferens show, demonstrate the value of a trip to your local gallery. The vortex and Armageddon, did it for me.

Top right. Boris and his chums, presiding over Brexit chaos.

Armageddon – the final battle between good and evil. This picture is Armageddon to me although I don’t know what the artist called it or who the artist is. Ferens has the bright idea to charge a fee to find out. No catalogue, no knowledge.

But the picture is about the destitution of the UK because a right wing pressure group decided to lie it’s way to a victory. No one knows why Brexit is a good idea, nor where it will end – perhaps as in the picture – Bojo blustering away to his sycophants, who tell him he’s doing a great job, ‘so give us another contract’.

Have a good weekend, peeps. There might not be so many in the coming months.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Ferropolis, the steel town left to rust and remind us of our energy nemesis. Even with these monsters, the DDR couldn’t rip enough coal out the ground to meet its energy needs.

A great place for a rock concert or just to stare and wonder. Now we know that they were not just monsters in size, but also landscape vandals. However, the holes they left have filled with water and are wildlife habitats. The water-sport fans have to wait until the pits have been cleared of debris and the earth recovered.

Coal carrier
Control turret
Violent machines
View from below

Why do we ignore the facts about the Gulf Stream?

It doesn’t matter how much evidence is presented, no one in power accepts that the world is on fire.

Check the interactive version out by clicking the link.

I was stunned by the interactive version.

The picture shows a Gulf Stream as no one wants to see it. The heat should be transported from the south to north Atlantic and warm Europe. Without this process, the UK will have a Canadian climate. We are disturbing the natural convection currents, by melting cold fresh arctic ice, which dilutes the salt water. Therefore, it no longer sinks and cannot return as cold water to the Gulf. The south Atlantic water can only lose its heat to the atmosphere, exacerbating the the effect of hot air rising off the south Atlantic. The storms get fiercer and Europe cools.

More staggering is the complacency. The New York Times and Washington Post rightly gave acres of space to Hurricane Ida and its causes. Not one mention (that I could find) of the Gulf Stream breaking down. After New York flooded, the State Governor Kathy Hochul, made all the right noises about protecting life and property, but thinks the key is to change infrastructure, not address the root of the problem.

Not even a Hurricane with winds of over 200 km/h can knock heads together.

Information by Nicolai Vent

Our Personal Eco-Oasis

Cars queue to wreck our world.

We have all heard the song, A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square. I had heard that nightingales have now colonised Berlin, although in our square behind the splendid turn of the century front, I have rarely heard a nightingale. However, woodpeckers, flocks of sparrows and starlings, various tits and finches, crows, (including jackdaws) and at least one owl have made themselves at home in our 50m x 100m oblong.

They are helped by the fact that no predator has easy access – not even cats and foxes – and vital is the casual garden architecture adopted by the various condominiums which make up the oblong.

What do the birds live from? The owl has no problem finding rats – this is a big city and only after years of defence building can we keep them out our cellars. The sparrows and starlings manage to find enough seed material from the grass etc. and the woodpecker enjoys devastating the fat-balls put out for the tits and finches. Woody woodpecker usually gets through one in around half a minute. It’s quite spectacular.

The crows remain a mystery, but I assume they are casual visitors and find their food elsewhere – only dropping in for visits. There is plenty of pickings from the fast-food joints on the T-Damm. They also have the run of the green strips between the dual carriageway outside our house.

It’s probably not such a big contribution that we are making, but it shows that these animals are adapting and will use whatever is around, to survive. In my 1966 edition of the Observers Book of Birds, jackdaws were only to be found on cliffs in Scotland. I doubt that was ever true but –

knock yourselves out, homo sapiens. There are plenty out there waiting to take over from your folly.

And they will adapt better than we will.

What have Bojo and Andrew in common?

It’s easy. They just don’t get it! They both think half-baked excuses for appalling behaviour, will do. A laugh and a shrug will see things okay.

Well, in a week when there is a shortage of chickens, the chickens are coming home to roost. For Andy and Bojo it will be another inconvenience. For people without a job, at risk of losing the roof over their head, it’s not funny.

I made it back to Berlin, using packed trains and planes. Capitalism doesn’t work. The need to turn a buck means all covid sense of proportion goes out the window, but then I didn’t need to travel so I am part of the problem.

I tried to hoodwink the Einwanderungsamt into giving me right to permanently stay in Germany, but fell down at the hurdle – where do you wish to pay tax, sir? Of course, pre-brexit, no one gave a damn where I lived. Now I have to accept that my wife and children and grandson can live here permanently, but I can’t. Well done Brexit and the Johnson lie machine, which promised a deal.

But it is great to be back and I should not be moaning.

Thriving post-Brexit, without worries.

I thought I would never live to see the day Germany was reunited. It happened sooner than anyone expected. At that time I wondered if I would live to see the demise of the English Royal House. I doubted it. Now I am not so sure. Why would young people identify with a nonagenarian as a head of state? Why would they be interested in the foolhardiness of her septuagenarian son and his tasteless wife, as king and queen?

Let’s watch this space.

And why would working people vote for self-interested Tory politicians? That exercises me most. The young don’t seem so disposed to do so.

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