Saturday, 30 June 2007
I looked at her and said " Forests? Fields? Countryside?".
"Oh", she said " I always thought it was all industrial..."
And this is what the countryside around our way looks like.
Cereal crops in the foreground, the Selz river is marked by the line of trees and then it's alternating vines, sugar beets and cereal crops up to the ridge.
This view never ceases to delight me.
Friday, 29 June 2007
This is a fine place for a nice coffee in the sun.
Almost as good as the tin shed on wheels on the market, actually
They're open for breakfast and - if you're hungry, have time and are that way inclined - you can "do" lunch, have an ice cream mid-afternoon, enjoy pre-dinner drinks and stay until they throw you out some time after midnight.
You might even bump into Jürgen Klopp, the Mainz 05 trainer.
He lives right next door.
Thursday, 28 June 2007
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
International, no less, with 12 flights to Berlin, 5 to Mallorca, 3 to Antalya, 1 to Las Palmas, 1 to Tenerifa, 1 to Heraklion, 1 to Rhodes and 1 to Fuertaventura.
A week, that is.
One departure every 6 hours or so.
It's local, because the state government here subsidises it like crazy.
It's about 30k and 20 minutes away from an existing airport in Saarbrücken, but that's in another state, so Saarbrücken gets €5m a year in subsidies and Zweibrücken gets about the same if not more.
And then there's one just over the border in Metz. And another in Luxembourg. And Frankfurt and Hahn about 90 mintes a way.
All that for 250,000 passengers a year.
Milton Friedman said it best:
There are four ways in which you can spend money.
You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you're doing, and you try to get the most for your money.
Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I'm not so careful about the content of the present, but I'm very careful about the cost.
Then, I can spend somebody else's money on myself. And if I spend somebody else's money on myself, then I'm sure going to have a good lunch!
Finally, I can spend somebody else's money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else's money on somebody else, I'm not concerned about how much it is, and I'm not concerned about what I get. And thats government.
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
This is Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel Freiherr von Ketteler - the "Father of the Poor", as he's referred to in Mainz.
Born in 1811, he was elected to the Frankfurt Assembly at the age of 37 and is widely seen as the leading Catholic social thinker in Germany, arguing that the social question was the essential problem of the time and laying the foundation of modern Catholic social teaching.
Died in 1877, which proves that Billy Joel was right - Only the good die young. We could use a couple more like him around here. Or there. Or anywhere.
This is the Bischofsplatz and he's been here (as a bronze statue, created by Thiomas Duttenhöfer) since 1993, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. That's what I'd like to interpret into it, anyway.
And it's quite appropriate that the Bischofsplatz seems to be a magnet for a mixture of the folk that Kettler worked so hard for - punks, daytime drinkers and the socially disadvantaged.
Young on one side, old on the other.
And yes, I did pick up the trash littering the square. Not all of it, but quite a bit.
Wilhelm would have done the same thing, I'm sure
(Thanks to Ohio University for an excellently researched and written article.)
Monday, 25 June 2007
Sunday, 24 June 2007
Saturday, 23 June 2007
Friday, 22 June 2007
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Ingelheim is just up the road from Mainz - 5km max from the outskirts of the city - and is home to Boehringer-Ingelheim, one of the bigger (as in top 20 global) life-science outfits.
For the last 48 years, they've sponsored a series of art exhibitions in the old town hall under the name "Internationale Tage" - International Days.
That's the collection of poster miniatures.
Nothing provincial here. World class exhibits, world class curatorship.
Warhol last year.
Picasso this year.
€6 to get in, kids and students free.
Wish I'd known about it earlier.
Only been living here for 30 years...
And if there was one thing that impressed me most, it was the 11 individual prints of "Le Taureau" - here as a poster - as it metamorphosed from a solid-bodied sketch portrait on 5 December 1945 to its essential form on 17 January 1946.
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
You can buy cherries from May onwards, but they're likely from Italy or Spain and they'll have been looking at the inside of trucks, warehouses and cool stores for too long for my liking.
So we wait until the folks in the village have them.
I used to have a couple of fruit bowls in my office for the people on my team who felt a bit peckish.
I had lots of them popping in during cherry time.
"John, I've got this issue about.... oooooh, cherries...!"
Monday, 18 June 2007
No more asparagus from our local farmer.
Season's over. The crowns need a break to regenerate for next year's crop.
The cowboys will keep their black plastic out there to the bitter end (officially 24 June) and probably a bit later.
Not for us.
We're happy to wait for next year.
Sunday, 17 June 2007
-- only another 2390km to go.
