Birdsong Revisited

Those who have read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulkes will have learned of miners being used in WWI. I certainly knew nothing of this activity until I read that book. The miners’ job was to dig tunnels several metres below ground towards the enemy lines. As they neared their objective, silence was necessary because the enemy was listening. Bayonets were used to prise out flints buried in the clay and helpers would catch the flints as they fell. A chamber at the end of the tunnels was then excavated and packed with masses of explosives to be detonated in the hope of devastating the enemy defences. This seemed incredible to me when I read about it.

La Grande MineJust a few kilometres to the west of Albert lies the small village of La Boiselle and site of “La Grande Mine”. This is the Lochnagar Memorial Crater, a privately owned enormous hole in the ground left by the detonation of one of the WWI tunnelling activities. To the owner’s credit, it is free to see. The detonation of this mine and a second of its kind was followed up by yet more canon-fodder troops being ordered to walk towards the German line mostly to their deaths. Some of the infantry took shelter from the machine-gun fire in the mine’s crater. Like many memorials in this vicinity, it is a spine-tingling sight. Having read about it, I’m glad I’ve seen these remains.

This is our last full day in France, which may be a good job because I don’t know how much more evidence of man’s insanity our nerves can take. Tomorrow we make for Calais and the ferry back onto home soil. It would be good to think that we’ll be returning to normality but recent history is making normality somewhat uncertain. Mercifully, it should not be as uncertain as it was for the poor saps who were forced to sacrifice themselves in the European carnage, parts one and two, of the 20th century. The western world is, however, suffering a potentially dangerous nationalistic backlash, of late.

Worrying times.

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Posted in 2019 Germany

The Somme

Our journey back up through France, deftly avoiding a return through Belgium by crossing the Rhine at Saarbrucken, has led us along much of the 1914-18 western front. We moved on from Verdun, which was largely a French and American bloodbath, to Albert on the Somme, which was largely a French and British bloodbath. Today we hopped on our bicycles to puff and pant around some of the veloroute de la memoire.

_19R7392The country roads between Albert and Bapaume are dotted with 400 mostly relatively modestly sized Commonwealth cemeteries, lying in fields or on the edges of woods. This, I believe, was largely because there were field hospitals scattered around the lines and the poor unfortunates who didn’t make it were taken outside to be buried behind the medical facility. We stopped first at Blighty Valley cemetery which may have been one such. Now between a wood and a maize field, it contains just over a thousand graves. Many of the headstones are for unidentified souls and simply bear the inscription:

A soldier of the great war; known unto God

_19R7393_19R7395Further up the road, and I do mean up, is the imposing Thiepval Memorial designed by Edwin Lutyens, a towering brick edifice supported on four massive square – maybe more like cubic – columns inscribed with some 73,000 names of the British missing of the Battle of the Somme. It is fronted by a cemetery for both French and British fallen with crosses for the French and headstones for the British. A few names on the monument are now crossed out, a result of bodies having been later found and identified.

On our route back we passed a tower, a replica of Helen’s tower near Belfast, commemorating the Ulstermen who took part in the carnage.

Nearby, though we didn’t visit it this time around (we’ve been there before), is a memorial to a band of Newfoundlanders. Of the 1000 of them sent “over the top”, just 16 returned unscathed. Such was the lunacy of ordering infantry to walk hundreds of metres across open ground towards an enemy line heavily barricaded by barbed wire and defended by raking machine gun fire.

Emotions can take only so much of this stuff and we chose our route back to our Albert campsite, passing another modestly sized  cemetery beside the road.

The Battle of the Somme was launched on 1st July 1916. The first day cost the British 57,000 casualties, 20,000 of whom were killed. It remains the worst day in British military history. [Ed: Bloody good job, too.] The battle was brought to a halt in November 1916 when the weather became so bad that no further action was deemed possible. The total casualties for this senseless insanity amounted to 415,000 British, 195,000 French and 600,000 German – 1.2 million in all.

According to our guide book, the land around Albert had no particular intrinsic value nor was there any long term strategic objective to the action. The Battle of the Somme was designed to relieve pressure on the French army fighting its 10-month action at Verdun 300kms away.

Madness.

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Posted in 2019 Germany

More from the Sweet Shop

I must be making up for lost time. Having arrived at Albert, a centre for the bloody and senseless Battle of the Somme, yesterday, we needed supplies. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the camping municipal site to a super-U supermarché, so we slung rucksacks on our backs and went in search of lunch and tonight’s dinner.

