Floods

My husband asked for a new hole-punch for his last birthday. Being German, he has shelves and shelves of ring binders full of all our receipts, bills, documents, handbooks and contracts, each binder correctly labelled and internally colour-coded. One section* is for the ‘Deichverband’ – the dyke organisation, which in our case is for Lower Saxony and comprises 22 separate organisations which have the responsibility for keeping our dykes in order. This organisation was founded in 1913; before that, local groups of villagers and farmers did the best they could.

Our house is in the flood plain of the River Weser. The people who built it in 1754 went to the trouble of constructing a “Warft”, a sort of raised platform of earth, and built the house on top, about one metre over the surrounding countryside. Nevertheless, it, and our village, were flooded in the past, as you can see by the header.

Our dykes were constucted in the 1960s

and are under constant renewal.

Where a road runs through there are steel gates waiting to be closed as the water rises.

Since the dykes were built our river still floods, but our village is safe and dry, We take the care of these dykes very seriously:

High water dyke and dyke defence path. These protect life and property. Entry forbidden!

Villages on the other side of the dyke are not so fortunate.

We were all warned at the beginning of the week that regions of Germany would experience extreme amounts of rain, but nobody was prepared for the amount of water, or the effects of this in North Rhine Westphalia or Rhineland Palatinate.

Our lovely daughter-in-law comes from the region called the Eifel, in the Rhineland Palatinate. We spent a lovely holiday there a few years ago: a beautiful area of forests and hills, tiny picturesque villages nestled on the sides of the valleys, most with a small stream running peacefully alongside the main street. That changed within hours this week.

We begin to realise the extent of the damage, the loss of life, and now help is also flooding into the area. Not just from the state, but also volunteer organisations such as the THW (Technisches Hilfswerk):

I saw on our local facebook page that our village volunteer firefighters were planning to leave in the early hours of Saturday for NRW, and on twitter I read that the DIY chain OBI is offering equipment free to anybody in the flooded areas:

Bild

And that anybody in Germany can take useful equipment to their local OBI, who will transport it to the devastated area. (OBI will give each donor a voucher for future purchases). Hooray for OBI is all I can say.

Hooray too to facebook, where horse-owners who rescued their horses but now have nowhere to put them, and no fodder, are being teamed with those in other parts of Germany with horse trailers and space in their fields and barns. And hooray to Instagram, where our daughter-in-law auctioned two of her paintings in aid of flood relief. Let’s not forget the DFB (German football organisation) and the Bundeliga who have set up a three million Euro fund for the flood victims.

Lastly (for now) hooray to ESA, “supplying imagery through the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service to aid relief efforts. The devastating floods has triggered four activations in the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service, in Western GermanyBelgiumSwitzerland and the Netherlands.”

ESA – Satellites map floods in western Europe

Borders are just lines on maps, after all.

  • *Our annual payment to the Deichverband is €28.87. That seems like money well spent.

Pumpkin

It being a wet summer, I am at war with the slugs in our garden, and so far my side is losing. We’ve been here before, of course, remember my husband’s sunflowers last year which – even though he built them a special platform – were reduced to stalks overnight. The same has happened to pumpkins in the past, and so this year I decided not to sow seeds but rather buy sturdy small plants.

Pumpkin (like so many other things I have written about) was not on the menu in Hemel Hempstead in the 1960s. I knew it from US TV programmes, and then not for eating but for being hollowed out by cute children, for Halloween.

I wanted to do that too, of course, but the only available comparable vegetable at the Co-op was swede. The bullet-hard interior made carving my Jack o’ Lantern frustrating and ultimately (after hours of chipping away) unsuccessful.

I think the first pumpkin I ever ate was in a pumpkin pie, made for Thanksgiving 1977 in Bremen, by my American friend Diane.

Many years later I find myself living in a small rural village in Lower Saxony, where everybody grows pumpkin, mostly Hokkaido. In autumn we are likely to find pumpkins deposited anonymously on the bench outside our front door, and so I have learned to make (and love) pumpkin soup:

Along with pumpkin bread and many other delicious recipes.

Despite the slugs, this year’s two pumpkin plants have been doing very well indeed. Not a slug in sight, loads of tendrils and flowers. I was really excited. Imagine my horror, then, when one day last week I went out to inspect them and found the flowers all seemed to have been bitten off:

We couldn’t imagine which animal or insect jaws had sliced through the stalk so cleanly (surely not Winfried the squirrel!) and so turned to the internet for help.

