Posted in Reviews

A Life for a Life [—at Velvet Ashes]

During August, I have the privilege of hosting the Velvet Ashes Book Club (online). We’re reading two short novellas by Fredrik Backman, an author I have come to appreciate a lot in recent years. Do join us!


Let’s jump right into what was probably my favorite scene of this section of The Deal of a Lifetime.  “So we liked the ferry, both of us, me the way there and you the way back. I loved leaving everything behind, but you loved standing out on deck and watching Helsingborg appear on the horizon.”

Leaving and returning – is that not the story of all our lives? There are the big moves but also the many comings and goings, as we travel to conferences, do visa runs, and so on. Does the unknown, the adventure, that comes with leaving hold an innate fascination for you, like it does for the main character? Or are you more excited to return home, like the son? Not being able to leave the city for almost six months due to Corona confirmed what I already knew: traveling and exploring new places is incredibly life-giving to me! Though that feeling of catching the first glimpse of your city, of your home, is certainly very special too!

This slight tangent aside, the scene also captures so well the relationship between father and son. Would it be possible for two people to be more different from each other? Their values, their approach to life – they seem incapable of understanding each other, of finding common ground. Until the very end. Only when he thinks he is dying does the father begin to appreciate his son’s character and the choices he has made. In this section, he goes from “you were a disappointment” to regretting not saying he was proud of his son and even seeing the town the way the son always had. “It was our town then, finally, yours and mine”. So very sad this only happened when it was too late. Oh to be someone who takes the initiative to build bridges with those I don’t immediately click with!

To read the rest, go to Velvet Ashes

and my thoughts on the first half of the book are here



Posted in Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation


Few things say “anticipation” more than a packed suitcase, ready to go! The promise of new adventures, of favourite places revisited. Escaping routine, being reunited with loved ones, and so much more!

And no, this is not the suitcase I use for travelling 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation


Posted in Uncategorized

A View That Says Home

1780244_10152082258992928_1213650001_o(Foto: Olaf Schieche)

I don’t know how many times I’ve come across this bridge on the train.  Many many times during my years at university!  More times than my parents care to remember, I’m sure, as they spent way too much times at Hamburg-Dammtor, waiting for my train to arrive.  It’s a cold, draughty station (aren’t they all?) and despite their reputation abroad, German trains are not always on time. So all too often my parents would venture into McDonald’s (something they would ordinarily NEVER do) for an apple pie and to warm up.

Meanwhile, I would have been on the train for many hours already, making my way north.  Slowly the hills would disappear and the land would become flat (and I mean really flat)!  A sure sign that I didn’t have far to go.  That I was nearly home.  Then the warehouses started appearing, the cranes that move containers, side arms of the River Elbe.  The excitement grew!

Hauptbahnhof always felt like a bit of an annoying delay.  Most passengers got off there, the train became very quiet.  Then we set off again.  I wanted to stay seated for as long as I could, to be able to really enjoy this view.  The view that says “home” like few others do.  Instead I collected my stuff and headed into the corridor, awkwardly crouching down because I really didn’t want to miss THE VIEW.  And then I was home.

On the return journey, the view was the same, yet the feelings were very different.  There was a quiet sadness at leaving, yet also an excitement that started to build as I got ready to return to my “other life”.

I haven’t come across this bridge in a long time.  For many years, I was living abroad and arriving at the airport became the new normal.  Now I’m back in the country and do often travel by train again.  These days, though, I get off at Hauptbahnhof and therefore miss the view.  Life changes.

Yet when this picture appeared on my Facebook feed, I was instantly back in that place and time.  All those feelings were real again.  The view that carries so many emotions.

The View That Says Home.