Tag Archives: Grandad

City Adventures in Berlin

Given the huge amount of history contained within this European city, it’s really no surprise that there is an incredible number of museums to visit in Berlin and somewhat understandably, by the end of our penultimate day, both children were beginning to grumble about feeling a little “museum-ed” out. We were lucky to enjoy some glorious sunshine whilst we were there, so we took every opportunity available to venture out on foot as well as making using of the “hop-on, hop-off” bus and highly efficient public transit system. I think (hope) we managed a good balance between those museums with exhibits about Nazi Germany and those about the Cold War era and it was great to hear G being able to explain in more detail some of the topics she has learned about at school. Here’s a list of some of our city adventures in Berlin this May:

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: A strangely effective and emotive memorial built within 5 minutes walk of the Brandenburg Gate. These 2,711 concrete slabs vary in size and shape and are constructed on undulating ground, which once formed part of the “death strip” that split the city into East and West by the Berlin Wall. There is no attributed significance to the number or design of this memorial, but instead it intends to invoke a sense of unease as you wander through the rows. Beneath the memorial, there is an information centre, which contains details and memories of some of the Jewish families affected by the horrors of the Holocaust from 1933 on. Unfortunately, the centre was closed on the day we visited and we didn’t have time to go back, but it is somewhere I’d be keen to revisit if we had the chance.

DDR Museum: Located on the banks of the River Spree, the DDR museum details life in East Germany under Socialist rule and is a fantastic interactive experience, which M really enjoyed. It looks at all aspects of everyday life from school and work to holidays, transport, national service and beyond. M was particularly taken by the opportunity to try his hand at driving the Trabant P601 simulation, whilst G spent a long time at the interactive desk which gave in-depth information about different parts of the political history of Berlin. My Grandad came from Czechoslovakia to the UK as part of the Allied forces during the war years and I found that the exhibits invoked many memories of how my grandparents lived, albeit in Northamptonshire, as well as of my first trip to Czechoslovakia in 1988 to visit our family who still live there. A great museum which kept us busy for between 2 and 3 hours.

Palace of Tears: This tiny museum is one we almost missed, but is definitely worth dedicating at least an hour to wander through it. It is based in the former border crossing point at the Berlin Friedrichstraße station, which was only used for those leaving East Berlin for West Berlin. It covers the timeline from the building of the Berlin Wall to its collapse, looking at the stories relating to the checkpoint as well as the process to achieve the reunification of the country. M and I spent some time watching the video of the fall of the Berlin Wall and talking about the fact that this event was living history for me – something that I remember happening during my childhood when I was about his age.

Jewish Museum: This was one of the museums recommended to us by G’s history teacher, but unfortunately the permanent exhibition is currently closed as it is being redeveloped. However, we spent the morning seeing what was open to the public and it was definitely time well-spent. Split over a couple of floors, we first visited the Holocaust exhibit, which displayed mementos, letters and photos from many Jewish families and relayed some of their history as well as detailing whether they died in a concentration camp or were fortunate enough to survive that terror. From there, we ventured outside through a memorial garden, before heading back in to the “A is for Jewish” interactive exhibit, which talks about the many varying aspects of contemporary Jewish life in Germany. Finally, we walked through the “Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves)” art installation, where you quite literally walk on 10,000 sheet steel faces of varying sizes symbolising all innocent victims of war and violence.

Mauer Museum at Checkpoint Charlie: This was one of the surprise hits of our holiday and one that we wouldn’t have visited if it hadn’t been for my insistence that I wanted to go to see Checkpoint Charlie on foot and our need for something to occupy our unplanned afternoon. Filled with an absolutely incredible amount of exhibits, it started with a look at the story of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish businessman who is thought to have saved thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust before he disappeared in 1945 and was presumed to have died whilst imprisoned by the KGB, although there have been very many question marks surrounding the circumstances, and timing, of his death. Upstairs the exhibit moved through very many escape stories from East Germany, which absolutely fascinated M, not least of which was the armoured escape vehicle on display. There is also a huge area dedicated to human rights and worldwide civil unrest, including Ukraine and North Korea. An absolutely fascinating museum and one that you could easily spend a day, or more, exploring.

