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2017 Meeting OA 14 November - Talk by German Consul General Jens-Peter Voss

November 16 2017

We were privileged to have Jens-Peter Voss, German Consul General, as our speaker on Tuesday 14th November.  The audience included local councillors and representatives from the West Lothian Twinning Association.  Mr. Voss began by telling us about the work of the Consulate in Edinburgh, which is one of only two in the UK, the other being in London.  There are also several honorary consuls in Glasgow, Lerwick, and other towns, who help to look after the interests of the 25,000 German citizens who live in Scotland and the 15,000 who live in the North of England.

A large part of the work of the Consulate is dealing with passport and visa administration, but the team also deals with promoting German interests in trade, industry, education (especially the German language), political delegations, as well as being involved in organisations like the German-speaking Reformist Church in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Festival, and the HALO Trust.

Herr Voss then spoke about the implications of Brexit for organisations such as ours.  He pointed out that many twinning organisations (including ours) began before Britain joined the EEC, and that 28% of the current twinning groups are with countries outside the EU.  He agreed that the future is uncertain, particularly with regards to funding opportunities, but he felt sure that, whatever happens, we will remain friends and partners.

The members and guests then enjoyed some seasonal German refreshments, including stollen, lebkuchen and baumkuchen.  As Mr. Voss was leaving, Councillor Pat Reid presented him with a copy of ‘Scotland’s Shrine: the Scottish National War Memorial’.

BSA Motorcycle Adventure - Report from Elaine Mitchell

November 07 2017

 Following this year's annual International BSA motorcycle rally in Ijhorst in Holland, we headed for Germany on our trusty BSA. We were accompanied with friends from Australia and California also on their BSA motorcycles.  First stop en route was a visit to our friends Jutta and Vroni in Babenhausen.  Jutta and Vroni lived with me in Falkirk in 1997 whilst they undertook a three month student placement in Development Services at Falkirk Council.  On arrival, we were treated to a wonderful traditional Hessen meal at Vroni's house as we laughed and reminisced about the great times we had enjoyed together in Scotland over 20 years ago! 

We also took in various sights of the beautiful city of Darmstadt including the Kunstlerkolonie Museum and various houses designed by the artist Olbricht, the architectural wonders of the Hundertwasser building and of course we partook of a few cool beers in a bustling bierkeller in the city square! 

On our onward journey the following day, we enjoyed a coffee stop in Michelstadt and sampled the sweet delights of the Conditorei at Café Leyhausen am Rathaus.  We spent a further couple of days in Germany, firstly visiting the NSU motorcycle museum in Neckarsulm.  There were amazing motorbikes and cars from various eras on display.  We then moved on to Sinsheim and the spectacular Auto and Technik museum where several full size airplanes sit perched on the roof of the museum, including a Concorde and a Tupelo, its Russian counterpart.  The two museums are fantastic, not only a must-see for transport enthusiasts, but also for those of us interested in popular culture over the years.  After several amazing days in Germany we headed for France on the next leg of our European BSA adventure. 

See Gallery of photos, click here


Report of Visit from Schottland Vereinigung (SLV)

October 22 2017

Franziska, Secretary for SLV has sent a link to their website which has a report in German on the recent visit by members of the  Odenwald Association.   

http://www.schottlandvereinigung.de/?Aktuelles___Besuch_aus_Schottland_im_September_2017

This was reported on this website ...click on link here

Meeting Tuesday 10 October

October 12 2017

The OA kicked off the new session with a "Kürbisfest", a  Pumpkin celebration as is enjoyed in the Odenwaldkreis.  Members were invited to bring along their carved pumpkins to be entered into a competition.   Members also contributed Pumpkin themed refreshments including Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Risotto and other savouries flavoured with the luscious pulp. 

While members mingled and tasted, they were able to enjoy a slideshow which Walter compiled from members' photographs showing most of the events over the summer and, what an eventful time it's been,  including;  participating in a canal cruise; Tryst parade in Falkirk;  a team in The Top of the Town Quiz;  a group tour of The Kelpies;  a bottle stall at Airth Highland Games; private visits to friends in the Odenwald, representatives at the Schottische Nacht in Erbach Schloss Hof and a group visit to the Odenwald in September.  A busy and enjoyable schedule.

Provost Cllr Tom Coleman attended the meeting and chose the winners of the competition who received a small prize.   It was a great night. Viele Späße!

Follow the link to the website for future Dates and details of meetings and events.

Link to the Gallery for Pumpkin entries.