For the last three weeks it’s been too hot to contemplate cooking inside our caravan so our gas BBQ has been working overtime. I’s still too hot to cook anything substantial in time but Francine and I are both fond of a warm gésier [gizzard] salad. They come in the form of a confit and just need warming through in a skillet so that should work well enough. We got a few lardons to go with them. I’ll give the BBQ a day off.

For lunch, Francine found a prepared salad but I kept looking longingly at an andouillette sausage. Resistance was futile so I bought one. From what I can make out, to make an andouillette, you roughly chop pigs intestines and then stuff them into more pig’s intestines in the form of a sausage skin. Yummy! Ya just gotta love the inventiveness of the French cuisine de terroir. I thought it was very good but it’s not one of Francine’s favourites.

J19_1025 Ceriagrion tenellumAfter lunch it was time to go and investigate the Somme, not for the many military graveyards (we’ve done that before) this time but for dragonflies. After failing to find any sign of a few étangs marked on the map we wound up at Vaux-sur-Somme. The main branch of the Somme is navigable at this point but it looks managed, almost canalized. We found what I think must be a related small, well vegetated channel that was noticeably lower than the main river. Here we found a goodly and varied selection of critters including Small Red Damsels (Ceriagrion tenellum) for the first time this trip.

The main river did provide two extra species not seen on the small side waterway but the small habitat was most fun. Here’s the list, a reasonably impressive 15 species:

  • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
  • Erythromma viridulum (Small Redeye)
  • Erythromma lindenii (Blue-eye)
  • Ceriagrion tenellum (Small Red Damsel)
  • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
  • Somatochlora metallica (Brilliant Emerald)
  • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
  • Libellula fulva (Blue Chaser)
  • Sympetrum sanguineum (Ruddy Darter)
  • Sympetrum striolatum (CommonDarter)
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)
Posted in 2019 Germany

Verdun

It’s difficult to come to this neck of the woods without becoming involved in the WWI obscenity that was the battle of Verdun. We are camped a few kilometres south of Verdun but the main military action was centred just to the north of it. We drove up to look.

Our guide book says that the battle of Verdun lasted 300 days, so let’s say 10 months. It began with a German artillery barrage that went on for 10 hours and expended 2 million shells. By the end of the 10-month carnage, 700,000 men were dead, missing or wounded.

_19R7304_19R7306We began our sobering tour at the Fort Souville, where some advanced technology of the time made 15.5cm guns rise from the ground, fire, then disappear back into the protection of what was essentially a silo. The ground is now forested but remnants of the fortifications can still be seen in the ground left cratered and undulating by the explosions of shells.

Nine villages were completely eradicated by the actions. We drove off to where one stood but there is nothing now to be seen. I went expecting that I might see something along the lines of the ruins of the WWII martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane, near Limoges, where the SS murdered the entire population in June 1944 shortly after D-Day but apparently, these villages near Verdun were so completely razed that no trace of them could be seen in aerial photographs taken shortly after.

_19R7309We finished with rightly shredded emotions at the Ossuaire de Douaumont which, standing in the middle of the battlefield, serves as the main monument to the Verdun terror and holds the bones of many thousands of unidentified bodies. After the battle, some 120,000 French bodies were identified, being about one third of those killed. The Ossuaire is fronted by a suitably regimented graveyard where 15,000 dead are buried.

I’ve often wondered about “missing” and “unidentified” but I think it must go like this. Bodies litter a battlefield. If they weren’t blown to bits when they were actually killed, continued shelling where they lie subsequently does either blow them to bits or throws up wads of earth from nearby which falls over the corpses and ends up burying them.

I considered myself blessed to have been part of what I believe to be the first generation not to have been plagued by a European war. Verdun has had a tumultuous history featuring in the Franco-Prussian War, WWI and WWII. The EU was formed following WWII, which was really part 2 of the first atrocity, to prevent further European bloodbaths. The theory was that nations that trade together would not try to wipe each other out and it has proved very effective. The EU may well not be perfect but anyone doubting its usefulness really should see these monuments to the terrors of what used to happen before its existence. Surely preventing such senseless carnage is worth a degree of imperfection.

