Category Archives: german art

Not every German vehicle has a lot of horsepower…

I saw this one in Aachen which only has half-a-horsepower.

Half horsepower

Half-horse half-car…

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Kleve…. Anne, Holbein, wild flowers and scary scary swans!

I was in Kleve today – a small town on the border between Germany and the Netherlands.  Best known in the English world for its most famous daughter, Anne of Cleves.  Anne, of course, was the unfortunate lady who was matched with Henry VIII of England. Henry sent Hans Holbein over to paint portraits of Anne and her sister Amalia, both of whom he was considering as candidates for his fourth wife.  (This was the Tudor equivalent of online dating… but without the internet it was rather unwieldy). It would appear that Holbein’s portrait of Anne was the Tudor equivalent of a nicely photo-shopped image.  Henry chose her, based on the portrait… but when she turned up, he was less than enamoured with “that Flemish mare” – and allegedly the marriage was never consummated.


Tudor photoshopping?

Nowadays in Kleve, Anne’s over-flattering portrait is still very much in evidence – which suggests it is well worth getting a decent photo done for your social media profile picture if you have an eye to posterity!

Anne Kleve

A tourist attraction… though in real life she may not have been so attractive


There were a few cool things in Kleve. The first was the fantastic (though rather dried out) wildflower planting all around the city car-parks.

Wildflower planting

Aha…. so there’s the parking ticket machine…

The other was a beautiful if slightly disturbing statue in the centre of town…  anyone have any idea what this is supposed to signify?


Whoa…. what’s this all about?


Nope… it’s just as weird from this side too….


Filed under About Germany, german art, german history, Life in Germany

Street scenes in Aachen

I had to go to Aachen this morning.  It was a sunny day and lots of people were taking the opportunity to have a paddle in one of the local fountains, along with some statue-people.

Real people and statue people enjoy the warm weather...

I can't reach my toy boat....

Is that statue picking pockets?

I also came across a small boy with some vomiting fish… or something like that…

Projectile vomiting fish?

…and a bird bath, but no real birds, only bronze ones…

Fake birds... and no wonder, the bath was empty!

What I really did like though, were the hanging baskets. Aachen has the biggest hanging baskets I’ve ever seen! They looked more like trees, because by now the petunias had all grown together… fabulous!

Giant hanging baskets....


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More German street art…

I was in Viersen this week and I spotted plenty more interesting street art.

To start with, there was this group of figures playing boule…

A game of boule...

Then there was a strange bee-hive which seemed to be home to a range of weird bugs.

Beehive... or bug-basket?

Then there was a bishop sitting amidst a range of weird creatures…

Doctor Doolittle or St. Francis of the hallucinogenic pills?

A few details of the surrounding statues…

Cluck cluck


A little further away there was a pair of angels engaged in WWE wrestling… or something…

Ready for the smack-down?

…or possibly it was Icarus being caught by a very skilled out-fielder…

Icarus caught out on the boundary...



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Street art in Germany

I was out and about this morning in the part of Germany over towards the Dutch border.  You know… near that place that makes every Brit giggle as they pass the Ausfahrt on the Autobahn.

What I found interesting around there, was the wide range of ways local communities choose to “decorate” their streets. For instance, in Nettetal I found weird brick mounds in the street… and trees made from scrap iron….


Not all of the artwork was in particularly convenient places. I bet this outdoor café owner was chuffed when someone decided to build this right in his main seating area!

Further up the road, Grefrath was a bit more traditional about its street-art. There was a cross between a ship’s mast and a maypole with banners on it for all the local clubs and guilds.

The Grefrathers also have a slightly more traditional sense of civic art when it comes to statues. This was on the square.

I’m not sure what it was called, but I think I’ll refer to it as: Naked children wrestling with a lump of putty



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Eurovision in Düsseldorf

We are preparing for the onslaught.

In 13 weeks and 3 days from now (there is, of course, a countdown on the official website) Düsseldorf will be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest and the preparations are in full swing. The local football club, Fortuna Düsseldorf, is vacating its stadium and moving into a “mobile stadium” next door for the period. The city is advertising for volunteer helpers, particularly those who speak minority languages, to support the various delegations. Düsseldorfers are registering online to rent out their spare rooms.You’d almost think we’d all become Swabians!

For those of us lucky enough to live in the city, there is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that the tickets for the final sold out within about 3 nanoseconds of them going on sale. So we’ll have to watch it on TV like everyone else. Or if we live around Stockum or Kaiserswerth, we could just open the window and listen.


The good news is that there will be plenty of great events around Eurovision which we will be able to join in. Obviously there are the “public viewings” – a word which mysteriously entered the German language during the 2006 World Cup and means anything from watching the TV in the pub to joining the masses in a public square where a giant screen has been set up.

There will also be a “fringe” (readers from Scotland will understand what I mean by that)  – the so-called Rahmenprogramm – including a Eurovision Song Contest for kids, flashmobs and the like. The city is currently polling the public for ideas.

Now, I happen to know for a fact that there are plenty of highly creative readers of this blog, so I’m throwing this one open to the public. What should we suggest to them?

Cliff Richard eternal youth makeover sessions? (With Lordi as make-up artists)

Puppet-on-a-string shows?

Vote rigging workshops?

Pure mathematics seminars on the “nul points” theory?

Ring-a-ding-a-ding bell-ringing contest?


Filed under About Germany, german art, German festivals, Life in Germany

Double murder: German watery psycho strikes again!

January has seen one of Germany’s most notorious serial killers back in action after a relatively long gap in activity. On January 13th a tanker carrying sulphuric acid overturned on the Rhine with the loss of two crew members.

The incident happened at the infamous Loreley rocks… a previous scene of similar events in history. As the alleged legend has it, a sinister Rhine maiden sits on the rocks and lures sailors to their doom with her magical singing.


19th century police photofit of the killer

I’m not sure what kind of profile the police are working with to catch this killer, but as an amateur sleuth, I can provide the following information.

Age: Around 210 years old, but definitely looks younger than that.

Hair: Blonde

Eyes: Blue

Distinguishing features: Exceptional singing voice

Current alias: Laura Ley

Clothing: None, not even in January

Last seen: On the harbour wall, looking a little grey…


Police are looking for a 210 year-old female streaker with long hair

If you see this woman at a river near you, turn up your iPod and sail on by. Do not, repeat do not approach this suspect. She is a dangerous psychotic killer.


Filed under About Germany, german art, german education, Life in Germany