Wednesday, June 27, 2012


As a treat (!) Herr B always takes his leaving children on a school trip and I get the impression that most years it's to the same place, the Kletterwald in Niederrhein about a 45 minute drive from home.

Back in January, or whenever it was first mentioned I foolishly agreed to go along too, probably thinking I could take some of the children in my car,  throw the dog in too and while they climbed through the trees Logan and I could go walkies.


Gosia decided otherwise and so I ended up climbing too (otherwise she'd have put on her sad face (Poles can do very sad faces) and made me feel guilty).

It was, in the typical German manner, organised chaos.

Seriously, it's no wonder they missed out on two world wars, a piss up in a brewery would be impossible to organise here if they were put in charge.

Thing 1, 12 children, assume each car going can take four children, and one could take six (big tank like people carrier) therefore only three parents need to go along.  No.  There was me with two children, R with three, G with one, U with two, then another mom brought four girls and left them so that a different mom could drive over and collect them...and the offer of lifts to the parents had been made.

Thing 2, the letter from the teacher said something about after the climbing we can all picnic together.  Now the way it was phrased (in German, clearly) made me pause sufficiently that I asked R whether she though it meant we were taking a picnic to share out or merely sitting together whilst eating our picnics...we decided on the latter, because otherwise you'd need to decide who was bringing what (12 pots of potato salad anyone?)  It turned out that no-one was quite sure, one parent hacked apart a water melon and opened a huge tub of strawberries for everyone, Herr B had tubs of cucumber (he looked most offended when I refused them*) sliced pepper, small sausages, I had gone with the unhealthy route (do like to enforce the foreigner stereotype whenever possible) of handing out Pringles and Dickmans**.

Thing 3, I think the idea of having several parents along too was that they would accompany small groups of the children around the course, Herr B mentioned something about one adult to three children.  Shame no-one had told the children that before they disappeared into the woods while we adults were still on the training section (it wasn't that we were slow, but rather that we'd let the children go first).

Thing 4, directions to get to the site.  The official carpark for the place is apparently a 20 minute walk through the woods, however there is a cafe and pitch and putt course right next door, with a big carpark, so we were supposed to go there.  Fine.  So it would be obvious to give us the address of the cafe then we could stick that in a satnav*** and drive straight there.  No.  The satnav address was for a street from where you then had to follow typed directions.

The climbing place itself was great fun with different difficulties of climb available.  I have done this before, last year in France, so I knew what to expect and I wasn't far wrong although the main difference was the safety angle.  You would think that the Germans would be the more safety conscious of the two nations wouldn't you?  No.  Where in France at the start of your climb you clipped your safety harness onto the safety line and only unclipped when your feet touched the ground some two hours later, in Germany the children were responsible for clipping and unclipping themselves after every obstacle, a truly terrifying prospect given the absentmindedness of some 10 year olds.  Everytime I heard a scream I tensed waiting for a thud.

Anyway, one day closer to the end of term, there can't be much left that can happen now surely?

Word of the day; klettern - to climb

* possibly my most detested salad item, although it's a close thing what with celery, radishes and beetroot to consider.
** also known as Niggerkisses (can't beat the Germans for being un PC)
*** everyone has one nowadays don't they?

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