This is a marker on the St James' Way, the route of an ancient pilgrimage that stretches 2400km to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
The are 4 main tributaries starting in France that feed into el Camino de Santiago in Spain which is the last lap, as it were. And there are loads of pilgrim ways throughout Europe that feed the network.
It's worked its way from Pagan to Christian to Secular/Christian (although I'm sure there were a few pagans wandering around yesterday to provide me with company...) over the years and is currently enjoying a resurgence of interest, with over 100,000 pilgrims completing the last 100 km of the way and qualifying for the Compstela.
Wikipedia has lots on it.
We walked 10 km of the section of the Jakobsweb (as it's called in German) that runs from Mainz to Speyer, both cathedral cities.
Started in Dittelsheim (yes, I KNOW it's not Mainz, but it's close enough) at the protestant church with a saracen tower and walked through vineyards and fields (and along some pretty frightening main roads) to a chapel from where we walked down to visit the fleshpots of Abendheim, there to sup ale and fermented juice of the vine.
And I used my Grandad's 80+ year old Bergans frame-rucksack. Weighs a ton, but I thought that he'd enjoy tagging along with us.
Especially for the ale.
Saturday, 16 June 2007
This could have been one for July's Theme Day. (At a stretch)
If I had a choice, I'd split my time between the garden, record stores, bookshops and the market.
Thinks: actually, I do have a choice and I that's pretty much how I spend my time.
Apart from blogging.
This is Habels, a newish bookshop in the Brand shopping complex.
A bit too big, bright and mainsteam for for my taste.
I'm more the Harvard-Bookstore-on-Mass-Ave-in-Cambridge-Mass bookworm type.
Or Hatchards on Piccadilly.
Friday, 15 June 2007
We're nothing if not environmentally aware around here and the State of Rhineland-Palatinate has a network of 31 emission monitoring stations, telemetering a whole bunch of data back to Mainz where they're massaged into usable information.
You can even check up on the interweb to determine your risk of asphyxiation on a daily basis.
Although I wouldn't bet my life on it - they say that "errors can occur in the digitalisation of the data" and "different browsers can deliver different results".
Yet another WTF moment so early in the morning...
These monitoring stations are like honey to a tagging bee and they become quite colourful over time. (This one's bang in the middle of Mainz, just up from the station and it's probably - at this very minute - sending "You're all going to die" messages through the vapour. Except we'll never know due to conversion errors and the fact that Firefox 2.0.04 makes me think I'm safe)
And there's of course one faction of City Fathers who want everything resprayed boring beige and another who figure that if those rascals are off spraying tin sheds, they're not creating havoc/mugging old ladies/selling drugs elsewhere in the municipality.
Some councils even actively encourage it.
Tagging, that is.
Unbeknown to the outfit that's tasked with respraying everything boring beige.
So a couple of months ago, there was a serious outbreak of verbal fisticuffs between the official resprayers and the promoters of Modern Art on Tin Sheds, which went along the lines of
"Listen, Brian, it says 'ere that I'm supposed to respray this 'ere Tin Shed. Innit"
"But don't you see the free spirit and the Picasso-esque structures in this collage of primary and secondary colours"
The aestheically challenged resprayers lost, I'm pleased to say.
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Aka Lonicera periclymenum. Or Woodbine Or Eglantine Or Chevre feuille
This one came from my grandfather's garden in North Yorkshire via my uncle's garden in Oxfordshire and smuggled across to us as a cutting by my cousin in the late 1970s.
It's virtually indestructible, absolutely resistant to aphids and other sundry ratbags and takes well as a cutting.
(I take a long runner, scrape off the bark every 5cm or so and press it into the earth. Roots in a month of so and - hey presto - you'll got 10 cuttings to give away.)
And its perfume is sublime.
Wikipedia says it's "an uncommon homeopathic remedy, used for irritability with violent outbursts"
I can believe that.
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
The Spiegel - built in the 17th C, destroyed by bombs in 1942 and rebuilt in the postwar period - is another of the classic "don't-trust-anyone-under-60" wine bars. Used to be, anyway.
This is the top end of the Augustinerstrasse.
The narrow alley to the left takes you past the residence of Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz, to the Bischofsplatz.
To the right you've got the Leichhof - literally "corpse yard" -and originally the cathedral's cemetery.
And it's interesting to see how words migrate from this example
My grandfather lived way up on the Yorkshire Moors and talked about the Lyke Wake Walk, which is a 40 mile walking route over the North Yorkshire Moors and refers to the vigil over the body between death and burial.
Now, "Wache" is the German word for "guard" and the combination with "Leiche" gives you the meaning of the Old English word.
And "Finnegan's Wake", which is a pretty good yarn.
