Putz putz wieder putz…munter

You know sometimes you see old mattresses and sodden sofas and bed springs and broken drawers from an old chest of drawers and a skanky old toilet seat just piled up on the edge of the Wald? And it’s not even AWB Spermüll collection day? That is the Putz Munterers at work.

On those two days a year when all the dedicated preservers of wholesome living get out and collect litter in the Bock. They meet up at 10am on a Saturday morning in Springtime and forage through the forests for rubbish anyone has dumped, pile it together ready for the AWB to get rid of.

And thank the Universe they do!

The schools start on the Friday. Lots of little first and second years, out with bin-bags, learning to respect the environment. In small groups picking up syringes and disused mobile phones from the outskirts of the playground: NEIN! LASS DAS! DA IST NOCH BIER IN DER FLASCHE! You hear one scream across the lush green Wiese. How do you know that little Jona? Oh, because Daddy drinks Bier and that is EXACTLY what he says when your Mum is taking the empties back to TrinkGut…

I see two of the Putz Munter team as I cycle back from the post office on a Saturday morning, ready for my shift down at the Kindergarten Trödelmarkt. Two ladies busily filling Müllsäcke with extendable litter grabbers.

How is it going? Many people helping out this year? Apparently not. No one can be bothered.

I ponder this statement for a moment. Why am I not out surrendering my Saturday morning for the good of the nation -er village? I should be. I reassure my conscience with that perfect excuse: Yes, you are helping at the boot sale for the Kindergarten and have a party to organise and work to do. And I often get fed-up with tidying up after other people…

Moment mal, it’s not like the Putz Munter volunteers don’t have other ways to spend their weekend either…I mean, they have families and friends and shopping to do and still find three hours to de-litter the forest.

Sorry. I can’t help this time, I offer weakly. But am hugely grateful for your Einsatz and dedication. Is there vielleicht another day in the year?

No. Why should we plan another day in the year to tidy up other people’s Müll? The best thing would be if people just used the Mülleimer and stopped dumping their rubbish in the forest. And there it is. Laid bare by the sack-wielding lady in the red coat.

She makes a very valid Punkt.

for more details on the Putz Munter events in the Bock: http://www.awbkoeln.de/private-haushalte/koelle-putzmunter/aktion/titel/bocklemuend-

and: http://buergerverein-bocklemuend.de/termine/



Fairytales can come true if you believe…

Strangers at the door. Unannounced. Unexpected. I get the feeling it happens noch häufiger hier in Bocklehoma than anywhere else (other than perhaps in the Coggeshall Triangle where curious goings on are said to happen and if you have ever been to a boot sale in and around Coggeshall, I know, you know, what I’m talking about).

The bell rings. It’s one of those loud ones which sings its shrill song through the Haus on every floor and brings you out in a rash after 19hoo because you’re in the middle of the kids’ bedtime routine.

Who could it be? Surely the Postbote with a parcel for the Müllers? Maybe that eBay parcel is early? A lost old lady looking for Kutschgasse and urgently needing the toilet at a rather inconvenient 7.45 in the A.M. (it happened)? Zeugen Jehova’s leaving a Kopie of the Wachtturm on Das Wort Gottes? How about that lady that comes around in Frühling und Herbst collecting for the poor hungrige animals that are in the Zirkus up on Ollenhauerring? Or the man offering a hand-written Zettel requesting money for a sick child?

No. Not today. None of the above.

Today there is a nice lady beside an unmarked white van selling Obst and vegetables from a nearby Bauernhof. She smiles sweetly and wears a bandana pulling her soft curls back from her ruddy-sun weathered cheeks. Her eyes are friendly and in her hand she holds a frischen Apfel. And a knife.

Would I like to try some? I briefly wonder if it’s organic. Then politely decline.

Perhaps I should be making a few enquiries of my own, for example…  So you’ve tried it first then, from the green side? The not-poisoned half? And now I can try a piece from the red half? Just out of interest…

Niemals could I lay claim to being the fairest im Lande and I don’t have an entire seven dwarves to tidy up after, nor do I have blue birds that help me hang out the Wäsche…

No apples thanks. (Smile) Thanks, anyway. (Smile – not a smiley, just a sweet smile).

Here’s a coincidental Wiki Link to Coggeshall in case you are interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coggeshall

What happens when you get out a bit more?

Just cycling back from Longerich and miss my turning down Buschweg, through the forest. I pass a small conspicuous, red and white barrier and come face to face with a large wired fence on the cycle path with a perfectly functional cycle path behind it. Curious and it would seem, pointless.  I signal to the Baggerfahrer who is busy shifting felled tree stumps with a huge bucket scooper claw thing into the bareness of the culled forest.

