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Archive for February, 2009

Instead of Bonfire Night in Germany they have Karnival, which is a bit like Mardi Gras in that it happens before Lent, but it starts, as far as I can tell, just after New Year. All the time I’ve been walking I’ve been bumping into things which are for Karnival but it culminates just before Ash Wednesday and some towns take it more seriously than others. Ornbau, where I stayed with Christian (and where I last wrote from) takes it pretty seriously, and on the Thursday that I was there there was a thing which translates as Oldwomanskarnival which is basically the same as a fancy dress themed night in the pub except mostly for women. We went. I was an angel and Christian was a witch and his mum and aunts were all black people, very much in the minstrel style. He didn’t see what all the fuss was about when Harry dressed up as a Nazi.

Then on the Saturday everyone builds their parade vehicles (which are dragged around by tractors or quad bikes) and then on Sunday they all drive round the town throwing sweets at the onlookers and dressed up as whatever they fancy and drinking a lot. Then they take their vehicles apart and then on Wednesday they go to church. I didn’t see all of that in the same place, but I did see the parade in Kipfenberg and I went to two Ash Wednesday services in different places.

Apart from Karnivalling, I have of course been accepting hospitality in the usual manner. I don’t want to give the impression that all Germans are spectacularly nice because some of them aren’t really. But I never really spend that long with the less nice ones. If I feel like what their saying is Not In My Back Yard, which they quite often are, I say OK Danke and move on. Which means that I have forgotten about them a few seconds later whereas the people who are nice to me I still remember.

About those people, one of them was a family of bakers who had a constant supply of bready goods and who fed me with some of them and gave me a kilo or two to take with me. They sort of made me want to have a bakery. Another was a couple who spoke no English but who had solar panels. Whenever I see solar panels on rooves (and there are a lot round here) it always makes me happy and I always assume that the people living there must be good and nice. Actually what normally happens is that they are old which means they don’t speak English so I haven’t really been able to find out about whether it’s worth it or not. Anyway, this couple let me sleep in their garage type place and gave me a meal of bread and smoked bacon, but the kind that you only see in foreign countries which is mostly fat. I had to closely watch the father so I knew what to do. You cut off the rind (not the fat, that would leave you with nothing) with a massive wooden-handled hunting knife and then cut thin strips of fat off and eat them. Then you eat some bread. Luckily I’ve spent a bit of time overcoming my feelings of disgust towards unusual eating habits because otherwise it wouldn’t have been delicious. I love fat these days.

When I arrived in Kipfenberg I knew that they had their parade that day so I asked someone where I could sit down for a few hours without spending any money. He instantly got out his wallet and I persuaded him to put it away and walked into town and found a pub. The pub people were wearing costumes and being jolly and gave me a drink of some sort and then they said “Do you know this man?” pointing at the swinging door “he said to give you €10.” So I earnt a tenner which I later spent in the same pub on shots of weird Austrian schnapps.

I also stayed with Herbert Früwirth who has a Praxis in Wettelsheim. You may wonder what a Praxis is, and having done quite an in-depth investigation I’m still not totally sure. Certainly it involves some medical procedures but I couldn’t say whether he is Herr Früwirth or Doktor Früwirth, though I suspect it’s the former. Among other things, he had a sort of lava-lamp which had spinning water in it which was designed to suck up elektrosmoke (though I haven’t checked, I presume the English for this is electrosmoke) which is the vibrations and fields and such produced by computers and other machines. He also had a big cannister which he ran his water through and which had lots of little tubes running round inside it which turned the water from dead (because it had been travelling in a straight line in a pipe for ages) into alive (like water in a stream), and I had a bath in said water for 35 minutes (I was allowed between 35 and 40) at a temperature of 38 degrees and a depth of… well I’m embarrassed to say. It could have fed the world’s hungry it was so deep. And he did a health check on me which involved wearing a pair of headphones which I think both picked up my frequencies and also gave out some frequencies and while we both looked at his laptop (electrosmoke being sucked up by the 7-colour lamp) which kept producing maps of different parts of my body with different areas marked as being ill for some reason. He discovered two different viruses which he gave me pills for (with labels like €15 on them) and zapped certain bad bits with his mouse with the pleasing result that they got better. After zapping the viruses he took a closer look at my cells and zapped some of my chromosomes and then, as if that wasn’t enough, he zapped the individual links between the DNA strands. It went slightly outside my realm of biology at that point, but he managed to actually strengthen the bonds between the atoms in the molecules of G, T, S and A (or whatever those four molecules are). I felt both baffled and pleased. And every time he did a different area of my body he checked the frequencies, compared the frequencies with what they should be in a healthy body, worked out the difference and blasted a bottle of water (alive) with it. Then at the end he gave me the bottle of water and I’m to take 10 drops a day of it and it’ll strengthen all the weak bits.

