Saturday 21 October 2023

das land der ein tausend teiche (11. 069)

Taking out the trailer for a quick trip, we traveled to Plothen not far from the Bleilochtal reservoir but got to explore a quite different geography and landscape in the local pond region. One of the primary examples of aquaculture and intensive geo-engineering predating the industrial age, the first ponds and fisheries were established by monks in the eighth century in order to provide a meat-substitute for Lent and numerous holidays and commemorations that called for fasting and abstention. Within a radius of just a few kilometers, some six hundred of these artificial ponds remain of sixteen hundred, lost over the generations through mergers and drainage to harvest fertile sediment. Fish farming was managed from so called Pfahlhรคuser—pile houses—one three hundred year old example remaining on Hausteich near the campgrounds hosting a museum dedicated to the place’s history. 

Owing to the rich soil, during East German times, the area was given over to raising pigs, but has since been rehabilitated (rather a remarkably quick turn around given it was not that long ago) and reclaimed as a tourist destination and an important rest stop for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Afterwards we went to nearby Ranis to visit the Burg, a hilltop fortification for the administration of the Saalfeld area articulated and expanded since the eleventh century.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit,  Livre de Thot plus a feline opera

two years ago: St Ursula, the first Vikings in North America plus more vocabulary building

three years ago: the origins of Op-Ed, the Dutch art of doing nothingNYC’s digital subway map, app, the sentล culture of Japan, the Royal Meteorological Society’s PoTY plus coppicing and pollarding

four years ago: IKEA tarot 

five years ago: artist Barbara Kruger plus leaf-peeping in the Rhรถn


Monday 9 October 2023

county squire (11. 049)

Whilst unfortunately never leaving show-room floors due to a perceived lack of public enthusiasm for a station wagon that transformed into a fully outfitted campsite with the push of a button, via Messy Nessy Chic, we are referred to this rather glorious 1959 concept vehicle from Ford’s Heritage Vault. The faux wood paneling is a vestigially reminder of when such conveyances were used like hackney coaches to transport people and goods to the nearest train depot. In addition to the launchable boat that reveals a roof-top tent for two, a kitchen with stove, refrigerator and sink deployed at the flip of a switch from the boot.

Saturday 7 October 2023

dschungelweg (11. 042)

Deciding to try again to find the route we were searching for yesterday but from a better trodden starting point and walked through the vineyards on another educational trail (Lehrpfad) that this time had information about the different varieties of grapes grown and harvested here with more views of Escherndorf, Nordheim and the Main valley, passing the Vogelsberg and the orchards on the other side of the Weinberg. 

We entered an ancient old-growth stretch of woods hugging the bank of the river, untouched except for a very narrow footpath through the forest. Passing Fahr and back up to the top of the ridge through a second nature path for some more views of the valleys and vineyards before returning to the campground. 
one year ago:  absinthe banned in Switzerland, the Feast of Sergius and Bacchus plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: a cool ghoul and your ghost host, the Cyrus Charter, a bird wife plus a catalogue of invasive toys
three years ago: most senior US government officials in quarantine,  a typing tutor, a birdhouse apartment plus more historic maps
four years ago: a minimum wage machine
five years ago: more links to check out, East Germany’s Tag der Republik, a visit to an automotive and aviation museum plus himpathy and related neologism

Friday 6 October 2023

mainschleife (11. 040)

Driving around a bit for provision, we stopped at a rather uniquely outfitted supermarket on the outskirts of Volkach. Whilst this chain’s affiliates are family-run and there’s a degree of individual decor—like the franchise at home that has a rather offensive figurine of a banana boat loader standing proud over the produce section dating from a time when this kind of caricature was more tolerated—but this style of decoration was decidedly strange, like it inherited the stock of a Bed, Bath & Beyond with throw pillows piled high at every aisle and fixed to the walls and a bank of music boxes that one could attach I guess to one’s trolley and randomly placed oversized plush llamas. 

