We had visitors in the office today (from one of my largest clients), which made a bit of a change. I invited them for lunch and we spent the afternoon looking at various bits of the company – a pleasant and successful day.
My visitors are all based in Dortmund, so we talked a bit about football and then we got on to the subject of building sites. The last time I visited Dortmund, there was a huge building site just outside the main station. My visitors came by train, so they passed through the huge building project at Stuttgart station. It was natural that we would end up talking about building sites.
The site I had seen in Dortmund is now completed and is the National Football Museum – believe it or not. I understand it’s pretty good and I am pleased that it’s in Dortmund. I have a soft spot for the city. It is twinned with Leeds, my hometown, for a start. It is also pretty ugly but I have always found the people to be jovial and open. It also helps that Dortmund has the only football team which regularly beats Munich at Football. So I’m glad they got the nod for the football museum – I imagine the city probably needs it as the heavy industry and mining upon which Dortmund was built has declined heavily.
Dortmund is in the middle of the Ruhr valley and was an industrial powerhouse up until the 2nd World War. This, of course, meant that it was very heavily bombed and the ugly city centre is there today because there wasn’t much left after the war.
What I didn’t know until I moved to Germany is that about 10% of the bombs dropped never exploded, and a fair few of them are still buried. These are regularly discovered during building work – in 2014 alone over 2000 tonnes of unexploded ordnance was discovered in Germany. Apparently last week several bombs were found under one of the main thoroughfares into Dortmund- our visitors had driven right over them for the last few decades during their daily commute. The bombs are disposed of carefully and quickly, but hardly a day goes by without areas being cordonned off or evacuated while the ordnance is removed. They are right to take it seriously, because every year a few do go off and kill or injur building workers.
Meanwhile, back at the giant building site in Stuttgart station, lizards are causing trouble. Germany is a very nature-loving country and there are very strict rules around what and where you are allowed to build. Apparently a rare type of lizard has been discovered somewhere on the building site and they must be “relocated” before work can continue. Unfortunately they are still hibernating and can not be moved until they wake up. So there we have it, a multi-billion euro project is on hold so that a few lizards can wake up comfortably and get the sleep out of their eyes* before being gently moved to a new home. It’s utter madness, but rather wonderful. Better than bombs anyway.
*I included this detail especially for any British readers who remember the Blue Peter team cleaning sleep out of the eyes of their pet tortoise, Frida, with a cotton bud after she had woken from hibernation.