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Posted in 2019 Germany

Kids in a Sweet Shop

What a difference a border makes. Our first full day back in France and we needed some shopping so we zoomed about 8kms down the road to a slightly larger town with a supermarché – not one that we’d heard of, Colruyt, but a supermarché nonetheless. Gone was the German restriction to pork, chicken and beef [lamb is almost as rare as hen’s teeth in Germany]; now we were faced with the luxury of choices including guinea fowl legs and quail halves marinated for the BBQ.  We were like kids in a sweet shop and bought some of each of those to keep us going for the next two days.  The quail halves being quite small, I supplemented them with some saucisses aux pimentes d’Espelette. Well, you get addicted to sausages after a few weeks. Oh, and I couldn’t resist some of France’s wonderful Rillettes du Mans (potted pork) for lunch.

_19R7237After our most enjoyable shopping trip for three weeks, we discovered that our memories had not been playing us false; the local fields of France immediately knocked wildlife spots off anything that we saw in our entire time in Germany. On a brief drive through country lanes on the side of les-côtes, we stopped at a sloping roadside verge smothered in wild flowers. Francine was particularly pleased at last to find an orchid in the form of a small cluster of Fragrant Orchids (Gymnadenia sp).

_19R7228_19R7231Many of the flowers on the roadside bank were Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis), which is particularly attractive to butterflies. So, apparently, was a type of Knapweed. Both the Scabious and the Knapweed were absolutely smothered in Marbled Whites (Melanargia galathea) butterflies – I counted 20+ on just one Knapweed plant but there must’ve been 50+ in total scattered along the bank. There were also handfuls of Large Whites (Pieris brassicae) and Meadow Browns (Maniola jurtina) but the Marbled Whites won the contest easily. As we drove back along the lanes,  butterflies appeared almost every 10 m or so, disturbed from the verges or just flitting across the road to the next patch of potential food. It was a vision completely unseen in Germany. Indeed, this one trip probably outnumbered all those we’d seen during our entire German trip.

J19_0825 Brilliant Emerald 1024We were out looking for likely dragonfly habitat and, after a couple of false starts finding inaccessible ponds on private land, we arrived at les Etangs du Longeau. It looked a bit private with a small campsite and café on the land but there were fishermen beside one lake so we bit the bullet, parked and bailed out. What a find it turned out to be. In about an hour and a quarter, we racked up an astonishing collection of 17 species:

  • Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)
  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Bluet)
  • Coenagrion puella (Azure Bluet)
  • Erythromma najas (Large Redeye)
  • Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damsel)
  • Platycnemis pennipes (Blue Featherleg)
  • Aeshna cyanea (Blue Hawker)
  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
  • Onychogomphus forcipatus unguiculatus (Small Pincertail)
  • Cordulia aenea (Downy Emerald)
  • Somatochlora metallica (Brilliant Emerald)
  • Libellula fulva (Blue Chaser)
  • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
  • Sympetrum sanguineum (Ruddy Darter)
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)

Walking back through woodland from the two lakes, we came across one bush playing host to at least half a dozen Silver-washed Fritillaries (Arginnis paphia), too.

What has Germany done to its clearly beleaguered wildlife?

Posted in 2019 Germany

Die Weinstraβe

This, we hope, will be our last full day in Germany. Tomorrow we head over the border into France.

Deidesheimer HofWe are on the so-called Weinstraβe, which was established in 1935 as another marketing ploy, this time to boost local wine sales. We’ve had a short drive around a few rather less than interesting villages but finished up at Deidesheim where we decided to have a spot of lunch, skilfully avoiding the haute cuisine Deidesheimer Hof featuring menus ranging from 128€ – 229€. Nein danke.

FlammkuchenHitherto “a spot of lunch” has proved rather difficult because full blown meals appear to be the German order of the day at lunchtime. Here in Deidesheim, however, we found a delightfully shaded courtyard at a café/bistro offering uncharacteristically modestly sized bites to eat. Francine was drawn in by a chalkboard offering Quiche Lorraine with salad. The ice-cream menu was much more extensive than the savoury menu but I eventually decided to try a Flammkuchen, Greek-style. As I suspected, it turned out to be a sort of German equivalent to a pizza which was actually very thin, crispy and delicate. All good. Francine could not resist following up with yet another iced coffee. So much for a light bite.

Incidentally, there’s something of a collection of subject Straβen in Germany. Francine spotted another on the map as we trying desperately to travel on the autobahn: the Schuhstraβe. So, come on all you shoe fans, hasten there with all speed.

