A journey back to Middle Earth…

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In the footsteps of our ancestors

imageAs part of this trip we were thinking that it would be great if we could show the boys the places where their grandparents and great- grandparents had come from. One of those places is Husum in the north of Germany where my maternal grandparents lived and where my mother grew up.

I myself had not been to Husum for over 20 years and was curious to see this town by the North Sea where I had spent time during my childhood when visiting my grandparents.

So yesterday morning we set out early in the morning from Hamburg and drove for 2 hours through the landscape of Schleswig Holstein and North Friesland until we arrived in the street where my grandparents had lived. We spent some time looking at the house from the outside and taking some photographs. I also had a conversation with a very friendly employee of the next door petrol station who said that he had been working there for 20 years and remembered my grandfather well. (the owners of the petrol station now own my grandparents house and are renting it out).

We then walked past the Ostenfelder Bauernhaus, an old farmhouse museum, to the cemetery. After some searching we found my grandparents grave. Various other ancestors from the Schröder side of the family are also buried there. We decided that we would get some flowers and return later to put them on the grave.

After a little walk through the town and across a medieval themed market in the main square we arrived at the Nissenhaus Museum where my grandfather used to work. We spent some time looking at how the people in the coastal areas and on the small north sea islands called “Halligen” have been protecting their fields, houses and livestock against the sea with dykes, especially during storm tides, which have played a major part in Husum’s history. The museum also displayed very beautiful models of really large traditional North Frisian farm houses and windmills.

After returning to the market square we tried various delicacies for lunch, such as a “matjesbr√∂tchen”, a bread roll with herring), “Wildbratwurst”, and cherry beer as well as very nice vanilla waffles.

Of course a visit to Husum would not be complete without a stroll down to the Harbour and the seaside. So after wondering around the Harbour area and looking at the souvenir shops and the fleamarket which took place there we returned to our van via the cemetery (where we planted pink and white heather). We then drove down to the seaside and wandered along the dyke before returning back to Hamburg where we stayed one last night with Gabi.


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Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Our visit to Hamburg (officially known as the title above) included a trip to its harbour, (2nd largest port in Europe). It’s scale makes clear that what seemed to be a very large 20ft container with our contents (now safely in NZ) is a small speck on one of many container ships spotted in the harbour.
Hamburg also has relevance for me as the base of BP Lubricants German operation. Whilst our stay did not include a visit to the “office” my former Marine Lubes colleagues will known the significance of the letters MSC spotted on one of the ships coming into the harbour as we sat for lunch at a “beach” cafe.
The highlight of our short stay however was visiting Gabi, Andreas and their children Theo & Wilko. Gabi spent time in NZ studying with Maria, became good friends, and was bridesmaid at our wedding, whom we hadn’t seen since Milan was 3 months old. It was great to catch up with Gabi & meet her family in their nice warm and spacious home (key criteria for luxury when you’re otherwise staying in a campervan!)