Germans say ‘Man lernt nie aus’, which means ‘You never stop learning’ and how true that is, we mused, as we read that this is absolutely normal, and what happens to every male pumpkin flower!! It is only the females which grow the fruit, and of those we now have plenty, as you can see in the header.

So maybe I will go to the ball…

Haus Ferdinand

It’s been an exciting week. After months of work and tons of concrete, all was ready when the cheery Hoklartherm team arrived punctually on Monday morning, with our new greenhouse packed in their trailer.

May be an image of outdoors and tree
May be an image of outdoors

And immediately set to work.

May be an image of one or more people and outdoors

May be an image of nature and tree

It was a long, hot day.

The German word for ‘greenhouse’ is ‘Gewächshaus’ which literally means ‘Growing house’. For thousands of years, people have had the idea that extra warmth and light might make the growing of special plants possible.

In 30 AD Emperor Tiberias’ doctors recommended he eat a daily cucumber, for his health. His gardeners developed special carts, planted with cucumber, which were wheeled into the sun every day and back into cosy buildings in the evening.

A doctor at the royal court of Korea in the 15th century wrote an important treatise on cultivating vegetables and fruits in colder climates; he described the construction of a place for growing crops heated by an underfloor system, with transparent, oiled windows. The records of the Josean dynasty show that mandarin orange trees were being grown in such buildings in the winter of 1438.

Europe – specifically the Netherlands and England – caught up in the 17th century. Wealthy English landowners ordered their gardeners to grow bananas, peaches and pineapples, along with exotic plants being brought back from overseas.

Greenhouses got bigger and bigger and more and more impressive.

French botanist Charles Lucien Bonaparte built the first practical modern greenhouse in Leiden, Holland, during the 1800s to grow medicinal tropical plants. In the meantime, the Netherlands has over 90 square KM of greenhouses, growing vegetables, fruit and flowers which are exported worldwide.

At the beginning we thought of growing a few herbs or flowers in our greenhouse, but Corona seems to have changed our brains and so over the months of planning, the space for plants got smaller and smaller and the space for sofas, tables, lamps and cupboards bigger and bigger.

So after the cheery workmen had gone, my husband spent the week installing insulation and underflooring:

May be an image of outdoors and indoor
May be an image of indoor

Several people have already wondered where the plants will go.

The answer is, nowhere. This is a place for drinking gin and tonic or banana milk, reading, thinking, napping, chatting. A tiny slice of heaven, in fact, which we have decided to call ‘Haus Ferdinand.’

Loom in residence

In 1844 Karl Marx’ newspaper “Vorwärts” published a poem by Heinrich Heine called “Die armen Weber” (The poor weavers). The voice is of weavers in the area of Silesia, now in Poland. 50,000 copies were also printed as leaflets, which were distributed all over Europe. By 1846 the poem had been re-named “Die schlesischen Weber”, The Silesian Weavers.

Here’s a modern treatment:

Schlesien (Silesia) was the centre of cloth weaving in Prussia, and by 1844 prices for their cloth had collapsed so drastically that the weavers had to work for at least 12 hours every day to be able to afford the most basic food. They also had to pay feudal duties to the Lords of the Manor, and were obliged to spend part of their time working in the estate fields.

British industrial production made fabrics faster, and more cheaply: the homespun goods of the Silesian weavers was no longer viable. The bad harvest of that year made things even worse, and those selling food had deserted the mountain villages as nobody had any money to buy food anyway.

‘Let some 50,000 – 60,000 starve to death, for no other help there is possible.’

In June 1844 weavers on the estate of August and Ernst Friedrich Zwanziger in Peterswaldau could take no more. They ravaged the estate, and drove the Zwanzigers out. Unrest spread, and the next morning thousands of workers marched on nearby Langenbierau, the village where the Dielau brothers ran one of the largest industrial estates in Silesia. The army was called in: 11 weavers died and 24 were seriously injured, hundreds were arrested and then languished in Prussian jails for years.

In England, weaving had also been a ‘Cottage industry’ i.e. the weaving took place in the weavers’ homes. Now, they realised that industrial production would ruin their livelihoods: the Luddites were born.

But there was no stopping the industrial revolution, and the workers – very often women and children – badly treated.

The loom now in residence in our attic was made just after the Silesian weavers’ uprising, and most likely not far from our house, which is many hundreds of kilometers to the west of Silesia. It’s a highly technical piece of equipment, and I am sure the person who first sat in it did not weave as a hobby, or for fun.