2017 Open Evening Tuesday 10 October, 7.00 p.m.

October 02 2017

The first meeting of the new session will be held in the Committee Suite, Municipal Buildings, Falkirk, FK1 5RS, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, 10th October.  The theme for the evening will be a Kürbis Fest (pumpkin festival), with pumpkin-based refreshments and a pumpkin carving competition (bring along your already-carved pumpkin).  As usual, there will also be a fundraising raffle - all contributions of prizes will be gratefully received.  New members are always welcome.

Let's hope a pumpkin this size doesn't appear!   

Twinning Visit to the Odenwaldkreis

September 27 2017

Odenwald Association (OA) members have returned from another fun filled trip to our twinning area, the Odenwaldkreis, with 2 couples staying in homes of friends and 4 others staying in Michelstadt at the familiar Michelstädter Hof.  While an outline programme had been agreed with Schottland Vereinigung members, there were common experiences for the whole group and some unique experiences, visits and sightseeing, shared with friends, so this is only one of the stories.

We started with SLV friends Hanne and Susanne taking us on a  guided walk around Michelstadt when Hanne shared some of her amazing historical knowledge with amusing anecdotes and Susanne contributed facts and stories with equal enthusiasm.  Susanne managed to organise a visit inside the iconic and historic 1484 Rathaus, a wonderful backdrop for the 5 weddings there that day.

A visit to the Brudergrund followed for some but Andy and I were taken by our friend Ulrike to visit Schloss Reichenberg where a community, known as the Reichenberg Fellowship, bought the castle and converted it into an international meeting and conference centre with a palace café where the kuchen was mouth watering! The castle is being renovated but the small St Michael’s chapel with modern, softly coloured stained glass, is a gem. The views from the castle over the town below are outstanding. 

A day using trains, buses and trams took us to the city of Darmstadt and the famous artists area of the Mathildenhöhe, to see the magnificent Art Nouveau buildings such as, The Wedding Tower and the brilliant gold and brightly coloured Russian Chapel.   Through gardens, walkways, statues and the tranquil water basin, this unique area was created by a group of ‘Jugendstil’, Art Nouveau artists who lived and worked there.  While our small group enjoyed this visit accompanied by Franziska and young Killian, a visit was made to the Eisenbahn (railway) museum by three enthusiasts and Anne, all meeting up later at the busy market place in Darmstadt.

Schottland Vereinigung (SLV) organised an evening at the restaurant Daumsmühle, in a beautiful rural setting.  Here was an opportunity to meet dear friends and SLV and OA members shared an evening of superb food, musical entertainment by Scots and Germans and our group appreciated the excellent hospitality provided by our SLV hosts.

A highlight of this visit for the group was a visit to Gross-Umstadt for their Winzerfest, the annual wine festival and  parade of floats.  Community groups who participate, decide on a theme and dress in appropriate costumes. Some of these costumes and floats are extraordinary in imagination and creativity. This year, 80 groups were participating. Our members were spectators this year so were seeing it from the other side, having participated in the parade two years ago.  It was a real spectacle. With each of us having a special glass in a holder around our neck, we were able to imbibe (or not) in the offered wine being distributed freely by the parade participants. A good time was had by all. 

Trying to fit everything in, it was great to catch up with a visit with old friends at their home for kaffee und kuchen.

 On a free evening, we were invited for a meal in Gammelbach at the Grūnen Baum restaurant.  We admired the lush rural landscape on the way and sitting over a traditional meal with friends, chatting, laughing, learning more about each other, developing our language skills and deepening bonds, we realised that, for us, this is the heart of twinning and partnership. It is a commitment developed over time; it is respect for our differences; a willingness to make it work and the satisfaction that in many instances, these exchanges have developed into deep rooted friendships. What's not to like about twinning?

Part of the group flew home but with our travelling companions, travelling by car and ferry, we had another day to enjoy.  A drive to Hirschhorn, to see the magnificent views from the castle, followed by a meal at the Alte Deutsche Stube and a gentle stroll through the old town was like stepping back in time. Ancient Fachwerk (half timber buildings) are being sensitively restored to preserve the look and tradition.  A tranquil way to end our very full and thoroughly enjoyable visit to our twinning partner area.

Click    the link to view the Gallery.       2017 Twinning visit to Odenwald.

Coming Visit to the Odenwald

September 07 2017

Next week a small group of members of the Odenwald Association are travelling to the Odenwald on a twinning visit, some staying with friends and some in hotel accommodation in Michelstadt.  A programme is being finalised by our hosts but  a highlight will be a visit to Gross Umstadt for the annual Winzerfest parade which some members experienced  2 years ago. 

