… in the middle of this heatwave in Southern Germany. And I have surrendered to it all by buying a desktop fan to go with the USB fan that I bought for Caliburn yesterday (did I mention that?).
This morning, it was again 28°C early on and the news that there had been a cloudburst and that my home town back in the UK was 12 inches under water and they were all complaining now about too much rain didn’t really abate my humour all that much.
But anyway, I digress.
This morning I was awake quite early yet again and spent some time bringing the paperwork up to date and listening to the dictaphone.
Back in England everyone was worried that the amount of viruses was rising and yet people still weren’t taking things seriously, still not taking their masks seriously. We were walking between a couple of towns on a nice shady road near a river. We could see people disobeying the mask instructions all that kind of thing. We were convinced that they won’t last very long at all if they kep on going like this. There was a lot more to it than this but I don’t remember it now.
Later, it was time to disembark from the ship which was in fact an aeroplane so we all have to get ourselves ready and we all walked off down the gangplank a few of us together laughing and joking a little bit. One of the guys with whom I worked at the EU, he was coming on behind us and about to get into this queue with us. A couple of us said “we really don’t want to be in the queue with him”. Castor and Pollux were there too, and it’s nice to see them back with me again on my travels. They had changed into some nice clothes – I remember Pollux in a nice little top and a dark blue skirt. They just walked through Customs and walked away and didn’t look back, which left me feeling extremely disappointed.
When Hans came in we had a coffee and a good chat and organised a pile of stuff that needed organising.
Going to the bank to pay in his shop takings was next and then we went for breakfast at the bakery across the road. it was crowded with people and we had to sit inside for a change.
Gathering up the camera (but forgetting a bottle of water) we walked off out of town towards Garching in the sweltering heat.
A couple of kilometres outside the town on the left-hand side across the motorway is a nature reserve, the Echinger Lohe. It’s actually a piece of primeval woodland that was set aside in 1978 totally unmanaged as a natural forest reserve – some kind of experiment to see how a natural wood would have behaved before human intervention.
And what with all of the urban expansion in the vicinity of Munich that’s a feat in itself
Scrambling through the wire fence via a suitable opening we went inside.
It’s totally fascinating to see how it’s turned out. Nature is certainly doing a fine job here in this magnificent example of a climax forest. And all of the rotting tree trunks and branches that are passing through the “interesting shape” stage and disintegrating into powder and slowly regenerating the soil.
This is just as nature would have done several thousand years ago. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
We pushed our way deeper into the forest. It seemed to be the sensible thing to do in view of the heat.
One thing that impressed me about the place was how silent everywhere was. It was very broody and mysterious in there. Had a pile of Hurons leapt out from behind the trees, bow in hand, to overwhelm us I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised.
And although we didn’t see any large mammals, there is PLENTY OF EVIDENCE OF THEIR PRESENCE.
When I say that the forest is totally unmanaged, that’s not to say that there hasn’t been any human intervention.
These stranee, crude constructions are apparently hides for cameras. Some University or something is carrying out some kind of survey on activity that takes place in the forest.
Of course they aren’t going to park themselves up in full view of the wildlife, but all the same I can’t say that I’m very impressed with disturbing nature like this. Surely they couls have brought in some artificial hides that would have done the trick and which they could have taken away later on, leaving very little trace.
There is plenty to see in this particular corner of Eching and so we left the cover and shade of the forest to go to see it.
One of the things to see, which might not appeal to everyone, is what is going on in the air. We are right in the flight path for the descent to Munich Airport which is about 5 or so miles and even with the grounding of many flights due to the effects of the pandemic, there is still the odd one passing overhead.
At first I didn’t recognise the livery of this plane, but having photographed and enlarged it, I can see that it’s one of the planes that fly for the big holiday company TUI.
Out here beyond the forest there’s a huge natural, unspoilt heathland, the Garchinger Heide too.
It’s a haven of wildlife that you wouldn’t usually find so close to a major city and large transportation hub. The wooden thing that you can see that looks like the handle of a spade is actually a perch for the various birds of prey and the like that are around here.
218 different varieties of natural plants have been recorded here, of which about 50 are on Germany’s “red list” of plants subject to Conservation rules, type that would be difficult to find anywhere. This is good news because the flowers attract butterflies, of which a couple of visitors are quite rare types, and also bees.
And we are very lucky to have it too because in the late 19th Century during the grand expansion of Germany’s economy there were proposals to transform the heath into farmland.
However due to the energetic efforts of Franz Vollmann, the “Saviour of the Garchinger Heide“, 23 hectares of unspoilt land were bought by the Bavarian Botanical Society between 1907 and 1904 and in 1942 it became an official nature reserve. A monument was erected on the site in honour of Vollman.
Unfortunately much of the heath was badly damaged in early 1945 when prisoners from the Dachau Concentration were instructed to turn it into an emergency airstrip. Some work was begun and you can still see some of the damage that they did.
Eching is apparently an ancient Celtic town and there’s what is, I suppose, a Celtic cemetery here – a part of the heathland where there were plenty of small barrows. We went over there to have a look at them
Some other work that was undertaken here was the excavation of the barrows, so I was told, apparently in the search for various artefacts and grave goods. The excavations were carried out all that well and now there isn’t very much left now, but the outlines of the barrows are still visible.
