Saturday, June 03, 2006

Another old quilt and some very old buildings

My DH has a very good friend who lives in Lubeck in northern Germany. (Please forgive me all of you who speak german as I can't find the umlaut for the top of the letter 'u' here.)

Nigel and Steffen have known each other since they were 15 and 16 respectively as they met via a school exchange visit.

The city has many beautiful mediaeval buildings (many of which were actually rebuilt after WW2 as we sadly did a fairly thorough job of bombing them on one firestorming night in 1942

The buildings are of such renown that the city is actually a United Nations World Heritage site and every time you turn a corner you come across something else to take your breath away. A truly awesome place to visit - put it on your European Tour itinerary girls - you won't be disappointed.

Their school exchange took place in the summer of 1976 and was arranged by DH's german master who had a property in Worcester as well as one in Lubeck. He had settled in the UK just before the war and had worked as an interpreter at the Nuremberg War Crimes trials. DH says he was always an odd character and maybe these experiences had some bearing on that.

We tend to wrap our children in cotton wool these days, ferrying them all over by car, mindful of their safety often to the detriment of their own development and confidence but when DH told me the story of his journey I have to say I take my hat off to my MIL and FIL for allowing him the opportunity to take this trip. I personally wouldn't have dared even if my parents had given me their blessing which I don't think for a minute they would :o)

The six boys, one sixteen, three fifteen and two fourteen travelled completely alone with no escort being totally responsible for their own baggage.

Their parents put them on the London bound train in Worcester. On arrival at Paddington station they then travelled across London on the tube to Liverpool Street station and boarded the boat train for Harwich.

Harwich station is a little distance from the boat terminal so a bus ride was needed and they then caught the Harwich - Hamburg 24 hour ferry to Germany.

On arrival in Hamburg they alighted the boat at the edge of the Reeperbahn, the city's notorious red light district and travelled on the S-bahn to the main city station. From there a 40 minute train ride took them to Lubeck where each boy was met by his own german counterpart.

Steffen arrived on his cycle, escorted Nigel and his baggage to the correct bus and told him which stop to get off at while proceeding to cycle home alongside.

I suppose with such a journey to get there followed by the awesome hospitality the family showed him it's hardly surprising that they have remained firm friends for 30 years. So much so that Steffen stood as best man at our wedding.

We had a wonderful week on holiday staying with them two years ago and our respective children became firm friends too - in fact our youngest DD and their little girl were born only 5 days apart.

We hope to return their hospitality in October this year

The antique quilt I've pictured is another choice from the York exhibition but I picked it because it reminds me of the lovely embroidery designs of Scandinavia and the Baltic region around Lubeck .


Fiona said...

What a cool story - no wonder they've stayed friends, sounds like something from 'The Famous Five':o)

anne bebbington said...

Well my claim to fame is I did go to school with Enid Blyton's granddaughter Sara - but that's another tale

Dawn said...

Oh what an adventure! I stayed in West Berlin for a month back in the early 80's and thought I was adventurous - it was nothing like his adventure!