A good end to a tough week, as my friend Alan has joined us for dinner this evening. Alan is a Geordie, but has been living in Germany since 1988. We met over 20 years ago and manage to get away for a few weekends each year to indulge in our hobby/sport/passion of paragliding. This is our first outing in 2016 and for a change the weather looks excellent. This is not the norm. Usually any weekend we select puts the kiss of death on the weather. Our record was 1500km driving in three countries in a weekend for 15 minutes of flying – and it rained on us just after we landed.
But not this weekend! The sun is out, spring has sprung and we will hit the road at 6:00 tomorrow for hopefully some skiing in the morning and flying in the afternoon.
It’s good news that Alan is here, because I was running out of ideas. I asked Alan what he most appreciated about living in Germany. Number one, he reckoned, is the purity law for brewers (called the Reinheitsgebot) which has saved him from hundreds of headaches over the years. The Reinheitsgebot is one of the oldest European laws… it is 500 years old.
Now Ariane wants to chip in with what she likes about England. Number one here is… pubs. Excellent choice. But will our cross-channel liking game get beyond beer? Yes, as it happens. Ariane’s next choice is dry stone walls.
Alan’s repost is the stunning scenery in the Allgäu – “the flatlands and then suddenly the Alps towering majestically above the rolling green foothills”*
Ariane isn’t giving Alan time to follow up and is constantly chipping in. Next up… polite queuing up. It is one cliché which is really true and to be treasured. And the next thing is that when you get into the bus the driver says “luv” to you (already mentioned in a previous blog).
Now Alan is back from the baseline – he thinks it is unfair that Germans are perceived as being straight-laced and no fun. On the contrary, they have parties at the drop of a hat. There’s always some village fete (they call it a “Fest”) going on… typically there will be a Bierfest, Weinfest, Dorffest (village fete), Schloßfest (castle fete), Viehscheid (a Bavarian/Austrian celebration on the day that the cows are brought down from the mountain at the end of summer). There are countless other regular fetes – we haven’t even mentioned Karneval and the Oktoberfest.
Ariane is still chomping at the bit and causes great surprise by saying… food! “The variety, the influence of so many different countries, fat rascals** and fish ‘n chips”. But the best thing is the sound of letters coming through the door and dropping into the hall. I like that one.
Must sign off now, because Alan and I have to create a playlist for the drive tomorrow.
*we added “towering majestically” after a few beers.
**a giant biscuit thing from Betty’s Tearooms. A fat rascal once saved Ariane’s day but that’s another story.