It was a bittersweet goodbye to Langenwald this morning, which has been so lovely. We had blue skies again, though cooler than it has been. The drive south was beautiful. Lovely autumnal colors and true black forest landscapes with rolling hills, thick dark coniferous forests and verdant green pastures dotted with homes, valleys with towns nestled in them.
We stopped briefly in Gutach, at the end of the Gutach valley, to see the church which has stood there since 1275. Inside was painted and gothic, though intimate, and the simple stone baptismal font dates from the 13th century. The more evocative item though, was a war memorial in a small square next to the church - a mourning woman in traditional costume which was so real and touching. Below the woman was a list of the towns' men who had died during the great war. It really brought home how decimated some communities must have been as there were families who had lost 6,9, even 11 of their husbands, sons, brothers, fathers. And it's only a small town. Just tragic. Then, on some large stone plinths nearby, are the names of those lost in WWII. The same family - Moser - that had 11 members killed in WW1, lost a further 12 in the second war. Impossible to conceive. We grow up being taught that Germany was the bad guy in both wars, and certainly committed atrocities in the second, but at ground level, all soldiers no matter what their nationality were often simply people and loved one's whose loss had an enormous impact on their families and communities. Pray it never happens again.
After this sombre interlude we went to the unpronounceable Vogtsbauernhof open air museum just down the road. It's a 5 ha space with original Schwarzwald (Black Forest) farm houses and other buildings dating from the 16th century. We had to pass through a number of kiosks and stalls to reach the entrance selling everything from postcards and dolls to german deli stuff. My favorite was a mock local hat - the townsfolk wear traditional straw hats with large red bulbs/balls sewn to the top - complete with red balls and brown plaits hanging down either side! Ems and I enjoyed trying them on. Apparently people come from all over whenever there is a wedding or any other celebration to see the traditional costumes.
Once inside, the houses were wonderful to look around. They were furnished and set out as they would have been in the time that they were built. Such a lot of gorgeous dark creaking wood. The houses are what you imagine from the area, large dark wood buildings set over 3-4 floors into a hillside, with shingled or thatched roofs sloping deeply either side almost down to the ground. And the obligatory balconies across the front dripping with colourful flowers. These houses were enormous! They were basically a farm all-in-one with animals and equipment on the lowest level, then 1 or 2 floors for habitation, and the upper floor and attic used again for with farm equipment, work space or storage of goods. The clever trick of building houses into a hillside meant that although the lower level was accessed from the front, the upper levels and even the attic were accessible from the side and rear. Very useful. Now that most of these old farmhouses are used in their entirety for people, they must be huge houses! Loved all the old furnishings also. Was talking with Jason about how embedded in our culture it is to be entertained, by the tv, Internet, radio, etc. Back in those days there was nothing and I am so indoctrinated that all I can think is how boring it would have been. Although we haven't had a tv for the last 6 weeks. But in your old age - what would you do?! I know they made their own entertainment, and spent much time doing what I would consider work (sewing, carving, weaving). I can't really imagine it. They say that's how the cuckoo clock industry came about around here, plenty of wood and plenty of time in the winter!
The girls enjoyed exploring each house, and seeing the live animals. There was even a playground to pause at. All in all a great outing.
We continued on towards Freiburg, detouring down a long and winding valley to view an old mill Hexonloch (now THAT was isolation - imagine living in one valley your whole life?) and the town of St Peter. The town of St Peter grew up around a monastery and church from the .... which has burnt down a number of times and the latest buildings date from the .... The church is just off a wonderful old-fashioned proper square with uniformly attractive and impressive buildings, cobblestones, wooden benches for sitting the day away and drinking trenches filled with flowers. The interior was beautifully baroque and gilded. Very fancy. I peeked in the monastery buildings - no longer used a a monastery - and happened on a tiny peaceful and green courtyard. Very contemplative. Looking over the valley I could imagine the monks being able to easily oversee the land that they'd had cleared.
We reached Freiburg right on dusk, and a very 'german' manager met us. The site was full (autumn holidays apparently) and the only thing they had were tents for rent. These were basically A-frame wooden structures slung with canvas. It was shelter, and they had electricity and mattresses. Em and J slept in the bigger one with two single mattresses, while Meg and I shared the double beds in the other with felix in his cot. Before settling in we needed a trip to the supermarket for dinner essentials. This entailed a 10min walk there and back. But...nothing is that easy. Jason was not keen at all on being left with the three kids so insisted they all come in the car, which because of the current roadworks and oneway system took 40 mins!! Honestly. The boy needs childcare training!
So anyways, we had (late) dinner and now in bed. Megsy's been whispering sweet nothings in my ear about how much she loves me and how beautiful I am! If only it were like that all the time! I was enjoying chatting to her though.
Trying to teach meg her anatomy, I asked her "What do you have that makes you a girl?". Cue excited gasp and her reply "Well I have a camera!".