Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe & beyond...join me!

Monday, April 7, 2014

laying tracks in a barn

The date above the door says 1793, but house is probably much older. As we entered the courtyard through a large metal gate, we saw a small shed-like building with large windows and a small door…as if a builder’s afterthought.

But no afterthought, it’s a recording studio/barn. Okay, it was a barn. A small barn, fit for a donkey or two. In the front room are the mixers, a PC and a foosball table. Through a door, which is actually a heavy curtain, we arrive into the recording room. Complete with a trough built into the heavy brick wall on one side, and a free-standing wood stove on the other, to call the studio intimate would be a cliché.

A lone microphone takes centre stage on the carpeted floor. A row of four vintage movie theatre seats takes its place along the back wall. Heavy spotlights beam down on us from above. The space has a romantic, ticket-for-two feeling.

We spent the day here ‘working’; ms. potter and I, along with another Canadian (let’s call her ‘blondie’ cause she’ll love that) and a nor’west of Londoner, called lizzy.

Our mission was to lay down 33 conversations in English, which will later correspond to the word-for-word written translations in German. This old method is a proven effective technique for learning and keeping a language in one’s porous brain.

This Friday experience was filled with many ‘do-overs’, lots of coffee, and many questions (on my part) about the history of this property. Herr Schütz, obviously a fan of his home, gave us a tour, including his chock-a-block filled garage. Framed photographs lined the walls, garden furniture and other normal paraphernalia jammed every surface. And nestled in the middle, like a grinning Cheshire cat was just enough space for Herr Schütz’s first car, a cheery-red ’64 Opel Rekord. The crowning glory teetering above his prized possession was a wrought iron candelabrum; adding a bit of chic to his shabby.

According to the town’s website, its lifeblood is horses, wine and rock. Personally, I think those sound like perfectly acceptable ingredients for a home-sweet-home. I once lived in small town Saskatchewan whose lifeblood was more like, cows, tomatoes and cows. Also nice. But, here in Neu Bamberg, vineyards surround stud farms, and the stone ruins still stand from the 1253 built Neuer Bamburg, seat of one of Germany’s noble families, the Raugraves.

The Schütz house was once part of the gatehouse of one of the city fortress’s three gates. Standing next to the town’s impressive clock tower, the house is easy to find. The family bought the house in 1996, knowing it was a significant piece of the town’s history and already a protected landmark. Over the years, they came to realize that many of the town’s families had personal stories who also called the house their home. Originally, four families lived on the property at a time, in very close quarters.

So, acting in concert with the town’s restaurants, mills, farmhouses and five wineries, the family felt strongly that their property should be open to the town. The owner wrote to me saying, “For too long the courtyards, farmyards and gardens, with their high stone walls, were closed off. Though the walls were once necessary, protecting residents from the various troops coming through, as in the thirty-year war;” they separated the townsfolk from each other and from visitors.

Neu Bamberg is a short 85 kilometres south-west of Frankfurt, nestled in rolling hills between the Rhine and Nahe rivers. With an abundance of walking and bike paths, through forests and along lakes, this is a casual adventurer’s dream. Called Germany’s Toscana or Rhine-Hessian Switzerland, the region is just eager to burst its German borders and ‘be’ something bigger.

As we departed, Herr Schütz invited us back next year when his family will open a small café in the courtyard for the wanderers and hikers who pass through. We said we might just do that. It was enjoyable meeting a kindred spirit; the only downside of the day was constantly hearing our own voices during the playbacks.

Spending time and trading laughter (the tears only coming when ms. potter gets the bill from this adventure) with my dear colleagues, blondie and lizzy was also a treat from the everyday.

The only thing missing was the donkey.

(er war am schaffe)

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