Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Best seasonal wishes

To all my readers, let me send you best wishes for the time of year. I hope your year ends peacefully and happily, you get some lovely presents and that you also get a decent break from all the rush.


Sue x

Sunday, 22 December 2019

The troubles of a democrat

I am very troubled by what has happened in the United Kingdom politically, especially in the last year. I won't go into full details in this post but will explain in another why this is such a dangerous and frightening situation. A carefully balanced constitutional arrangement in Britain dating from the late seventeenth century has been wrecked and will be demolished shortly. That this collapse in even limited democracy should happen so fast and within my own lifetime shocks me. Not to mention the proposal to remove human rights. This from a country that was instrumental in promoting them, notably after the horrors of World War 2.

I started this blog in 2011 in an effort to show trans people that living authentically as themselves in Britain was not only possible but enjoyable. As a trans person - indeed, just as a person - I don't feel safe in the UK any more, and I won't return.

My efforts to settle elsewhere - currently in Italy - are progressing slowly but surely. I have my permit to stay under European rules, which doubles as a residence certificate. I now have an ID card, too, albeit in my boy name. From January, I can get a health card that enables me to use the national health service and can stop paying for private health insurance (required under European rules). I have put in my application for Italian citizenship, which I am entitled to do under an old law of 1912 that grants it to anyone who had an Italian ancestor. So if you can prove you were descended from Julius Caesar then you can be an Italian citizen, too. (OK, I exaggerate.) That's important to me as I'd rather live in a liberal democracy with human rights and a health service than under a dictatorship or oligarchy. Besides, they've got cool sports cars here and, well, what girl can resist that?

I am spending Christmas with a relative of mine (a Mr Caesar), so no pretty frocks this year. But at least I am enjoying considerably better weather than in previous Christmases in the UK. I'll post again before Christmas Day to send my readers greetings, but right now I remain troubled.

Sue x

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Taking it slowly

Oh dear, my blog's a little bit neglected, isn't it? Blame the limited access to internet over the last year. I have been trying to get Wifi installed in my new home over the last two months and the process has become a farce. The fact that when the flat was modernised the builders plonked a new wall through the phone wire is not a problem that any competent engineer should be unable to overcome, surely?

This last month I have been doing very little - and believe me, that is a delight after many years of hard work and stress. My little collection of feminine articles makes me happy, as ever, and I have come across a trans support group locally, although I haven't made proper contact yet because of  these internet problems.

Despite the heavy rains all over Europe, I have been enjoying autumn sunshine and warmth, which were things that I always found very lacking in Britain. This better weather has already improved my health and general wellbeing. A typical outdoors temperature here on the Mediterranean coast this month has been 18C (65F). For the time of year, that's bliss.

Sue x

Friday, 25 October 2019

New home

I've moved into my new home but I still don't have proper internet access as the people trying to install my Wifi are a bunch of clowns. So that's why I haven't posted in a while.

But I have filled my wardrobe with some of my favourite clothes from England and quite a few more bought in Italy and am living my femme life again, albeit quietly in private as I am not yet certain of my ground in public.

Here's me in my home.

Once my internet is functioning I'll be trying trying to contact and meet local LGBT groups.

Sue x

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Looking for a new home

I've spent much of the spring and summer doing two important things. One is ensuring I have a settled status in Italy, at least for the next year, and the other is actually finding a proper home to live in. Family and friends have been very kind and let me stay with them whilst I look for a new home but it does feel like camping out.

Next week I hope my residence in Italy, in Europe, will be confirmed. So many Britons, fearful of losing their human and other rights as announced by the British government, have been applying for dual citizenship with other European Union states to continue benefiting from EU rights. Italy's my best bet for that, which is partly why I'm here.

I have now found myself a new home, which I will rent for a year. It's in a beautiful spot overlooking the Mediterranean Sea just a short walk from the beach and the flat itself has ample oudoor space, ideal for catching that sun that's become so vital for my health. I'm very excited about it and should be moving in in October.

It also means I can get back to that feminine existence which is expressed only subtly at present.