Times change, and our very charming C. supervised the loom’s assembly last week. Next week she will come and help my husband get started. We hope she will continue to weave on this loom, upstairs there are already hanks of bright red sheeps’ wool and emerald linen.

Yesterday my husband’s handbook of weaving arrived, and he is more than thrilled to find a photo of a loom just like this one as an exhibit in a museum in Flensburg. He’s busy planning ponchos, but for me this new inhabitant in our house feels like so many old things which have found their way here: treasures, cared for by many people over hundreds of years, to be treated with respect.

PS: Don’t mention tweed!

A twitch on the thread: Part One

In the 1960s, if you were a woman living in a certain area in a certain town in North Rhine Westfalia, and you saw a picture in a magazine of a dress you’d like, you took the picture to your neighbour Hildegard who, without any formal training, was able to look at the picture, measure you up and make you a dress or a costume just like in the picture.

Hildegard some time in the 1940s

Hildegard was my husband’s mother, a beautiful woman (I see in the photographs, she died long ago) who had been a nurse but by this stage was living in a house together with her husband, her three sons, her mother- in-law (who was found in the Black Forest after being a refugee from the east post WW2), both her own parents, a budgie called Hansi and a dog called Lumpi. She not only made clothes for her neighbours but also for her boys – who were dressed identically, including pullovers made on her knitting machine.

1950s in North Rhine Westfalia, far away from Hemel Hempstead

The house wasn’t as big as you may think. Outside there was a vegetable garden and chickens to be tended (for eggs and meat), rabbits for special occasions, not to mention the pig which was fattened in the pigsty and then slaughtered right in the yard and speedily made into sausage.

The three boys had to help around the house of course – stirring of the warm pig’s blood necessary for Blutwurst was not a favourite task – and as the youngest it became my husband’s task to sew the more boring seams of all those dresses, costumes as well as curtains and household linens on the family electric sewing machine. I expect the older boys were digging potatoes, shovelling coal, or shredding cabbage for the annual sauerkraut production.

The cellar of the house was full of carrots (kept fresh in boxes of sand), the big ceramic pots of sauerkraut, shelves filled with jars of preserved fruit from the garden or – in the case of blueberries – picked in the woods nearby. I bet those boys never even saw a fish finger.

It was all a very long way indeed from the life of the little girl growing up in Hemel Hempstead, where the food was bought from the Co-op in the shopping parade and clothes bought at David Morgan in Cardiff, on the annual holidays in South Wales.

Anyway, when he decided to join local Repair Café team a while ago, my husband naturally gravitated towards the textile department. There he works alongside the really charming C. They lengthen and shorten trousers, take things in and out, turn collars, mend zips and turn old sheets into useful items.

The Repair Café has been a victim of Corona restrictions but happily started again the week before last, and C. mentioned that she has an old, disassembled, oak weaving loom in her attic, surplus to requirements. She was thinking about having it turned into a bench for her garden.

You will all know my husband well enough by now to know that his ears pricked up, and he wondered aloud if C. would like a new bench, in return for the loom. Well, yes, she would.

So today the trailer has been hitched to the car, a space big enough cleared in our attic: our house was built in 1754, and the loom is from 1851, so I am sure it will feel right at home.

Our family and friends can look forward to home-woven ponchos or tweed jackets for Christmas.

Maybe.

Next week, Part Two: all about weaving and weavers.

I want to ride my bicycle…

My parents must have been keen cyclists at one time, I have the grainy black and white photos of their summer holiday in 1953: a cycling tour of Normandy. That must have been an adventure.

My very first bicycle memory is of bring taken to primary school every day balanced on a floral cushion on the crossbar of my dad’s bike – he was a teacher in the same school, and we didn’t have a car, so it was very convenient. When it rained, I was kept dry under his yellow rain cape.

This must have gone on for some time but stopped abruptly when we were pulled over by a policeman, who asked to see what I was sitting on, and told my father that the floral cushion would not do.

I was hysterical by lunchtime, thinking that my father would be whisked off to prison, and it was all My Fault.

