For The Duration ... living the day

Where members can come together in word and share thoughts.

BWCD Virtual Raffle
Please join us in our fun raffle in order to raise some funds for our BWC charities.  Every little helps!
First prize – Douglas Gift Card worth €25
Second prize – Two boxes of luxurious Lindt Auslese chocolates (600g) worth €20
Third prize – A delicious bottle of Barolo red wine worth €13
One ticket – €3
Two tickets – €5
Four tickets – €10
If you would like to participate, here’s what do to…
1. Please email me at stating how many tickets you would like to buy.
2. Please transfer the required amount into the BWC account with reference ‘prize’.  Please advise if you do not have online banking. 
3. Await the details and photo of your purchased tickets via email.
The ‘live’ draw will be held on Friday 29th May at midday.
Winners will be notified by email.

BWC Virtual Raffle

Please join us in our fun raffle in order to raise some funds for our BWC charities.  Every little helps!

First prize – BWC Buffet Lunch at the Radisson Blu in May or June

Second prize – A case of six wines from around the world!

Third prize – A delicious cheese hamper


One ticket – €3

Two tickets – €5

Four tickets – €10

If you would like to participate, here’s what do to…

  1.   Please email me at stating how many tickets you  would like to buy.
  2.   Please transfer the required amount into the BWC account with reference ‘prize’. (Please advise if you do not have online banking).
  3.   Await the details and photo of your purchased tickets via email.

The ‘live’ draw will be held on Friday 18th April at midday.  Winners will be notified by email.

Thank you so much in anticipation of your donations during these extraordinary times.  Hopefully, members who can’t usually attend our luncheons also have the chance to participate.

Looking forward to hearing from you….

Stay safe and stay sane!

Best wishes,



As I write, I hope this email finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

As you would expect, we have been completely focussed on the developing coronavirus situation, monitoring and assessing the latest information and Government guidance, which has moved on again overnight.

With every decision we have made in the past few weeks, the health of our members, our committee, and wider society has been at the forefront of our thinking, and we are committed to doing the right thing.

In line with new Government guidance, we have taken the responsibility of cancelling our events, activities, outings, luncheons and coffee mornings.  With great sadness we have to accept that this will impact a great number of our members.

We have an incredibly dedicated committee who give a huge amount of energy and passion to make what we normally do possible. We are now all on an unknown journey with Coronavirus and we must do everything we can to mitigate the spread of the virus. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected and we hugely value the healthcare workers and those on the front line working to contain the virus and keep us safe.

The following section is dedicated to those who wish to share their thoughts with our members during this time of uncertainty.  Please feel free to contribute, as little or as much, anonymous or otherwise.  Your words will undoubtedly encourage and touch those who come to read them.

Please send your contributions on an email to

Best wishes, Sandra

Hi All,

We at the BWC can never be accused of not getting into the swing of things and being resilient, so I welcome you to our little Webpage Diary. We thought this could be a fun way to keep in touch with each other during this challenging time.

Firstly, I just wanted to check in with you all to make sure everyone was healthy and well. As we are all self-isolating, it’s very easy to feel alone and isolated if you don’t have family nearby to call on so don’t be a stranger and let us know how you are. We have a wonderful community within our Club so we must continue to pull together and keep everyone’s spirits up. We haven’t known life to be so uncertain since war time and I know that some of us remember this more than others! Of course, I am fortunate enough to only imagine the despair during that time from listening to my grandparents‘ accounts.

It’s extremely humbling that so many members are keeping in touch through telephone and email and that these long-lasting friendships are so evident. Everyone is encouraged to stay in contact during this time and I’m always available anytime for a chat.

What is everyone doing to keep themselves occupied during this time?

Just as all the madness broke, we had just returned from our holiday (in the nick of time) and the first few days of resting were very welcome. As hubby had a bit of a cold, he was advised not to go into work and we were extra careful due to the symptoms. You just never know.

We relaxed over the weekend and by the Monday, Mark was feeling 100% better. Over the first few days, we had very quickly grown bored of Netflix and snacking. Resisting the urge to eat every hour is remarkably difficult during quarantine! Even the daily G&T’s were losing their novelty! We couldn’t go on like this for the next three weeks….or possibly longer! Our isolation snacks were supposed to last us three weeks, not three days! At this rate, we would be watching re-runs of Little House on the Prairie and eating our way through the dusty old tins at the back of the pantry! So, we gave ourselves a stiff talking to, a sound thrashing and pulled ourselves together, venturing out into the sunshine. Our first outing for groceries involved a quick ‘supermarket sweep’ in the hunt for healthy fruit and vegetables, chicken, fish and lentils so we could focus on our usual healthy eating and not this constant grazing on yummy goodies during the day due to boredom. If we were going to survive, we would have to be quick and stealth like. Bear Grylls, eat your heart out!

The ‘smash and grab’ shopping wasn’t too bad and I managed to keep the allocated social distance between the other adventurers and myself for fear of catching this new and unknown lurgy. I have to admit though, as soon as you find out that touching certain surfaces, including your face, is something that you SHOULDN’T do, you discover just how much you DO IT! Why am I so touchy, feely with that packet of ham, that jar of olives or that extra-large bottle of Sekt? It’s not cashmere! Surely, I’m not the only person struggling with this? I had to consciously keep my hands on the (potentially infected) handle of my shopping cart, my elbows in and eyes front!

My trolley dash was pretty successful and I was able to slip in and out of the supermarket, not unnoticed (due to all those extra snacks) but as a self-confessed shopaholic, I set a personal best that day. Unfortunately, my concerted efforts to find flour, toilet-roll and pasta were unsuccessful, along with the rest of the world! Believe me, I understand the shortage of provisions and ingredients to add to basic recipes, but what’s the obsession with toilet roll?? Has the world gone completely mad! Those people who were talked into adding a useless bidet to their bathrooms have been living for this moment! I may even invest in bidet shares in the future! A new venture maybe? I’ll need to add risks of Armageddon, zombie apocalypse and coronavirus to my sales pitch…

On the bright side, all of our rainy days have arrived at once! We suddenly all have some extra time on our hands. My house has never been so tidy. I’m clearing out those cupboards and drawers that have been driving me mad all year and I’ve downloaded all those new books I’ve wanted to read but, on the downside, I may not have enough loo paper….

Seriously though, it feels very strange that life is so quiet and that my calendar is completely free for the next six weeks. Our Club normally has so many wonderful events happening that it has highlighted how much we do in BWC. We can either see this crisis as a complete waste of time or seize the opportunity to steer away from our everyday life and do something a bit different. We will try new ideas over the next few weeks, including this little blog, and we will try and keep you constantly updated with different things happening. We have a few things in store so watch this space! Ideas also welcome!

To start with, here are a few websites listed below in case anyone is having trouble with certain items of food and non-food items, I have added a list below.
Ad· – Food Delivery Near Me – Hungry? No problem
https://www.foodora.deOnline Essen bestellen – foodora ist jetzt

Let us know how you’re coping with all this by writing a little something and send to Sandra.

Thinking of you all at this time.



I was so inspired recently by emails from the Bridge playing fraternity of the BWC to one another in which life in isolation was described that I wondered whether others might also have interesting tales to tell?

As the news bulletins continue to report from around the world on the coronavirus, our world here seems thankfully far removed from the overburdened hospitals, overstretched staff and overwhelming numbers of infected and seriously ill people.

Many days ago, as a combined result of cancelled activities, events and permanent commitments plus a primeval desire to safeguard health and, hopefully, thereby prolong life, I went into self-imposed early lockdown.  Shopping for food is about the only time I venture out and then, without a mask, as I don’t own one.  I haven’t yet, however, come across anyone else wearing one either, so don’t feel too deprived.  It surprises me that the supermarkets are still so full of people and it gives a false sense of normality.  Panic buying has, so far, been avoided.  Potatoes are preferred to pasta and rice which has its advantages but they do need peeling.  I’ve been forbidden to buy loo rolls although they can’t be found anywhere anyway.  We have enough, apparently, the resident mathematician decrees.  Although by my calculations, not.  Someone is in for a surprise.

I’ve always been told that the food in our cellar would see us through any catastrophe.  What did I know that others didn’t?  Well, now’s the time to prove it and at the same time, eat up those many jars, tins and packets with expiry dates which beg belief.

There is a certain enjoyment to starting the day without the sound of an alarm clock.  No need to set one as there’s nothing to get up for.  With the local gym shut, I’m forced to look for alternatives.  Jogging has, sadly, never been my sport but today, inspired by the glorious sunshine, blue skies and surrounding woods and lake, I set off on a run.  This quickly turned into a fast walk with an intermittent „hint of a sprint“, rapidly followed by a much slower walk and, finally, timeout on a convenient bench before returning home, glowing with pride at my achievement.  I shall make a second attempt whilst the good weather holds, particularly now that I know where the bench is.