Here are a few photos of some of the places I went looking for a home. They're all different but beautiful in their own separate ways.


The Gulf of La Spezia from Lerici

Manarola in the Cinque Terre

Cactuses at Bordighera


Monte Carlo casino


One of the many public parks in San Remo

Sue x

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Blog anniversary and future direction

I started this blog eight years ago today as a celebration of transgender life, to encourage other trans people to live with courage as their authentic selves in the real world, which isn't as scary a thing to do as most of us often lead ourselves to believe. This blog was also intended as a celebration of London life.

Well, things have certainly changed. I no longer live in London but abroad. Partly because of some odd health problems regulating my body temperature added to the very real problem of climate change that has seen Britain become the cloudiest country in the world (to the extent that children are now given Vitamin D pills to prevent rickets and other diseases), which led my doctors to suggest I move somewhere warmer with more sunshine and more regular temperatures. And partly because the obscenely incompetent and malevolent politicians there now are in Britain, and the desperately weak constitution that leaves the country teetering on the verge of a potential dictatorship, have persuaded me that Britain is not a safe place. No right-wing regime was ever trans-friendly, not in Europe at least.

So far this year I have mainly been in Italy but have not ventured out as Sue, partly because I have mislaid my feminine essentials, partly because I am with family who would cause endless trouble if they knew, and partly because I am not sure of my ground outdoors. In big cities here like Milan, Genoa and La Spezia there are plenty of trans girls around. I have seen several and am gradually getting better acquainted with trans life here via social media. There are certainly excellent medical facilities and services if you are transitioning, as well as robust legal protections. But if you aren't transitioning, it's a bit more rough and tumble in a country that is still pretty sexist and where nobody minds their own business. So at present, as was so often the case when I was younger, I dress only when I have strict privacy.

So what of my blog? Is there a market for an English-language blog for someone who no longer lives in an English-speaking country? Well, I don't plan to close down yet, but clearly things have changed very dramatically. The days of organising Angels Lunches or London theatre trips are clearly gone, as are the days of participating in big events like the TGirl Bar or Sparkle. Of course, I may not stay in Italy but move to Spain eventually where LGBT culture is far more developed, accepted and protected. Watch this space, I guess. And that's the point. My trans life hasn't ended despite the huge changes, it's just different. I'm not at all sure what the future could hold as I'm still finding my way in a new life that's been somewhat thrust upon me. But one promise I made to myself at New Year 1997 was that I would no longer deny that I was transgender, no longer purge and no longer hide my reality from people who mattered, and that will always hold now and for ever.

My previous anniversary posts usually mentioned statistical things. But not this time - it's too masculine an obsession, in my view. Nor will I post links to the most popular pages as it skews things to those pages rather than others (the TGirl Bar 2013 is way too popular! OK, I know, who can resist all those gorgeous barmaids in pretty outfits?)

Thank you again for reading my blog, for your comments and your support. Love to you all. Be true to yourselves.

Sue x

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Big travels

It's been several weeks since I last posted which is not usual with me but the reason is I have been travelling a lot and had limited internet access.

I visited many places in Italy, France, Ireland and Britain, as well as Monaco.

Manarola, Italy

Nice, France


Pride week in Dublin, Ireland

Wells Cathedral, England

I've been travelling to these places for a variety of reasons, but essentially not for sightseeing. I remain very worried about the political and constitutional disaster happening in the UK and am still working on the details of my alternative life away from it. Really, people have no idea how terrifying the situation is in a country with no written constitution where the government has been trying its best to avoid democratic and constitutional processes for three years already. I may give more detail on my thoughts on this in another post but for now just know that I am doing my damndest to salvage what I can before the chaos arrives.

Sue x

Sunday, 16 June 2019

So you still want that surgery?

