Friday, 30 November 2012

Mud, Sweat & Gears.

The turkey has been stuffed, Lizzie has finished her three o’ clock speech and James has saved the world again. All the hype has been and gone like a blown up and burst balloon. What next?

On Boxing Day at 11.00am, practise starts for the Northampton Motor Cyclists’ Club Ltd, Wild & Woolly Charity Scramble.

This year the event was held at Airfield Farm, Market Harborough. The conditions were perfect and the only things missing were the World Of Sport cameras and John Banks. Fortunately, I was there, camera in paw, to capture the event. Time to sit back, relax and enjoy the mayhem, mud sweat and gears.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Au revoir à La Grande Pomme

Hello. Remember me? Is it really nearly eight months since I last did a post? Life has been so hectic during this period.

First of all, Ian's father suffered a stroke in April and he has been kept busy with looking after him for most of this time. All is well now and he is making steady, solid progress. This must have something to do with the stubbon streak that runs in his family.

I too also suffered a major life threatening problem. On our travels this year, which I will write about after I finish the current series, I was nearly decapitated and had to spend a while at the Teddy Bear Hospital here in Nottingham. I was well looked after and I'm fit to travel again after my rehabilitation.

Right now, I'm in the final stages of editing a film that I took last Boxing Day and assuming we don't get too much more rain here in the Midlands, could be something for you to get out and enjoy this year. So, for now, it's goodbye to The Big Apple and hello blogland.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Staying Local 2008 - End Of The Rats Tail/Tale

There has been the myth, the book and many adaptations on film over the years on the tale of The Pied Pier. All that is left is the play.

Throughout the summer months, on Sunday at midday, by the side of the Hochzeitshaus, in the centre of Hameln, the people of the town perform their adaptation of the events.

The play is approximately half an hour in length and I recommend that you get there in good time to secure a good viewing point. Strange how the Piper plays the oboe and near the finale manages to play Wooden Heart.

I’m sure there must be grain some truth in the story. Could the children have been a generation taken away by an army? Could there have been a plague? Or a nearby crop failure? Throughout history there have been many events to start the exodus of people. A few years ago, Nottingham’s Robin Hood, went to Hameln to help celebrate the 750th anniversary of the event.

And here concludes our trip to Hamelm. Guzzisue and myself leave Ian alone for a few minutes for quiet contemplation before we depart tomorrow.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Staying Local 2008 - Finding Rats

Sunday is certainly tourist day. They arrive by the coach load. Surprisingly, the only shops that appeared to be open were cafes, restaurants and bars along with the occasional souvenir shop.

Hameln has a story to tell and does so at every opportunity. In amongst the statues around the centre is this little girl

And a piper.

Along the ground, there is a trail of white rats to get people onto the tourist trail.

For the tourist with impaired vision, there is a model of the town’s layout, thus giving an idea of the local topography.

The story about the Pied Piper of Hameln is known the world over and Hameln certainly goes for the overkill.

I shall start at the Rattenfängerhaus, pictured in my previous post.

Although this was built in 1602-3, it was not until around the turn of the 20th century that it became known as the Pied Piper’s House. What connects the two is that there is a plate on the building. This states that on 26th June 1284, 130 children were led away from Hameln by a piper, wearing multi coloured clothes.

HToday, the building is a restaurant, its speciality being ‘Rats’ Tails’. Many homes and business have rats, real or toy, in their doorway. The Rattenfängerhaus is no exception.

The other building previously mentioned is the Hochzeitshaus, or Wedding House. Throughout its life the Hochzeitshaus has been many things, ranging from a courtroom to a tavern, an armoury and also a pharmacy. The Board of Pharmacy were located here in the 1800’s and Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner, the discoverer of morphine worked here until his death in 1841.

Above the third floor of the Hochzeitshaus there is a glockenspiel with 37 bells. This chimes twice daily, during which the bronze door centre of the second floor opens. This brings to life an automation of the Pied Piper story. The automation was severely damaged during WWII, but repaired in 1964.

To get a good view of the show it is recommended to arrive a few minutes early to avoid the tourist guides armed with umbrellas. Our vantage point was from a shop doorway, balancing on a small step.

Finally for this piece, I will leave you with a short film of the automation and glockenspiel.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Staying Local 2008 - Searching For A Rat

Hameln, Hamelin in English, has been an important settlement for centuries. It first became a (civitas) town in 1200AD. Traders were frequently troubled by highway robbery, thus from 1426 until 1572, Hameln joined The Hanseatic League.