Monday, 11 June 2007
Sunday, 10 June 2007
Here's Matthias Rüppel from Mainz putting the finishing touches on the Ionic pillar which forms the central structure of his interpretation of "Europe at 50"
Some folks expressed an interest in seeing the completed works and they're on display until the end of the month so I thought Id' wander around the market yesterday, have a coffee from my new friends at Caffea Moguntia and go an look at the finished exhibits.
And photograph them.
They're in the foyer of the State Theater so in I toddle, can't find anything (as usual) and ask the lady in the ticket office.
"First floor" she says "but it's closed."
Me: "Closed? On a Saturday morning? With town full of people?"
She: "Exactly. They only open an hour before the theatre production starts. And there's no production today, so your first chance is tomorrow afternoon. It's so stupid. They reckon they haven't got anyone to supervise visitors."
This place does exasperate me at times...
But here's the web site with the images anyway.
Not in English, of course....
Saturday, 9 June 2007
Caper \Ca"per\, n. A frolicsome leap or spring; a skip; a jump, as in mirth or dancing; a prank. To cut a caper, to frolic; to make a sportive spring; to play a prank. --Shak. Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) William to the rescue again. (Were you aware that he increased the vocabulary of the English language by 50%?) I'm not sure if the flower of the Capparis spinosa L. is an endangered species, but the bud tends to get whipped off fairly quickly to be pickled as a caper. And - if the blossom survives and fruits - it's also whipped off and pickled as a caper berry. Which is bigger and softer. Here's a recipe for a crash-hot accompaniment to a nice white fish filet: Heat a couple of tablespoons of butter until it's foaming, add some lemon zest, juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon or so of caper berries. Pour it over your fish. Perfect. The ancient Greeks used the caper as a carminativum for its antispasmodic activity against cramps of the digestive system in combination with flatulence. TMI. I don't think I really wanted to know that.
Friday, 8 June 2007
Along with the Night of the Museums and other bits and pieces going on, they also had "Art in the City" in front of the State Theatre, where artists from each of the twinned towns were tasked with interpreting "The European Union at 50".
First in a series of n is Micha Ritzmann from Erfurt
Thursday, 7 June 2007
It dates back to the 14th C, when it was granted the Right of Guests, forcing passing traffic on the Rhine to be trading partners.
It still has the best farmers' market in the region. (People come in from as far away as Wiesbaden, Rüsselsheim and even Frankfurt)
And it has a flourishing port.
On the Rhine, of course.
But - containers being what they are - you'll find logistics clusters all over the city.
And in the background, Mainz's rubbish collection is magically converted to electricity.
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
Mainzer Kunst! (Mainz Art!) is a gallery in the Weihergarten in the Old Town that celebrated its 1st anniversary on Saturday.
Read about it in the morning over my cup of tea.
Showing some fiscal responsibility (someone in the family has to ..), I've taken to parking (for free) up in the side streets on the way into town and walking down the hill past St Stephan and the St Martin statue.
Which takes me pretty much past the gallery.
Door was open and I was in a pretty chatty mood it appears, so I dropped in on a fairly excited Ralf K. Weber who was getting ready for a pretty BIG DAY.
The 1st anniversary coincided with a big city-wide shindig in the form of the Museum Night - 25 museums and galleries in Mainz open from 5 pm until 1 the next morning which segues nicely into an (almost) all night shopping experience until 4 in the morning.
And seeing as how his 1st anniversary celebrations kicked off at 11am, it was definitely going to be a BIG DAY.
The Lord Mayor of Mainz, Jens Beutel, was even going to put in an appearance.
And it's a really nice gallery.
Stretches through from the Weihergarten to a courtyard in the back, on two levels, flooded with light. Good artists, well presented.
Worth another visit, for sure.
Wonder if they'll have drinks and nibbles on offer...?
Monday, 4 June 2007
This is Hannah and - I think, I assume, didn't think to ask - her Gran.
They're waiting for Mum to bring home Hannah's new brother, Anton - born on 31 May - from the Vincenz Hospital and they're going to be arriving any minute.
I was on my way back from the market on Saturday morning when I saw these two ladies looking out of the window at the top of the Gaustrasse.
Walked a bit further, looked back and they're still there, so I went back, asked if I could take their picture and got chatting.
Nice way to start the weekend .
For anyone, actually
Sunday, 3 June 2007
The City Fathers decreed - in their infinite wisdom and after a short period of consideration (only about 3 years and what's 3 years in the great scheme of things anyway - a blink of the eye..) - that the market should be blessed with a "Gourmet Corner".
Brigitte Müller-Dildei and Hans-Josef Schwarz run Caffea Moguntia in Bodenheim, a couple of km upriver from Mainz
They've got hold of a 1963 Citroen HY van - an apt and frequently used description is "the one that looks like a corrugated iron shed on wheels" - and done it up with a swish chocolaty-coffee paint job, fitted it out as a mobile cafe and park it on the market square on Fridays and Saturdays.
