I always had itchy feet. I loved being a Frequent Flyer. I loved getting out of the plane in Singapore and being hit by the heat and the slightly mouldy smell of carpet. I loved that in New Zealand I met a person who had shaken the hand of the person who had found Captain Scott’s frozen remains. I loved that we went by public bus in Beijing in 1993 and everyone on board tried to help us with our tickets and getting out at the right place. I loved that we slept on campbeds volunteering with Blackfoot Indians in Montana, all called Daryl. Apart from Stella kills at night, that is. And that the Blackfeet youth drum Group played for us, drums which in the past froze Laura Ingalls’ Ma’s blood in her veins.
Later on that trip, we sat above the pens at the July 4th rodeo in White Horse Plains, Montana. Crunch went the cowboys’ bones, while we ate our chilli dogs.
I loved my first trip of all with Horst, in 1993, when we drove to Gdansk – my first time anyway east of what had been the iron curtain – and the goosebumps I felt driving up the road to the Polytechinc, the road lined with Solidarnosc flags. I loved visiting Joachimsthal, the guesthouse of the DDR, and the Stasi HQ in Normannenstrasse in Berlin, Ribbeck with its pear trees in Brandenburg….
I loved showing Horst my favourite bits of Britain
Lucky, lucky, lucky me. The world was my oyster, and when I came home again and wrote “East West Home’s Best” on my facebook page I wrote it knowing I would be off on further adventures before too long.
I loved sharing all those interesting things with my students, and they in turn shared all sorts of interesting things with me.
At the beginning of this term, when life was still Normal, we had a lesson about Lower Saxony – the state where I and most of my participants live.
Our state is hard to describe. It doesn’t have the highest mountains, but it does have the Harz, with its beautiful forest hiking paths.
It doesn’t have the cliffs of Rügen, or the bays of Schleswig Holstein, but it does have the North Sea, which brings us tiny shrimps and gives us the space to hike in the ‘Watt’.
It doesn’t have wine-growing areas, but it’s our agriculture which feeds Germany – in terms of grain, poultry and pork. Not forgetting asparagus.
We don’t have the Rhine, or the Mosel or the Danube, but we do have the river Weser. In fact, it’s just 2 km down the road from our house. Further upriver is the city of Hamelin, famous for the escapades of the Pied Piper. And downriver a short distance is the Weser Stadion, the home of our local city football team, Werder Bremen (who are not doing terribly well just now). So it’s a river rather like our state. Nothing to boast about, which northern Germans would never do anyway, but a river that just gets the job done.
In our Lower Saxony lesson we had a quiz with famous Lower Saxony sights – things like the Kaiserpfalz in Goslar, or the market place in Osnabrück and this quiz included a photo of Hannoversch Münden (often called Hann Münden) which is the place where the rivers Fulda and Werra meet, joining to form the Weser. Loads of my students told me they had been there, and that it – and the surrounding area, the ‘Weserbergland’ – was really nice. So when Horst asked what I would like for my birthday at the beginning of March, I said I would like a trip to Hann. Münden.
Until this spring, a trip to a small town just 250km away would not have been worth mentioning. Now, with Germany beginning to relax our Corona lockdown, such a journey is again allowed, and possible – but strangely unthinkable.
My itchy feet seem to have deserted me, for the moment. I seem to have become rooted to my tiny patch of Lower Saxony.
People of Lower Saxony have an anthem, written for them in the 1920s.
“Wir sind die Niedersachsen,
Sturmfest und erdverwachsen,“
“We are the Lower Saxons, Stormproof and down to earth,”
And that seems enough for anyone to hope for in these Corona times.
The Cabin Fever part: