3rd September 2016. Neukloster, Germany.

We cycled into town on Saturday to buy some food and on the way back we saw a handwritten sign saying Hofcafé.  We followed it, unsure as to whether it was actually open this late in the afternoon when our cafes at home would have been closed.  The next sign had an arrow pointing down a steep cobbled driveway so we wheeled the bikes (full of shopping) into the little cobbled courtyard where two ladies were sitting at a table enjoying a glass of wine.

As we dithered over where to put the bikes a lady suddenly appeared at the top of the steps that lead up to what looked like the back of a house.  To our consternation she started saying something in German and gesticulating.  We tried to work out what she was telling us and eventually admitted to not understanding.  She was very apologetic and spoke to us in broken English.  She’d been trying to suggest that we might like to lean the bikes up against the wall so they didn’t topple over.

We ordered cake and coffee.  Unfortunately for her during the brief time she was inside cutting up the cake we read the menu properly and noticed toasted sandwiches which sounded so nice we felt obliged to order two of those as well.   Which is just what we did when she arrived at the table with a tasty chocolate and almond cake and a superb cream sponge cake with mandarins in it.

The cakes were great and so were the toasted sandwiches, when we’d finished we had a look round her gallery, Galerie Neukloster.  She had some lovely photographs printed on canvas hanging in her beautiful old barn and some other canvases hanging in her shop.  Along one wall there was a long glass display cabinet full of wooden carved figures and Christmas decorations. I told her my parents had given us little wooden Christmas decorations similar to those when they lived in Munich and she told us they are traditionally carved in Erzgebirge.  She showed us a carved figure that was in the window, he was holding a large cone.

She tried to explain about the cone, she said they celebrate a child’s first ever day at school, the celebrations take place over the weekend before the start of the Autumn term, we’d wondered why we heard so many fireworks going off this weekend.  Apparently the family and friends of the young child go in to school with them on the first day and there is a celebration when the children are enrolled.  Each child is then given a large cardboard cone which is filled with sweets, toys and school equipment such as a ruler and eraser.   It was so nice of her to tell us about this, particularly as she had to spend time trying to find the English translation.

While we were looking round her gallery I mentioned that I make abstract art from photographs too and when we left later she gave us a postcard of her work as a gift, it was such a lovely thing to do.



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