During the 16th century, several buildings were constructed in the Wesser Renaissance style by the merchants and landed gentry. Features of this style of architecture include subdivided façades with scrolls, pyramids, obelisks, decorations of globes, fine chiselled stones, ornamented wooden friezes with coats of arms, masks and envy heads.

The Leisthaus was built on behalf of a wealthy corn trader, Gerd Leist. Today, it houses the Hameln Museum. Although there were no English explanation cards for the exhibits, an informative guidebook was purchased at the end of our visit.

The Leisthaus is the building on the right in the photo below, with the Stiftsherrenhaus, or Canon’s house to the left.

Frederick Poppendiek, the mayor and a businessman of Hameln, built Stiftsherrenhaus in 1558. There are several biblical figures depicted between the floors and under the eaves. These include God the Father, Christ, the apostles, David and Samson.

Another two prominent buildings in the Wesser style are the Hochzeitshaus

and the Rattenfängerhaus.

I will return to these later, as they are integral to my next post.

In the 17th century, Hameln started to be developed as a fortress and with the River Wesser as a natural defence; the town became the strongest fortress within the Hanoverian principality.

The two drawings of Hameln, the first from 1622 and the second dating from 1741 show the transformation.

Hameln’s next stage of development started in 1808 when Napoleon ordered the fortress to be destroyed. In doing this, the town was able to expand into the surrounding area. Later in the 19th century, Hameln came under Prussian jurisdiction. Rail links and a carpet weaving factory soon followed.

During the Second World War, Hameln became a target for the Allies bombing raids, destroying much of the town. In 1968, a total restoration of the old town was started and subsequently completed in 1992. Hidden away, it is still possible to find unrestored buildings of the old Hameln,

While the modern day centre looks like this.

Throughout the town, statues have been placed on main streets to add further interest.

Many alleyways need to be investigated, as you never know what you may miss.

Even the local park directs us back to England!

Unfortunately, we are still reminded of the past.

For now, let’s sit back and relax.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Staying Local 2008 - I Smell A Rat

We had plans. Never before had we been to the southwest of France. Never ridden through The Pyrenees, criss-crossing the Spanish boarder. This year was going to be no exception. Two weeks before our departure Guzzisue came down with a virus and not wanting to keep it to herself, passed it onto Ian the week before we left. Feeling tired and weak, my fellow travellers decided that staying local would be a better option. Staying local insured that we were never more than 450 miles from home, as the proverbial crow flew, still giving us many new locations to visit.

Disaster was averted on Friday, when loading up the Guzzi. Ian managed to break a strap on the Baglux harness. Panic was setting in when he went to a local cobbler who could send the harness off for repairs. It would be returned within six days! A customer in the shop recommended Timpson’s in Arnold, approximately three miles away. With nothing to lose, Ian headed Timpsonwards.

‘Leave it with me for twenty minutes’, said the very nice man behind the counter, so he did.

Twenty minutes later and one harness had been repaired. The cost? Just some change into the charity tin.

Guzzi packed, Guzzisue managing to leave work early, we were heading for Dover by18:30, arriving at the hotel by 22:00. Our indoor picnic of biscuits, chocolate and service station sandwiches helped us to sleep.

Next morning we were woken by the sounds of other residents departing for the early ferry. We decided to follow their lead and made our way down to the port terminal, only to find a long queue. Ferry times had been altered due to a damaged ship; therefore two into one will go! The saving grace was that it was September and not the height of summer. We joined a group of bikes waiting to board, on their way down to the Alps.

A good advantage for crossing the Channel on a motorcycle is that we are first onto the ferry and first into the restaurant, where a ‘Full English’ was on the menu. Breakfasted, it was time to stretch our legs and have a walk around the ferry. This year saw a new innovation – 7 Minute Massage.

Arriving in Calais we picked up the signs for Dunkerque and headed off through the Low Lands. Belgium came and went without us noticing, Holland would have been the same, except that Ian took a wrong turn, confusing the Dutch word for exit as the next place we were aiming for. A quick about turn and we were back on the correct road and heading for our destination in Germany.

Upon reaching the town we were staying for a couple of nights, signs like this were very helpful.

Hotel found, Guzzi unpacked, into town for a meal and drink. Our first impressions of the town were that for Saturday night, things were very quiet. Perhaps we were in the wrong part of town. The weather forecast for Sunday is promising, but a chance of rain on Monday. We are on a new adventure, so who cares?