Along the way we visited the well-conserved village of Prichsenstadt, a walled settlement virtually unchanged since the fourteenth century, earning the Altstadt the moniker “the Rothenburg of Lower Franconia.” Local lore tells of a legend of a figure marauding in the woods called the He He, basically a headless horseman (see also) that sometimes took the form of a monstrous black dog.  

Returning to Escherndorf after finding our route for a hike fenced in by a flock of grazing sheep at the other ferry crossing the Main at Fahr, we stopped at a Winzer to get a case of local Silvaner we had sampled the night before. The purveyor manning the shop seemed to have sampled a bit too much also as when completing the transaction, dropped his eyeglasses and trying to retrieve them, slipped off his chair and faceplanted into the floor. Gotten his lumps from the local varietal called Lump, the man was uninjured but a bit embarrassed and terribly apologetic but it was an understandable occupational hazard, H later recognised him for the He He with detachable head.
one year ago: more research in the paranormal plus a 1975 McDonaldland mascot specification manual

two years ago: more streamlined designs,  a unique underpass plus a beloved Soviet cartoon character
three years ago: Trump emerges recovered from COVID, fascist nihilism, assorted links to revisit plus the first exoplanet confirmed (1995)

four years ago: German-American Day
five years ago: more fascist nihilism plus Carter debates Ford (1976)

Thursday 5 October 2023

days of wine and quinces (11. 039)

From the campground in Escherndorf, we took the dog on an extended hike up through the vineyards to the Vogelsberg perched atop the Weinberg. A thirteenth century monastery built on the foundations of a much older Celtic fortification (Burgstall), it was deconsecrated in favour of the neighbouring Carthusian chapterhouse in Astheim but has since been restored as an active religious community under the bishopric of Wรผrzburg—which also assumed the wine production and includes a restaurant and guesthouse. 

After pausing for some lunch there, we continued down the other side of the hill along a path leading through a restorative nature project that alternated between rewilding and low maintenance orchards of cultivated through native and naturally occurring Quitten (quinces) of all sorts and information tables between groves about their history, culinary and medicinal significance. Tasting like a mix between an apple and a pear, the ancient, hardy fruit was rediscovered during post war rationing as a source of sugar and older recipes brought back in service for jellies, gin, wine, soap and a paste referred to as cheese. Sacred to Aphrodite , the signs also touched on the mythological references to quinces as binding symbols of oaths and probably the Golden Apple of Discord. In the evening we tried a pizza from a restaurant a ferry ride away made with the local produce of rosemary, honey, walnuts and not Quitten but rather pears on mozzarella that was a really superb flavour combination. 
one year ago: the tarot of Austin Osman Spare, the world’s mass transit systems plus Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1996)

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus Tubular Bells
three years ago: Civilisation comes to American audiences, Athens’ underground, the blessed Rosario Longo, a glass model of the coronavirus, IKEA’s back catalogue plus apologies in good standing

four years ago: late Thursdays in Germany, more links to check out plus more poetic graffiti
five years ago: an outstanding collection of vintage travel posters, legislating Scotland on maps plus more memorable fonts

Wednesday 4 October 2023

malerwinkelhaus (11. 038)

Having set up camp at the ferry crossing at Eschendorf at the bend, loop in the wine-growing escarpment on the Main River (der Mainschliefe by Volkach), we traveled a bit further into Franconia through County Kitzingen and passed some familiar places including the ancient trading port of Marktbreit (previously)—important as the southernmost point and shortest natural connection between the Rhein-Main-Donau before the canals were built—and saw the picturesque Haus am Maintor, constructed in the late 1700s on the bridge next to the Rathaus as a merchant’s warehouse (like the mercantile exchange along Erfurt‘s Kramerbrรผcke). 