Fold down the counter, fire up the espresso machine and they're in business.
They roast their own coffee, which they also have for sale in their
But I was a bit confused by my latte machiatto when it turned up on the counter. Looked a bit anaemic to me, to be honest.
"Ah" I said.
"That'll be a latte machiatto bianco then"
"Until I put the expresso in" she said kindly "Yes"
And - abracadabra - there it was. Just the way I thought it should look.
And very nice, too.
Saturday, 2 June 2007
.....in the year of our Lord MMVII that Moguntium V was cast out into the wilderness of the Divisionum Secundus.
And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and the wearing of sackcloth and ashes.
And many of the gladiators did pack their meagre belongings into their Ferrari 599 GTB Fioranos and leave Moguntium in great haste for the greener fields elsewhere in Divisionum Primus and the populus was fearful of great hardship and pestilence.
Especially since Emperor Beutelus had laden them grievously with taxes for a new coliseum in Moguntium Finthenii or nearabouts.
But, lo, the Prophet Kloppo did rise up and proclaim with blazing eyes and flowing mane of golden hair and sparkling teeth of white.
"I shall not abandon thee. (At least not until the end of my current contract)."
"They that heedeth me shall not perish or kick around in Divisionum Secundus for more than 12 new moons, but shall be protected from the onslaught of the heathen tribes of Greuter Fürth and the Kickäs Offebachium and I and my faithful band of gladiators (who were anyway under contract and no-one wanted in the first place) shall part the waters of the Zonus Promotius and lead thee back into the bountiful fields of Divisionum Primus strewn with coins of gold and silver and precious jewels where we shall rise forthwith to the summit of glory and rightfully claim our trophy as the champions of the Populus Ligus in MMIX"
And Fabianus Gerberus - never the sharpest knife in the drawer - sayeth " Duh?" with vacant glance.
And a bolt of lightning from the heavens did strike him down.
And the long-suffering punters of the Tribunus Telco did shout with jubilation and were not saddened, but cried " Malus passus not more. Get thee forth and do not multiply and don't even think of coming back, you Depp" and were joyful.
And Senator Christianus Heidelus was also joyful, because the denare tranferius was bountiful from the sale of the legionnaires Zidanius and Friedrichus.
But Presidentus Strutzius did weep bitter tears of anguish and was grieven.
However the Prophet Kloppo saith " Come Haraldus, thou shalt not weep. There's always next year. And we both live in Gonso. Not the worst place in the world, eh? Nice villa right next to the Wildpark? Quadrifoglio just around the corner? Could be worse. We could be living in Wiesbaden"
And Strutzius did see truth in the words of the Prophet Kloppo and wept no longer.
But he still wasn't very happy.
Friday, 1 June 2007
And here we all are again....
Seattle (WA), USA - Manila, Philippines - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Toruń, Poland - Baton Rouge (LA), USA - Seoul, Korea - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Vantaa, Finland - Madison (WI), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Cleveland (OH), USA - Chicago (IL), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Omaha (NE), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Stockholm, Sweden - Grenoble, France - Lubbock (TX), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Arradon, France - Hyde, UK - Joplin (MO), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Kansas City (MO), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Manila, Philippines - Sydney, Australia - Stavanger, Norway - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - London, UK - Chandler (AZ), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Singapore, Singapore - Hamburg, Germany - Sydney, Australia - Tenerife, Spain - Moscow, Russia - Lyon, France - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Villigen, Switzerland - Anderson (SC), USA - Oslo, Norway - Evry, France - Hayle, UK - Mumbai, India - Kitakami, Japan - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Los Angeles (CA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - La Antigua, Guatemala - Paderborn, Germany - San Diego (CA), USA - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Madrid, Spain - Lyon, France - Selma (AL), USA - Shanghai, China - Baziège, France - Cologne (NRW), Germany - North Bay (ON), Canada - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Stayton (OR), USA - Sharon (CT), USA - Austin (TX), USA - Hong Kong, China - Trier, Germany - Joensuu, Finland - Paris, France - Greenville (SC), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Cork, Ireland - Bastia, France - Vancouver, Canada - Brookville (OH), USA - Jakarta, Indonesia - Mainz, Germany
You'll be disappointed if you're expecting a romantic view over the rooftops of Mainz as the sun slowly sets in the west.
Village life, more like it, and I look out onto a Kerria japonica and an Acer rubrum.
I think I prefer it that way, to be honest.
There is, of course, the view from the other place. (Need to have a word with Meg and Ben about that..)