The fresh air theme continued once I returned as Mr E. had scarified the lawn.  A mountain of moss the size of Ben Nevis needed raking up.  The lawn was, in retrospect, only masquerading as such as there is now nothing but dirt (and even more moss) left.  What luck that we have time to do it all over again, and again and again…

Our youngest, back for Easter break from university, has been told not to return.  His final term, pinnacle of a four-year course, is now to be managed online.  College provosts gather, as in a conclave, to determine how.  Suggestions to students so far have been unacceptable. We learn a new language: DDH, deemed to have deserved honours, can be awarded when students either fail or are absent from the exams due to extenuating circumstances.  I guess these circumstances apply at present but it’s a let-down for the students.

Boredom and frustration at the turn of events, plus fulltime incarceration with the ancient ones has led to unusual ideas being floated over lunch.  Housework and garden maintenance, where real help would be appreciated, are shunned, obviously not cool enough.  Why spend so much time on the lawn or cleaning windows, we are seriously asked?  Cleaning windows, my present weakness, 51 down, just as many to go.  „I’m going to build a hen coop“, son declares.  We argue that we’d rather he didn’t, we’d rather not have the responsibility of hens.  At our age.  Besides, which ones?  A compromise is struck and I might get a bird house instead.  On the subject of DIY, Mr E. wonders if the redundant bread making machine can be turned into a ventilator.  He laughs.  Then becomes deadly serious and decides that the hoover would be much more appropriate.       I worry about them both.

More to come, I’m sure.  Stay tuned.

An email from Lilo to the Bridge ladies which was the initial inspiration for this diary

In normal times this would be my invitation for another of our wonderful bridge meetings but time are not normal anymore. Life has changed for each and every one of us. Our mobility has been limited to almost nothing, however, at the same time, the offer to help, not only by friends but by total strangers, is overwhelming. The economy will suffer considerable losses and maybe we will have to learn to be content with less than we are used to.

I got some lovely phone calls and emails from some of you – thank you very much, I really appreciate your concern. I am well and still fairly busy although my moving plans have practically come to a halt.

I am staying home except for short shopping trips twice a week and maybe short walks around the block – time for reading, listening to music and also TV.

My very best wishes to all of you, stay healthy, keep up positive spirits and keep in touch. I miss you and our bridge. Let’s hope that these difficult times may be over in the not too distant future.

Love, Lilo

Hello All Bridge and Mah Jongg Friends,

Actually, since yesterday lunchtime I should be sitting on our terrace on beautiful Formentera looking across the Mitjorn Bay towards the „Mola“ and the light house at the far end of it – only to be seen at night, though.  Fortunately, most of us are in a position where our daily routine is mainly restricted to giving up personal pleasantries.  We are still allowed to go out for walks, do some shopping, enjoying the spring sun. But I am not forgetting those of you who still have to work and are carrying a different bag of worries. And that is, I fear, the outlook we will all have for a while in our lives. There is hope and light at the end of the tunnel!

For me it is the first time in 15 years to experience a glorious spring in northern Europe again. Having a much-extended morning tea with the newspaper in bed, watching the birds and squirrels at the feeding places on the terrace flowers beds; taking up regular yoga sessions. If there are no mental exercises, at least one can have some physical ones! And, of course, there are the books, long neglected, the radio (try WDR 3) and TV (not much).

Thanks for all the shared news from you.

Lilo, I know your situation is very worrying, but there is little else one can do at the moment.

If anyone needs a Mah Jongg book, please let me know, I will send it to you.

Look after yourselves. Love, Susanne Xxx


Dear Lilo and lovely Bridge Buddies

As you say we are so used to meeting up for bridge therefore this self-isolation and social distancing is quite alien to us. And we have no idea how long it will last, though saying that, we do realize the necessity of doing this.

I miss my friends and hope that with all the unprecedented measures being taken we will soon return to normality. Although it seems likely to be a few months.

I have little Sibo for company. I have food for us both and adequate loo rolls. It is strange to see empty shelves in supermarkets but I think most people are being kind and helping one another.  It has been said it is like a war situation. During war you could visit family, friends and neighbours, there was tea and sympathy and a hug. I am definitely cwtchless right now. But there is a war spirit and we will get through. God willing all well and healthy.

Still I am fine and thankful I am fit and well. I have a warm home and a garden with flowers coming out. Yesterday I mowed the back lawn and did some weeding and tidying up. When the weather is warmer, I can sit out there. I plan to do the front lawn next week. I have so much time on my hands I can pace myself. There’s enough on the telly and I have plenty of books so I can’t complain. There was a time when retired people had no spare time and now, we all do.

It is a strange Mother’s Day in Britain. And Easter is likely to be the same.

Sorry about your move Lilo and no doubt, Ina, you will have to wait for new windows. But you’ve got your new kitchen Anita that’s great.

Wishing you all the very best and so very much looking forward to meeting up again

Keep calm and stay safe and well
Take very best care!
Love and a big cwtch
Joyce xx

Hello, My lovely Bridge friends,

Thinking of you all, at least we are having beautiful weather. Walking is great, for those of you who enjoy that. I have a jigsaw puzzle in progress on my bridge table, for when I get bored with gardening. Evenings I play a bit of bridge, on Bridge Base also CD’s have been at least taken out of hiding, with lots of good intentions.

I miss my grandchildren, sometimes I meet them on my walks, they keep their distance.  It’s all so strange.

I hope all is well, please don’t be alone, just pick up the phone if any of you are feeling lonely. A chat and a joke always helps.

Hugs for all,

Your fellow Bridgling  Jo.

Hello dear ladies,

I am sitting here and enjoying the view over the park and watching the trees blooming more and more every day.  I have been told to clear my bookshelves because I am getting new windows, I am sitting in a mess because it was quite tiring and dirty to pull all the books down on the floor and nobody is coming. The date for the new windows has been postponed from day to day and now I was promised yesterday that they would come tomorrow.  I told the General Manger that I would really like to cancel it since I am worried that they will not be able to fix everything as it was before, and if they ruin the wallpaper and paint?  I really don’t feel like repainting the apartment at my age.  He told me not to panic, we should wait and see what happens on Monday!

As far as bridge is concerned, why not have a nice foursome with just a cup of coffee?  If you go shopping, you have many more shoppers around you than at a little round of bridge?  It could be here at my place.

Lilo, I am sorry that your moving looks as if it will be postponed – sitting in a halfway cleared out apartment must really be frustrating!

Love to all of you


Oi dear Bridgelings,

My kitchen arrived.  It took them 12 hours to install it.  We waited 36 hours without touching it, only looking, as we did not know whether or not those mechanics were or not were infected with this terrible virus even without them knowing.  Now nearly all the pots and pans, cutlery and „china“ has found a new accommodation.  I am thrilled by my new kitchen.  As soon as we can gather again, you must play bridge at my home, I insist.

In the meantime, we go for walks with Dana, listen to music, read and watch TV.  The girls go shopping for us.  We are in good hands.

I hope you are all healthy and good humoured.



What a great idea from Alison to have this website BLOG!!

Coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill.   All the shops, bars, clubs, schools, museums and restaurants are closed; deserted streets everywhere.  Whether you’re working from home, or simply taking a back row with your hobbies and social activities, you’ll be spending a lot more time indoors for the next few weeks.

Let’s face it, half the books on your shelves have never been read.  Kept aside for a rainy day, perhaps.  Well, that rainy day has well and truly arrived!  It’s the perfect time to get down to discovering just what you have without even leaving your sofa.  I decided to „re-kindle“ my Kindle after several months – I had soooo many books downloaded from last year so I’m enjoying reading again – the trouble is that when I start reading, I can’t put the book down until its finished.

Having a good clear-out or spring cleaning could also be a good opportunity – but I haven’t got around to that yet 🙂

I have had a few offers from some people offering to get shopping or helping out if necessary – on the one hand its really wonderful to know that others care but it brings it home that I’m in the „older age group“ now.  But I can still pop out to the supermarket which is just five minutes away.

Anyway, what I would like to inform you all about is that our Vice Chairman, Catherine Roth had this brilliant idea to have a „Skype Pilates“ session with us.  So this morning four of us logged on to Skype and Catherine took the class with us online.  It was great.  I belong to the group of folk that need to be pushed into doing some kind of fitness – I don’t seem to be disciplined enough to do anything on my own, or if I do, it would only be for five minutes!!

She will do a class for us (the BWC ladies) in the morning at 10:30 and one in the evening at 18:30. She will put out a Round Robin for everyone to think about whether or not they would like to join in.

Do think about joining in…

Keep well and safe ladies.



My husband was devastated to learn that because of the virus, his golf club was to close!  He had fully expected that he would be able to play there on his own or with a friend keeping two metres apart (and no 19th hole!).  How were we to survive this travesty?  Well, the answer has been to go walking in the countryside surrounding our home. So far, we have clocked up over 30 kilometres – walking between 5 and 7 kms each day and enjoying this wonderful sunshine we’ve been having. Long may it continue as I’m not a great fan of housework (who is?) and I find I’m sleeping quite well and not lying awake thinking about our current situation.

