Trina's North Germany

A glimpse into an ordinary German life


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Rudi, our neighbour

Two houses down the street lives Rudi.

Rudi has been a  member of the voluntary fire brigade since his youth. When he was around fifty he was rammed against the wall of a burning stable by a bull. His spine was severely injured and since then he has been in early retirement. His back is stiff and he has difficulties bending. Still, he likes to work and he has many contacts in the village and around.

He also likes to do some business.

When some farmer is cutting trees, Rudi will ask around the neighbourhood whether anyone would like some wood. During the next days you will see him transporting big chunks of wood around the street. He will also stay to help cut the wood, but he never gets around cutting his own.

During hunting season he will sell game. One year, when we were new to the neighbourhood we ordered some wild boar from him and he came around with half a boar, a big knife and hatched,  a bottle of red wine for me and some beer for “the menfolk”.  He insisted on me trying the wine, and after I confirmed that it was really, really nice he suggested that he order more for us, as his brother-in-law just happened to be friends with a  wine dealer.

That day he stayed til after midnight, taking his time with the cutting,  talking non-stop and opening one bottle of beer after the other. None of our discreet yawns or the not so subtle hints about having to get up early for work could keep him from telling yet another story about the hunting.

Not soon after Rudi started coming around each Tuesday, offering us fruit or vegetables for half of what you pay in the shops. We were a bit suspicious of his offer, but he simply placed a crate of veggies and fruit in front of us and told us to keep it. The Tuesday after we felt we owed him and bought some of his fruit. Since then Rudi has rung our doorbell each Tuesday and is terribly disappointed when we don’t  take any.  So, we have not lacked vitamins since moving to Hohenlockstedt and meeting Rudi.

Rudi lives in a small house down the street. His garden is overgrown. Old, mouldy wood, some forgotten pipes, an old chair, some metal boxes and other things are lying in his  garden. There are flowers growing, but there are no flowerbeds. The grass on his lawn is only cut now and then. Some neighbours think that his place is a disgrace.

I have come to the conclusion that he simply doesn’t find the time to look after his own house, as he is far too busy helping others. You will see him wherever there is a house being built or a tree cut. His children are grown and living far away. His wife left him many years ago. He has got a big dog, a mongrel, and I can guarantee you that when I walk past with our dog on Sunday mornings his dog will be jumping over the fence  to greet ours. Then it will not be long, until Rudi comes out of the house, asking, “are you going on a walk with Luna? I was just leaving myself with Rico” and off we go.


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Sunday afternoon trip to Hochdonn

After a cold rainy Saturday this Sunday surprised us with bright sunshine and mild temperatures and we decided to take a car trip to Hochdonn.

Hochdonn itself is just a small village with nothing special to see, but it is situated directly  at the Nord-Ostseekanal,  We like to go there to look at ships and admire the railway bridge, that crosses the canal. at connects the Baltic Sea with the North Sea.

The  foundation stone of the Kiel canal was laid by Kaiser Wilhelm I on the 3rd of June 1887 and 8 years later, on the 21rst of June 1895 it was opened. The canal is 98,26 km long and connects the North Sea at Brunsbüttel with the Baltic at Kiel. Ships save on average 250 miles by using the canal. It is the most heavily used artificial seaway in the world. Last year there were about 34.690 vessels sailing through the canal not counting pleasure boats and small yachts.

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Today we were very lucky and could see more than 10 ships sailing past.

There are alltogether  of 10 bridges crossing the canal, and the 42 m high bridge at Hochdonn is only for trains. Cars and pedestrians use the ferry, which is considered part of the road and therefore doesn’t cost anything. My friend was impressed to notice that the ferry had a ground made of cement.

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On both sides of the canal there are paths which are perfect for cycling or walking. You can go about 5, 5 km and then cross by using another ferry to make your way back on the other side of the canal.

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 On nice days like today many people stop at the ferry place to sit in the sun, watch the ships and have an ice cream There is a kiosk selling sweets, snacks and drinks. As you can see on the photo, they also carry a wide selection of Schnaps, sold in small bottles to hide in your pockets.  That’s because it also serves as the only pub for locals.

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A visit to the old quarter

The other day I met my son Aaron in Hamburg and we decided to take a walk in the quarter he grew up in. It was a nice autumn evening and we walked through ‘Eimsbüttel’, visiting the playground, our favorite bakery, the street we lived in and ‘Osterstraße’, the shopping street in the heart of Eimsbüttel.

We talked about old times, his schoolfriends and what became of them, places we liked to to to and we were surprised to see Peter was still selling beer and mineral water in his shop at the corner. The shop and he looked exactly as they had 12 years ago but when we went in to say hello, he didn’t recognize us. So we bought a coke and carried on.

Walking the streets I felt a longing for the old days, when the kids were small. The smell of fallen leaves, the lit up windows and the small shops evoked a feeling of cosyness in me and I remembered how nice it had felt to come home into our small apartment after a day of work, cooking dinner and snuggling up in front of the telly with the boys.

There were three new coffeehouses and e same, maybe a bit slower in his movements. He didn’t recognize us, after all we had been only some of his many customers, but for us he was the guy where the boys always got some candy when we stopped.