Dachau

On my way back from the Tyrol, I stayed in Munich en route to the airport, and visited the Dachau concentration camp museum- it was the first Nazi concentration camp and served as a template for many of the others. I think it’s important to visit these places, so it’s not just an abstraction in a history book, and to remind yourself that these things can happen again in “normal” places like the suburbs of a large modern European city. I think it’s especially important in the current political climate too, with the rise of the far right, and populist politicians creating scapegoats out of groups such as immigrants.

The museum is free (and compulsory for all schoolchildren in the area to visit), but you can also pay to support it by going on a tour, which I did. These photos are mostly quick snaps which I took in the gaps of the tour.

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Schwartzsee

A short train ride or couple of miles walk outside Kitzbühel is the Schwartzsee (“black lake”). It’s full of minerals washed down from the mountains that give it the glassy black effect. Normally in the summer you can swim there, but there had been heavy rain for the past few days, and so the water was too cold and I settled for a walk around the shore instead.

The lake was also surrounded by alpine meadows. I learnt the German word for meadowsweet that day (the yellow flower in the foreground)- turns out to be the straightforward Mädesüss. The Mäde part is to do with it being used to flavour mead. (Or Honigwein as they also like to straightforwardly call it in German). Since I spend a lot of time in rural Austria and Germany, I’ve been trying to build up my vocab of wild plant names in German.

Under attack!

Even train stations in the Tyrol are picturesque.

Kitzbühel

So here’s a couple of assorted photos of Kitzbühel town. It’s a ski resort in the Austrian Tyrol, about equidistant between Salzburg, Innsbruck and Munich. It’s a very exclusive and expensive ski resort, with a Cartier shop on the high street, but I was there in the summer to run a school workshop, and the children I taught were from very normal backgrounds, being the children of local teachers, nurses, hotel staff etc, rather than the international jetset. I won’t write a lot about the town and the trip here, as I’m writing a zine about it. Most of the houses (and the hotel I stayed in) in the area were pretty chalet-style, with balconies covered in flowers, like this one.

Even the local graveyard has spectacular views. That’s one of the foothills of the mountain from which I took the photos in the previous entry.

Beige Palace & Dead Kaczynski

Here’s another gig poster I did (this time for a gig that’s already passed, because I’ve been so slack about updating this blog). Two mates’ bands- Beige Palace from Leeds and Dead Kaczynski from Medway. There was a huge storm in the middle of the heatwave that evening, and it took Beige Palace seven hours to do the three-four hour drive from Yorkshire, and the audience was smaller than you would have hoped due to the weather, but both bands played great sets (and are keen to come back to Margate). Enjoy the EPs below.

Hahnenkamm

Long time no see- I haven’t updated this blog in a while, due to a family death and dealing with selling the house, legal matters and other life stress. In the meantime I’ve been to Austria and Germany and organised a few gigs and a small festival. More on that later.

In July I went to Kitzbühel in Austria for work. I was there to run a workshop in the local middle school, and the mayor gave me and my three co-workers tickets for the local ski lift. The weather was pretty bad the week I was there, but was fine enough one day to go to the top of the Hahnenkamm, one of the local peaks. Kitzbühel is 700m above sea level, the ski lift takes you to 1200m and then there’s a fairly easy walk up to the 2000m height of the Ehrenbachhöhe.

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Büren-Harth

Here’s some more photos from Germany. From Harth in Nordrhein-Westfalen to be more precise. It’s a small village in the Sauerland, a scenic forest region about a hundred miles east of Cologne, popular for hiking and cycling. I was there for a week to teach a holiday course in a school in the local small town of Büren. It was a pretty good week- nice weather, good kids, and cheap food and drink in the inn we were staying in. The only real fly in the ointment was when one of the parents tried to put me down on the insurance when his child broke her phone. Casual insurance fraud (and insurance policies/claims for everything) is a national sport in Germany though.

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2017 in photos

In 2017 I went to ten different countries, and was rarely in one place for longer than a week between January and September, which is both exciting and unsettling. Here’s where I went and what I did, using my Instagram photos (because I don’t have camera photos of everything, and even when I do, I haven’t edited all of them). Obviously loads and loads of images under the cut. If you’re wondering how I went to so many countries, I work for an agency that sends me to teach school workshops abroad, my mum lives in France, and I won the plane tickets to Japan.

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Düsseldorf

I spent most of August in Germany, teaching some school workshops and going to Documenta art fair along the way. My first assignment was in rural Nordrhein-Westfalen. The agency has a tendency to book you on flights at brutal times early on a Sunday, so instead I booked my own flight to Cologne on a Friday evening, and claimed it back off them. I have been to Cologne loads of times, and my colleagues were flying into Düsseldorf, which I had never visited. So I decided to stay in Düsseldorf, do a bit of sightseeing, and then meet up with the others before heading to the Sauerland. (A delayed flight and the questionable joy of rural DB trains on Sundays meant that that turned out to be a bit more complicated than planned, but everyone got there in the end).

I can’t say I knew much about Düsseldorf. It’s in the Rheinland, the most densely populated part of Germany, it’s a rich place with a big financial industry, Kraftwerk come from there, they say isch rather than ich (check out Kraftwerk’s Neonlischt), and they have an intense rivalry with their better-looking and more famous neighbour Cologne (to the extent of selling postcards everywhere saying “Düsseldorf statt Köln”- Düsseldorf instead of Cologne. Nice try Düsseldorf).

The centre of Düsseldorf is very posh- the Königsallee is full of expensive designer shops, and there are lots of expensive restaurants and gleaming modern corporate headquarters. It wasn’t really my thing. There are a surprising number of Japanese restaurants too- which I did avail myself of. There was cool looking modern art museum, but I got there too late for it to be worth paying to get in. The rest of the city isn’t quite so gleaming though, just kind of bog-standard Germany, and I stayed in quite a nice hotel for €30. There were a weirdly high number of stag and hen-dos/exam celebration groups in town too. There was an annoying group of Bavarian boys in lederhosen at my hotel. The sarcastic manager pointed them out to me and said “look, there’s some Bavarians in their famous sexy lederhosen. As a free gift from the hotel, you can pick one. None of their mothers will mind”. I declined.

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Croatia Playlist

So here’s my playlist from Croatia- it goes with the zine I wrote about the trip. I just seemed to want to listen to nothing but David Lynch type music and the Deftones the whole time I was there. Also features an honorable mention for Iron Maiden, this time not playing simultaneously with Bieber.