When I left he gave me a quick physics lesson including lots of stuff I’d been taught in school like about atoms and electrons and such and then some slightly surprising diversions from the traditional theories, like that the sun does not, in fact, produce any heat or light. “Zat. Is A Beeg. Lie!” is what he said about that. In quite a scary manner. Apparently the sun just reflects an even bigger light / heat source which is in the middle of each galaxy which also explains the shape of galaxies (which is a bit like a flying saucer). The long and the short is that probably I’m going to start getting a lot healthier, although I felt pretty healthy before I met him.

When I left he produced €60 and told me to take it and I artfully refused for a bit until he started to get angry and that, combined with him saying that it wasn’t for fun but for if I met a holy person who needed it or something, made me accept it. I spent 15 on cake at the next cake shop and now I’m down to €65.

Kit

I have quite a strong feeling that everyone I know wants to know about my kit, though I sometimes have doubts about that. Well in this week’s kit spotlight are the neckerchief and the stick. My neckerchief has proved useful for the following things:

  • keeping nose warm
  • keeping hair out of eyes
  • keeping head warm (but not as warm as a hat)
  • stopping breath from putting out a fire
  • wiping nose
  • drying tent
  • cleaning inside of tent
  • carrying little bottles of booze which were given to me, in a bundle on my stick

My stick has less uses but is constantly handy. It has shrunk by at least an inch since I started, which I know because I made a mark on it which has now been ground up. Also I went to church the other day and they were singing a song which had the word Pilger in it, so I asked for a translation and someone told me it meant that Jesus is like the pilgrim’s staff. Isn’t that excellent? Well I was pleased.

Begging

When I started people asked me how I was going to get food and because I hadn’t really thought about it much, I said “Well, we could beg.” This prompted Rory to effectively dare me not to beg. He said it in a much more spiritual way, but the general gist was “You’ll be much cooler if you don’t beg” and I have borne that in mind. I haven’t asked for any food except once by accident (which was a result of the German words for “apple” and “waste” sounding the same – I ended up with three apples), but I do always put myself in situations where people can give me food, which is pretty much the same if you ask me. Like I deliberately put my tent up in the middle of a town rather than in the forest somewhere, thinking that someone might offer me food.

I have eaten a range from the bread-and-fat meal which I described before to the high-end gastro-pub style meal of Paul Limbacher and all of it has been delicious. I think food you need must taste nicer than food you just want.

Bunyan

Today I went into a restaurant and asked to sit down without buying anything and the playful Italian owner came out and said “But you will sing us a song!” and I warned him that I wasn’t a very good singer and he trumped that by saying that I could have everything for free if I sang and then I remembered that I’d been singing To Be A Pilgrim every day for the last month or so, so I gave the whole place a pretty mighty blast of that and earnt my lunch. He didn’t ask for the second verse and nor was it given.

