Every now and then, the small place in Schleswig Holstein where I live,seems a bit boring and unexciting. When I look at fotos or read about exciting cities like New York or Sidney, or far away countries like South Africa or Canada, life here seems unspectacular. But, in order to have a happy life it is important to focus on the good things that are given to you, rather than on the ones that are out of reach.
So, here are some of the reasons why Schleswig-Holstein, the most northern German federal state, is a great place to live in:
On hot summer days you can choose whether you want a bath in the North Sea or the Baltic Sea, both are just about an hours drive away.
North Sea coast at Friedrichskoog in Winter
There are plenty of elegant castles and manor houses in North Germany, too, even though for the fairy tale castles you will have to go further South.
Between April and October you will find a fleamarket, a fair or festival within 40 kilometers of where you live any time. On Saturday there will be a wine festival with bands playing in the streets and wine being sold at every corner in Itzehoe. There are even free busses to make sure people don’t drive drunk.
There are some very beautiful and interesting towns in North Germany, like Lübeck, Wismar, Rostock, Schleswig and of course, Hamburg and if you are staying in or near one of them you can reach the others within one to two hours.
You don’t need to be terribly fit to enjoy exercising outside: North Germany is flat and there are a lot of bicycle paths and small lanes where you can cycle or go on inline skates without any hills or mountains to struggle with.
If you like to get a good look at ships you can always take a trip to the Kiel Canal and watch them sailing past just a few meters away from you. Sometimes you are lucky as we were just a few weeks ago and see a special ship, This very luxerious yacht had just left the shipyard Blohm & Voss and was on its first trip. It was escorted by a helicopter and we were all wondering who that ship belongs to.
People trust each other: on many roads you will find small stalls where you can buy fresh potatoes, flowers eggs or vegetables fresh from the farm, you pay by putting the money into a box or into the letterbox,
There are some other things that make life her good: the air is usually fresh and crisp, as you are close to the sea. It is not as crowded as in some other parts of Germany, life is relaxed, people are friendly and unpretentious,and there are many more small places all over that I will show you.
Sometimes I find Saturdays frustrating. When coming home Friday evenings I am usually in a cheerful weekend-mood. All I want to do is fix a nice dinner, walk the dog and then RELAX, I don’t want to be bothered with shopping, washing or cleaning up. Unfortunately, that leaves only Saturday to do these things.
As I like taking things slow on the weekends it is usually after 11:00 am until I drag myself away from the computer screen or newspaper and start cleaning the house. That is followed by a trip to the local supermarket or by driving to Itzehoe to go to the hairdresser or buy things I can not find here. Saturday is also the day for mowing the lawn, washing the car and doing garden work. On Sundays it is a taboo to do noisy things in the garden (just like during ‘Mittagsruhe’ on other days) and the shops are closed.
I am commuting, leaving the house at 07.00 am and returning home sometime between 06.30 and 07.30 pm. On the way back I often stop at the supermarket for fresh fruit, bread or vegetables. Coming home I walk the dog, fix dinner and by 9:00 pm I feel ready to drop. I sometimes wonder how I managed to do that as well as all that extra shopping, cleaning, cooking and washing and picking up kids at various places, when the boys were still living at home. There is also a man in my life who now and then wants attention and some praise for taking the cars to the garage, doing the more heavy work in the garden, filling and emptying the dishwasher, doing the vacuum cleaning, remembering to take out the trash and fixing things around the house. Why there are still so many chores that need to be done at the weekends I simply don’t understand!
Anyway, last Saturday it was 03.15 when I drove past the supermarket and 03.18 when I parked the car on a small lane and started on a walk with the dog. I decided to do something I really enjoy before starting on the shopping. Believe me, I felt very relaxed after some exercise and still managed to get both the shopping and the laundry done that day.
After three weeks of rain and cold temperatures, early summer is back in North Germany. After a quick trip to the local supermarket to get some things for the barbecue, I started working in the garden.
There is a rule in Germany, called “Mittagsruhe”, meaning that between 01.00 and 03.00 pm you are not allowed to make a lot of noise. Mowing the lawn or cutting off branches with a motor saw during that time is out of the question here in the countryside (nobody cares in the cities). Funnily enough nobody minds when people start using loud machines as early as 06.30 on a Saturday morning, waking up people like me.
I think that rule dates back to the time when people came home for lunch, as my father did when I was small. He worked from 08.00 am til 12.00, came home to eat, had a snooze and left again at 02.00 pm, working from 02.30 til 07.00 pm.
Most Germans have their big warm meal sometime between 12.00 and 01.00 pm and have “Abendbrot”, bread with different cold cuts, ham, sausage and cheese, in the evening.
I myself don’t like to have a heavy meal in the middle of the day. And on Saturday, sometime around 02.00 pm I served “Quark” (a curd cheese) with blueberries and strawberries on the terrace. A perfect meal on a hot day, and a well deserved break after two hours of gardening with the grass still to be cut.