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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Snails and things....カタツムリと物

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

2023 年 7 月 7 日

This week some of you received an email saying that Nigel had published a new post. But when you clicked to see more there was very little to see. That is because I had quickly taken the (unfinished) post offline, having inadvertently pressed the publish button.

What now follows is "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth", as the lawyers say in court.

One of my friends is a world expert on .....molluscs. Now there is no need to get excited. People do the most extraordinary things in their lives. Did you know that the ordinary garden snail is a mollusc? Well no doubt Julia will enlighten us all at the lecture she is giving next week in Frankfurt at the Holzhausenschlosschen.

So with snails on the brain I took another look at the "water feature" which I pass by on my way to the trains at Langen station. It's a strange work of art, but it has never been vandalized in any way......(except for the odd beer bottle landing in the water....). The inscription reads "Europe, the common house" Jürgen Goetz, 1997. 来週友人がカタツムリについての講義をすることになっている.


The artist seems to be conveying a message of diverse "peoples" under one roof - that of Europe. And molluscs seem to be his metaphor. Interesting.

really rather beautiful......きれいね。。。

I sent my mollusc expert a picture. 軟体動物の専門家に写真を送りました。


After the torrid heat in central Germany last week I think we were all relieved when the weather broke at the weekend, coming in the form of a veritable downpour ( a "どしゃぶり" ⛈️). The next day the grass looked greener and the streets were washed clean. The cloud and rain subsequently drifted east into Thüringen and Bavaria, leaving us in Hessen to enjoy a comfortable warm day on Sunday - ideal for a walk.

Have you ever been somewhere and thought " this would be nice in summer....?" Well, that's what prompted the walk this weekend.

Despite protestations from the more fragile end of the walker spectrum, I suggested an early start. 若いウォーカーからの抗議にもかかわらず、私は早めのスタートを計画した

This meant that seven of us were able to meet up in Weinheim, south of Darmstadt, at about 9.30 am.

Weinheim is a pretty little town with a Schloss and a Schlosspark, a hillside planted with exotic trees and at least two castles. It's actually just over the the border in Baden-Württemberg, the same state where Karlsruhe is situated (see last week's blog) .

So, leaving the environs of the Stadt we were soon trekking up through the Exotenwald.

Towering Redwoods greeted us in austere silence...セコイアの大木は沈黙していた

There is something very grand about these trees. OK, they haven't reached the size of, for example, the General Sherman in California, or the cedar avenues of Nikko, but proud they stand nonetheless......

Here's a map of our route.....about 13 km (well, in theory)....It involved climbing steeply to the Geiersberg, a lookout point on one side of the valley, then descending down to climb up to the Wachenberg castle on the other side.

The Wachenberg turned out to be a rather curious place. It was only built at the beginning of the 20thc, and then for a student fraternity called.....well, I had better direct you to this link at this point.......

We entered the castle gate and found ourselves amongst a lot of young men (no women) dressed in suits and all wearing curious little flat caps. First superficial impressions suggested a Jewish gathering, or even a masonic event, but how wrong we were. For we had stumbled upon the annual meeting of a "Fraternity". At one point my attention was drawn to the entrance of a serious young man wearing chain mail armour, another carrying a heraldic sword. Feeling rather out of place in this extremely "Deutsch" environment, we soon left. クラブイベントがありました.....若者たち.....Here is me standing in front of the gateway.....not suitably dressed ....😂

I must say we felt more comfortable at the castle down the road. This was Burg Windeck,("Windy Corner"), a medieval ruin which offered a tower climb and some windy photo opps...........My hair was pretty safe, but as for the others...... ヘアストル?

....a calmer moment....

It was at this point that 尚子 san told me of the Japanese expression (which I was feeling very keenly) for "fear of heights"............. 高所恐怖症 (こうしょきょうふしょう). Very apt. She then leant out of the window and coolly took this shot from the tower........aaaaargh 😮!