There wasn’t an awful lot of cycling going on in Hemel Hempstead in the 60s, or on the Isles of Scilly in the 1970s. I had bikes, second hand or cast off, but actually riding them was unusual. That changed when I arrived in Bremen in 1977; the city is full of cycle paths and lanes:

Cycling in Bremen

And so I bought myself my first new bike, at the Karstadt department store in downtown Bremen. That bike became my trusty friend, and when my daughter was born two years later we fixed a seat on the front and off we went. I loved those rides. By that time we lived in extremely flat Lower Saxony; I didn’t have a car and so I pedalled to the supermarket and around the lake, and to visit my friend who lived in the city, all the while chatting and singing with my dear little girl.

We now live in Thedinghausen, which is a small rural village, part of the Landkreis (Municipality) Verden – and a very flat part of Lower Saxony.

.

There is really no excuse for not cycling: we have plenty of safe and beautiful cycle paths.

Often I look out of my window and think it’s too cold or too rainy or too windy to cycle, but for the last five days (on one of which it rained all day) I have been clocking up the kilometers as part of our village ‘Stadtradeln‘ project. In English this is called “City Cycling”. It’s a movement all over Germany (and in other countries too) and you can read about it here, in English, of course:

CITY CYCLING – Here’s what it’s all about! (city-cycling.org)

“CITY CYCLING is a competition that involves completing as many daily journeys as possible in an environmentally-friendly manner using your bike over a 21-day period. Whether you ride every day or cycled only rarely until now. Every kilometre counts – and even more so if you would have completed the journey by car otherwise.”

My husband and I have entered as a Team – “Pinguinis” – and (let me just check) as I write we are in position 25 (hmmn) out of 44 village teams with a total so far of 221 kilometers.

Some teams already have got thousands of kilometers to their names; for many people here in the north of Germany, cycling is not only a way of getting to the shops or popping to the Post Office but also a sport and a hobby and they will happily cycle (fast) all day.

Many people spend their holiday cycling for days, along a river – the Weser, for instance, or the Danube, or the Elbe. People even cycle over the Alps!

Maybe something to think of for the Pinguinis…

Dear old Freddie.

Sumer is icumen in…

…Loudly sing ‘Cuckoo’

Cuckoos are sort of tricky birds, it’s hard to feel sympathy for mass-murderers, but for some reason they appeal, maybe also because of the clocks:

Actually I heard my first cuckoo this year back on May 1, and was jubilant as I had a one Euro coin in my pocket at the time, thus ensuring I will not run out of money, this year at least.

There are loads of strange superstitions about cuckoos, my favourite is from the Channel Island of Guernsey, where apparently upon hearing the first cuckoo of the year, one balanced a stone on one’s head and then ran around until it fell off. Hmmn.

BBC – Guernsey – History – A few cuckoo superstitions?

Sumer is icumen in” is the incipit of a medieval English round or rota of the mid-13th century; it is also known variously as the Summer Canon and the Cuckoo Song. (Sumer is icumen in – Wikipedia)

The line translates approximately to “Summer has come in” or “Summer has arrived”. The song is written in the Wessex dialect of Middle English.

Wessex was an ancient kingdom in the south of England, today full of lovely places

and exciting history:

and famous for a King, Alfred, who burned the cakes:

Read the story here: King Alfred and the Cakes (historic-uk.com)

Summer has taken its time cumen in this year, our spring has been too cold and too wet and winter dragged on a long time.

It suddenly got warmer this week, meaning I have to change to the Summer curtains in the bathroom:

And buy strawberries, so that my husband can make a delicious strawberry flan.

Here’s a recipe:

Guten Appetit!

Integrated at last

I have always loved TV. My British childhood was framed by Thursdays with Petticoat Junction

Fridays with The Avengers

And who could forget The Man from Uncle?

Even then I had crushes on anybody who spoke with a foreign accent and so of course was in love with Ilya Kuryakin (even though he was actually Scottish, David McCallum).

I think we can say I was not a critical viewer.

Moving to Germany was a bit of a shock as a) I couldn’t understand enough German to understand the plot of anything and b) I couldn’t deal with the programmes. There seemed to be a lot of political talk shows, interspersed with comedies I couldn’t find funny and shows involving ‘Volksmusik’, where rows of people sat on benches drinking beer while people in dirndls sang songs. I was indeed far from home, and visits to the UK mostly consisted of videoing everything possible to watch when we got back to Germany. For some years, thanks to a giant antenna, we were able to watch BFBS programming. My poor children, when not being forced to eat burnt fishfingers, watched British children’s programmes and must have thought that life in the UK was unfocussed, snowy and interspersed with wavy lines.