Weather

It snowed a while ago and the snow is pretty much gone now. There are still hunks of it around but for the last couple of nights I have slept in my tent and been perfectly comfortable. My new problem is wet, which seems to be everywhere and is hard to get out of the tent. I did see some actual skiers skiing a few days ago, but it feels like winter is coming to an end and indeed the Germans, who are very good with times and dates, told me that Spring starts on the 21st or so.

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Route

I have basically sailed along the Altmühl to the Main-Donau-Kanal and now I’m going along the Danube (which they call the Donau round here) (and which isn’t as blue as everyone says). I should be going along here for a while now, but who knows? Specifically I have been to:

  • Ornbau
  • Gunzenhausen
  • Wettelsheim
  • Treucht-Lingen
  • Schernfeld
  • Schönfeld (about 2km away and pronounced the same)
  • Pfünz
  • Gungolding
  • Kipfenberg
  • Beilngries
  • Essing
  • Kelheim
  • Oberndorf
  • Regensberg

with a bunch of places I’ve missed out. I should be in Austria by the end of the week, but again who knows? I didn’t literally sail, FYI.

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God

Before I left, James (my vicar at home) kept talking about counting your blessings and sometimes he mentioned trying to see bad things as a blessing. Or looking for the blessing in something which seems bad. The Muslim guy who drove me to Richard’s house told me an Arabic phrase which I’ve now forgotten that he translated as “Thank God – it means you thank God when it’s good and you thank God when it’s bad”. It is very easy at the moment to thank God. Everything around me is good. The people I meet are all good. The food I eat is all good. The weather is always good. Sometimes the weather is horrible and then I think to myself “Thank God when it’s good and thank God when it’s bad” and look for a blessing and there are always loads. There are all kinds of good things about blisters and cold wind and a wet tent. You can’t really enjoy not having blisters in quite the same way if you haven’t recently had them. My feet are quite hard and calloused now, and I find that very satisfying. It’s easy to thank God for my blisters. It’s even easier to thank God for the other things that I’m constantly surrounded by. The snow at the moment, the sun when it’s out, the stars when it’s clear, the food that I’m given, the people I meet. I think having no money makes it particularly easy to see God.
Every time I eat food that someone has given me I tell them it’s delicious. Probably some of it is kind of average and if I’d paid for it in a restaurant I’d think “hm, that was a bit of a rip off”, but that thought isn’t available to me. I have no reason to expect any food now, and that makes everything taste good. In the Lord’s Prayer there’s a bit which goes “Give us today our daily bread” but I don’t say that now. Instead I say “God, you are my daily bread” which probably doesn’t make sense to anyone except me. It sort of means that if I don’t get any more food, I accept that and I’m grateful for the food I’ve already had. It just seems too much to ask for more.
People keep asking me why I’m doing this pilgrimage and I keep saying I don’t know and that I hope I’ll find out. Maybe one of the reasons is to learn to expect less. If I expect food and comfort and warmth then it won’t seem like a gift from God when I get it. Maybe Rory was right when he said I should leave me tent and my bag behind (but don’t worry, I’m not going to).

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German
Here are some useful German words I’ve learnt:
Stick – schtock
Walk – wander
Map – karte
Path – weg
Bike – rad
Guest – gäst
Book – büch
Kind – freundlich
Walking stick – wanderschtock
Footpath – wanderweg
Map with footpaths marked on it – wanderkarte
Map with bike paths and footpaths on it – radwanderkarte
My book, which I have written people’s names and addresses in – wanderbüch (I produced it once and someone said “Ah! Ein wanderbüch!” as if they were not only commonplace but so ordinary as to require a single word to describe them)
Friendly to bikers – radvererfreundlich (or something like this, I’ve seen it on a sign)
Hospitable – gästfreundlich
Gästfreundlich is a word that was invented to describe Germans.