I used to spend a lot of time at Charing Cross Gender Clinic in London in my early days out in public around 2010-2013, not as a patient but simply meeting friends there and generally chatting to people in the waiting room to see how transition was for them. It was research I felt I needed to do as my gender dysphoria ratcheted up to new levels. Then in 2013 I accompanied a friend there for her surgery. And that went horribly wrong, as this post explained http://suerichmond.blogspot.com/2013/08/when-surgery-goes-wrong.html

I assumed this was a one-off problem. But since then, everyone I know who has been for surgery in Britain has had serious complications.

Gender reassignment surgery, or whatever you want to call it, is certainly not touted by the professionals as an easy or straightforward procedure and it takes a lot of genuine effort on all sides to get to the point when surgery is offered. I have always felt that surgery promoters in the trans community can be very irresponsible in the way they suggest it is a solution to dysphoria and a panacea for lots of other life problems that trans people experience. This surgery is a serious deal. But the number of times it goes wrong is disturbing me. I no longer believe that I have unlucky friends but that there is a fundamental problem with the surgery itself.

So my friend in 2013 had her vaginal lining come out in a long strip that hung between her legs. It was horrifying. So was the infection that followed. The next girl had to have surgical adjustments made, also developed an abdominal infection and her hormone dose needed to be so finely balanced or she would be either prostrated with depression or suffer other health problems. Another had further surgery to try to correct a serious flaw in the first and that didn't work either so she is now unable to make love to men as she would like to do. This last year, one friend has had major problems with granulation that only a lot of persistence on her part saw treated properly, a process that took nearly 12 months. Another friend got shingles within a few weeks of her surgery, predomonantly and persistently in her new vagina where the nerves are trying to knit together. The pain and discomfort not ony of the surgery but of the illness are understandably awful. Whilst it is bad luck that this has happened in her case, she complains that it took a lot of effort to get the doctors to take it seriously and the lack of a swifter intervention has made it a long-term problem. I could give other examples where surgery did not go right. As I said, everyone I happen to know seems to have major difficulties.

Obviously, I can only report from their perspective and what I have seen myself. The procedure is complicated, certainly, but the trouble seems to be caused by a low first-time success rate and, above all, the poor aftercare. I'm not sure if going private (if you are lucky enough to be able to afford it) or going abroad (to Thailand, say) is a solution but it's hard not to come to an assessment that gender surgery and care in the UK is not, from what I have seen, good enough.

None of the girls above regretted transition and they are all glad to be undeniably true to their gender now. But they have all been very upset at the things that were allowed to go wrong. Be aware of this if you go for gender surgery in the UK.

Sue x

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

A tour of Great Britain

Well, the title's perhaps an exaggeration, but I certainly visited the three constituent countries of GB recently.

When in England I am based in Chester, where the spring has been mixed weatherwise, but there were some nice walks to be had along the River Dee.

Chester Cathedral Green in spring

I also went to Wales with a friend, visiting the elegant seaside resort of Llandudno, the attractive town of Llangollen and the soaring Pontcyscyllte Aqueduct that is alarmingly free of much protection if you boat or even walk across it, something I have always wanted to see.


The wilder side of the Rover Dee at Llangollen

The astounding Pontcyscyllte Acqueduct, 336 yards (307 m) long and 126 feet (38 m) above the valley floor. There's a railing for pedestrians on the path, but no protection for people on boats!

Later I went to Scotland, a country I have visited only twice before.

As my final destination was a long way from Chester, I decided to break my journey in Edinburgh. This was an opportunity to test my legpower following my accident last autumn which left me on crutches. My leg is still a little sore and swollen but I'm told exercise is the best remedy. So I climbed the Scott Monument in Princes Street and later the taller Nelson Monument on Calton Hill. Fine views from both.

Edinburgh Castle

Finally I took a train I have never been on before that trundles right through the scenic Grampians - sometimes pretty, sometimes bleak - and leaves you at Inverness.

And at Inverness I was met by my wonderful friend Roz who has been living full-time as female for two years now and looks lovely. We went to her home in Invergordon on the Cromarty Firth, famous for its navy days but now devoted to repairing oil rigs.

