Monthly Archives: June 2011

My German Garden

To be honest, I haven’t done a lot in the garden this year. First the arctic winter dragged on… then there were dry spells which seemed to coincide with weekdays when I was working, but pouring rain and decidedly gardener-unfriendly weather on days when I could have got my wellies on.

But nevertheless, as summer approaches, there are still some signs of a good harvest coming up.

My tomatoes are being very Teutonic this year – they are growing in formation. They line up on the stalk in a very orderly fashion.


German tomatoes... neatly growing in orderly rows

My first aubergine is not so orderly. In fact Birgit has accused me of having a positively disorderly aubergine. “It’s all wonky, there’s a definite list to the left,” she said to me yesterday, having subjected my entire crop to a military-style inspection. Pah! It’ll still taste lovely … even if it doesn’t live up to Germanic expectations.

On the fruit front, the strawberries have pretty much finished now and the rhubarb-season is past. But the grapes are starting to show a lot of promise… maybe it’s time for another doomed attempt at wine-making…

Meanwhile, down in the jungle orchard there are very promising developments on the apple and plum front…

Lovely plums... ooooh...err....


Filed under food, Life in Germany

The Women’s World Cup comes to Meerbusch

The Women’s World Cup is taking place in Germany right now – and this week our town is host to the Brazil team. They were out training yesterday, only a five minute walk from us – looking none-too-impressed about the cold wet German weather.


Decidedly colder than Rio...


Ball skills with a touch of Samba?


Team bus with this year's unfortunately politically incorrect slogan....

Next week we’ve got the German team training here…  and the weather’s due to brighten up. A coincidence? Or do the Germans control the weather too?  Conspiracy theories in the comments please!

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Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany

OK OK we got it, Bild!

The problem with the German joke is that it stops being funny when it has to be explained, at length, over a period of days. (Assuming it was funny in the first place).

This appears now to be Bild’s strategy this week in it’s response to the Sun’s original How German are you quiz, based on research that shows 50% of Brits have German genes.

Today Bild is running a story under the title: Oh ja! Wir Engländer sind ja wirklich very peinlich (Oh yes. We English really are very embarrassing). They obviously sent a Bild hack round a bunch of British tourists in Majorca and asked them to do the Bild quiz.

The thing about the Bild quiz was (and this bit was funny, Bild) that all of the multiple choice options gave the same answer. You are totally English.  Not surprising, really,  when there were answers like:

What is your favourite drink?

a: Beer

b: Beer


(And let’s not forget the original premise: 50% of Brits have German genes… so  I don’t think we need to look far to find out where any national liking for beer comes from).

Similarly with the question:

How do you shoot penalties?

a:  Past the left post

b:  Past the right post

c:  Over the bar

That must be our German genes at work too – as illustrated in this clip….


Is anyone going for the last word, or can we move on to slagging off the French yet?

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Filed under About Germany, comedy, Life in Germany

The Germans answer back…

After yesterday’s How German are you? quiz in The Sun, the Germans have responded. Today’s Bild is offering a test where people can check whether they are real Brits or not.

Fortunately due to a broken link, there is currently only one question at the moment:

What can you talk about for weeks on end?

a: The colour of the Queen’s hat?

b: A bridesmaid’s backside?

c: Whether a ball which was obviously not over the line was actually a goal?

Only one's milliner knows one's secret...


Filed under About Germany

Oh dear. The Brits are ranting on about the Germans again.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. The annual anti-German summer filler from the Sun has arrived early, owing to a piece of genetic research in Britain which has established that half of all Britains are actually genetically partly German. It seems that the many Germans migrated to Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries… and we are their descendents. So all those jokes about German stereotypes are actually on us!

Today The Sun is running a tongue in cheek quiz entitled: How German are you?

Of course, the key to being German would appear to be an inability to pass an empty beach-lounger without depositing a towel on it, a penchant for hairy armpits and the ability to win at football.  The Sun is rather outdated on certain of its clichés though. I’m not sure many Germans would recognise a Liebfraumilch if it turned up at their Grillfest, and wearing socks with sandals is much more of a British thing (Germans being more likely to be hanging around the pool in their Badelatschen in any case). The question about delayed trains is superfluous. Trains are not delayed.

And as for Lederhosen… clearly The Sun is confusing Germany with the Free State of Bavaria… which is a different country altogether, surely?

How on earth do you spot a German?


Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany

It doesn’t have to be Aldi…

Today I was down in Düsseldorf, so I took the opportunity to pick up some groceries in the Altstadt.

First stop was the bakery. As with all the best German bakeries, there was a baffling array of different types of bread, and of course I wanted to try them all. In the end I settled on the Senfkrüste as well as a crusty white.

German bakery

Next, on to the market on the Carlsplatz. I decided not to stop at the butcher’s today…

… because to go with that bread I really wanted some nice cheese…

After the e-coli scare, at least salad is back on the menu again…

The fresh asparagus was tempting…

But in the end it was the mushrooms which beckoned…

…with fresh herbs…

…and of course some fine ingredients for a dressing… including the famous Düsseldorfer Senf (mustard)…

So that’s dinner sorted. What are you having? 😉



Filed under About Germany, food, Life in Germany

The Köln-Düsseldorf rivalry continues…

Düsseldorf and Köln are the Rhineland’s rival cities. Neither town has a good word to say about the other. At Karneval time the Kölner greet each other with the words “Alaaf!” while the Düsseldorfer shout “Helau!” During the rest of the year, the Kölner listen to the rock band “BAP” while the Düsseldorfer bop to “Die Tote Hosen”.  And of course the Kölner drink Kölsch (literally “from Köln”) while the Düsseldorfer quaff Alt (literally “Old”).

So the new advertising campaign from the Kölsch brewery “Früh” (literally “early”) is bound to cause some raised hackles to the north.

The ad shows an empty Kölsch glass, and the words “Bevor es Alt wird” – literally “Before it becomes Alt” (a nice play on words – the capital A indicates that it is referring to the Düsseldorf beer, rather than meaning “before it gets old” – which would be “Bevor es alt wird”).


Düsseldorf is, however, striking back. Their riposte has been a picture of a Früh Kölsch with the phrase: Früh übt sich, was ein Alt werden will.  Literally “Früh must practise to become an Alt”  but also a play on an old saying: “Früh übt sich, wer ein Meister werden will” –  He who would become a master must start practising early.

This ad is the result of a grassroots initiative to promote Düsseldorf Alt and protect it from the attacks of the Kölsch breweries. There is currently a competition running on their site where people can vote for the best anti-Kölsch ads.

There is bad news for Düsseldorf though – apparently sales of Kölsch are actually rising in the northern city. Unthinkable! Quick everyone… down to the pub!

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Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany

All the fun of the Whitsun fair

Every Whitsun our little town holds its Schützen und Heimatfest. The Schützen are the societies of local militias, who in former times would have protected the village from marauding invaders. These days they shoot for sport and drink a lot. And dress up in uniforms which frankly make some tin-pot dictators look rather modest. In these parts, a man’s worth depends on the amount of brocade on his jacket and the size of the shaving brush on his hat, you see.

Like in all good militias, our local ones all bestow copious ranks and titles on their members. During the festival, every house has flags, banners, crepe-paper flowers and bunting on display in the colours of their own militia group. The officers also display their ranks outside their homes.

The local car park has been transformed into a fairground for the weekend.

Depending on which group of Schützen you belong to you can end up pulling the chicks…

…or finding other fish to fry…

Speaking of Fish and Chips… we always have the local version at the Whitsun Fair. The only thing we have to bring along ourselves is the Sarsons Malt Vinegar… which we transport in a miniature whisky bottle. The locals do look at us a bit oddly when we appear to douse our chips in whisky, but they normally just put it down to British eccentricity.

While the kids go on the rides…

…we old folks pop into the beer tent or have a go on the horse-racing game… (did I say or ? Sorry… I meant and.)

Once it starts to get dark, the scene of the action moves on. The militias emerge from their marquees and parade to the sound of the marching bands across to the local park… followed by all the officers and local dignitaries.

Military insignia and posh frocks are the order of the day… I’ve seen less-decorated Christmas trees…

The fair ends on the Tuesday after Whitsun with a musical firework display in the park.

Big chorus of Oooooooh!! Aaaaaaah!! everyone!


Filed under About Germany, German festivals, Life in Germany

Hedgehog season is with us again

It’s prickly times in our garden.  Frau Hedgehog has only produced one baby this year… but she’s certainly got her paws full with this one. It’s a non-stop squeaker when they’re out and about!

Ooooh! Is this the big wide world?

'ere, Mama, who is the weird lady with the camera?

Never mind her... follow me and I'll treat you to a nice juicy slug....



Filed under Life in Germany