Believe it or not, down there are Vladimir and Anna guarding our rucksacks.....omg!

A view out over Weinheim....

Meanwhile Phe took the opportunity of taking a photo of the aforementioned Wachenberg castle.....the one that had given us the heebie-jeebies with all those young men walking round with funny hats on.......

At some point we had to descend. I hate those dark, narrow spiral steps in castles. I followed 尚子 san down, hoping I would not trip or stumble....

Little did we know that Hisako would shoot to fame on the Hessen news the next morning..

Given that the report says "at about 7am. "...The early bird catches the worm...." is the expression that springs to mind here 早起きは三文の徳 😅.

Back to that vertiginous tower. The verb 眩う crops up in Japanese...but the adjective?

Anyway, Vladimir had already climbed the tower before us and spied us eating lunch......


Here's a link to the castle :

When you leave the castle and head down the path to Weinheim you meet all these characters......anyone who has read Julia Donaldson's children's book "The Gruffalo", will know what I am talking about.....Indeed, you may remember me writing about them back in February. ....翼

We were seven walkers. Seven backgrounds. American, Polish, Japanese, French, British, Russian, and Indonesian. My experience tells me that as long as you steer clear of politics and religion, you can have a happy afternoon simply walking and enjoying each others company 😊. 私たちは7人のウォーカーでした。 国籍は7つ。私たちは政治や宗教を避けます.


Back at home in Langen nature gets a few lines as well........

Says the pigeon: "....what are you looking at? I have every right to perch on your gutter thank you very much....."

「……何を見ているのですか? 私にはあなたの側溝にとまる権利があります、ありがとうございます……」

"why are you photographing me? I am busy......"


"Please leave me alone, I am a wood........"



Here is a picture of some plastic boxes. They are called compact discs, or cds. You have to put them into a machine, which reads them and then plays them. You can then look at the accompanying leaflet to read all about the music and the musicians. So far so good. So if you want to listen to Katherina Deserno playing the Rachmaninov Cello Sonata the cd has has already put together the movements of the sonata and then plays them in the correct order. Thank you Katharina by the way - your recording gave me new insights into this strange sonata..

Move over now to the current method of listening : streaming.....Spotify. What a silly name. And I think that is what has prevented me from investigating it until now. I have had to, for I have no means of playing those little plastic things any longer. I can hear you cry: "What, Nigel, You don't use Spotify!!!???". Well, actually, yes, I do now, and I think I am converted. With reservations. With a sigh I realized the work I will have to do as a being with catholic (*small "c "n.b.) tastes to make streaming work for me. When Rachmaninov sat down to compose his sonata he did not compose an "album", or indeed a "playlist" of "songs". He wrote 4 movements, which all convey a different mood or idea and link together into the whole that is the sonata. This is just too much for your average software developer. So, you still have to stitch together the "songs" i.e. the movements, of a sonata to have them play in the right order. Ridiculous 🙄. These streaming programmers do not seem to know what classical music is. And heaven forbid you touch the "shuffle" button by mistake.........

OK, 🛑 stop moaning.

Because: Through Spotify I have (re-)discovered this song by George Harrison called "Beware of Darkness". I love his use of English.....all written, one must remember, before the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Donald Trump and fake news.......He sings of "soft shoe shufflers" (conmen), "greedy leaders" (politicians), "falling swingers" (pop idols of little substance) and "thoughts that linger"...... Indeed: "beware of sadness.....that is not what you are here for.."

Eric Fromm could not have expressed it better.

And there are some nice chromatic key shifting up to G# minor from G major. Maybe you are really retro and even have a vinyl record somewhere.......😂


Naughty dictionaries.

All I wanted to write in my homework assignment this week was "I ran around the flat shutting all the windows". But I didn't know the Japanese verb for "to run around". Now I do, after consulting my (usually rather dry)`s try saying that whilst running around your flat.......

And I thought Megumi was such a nice girl......🤣


Thank you for reading "...Snails and things"


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