The Cromarty Firth and its oil rigs

We had so much to catch up on and it was delightful to spend a long weekend with her. The hormones, electrolysis, voice thereapy and other treatments work wonders for a TGirl's hair, complexion and confidence and Roz was looking and sounding amazing. It really makes me feel that despite the setbacks I have had this is the route I would still like to go down if I can (I doubt I'd ever have surgery, though).

Anyway, we enjoyed days out in Inverness and Invergordon and the surrounding area of the Highlands and East Coast. There were lots of lambs, snow on the mountains, gorse in flower (such a tough shrub but with such delicate yellow flowers) and some welcome sunshine.

As there seems to be a delay on the Brexit omnishambles I might return to the UK in July. There's a friend's wedding and other events. I do like a wedding!

Sue x

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Me time

I've spent the last week in Britain. Partly to catch up with certain friends but mainly to have a little bit of time to dress and apply makeup. Living abroad with family has many benefits but being my full trans self is not one of them.

Although most of my everyday clothes are now female, I dress androgynously, which is not hard as so many items these days, from shoes to trousers to tops, are unisex. But now I am in my den in Chester I can wear dresses and paint my nails. I love painting my nails and I got in party mood with this glittery red! One thing I can do in stealth mode, though, is grow my nails and I am pleased to have them long.

Chester is a great place for shopping, with all your standard high street chains plus many quirky independent retailers. I've just bought some comfortable women's trousers and two pairs of shoes, includng a comfortable pair of black patent ballet flats. As I am only a shoe size 5 1/2 (38) I am delighted to have found them in the girl's department! This saves me VAT and makes me feel that my small size, which is a liability when having to act male, comes into its own when I am able to be my female self.

Photos of travels in a later post.

Sue x

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Spring holidays

I've been away, hence the gap in posts. Just a short entry this time to share a few holiday snaps from Switzerland, Florence and the Riviera where I went for a variety of reasons, partly business, partly enjoying the spring sunshine, and partly looking at potential places to live.

Lake Lugano, Switzerland


The "Bay of Poets" in the Gulf of La Spezia

Sestri Levante

They're all very beautiful in their different ways, I'm sure you'll agree.

Sue x

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Transgender Day of Visibility: a dip in the photo archives

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility.

I'm aware that some recent posts of mine have had to discuss very negative matters. And as the news is more than depressing at present I decided to distract myself this week by looking through some of my old photos.

So this year, for Transgender Day of Visisbility, I thought I would share some of these. Some have been posted on my blog before, some never. They illustrate so many ways in which we can be visible: visiting trans clubs or dressing services, going out in public like any other member of society, attending trans events, arranging meet-ups, having a presence online... All the time we are showing the world that we exist, giving ourselves a boost and letting other trans people know that we can lead the lives we choose with just a bit of courage.

In no especial order, here are 15 photos of me over the years, finding my feet, living my life. I hope you can too.

Sue x

At the Boudoir Dressing Service, November 2008. Strangely, this odd experimental outfit is proving verty popular on Flickr.
Six fabulous T-Girls on Waterloo Bridge, London, July 2013. We had lots of tourists stopping to photograph us. L-R: Stella, Linda, Steph, me, Rachel and Irene.
My first night out in the real world, London, June 2010. This was the very first moment I'd ever stepped out onto the street. I was nervous as anything but what a night it would turn out to be.
By the River Thames in Twickenham after a visit to a local beauty salon, July 2011.
Pink Punters LGBT nightclub, Milton Keynes, October 2010.
Official portrait for the Erotica Show at London's Olympia Exhibition Centre, November 2011. I was one of the barmaids at the T-Girl Bar, the first time there'd been a clear trans presence at this major event.
Partying at Nottingham Invasion, January 2012.
Dressed for the Great Drag Race, a charity event in aid of prostate cancer in London Fields, NE London, June 2010. Participants also broke the world record for the largest gathering of dancing drag queens. OK, I don't identify as a drag queen myself, but I will support all expressions of gender.
London Ladies Who Lunch, Cambridge Pub, London, November 2012. Front L-R: Steph, Ann, me, Helen, Stella, Helena; back: Irene, Tina, Rachel.
Aboard the Cutty Sark museum ship, Greenwich, London, August 2013.
The Brick Lane Gang, March 2014. L-R: Joanne, me, Irene, Kay, Rachel C, Stella, Rachel B.
The Boudoir Dressing Service, November 2008. When it all came together and I found my kind of look. A few days later I returned and bought the wig.
Dinner in a restaurant in Manchester, July 2017. With Karen and a giant soft drink!
Barmaids at the Erotica Show, Tobacco Dock Exhibition Centre, London. October 2013. L-R: Helena, Stella, Ria, Sabrina, me, Vanessa (above), Rebecca (below), Amanda.
My first commercial makeover and wig shopping trip, London, July 2010. I had a lovely time at Mac being made up and then went to Trendco for this new wig, both in Kensington Church Street. Doing all this all on my own from my own home and travelling by public transport was scary, but from this point on I knew I could do it and live as I wanted to.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Supremacism and the single girl