German Spy Museum: The unquestionable highlight of all the museums we visited in Berlin and it got a definite thumbs up from both children. Starting with a timeline of the development of espionage worldwide through the ages, this museum blends its interactive experience with a particular focus of espionage during the Cold War era. The main exhibit was divided between East and West Berlin and how spies played a part on both sides for many years. The laser maze gives visitors the opportunity to see if they can successfully work their way through the lasers to reach the abort button before enemy missiles are launched. Sad to say, neither G or M managed it, triggering the alarms as they made their way through it, although they both had great fun trying. There was also a section about fictional spies, most notably 007 himself, James Bond with some memorabilia and clips from several of the films. We hadn’t left ourselves enough time to see everything this museum had to offer as we had to head back to the airport for our flight home, so it’s definitely one to revisit in the future.

14 years

“…But it’s been
Fourteen years of silence
It’s been
Fourteen years of pain
It’s been
Fourteen years that are gone forever
And I’ll never have again…”

14 years since I last spoke to you; since I heard you laugh out loud at Terry Pratchett books; since you held my hand or shared a story. It’s been a tough year and we’re now missing not only you, but other much-loved family members to spend time with. 14 years too long xxx

 

 

A Lifetime of Memories

Everyone grumbled. The sky was grey.
We had nothing to do and nothing to say.
We were nearing the end of a dismal day,
And there seemed to be nothing beyond,
THEN
Daddy fell into the pond!

And everyone’s face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He’s crawling out of the duckweed.
Click!

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,
And the ducks all quacked as if they were daft
And it sounded as if the old drake laughed.

O, there wasn’t a thing that didn’t respond
WHEN
Daddy fell into the pond!

– Alfred Noyes

This poem will always remind me of you Dad, of that Christmas when you did fall into the pond and I asked for it to be read as part of my eulogy to you. There is a lifetime of memories to cherish, but I can’t quite believe it’s been 12 years since the last ones were made. I’ve been so busy that this year the pain has been a little easier to bear, but I’m never to busy to remember you with love and miss the time we should have been spending creating new memories. Tonight we’ll raise a quiet glass. Love you Dad xxx

2013-06-16 20.10.23

Fathers Day 2015

It’s been a quiet and reflective Fathers Day weekend for me and a fun-filled and active one for Mike.  He and the children have been away on the annual “Dads and Kids” camping weekend with friends. A weekend to make more memories as well as looking back at precious ones of the past. Happy Fathers Day to the 3 special men in our lives:  Mike, Grandpa R and my Dad.

I also want to share this beautifully illustrated short film that takes an emotional look at new parenthood, which can be especially difficult when it starts with an unexpected stay in NICU and is a beautiful reminder that Dads are affected too. When your new baby has to be in NICU, there’s lots of focus on Mum and baby and it can be all too easy to forget about Dad and the emotions he must be facing. With Fathers’ Day this weekend, this is a poignant reminder that things don’t always turn out as planned.

A cartoonist’s journey into first-time fatherhood
S.TELEGRAPH.CO.UK

 

Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there

 

 

10 years on

A lot can happen in 10 years and certainly has in our household.  In the past 10 years we have moved house twice; had 2 amazing babies and seen them grow into beautiful children; finally got a series of diagnoses that have explained so much about M’s fragile health and will help him grow stronger in time; changed jobs more times than we care to consider and are finally in ones that we love; and travelled the world, though perhaps not as much as we’d have liked.  Sometimes, in the busy lives we now lead, it’s hard to stop and remember things and people from the past.

Today is a landmark day for me, one that I can hardly believe has arrived and one that has seen my emotions bubbling over beyond what I expected.

10 years ago today we said goodbye to my Dad.

One of the few photos we have of Grandad and G

One of the few photos we have of Grandad and G

I was the quintessential Daddy’s little girl growing up and constantly sought his approval and praise in the things that I did.  I know he was proud when I graduated university despite the complications of negligent eye surgery at the start of my final year and he helped me study to pass my accountancy exams just 3 years after I got my degree.  He walked me down the aisle nearly 15 years ago and marvelled at the arrival of his first grandchild a few years later.  I am so grateful for all the precious memories I have with him and yet find myself grieving for those that he never had the chance to become a part of, to share.

Today the children and I have been out in the unseasonably warm autumn air to visit Grandad’s plaque, placed on a neighbouring pier, and left some flowers and sprigs of rosemary – for remembrance – to mark that place.  We talked a little about him and I shared some memories of the grandfather they never got to know and love.  And tonight, Mike and I will be lifting a glass in his memory as yet another year without him slips past.

Courtesy of visitedscotland.com

Courtesy of visitedscotland.com