Gästfreundlich
In Eberbach the Leytzes, an evangelich Pfarrer (which I think means protestant vicar) and family, gave me loads of birthday food (it was Ellen’s birthday – I gave her a hat which I happened to have spare) and I stayed in their gartenhaus. Then in Limbach Pfarrer Klok (a Catholich priest) let me stay in the jungendhaus, which I think is a sort of youth centre. If RB had been with me we could have played table football but instead I read about what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe.
I quite often stop when I’m walking to rest, and when it’s cold (which it quite often is) I quite often go into a cafe or a gästhaus and say “Ich bin wanderer. Ich bin [impression of being tired]. Ich habe kine geld. Setzen? Ist ok?” and instead of saying the German version of “This is a place where people swap money for drinks and the seats are sort of part of the service. If you have no money then it’s totally inappropriate for you to just come in and sit down. Sit outside, there’s a floor there which is open to the public”, they generally say “Ja, ja”, then a few seconds later “Dranken?” and I say again that I have no money and then they give me a coffee or something. And sometimes a meal. Well in Seckach I went into a cafe and I wasn’t given a meal but I ate the last of my bread from my snack pack and I noticed that I was down to half a tin of würst. It occured to me that I could end up with no food in my bag for the first time and that this was the first time I’d had no bread. As I was noticing, the waitress gave me a loaf of bread, so that problem lasted for about twenty minutes. And then someone else bought me a milkshake (after I’d refused her money) and then someone else gave me a map (which was useless to me but hard to refuse) and then the waitress gave me a baloney (I think).
I later met the Pittners in Hergenstadt who were all prepared to let me sleep in their wagon (for some reason they had a wagon) but then they thought maybe I’d like to sleep in their house instead and I consented, and we had excellent würst and cheese and bread. Germans eat lots of bread and cheese and meat type meals. Breakfast, for example, is almost always bread and cheese and meat with the option of jam as well, and there’s normally another meal in the day which is the same. And they eat it off a wooden board, like a chopping board.
I picked up a co-pilgrim for about a kilometer. After having lunch with the Zimmermans, their son walked with me towards Jerusalem for a little while. He was the third person to come with me for a section – could you be the fourth?
I also stayed with Heike and Peter in Leuzendorf and I learnt a new thing about German hospitlality. It seems that giving a stranger a meal is totally normal here, but that letting a stranger sleep in your house is pretty odd. When I met Heike, she came out of her house and stopped whatever it was she was up to to walk round the town with me and help me find a place to sleep. After a few unsuccessful attempts and an offer to drive me to somewhere and a lot of discussion with Peter, eventually she said that I could stay in their barn, but she was obviously distressed by the idea. I examined the barn, and it had some hay in it which I could have put my tent on and I said it was excellent and thankyou very much and she became even more distressed and then after more discussion with Peter said, “No, I’m ashamed to have you sleep here, you can sleep in our house.” Which seemed like a much better idea to me, but she was still distressed and eventually said “I’m not very comfortable having a strange person in my house.” I gave her my passport and she inspected it and that made her happier, but it occured to me that lots of the other people I’ve met have been really generous in several ways while at the same time not inviting me to sleep inside. I don’t understand that at all – the way I see it, they’ll get their floor back if I sleep on it, but they’ll never see their food again if I eat it. But it works out well for me because I love food a lot more than I love being inside. And I have an excellent tent.
Last night I went to Leutershausen and on my way to the church (to ask about a place to sleep) I saw a kebab shop and I thought I’d ask in there, mostly because I wanted a kebab. Luckily for me, Ceyhun, the best dönerman in the world, was superfriendly and gave me a kebab and then another kebab and then some chips and phoned people and soon I had the gemindehaus for the evening and a stomach full of greasy goodness. He said that he ate at least one kebab every day. “Minimum”. It kind of made me want to work in a kebab shop.
Now I’m in Ornbau, staying with Christian. When I met him I was looking at a map and he came up and was very smiley and friendly so I asked him about where to sleep and he said: “By me, if you like” and I said “Um… errrrr… heh… um… errrr… do… do you mean, next to you?” and he said “Yes, next to me” and I said “Oh. Well… heh, thankyou, um I don’t think we know each other quite well enough for that…” and he smiled and we discussed other possibilities and he said “But, really, by me, if you like.” And I was thinking “He’s very forward, sure, but is he friendly-forward or is he friendly and forward?” so eventually I said “Ur, maybe… do you have a floor I could sleep on?” and he said “I have a empty room, for friends. You can sleep there. It has a bed” and I said “Wha? Oh. Right, you mean… oh, right, well… yes. Good. Fine, yes please. Thankyou. Ah. Aha. Thankyou.” It turns out he has a girlfriend.