Warning: this post contains racist and homophobic language that readers may find upsetting

I have hesitated for years to post much of this next item, but after another white supremacist atrocity (in open, tolerant New Zealand of all places) and several years now of Brexit-encouraged xenophobia in Britain, Trump-promoted hate in the USA, Salvini-promoted racism in Italy, and right-wing and religious fanaticism threatening mixed societies across the world, I think it's time to comment on the problem directly. The world which trans people were at last beginning to feel was decent or at least survivable is showing its brutish roots in cultural supremacism, and people who don't fit the local mould are threatened. As I have said here several times, racism goes hand in hand with all other kinds of persecution of other people outside the main group, and LGBT is almost invariably one of those groups. Trans people who vote for Trump, Brexit, Salvini, Le Pen and other aggressively nationalistic politicians need to think more carefully as to whether their own interests are best served by these racists.

My own father, I am very sorry to say, is a white supremacist. His favourite word is nigger, which he will spit out many times a day: "stinking niggers... bloody niggers... filthy niggers...". Or wog or chinkie or gook or hook-nosed Isey (i.e. Jew). Any person of African descent is rechristened Nigger by him: the supermodel Naomi Nigger, the South African president Nelson Nigger, the BBC newsreader Trevor Nigger,... This is what I was brought up with and I have chosen not to spare the offensiveness so you can see exactly what we are dealing with. Even the Ku-Klux Klan is trying to present a cleaner, cuddlier image and avoid such terms. Yet my father is supposedly a cultured, well-educated man! Somehow, my father's loss of status as an Englishman in the world has hit him especially hard. He is no longer supreme, a winner in life's lottery, but now just one human among many cultures worldwide and at home. As humans, it's been observed, we tend to pine at our losses more often than yearn after something we haven't yet attained. To him, other races, nations, states, religions and cultures are inferior and those who've promoted the rise of inferior people in the world are damnable. Slavery is OK in his view and serves you right if you're weak. He calls himself a Fascist and gets angry when generalissimos get overthrown or put on trial (like Pinochet did). Naturally enough, he feels required to hate and campaign against other minorities, such as gay people (the sodomites, as he calls them), just like my sister who hates LGBT people, or lugbutts as she puts it (see https://suerichmond.blogspot.com/2017/09/hello- lugbutts.html). I haven't spoken to my father for some years now, partly because of his hate and aggression and the incompatibility between us, and this consequent loss makes me very unhappy.

Maybe its inappropriate to write about one's family in a public place like this but it shows that, just like Islamic bombers hiding in plain sight in suburbia or gun-toting white supremacists from decent backgrounds, the enemy is absolutely within our society, our families and our communities.