So, I would suggest to anyone who is able to get out and about, avoiding people where possible, to try walking. It is good for physical and mental activity, boosts your vitamin D levels and brings a touch of colour to the cheeks!

We have a 5,000-piece jigsaw in the cellar. It was started about 2 1/2 years ago and there are still about 2,500 pieces to go. This is fine you would think, but, ….. the vast majority of pieces are brown! However, my husband is battling on. He has no real problem with the brown because he’s colour blind and goes by the shape of each piece. But he keeps hoping I will help. I just keep encouraging him along.

„A little bit of what you fancy does you good“, we are told and so I think we all need to be kind to ourselves during the coming weeks and treat ourselves occasionally – a kind of behaviour modification – „if I clean out the sock drawer,  I’m allowed to sit down for half an hour with a hot chocolate and the newspaper without feeling guilty“.  That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

Yes, great idea Alison to get this blog going.

I am feeling thankful that I returned safely from my recent road trip to Portugal and back (some 5,800 kms) before the Pandemic started here. I am also feeling with all the travellers stuck in various countries around the world, no doubt dreaming of home.

Meanwhile, I am catching up on some chores, reading, listening to music and having a walk out in the sunshine each day. I have almost finished the May Newsletter’s Profile.  I’m also making sure I keep out of my husband’s way some of time, he is used to me being out and about and having the house to himself.

I am probably watching too many movies. I followed Alison’s recent tip and am watching „The Crown“. Addictive! And Pat has given me a few movie tips as well.

Plan for tomorrow – join Catherine’s Pilates class on Skype.  Stay well and happy everyone!

From John, husband (and much more besides) to Susanne, who has kindly submitted the following on his life as Comprador de comestibles and what hardships this presently entails

„Secretary“ is a short form of my function here.  My full title, rarely used, is „Secretary and general dogsbody to her nibs, Susanne“.

Since the tragic developments of Corona during the last week or so, the burden of secretarial duties has diminished considerably, as Bridge and Mah Jongg sessions have been put on ice. No more the stream of phone messages taken, written down and left on the dining room table for instant attention by her nibs on return from one or the other session at the tables. Past are also the succession of alarm signals of incoming e-mails on my PC from members of four different groups of Bridge and Mah Jongg ladies, requiring immediate reply by S.

My more menial duties as „chah wallah“, to prepare early morning tea (PG Tips bags) served with biscuits in bed, together with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, paper edition have been extended to also serve afternoon tea (PG Tips bags or Darjeeling First Flush finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, loose, drawn for 3 minutes and 15 – 30 seconds in 95 degree C hot water, not boiling water). These beverages are accompanied by either small cakes, crumpets or toasted slices of raison bread with sliced cheese, also prepared by the chah wallah, although he does not have a valid German licence for such work.

More recently I have been promoted to also act temporarily as „Comprador de comestibles“. This sounds better than „groceries buyer“, a function I was rarely trusted to perform without major doubt about my qualification.

I am therefore considering applying to my trade union for recognition of an enhanced title of „Secretary, chah-wallah and comprador de comestibles“ and cancellation of „general dogsbody“ as the latter can be performed by someone else, or not at all.

P.S.  Since the Bridge and Mah Jongg sessions no longer take place at our home, the pressure on our stock of toilet rolls has reduced noticeably. We can probably survive for over 40 days on current reduced levels of consumption.

Our social life in Bad Zwischenahn has come to an end in record time.  But at least the sun is shining and we can take our daily walk.  All in all, I believe we shall learn to manage this awesome crisis, but then again, I fear the economic consequences.  You may know the quotation by Schiller.  It is encouraging:

‚Das Alte stürzt, es ändert sich die Zeit. Und neues Leben blüht aus den Ruinen‘.

But how long will this take and what will happen in the meantime?

Keep busy and keep healthy
Greetings from Zwischenahn

Hi everyone,

A few weeks ago we were out celebrating Karneval (well actually I wasn’t as I hate it but my husband and son were out every day enjoying it) and now we are in almost complete lockdown.

I am just so grateful to all the doctors and nurses who are working day and night to save the lives of so many thousands of people across the world who have been affected by the dreadful coronavirus.

They are my heroes.

Sadly, I can’t save lives but I can try to keep us fit and mobile.

You can’t go to your normal fitness classes so the fitness classes will come to you – via Skype.

The classes are low-impact (which means we do not jump around) and are based on pilates excercises. Absolutely everyone is welcome.

The times of the classes are:
Tuesdays            10:00 – 11:00
Wednesdays      18:00 – 19:00
Thursdays          10:00 – 11:00

These can be changed if necessary.

You have to have Skype and use my Skype name Live:croth_59

So come along and give it a try.

The worst thing that can happen is:

1.     My skype doesn’t work
2.     Your skype doesn’t work

The best thing that can happen is:

1.       We stay fit
2.       We have fun
3.       We get to see each other on our screens

Send me an email or write to me via Skype if you are interested.
Let’s try and stay healthy everyone


Catherine x

Catherine’s pilates class done via group skype.  For more details, see Catherine’s entry just above.


Recent meeting of the Book Club via group skype

Hi Everyone, „Leisure“ is a poem by Welsh poet W. H. Davies, published in 1911.
It is a favourite of mine and I sincerely hope that the „Secretary, chah-wallah and comprador de comestibles“ will soon get the chance to enjoy some of this leisure among his many duties.
„What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.“
        Stay well and healthy everyone. Cheers, Anna

From John, brother of Sandra.  Thoughts from across the channel

Remember when Corona was a drink?

I don’t know if any of you are the youngest in your family, but I’m the youngest in mine.  So, a throwaway comment on Whatsapp has led to a command from my older sister – Sandra the Elder – to contribute to a site that, even as I write, I haven’t heard of.  As John the Younger, when you get a command from above, you don’t question, you don’t even let out a faint whimper, you just do as you’re told.  I was tempted to have a look and see what was being written, but where’s the fun in that?  There’s no point your sister bigging you up, saying you can write, if you don’t stick to your own style, so here’s mine.

The topic given for writing is a real wow!  Coronavirus and being at home – yeeahh!  Not of my choosing, but as I understand it, it seems quite topical at the moment?  In a nutshell what does it mean for me?  I work as a computer teacher in a lovely school in Bristol.  Well, I did work in a lovely school in Bristol, but now I’m working from home.  Said school has now closed and we’re all engaged in the wonderful sport of home educating, more of that later.  At home with me is my wonderful and long suffering wife of many summers, my twenty-one year old son, my eighteen year old daughter, whose school she has loved and adored for the past nine years which has had to close without all of the end of school nonsense that would have taken place, and my fifteen and half year old dog who is baffled as to why we’re all here disturbing his sleep.

This virus has thrown up many unanswered questions.  The biggest of all has to be ‘Why loo rolls?’  I get people stockpiling beans, pasta, tomatoes, soap, Lindor chocolates and wine, but I just don’t get loo rolls.  I’ve been at home, distance educating for the past week and I’m pleased to report that I have not built up the equivalent of the Great Wall of China in loo rolls in our downstairs toilet yet.  Triple ply, comfy variety at Chez Matthews has remained what could best be described as normal.  I wonder if anyone reading this is looking at their stash, thinking 125 loo rolls just isn’t enough.  Or despite knowing there’s a great game of Jenga loo rolls to be had at home, if you saw them in Aldi, you wouldn’t be able to resist a cheeky 9 pack?  After all, 134 loo rolls still isn’t enough really, is it?  I just don’t get it?

I always thought ‘working from home’ was the equivalent of a day off, away from the office, when you can get on with the important things in life at the company’s expense, such as gardening, golfing or sitting at a pavement café with a double mocha expresso latte.  Does anyone still remember the day when you could go to a café?  They seem so distant now, but I digress.  What I have found this week is that working from home has been much harder than working at work.  Sat at a computer for hours answering countless emails is not my idea of fun. I get bombarded with questions from students who I know are erudite and sociable, but what happens when they send a text?  It’s all non-descript, monosyllabic nonsense.  The best ones are the emails saying they can’t use their email. Reread that statement and think about it. . . . . . .

Then you get the students who, being students, don’t want to work and see a technology failure as the real ‘Get out of Jail free’ card.  Emails along the lines of „the school’s system wouldn’t let me logon on so I can’t do the work“.  I love these emails.  I’m one of those really sad people who doesn’t mind trawling through computer logs to prove that they’re lying.  Small victories in life keep me going.  I enjoyed sending an email last night to a student with the following:

“I suspect I know why you haven’t attempted to do any work?  It’s simple.  You haven’t tried to log on! The records on our system show the first time you attempted to log on was yesterday, Thursday 26th at 10:59 and gave up trying at 11:09. You were supposed to logon and work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday…etc”

Like I say, small victories, but I do like the idea of him opening the email with a howl of dismay, knowing his little game is over, very rewarding.