Graves
I know a few of you (none of you) will have been worrying that I haven’t written enough about graves and graveyards recently. Well I apologise for the delay but there really hasn’t been much to say until now. German graveyards are basically pretty ugly boring things. Every stone has a name and two dates and that’s it, they all look the same, pretty kitsch, and they seem to get rid of all the old ones. However, the other day I was walking out of Merchingen (in the direction of Ballenberg on the left, if you want to go and visit) and taking a slightly scenic route when I saw a graveyard which looked quite different. The stones were all gritstone (or whatever we normally have in England) and had lichen growing on them, so I went to investigate. Imagine my delight when I discovered that each stone had a lengthy engraving on it, and furthermore it wasn’t in German. Or even in Roman letters. It was some alphabet I couldn’t read, which I presumed must have been Aztec or Mayan or something and that I probably had stumbled across evidence of some ancient civilisation, but quite a lot later I realised was Hebrew. The graves were all lined up in date order so you can easily see the progression from all-gritstone, all-Hebrew in the oldest ones (maybe 1700s, but I couldn’t read any dates) to almost all Hebrew with the German name in the late 1800s to the introduction of granite and the inclusion of the date at the beginning of the 20th century. Only one grave had the star of David on it (which is how I worked out it was Jewish) and the last dead Jew buried there died in February 1938. Also I’ve been reading my book about What the Bible Really Says by the Jehovahs Witnesses and it is quite liberal with sentences which start with “Imagine my delight…” and such.

Money
I am currently winning my battle to have no money. At the moment I am carrying €20 which I owe to a church in Jerusalem, so it’s not mine. I suffered a mild set-back when I was in Limbach because I went to church. As the priest had generally organised my shelter and given me dinner, he knew about my pilgrimage and thought it would be a good idea to share it with the congregation and also to get a fairly embarrassed altar girl to translate a message of good will for me. After the service I went and said thankyou to the girl and while I was talking to her one of the punters shook my hand but he did the old five-Euros-in-the-palm routine which I wasn’t prepared for and having thought about it, I still have no idea how to avoid taking palmed money. So I took it.
I’ve generally been giving my money to churches, but it occured to me that that’s quite a boring way to use it, specially since it is meant as a present. So I bought cake with my last fifteen Euros. I went into a bakery and handed over the money and said in a expansive and generous way “Give a piece of cake to anyone who comes in here until the money has run out!” and then I said it again a few times in different ways until I got the impression that the girl behind the counter probably understood. She was totally baffled and not nearly as impressed as I had hoped she would be, but that’s what you get from trying to impress people with cake. I still think it’s a good idea though, so if I end up with more palm-money I’ll probably spend it on cake not church.
Also, I said before that I gave more than everyone else to the collection in church. I found out recently that if you are a member of church then you get taxed. You have to de-register yourself at the registry office to become a non-member and then you don’t have to pay church tax but also you can’t baptise your children or get buried by a priest or whatever.