Anyway, I then moved in with my German husband, and he brought along a small black and white TV, which he watched in the evenings. It seemed that for Germans, the highlights of the week were a programme on Saturdays called ‘Wetten, dass’ or a police procedural on Sunday evenings, after the main news, called ‘Tatort’.

The former show often had celebrity guests from the US, which could theoretically have been interesting apart from the simultaneous translation into German which overlaid what they were saying in English. This always meant I couldn’t understand either. That programme came to a very sad end some years ago.

Wetten, dass..? – Wikipedia

“Tatort”, on the other hand, still graces our screens most Sunday evenings and in the interests of intercultural understanding I tried to watch. Honestly.

The introduction hasn’t changed for a trillion years.

The word ‘Tatort’ means the scene of the crime, and this series is filmed in various cities in Germany (and further afield), with recurring detectives. So people might enjoy ‘Tatort München’ but not ‘Tatort Ludwigshafen.’ I didn’t enjoy any of them, and this has been horribly embarrassing because everybody else in Germany watches, and loves Tatort. I can’t deal with the portrayal of how life is: the way people speak to, and deal with each other within families and teams. It’s often full of smart-aleck, unscrupulous detectives who trample over crime scenes, drive dangerously and have messy private lives. There’s not much kindness, or, well, fun.

Having loved The Avengers it’s a bit much for me to complain about lack of realism, but there was one Tatort quite recently where a detective ended up handcuffed (key lost) to a woman who wanted to drown herself and they were caught up to their waists in the North Sea tide. Cut to next day, where he is sitting on the beach and she is lying – dead and un-handcuffed – next to him. Hello? What happened?

Anyway, we read last week that our local city, Bremen, would be presenting a new team of detectives on Sunday:

Tatort gestern - Kritik zu Neugeboren aus Bremen: "Ein Reinfall"
Tatort gestern – Kritik zu Neugeboren aus Bremen: “Ein Reinfall” (augsburger-allgemeine.de)

And so I decided to watch: in the meantime the language isn’t a problem anymore (although I do need the volume higher in German than in English, how interesting) and it is fun to try and spot well-known sights or maybe even see my sporty husband pedalling by on his bicycle in the distance.

Reader, I quite liked it. That’s it: 16 years after I got my dual citizenship, I am truly integrated. I watched – nay, enjoyed – Tatort.

Header credit: “Tatort”-Ermittler-Ranking: Münster unangefochten vorn, viele neue Teams auf den hinteren Plätzen | MEEDIA

The spice of life

Casting around for something to do yesterday, I decided to organise my spices and herbs alphabetically. I also wiped each container, inspecting the best before date (oops) and checking how much was still left inside before putting it in the correct place on the shelves in the kitchen,

It was sort of fun, more or less, and as I looked at all these delicious spices I realised that none of them featured in any of the kitchens of my childhood. My mum was a really good cook, but ‘seasoning’ in my family meant salt and pepper until about 1968, when paprika suddenly loomed on the horizon.

Paprika has always been a problem word for my students, as the German word ‘Paprika’ means bell pepper, and the English word ‘pepper’ makes them think of, well, pepper.

Every year we have a Christmas buffet: I provide the recipes and the participants bring the results, which they have made at home. One wonderful year one of my favourite students brought a tuna salad. The recipe required one cup of green pepper: this salad packed a zing as he had added a cup of green peppercorns. Our eyes were streaming that night, but I loved it, for me the spicier the better.

That clip brings back very happy memories of a road trip in the early 1990s: me, my old Honda Civic and a tent and my husband, who was not yet my husband. Out in the flat Hungarian countryside we got stuck in a long, long traffic jam. It was boiling hot in the car, and we got out to look at what was happening. A few vehicles in front of us was a battered open-top truck, piled high with tomatoes and red peppers and seeing us, the driver got out of his cab and brought us armfuls of wonderful juicy red tomatoes and peppers. He didn’t want any money, just to share the produce. We cooked it all up that night on our minute camping stove; it was delicious.

We used to have ‘Curry’ sometimes at boarding school: this was minced beef, boiled up with some curry powder and then scattered with raisins and dessicated coconut. It was horrible and bore no relation whatsoever to the aromatic food I enjoyed much later in Chennai and Kerala, and that my daughter and her husband on Borneo love to eat and cook.

My Mum and her sister hated garlic. A great uncle had married a Malaysian woman, a wonderful cook, who invited us for meals sometimes. Just as I was leaving for their house on one occasion, my Aunt called me over: “Don’t worry about smelling of garlic when you come back,” she said “Because you already do!”