A social evening at Restaurant Daumsmühle in Mossautal has been arranged to meet with our friends in our sister organisation, Schottland Vereinigung.  More information will follow as arrangements are finalised. 

Association Bottle Stall, Airth Highland Games

July 31 2017

Report on Airth Highland Games

As in previous years, the Odenwald Association members ran a bottle stall at Airth Highland Games on 22 July 2017. Over weeks, donations of bottles were received and stored, waiting to be ticketed for the big day.   Manned by members and despite the rain, our Bottle Stall made £345.20, a very respectable amount and a good boost for our funds.   Thanks are due to everyone who donated bottles, collected them and ferried them for ticketing.

A great deal of work and time commitment goes into the preparation for the day and thanks go to all involved with folding the tickets for sale and ticketing all the bottles beforehand.

Special thanks to all who arrived early on the day with tables, bunting and various items and equipment for decorating the stall to produce a stall festooned in flags, providing a splash of colour on a grey day.

Thank you to all of you who came along on the day and bought tickets. For those who didn't win a bottle, there was a sweet treat to make them leave with a smile.  It was a pleasant surprise for some of our members to meet visitors to the Games from the Odenwald and to have a chat in German about our twinning. 

Once again, as well as the bottle stall, members volunteered to man the entrance gates, providing support for Airth Games Committee and maintaining the links between the Associations.   By all accounts, a good day was had by all.

Sad news

June 25 2017

It is with great sadness that Members received the news of the passing of Josef Dettlaff at 93 years of age. An active member of the Association for many years, Joe's infirmity in recent years curtailed his visits to the Odenwald but he had many friends in the Odenwald who will also mourn his passing. 

Joe was a devoted father and grandfather who loved company and being part of the close community of Airth where, in his full tartan regalia, he was proud to march in the parade at Airth Highland Games;  in 2005 accompanying Horst Schnur, previous Landrat in the Odenwald when he officiated  as Chieftan of the Games.

Joe will be remembered in many different ways by individual members who knew him,  but consistently for his sense of fun, his readiness to laugh and his quiet determination.  He was a real gentleman and we sorely mourn his passing.

Photo shows Joe,  front, with Association friends  enjoying Schottishe Nacht at Erbach Schloss.

Odenwald Booklet

June 22 2017

I am sharing this link from Odenwald Akademie who have produced a 100 page booklet on the Odenwald. Whether you just admire the photos or want to practise your German, take a look inside. 

"Our beautiful Odenwald has produced a page turner!   You can take a look online. We would like to introduce you to your friend."

https://www.yumpu.com/de/embed/view/exp4Gg30EI2Cj8vX

Visit to the Kelpies

June 14 2017

Fifteen Odenwald Association members and friends enjoyed a guided tour of the Kelpies, recommended by our February speaker, Helix volunteer Keith Jones.  Our guide, Ceira, spoke about the creation of the Helix park and how sculptor Andy Scott was inspired to design the Kelpies, before taking us inside one of the massive structures.  Once we got our breath back from seeing the huge interior, she told us about the construction of these magnificent equine sculptures which are based on both the mythological water spirit, and on the Clydesdale horses which were once a common sight along Falkirk’s canals.  Ceira told us that, as the construction work is guaranteed for one hundred years, visitors to Falkirk will be able to enjoy the Kelpies for many years to come.’

Top of the Town Quiz

May 15 2017

The Odenwald Association involvement in Tryst Festival continued on Monday evening 15 May when a Team took part in this Annual Quiz.  The representatives, Jean, Terry, Donna and Andy did themselves proud finishing joint 5th out of over 20 teams. It was a fun evening.
Thanks to Falkirk District Arts and Civil Council for its organisation. 

Members join the Parade

May 14 2017

To mark the beginning of events for the Tryst Festival in Falkirk, community groups were invited to join in the Parade from the Town Hall, Falkirk to the High Street where groups of entertainers were performing to a cheery audience who turned out, despite the rain.   

Carrying the Odenwald Association banner and sporting Erbach umbrellas, members gave out promotional leaflets to the crowd and enthused about the joys of twinning, the beauties of the Odenwald area and what great fun it is to take part in twinning activities. What are you waiting for? Join us and see for yourself. 

More photos, in the Gallery menu under  Tryst. 