Route
After sleeping just outside Heidelberg in my tent in a little patch of non-snow under a tree (this is after it started snowing but before it got cold), I belted it along the Neckar to Eberbach in one day which is probably the furthest I’ve managed so far and might have been 20 miles. Bike paths along rivers are fast and easy. Then I left the Neckar to go to Unterdielbach, Mülben, Balsbach, and then stayed in Limbach in a Jungendhaus. Then Heidesbach, Seckach, Adelsheim and Hergestadt where I stayed with the delightful Pittners. Merchingen, Ballenberg, Krautheim, Dörsbach, Hohebach and I slept in a Gemindehaus, which I think means town hall. Ailringen, Zaisenhausen, Bartenstein, Eichswiesen which, due to the constant snowing, had a perfectly good road going into it and no road coming out – on the map there was a bike path coming out, bike paths being the best type of paths round here and generally pretty reliable, but it was totally buried so I had to do a full ü-turn and go back to Riedbach (where I met the Zimmermans and ate a huge quantity of food), then Shrozburg and Leüzendorf where I stayed with Heike and Peter. They, and a few other people, insisted that I went to Röthenburg on the basis that Japanese people always seem to, and then I started heading in the right direction again (for the first time in a couple of weeks) to Geslau, Lauterbach, Buch a. Wald, Jochsberg and Leutershausen along the Altmühlweg bike path, which has already been cleared by superefficient German snow removing machines. I stayed here in the Gemindehaus and was looked after by the best Dönerman in the world (self-proclaimed), Ceyhun. Thencly, still following the excellent Altmühlweg, Görscheim, Neunstetten, Herrieden (where I ate a work of exquisite beauty, created by Paul Limbacher), Selingsdorf, Thann, Großenried, Mörlach, and Ornbau where I am now. I was offered the chance to stay here for two nights and yes, I took it. So I’m having a day off and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. [Written on the 20th Feb]

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This is the sort of thing I find left for me. This was in French Belgium, left for me to find in the morning by the family whose garage I slept in.

This is the sort of thing I find left for me. This was in French Belgium, left for me to find in the morning by the family whose garage I slept in.

A family of Catholics who gave me a rosary and taught me how to say the Hail Mary. Imagine - I didn't know how to before!

A family of Catholics who gave me a rosary and taught me how to say the Hail Mary. Imagine - I didn't know how to before!

This is a rubbish photo proving that I walked through some snow

This is a rubbish photo proving that I walked through some snow

These chalk daubings are everywhere. Apparently on the 6th January all the children get dressed up as kings and go round from door to door collecting money for the poor children of the world and then they write 20*C+M+B*09 above the door in chalk which has been blessed in the church. I think it stands for 2009, God Bless This Door or something like that. It seems like a sort of friendly version of Halloween.

These chalk daubings are everywhere. Apparently on the 6th January all the children get dressed up as kings and go round from door to door collecting money for the poor children of the world and then they write 20*C+M+B*09 above the door in chalk which has been blessed in the church. I think it stands for 2009, God Bless This Door or something like that. It seems like a sort of friendly version of Halloween.

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This is Therese presenting me with new socks among many other things. Notice the profusion of maps on the table. My old socks are on my hands, and they stink.

This is Therese presenting me with new socks among many other things. Notice the profusion of maps on the table. My old socks are on my hands, and they stink.

 

Carter and Heath arrive like little American angels armed with peanuts, chocolate and a Jesus Loves You cross. Notice my stick in the background, being excellent.

Carter and Heath arrive like little American angels armed with peanuts, chocolate and a Jesus Loves You cross. Notice my stick in the background, being excellent.

This is a self portrait of myself, taken by me, just before arriving in some reasonably picturesque German town.

This is a self portrait of myself, taken by me, just before arriving in some reasonably picturesque German town.

 

This is a small portion of a pretty typical German graveyard. Things to notice are the formulaic headstones, the preposterous choice of fonts including loads of outline and bold and italics etc., the clipart pictures and the full granite-bordered deathbed almost always with a little Japanese garden on it. Angelika Kirst's is a particularly fine example with an array of limestone chips, pot plants and traditional lamp.