Xenophobia, the fear of the outsider, arises not from strength but from weakness; from discomfort, uncertainty, misunderstanding and worry; and from impatience too, a wish not to have to make the effort to accept someone because they have some trait that differs. What bothers me about religion in this context is that it is used endlessly to justify political persecution, a higher power sanctifying some brutality. There's always some way that people justify bad behaviour, and listening to people excusing their hate is nauseating. Worse is the exploitation of the weaker-minded by con men. This week I am particularly disgusted by Nigel Farage, instigator of Brexit, 'leading' (for just one hour himself) a pro-Brexit protest march from Sunderland in North East England, which is universally considered to be the one region of Britain that will be worst hit by the immediate economic effects of the Brexit policy. I feel sorry for the unhappy people who have been conned by this amoral man into supporting the one thing that will really damage them most. It's a far cry from the nobility of the Jarrow March of working men from that area suffering in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

I'm unable to offer a best solution as yet. Just as any community needs to tackle its unrepresentative extremists, white people like me need to deal with these madmen. It seems counterintuitive, but actually attacking the haters back simply adds to the animosity and hate, and you can rarely get through to someone whose beliefs are irrational and fearful and to whom acknowledging an error is too embarrassing. Yet trying to extend love and kindness is rarely met with understanding or appreciation. If used non-aggressively, Transgender Day of Visibility and Transgender Day of Remembrance are valuable ways to show that trans people exist and live all over the world. Nevertheless, the current crop of intolerance is getting to me. Solutions on a postcard, please.

Sue x

Saturday, 9 March 2019

What's in a name?

A few people have said to me, "Now that you've moved home, Sue, you're going to have to change your name."

But this is to assume that I named myself after the town of Richmond in South West London, which isn't the case (or only slightly, as will become clear). In fact, I lived in Twickenham (famous for rugby), but you don't think I'd really want to be known as Sue Twickers, Rhymes with Knickers, do you?

How do we choose our names as trans people? After all, our parents gave us a name around the time of our birth and that (in most cases) reflected the gender we were perceived to have, and Mum and Dad certainly don't have a pool of surnames to choose from. So when we trans people ourselves realise that our gender is not quite what was originally thought, we have the rare privilege of being able to choose our own name. If there are any perks to being trans, this is one of them.

There are so many ways of choosing a name. Some just change from Dave to Davina (or vice versa) and leave their surname the same, others anagram their birth names or come up with reflections of their status (like my friend Susan Sometimes). There are some very witty choices (personally, I think Helen Highwater and Vanessa Parody are inspired, and they're not even on the drag circuit). Sometimes people want to get completely away from their birth name (as in my case). And often people choose a surname that's their location - I know a Helen Essex and an Andrea Huntingdon (counties), Janie London (cities), and so forth. I also know several people who change names on a fairly regular basis. It's all very personal, and that's how it should be.

Now, I've wanted to write this post about this for some years but obviously the queries I've had after moving have been the catalyst.

Let's start at the beginning, then.

My full name is Susan Verity Richmond.

Susan: a name I've always liked. A recent survey associated it with successful business women and I find it a robust, traditional, no nonsense sort of name. Oddly enough, I've had two girlfriends called Susan, but I met them after I'd settled on it as my own name so I'm sure that's just coincidence. I toyed with the idea of Sophie for a few years but dropped it.

I first liked the name Susan at school, aged 7, when our teacher read us Rosemary Manning's wonderful novel Green Smoke about a girl called Susan who encounters a dragon near King Arthur's legendary Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. She and the dragon become friends and he tells her tales from King Arthur's day. The delightful illustrations by Constance Marshall made me so want to be Susan (and have a dragon friend).

Other influences had an effect on my subconscious: TV presenters like Susan King who fronted a show aimed mainly at girls called Horses Galore, Susans at school, other Susans I came across in media or real life. I guess they all work their way into the mix. I don't even recall when I felt Susan was my name too, but it was a long time ago.

As for Verity, that arose when I got internet at home and needed a distinctive name for email addresses and such. Verity is derived from veritas, Latin for truth, as by now I'd realised that this was the true me. Unimaginative, I guess, and actually not a name I like much, but when I said recently to a friend of mine that I might drop it he was most insistent that I keep it as reflecting an honest assessment of my reality. So it stays.