One of the biggest shocks of my life was when my mother told me the food at her sister’s funeral had been marvellous, ‘Especially the Chicken Tikka’. If she wasn’t dead already, my Aunt would have died to think such a thing was served at her funeral reception.

Both of them, Mum Pam and Aunt Kath, were in a permanent panic about cooking smells lingering in the house. They both worried about how the smell would waft upstairs, thereby infiltrating wardrobes and bedding. Deep frying was also a cause for great concern, and when chips were on the menu they donned headscarves to stop the smell of frying getting into their hair.

My children have told me that they associate the smell of burnt fish fingers with their childhood, for which I am truly sorry, and yesterday I wished I could send them not only photos and voice messages, but also smells: our house smelled so gorgeously aromatic. Not a fish finger in sight.

I almost could feel as if I were in a restaurant where I have had many happy times, Naan, at Rasa Ria in Sabah:

I rarely follow recipes, but in Indian cooking I am not sure of myself, and so followed this to the letter and it was absolutely scrumptious.

Pistachio chicken curry | Meera Sodha

Meera Sodha writes for The Guardian, you can find more recipes here:

Meera Sodha | The Guardian

I ate my first pistachio when I was 17; my friend at boarding school came from Iran, and when she got back from the holidays she brought kilos of pistachios with her.

The chicken pistachio curry is full of flavours I now love, and which Auntie Kath and my Mum never even got to try, like coriander and cardamom. Speaking of which:

Funnily enough, Hemel Hempstead (where we lived in my spice-free childhood) is close to Berkhamsted, which is where William Cowper was born. He was a poet, and in 1785 wrote:

‘Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.’

Happy Birthday Father Kneipp

I’ll be blunt: Germans have a very hands-on attitude to their health. I will never forget a woman telling me she was fasting, “Oh,” I said, “Do you want to lose weight?” “No,” she answered, “I’m doing it for the bowel.” It was as if her bowel was an annoying neighbour she needed to keep in good humour.

It is absolutely normal for Germans to have all sorts of supplementary health tricks up their sleeve, including various massages, baths and wrappings as well as visits to Salt Grottoes and drinking waters containing special minerals and elements.

One can only hope the bowel appreciates all these efforts.

Many places have been doing this for centuries, and have built an entire industry around the treatments, as well as the ‘Cures’ and rehabs which are often funded by one’s health insurance. Sometimes these towns or cities can add the word ‘Bad’ to their name, meaning ‘Bath’.

Years ago we visited Bad Elster in Saxony, and drank the waters there (they were not delicious, and we were not even more full of vitality afterwards):

The healing waters of Bad Elster – Crown of vitality – The moor mud and mineral spa – Kultur-und Festspielstadt Bad Elster

Such towns feature a ‘Kur Park’, a beautifully planted park where one can gently stroll. If you’re lucky, there will be a bandstand, where you can attend free concerts, readings and performances.

Kurpark
This is the Kurpark Wilhelmshaven, where my husband took a ‘Cure’ some years ago
Kurpark (wilhelmshaven.de)

Anyway, our holidays over the years often included some sort of hiking, and coming down into the valley somewhere in Germany it was not unusual to find a sort of rectangular, tiled basin of cold water at the entrance to a village. You’re supposed to take off your shoes and socks, roll up your trousers and walk through it. It’s good for you. It’s called a ‘Kneipp basin’.

My husband in a Kneipp-Becken in the Sauerland.

And 17 May is the 200th birthday of good old Sebastian Kneipp, a Bavarian priest who believed in the healing power of cold water.

Father Kneipp lived and worked in the Allgäu, in Bad Wörishofen. Since then it’s been a centre for his treatments:

True fame in Germany comes in strange ways. Many famous people get a stamp, here’s Sebastian’s:

Sonderbriefmarke zum 200. Geburtstag von Pfarrer Sebastian Kneipp
Sonderbriefmarke zum 200. Geburtstag von Pfarrer Kneipp | BR24

But true fame is only realised when you get your own Playmobil figure.

Excitingly, Sebastian is now part of the Playmobil catalogue. Of course we ordered one immediately, and are impatiently awaiting his arrival, so he can stand on his own platform in our living room, next to Playmobil Martin Luther.

I think I will now go and eat a slice of today’s cake: rhubarb meringue sponge. It will be good for The Stomach.