This is a small portion of a pretty typical German graveyard. Things to notice are the formulaic headstones, the preposterous choice of fonts including loads of outline and bold and italics etc., the clipart pictures and the full granite-bordered deathbed almost always with a little Japanese garden on it. Angelika Kirst's is a particularly fine example with an array of limestone chips, pot plants and traditional lamp.

the sky near the horizon fills up with red and pink and the clouds above you are dappled with mauve and various other colours like pink and it moves so slowly you can't see it moving but fast enough so you know something's happening and it is one of the most beautiful things in the world. But it happens about half an hour before the sun comes up and it's pretty much the same as a sunset which happens at tea time. So it's up to you whether to get up early for it or not.

I'm drinking from a mug which was part of the unexpected package of goods from Pietra the newspaper lady. She wanted me to take it with me but I refused. To the left of the picture you can just see the top of the pile of sandwiches and such that she gave me and in the background, a beautiful sunrise, blurred. You've probably never seen a sunrise so I'll tell you what it's like: the sky near the horizon fills up with red and pink and the clouds above you are dappled with mauve and various other colours like pink and it moves so slowly you can't see it moving but fast enough so you know something's happening and it is one of the most beautiful things in the world. But it happens about half an hour before the sun comes up and it's pretty much the same as a sunset which happens at tea time. So it's up to you whether to get up early for it or not.

 

This is the gartenhaus of Gudula and Alfons where I slept. It is heated and has a shower and also a sauna, I would thoroughly recommend it.

This is the gartenhaus of Gudula and Alfons where I slept. It is heated and has a shower and also a sauna, I would thoroughly recommend it.

One of G and A's friends is calling Arnold to see if he wants me to stay with him tonight. He does! Moments later I change my plans about where I'm going to walk.

One of G and A's friends is calling Arnold to see if he wants me to stay with him tonight. He does! Moments later I change my plans about where I'm going to walk.

Herr Burg, in his kitchen. He spoke no English but still invited me in and gave me a massive bowl of soup and other things. Also he said "Jawol" or however you write it, like real Germans are meant to.

Herr Burg, in his kitchen. He spoke no English but still invited me in and gave me a massive bowl of soup and other things. Also he said "Jawol" or however you write it, like real Germans are meant to.

A woman, I don't know her name, appeared one night next to my tent with a bag full of food. Wurst, eggs, snacks, orange juice, fruit, bread and cheese. All the food groups plus some others I've never heard of.

A woman, I don't know her name, appeared one night next to my tent with a bag full of food. Wurst, eggs, snacks, orange juice, fruit, bread and cheese. All the food groups plus some others I've never heard of.

My feet are blue because they are inside my tent, not naturally. On the left foot is the traditional ball-of-foot blister which has edged round through the gap in the toes. On the right a pretty well developed callous on top of the big toe as well as a newer blister on the left.

My feet are blue because they are inside my tent, not naturally. On the left foot is the traditional ball-of-foot blister which has edged round through the gap in the toes. On the right a pretty well developed callous on top of the big toe as well as a newer blister on the left.

This is wurst in action. It looks a little bit like cat food. Yum.

This is wurst in action. It looks a little bit like cat food. Yum.

Dinner by candle-light in a gartenhaus. This is classic German hosipitality - a massive plate of loads of different types of cheese and meat and piles of bread and such (in the basket). This is in Eberbach.

Dinner by candle-light in a gartenhaus. This is classic German hosipitality - a massive plate of loads of different types of cheese and meat and piles of bread and such (in the basket). This is in Eberbach.

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Other Things

Kit

I have now pretty much used everything I bought with me I think. I haven’t used the corkscrew or the toothpick or the tweezers on my penknife but I have used my penknife so that was worthwhile. The last thing to be used was my puffer which I just brought to please Millie and Simon but turned out to be useful because I’m allergic to more than one place on earth it seems, and I went to the other place. Also that stupid roll of plaster stuff which was obviously pointless came in quite handy when I had to fix the book Rory gave me. It was in two pieces and then it turned into three pieces so I plastered it up really well and now it’ll last for another few weeks I reckon. And then a little later I started developing blisters and the plasters were slightly useful for that as well. Surprisingly, I use that penknife loads, but mostly for eating with, and I don’t really use the torch much at all. Also you’ll be desperately interested to know about the state of my undergarments I imagine.

