Sunday, 28 October 2007

"Z'Basel isch Mäss"

The Basler Herbstmesse (Autumn Fair) started yesterday with various fairground attractions and rides setting up stall at Münsterplatz, Barfüsserplatz, Petersplatz, Kaserne, Messeplatz and Rosentalanlage for the next two weeks. This is one of my favourite times of the year as the whole of Basle is seemingly lit up, with the smells of Heissi Marroni (cooked chestnuts) and other delicacies wafting through the air. The first week also sees the Basler Herbstwarenmesse (trade fair) and Basler Weinmesse (wine fair) take place until 4 November. Here's a first photo I took as I was passing through town early this evening.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Some YouTubes for October, now. I went to their gig in Freiburg at the Zeltmusikfestival on a balmy summer's day in July two years ago and they were great, so here are two songs by Fettes Brot: An Tagen wie diesen (a song about young men around my age as me getting all angst-ridden about the world) and Emanuela (a song basically warning you not to bother with "Emanuela"). Over a couple of years old, both of them, but they both bring back memories.

Friday, 26 October 2007

SC Freiburg - FC St. Pauli

So, on to last Sunday. The kick-off was 2pm, so after the late night in Walldorf, it was a case of "shower in a can" (i.e. deodorant), a quick comb and into the car, as we set off at around quarter to 11. We got to the park & ride on the outskirts of Freiburg just after midday and met Scott and Karl-Heinz at our rendez-vous point in the Ratsstüble in the old town some time after we'd made a detour to Freiburg Hbf where I managed to find a locker to put my rucksack in.

On we went to the ground, where we watched one of the more entertaining matches I've seen involving Freiburg. It ended only 2-0 to Freiburg, but it was a very open game with chances at both ends. The appropriately monikered Freiburg keeper, Carsten Nulle, dislocated his shoulder in the first half and had to come off. We didn't realise this at the time and thought he was just being soft. Scott, a keeper by trade himself, kept shouting at St. Pauli's keeper to use his hands instead of trying to save everything with his feet: "Bloody continental goalkeeping!" was one of his comments.

Step right up...

...and get your drinks and smacks. Two for the price of one!
[Spotted in Karlsruhe station on the way to Walldorf last Saturday]

Monday, 22 October 2007


At around the end of September I ordered six tickets for the German second division match between SC Freiburg and St Pauli match in the 2. Bundesliga for Sunday afternoon, 21 October, for myself, John, Berenice, Perry, Scott and Karl-Heinz. Any match involving the self-styled anarchists from the famous district of Hamburg is always an interesting affair, I thought. Seeing that the annual Walldorfer Kerwe was also taking place that weekend - a fest I've never been to - John and Berenice invited me to come up on the day before to check out the new abode they've purchased in downtown Walldorf, go and watch a spot of local football, have a few beverages at the fest and watch the Rugby World Cup Final later in the evening.

A propos football: FC Astoria Walldorf were playing FC Kirchheim/Teck at home that afternoon. The cost of a season ticket at Walldorf is all of 40 euro - extremely good value as this equates to just eight home matches over the whole season. Theoretically, you could get your money's worth by Christmas. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, John had bought himself such a ticket at the start of the season, so he just sauntered in through the turnstile while we plebs had to pay 6 euro to get in.

Just to put this in perspective: FC Astoria were promoted from the Verbandsliga Nordbaden last season and now play in the Oberliga Baden-Württemberg - that's technically the German fourth division, but after the second division all clubs are amateur, and the lower the level the more split up regionally leagues become, so it's hard to compare with, say, England. By way of comparison, SV Weil play one level lower in the Verbandsliga Südbaden.

Anyway, the match finished 5-1 to Astoria. John, Berenice, Perry and Paul also watched the match with me. Quite an entertaining match featuring a lovely goal from a free kick. The visitors scored first, but FCA came back strongly and ran out comfortable winners. Here's a short 20 second clip - with drums and all from the Astoria "ultras" who were stood next to us in the Haupttribüne. Incidentally, for those of you who are geographically inclined, Walldorf is situated close to the Hockenheimring and will realise that the trees in the background of the second photo are typical of the area surrounding this most famous of grand prix circuits.

After returning from the ground, we headed to the Kerwe and enjoyed an assortment of snacks and some aperitifs, including some vile drink called Schneeflöckchen during Happy Hour (or - as the Walldorfer locals would phonetically say - "Häbbi Auer"; see photo below). Paul - whose wife and kids were far away in Wiesbaden that day - stayed on with myself, John and Berenice, and also watched the rugby with us. After the final whistle, we headed back out into the chill October night (it couldn't have been more than 4C) and met up with Perry again in town for a further few beverages before calling it a day at 1 a.m.

Next day was the trip to Freiburg, but that's the subject of my next post.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Last day of my hols today, unfortunately.