Posted in 2019 Germany

Die Autobahnen sind Kaput

After our first day disrupted journey around Lille, our journey east through Germany to visit our friends near Altenburg was pretty much unhindered, save for an exit that Sally Satnav wanted us to take but which was inconsiderately gesperrt [closed]. Our journey back west, so far, couldn’t have been more of a contrast.

Our first major westward step a couple of days ago to get to Dinkelsbuhl should have been a doddle at a mere 130kms/85mls most of which was on autobahnen [motorways]. It was everything but. we slammed into two massive queues caused by two sets of roadworks which, in total, lost us 60 minutes. When attempting to plan journeys to take in the accursed mittagsruhe, a closure that generally runs from 13:00 to 15:00, the last thing one needs is a journey almost doubling in length. Sally Satnav knew about the first delay but seemed blissfully unaware of the second which is curious considering that it was quite clearly a long term engineering project: “delays until 2020” and it felt as if it would take us that long to get through it.

After Dinkelsbuhl we embarked upon our next westward step, a journey of about 210kms/130mls to get to Wachenheim in the Pfalz wine area. Our fortunes were no better than on our previous leg. This time Sally Satnav came up with stationary traffic and a 20 minute delay (diversion not recommended) caused by a multiple vehicle accident. Much of the autobahn system is 2-lane and, when a major incident occurs the road tends to be completely blocked. The delay went up to 60 minutes (diversion recommended).

Driving in France and avoiding the péage autoroutes is reasonably easy because there is usually an N-road, a route nationale, running in a similar direction. We have now realised that the same is not true in Germany where the autobahn system, being free, really is the equivalent of the N-roads; avoiding them can be very tricky in many places. In this case there was a side-road alternative but it took a long delay to make Sally Satnav think that the diversion might be a good idea.

The diversion, which we were happy to take, followed a road with three sharp hairpin bends down into a village in a valley. We were surrounded by a long stream of trucks which had similarly turned off the autobahn to avoid the stationary traffic. The line of trucks must have been in excess of a kilometre – we could see the solid line down the hill and up the road climbing back out of the valley. Each truck had to pause at each hairpin to allow traffic coming up the hill to round the bend. The line on the opposite side of the village was occasionally static, then moved before coming to a halt again. That road did not have hairpins. What it did have, we eventually found out, was a small traffic light controlled roadworks with alternating flow. Brilliant.

We eventually re-joined the autobahn beyond the accident and sailed into another mega-queue caused by yet another long term set of roadworks. The Germans really know how to cause maximum chaos. On both our recent journeys, the roadworks have been positioned at an autobahn kreuz, the coming together of two autobahns. I have never seen so manty static trucks in my life. Major disruption was caused in both directions. Some trucks, perhaps because of the tachograph, pull over onto the hard shoulder and just sit. The traffic doesn’t clear but maybe they stop breaking any driving limits. [Just a thought, maybe wrong.]

Once again, on what should have been a straight forward journey, we lost 65 minutes and just about arrived on the dot of 13:00 when mittagsruhe was about to start. Phew!

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Posted in 2019 Germany

51 Years Ago …

… I embarked upon a school cycling trip through Germany beginning at Dinkelsbühl. I can remember nothing about the town but its cute name and the fact that we were staying in Jugendherberge [youth hostels]. Our holiday turned out to be a stinky hot tour, with temperatures topping 100°F [it was 1968 so we didn’t do Centigrade] and, given my youthful propensity for bad sunburn and doing lobster impressions, I was forced to ride my curious Mouton Standard, complete with only 4-speed Sturmey-Archer gear box, in denim jeans and long-sleeved shirts. The Germans had never seen such a bicycle and their jaws dropped as they stared. It was one of the best holidays of my life.

Having mentioned my school trip on numerous occasions, Francine was fascinated to see Dinkelsbühl for herself. Since we’d be passing close by on out return drive, we made for it. After a nightmare of a journey along an autobahn containing two sets of highly disruptive roadworks that lost us an hour stuck in traffic, we finally arrived yesterday at a campsite within walking distance of the old town. Happily we arrived just before the accursed MIttagsruhe. We’d booked in for two nights to give us today to give me a blast from the distant past.