Well I started wearing white pants which was an error, but then when I stayed with the Americans they gave me a new pair of pants which are both a) as long as trousers and b) definitely pants and not trousers. Since then I have been wearing them and they are much cleaner on account of being khaki. Every so often someone offers me a jumper or something and I have found two hats by the sides of roads, so I reckon that in not long I’ll be totally wearing given stuff.

Pain

BR I basically felt no pain because we were going at Richard’s natural speed which is slower than mine. Immediately AR I sped up and that was fine but a couple of days AR I developed blisters, as you would. On my left foot I had a good one on top of my big toe which never quite joined up with the one underneath my big toe, although that one (on both feet) came round into the gap so it could escape when I trod on it. Anyway, they’ve all gone now, or at least today I walked for more than 30 clicks and the only thing that bothered me was my back which was more of a background pain when my feet were blistering but now has more of a voice.

Arnold

I forgot to mention Arnold, who is the friend of Alfons and others who I stayed with the next day. He is a stonemason and among other things he told me that church rooves round those parts are often filled with human bones (maybe that’s common knowledge, but I didn’t know it) and that he smoked because he wanted to show solidarity and that smokers are the modern Jew, and he also showed me a statue he’d made of his town which had a picture of people pulling the sun down with a chain and a fox and a rabbit saying goodnight to each other because those were both bizarre insults used against his town, the first referring to the fact that it was West of Kirchheim Bolander (or whatever it’s called) (so obviously people from the West of anywhere have to pull the sun down) and the second because they were so rural and apparently in really rural places the fox says goodnight to the rabbit. He also told me about the town which didn’t have broadband (that’s pretty rural if you ask me) and he said that he remembered the last cow and the last horse used to plough fields, and the last outhouses and the time when every family lived above their animals and when there was a couple of butchers and bakers and grocers and two schools (though he only remembers the first one – the second one was the Jewish school which was abandoned in 1928 when the last Jews left) and when he was at the school there were 30 pupils from 6 to 14 and he also told me about how Germans used to use granite for their graves because it was so expensive but now it’s cheaper to import granite from India than to use local stone which is why there are so many really tacky graves around made of really nice looking granite. Luckily I have taken a picture.

Priscilla and Cursomething

I also forgot to mention these two excellent people before, who also live in the land of pulling down the sun and therefore rely on a woodburning stove for their hot water. I forgot his name, but the guy, when I met him, just said “Little” to me because I’d asked him if he spoke English, and that slightly throws me because it means “somewhere between hardly at all and totally fluent”, so I explained what I was looking for, slowly and not at all sure if he was following me and then he said “Schatz, machmichmachmach, here?” So his second word to me was an offer of sleeping in his house. And he and his Schatz not only had three enormous dogs (a great Dane, a labrador and a half of both – the great Dane was nine months old and the size of Joy’s horse) but also put a massive pile of food in front of me to which they kept adding and ate none of.

Bunyan

So far I haven’t faced any hobgoblins nor foul fiends. I haven’t had to show bravery in the face of a lion, nor fight a giant. In fact nooneso even besets me round with dismal stories. The worst that could be said from Bunyan’s poem is that I’ve had to endure a bit of wind and weather, but not as much as you lot in England I don’t think. Still, if anyone got close enough they could hear me singing it every so often. It’s quite a cheery song.

Photos

I’ll put some photos up here soon. I’d have done it before, but, you know. If you find that I’ve written rather a lot and wish I hadn’t, feel free to just read the posts with pictures. That’s the idea of them.

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