At home, I thought we’d all get on each other’s nerves with constant bickering as we’re all in such close proximity to each other, but I was wrong. I forgot that self-isolation, although a new and trendy term, has been around for years in this house.  My children have been self-isolating in their rooms since they hit their teens, only emerging like a Swiss Cuckoo bird when the magic word ‘food’ is shouted from the bottom of the stairs and then disappearing back into the rooms until the magic word is shouted again.  However, I do find the best way to have a family gathering to talk about things affecting us all is very simple.  Turn the internet router off.  Then count, one, two, three . . . .  I find I never get beyond ten before all my clan are downstairs talking to me.  It’s far more effective than ‘food’, as they’ve learnt not to be too quick off the mark as, inevitably, there’s some unbelievably hard task associated with the ‚food‘ call which I then ask them to do.  A teenager would much rather eat lukewarm food than empty a dishwasher, but the internet router gets pretty much an instant response every time.  It’s scary, but I think for this generation they’d much rather go without oxygen than the web.

As part of the government edict, we’re allowed to exercise once a day away from the house.  It is good to report that on the whole we’re dutifully, almost germanically so, following instructions but giving it a bit of British twist.  My neighbour reported that, instead of walking his dog around the block, he now walks him for some six miles.  He’s discovered places he never knew existed. I’ve enjoyed running to extend my period of escape, but at great personal cost to my lungs and long-suffering knees as I’ve increased my distance.  The problem with running now is there are so many more people out and about, also taking exercise.  I’m not sure if it’s just me but sometimes I feel like Moses parting the waves.  I only have to wheeze and gasp my way toward fellow exercisers and they just move out of the way, giving me a wide berth.  I could take it all very personally.

Only yesterday, I realised that we’re starting to lose our sense of humour when running toward two elderly people.  Firstly, they showed an amazing turn of speed getting out of my way.  Who knew anyone could shuffle that fast?  Both were wearing very fetching colourful headscarves over their faces.  My comment of „you’ll never get into the bank looking like that“ didn’t go down too well.  In fact, you can see the tumbleweed blowing across the humour tundra as I type. Ho hum, at least I thought it was witty.

Well, those are my incisive thoughts for the first week.  If Sandra provides a modicum of positive feedback, I might be allowed back.



We have mastered the first week of quarantine rather well, i.e. we lived through it like it was a never-ending week-end.  The routine remained almost as described last week.  The weather has been kind and we took daily long walks in the afternoon, roaming around the old trails which we took in the past with our various dogs.  Miles were not counted, but we noticed it took us much longer than we remembered.

The bird- und squirrel feeding places are still very popular and we will soon be running out of seeds and nuts.  I do hope „Fressnapf“ is still open for stocking up.  We have ordered a book on local birds (alas, not through our local book shop) as we are so frustrated knowing so little about them, particularly as they are now our only close companions.  The squirrels are a delight as well.  They quite often turn up in pairs, tumbling through the trees and shrubs, sitting on top of the bird house, cracking nuts and munching apple slices.  Wait till we give them all names!

Unfortunately, the winter returned today and watching the snowflakes hurtling diagonally past the windows one of the Special MJ hands called „Driven Snow“ (p. 33) came to my mind.  How appropriate.  Must try it next time.  The potted Italian „ginestre“ on the terrace is starting to bloom, hopefully the coming frost will not destroy its beauty.  The acer we planted outside the dining room window after the last storm, when one of the boring fir trees came down, is already showing its lime green new leaves.  Also a new experience.

Have a good week.

Best wishes, Susanne Xxx

Dear Bridglings, Mahjongers, friends and members of the club,

So pleased to hear that you are all well and mastering this crisis.

It’s been so nice to read all your emails with all your hints and tips of things to do.  I have a list, too, but haven’t done much yet.

You do all sound busy.  It’s amazing how quickly everyone has organised things to keep everyone happy and active.  Perhaps it is a bit of a relief not to have to worry what you look like – unless you are skyping everyone!

A friend emailed me recently and said that, for the last week, she has worn neither makeup nor bra!  She went on to say how liberating it was!  On regarding myself in the mirror recently, I wondered whether anyone else is in danger of succumbing to a little self-neglect?  Really should wash my hair today, on the other hand – is anyone coming?  Am I going out?  Will my husband notice?  Negative answer to all three questions.

But then, there’s my mother.  „You must never let yourself go“ she always said and to this day, at 95, lives up to it.  Always dressed and tidy, as she puts it, before coming downstairs, never sits at the breakfast table in her dressing gown.  So, with her voice ringing in my ears, I make the effort and wash my hair.  But, secretly, I hope the hairdressers will open soon, I’m beginning to look like an old English Sheep Dog.

Pat suggested we could all put on our own performance of „Hair“ if this goes on much longer!

Best wishes to everyone and let’s hope we can get back to normal soon.

Meanwhile, take care.




We’d heard about it in the news,
listened to all the different views,

It came upon us without warning,
on the 16th of March in the morning,

It was drastic restrictions we had to obey,
not knowing how long they were here to stay.

Schools and nurseries were closed down,
Church services prohibited in every town.

Border controls, no tourists allowed,
No booking hotels, or gathering in a crowd.

Public facilities must close, playgrounds were blocked.
Restaurants were restricted, lots of businesses were stopped.

As I’m writing this poem, nearly two weeks have gone by.
The death toll is rising, listening to the news makes me cry.

For all those involved,  frontline workers and relations.
It’s a worrying situation for the entire population.

In many countries, the resources are lacking.
This corona pandemic is really nerve-racking.

What we value in life we begin to realise,
such as food, warmth and clear blue skies.

I find it easy, marooned at home,
complying with rules, I am not alone.

From what I read in your letters, you are all coping well,
I think we ladies are so lucky, time will tell.

How lucky you are, Susanne
to have such a funny Chah Wallah.

And Sandra, the hen coop could be fun
fresh eggs daily, if they escape, a free run:-)

Two weeks have brought a lot of change.
Our club has had to rearrange .

Virtual fitness, book club via skype.
Idea for this blog and lots of great type

So much had been achieved in such a short time.
And now you are getting this little rhyme.

So if we carry on in this way,

in two months‘ time we can hopefully say

‘Goodbye Corona’, from the club

or we join the BWC Virtual Pub!


Margaret xx

Hi everyone,

Right now, we are all in a time where we are investing more time at home. So now is the time to translate our ideas or resolutions into reality. Whether it`s reading a book given to us some time ago or baking cakes!

If anyone is looking for an idea for an easy Easter cake, check out the April newsletter which hopefully will be at our doorstep soon. If you can`t find the main ingredient which is Advocaat in the shops, let me know and I tell you how to make your own. Which is even more yummy!

I think we all have a problem finding baker’s yeast in the shops nowadays. It`s always out of stock and nobody knows why or when it will be back on the shelves again. So why not make your own instead!  And if making yeast doesn`t sound too appealing to you, the thought of enjoying brioche and yeast buns with your loved ones at Easter should do the trick.

I found a recipe for making yeast which I would like to share with you. I have no idea how it will turn out; I only started the process myself this morning. It takes less than 3 min and only three ingredients to make!  With eight days to set until the baker`s yeast is done; we are right on time for Easter brunch!  So, let`s start today!

It would be fun if we could share our experience with this “experiment” and, who knows, if after making our own we will ever need to buy baker`s yeast again!

You will need:

500 ml still mineral water (deficient in lime!!)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 non sulfurized date (or fig or apricot, basically any not sulfurized fruit with is high in sugar)


Fill 500 ml mineral water in glass jar with lid

Add brown sugar (alternatively honey)

Put fruit in jar and close the lid

Shake jar so everything is mixed well

Store jar at room temperature for a min. of eight days but make sure to shake jar twice on a daily basis. During this time the content will ferment. Shaking the jar twice daily does prevent mould formation. The glass jar can be opened daily to pass off the gases. The yeast is ready for use when after opening the jar a light fermented smell is noticed. Store the glass jar after eight days in the fridge.

How to use the self-prepared baker’s yeast water for your recipe:

For baking, replace the water of your recipe with your self-made yeast water. Important is that the dough has to rest longer than usual to expand. The best thing is to prepare the dough 24 hours before and store it in the fridge to rest.

How to increase the yeast water

After using some of the yeast water simply refill the glass jar with lukewarm water, add the sugar and exchange the dry fruit. Don`t forget to open the jar daily and shake it twice daily!

Happy to hear from you!  In the meantime, look after yourself and stay healthy!






Still life – Covid 19 Survival Kit


Hi everyone

What a lovely idea to keep in touch with everyone.