Dinkelsbuhl mediaevalDinkelsbühl old town is a charming mediaeval vision with cobbled streets adorned by several towers. Dinkelsbühl  lies on the so-called Romantische Straβe, which seems to be a bit of a touristic marketing ploy. The guide books suggest there is nothing to mar its mediaeval atmosphere – nothing, that is, save for a couple of modern construction cranes which can be avoided for holiday snaps. Oh, and cars are permitted to drive around the cobbled streets, of course, which looks a little less authentic than carts drawn by horses.  Sadly, none of this nudged any memories from the far flung recesses of a 15-year-old schoolboy’s memory.

Dinkelsbuhl YHAWe went in search of the youth hostel where I would have stayed. Luckily, it is marked as a building of interest on a tourist town map, so we had a fighting chance of finding it. Find it we did and my memory continued stubbornly to fail to recall any details of my original visit. We snapped the youth hostel anyway and went in search of more adult refreshment.

Much of the town seemed to contain hotels rather than beer gardens but we finally found a more relaxed looking hostelry which served us some Dinkelsbühler Weizen [wheat beer]. Wheat beers are light and quite refreshing in heat and I have to say that this example is about the best Weizen I’ve tasted to date.

Dinkelsbuhl SquareAfter another short wander, clearly Francine wasn’t quite refreshed enough and decided that an iced coffee would be in order. Lunch time was beginning to slip by, too, so, not doing well without a minor lunch, she accompanied this with a slice of cheesecake. Pop! I went for an apfelstrüdel and simple espresso, to keep the volume down. ‘T was OK but the strüdel had clearly been nuked in a microwave so the pastry was soft.

At last Francine had seen my old German cycle tour starting point. I can remember bits of the holiday, such as a 6th-former filling his water bottle with beer and not getting rid of the flavour from that point on, but I still recalled only the name of Dinkelsbühl.

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Posted in 2019 Germany

Private Meadow

We’re at a pleasantly quiet, rural site at Hohenstadt whose main purpose was to hide us from the swell of weekend campers. It’s just to the east of Nürnberg. We were a little concerned that the site was billed as one of those “unmarked pitches” jobs. Our concern was born of our recent experiences at Pahna where a complete lack of control had units pitching literally one metre away from another. This site, however, though unmarked, at least had madame showing us around and looking for potential pitching areas. She showed us one area with a tree for shade – madame was finding life too hot herself – which should also protect us from encroachment on that side. It was also on the extreme edge of the site facing a rough piece of ground loaded with weeds wild flowers which were attracting slightly more wildlife than we’d hitherto seen throughout our tour of Germany. As this site worked, we actually ended up with more space between adjacent units than we would normally get with marked pitches.

Private MeadowWe pitched Guillaume to face our meadow, away from others on the campsite. It nestled in a bend of the river flowing by the campsite. An old lamppost was leaning at a rakish angle which made me wonder if it had once been an active part of the campsite. Now, it offered us some privacy and entertainment.  Francine decided to list the plants that she was able to recognise here and came to 30, ignoring the grasses, of course.

Wildlife in Germany has been both interesting and, frankly, a bit of a surprise. At the various water bodies that we have happened across, I have, of course, been looking for dragonflies. I have found several species, some in good numbers, including a few that I have not frequently seen; nothing new, though. What we have been struck by is the lack of most other forms of wildlife that we tend to take for granted.

J19_0704 Comma posingWith the exception of our little “private meadow”, Francine has been struck by the paucity of wild flowers in general. There have been a few but nothing like the blooming flowering meadows dotted with different colours that we’d expect to see in rural France at this time of year. Where there have been a scattering of wild flower species, we have ridden, driven or walked by them and been staggered at the lack of insects that our passing disturbed, whereas normally one would expect to flush modest clouds of flying critters from cover. We cycled by a corn field verge of poppies mixed with other white flowers, perhaps field camomile, where we disturbed absolutely nothing. We have stared across larger rough meadows and seen a complete lack of butterflies. It has been quite stunning. The butterflies we have seen have been of few species – generally Whites, Painted Ladies, Meadow Browns – and in low numbers. Our meadow did produce the only Comma I’ve seen thus far. It posed, too.

Since leaving Belgium, we have been lucky enough to have experienced unbroken clear blue skies with not a cloud to blot the horizon. There have been almost no birds blotting the horizons either. We did see a few Red Kites with H&G and heard the occasional lonely Blackbird and a few Blackcaps but there’s been little else. On a 30kms drive around two valleys from our “private meadow”, I saw just one Magpie cross the road. England is inundated with Magpies and you rarely see just one. Cycling from our private meadow staring at crystal clear blue sky there was not a bird in sight. It really is quite staggering.

