Sunday 17 March 2024

wรผstungsperioden (11. 432)

Travelling a few villages over towards the former border, driving past some abandoned settlements, vacated owing to they’re being a liability too close to the boundary, we took another nice hike with the dog up to the ruins of Hutsburg on the summit of the Hutsberg, which also was a victim of its formerly strategic location and shifting allegiances.

On the way back, we stopped in Filke to revisit the so called Mauerschรคdel, another ruined remains, this time of early abandonment and then rendered inaccessible, like the above stronghold, during DDR times and its nave acting as the line of demarcation. 


Saturday 16 March 2024

heimatblick (11. 428)

 Before the weather turned, we took the dog on a hike up above Stockheim for a panoramic view of the village below. The diversion in the trail up the Tanzberg was a bequest from a local landowner stipulated in his will after an unfortunate farming accident. A bit further along the main path, we encountered a Blitzstein, a memorial for an anonymous resident and likely not the above donor struck and killed by lightning though now an unlikely occurrence given tree height in the vicinity though yet memorable and cautionary. 

I’ve noticed such small headstones before and wondered if they memorialised similar Acts of God—and wondered whether if this was all the individual received for funerary rites since it did sort of seem like divine punishment. When I first came to Germany and began noticing makeshift cenotaphs the just off the shoulder of the road, commemorating the victims of a traffic accident, I remember first thinking, there sure are a lot of people walking on the side of the road and getting killed by cars and thought that the country must have a problem with pedestrian deaths. 

Of course, during our walkies, I wasn’t preoccupied with such morbid thoughts, just wanted to know more about the practise and customs but was not able to find anything else out. Both spots were equipped with a nice picnic area and a wooden sun lounger for warmer weather.  It was a beautiful early spring day and we went on down the valley with a glimpse of the next town of Mellrichstadt off in the distance.


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)

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

Thursday 17 August 2023

gรถtterdรคmmerung (10. 949)

A translation of the Norse term Ragnarรถk, the final cycle of the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner (previously) premiered on this day at the Festspielhaus of Bayreuth in 1876. The play opens with the Norn sisters (analogue to the the Moirai, the Greek Fates who weave mortal destiny) braiding their wyrding rope and foreseeing an avoidable future with Walhalla burnt and in ruins and the “twilight of the gods.” The cord breaks when they begin to contemplate the curse of the ring of power, Andvaranaut—that would reveal gold and other precious items to its wearer, stolen by the god Loki and given to Hreidmar, King of the Dwarves, with a curse to bring eventual destruction to its owner, Prince Fafnir stealing the ring from his father and transforming himself into a dragon to guard it and his hoard of treasure, himself slain by Siegfried and gifting the ring to Brรผnnehilde—and lamenting the loss of their foresight retreated into the Underworld. With this token recovered from the dragon’s lair as a symbol of his fealty and faith, Brรผnnehilde dispatches our tragic hero on a quest along the Rhein.

Friday 30 June 2023

nacht der langen messer (10. 847)

Beginning on this evening in 1934 and lasting through 2 July, Hermann Gรถring and Heinrich Himmler urged Chancellor Adolf Hitler to pursue a series of executions in order to consolidate power and legitimacy and eliminate the Sturmabteilung (SA), the autonomous stormtroopers who protected Nazi assemblies and disrupted meetings of opposition parties under the leadership of Ernst Rรถhm, replaced by the group carrying out the killings, the Schutzsaffel (SS) under instigator Himmler.

Though Rรถhm was loyal to the end, the murders were presented in response to an imminent coup (Putsch) by the SA. Though useful idiots, their thuggish (and homosocial and homosexual behaviour) and often resorting to street violence was seen as bad public-relations and the regular army which saw this paramilitary organisation as rivals, and the purge resulting in the murder of some eighty-five individuals was undertaken, expanded to eliminate critics and loyalist to the old order with hundreds arrested and detained, Hitler personally paying a surprise call at the resort outside of Munich where Rรถhm and many of his were staying. Justifying his extrajudicial killings in a speech broadcast from the Reichstag, Hitler defended his actions: 

If anyone reproaches me, and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people. I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason, and I further gave the order to cauterise to the raw flesh the ulcers of this poisoning of the wells in our domestic life. Let the nation know that its existence—which depends on its internal order and security—cannot be threatened with such impunity by anyone! And let it be known for all time to come that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.

The association of treachery and retribution has been associated as such since the fifth century when an Anglo-Saxon settlement was attacked by a local warlord during a peace discussion which resulted in massacre and became the oft-cited metonym twyll y cyllyll hirion or the Deceit of the Long Knives.