I must say, I feel very blessed living out in the sticks as I am able to get out and walk my dog Harry, not of the nobility, obviously!  We have lovely countryside around here so we are also able go out on our bikes,  and therein lies a story!

Yes, feeling energetic, I donned my very fetching cycle helmet and proceeded to charge off down the road.  I have to say, I am very good at doing a three-point turn in a car but not so good, as I found out, on a bike.  Unfortunately, I hit the curb and shot off my bike like a bullet, slammed onto the concrete and slid into a lamp post.  Gosh, thank goodness for the cycle helmet.  My dear late father always said I had a thick skull or at least I think that’s what he meant  so I ended up in the A&E at Viersen which was a very surreal experience.  I must be a tough old bird because I was still in one piece, no broken bones, just very bruised ribs, so, Catherine, I won’t be joining your keep fit at the moment but keep up the good work.

In the meantime, I’ve been Wonder Woman for my grandson, saving the world, must make note for myself to get the outfit    Also his model for makeup and new hairstyle, which I have to say would be a good look for me for Halloween, although he said I looked like a princess.   Oh to have the vision of a four year old.

The weather is great at the moment, sun shining and a chill in the air so I’m off out with my little dog, maybe give the bike another go next week and try to keep the derriere firmly planted on the seat!

So, everyone, take care, be safe and keep eating the chocolate

Love to all

Ann (Gardner)




Below is Michael Rosen’s poem, ” These are the hands”.  He wrote it about the UK National Health Service.  It also applies to all those who care for us just now. 

These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.

These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip.

These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.

And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.




One Man, Two Guvnors

Featuring James corden as Francis Henshall in this hilarious West End and Broadway hit

Streaming now and available until 9th April 2020.

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and ulfulment on her own terms

Streaming from 9th April until 16th April 2020.

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny.

Streaming from 16th April until 23rd April 2020.

Twelfth Night

Where music is the food of love and nobody is quite what they seem.  Shakespeare’s classic comedy

Streaming 23rd April until 30th April 2020.

Above plays to be found on Youtube.  All begin at 7 pm and are free-to-view.


The Royal Opera House is offering a free programme of curated online broadcasts as part of our #OurHousetoYourHouse series. Full-length productions, musical masterclasses and glimpses behind the scenes can be seen for free any time, anywhere across the globe. This will include the following broadcasts, available on demand, for free, via the our Facebook and YouTube channels:

  • Così fan tutte, The Royal Opera, 2010 – 10 April 2020, 7pm BST
  • The Metamorphosis, The Royal Ballet, 2013 – 17 April 2020, 7pm BST
  • Gloriana, The Royal Opera, 2013 – 24 April 2020, 7pm BST
  • The Winter’s Tale, The Royal Ballet, 2014 – 1 May 2020, 7pm BST


Free Nightly Opera Streams offers a wide range of musical and theatrical flavours.  Every day a different opera.


Highlight of the week.  Trip to the supermarket

It was a big day, the highlight of the week.  The decision being made by the domestic authorities that we needed to restock on the vitals of life and someone had to go on the danger mission to the supermarket. Naturally, ignoring all the normal soldiery adages of  ‘Never volunteer for anything’, I volunteered.  This was going to be a mission to the supermarket like no other. Normally, if you buy a few things for home, you’d drive to the shop, pop in, get your stuff, pay and drive home. Now it’s turned into something more akin to a military campaign.  The amount of planning that goes into the trip is off the scale.

Timing, this is everything.  You have to get there before the essentials that have been restocked overnight sell out, but how soon do you start joining the queue. The shop opens at 8 am, do I get there for 7?, 7:30 or even when it opens at 8?  If I leave it too late, how big will the queue be?  After all, you don’t want to look too keen, or be one of the many videoed people queuing around the block, guarding the shopping trolley and their place in the queue.

Then there’s the list – what’s a list?  I’ve never had a list for shopping in my life, I’ve known roughly what was needed, my wife being very good at reminding me before I went, me being very bad at remembering and a real sucker for an impulse buy.  After all, pigeon breast with pate was an absolute bargain!

Then there’s the safety aspect of the trip.  Face mask? Easy decision, we don’t have any.  Disinfecting wipes for the trolley handles, gloves?  What about disinfecting the hands when you’re back in the car and preventing virus spread on the steering wheel or, even worse, on your face.  The more I thought about it, the more likely the chances of cross contamination became a possibility. Realising this was going to be more hassle than it’s worth, I decided to not bother with anything.  Danger, after all, is my middle name!

So, at 7:30 armed with only some carrier bags and a shopping list, I set out on the mission.  The first thing that struck me was how quiet the roads were.  On any normal weekday at this time, the road to the supermarket would be heaving with traffic, barely moving above the standard walking pace.  This morning, the old car didn’t know what had hit it, as we sped along at 60 mph. Mulling over this write up, I did wonder if the roads in Germany were equally as quiet and had a little smirk to myself, visualising all the pedestrians walking to Aldi and dutifully stopping to wait for the green light before crossing the empty road.  In the UK, such lights are treated as advisory on a good day, decorative on a bad day.  There’s still something reassuring about living in a country where rules and regulations are not taken too seriously.

Car parked, germ riddled trolley selected, I joined the queue.  Now, queuing is a sport where we British are proud to excel, and today was no different.  An orderly queue had formed waiting for the 8 am starting gun, the only difference being that we were all spaced out at 2m intervals thanks to the taped lines on the floor.  I took up station.  While the rest of my fellow shoppers buried their noses deep within all the social irrelevance that seems to fill their lives, I looked around and tried to while away the time.  I invented a new game, I called it ‘Incursion’.  My new game of Incursion involved having some fun at the expense of my fellow shoppers.  The guy in front was a prime candidate as he seemed very twitchy as he thumbed away at his phone.  Let the game begin, I edged my trolley into his space slowly followed by me.  This had the desired effect, as he twitched forward, giving me the evil eye as he moved away from me.  It had a better than anticipated result, a real domino effect as the whole queue moved forward a couple of feet.  Even better than better, the people behind me moved forward as well, giving rise to another part of the game called ‘Reclaim’.  Feigning innocence of my incursion, ‘I realised’ I was in the wrong zone and went back into the right zone, effectively forcing those behind me to reverse a couple of feet backwards.  This was great fun, and the time just flew.  I varied it up a bit by getting some of the people behind me wondering what was happening by not moving forward when the queue advanced by one space.  People do get stressed when you don’t conform, even if it is for just a few minutes.  I wonder why?  We were literally going nowhere.  They were getting so stressed; at least two or three spaces behind me they came out of their phones, wandered away from the trolley to look at the empty space that hadn’t been moved into.  Who knew you can have this much fun in a queue at a supermarket?  Alas, all good thigs must come to an end and I reached the front of the queue and much to the relief of my fellow shoppers, I was allowed into the shop.

Expecting rows and rows of empty shelves, it was a real disappointment, everything was really well stocked.  OK, beans, tomatoes and loo rolls (see previous writings) were a problem, but anything else seemed in plentiful supply with some items being rationed to two purchases.  With great relish and a relatively empty soulless shop, I set about the task of restocking for Chez Matthews.  The problem with lists are that they don’t match the journey you make around the shop, so I found myself doing my daily exercise walk as I went up and down the aisles many more times than necessary.  Then I spied him, pondering over the eggs – large, small, brown, white, battery, free range etc. – Mr Twitchy.  Eggs were also on my list, so casting caution aside and ignoring the 2m rule, I leant in to get a dozen of the finest large, brown free-range eggs.  It is at this point I felt as if I must have been wearing too much man-made fabric and had built up a massive static electricity charge.  This must have discharged into Twitchy, as he leapt backwards the regulation 2m distance, grabbing his trolley in mid-leap.  He lost all interest in eggs, and scurried away giving the ‘Supermarket Nutter’ many a backwards glance.

Other than that, the supermarket was a bit of a non-event.  Arriving at La Maison, I had no idea we then had a quarantine regime.  Who knew?  I made the heinous mistake of carrying said shopping inside instead of leaving it in the quarantine zone – the garage.  Dutifully carrying shopping back out to garage and locking up, I was then informed that perishables didn’t belong in the garage, but needed to come inside to be washed and then stored in the fridge or freezer.  I dutifully returned to said garage, only to discover another crime.  I had just bunged the shopping into any old bag, not realising the new quarantine rules that were now in force.  I had to risk further cross contamination by sorting through the bags and rescuing the non-quarantine items.  Duly washed (there must come a time when we bore of this game?) and safely stored, I hear the gentle bubbling of a boiling kettle and settle down with mug of tea to recall my adventures to an enthralled audience who are slowly going stir crazy and were not man enough to volunteer for such dangers.

Starting into the third week of quarantine, I can thankfully say that we still have our wits together. No signs yet of any deterioration physically, and hopefully mentally as well. The days seem just to fly by, interrupted only by a shopping trip up the road to REWE once and another one to the animal-food supermarket where we left more money than at Rewe!  But the birds and squirrels are delighted and turning up in ever-increasing numbers.

