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The first day we drank orange juice at Frankfurt airport and found our way to the right terminal and a bus took us to our plane which seemed to be miles away and then the plane taxied for so long we joked that they were driving us to Stuttgart, then there was a forty minute flight and Julian and Ingrid met us at the airport and we got lost on the way home but we were happy to be lost in Germany and then we met Ingrid’s mother, Rosa, at their house in Schechingen and we all ate cheese and Brezeln and Leberwurst and yoghurt and drank coffee and in the afternoon we rested and then walked to the local supermarket and Julian went off to the youth camp he was helping with and in the evening we ate chicken and I was asleep by eight o’clock.
The second day we picked apples off the ground in Ingrid’s garden and peeled them and cut out the brown bits and the bits where the insects lived and we gathered wood in a wheelbarrow and set the grill from the swing frame and moved the concrete blocks under it to make a kind of barbecue and we baked the apples into a Torte and bought many varieties of Wurst from the Metzgerei and many types of Brötchen from the Bäckerei and people came to Ingrid’s garden where there was music and singing and we had a party and a lovely time and that was the end of the second day.
The third day we woke at five am and went wandering and saw corn fields and crows and slugs and wheat and a hot air balloon and we said Guten Morgen to cyclists and walkers and when we got back we made coffee and Fredy bought a huge quantity of bread rolls and cheese and egg salad and cold meats and Ingrid boiled some eggs and we had another feast and Rosa sang a folk song about Tirol which is where Patrick (Julian’s brother) was travelling with his girlfriend and later we bought more food and beer and wine from a supermarket that had New Zealand wine on offer, then we went for a walk via the cemetery where Ingrid’s dad is buried and saw where some new houses are being built and it was hot, hot, hot so we came back and in the evening we went to the local Scheunenfest and ate Salzkuchen which is a little like pizza and drank Pils and Weizen and listened to the oompah band which Ingrid’s mother loved and you haven’t been to Germany until you’ve heard an Abba medley by an oompah band at the local barn festival.
The fourth day I was sick, having caught Peter’s cold but I didn’t want to miss out on a trip to Schwäbisch Gmünd so while Ingrid and Fredy and Rosa went to the Münster for the Sunday Catholic service, Peter and I looked around the town and took a million photos and had coffee and Pfirsichnektar with Ingrid and Peter and then we came home and Ingrid made me herbal tea from what looked like linden leaves and a chrysanthemum head and I slept and slept and read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out A Window And Disappeared and later I got up and der Fredy made a delicious soup and Ingrid lit a fire in the A-frame woodburner in the lounge and then it was time for bed.
On the fifth day I was greatly recovered, perhaps because of Ingrid’s herbal tea and Peter and I made breakfast for ourselves and Rosa, and we put some washing on, then Peter and I went for a walk to the edge of town past a barn that was full of cows, with swallows flitting in and out, and we were out in the countryside very quickly and saw the fire station and we bought postcards and juice (Bananensaft and Apfelsaft) at the supermarket, then Ingrid came home from work and we visited the Rathaus together, then Ingrid made a salad and heated up some soup and our washing dried quickly and we took Ingrid’s mother to her home nearby that she shares with Ingrid’s sister and her Mann and we went for a drive with Ingrid to Eschach to see her mechanic about an oil leak and discovered her car was running on three cylinders and we called in at a supermarket where an eccentric Italian man showed us his customised bicycle and after we came home, we went for a long walk on the St Jacob’s pilgrimage (Besinnung am Jakobsweg) and saw the Schechingen-Klotzhöfe and another hot air balloon and came back and made pasta for tea and drank rosé (me) and Bier (Peter).
On the sixth day, Peter and I bought bread rolls and Brezeln from the Bäckerei and felt brave for buying things in German and ate them with cucumber and the cheese and cold meats that Fredy’d bought earlier and then we read and wrote and Ingrid came home from work and we collected more apples and Fredy took us all to Schwäbisch Gmünd and Peter bought us coffee and cake at the same place as last time then we went to Stuttgart and walked through der Schlossgarten and saw lots of construction and the Fest being set up and the huge Schloss and heard buskers and met Patrick and Anja and Fredy shouted us a delicious meal at a Schwäbisch restaurant (Der Buschpilot) where I ate Linsen (lentils) mit Spätzle (noodles) and Wurst and Salat and drank Wulle (a type of beer) and we walked back through the gardens to Patrick and Anja’s where I used their Internet (because Ingrid’s wasn’t working) to check in for our Ryan Air flights and it was a relief to finally have boarding passes but it took ages and everyone was falling asleep and Fredy drove us home and it was after midnight and we saw from the guitar in the hall that Julian was back from his camp.
On the seventh day, Peter and I bought bread and cheese and salmon from the little supermarket and I got Briefmarken for my Postkarten and Peter and I sat and wrote the postcards out at Ingrid’s outside table and we went to look at the Schechingen church which was stunning inside and Rosa came back and Julian woke up, which meant I lost the bet with Peter (which was a kiss) because I said Julian would have risen early to go cycling and would already be halfway to Bremen by then and Ingrid came home and Peter and I went with her to visit the man with Parkinson’s she goes walking with once a week and we all walked together then played a memory game with picture cards and Peter and I learnt some German words and in the evening Julian took us to see Ian, his dad, who made us curried sausages and we drank beer and back at home we had wine with Ingrid and Julian and they gave us Hirschbräu T-shirts and we saw der Igel (the hedgehog Ingrid feeds each night) and were sad to be going.
And on the eighth day we flew to Manchester.
Peter Clayworth, Ann-Marie Houng Lee & Redmer Yska with Robin Hyde
It was great day in Whanganui on Saturday (17th August, the day after National Poetry Day). The Sarjeant (which supported the event) was closed for earthquake checks but Element cafe kindly stepped in – very cool venue in an old bank building. Dr Mary Paul and Redmer Yska gave us some fascinating insights into Robin Hyde/Iris Wilkinson’s life and writing (including Redmer’s reading of her poem ‘The White Chair’), I read a few of her poems and a few of my own, and the legendary Glen Colquhoun rounded out the afternoon with a lively performance of poems dedicated to Iris. Despite all the shakiness of the day before, there was an impressive turnout of around 80 lovely people, some of whom had travelled from Palmerston North and Wellington to be there.
The event was the brain-child of Whanganui-based writer Ann-Marie Houng Lee who did a fantastic job of organising the event. She told me it was sparked by the Tuesday poem I posted (If you have linen women) a couple of months back. Worth checking out if you haven’t read it before.
This is a poem of mine that was originally published in the wonderful Blackmail Press. I wrote it after a visit to Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. Joseph Plunkett, one of the Irish rebels who took part in the 1916 rebellion (or “Easter Rising”), was executed hours after marrying his sweetheart, Grace Gifford.
Easter Rising (Joseph Plunkett, 1916), by Janis Freegard
The modern hunter-gatherer. Shopping trolley sculpture in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.