As for Richmond, well, I am sorry to say that I chose it largely from the name of a soft porn star from the 1970s, Fiona Richmond. Sorry because I'm not sure porn is a healthy thing, popular though it's always been. But Verity reflects truth so I'll be truthful about this too. It was an advertisement for this show that did it:

Except the show was on at Richmond Theatre that week.

I'd never seen a woman wearing unusual clothes like this before. I'm not sure how old I was - before puberty anyway -  but whilst I was well aware that women wore high heels, tights, bras and such, I had never seen skyscraper heels, stockings, suspenders and basques before. Here was some kind of exaggerated femininity and it hit me hard. As did the emphasis of the name on the poster: Fiona Richmond at Richmond Theatre. It couldn't do other than bore into my consciousness.

So I wasn't directly named after Richmond in London at all. And I'm keeping the name, despite its slightly naughty origins!

How did you choose yours?

Sue x

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Putting down new roots

I've been living mainly in Italy since November and have started putting down some serious roots as of this week, opening an Italian bank account and getting Italian emails and mobile telephony up and running. I've also started putting out some feelers directly to local trans associations and will test and see if any feel suitable for me, although I confess that I prefer a less formal approach to trans life. Maybe I'll get to make some new trans friends here soon.

There's a huge amount more to do to get settled and I am worried about the slowness, incompetence and stifling nature of local bureaucracy that stands in the way. But given the appalling state that my native country of Britain has got itself into, anything is better than the potential disaster that its toxic ruling elite have created with the complacency and ignorance of its electorate. I haven't slept properly for nearly three years despairing about the destruction that the Brexit referendum has caused. Here's an outstanding item from the New York Times recently that explains part of the Brexit problem very well
New York Times: The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class

The weather all over Europe is unusually warm. It's ironic that, now that I am trying to move to warmer climes for the sake of better health, where I used to live has recorded the warmest February temperatures ever. Still, it's sunny and dry here in Milan and I'm happy with that.

I also appreciate the way people dress in this top fashion capital. I need to up my game!

Sue x

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Foreign climes

It's been unseasonably warm in Europe this past week or two and here in Milan it almost feels like spring. Apart from there being no leaves on the trees or flowers coming up.

It was a pleasant journey here by train, stopping off in Paris for a night. It's very hard to take photos from the train of the beautiful mountain scenery as the double glazing and bright lights create severe reflections.

Over the weekend, though, I took a plane to Berlin to stay with one of my friends there. It was a quiet time when I had a chance to look at some of the fantastic treasures in the archaological museums in the city centre, stroll in the Tiergarten (the central park), ride the trams, see how reconstruction of the palace is coming on. I've posted many pictures of Berlin over the years but here are some new views.

The Altes Museum on Museum Island, full of superb Greek and Roman antiquities

Tiergarten in winter

Frederick the Great in Unter den Linden, the main thoroughfare

The royal palace is nearly rebuilt. The crane is for the underground line that they have been digging for ever! Berlin has had no end of building sites since German Unification in the early 1990s. There's a lot of building and rebuilding still to do. Ironically the palace was not so badly damaged by wartime bombing despite being in the very centre of the city but was pulled down by the communists as a symbol of imperialist repression. East Germany then built its parliament building on the site but that was torn down, allegedly because of asbestos, but really because it was a symbol of communist repression.

More obvious signs of war. Missing statue and shrapnel damage.

These pieces of Berlin Wall are left as a memorial. Having been brought up in the Cold War era, these still have the power to make me shudder. So why do today's moron tourists stick their chewing gum and write their names all over them?

It was also the chance to eat out a lot (always a favourite activity of mine). There's cuisine of all nations to choose from and I ate Vietnamese and Indian as well as German. But the one that stood out was the German tapas restaurant, mini dishes of German classics. Here's currywurst and chips, fried chicken and chutney, Berlin meatballs and mini onions. Odd but fun.

There were fabulous views of the snowclad Harz Mountains, Black Forest and Swiss Alps from the plane, the Upper Rhine Valley, Lake Lucerne and Lake Lugano, and the blue line of the Vosges in France were all very clear and beautiful.

Back in Milan now.

Sue x