I have been pondering whether we ever experienced such a situation before, and remembered one or more occasion when we were put into similar conditions.  The earliest was soon after the war when my family was living on a farm in Lower Saxony.  Apart from the farmer’s family, there were two more refugee families; all in all, 13 grown ups and 11 children.  My younger sister and I developed whooping cough and were banned from school and kindergarten and also kept isolated at the farm in the „best“ sitting room.  We also had to live and sleep in that room.  The beds were two armchairs pushed together and one hard, upright, narrow sofa.  Only when the other children were in school could we play outside.  It was February and one of the hardest winters. Snow was a meter high and the farmyard consisted only of narrow passages to the various stables, chicken pen, pigsty, woodshed and barn through which we could run.  High white walls and a deep-blue sky above, which I still remember to this day.

While living in Bombay in the late 1960’s, the city was under curfew due to workers unrest, as it was called for over a week.  I was travelling in Northern India with my mother. We were told at our last stop at the newly opened Lake Place Hotel in Udaipur/Rajasthan that we could not return to Bombay as everything was shut down.  Lucky us – we were treated by the hotel staff like the Maharani herself. Poor John in Bombay had to cope with the problem alone (but looked after by cook and bearer).  Later, when living in Lagos/Nigeria, there were several military coups, which entailed, of course, house arrest for all and sundry and no chance of getting some food or other necessities.  Hope and anguish kept us sane.  It seems that we are quite able to be alone and cut-off from the outside world.

We lie with our sail yacht at anchor or tied to the rocks during our sailing trips for 5 or 6 days at a time with no-one else around, quite happy and content.  I know, of course, that we all are not knitted of the same yarn, but one can try and make the best of any situation.

Have another lovely week of splendid isolation!

Warmest greetings,


Dear Ladies,

When I took notice about the Feng Shui Seminar in the March newsletter (which unfortunately had to be cancelled), it rang a bell.  I studied Feng Shui many years ago and also followed their practices, but over the years, lost track.

Instantly the words “Declutter”, “Energy flow” and “Arranging” came into my mind. Looking at my desk, though, I realised I was far away from that!  It was overloaded with files and documents in progress.

But how to arrange any desk in a good Feng Shui layout to improve productivity and energy levels?  No matter whether you are working from home now, or you are not working from home now, whether you have a business or you don’t have a business or whether you are not working at all and just have a desk at home?

In fact, this ancient Chinese art and science can also help putting together an ideal, balanced space for focusing and finding clarity when working on different aspects of life.  I decided to move into action and started to do some research. What I found is so interesting that I would like to share this with you.

I have prepared a basic desk guide followed by a drawing which summarizes the main points.

Basic Feng Shui Desk Guide

When arranging your feng shui desk, it’s important you have a clear understanding of your working style and the purpose of your desk first. Before you start to add or remove items from your desk, make a goal list of your aspirations, objectives and areas of your life you wish to focus on.  Whether you’re starting a new passion project, working on improving your health or need help focusing on schoolwork, knowing your needs beforehand will help you determine the changes you need to make to the surface of your desk.

A minimalist look isn’t always the best in Feng Shui unless there’s only one area in your career you’d like to focus on.  Having practical items and decor can further help you harness the necessary energy to achieve your goals. Things like indoor purifying plants, crystals and notepads are great for the surface of your desk. However, all items on your desk should be organised and kept in order.

The following drawing of a Feng Shui Desk I prepared is arranged according to the Bagua map. This map is used as a guide to arrange homes and spaces in a way that encourages a positive energy flow through different areas of your life.  If used correctly, your desk arrangement can help you focus on things like wealth, creativity and relationships to propel you to the next stage of your career.


If your desk is not in line with Feng Shui recommendations, you can easily balance out energy flows by adding or removing a few items.  Perhaps add a metal print, a plant or fresh flowers or fill your diffuser with a blend of essential oils on the areas you want to focus on e.g. lemon and rosemary to improve concentration or lemon and peppermint to boost your energy level. Quick and easy changes can do the trick and make such a difference.

Remember, organisation, focus and clarity are just a few of the Feng Shui benefits.  Follow these basic practices and you are ready to put together your ideal workplace.  Have fun!



My last three weeks of lock down DUE TO CORONA V-19

















We skipped our walks during Easter, as we feared it would be too crowded wherever we went, especially as there would be all the still-able and allowed-to-work citizens on top of all the oldies and home workers.  Alas, our considerations backfired and we are now a few pounds heavier!

But we made up for it today with an extra-long walk amidst profusely yellow-flowering mustard or rape fields and almost in solitude.  Spring has come quite early this year.  I seem to remember that these fields were blooming after our return from Spain in mid-May.  Across the valley from our flat, the woods are almost white with beautiful flowering wild cherry trees and other unidentifiable breeds.  The birds and squirrels are still turning up in great numbers at the feeding stations.  Even some new larger birds from the woods, which we haven´t seen before.

The other day, an article in our daily newspaper caught my eye with the heading „Patagonia“.  The author claimed that almost every child has a name of a place, country or region, which, when spoken to itself, has a magical formula.  For him it was „Patagonia“ – the title of a book called „Idle days in Patagonia“ by William Henry Hudson, which caught my immediate interest and I thought: how appropriate for the present situation!  Then it came to mind that I, myself, had such a magical name since my childhood in my head.  It is „Antofagasta“, a town in northern Chile, as Patagonia in South America, which also fascinates me greatly.  But why, or in what context „Antofagasta“, I don´t know, but whenever I think of South America, this name comes at once to mind.  Has anyone of you had a similar experience?  In fact, I think, it would be quite interesting to find out whether (t)his theory is shared by some of you.  Let me know.

Thumbs up for the 4th week of splendid isolation.  Don´t despair – there are worse things in life one has to face.

Susanne Xxx

Antofagasta is a city in the north of the South American Andean state of Chile. It has a population of 352,600.  The name of the city comes from the Quechua language and means roughly „village on the large salt lake“.  Antofagasta is the capital of the region of the same name and the province of the same name.

Susanne, in response to your call for magical names from childhood, my offering would be the word „monotonous“.  Admittedly not the name of a town and, at the time, having no idea what it meant, I remember spelling it out loud repeatedly as a very young primary school child to anyone in earshot.  It just rolls off the tongue so beautifully…   (Sandra)

I have just had to explain a joke to my (German) husband put in by Sandra in last year’s September issue of the BWC Newsletter.

„With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person which almost went unnoticed. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote the „Hokey Pokey“, died at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started …“

„What’s a Hokey Pokey?“ he asked.  I jumped up and immediately started singing … And shaking my left leg all about!



Visitors to the BWC website may have seen (and heard) the video of the Christ Church bell being rung daily up until Easter during the Coronavirus crisis. Religious services are suspended under the current restrictions and the daily ringing of the bell in the evening throughout Lent has been one way for the Church to show solidarity with other Churches and Christians across the city and call people to pray together each evening during the crisis. Now, after Easter, the bell is still being rung regularly on Sundays to remind people that the Church is still there and call them to prayer, even if services are still temporarily suspended. If you enjoyed listening to the bell, it occurred to me that BWC members might also be interested in its history.

I have been attending Christ Church for many years but had never given the bell a second thought until November last year when a letter arrived from the Central Office of the Evangelical Church in Germany asking us to confirm that we still had in our possession a 104.5 kg bell with a bell tone in A-flat. The letter referred to this as a „Patenglocke“ or „Leihglocke“, cast in 1593, which used to hang in Lohbrück, a suburb of Breslau (now Wroclav in Poland). One look at the bell confirmed that it looked pretty heavy and no doubt could weigh over 100 kg but there were absolutely no distinguishing marks on the bell and the note it plays when rung is not something you can easily determine without a good musical ear or some scientific equipment.  So, what is a „Leihglocke“ and how did it come to Christ Church, a Church of England Church built in 1951?

A little research led back to 1941 when the War Ministry under Hermann Göring ordered the removal of church bells across the whole German Reich to be melted down for the war effort. The officials responsible for collecting the bells categorised them according to how useful or valuable they might be – some of them thought likely to be of historic interest were held back in reserve and not sent to the iron foundries or steel-works immediately.  Indeed, an awful lot of them never got melted down at all. At the end of the war, the victorious allies confiscated all materials held by the German war ministry – and among these were around 14,000 church bells held in various stores – the largest one being in the British zone on the docks in Hamburg. Newspaper stories at the time referred to the „Glockenfriedhof“ on the Hamburg docks and pictures show acres of rusting hulks of bells, many of them badly damaged by stray bombs.  Needless to say, the churches petitioned for their return – which turned out to involve some tricky legal questions. After various negotiations, initially with the British Control Commission and later, the Federal Government, the Government agreed that bells belonging to West German churches could be handed back to them „on loan“ – the legal ownership of the bells is a vexed question which has never been decided and this is the origin of the term „Leihglocke“.

