A good year for sloes in Meerbusch

A little tip to anyone living in or around Meerbusch. It seems to be a very good year for sloes. These are a native form of wild plum, quite bitter, but when combined with gin and sugar makes a magical concoction called sloe gin.

Sloes growing in a Meerbusch hedgerow

The German term for the bush is Schwarzdorn, so called because in spring the flowers appear before the leaves, so the bushes are black prickly twigs covered with white flowers.

A walk in the Meerbusch woods

Meerbusch boasts a fantastic Stadtwald or public forest which is open to everyone to walk in. It is a mixed forest with quite a variety of deciduous (beech, oak, sycamore) and evergreen (pine) trees.

Sadly Meerbusch has been suffering, like so much of Germany, with a combination of extreme weather and airborne disease which in particular is affecting the pines. Wherever you look it seems that the evergreens are dying off.

Meerbusch forest with dead pines

Let’s hope that enough survive to provide the foundation of new growth in the future.

A four hour journey from Pempelfort to Krefeld

One of the sources I used while writing The Devil’s Missal was the journal of Steven Jan de Geuns, a Dutch academic who travelled extensively through Germany in the company of Alexander von Humboldt, passing through Meerbusch on 26th October 1789.

De Geuns waxed lyrical about Krefeld, calling it a beautiful city, clean and the closest to a Dutch city that he had seen (being a Dutchman himself, presumably this was high praise). His sightseeing tour of the city appears to have consisted of a tour of several factories. Meerbusch is mentioned only as consisting of fertile agricultural land. Which sounds about right for the period.

Meerbusch’s memorial to the victims of the holocaust

At the entrance to the cemetary in Büderich, just to the right as you go in, there is a memorial sculpture by Peter Rübsam, erected in 1988, consisting of seven basalt pillars, each with a bronze plaque in front of it. On each plaque is written one word:  Dachau, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, Riga-Kaiserswald, Treblinka, Maidanek, Auschwitz

Meerbusch-Büderich’s memorial to the victims of the Nazi regime