Sunday 25 June 2023

confessio ausgustana (10. 835)

Presented to the public on this day in 1530, the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church was drafted during the previous summer (as the Articles of Schwabach) by Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon and Justus Jonas as a summary of the faith to be given to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who decided to convene a diet in the city city of Augsburg, calling on the princes and free states to advocate and explain their religious convictions in an attempt at reconciliation—aimed at restoring political unity within the empire and present a united opposition to counter Ottoman incursions in Austria and prevent a repeat of the ultimately unsuccessful Siege of Vienna. The twenty-eight articles of faith were read out by the rulers of the territories where Protestantism was the majority and consisted of twenty-one positive teachings (theses)—chief tenets of the confession, and seven negative (antitheses)—representing their split with Catholic doctrine and ceremony, mostly do to with dietary proscriptions (XXVI: On the Distinction of Meats) and the requirement for confession (XXV) to a priest for absolution of sin. At the conclusion of the diet, the Lutheran princes concurrently entered into a military pact called the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of mutual protection should the emperor make untoward demands of their domains, which eventually petitioned for official recognition of the faith in the empire under the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 under the principle of cuius regio, eius religio, “whose realm, his religion,” where the confession of the ruler became the state religion and all of its subjects.

Tuesday 18 April 2023

hofatelier elvira (10. 680)

Fellow internet peripatetic Messy Nessy Chic directs our attention to the former nexus of Germany’s pacifist and feminist movement in the photography studio and artists’ salon in glorious Jugenstil. Ultimately demolished and the address on Von-der-Tann-Strasse now occupied by the US Consulate of Munich after its stylised dragon faรงade was vandalised during the war years, the property used provisionally as a canteen kitchen, the enterprise spanning from 1898 to 1928 was notable as the first company in Germany founded by women, jurist, suffragist, writer and actress Anita Theodora Johanna Sophie Augsprung partnering with entrepreneur and photographer Sophia N J Goudstikker, and an important meeting place for avant garde artists in parallel with its primary business of taking pictures of celebrities and the aristocracy.

Monday 17 April 2023

isar 2 (10. 679)

Just hours after Germany took its last remaining three operating nuclear reactors offline after a brief

extension on the moratorium prompted by the spike in energy prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government of Bavaria pledged to forward legislation to amend the federal monopoly on AKW (Atomkraftwek) and cede to the states control, arguing that the phaseout is premature and naive until renewable alternatives are truly viable. The success of this bid seems unlikely, given coalition support for the draw-down, which has happened gradually over the course of the past decade, already planned but accelerated after the disaster in Fukushima in 2011.

Monday 20 February 2023

7x7 (10. 561)

posse: Cory Doctorow’s Pluralistic turns three  

surprise visit: President Biden makes unannounced appearance in Kyiv, just ahead of the one year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine  

meta verified: other social media networks want to sell you blue checks 

the hawthorne effect: one of the most influential social studies of the past century is also the one of the worst—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

architectural follies: a strangely satisfying collection of faux ruins—via Messy Nessy Chic  

msc: key points from the Munich Security Conference  

e pluribus unum: the numismatics of coppers and silver coinage of the American colonies

Thursday 24 November 2022

salient factor (10. 331)

Whereas the American term panhandle or bootheel might be more prevalent in certain contexts, salient is the universal descriptor for the elongated, peninsular protrusion of a national or sub-national jurisdiction into another—in turn taken from the strategic lingo of otherwise a bulge that projects into enemy territory. While falling short of the imposition of exclaves and enclaves, notable European examples include the province of Trieste, Schaffhausen in Germany and Inn, Lugano and Mendriso in Switzerland as well as on a state or department level the Gironde and Lower Franconia with many other places vying to extend their influence.

Tuesday 1 November 2022

schwarze einser (10. 260)

Nine years after the introduction of the Penny Black in England, the first postage stamp (Briefmarke) was issued by the Kingdom of Bavaria on this day in 1849, commonly referred to as the “Black One.” This lowest denomination stamp, complete with security features to protect against counterfeiting (the name of the designer engraver Johann Peter Haseney as well as the printshop of Seitz and Weiss of the University of Mรผnchen hidden in the background flourishes but was forged not some much during circulation but afterwards in philately circles), was withdrawn from sales counters two years later as it was difficult with black on black ink to determine if it had been cancelled but was still valid for franking purposes through 1864. A kreuzer (Xr.) was worth four pfennigs (₰) before the introduction of the standard Goldmark.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

7x7 (10. 216)

negroni sbagliato: your guide to the new hot adult beverage  

naked eye: a gallery of some of the best images of microscopic photography from the past year 

aunt jess: a celebration of the life and career of Dame Angela Lansbury—see previously  

little big world: a tilt-shift tour of Mรผnchen and Oktoberfest

if pigs could fly: iconic Battersea Power Station reopens to the public as a luxury property development–via Things Magazine

mutual of omaha: superlative wildlife photography  

ss23: backless menswear suits seem to be here to stay

Wednesday 28 September 2022

medieval woman (10. 175)

