I got my bike back from the repair shop. In my outdoor perambulations, I was beginning to feel stressed by having to maintain the metre and a half distance from other strollers and joggers. Having the bike would enable me to go at speed and look more like I was “exercising” instead of ambling along. Plus I’d be able to go on a longer ‘necessary’ trip to the garden centre to get plants ( more later).
In Guido’s Fahrrad Welt, the cashier was wearing bike gloves. Maybe he always does. I paid contactless. It seems polite these days, even though Berlin is a city that normally loves cash payments even champions the practice. I still had to tap in my PIN. I was wearing gloves too, snug and very worn leather ones that used to belong to my mother. As I wheeled the bike out, the man exhorted me to “Bleiben gesund” – stay healthy – I wished him the same. On the way back I saw a typical Berlin street phenomenon – a discarded sofa cushion graffitied with the slogan Take Care and depicting an angel.
Before I set off this morning I looked at Berlin’s newly infected numbers – up 208 since yesterday. Did I really want to browse around inside a heated tent full of warm moist air and people? Still being in March, wasn’t it maybe a bit early to buy plants? One I’d planted too early last week already looks half dead. How many could I realistically carry on my handlebars? So, out of healthy caution, botanical and biological, I decided to wait. Until after Easter maybe. See how things look then.
Keen still to get on my bike, I rode onto Tempelhofer Feld, the airfield of the former airport reclaimed by the people – vast and open under the endless sky. Others had the same idea but the site is so sprawling, everyone could be as spread out as possible and no-one seemed to be sitting.
Not so in Hasenheide Park just over the road. I entered with caution as I’d seen a police car drive in ahead of me. As I got nearer, they’d stopped and Ordnungsamt officers were talking to a woman and her mother. Not sure what the issue was but just beyond them, sun lovers were lolling on the grass, still in the requisite twos and families but not being ordered home like I’d seen in a video from London.
The park has building with a hatch that sells bottled refreshments, and in summer a Biergarten. No such today as the hatch was shut. Under the concrete canopy and in front of the mural was a row of mattresses and a tent. I took a photo and a woman sitting near asked why. I said perhaps to show that some weren’t getting shelter. She retorted that some people didn’t want shelter and preferred to sleep outdoors. Berlin will always favour freedom.