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.

The one problem with Schloss Pesch….

Schloss Pesch is really easy to get to by car. It is only a stone’s throw from the Geismühle service station on the A57, and right next to the Meerbusch intersection with the A44.

Who builds a highway intersection right next to a beautiful castle?

Of course being this close to a busy motorway junction is both a blessing and a curse. Great for those who wish to make a quick getaway… a source of perpetual background noise and pollution for those who live there.

Perhaps it’s time to reforest the land between the schloss and the road.

Laterne… laterne

It’s that time of the year when strange items start appearing in the German shops. Not the Lebkuchen and Stollen … they’ve been on the supermarket shelves since August, thank you very much. No, I mean these things….

Paper lanterns and lightbulbs-on-sticks

We are into the period where children parade through the streets of every town and village singing songs about St. Martin and carrying (mostly home-made) paper lanterns. It’s not as exciting as in the old days, when the paper lanterns had candles inside (what could possibly go wrong?). In my experience wind and rain were always the biggest menace. For the record, a paper lantern lasts about seven-and-a-half minutes in steady drizzle.

Two interviews with Cathy Dobson about her books

I am honoured to have been interviewed twice now by Scott Butki, the Austin-based book reviewer and journalist. I really enjoy his interviews because it is so obvious that he has really taken the time to read your work, think about it and construct a set of questions which enable you to build up a narrative about your book. Connoisseurs of book reviews – it’s well worth seeking out his other interviews too.
An interview about The Devil’s Missal
An interview about Planet Germany

When Germany had witches on its banknotes

During the first world war and the economic crisis which followed there were cash shortages. Many German towns responded by issuing Notgeld, or emergency money. In order to popularise their Notgeld banknotes, many towns deployed ornate or funny designs. These included depictions of local legends and fairy tales – such as this example below of witches flying off for a gathering on the Brocken (tallest mountain in the Harz).

An exhibition of Notgeld, “Currency in Crisis,” starts next week at the British Museum in London, and runs until 29 March 2020.