This pattern has been the norm throughout our German excursion. I can’t explain it but it is somewhat eerie.

J19_0742 Field Vole (we think)Our meadow has produced something of a wildlife highlight, though. As we sat watching the occasional butterfly and some of the hoverflies that were our almost constant companions, usually sitting on camera lens hoods, we spotted movement in the grass. Actually, at first we really just saw the taller plants moving. The culprit proved to be what we now suspect was a Field Vole, though we began by referring to it as “Mouse-ouse”. Because of the moving plant stems, we finally referred to them as Michael, in honour of the late Michael Bentine and his flea circus models. We’re not sure quite how many there were but we think at least four with neighbouring territories dotted along the meadow edge. We sat still and watched enchanted as they occasionally ventured nervously into the open. Trying to get a photo was a challenge because there was normally an obscuring piece of vegetation in the way. After two days and some luck, I did manage a decent picture, though.

We will miss our meadow and particularly our voles when we move on but after what will have been four days there is little more to hold our attention here.

Posted in 2019 Germany

Pitching Up

I really have no recollections of how camping in Germany was when we last tried it about 30 years ago.

Shanty TownOur first experience on this occasion with the genial Herr Wolf was a delight: hedged marked pitches of about 10m2, each with water, waste and electricity. Our next experience at Hohenfelden was of a large campsite which, at first sight, looked scuzzy, with vehicles crammed in beside a lake and many static units taking up much of the centre ground giving the appearance of a sort of shanty town. We did, though, find a marked pitch of adequate size, with pleasant neighbours, further from the lake (and shanty town).

Then we moved to Pahna, again beside a lake which used to be a surface coal mine. I had made a booking, which mentioned pitch A107, and we were directed to our area. A107 was misleading because there were no marked pitches; you positioned your van/tent where you wanted and a man came to hook up the electricity, which was metred. We found what looked like a very pleasant spot with natural shade from a tree and no nearby neighbours. Until the evening, that is. Another caravan arrived and, ignoring all the free space before us, proceeded to position itself aligned with us and only about 2m from us. It left masses of empty space on its other side. The reason became clear the next day when more family members turned up in other camping contraptions, one of which was a converted fire engine, and proceeded to circle the wagons. Help! Actually, they were quite friendly and reasonably considerate save for one evening when the noise went on to 23:30.

CrowdedIt was a holiday time and area A became very full. There was no attempt at any pitch control, nor concept of personal space. A campervan behind us positioned itself less than 1m from the draw bar of a Dutch caravan. Two tents pitched a similar distance from another German van. We began to hate the site but could not move on given our visiting agenda.

Almost BlissThen things began to change; units started leaving. The site was beginning to feel more comfortable again. Units continued to leave and no new arrivals came in. Bizarre. Eventually, we were left with just one other remaining unit far away. We were supposed to be here for one more night and I went to reception to check that this was OK. It was. Apparently the Fire Brigade had the entire area booked for a children’s outing from Wednesday, complete with a huge marquee. We were leaving on Tuesday so all should be well. We were, indeed, the last to leave when we had the entire area to ourselves. Bliss! Well, it would have been bliss had there been much grass. At least it was now very peaceful.

64 square metresWe have now moved about 180kms to a new campsite in the back of beyond, in the Franken Wald. Given our earlier experiences, we are now trying to avoiding camping sites beside lakes, which are magnets for Satan’s Little Disciples. Though this recent particular German holiday time is now over, it is still important for weekends. The heat is rising, with temperatures hitting 40°C being forecast. We wanted shade and found a pitch beside a tree. It gives us midday shade but the sun moves and in the evening we will need the shade cast by our caravan. The pitch is hedged on one side but very small, only about 8m x 8m, just 64m2 – there’s just about room for the van and car but forget about having an awning, too. Forget about swinging a cat, come to that. [We don’t have one with us, neither awning nor cat.] The caravan’s services are right on the edge of the pitch. We are used to a 100m2 minimum in France, the centre of the camping world. 😀 At least it is a marked pitch, even if small. Other pitches are certainly a little larger but we were attracted to the shade. Hopefully, no one will be attracted to the space beside us. Oh, and the electricity is 16amp – sheer luxury.

Posted in 2019 Germany