Can I cycle through? No. He points to the road behind me. The Militärring affectionately called the Mili in these parts.

What? He must be joking. Cars are tearing down at 70kmh. Not to be messed with. What to do?

I could turn round and see if there is another way (to Grandma’s house). Perhaps through the forest. But I am a little disoriented …

I can see the tram stop from here. It is a mere 300m. I wait. And as luck would have it (combined with savvy German road planning, having featured several sets of safety-forward – if otherwise irritating and speed-inhibiting – traffic lights on the Mili) the road is clear in both directions. Not a car in sight. I mount my wheels and peddle as fast as my legs and semi-flats allow and make it the safety of the pedestrian crossing.

Nerves a little frayed. Hair a little frazzled. I make it. And I’m still alive. Yeah.

I pass the bus stop where the 127 pulls in from Ebertplatz.  In front of me is a cyclist’s nightmare (neither a dawdling pigeon nor a pile of dog poopidoop on this occasion). The floor is carpeted in miniature cubes of mint coloured safety glass, like Elsa had a major row with Anna after a few sneaky teenage-the-pressure-of-ruling-the-kingdom-is-getting-to-me Grogs and instead of firing Nordic ice from her delicate regal fingers…Glass.

A man from the KVB is evaluating the damage.

What’s going on? Und vor allem Why? How is he supposed to know? Also a gute question.

So he’s calling in the City’s Reinigungsdienst to clean the area before he takes next steps. Stick to protocol. Efficiently German. And swiftly managed.

I cycled on the Mili. Not sure that is entirely legal. All this glass. What would CSI say to the criminal mastermind behind the vandalism of public property? Despite our inherent connection on this otherwise normal day I still find myself asking: What is the point of smashing in a bus stop?

Ideas anyone?

Feuer und Flamme

So here we are walking home and enjoying a Kugel of Zitoneneis in a Waffel not a Becher from Eis Café Campo. The sun is shining and it is truly an inspiring spring afternoon. Dog walkers scolding dogs for doing what dogs do in springtime (not messing on the pavement – that’s apparently ok in these parts). The odd couple of youths hanging out, dribbling around shards of broken glass on the basketball court in the kleinen Wald on the way into the Zentrum. Children’s laughter like birdsong in the air. We’re wearing t-shirts for goodness sake, what could be better than that? Like I say, an inspiring afternoon.

Inspiring it would seem for…arson!

I know.

Low and behold there is smoke billowing on the breeze and not a single sausage in sight. Not even the faintest whiff of a Würstchen detectable. No plastic in there either, well nothing apparently toxic (if you’ve ever inadvertently melted plastic spoons in a saucepan because the sterilisation unit was kaput then you’ll now the toxic stench I’m referring to). It’s blowing down across the village over to the garden centre. As if that wasn’t drama enough there are flames wilding away in the forest and a group of surprisingly amiable folk observing from a safe distance on the path. What’s going on? Has anyone reported the incident?

Yes! Someone called 112.

The fire brigade is on its way. We have long since finished ice cream and waiting with baited breath for the shrill of sirens screaming from the Mili across the Dorf.

And there it is. A green and white police van pulls up in the village. And a young man sprints from the scene to greet the two uniformed officers and leads them to the action. One of them radios (but not for back-up – this is not Tatort) and they gently trot past the barrier and control the amassing crowd of what must be, let’s say around 12 people, back over the dog poop onto the lush green Wiese.


More Sirens.

Out comes Frau Müller and inspects the drama from her porch.

Then silence as majestic and luminous, shiny red, water-extinguishing beasts glide – one, two, three, four and a fifth! direkt an the children’s noses vorbei. Mara is with us today. A spontaneous playdate like no other. Drawing pictures and playing in the garden? Not today. Is her Mum going to be thrilled at the prospect of her hanging round the local streets watching the drama instead of painting her nails? Not likely. Because you don’t get drama of this calibre in Pesch. Keine Nagellackieren today Mara. Today there is a forest fire that must be dealt with at the end of our street and the Feuerwehr im Einsatz. Action a go-go.

The long neon hose is drawn out and connected to a Wasserhydrant. Feuerwehrmann Sam extending the hose along the road at super-speed. We watch it inflate like a feeding python and then as water gushes through the tops of the trees and rains down on that ring of fire stretching over metres through the forest.  No drug rings and helicopters this time – dafür a ring of fire and five engines from the brigade!

Phew. Excitement over for one day. And I wonder whether these guys happen to do kids’ birthday parties…