Over the centuries, the building was a spice emporium, green grocers, hair salon—ultimately named for a cafe opposite that acknowledged the view had been a favourite subject of painters for a long time. Now the Malerwinkelhaus hosts a museum on the history of Markbreit, including artefacts from a rather unexpected archaeological find from 1985—one of the first discovered by aerial surveys in the form of a completed and fully stocked castrum legionarium. Finished but never occupied, no one expected to find a Roman defencive outpost that far behind the Limes and in hostile territory and it is speculated it was abandoned after Varus was defeated in the battle of Teutoburger Forest in 9 AD.


one year ago: The Tornados’ Telstar plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: The Final Programme (1973)

three years ago: the Feast of Francis of Assisi, cross-section infographics plus Sir David Attenborough as insects

four years ago: a pastel makeover for London’s subway carriages,  cinnamon-roll day plus award-winning laundromats of Japan

five years ago: a sketch a day for October, the International Geophysical Year plus Bavaria’s plans for a Space Force of its own

Saturday 7 January 2023

8x8 (10. 395)

notional counting: amateur archaeologist proffers the theory that markings on ancient cave paintings may communicate information about quarry animals’ life cycles—pushing back the origins of writing ten-thousand years  

social recession: declining trust, friendship and adult activities by the numbers—via tmn  

brick and mortem: the surprising, seemingly non-sequir resurgence of a chain of bookshops  

arrakhis: the European Space Agency launches a tiny satellite to search for dark matter  

metroid as directed by paul verhoeven: imaging 90s video games as feature films—see previously  

little d: a Defender-style camper conversion kit unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon  

upward falling payloads: proposals for an orbiting warehouse and fulfilment centre  

mirabile scriptu: phony but possibly plausibly kanji generated by AI for abstract concepts—particularly appealing is one for the Chief Twit, ็Ž‹ (pronounced wang, meaning king)

Friday 22 July 2022

and i would walk five hundred more (10. 011)

Following the North Coast 500 back towards the North Sea and open waters, we stopped at the stately ancestral home of the Clan Sutherland in the Highlands, Dunrobin Castle, the medieval fortification extensively remodelled in the 1830s in Scottish Baronial style for the second duke—whose father was a touch megalomaniacal having commissioned a colossal statue of himself build atop Ben Bhraggie visible at every point in the county and whose land reform practises were responsible for the Highland Clearances, landowners evicting crofting communities (tenant farmers) to make room for the far more profitable raising of sheep for wool.  

Dunrobin takes its present form thanks to these gains. We opted not to take the guided tour owing to the large amount of tour coaches parked in the forecourt—including a Rotel bus with a sleeper carriage (see previously) so instead we walked around to the beach of the Firth of Dornach to see the residence from that side before later claiming a patch of strand as our own.

Thursday 21 July 2022

and i‘ll be in scotland afore you (10. 008)

Meandering along the Spey and visiting a distillery—though too early for a tour and a testing before heading to Elgin (Eilginn, possibly meaning Little Ireland and reminding early Celtic settlers of home) in Moray whose cathedral was left in elegant and vaunted ruins since its destruction by fire in the late thirteenth century. 

I tried not to drag H to too many monoand i‘ll be in scotland afore you liths this trip but willingly we went to see the Stone of Sueno outside of Forres, the largest Pictish slab carving in the nation. The plinth traditionally associated with Sven Forkbeard features a Celtic style cross on one side and possibly a coronation scene on the other. 

Next we took a look at the ancestral home of Clan Brodie and the grounds of Fort George, a Vauban-inspired bastion that suppressed Scotland’s rebellion by taking the strategically important headland at the straits between the Firth of Moray and the bay leading into Inverness and Loch Ness before journeying there ourselves—seeing the Clava cairns, an ensemble of Bronze Age burial mounds along the way. 

We marveled first at Loch Ness and set up camp near Drumnadrochit (Druim na Drochaid) and hiked along a high coastal trail to Urquhart Castle overlooking the loch, whose invasion attempt by Edward I of England in 1296 marked the beginning of the Scottish Wars of Independence, besieged and never rebuilt in order to deny Jacobite elements purchase to reorganise.