A special commission was established to research the identity and origin of each of the bells and arrange for their distribution to churches across Germany.  This organisation, „Ausschuss für die Rückführung der Glocken e.V.“ was staffed with expert „Glockenhistoriker“ or „Glockenarchivisten“ who carried out painstaking work over many years up until the 1970’s.

One of the biggest problems they had to deal with was what to do with over 1.300 bells found in the „Glockenfriedhof“ which were determined to have originated from the „ehemaligen Ost-Gebiete“, former German territories now under Russian, Polish or Czech control.  Following the Potsdam conference and the redrawing of German frontiers, the former German populations had mostly been expelled or had fled to the West.

Silesia, which had had a German population in excess of 4.5 million before the war, hardly has any German inhabitants today. Around 3.5 million people had either fled or been expelled by 1950 – most of them to Austria or areas of Germany occupied by the Western allies.  Many more came across in the 1960’s and 1970’s as successive West German governments negotiated rights for Germans to emigrate from behind the iron curtain. One of the first acts of the post-war communist government in Poland had been to seize all former German property – including churches and there were no parishes or congregations to which bells could be returned in the early 1950’s.

Shortly after the end of the war, the Polish government made a claim to the British Military Authorities in Hamburg for the return of „Polish“ bells – a claim which was summarily turned down – but the future of the bells remained caught up in legal and political wrangles for a number of years.  These were finally resolved by the new Federal Government who decided in late 1950, firstly to stand by the legality of the 1941 war-time requisition and treat the bells as state property (now of the Federal Republic), and, secondly, to allow the Evangelical and Catholic Churches in West Germany to distribute these „Ost-Glocken“ on loan to „needy“ congregations in the West.

The „Ausschuss für die Rückführung der Glocken e.V.“ first determined whether the bells were „protestant“ or „catholic“ (!) before allowing the churches to distribute the relevant bells.  Initially, efforts were made to identify churches and parishes in West Germany with a high concentration of refugees from the relevant parishes in the East – and to allocate the bells to those parishes.  But many were left over and this is how we believe Christ Church ended up with a large cast-iron bell from the former German protestant Church of Breslau-Lohbrück.  Our records sadly do not record quite what happened back in 1951 but we assume that the Evangelical Church needed to find homes for hundreds of protestant bells and decided the newly-built C. of E. church would make a suitable home for a refugee bell from the East.

The bell was originally installed with an electric motor and rung regularly on Sunday mornings until about 1990 when serious cracks were noticed in the bell tower. Consultant bell engineers (yes, there is a whole sector of the economy devoted to bells) reported that the tower needed to be strengthened, a new „yoke“ or „cradle“ installed and strongly recommended replacing the old cast-iron bell with a new brass bell. The costs of this work (a snip at 7,500 Dutch Florins back in 1994) was unfortunately too much for the congregation and the bell remained silent for the best part of next 20 years.

Until one of our church members (a Romanian ex-army colonel and, more importantly, a mechanical engineer) did some calculations of the vibrations and stresses and worked out that it was „probably“ safe to ring the bell provided you just swung the clapper inside the bell and did not try to swing the whole bell. He also fitted some „high-tech“ pieces of old car engine mountings to absorb excess vibrations and attached an even more hi-tech washing-line to the clapper which runs through a series of pulleys down the outside of the building to the ground. Tugging the washing line does not produce quite the same „Doppler effect“ characteristic of a swinging bell which strikes the clapper twice in close succession, but it does save the brickwork and still allows the bell to be heard on a Sunday morning.

Knowing, as we now do, that the bell does not actually belong to Christ Church but is state property of historic interest („Deutsches Kulturgut“), we can be extremely thankful that the church did not agree to its illegal destruction and replacement by a new brass bell back in 1994!

Lockdown in New Zealand

Kindly submitted by Rachel Landon-Lane

Part of our weekly routine during this lockdown has been going to the supermarket on a Tuesday.  We have the queuing routine, hand sanitizer and wiped-down trolley handles as I imagine you do, but we can both go in together, whereas in larger cities the staff are strict about customers shopping singly.  New Zealand had the same panic buyers of toilet paper when the lockdown was announced, but it was quite unnecessary as our factories kept producing it. We did have a shortage of flour for a week.  Anxious New Zealand mothers were the main culprits in clearing the supermarket shelves of flour in the day before our national lockdown, intending to occupy their children with the almost lost arts of baking, and to make playdough for the tinies!  Colin was rather sniffy, „As if the average New Zealander still knows how to bake!“ Apparently, our flour shortage was owing to the extra demands for 1.5 kilo sized bags and the busy truckers. The domestic market is only 5% of the flour trade, so there were plenty of 20 kg bags for anyone who wanted them!

When we first ventured out, I thought that I would make us face masks following the no-sew method shown on YouTube.  Well, no matter how I folded and loosened the fabric, the two hair elastics on either side really hurt my ears.  Colin wandered off and came back wearing an airline sleep mask over his nose and mouth, upside down!  How clever was that?  Plus, he had a range of colours for me to choose from.  So that’s what we wore to the supermarket.  Possibly if we had met anyone we knew, they wouldn’t have wanted to know us.

Colin exited from Dubai before his contract finished, as did the two British women on his team. They were doing desk work, writing a new evaluation framework, not visiting schools, and the Ministry of Education paid them to finish the job working from home.  So, during his 14-day isolation after arriving back here, Colin was quite busy.  Working from home as a team sounds like video conferencing and so on, but it was quite different.  The team live in three different time zones, so when Colin was getting up in the morning, the Brits were thinking about dinner and going to bed, and the Emirati team members were fast asleep.  When they awoke, their emails and tech queries would start coming in during our afternoon, then the Brits would wake up and begin their email exchange when Colin felt that a day’s work had been done.  Each working day could spread over 20 hours.

We are very lucky to be quite comfortable during this time of being confined to home.  No business to run or jobs to lose.  We are healthy and have no young children to keep entertained or nag about schoolwork, nor frail and aged parents.  And, of course, we have each other.  The weather is still sunny and mild, and I have done such a lot of work in the garden.  I realise that when I stopped working for money to concentrate on the garden, I filled up a lot of time with various activities and still let the weeds overrun the place.

I have now finished my gardening for the day, pulling out clumps of tall grass next to a reasonably attractive river stone and succulent garden, then strimming over the area.  It is too sloping and rough for a mower.  After getting changed out of work clothes, I drove into a peach-coloured sunset to the nearest suburb to leave our rubbish bag.  Rubbish collection services don’t extend to us ratepayers in the countryside.  Driving home, my aching back and hands demanded a soothing glass of wine, but Colin had made tea, so that is what I am supping now.

He Is Risen, sung by the combined choirs of Christ Church Düsseldorf and Christ Church Fulwood.

Posted with kind permission of the arrangers, Anna Harvey and Ben Shaw who brought together members of both congregations to make a virtual choir for Easter 2020.

‚No Man is an Island‘ by John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

Written during a period of severe illness in 1624.


Now into the fifth week (or is it the sixth, seventh? I’ve lost track) of isolation, where one day is remarkably like the next.  Initially, a void of wonderful nothingness, a vacuum of nihility but now filled with activities we never knew existed or accomplishments that we wouldn’t have believed possible.

My inhouse promotion to Barber came unexpectedly last week.  Mr. E. is living proof, with a head of few hairs shorn to even less.  The tools for the trade appeared as if by magic from the back of an unused cupboard, dusted down and laid out as though in a Pagan ritual.  But my client came willingly, albeit with some trepidation.  ‚You will mind my ears, won’t you‘ – no guarantee there; ‚don’t take too much off the front‘ – is that possible; ‚ouch!‘ – not uttered once, so consider job well done.  A clean cut, almost Hipster hairstyle took years off his age but we’re not going to grow the beard to match.  We don’t actually don’t know what a Hipster is so no fear of that, come to think of it.  Much gazing in the mirror and pulling on remaining hair followed before the final harrumph was taken to mean it would do for the time being.  No tip for the worker, though.  I think it wise not to go into business.

Some may recall the ambition of resident student son to build a hen coop.  Thankfully, this was abandoned in favour of Project Bird House.  Plans are drawn up in a late-night tête-à-tête with would-be carpenters off at sunrise to queue up at the local Bauhaus.  Even being 30th in line did not deter their enthusiasm. They return with wood, new electric saw, new electric screwdriver, clamps, screws, varnish and a bill that would have enabled the purchase of at least two if not three decent Bauhaus style bird houses. Their determination is exemplary although student son becomes noticeably more absent as project proceeds and Meister Schreiner has to take over.  Resulting bird house now stands proud in front of kitchen window, a masterpiece of structural engineering, even having a detachable roof, no less, in order to remove unwanted food morsels left by many happy visiting birds.  Of which there are none to date.  We assume they disapprove of the varnish used and wait in hope.