There are several pools here that were formerly the site of gravel extraction and now abandoned to nature and the surroundings overgrown by vegetation.
Our route to the cemetery took us past a small one that was very quiet and secluded, and here we surprised a bunch of nudists. However I do have to say that if I had a body like any of those, I wouldn’t be exhibiting it anywhere in public like they were.
On our way back home we stopped for a drink at the football ground, and then we picked up Caliburn and went to track down a battery for Hans’s jeep. No-one had one in stock so we ended up having to order one.
But at one place that we visited I bought my desktop fan. this heat really is killing me right now.
While we were in the van we decided to push on for an afternoon out in the nearby town of Freising, the region’s capital.
We found a car park just outside the city centre and Hans led me through a maze of alleyways and narrow streets. This one is called the Mittlerergraben and it’s a typical example of the little streets around the northern part of the town.
In fact, much of Germany looks like this, and while some property is quite clearly modern, it’s very difficult to tell with others which is contemporary and which is new to replace war-damaged property.
, so we went for a walk around while Hans pointed out a few of the local sights. The cathedral was up the top of a huge set of steps so in this heat we ruled that out. We went for a cold drink instead.
From where I was standing to take the previous photo there’s a little Gasse, an alley that leads down into the main shopping street. These alleys are another feature of medieval German cities – in fact most medieval cities. As you know, Granville, where I live is littered with them.
In the background are the towers of the cathedral and to the left just down there is the Bayerische Hof, an upmarket hotel that has rooms at prices that the likes of you and I can only dream about.
That column is actually at the entrance to the hotel car park and I bet that more than just a couple of people have had fun trying to put their car into there.
We walked down the alleyway into the main shopping street and the first thing that I did was to disappear up another Gasse
The town is littered with these little alleys and this one is certainly one of the prettiest. It’s called the Hummelgasse and leads on down to the river at the bottom of the hill.
We weren’t going that way though. We were heading down the main street and so I had to come back. But not before I became all nostagic about the yellow walls on this house here. It reminds me too much of MY HOME BACK IN THE AUVERGNE.
So back in the centre of Freising, in the Unterer Hauptstrasse.
It’s not very often that a town site changes position throughout history so it’s very likely that where we are walking now is the same street that people were walking down 1500 or so years ago. The first recorded mention of the village of Freising was as long ago as 555AD – it was certainly in existence before that date
And it may well be even much older than that because it’s known that there was a Roman Road in the immediate vicinity along the banks of the River Isar and this would have been a likely situation for some kind of regional settlement.
You can see what I mean from this photo just here taken in the Heilinggeiststrasse – The Street of the Holy Ghost.
Where that tower is in the background is on an eminence overlooking the river and that would be the ideal situation for some kind of fortified site keeping an eye on the traffic passing up and down the river valley either by the road or the river.
The building on the left is the Church of the Holy Ghost with its associated Hospital complex. The hospital dates back to 1374 when a local dignitary left in his Will his entire estate to the benefit of building some accommodation for the poor, the sick and the needy.
We eschewed the possibility of climbing up to the cathedral and the other official buildings on the eminence. I’m not too good, hans has a bad leg and it was far too hot for a scramble.
Instead we threaded our way through the maze of back streets into the Fischergasse. There’s a little stream here that runs eventually into the Isar. The stream has been canalised and the banks reinforced and it makes quite a pleasant walkway back to town.
There was a café down here too and so we took the opportunity to sit down and have a nice cold drink. We needed it in this weather.
Heading back into the centre of town we came across some road works that caught our eye.
According to Hans, there’s “District Heating” in the town – a communal heating system of hot water that’s pumped around the town. it looks as if the system is receiving some attention. Here are some of the water pipes, covered in insulation.
It’s interesting to speculate as to why they have put that big U-bend in the pipework I can’t see any logical explanation for that
One thing about these early medieval cities is that it doesn’t matter how old a building is, it’s likely that the underground works are even older.
Consequently, when I saw some renovation being undertaken in the groundwork of a building in the main street I dived in there with the camera. Unfortunately this cellar is the exception that proves the rule. It’s nothing like as old as I was expecting.
We walked on through the town for a while and Hans showed me a bar that he had at one stage been thinking about taking on, but city parking regulations scuppered that.
And so we walked back to the car park and Caliburn
Out on the edge of the town is the site of a factory, the Schluter Tractor Company, where they made tractors until 1993.
The factory has now been transformed into a shopping centre where there is a display of photos of all of the products that the company manufactured. We went for a look around to see them, and discovered that there was even a restored tractor on display here as a centre-piece.
While we were here we went for a look around at the rest of the shops on the factory site but there was nothing of any interest so we went back to Caliburn and made our way back to Eching.
Back here, we parked up Caliburn and walked back to the football club where I had a delicious Thai curry with rice. And then back to the Bier Keller for a drink and a chat and to listen to some music.
Now I have my fan, and I feel so much better. I’m not going to say that it’s nice and cool of course, but it’s a lot better than it has been and i’m hoping for a comfortable sleep tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll be hitting the road.