Occasionally, I get a glimpse into a part of myself that I thought was lost forever. Coming back from the supermarket when evening had started to fall, I felt a damp chill in the air and could see my breathe. Some yellow leaves were starting to fall and there were conkers on the ground. It reminded me of the week the fair came to my home town in Britain. I'll never forget going there as a small child, wrapped up warm with coat, gloves and scarf, tightly gripping my father's hand. The air smelled of toffee apples and candy floss and at regular intervals, there would be screams from those brave enough to get on the rollercoaster which always had more exotic names as the years went by like the Kamikaze. Secretly, I yearned to win one of those fluffy rabbits by successfully playing "hook a duck" or better still, a goldfish in a plastic bag. Most of the rides were too frightening so I was only able to go on the Dodgums, which as anyone who's seen Annie Hall will know, are great for releasing your aggression. Once though I did find the courage to ride the Ghost train, even if after the sight of a man in a skeleton costume, I spent most of the trip with my hands over my eyes. I can only imagine how ridiculous I'd find the whole spectacle now, like the man in Amélie who says "Oooooh" in her ear.
Autumn should be a season of comfort, of hot chocolate with whipped cream, thick soups topped with cheese and croutons and warm apple pie. At the moment though I'm finding it very difficult to focus. Letters remain unwritten, emails unanswered, the bad weather last week meant that I haven't taken photos for quite a while. I'm currently torn over making an enormous decision abnout my future, whether to stay in Berlin after 2012 or return to the UK to find a steady job. You might wonder why I have to decide now but it involves doing some diplomas in the next few months before I can apply to do my training in autumn next year. I'm one of those hopelessly indecisive people who barely even knows what they want to do in two weeks, let alone two hours. Can I really live full-time in the UK again after so long away? In a way, it seems as if I have failed to fulfil the goal I'd set myself of creating a life abroad, as if everything I've worked for up to now doesn't mean anything if I go back. Would I really be any good teaching languages in a secondary school? Most of all there's the question of whether I can really bring myself to leave Berlin. Over the years, a place becomes part of you unconsciously and I'm aware that what I have here is really unique. It still surprises me to travel down towards the Brandenburg gate, seeing the lamps of the Tiergraten shining like fireflies in the night or simply to see the silhouettes of the trees against the buildings. How could such a grey city capture my heart? I could leave beautiful places like Annecy and Lyon without feeling a thing so surely, it should be a piece of cake walking away here.
I can't expect anyone else to make my decision for me or realistically think that I'll soon have grown tired of Berlin to be able to say goodbye without heartbreak, even if I know that being a freelancer here forever would be difficult. But sometimes I wish that thing didn't have to be so complicated, that I could simply "be" instead of always planning, worrying, reflecting as the world spins around me. I long to be back at the fair again, standing still among the noise and lights.
At the Swedish shop near Bundesplatz
Helmut Newton's grave
Coffee and cake at the wonderful Inka Eis café in Schöneberg
The last of the summer
I'm sorry for the downbeat post but to make up for it, some photographs from Schöneberg before autumn arrived. I finally made it to the cemetary in Schöneberg where Helmut Newton is buried. Close to his is the grave of Marlene Dietrich which was being cared for by a young man. Mistakenly believing I was a photographer, he aproached me to ask if I would take his photo standing next to it and I discovered he had come all the way from Rome just for Marlene, visiting the place where she was born and the film studios before ending up here. I found the idea so charming.
You can find another post I've just written on a wonderful blog begun by my friend Magda, called Berlin is not for sale.
Finally, a recipe from a copy Elle à table that Pia kindly sent me a few weeks ago. I honestly haven't stopped using it since and one of my favourite recipes is for a Torta Caprese.
Torta Caprese (from Elle à table)
200g ground almonds
200g dark chocolate
50g superfine sugar
50g icing sugar, plus some extra to dust over later
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Grease a springform tin and line it with baking parchment.
2. In bowl, mix together the almonds with the icing sugar. Chop the chocolate finely with a knife and melt it together with the butter in a small saucepan over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat but leave the saucepan resting over the other one.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the superfine sugar with a handheld mixer for 5 minutes, gradually increasing the speed so that you get as much air into the mixture as possible.
4. Using a spatula, carefully blend in the almonds and icing sugar with a circular motion. Stop mixing as soon as the batter is smooth and thick. Add the chocolate and butter, blending well so that everything is perfectly mixed in.
5. Pour into the cake tin and bake in the oven at 200°C for 5 minutes before turning the oven down to 160°C and baking the cake for a further 25-30 minutes. The torta should be damp and not dry in the centre so don't overbake.
6. Leave the cake to cool before turning it out onto a plate and leave at least 2.3 hours before serving. Apparently, the torta is even better the next day, although mine didn't last that long.