Evening Sail Forth and Clyde Canal

May 11 2017

On Tuesday evening, members had beautiful weather for their evening cruise along the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Seagull Trust, a charity which provides canal trips and holidays for the disabled and their families.
In calm waters with beautiful reflections, Charlie, Walter, Greg and Andy entertained the group with songs as they gently sailed along serenading not only the members but the wildlife of swans, ducks, ducklings, moorhens and even a fox on the banking!  Many thanks to Captain Steve who told us about the history of the canals and a little bit about the Seagull Trust and the boat we were on, named, "the Woodenspoon". 

For one member, Emma, the highlight of the evening was being allowed to 'captain' and steer the boat along a stretch, for which she received a certificate as proof. "Well Done Emma." 

Everyone agreed that this was a lovely way to bring the 2016 - 2017 session to a close.

See photos of the trip in the Galleries menu under 2017 Canal Sail. 

Canal trip Seagull Trust Tuesday 9 May 2017

May 08 2017

Tomorrow night, Tuesday 9 May is a social evening in the form of a Canal trip along the Union Canal on a barge operated by The Seagull Trust.

Directions are as folows;

It is off Gartcows Road, FK1 5PT, where the road widens, and there is a small sign for the Seagull Trust.  You go up a steepish lane ;which looks like a wide path, through the tunnel under the canal, follow the lane round, go over the canal bridge and turn right into the car park.  I think we should try to get there at 6.45 so we are ready to sail at 7. 

Don’t forget to bring your own refreshments.
It is anticipated that some musical entertainment will be provided by members.

Anyone who hasn’t already paid,  please have £10 cash ready.

There are a few spare places in case anyone wants to bring a friend, but please contact Secretary Anne Simms first to reserve a place. 

Election of Office Bearers and Committee

April 15 2017

Office Bearers

Chair               Walter Simms            

Vice-Chair      Gray Allan                   

Secretary        Anne Simms                

Treasurer        Charlie Tibbles  

         

Executive Committee

Walter Simms and Gray Allan are automatically on the Executive Committee - everyone else was elected

Andy Christie             

Joe Detlaff                 

 Lynda Kenna            

Emma Gillanders       

Kathryn Grainger      

Christine Webster     

Anne Simms               

Charlie Tibbles          

Andy Christie steps down as Chair of OA

April 12 2017

At last night's AGM, Andy Christie stood down as Chair of the Odenwald Association.  Presenting Andy with a gift from the Association members, Gray Allan commented on how he’s known Andy for several years, and has always been impressed by his energy and commitment, especially since he took over as Chair from the late Peter Lamont.  He reminded the members on how hard Andy has worked, leading the Association through several milestones, including the 40th Anniversary celebrations, and that his contacts and relationships with people in the Council and other bodies have improved the standing of the Odenwald Association.  Andy replied that his time as Chair has been both a pleasure and a challenge, but that twinning is all about making friends and having fun, which he hopes to continue to do.  He wished Walter well and urged the Executive Committee to be as helpful to the new chair as they had been to him.   Andy was happy to pose for this photo with his gift of a bottle of 12 year old Balvenie whisky and a crystal 'guid size dram' glass. 

Report on Meeting Tuesday 14 March 2017

March 15 2017

Kayleigh Boardman, who is well known to many of our members as a dancer with the Jenkins School of Highland Dancing, came along to give a talk on her month-long volunteer placement with the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust in Malawi.  Malawi is a very friendly place to visit, in fact it is known as ’the warm heart of Africa' , but it is an extremely poor country, which leads to many instances of wildlife crime such as poaching and selling baby animals as pets.  The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is an animal welfare and conservation charity which also carries out research, and an education programme aimed at preventing crime in the future.  Kayleigh is a qualified Veterinary Nurse but she also found her Highland Dancing skills in demand, teaching steps to some of the other volunteers and being filmed as part of an advertisement video.  The Trust relies heavily on volunteers and Kayleigh is now one of seven ‘companions’ who give talks to other potential helpers.  Her enthusiasm must bring in quite a few new volunteers.  Her own experience was a mix of hard work in sweltering heat, sometimes primitive living conditions, interspersed with once-in-a-lifetime moments as she worked at the centre and travelled round Malawi on her days off with the other volunteers who have become good friends.  

If anyone wishes to find out more about the the Trust, they can access their website :-

http://www.lilongwewildlife.org

Chairman Andy Christie gave a vote of thanks to Kayleigh for  the interesting and well illustrated talk. which was enhanced by personal anecdotes. 

