October 25, 2014
A very new experience hit me tonight, on the first evening of yet another ten day stay at home.
My parents got internet access and suddenly I can upload stories to the Höfen blog whilst actually being in Höfen (and not back in Hackney). We’re having an exiting week of international visits, home slaughter films and cakes-to-impress ahead of us. So watch out for kind of live coverage from the village.
July 7, 2014
Ingrid, who I always admired so much for running her farm and making sure the cows get fresh grass or good hey in order to make the butter taste nice, told me yesterday that she will retire from farming. She will have some ducks and chickens but no cattle anymore. That’s sad news, but she has health reason. With a big smile she then told me that she’s got a new job already. Driving the aisle washer truck in the Netto supermarket next village. It pays the bills.
Photo: Ingrid being filmed for ‘Village Produce Films’, 2008
May 9, 2014
The discussion has been going for a while. The national scale village rejuvenation programmes suggests “historic” cobblestone village roads (never mind they’re made from concrete) serpentining between informal green areas and kind of trying-to-look-historic street lamps. Never mind the fact that the road has never been cobbled but was simply mud until the 1950ies, nor have there ever been lovely plant pots in the street or enhancing public lights. There were other great things, like unlocked front doors and proper time spent chatting in the street.
Anyhow, fighting over looks is exhausting, and the rejuvenation stop in the lower part of the village didn’t happen because there was suddenly an agreement over aesthetical aspirations. No no. It was sheer practicalities and pragmatism. The new cobblestone layer and its required extra thick foundations would make the hill too steep for everyone. And of course too expensive.The 1970ies fountain in the middle of the square is rescued for now – and there seems to be a new agreement that it’s not so ugly after all.
April 14, 2014
I invited for a “Spitzen Besuch”. Spitze can be lace, but it is also a peak. A Spitzen Besuch is normally a visit by a world leader. The invitation to the Höfer Women was to go to a small loom in Rattelsdorf (0.8km away) and to see the lace production that’s still going on and viable there. Ernst and Conny Hofer kindly opened the doors to their factory where they are still running small scale lace production on a 1924 model loom.
I hadn’t had any feedback, and expected no more than five women. 16 came – fully enthusiastic and into all sorts of technical details. We are going to make some Höfener Lace next.
April 13, 2014
It has at least been the last three times I visted Höfen, bumped into Paulina, and the first thing she would say, or better shout, is “oh my god, you are going grey!”. Never mind if it’s just me and her meeting in the street or a whole group standing nearby. Anyhow. Most women in the village my age and older have grey hair but dye it. So I either point the obvious, or insist that it is a VERY expensive new London fashion for white single hair highlights!
April 12, 2014
A few years ago it seemed that the Germans had gone Easter knick knack mad. Easterish thingies everywhere! Bunny rabbits aka flower pots, easter eggs in every single bush outdoors, colourfull spring celebrations everywhere.
This year it seems a bit less Disney and more timid. Maybe global climate change has hit the collective psyche, maybe no one can be bothered to carry down all those boxes from the attic. Maybe there is a new thing in the waiting which I haven’t even heard of!
April 3, 2014
This time I drove from Hackney to Höfen – in a proper white van. Lawrence is kindly accompanying me and travelling with an eight year old is a good reminder of how much has changed in the past ten years. “Yes, we need a passport when we travel from the UK. No, we don t need a passport travelling from France into Belgium into The Netherlands into Germany.”
Some assume I’m here in a van to pick up lots of furniture from my grandma’s house, who died recently. I’m here in a van because we brought lots of Myvillages’ stuff to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig, where we’ll be running the International Village Show from June 2014 until November 2016. On the way home I can fill the van with nice and very reasonably priced Frankonian Wine, metal studs which juts seemed so much easier to get in Germany, some white asparagus and immaculate linen bedcovers from my grandmother.
March 3, 2014
I happened to be in Höfen during the ‘Faschings’ weekend – the last days of carnival before lent starts.
The indicators include: an increased number of car drivers with purple or pink wigs, Krapfen (donuts) in all sorts of shapes and sizes everywhere, holiday for the kids of course and special cheesy music across all radio stations (as if German radio stations weren’t bad enough….).
My top memory of Fasching there: I once dressed up as a palm tree for the sports club Faschingsball and won third prize!
March 1, 2014
My parents, me and my brother moved to Höfen 1n 1975, into what has been my grandparent’s home since 1951.
The pig stables were removed, a three-storey extension built and the cherry tree kept. The garden and most of the flat was a complete building site. Great for kids of course!
The current chestnut tree replaced the cherry tree a few years later.