Well, it’s always worth injecting a little bonhomie at this time of year – and, might I add, to mark exactly eight months of Sumptuous World.
So here are some photos from my recent trip to the heart of Germany, where they remember how to celebrate Christmas well: every town and city will have its winter, Christmas market (where people will gather after dark for some outdoor, winter socialising, as well as shopping) – like this one from Goslar, on the edge of the Harz mountains (think Brothers Grimm) –
… where many town halls are converted into giant advent calendars –
… and where the old can be blended with the new in effective ways –
(Jetzt means now.) This last pic is from a central church in the old Hanseatic port city of Lubeck.
I am very ignorant of the treasures of Germany, which is unsurprising. For more than one reason, the place and its people have received a bad press. And what with the iron curtain, much of what was in the former eastern bloc was unknown to even the younger generations in west Germany; for example, at school they weren’t taught sister place names across the border, regardless of ancestral ties. I had no idea about streets like these, conveyed by my lovely assistant, Marion –
The corner building on the left side, with its door lanterns, is a pub built in 1573, and has gold-painted inscriptions that wrap around its corner; they say something like, may all who enter and leave this place be blessed by God. The brick and timber house, just behind the lovely lady, was a gem we happily chanced upon: the 1693 home of Hans Siemens, forebear of the electronic-engineering empire. I say happily because the company and its founding family have a close connection with my own family history.
Unsurprisingly, cities and towns like these have been anointed World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. (I’d heartily recommend visiting Quedlinberg, not just for their Christmas market – the medieval houses have their own courtyards, that the owners of which give over to craft stalls, mulled-wine sellers and the occasional wild boar being turned on a spit. Let me know if you’d like the address of a lovely apartment in the old city centre, in one such courtyard.)
So, as another year comes to an end, have a very happy, and special, Christmas.
Just for a parting note, here’s a silly quiz (courtesy of Treehugger); nothing to do with the season, but at least it nicely lays out the sumptuousness of this world we’re part of, what goes into things, and what people are capable of. And, of course, it continues the German theme already enunciated –
Is this a picture of:
a) what mechanics have nightmares about;
b) a college prank perpetrated by extremely determined students at the local Polytech;
c) a commercial for VW circa 1980-something;
d) the only way to really find those sunglasses you lost;
e) what engineers see in their heads every time we designers show them a simple concept sketch;
f) at least 562 reasons why we prefer to bicycle, or, why we’d rather say “Solvitur Ambulando” than “Vroom vroom”?
… and a Sumptuous New Year to you and yours!