In spite of the triumphs, though, rejections have also come in equal measures.  Embarking on the world of online Bridge and making up a foursome with the ever enthusiastic BWC Bridge ladies, with registration complete and stage names chosen, Willow96, Jackpat, MarySJ and Auruthie enter the virtual play arena.  Sadly, though, and within seconds, I turn into a robot and am cruelly ousted from the game with not a bat of an eyelid from anyone.  The Evans Wi-Fi has chosen just this moment to have a low (the dreaded whirring blue circle) rendering mouse clicks on the playing cards impossible.  A terrible blow to a Bridge addict sensing the ultimate isolation kick is within grasp. Not to be defeated by a circle the size of a gnat, I find a solution; connect computer to an ethernet lan cable and all should be well.  Bridge is now firmly on the calendar several times a week and, short of the computer crashing mid-game, long may the addiction continue.

Next on the schedule of achievements never thought possible is online Pilates, expertly led by our very own, and very patient, Catherine.  Here again, a first attempt to join is thwarted by technical problems akin to launching a rocket.  Too long and wearisome to explain in detail, it is, in a nutshell, all down to Mr E.’s little Devolo hidden somewhere deep in his study and above the bedroom where I think it best to exercise.  If in doubt, blame the man and his Devolo.  My tablet and his Devolo have yet to become acquainted and, were they on Tinder, it’s a definite swipe left judging by the difficulty experienced in coupling up.  Password in capitals, password in lower case, trialling WPS (whatever that might be), resetting the Devolo.  Nothing works.  And this under duress of the lesson about to begin, plus Mr. E. being summoned in haste (Mr. E. does nothing in haste) from his multitudinous gardening activities at the far end of the estate.  An hour later, lesson over, but success achieved, after trying a million alternatives, by a mere press of the tiniest of buttons on the Devolo.  Ah well, all’s well that ends well.  Connection complete and many lessons since much enjoyed.  Grateful thanks to Catherine on behalf of all regular Pilatees.  Amazing how such minimalist movements can create a mass of aching muscles the following day.

Another isolation battle is online purchasing.  Not my idea of fun and rarely done as it’s so frustratingly maddening.  But needs must these days and so begins the fight to dispatch a box of chocolates from A to B.  Preferred website, used once in the past and classed as usable, is unable to process orders until after Easter (too late); second choice has an abundance of goods and happy to supply.  Just come along to Chocolate Paradise and see how difficult we can make your morning pan out (should be the headline on the website).

We begin and I am asked: Choose delivery country.  I choose.  I click ‚Shop Now‘. I am asked: choose delivery country (what, again?).  I oblige.  Most Popular Products selection appears, I feel I’m on to a winner here.  I spy Large Signature Assortment to fit bill.  Click ‚Buy Now‘ but purchase does not ‚go to trolley‘.  Instead, choose delivery country.  No!  But I oblige.  Again.  Website then refreshes itself – why? – and introduces a new section, ‚Trending‘.  Much scrolling but Large Signature Assortment relocated.  I ‚Buy Now‘ again but confusion sets in, where is planned purchase? No sign of trolley. Webpage refreshes itself again and asks whether I’d like to order more goods. Hold on, I haven’t even bought ‚one‘ goods, let alone wanting more.  Where is my first box? Or second one, for that matter.  Or maybe I even have a third…?

I start again, scrolling now through a multitude of chocolate Easter bunnies not seen previously until chosen box is found again.  But wait, chosen box has increased in price!  Of all the cheek!  I expect at this point that frustration hits a high and unsuspecting victim, obviously being so harassed, becomes click-happy (or unhappy), now desperate to just order anything.  Ha, fortunately not this victim.  I keep my cool, delete the browser chronic and decide to start this fun game all over again, even if it might take all day.  A (mere) whole morning spent (wasted) before chosen box is pinned firmly down in trolley but at least I pay the original price!  How chocs got to trolley is still unknown, so no using that website again.

Subsequent delivery does not arrive on time and I am told by prospective, parental recipients to investigate.  Not asked, you note.  Told.  Ha, you were foolish enough to ordered them online, you go find out where they are.  I listen, in dutiful father-daughter mode, whilst being remanded and told how, next time, to let recipient father know of said intentions and he would purchase Large Signature Assortment (or similar) for me.  No need for all ‚this online stuff‘.

The British Women's Club warmly invite you to our monthly luncheon


To take place at

Heinemann Cafe in Düsseldorf

for a lively breakfast amongst friends.

Date and time still to be confirmed.




Please register under




Chairman’s Welcome

We are a friendly club of approximately 140 British and Commonwealth ladies living and working in Düsseldorf.  Our club also includes a small percentage of  other nationalities including German ladies.  We come from all backgrounds and walks of life, but what we do have in common is a sense of community and fun.  We pride ourselves on being an all-inclusive community and we encourage women of all ages to share life together for our mutual benefit and to ensure that the club, founded in 1946, continues to thrive and meet the needs of English-speaking women.

We believe that we are an important link with home for our members now living in Germany and we are also a life-line to adjusting to life here in Düsseldorf for newcomers.  We can provide members with help and practical advice on situations such as finding schools, where to shop, best restaurants and general survival skills (e.g. finding a doctor and form-filling if your German isn’t good enough) and help you to settle in and make friends here in Düsseldorf.

This website gives a comprehensive overview of the club and its activities, but for more information or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!  The committee and I look forward to meeting you soon at one of our regular events.

The British Women’s Club Chairman

Alison Benedickter


A section where the members can come together in word, share thoughts and lift the spirit.


Home of the British Women's Club Düsseldorf e.V.

Our Club

Each month you will receive a comprehensive newsletter informing you of all forthcoming events, regular activities as well as important information including contact details such as the British Consulate General in Düsseldorf, the International Library, English speaking doctors/therapists, religious bodies and education establishments. You will meet women from all walks of life, enjoy diverse activities and excursions as well as visits to museums, theatres and restaurants.

British Women's Club Activities



Mah Jongg










Bridge Club


Book Club


Coffee Mornings


Become part of a great community!   Join our club.

Event Calendar

This month’s events

outings, excursions, museum and art gallery visits, organised walks, guided tours, luncheons and others.  all details to be found in the newsletter.

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No Events

Past Events

A selection of written accounts by our members of recent and past outings, excursions and social gathering.

More past events?

Christmas Cards

The BWC donates each year to one British and one German charity chosen by our members.  By far the most successful and popular fundraiser of the Club is the annual Christmas card.



Pack of six cards with envelopes (21 x 10 cm)

The original paintings for our Christmas cards are kindly donated for use to the Club by local artist, Frau Edith Hackspiel.  These cards are available with either Christmas greetings or left blank to use for any occasion.

All proceeds go to the British Women’s Club chosen charities:

The Honeypot Children’s Charity in Great Britain.

Pro Kids in Duisburg in Germany.

British Women's Club nominated charities 2020

Whilst we are predominantly a social and a community club, we also undertake charity work.  Below are our two nominated charities for 2020.

  • The Honeypot Children's Charity

    The charity’s vision is for every child to make the most of their one chance at childhood.
    Since 1996, Honeypot has been working to enhance the lives of vulnerable children and young carers aged 5-12 years by providing respite breaks and on-going outreach support. They give young carers a break from demanding and stressful responsibilities at home and provide a safe, nurturing environment where children at risk can develop their full potential. Most of the children are young carers who juggle school and growing up with performing a surrogate role at home. Many care for a chronically or terminally ill loved one or have a parent with drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
    Honeypot also works with vulnerable children from homes with extreme social, financial or emotional challenges. They are also often victims of abuse and neglect, and many will be on the Child Protection Register.
    Honeypot offers respite breaks for children throughout the school holidays and every weekend at various facilities in the New Forest, Hampshire and Pen y Bryn in mid-Wales. Here the staff engage with them in a wide range of activities such as swimming in our onsite pools, riding bikes and go karts, trampolining, building dens in the forest and going on bug hunts, looking after the Honeypot pets, arts and crafts, pyjama parties, bedtime stories and trips to the beach or a local theme park.

  • Pro Kids in Duisburg

    The Pro Kids in Duisburg is a street work café that was founded in 2003 by the Diakonie Duisburg for teenagers and young adults who live mainly on or around the street, having critical living conditions, addictions or social deficits. Pro Kids provides a drug and violence free, safe environment, the very opposite from the street they are used to. These young people are treated with respect in an accepting, encouraging and friendly way which is the main requirement in building a trustworthy contact between them, staff members and volunteers. For more information, please go to

Do you buy online?  The BWC is now part of the Amazon partner programme in Germany and the UK. Any purchase you make via the BWC website will earn the club a percentage of the sale (up to 5%) which will then go to our charities. Simply click on the Amazon logo which will take you directly to the relevant Amazon website.