Report on Meeting Tuesday 14 February 2017

February 18 2017

We were delighted to welcome Keith Jones, a presentation volunteer with the Helix park who gave an interesting and informative illustrated talk about the regeneration of this area of Falkirk.  Keith gave some history of the area in recent decades which led to the planning of the Helix Project.   This involved consultation with local community groups and organisations and a range of agencies.

The Helix has been even more successful than its creators could have hoped for, winning awards including Environmental, Tourism and Structural, attracting visitors from the local area and from all corners of the globe.  It is a place for everyone to enjoy with play areas for the children, walks, wildlife, the iconic Kelpies, volunteering opportunities, and prestigious events.   Because of the habitat, a group is working in the park to establish beekeeping.

The world reknowned Kelpies are also attracting visitors from cruise ships docking in Leith and Rosyth and the informative guided tours which allow people to go inside these magnificent structures are extremely popular.   These iconic images are even being used by Italian car manufacturer Ferrari in  promotional material!   An attractive glass fronted Visitor Centre, Cafe and Gift Shop is proving to be a very popular addition with a magnificent view of the Kelpies and canal basin.

Keith ended by answering questions raised by members before the vote of thanks given by Gray Allan. 

For more information on The Helix, see website - http://www.thehelix.co.uk 

Meeting Tuesday 14 February

February 13 2017

Just a quick reminder about this Tuesday’s meeting of The Odenwald Association (14 February 2017).  The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Room A, the Committee Suite, Municipal Buildings, Falkirk, and the speaker will be Keith Jones, a volunteer at the Helix, who will bring us up to date with the latest developments there.

You are welcome to join us. 

2017 Annual Association Dinner

January 13 2017

Annual dinner

Instead of a formal meeting of the Association, members met at the Cladhan Hotel and enjoyed a relaxed social evening for the Annual Dinner.

2016 Festive Visit to Odenwald

January 10 2017

Martina and her partner, Thomas, invited Walter and me to stay with them in Gross-Zimmern for the last weekend in November, when the Christmas markets spring up in every town in Germany.

Unfortunately, the Lufthansa pilots chose that week to go on strike so we had to fly out with British Airways via London Heathrow. Martina collected us from  Frankfurt Airport, then we had time for a quick cup of tea before going to the Hotel Dornrös’chen in Annelsbach. Martina had been invited to join some Odenwald chefs for a Swiss Cheese Fondue Night, and had managed to get us invited too. This turned out to be a wonderful evening with lovely food and great company. The dessert of ice cream with Toblerone sauce, and the Apfelwein brewed on the premises will live in my memory for a long time.

 The next morning we went along to the Vinum Autmundis winery in Gross-Umstadt which had a fantastic selection of Christmas gifts as well as the tempting array of wines. We were wishing we’d taken a bigger suitcase! Lothar Eckmayer joined us in the afternoon for a trip to Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of items detailing the history of printing around the world, including of course several of the original Gutenberg Bibles. After that, we wandered around the Christmas market and sampled some of the Glühwein.

 On the Sunday, Werner Geidel collected us from Martina’s and took us to the Heimatmuseum in Bad König which only opens on a Sunday morning. The museum contains objects relating to the many industries that Bad König once supported including pottery, pipe making, cigar making, weaving (one of the looms belonged to Werner’s grandfather), and bee-keeping. There was also an exhibition of mousetraps from all over the world collected by a former volunteer, and information about famous sons of the area, the polar explorer Carl Weybrecht and the painter, Georg Vetter. Gertrude had prepared a lunch of soup and Apfelkuche, after which we visited the Christmas market in Michelstadt, sampled more Glühwein, and managed to have a quick drink in the Rathaus Brauhaus. 

We finished off the day with a meal in the Berghof, a family-run farmhouse restaurant near Bad König that only opens at the weekend. We were joined by Martina and Thomas, Hanne Stuckert, the Fritsches, Lothar, Barbara and Ulrike for another evening of good food and lively conversation. 

Our return flights were on Tuesday so on Monday morning Martina printed off our boarding passes then drove us to the Baumann Lebkuchenbäckerei in Beerfurth, the oldest one (1785) in the Odenwald, where visitors can see the lebkuchen being made then purchase some in the shop. We were then going to go to Amorbach but received a text telling us that our flight was cancelled due to the strike and the only option was the afternoon flight that day, so it was a quick dash back to Martina’s to have lunch and pack. It was rather an abrupt end to our stay but the memories of meeting up with friends, enjoying lovely meals, and visiting a wealth of interesting places during this magical season will live longer than the minor inconveniences of travel.

For more photos click on link here     2016 Festive Visit to Odenwald

Article Anne Simms.