Fรชted on this day on the occasion of her death in retirement on an estate in Schornsheim near Mainz in 782 (*710), Saint Leoba was a Anglo-Saxon nun (originally from Dorset), missionary and companion of Boniface in his quest to proselytise to the German people. Credited with multiple miracles and intercession through prayer, Leoba founded nunneries in Ochsenfurt and Kitzingen and was entrusted with a leading role in evangelizing in Franconia by Boniface and his apostles, first as abbess in Tauberbischofsheim and putting Leoba in charge in his absence whilst sojourning in Frisia (see above) and was the sole woman allowed to enter the monasteries in Fulda, where she was eventually entombed near Boniface. St Peter on the Petersberg contains her crypt, known as the Liobakirche, is a landmark rising above a relatively flat plain I pass on my weekly commute and will make a priority to visit soon.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

dispersal agent (10. 133)

While I can’t say whether it is the most efficient pastime, once I get settled and can establish a routine in a new workplace I have taken to gathering oaknuts, acorns, hazelnuts, pinecones and chestnuts from that have landed on pavements (and on my path—for the most part because I don’t want to turn this into more of a compulsion than it already has become—I get some looks but there are quite some spent seeds for the taking) during my lunchtime walks in the city during the week. I amass a sizeable bounty having filled my pockets daily and when I go on my walks in the woods, I try to toss them into a patch of land that I assess ought to have a tree. Maybe the forest will accrue in a decade or so, we’ll see. What do you think? I am surely not the only one who does this.

Saturday 11 June 2022

pfarrdorf, kirchdorf

H and I took a quick tour of Nordheim von der Rhรถn (previously) and snapped a few images and got an aerial perspective of the picturesque village on the Streu. Parking outside of the former Zehnthaus (tax, tithing authority), we took a moment to admire its decorative half-timbering and reliefs and inscriptions on the balustrade of the second storey dated to 1681. Several of the historic buildings feature figurative columns and corner posts. We climbed up through the fortified Kirchberg to the parish (pfarr-) seat (the outlying community of Neustรคdtles with the auxiliary place of worship is the Kirchdorf) dedicated to John the Baptist (Sankt Johannes der Tรคufer) from the fourteenth century. The exterior and forecourt were renovated in the mid 1970s but the overall structure and interior elements are true to the original with the high altar and pulpit crafted in the 1700 by artist and sculptor Benedikt Lux from Bad Neustadt an der Saale in Rococo style.

Saturday 4 June 2022

das rollende hotel

Given the continued popularity of touring coaches especially in Germany and river cruises that offer similar sleeping berths, we were delighted though not completely surprised to learn of this hybrid experience (see also), a hotel on wheels, Rotel, first conceived by Gerog Hรถltl in the late 1941 to trek passengers through the Bavarian Alps, expanding as far afield as pilgrimages to Israel, journeys across the Sahara starting in 1969 and a two month voyage to India. No artefacts relegated to the past, one can still book tours through Europe, Africa and Asia. More from Messy Nessy Chic at the link above.

Sunday 29 May 2022

wasserfall eisgraben

Taking advantage of the fine weather and long weekend, H and I headed just south of the Schwarzes Moor and took a long hike through the Hochrhรถn to the cascading valley of pools that is the main drainage outlet of the marshy region, flowing into the Fulda river. Named for the cold winds that flow through the rift—and it was quite brisk for the end of May—this watershed courses over basalt boulders and goes deep underground after emerging from the forest. This area below the boglands is part of a larger nature preserve and criss-crossed with wooded paths and is a protected biome. Introduced spruces harvested for timber in the nineteenth century displaced much of the original forest but logging was stopped in most areas in 1971 and native sycamores and elms are returning. Discovering the waterfall at the end of the Wanderweg was especially rewarding and are eager for more exploration soon.


Saturday 19 February 2022


Via the always interesting Web Curios, we are quite impressed with the comprehensive skill demonstrated by a AI museum docent called Digital Curator and its ability to instantly assembly a sizeable exhibition sourced from the collections of institutions in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to explore the evolution of the depiction of an object, artefact or theme across the ages, styles and movements. Of course one can select from a range of parameters and enter one’s own key terms (however disparate and juxtaposed)—or like this gallery generated for the nonce, ask for a random curation. Try it out and be sure to send us an invitation to your showing.

Saturday 18 December 2021

legenda sanctorum

Born a prince into a sainted and royal family, issue of Richard the Saxon and Wunna of Wessex, Winibald (Winebald, Wunebald) is fรชted on this day on the occasion of his passing in 761 (*702), who along with his siblings Willibald and Walpurga were persuaded to first undertake a pilgrimage and commit to a course of study in Rome (his brother settling down from his travels and became a monk at Monte Cassino) then all to go on a mission to Germany by their uncle Boniface. Abbot at his home double-monastery in Heidenheim in Middle Franconia, Winibald is considered the patron of construction workers and established a network of cloisters across the region and is generally depicted with the iconography of a brick trowel and carrying a miniature church.