Must, say, I enjoyed last night! When I accepted the offer a few weeks ago of tickets to the Switzerland-Austria friendly football match at the new Letzigrund stadium in Zurich, little did I know that the then shambles of an England rugby team would then go on to reach the last four of the World Cup. So, while England were recording a monumental victory over France in the semi-final, myself, friends Stu, Kath and Karl-Heinz were watching the footy instead. Not to worry, though, as Stu had set his video recorder to tape the rugby for us to watch when we got back to his and Kath's place. After leaving the football a few minutes early to avoid the rush, we headed straight back to theirs, trying to avoid learning of the rugby score. Frankly, in Zurich this shouldn't theoretically be that much of problem. However, French supporters had apparently been out beeping their car horns after their victory over the All Blacks last weekend, so we were still rather on edge. The fact we didn't hear anything of the sort was a good sign, though we weren't prepared to admit that until we'd seen the full 80 minutes!

Anything else to report? No, but just two photos to post from my third walk of the past week, from Weil up to Ötlingen and back. Incidentally, the second of the photos bears quirky testimony to the fact the Tüllinger Hill is not merely a "monoculture" comprising vineyards and nothing else (yes, they are leeks).

As for the weather, it was sensational all week - and, in my view, there's no better time of the year than autumn when the sun's shining.

Friday, 12 October 2007

My second walk, on Wednesday 10 October, was an interesting one. I caught the train to Efringen-Kirchen and walked up through the vineyards, passed the huge chalk quarry on the left, reached FC Huttingen's picturesque football ground up on the plateau, then turned west, went through a wood before reappearing above Isteiner Klotz, heading down through the Isteiner Kirchenberg vineyards above the village of Istein, and finishing at Istein train station.

Before the ban on taking liquids in hand baggage on planes, I often used to bring home bottles of Isteiner Kirchberg Gutedel back to Blighty to enjoy en famille. The vineyard below is where the wine originates.

With the weather remaining somewhat placid this week, with overcast, misty mornings giving way to sunny, hazy autumn afternoons, I made the most of my remaining days off and went on a number of walks.
The first one was on Tuesday 9 October, from Bad Bellingen along the vineyards to Schliengen. After over an hour's walking, I ended up at the local wine cooperative, the Erste Markgräfler Winzergenossenschaft Schliengen-Müllheim, where I purchased a bottle of Pinot Noir which I tucked into later that evening (see photo below).

Incidentally, while I was on my way I also saw (and then - due to the hazy conditions - heard) an easyjet plane (probably the same one I took 24 hours earlier) banking north, west and then south again in the final run up to Basle's EuroAirport. It's strange that the plane has to virtually overrun its approach, enter German airspace and then do a loop like that to regain its correct approach angle. I also think I sound like a bit of an anorak.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Bloomfield Road

The second set of pics from my visit to Blighty includes images from Bloomfield Road last Saturday afternoon. Dad treated me to a grandstand view of Blackpool's home match versus Plymouth in The Championship (i.e. the old second division). It our first visit back to watch the Seasiders since circa 1990 when they lost to a last-minute Luther Blissett winner against Brentford in what was one of the most mind-numbing, soul-destroying 90 minutes of long-ball football I have ever witnessed. I distinctly remember remarking back then to my Dad that it would be the last time I would go and watch the Tangerines. Times change, however. After finally gaining promotion last season to the second tier of English football, I thought the quality of the football might have improved somewhat. Perhaps not to the level of the Blackpool sides featuring Alan Ball, Jimmy Armfield, Alan Suddick that my Dad used to watch from the old "Scratching Shed", i.e. from the stand on the touchline opposite to the dugouts that had the "famous" Ismail Tea advertising on its roof - as synonymous with Bloomfield Road as the old Wonderfuel Gas logo used to be with the Stretford End at Old Trafford in the 1980s.

The same side of the ground now has a temporary stand without a roof where the away fans have their allocation, while the south stand is no more. All there is behind the goal at that end is a car park. The other two sides are, however, proper stands. Plans are afoot to extend these to at least cover the southern end. If Blackpool FC can one day fill in the gaps around the pitch, Bloomfield Road could maybe house crowds of nearly 20,000. For the record, the attendance at last Saturday's match was nearly 9,000.

Below are also some family photos.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Quality time spent at home

Yesterday I returned from a week's holiday back home with my parents in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. The week was punctuated by several leisurely walks, a trip to watch Blackpool vs. Plymouth Argyle, several nice meals and cosy evenings in, plus a late-afternoon walk to Lytham via Fairhaven, Granny's Bay and Lytham Green, a "couple of pints" of delicious ale at The Taps, then a walk back to The Fairhaven for fish and chips.

Before I post the photos, I'd better explain the first one. It was taken at around midday last Thursday and is a picture of the 6th green of the world's best mini-golf course and one of the world's best links courses per se. Being a plateau green, it was always a fiendishly difficult hole to negotiate during my childhood, and probably still would be now. For some reason, there wasn't any flag on the green when I took the photo - despite other holes being in play. However, thanks to Dad and his computer wizardry, the photo below now comes with a big fat virtual flag.

(This is the first set of photos. More to come..)