Exploration Through the Lens: Berlin in Black and White

The walls of the lavatory at Au Comptoir, a French bistro in Vancouver, don multiple black and white photographs of Paris. It was the inspiration I needed to return to my faithful film camera on my trip to Berlin this past September. Shooting in black and white uses different creative pockets in my brain than colour shots. Instead of thinking of the colour coordination, or lack thereof, of a scene, or someone’s attire, I am free to concentrate on the texture and lighting of my image. And so, I share with you, dear reader, some of the shots of which I am most proud from that glorious one week trip.



A Briefing from Bronwyn’s Bookshelf 2015 – Part II – Alexander McCall Smith

I have to admit that as much as I love reading, I haven’t done too much of it over 2015, unless you count textbooks and course notes. Although the reading-of-books-count has been down this past year, listening to audiobooks has skyrocketed. Many of these books to which I have listened can be attributed to one man, Alexander McCall Smith.

Most people will know Alexander McCall Smith as the creator of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, set in Botswana. Interestingly enough, I have not listened to any books in this series in 2015, and have instead been enjoying three other series written by him: Corduroy Mansions, 44 Scotland Street, and The Sunday Philosophy Club.

Corduroy Mansions is set in London, and follows the lives of a number of characters, including William French, his terrier Freddie de la Hay, both of whom live at Corduroy Mansions. The stories are charming, and are fun to listen to.

Similarly, 44 Scotland Street follows the lives of the characters living at 44 Scotland Street, and those connected to the characters living there. 44 Scotland Street is set in Edinburgh. The listener (or reader) will inevitably fall in love with one of the residence of 44 Scotland Street - six-year-old Bertie - and most likely, will sympathize with him as he faces the trials of living with his overbearing mother who forces him to do all sorts of activities he doesn’t care for, like yoga, psychotherapy sessions, and saxophone lessons. Most of the characters (save but a few annoying ones) become like the listener’s (or reader’s) friends, and indeed listening to these stories makes it feel like one is simply spending time with one’s friends.

The Sunday Philosophy Club novels are also set in Edinburgh. The cast of characters in this series is substantially smaller than that of the previous two series. These books focus on Isabel Dalhousie, a philosopher, her niece Cat, housekeeper Grace, and friend Jamie. Isabel has a knack for helping people, and as such becomes involved in those people’s quest for the truth, all the while applying her philosophical musings in the journey.

Each audio recording features a highly talented narrator. Corduroy Mansions is narrated by Simon Preeble, 44 Scotland Street by Robert Ian MacKenzie, and The Sunday Philosophy Club by Davina Porter.


A Briefing of Bronwyn's Bookshelf - 2015 Edition - Part I - Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

Bartlett, Allison Hoover. The man who loved books too much. Toronto: Penguin Group (Viking Canada), 2009. Print.

Books on the outset seem somewhat innocuous and ordinary, yet their power, not necessarily in their texts, but in their physical manifestations, can render some humans to varying levels of obtuse behaviour, with the extreme resulting in bibliomania.  Allison Hoover Bartlett probes into the life of one such bibliomaniac in her non-fiction book The man who loved books too much.  Bartlett explores the life and actions of John Gilkey, a young man who, over the course of several years stole, often through the use of fraudulent credit card orders, a great number of old and rare books, not for financial gain, but for the sake of possessing them.  Throughout the book, Bartlett weaves in the stories of historical bibliomaniacs, of those from whom Gilkey stole, and of her own journey as she struggles with the balance between being an observer of the unfolding story and of becoming one of its characters, influencing the course that it will run.  This well-crafted book is a fascinating read, especially for those who love books.


27 September: Mauer Park Flea Market

Another great example of the brilliant art on the sides of buildings.

Where the Berlin Wall used to stand.


26 September: Tier Garten, Botticelli Exhibit, and Trundling Around Pankow

A delicious latte at a charming coffee shop in Pankow called Wo Der Bar Den Honig Holt.

Produce market in Pankow.

A beautiful painting on the side of an apartment building in Pankow.

Bridge in Pankow with a pile of bricks.

The graffiti in Berlin is amazing.

Two elderly ladies greet each other, Pankow.

A courtyard with brightly coloured laundry hanging, Pankow.


24 September: Berlin - Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and More Wanderings

I managed to track down a classic photo booth near Checkpoint Charlie.

Brandenburg Tor.

I take coffee and cake while working on my day's journal entry.

Berlin has really great manhole covers.

The Berlin bear - the symbol of the city.