Easter In Germany

Last Easter eleven boys from the 5th form went on a school trip to the Black Forest, under the leadership of Mr. Trevelyan, the German master. Dispensing with the formal and usual introduction to such reminiscences as 'we all assembled at Harrow on the Hill at approximately 15.13 hours and proceeded by Metropolitan Line to .... etc.," our trip really began at Konigsfeld in the Schwarzwald, where tired but full of high hopes, we arrived on 10th April. We were warmly welcomed by Herr Becker, the Hostel Warden and given a meal. After that the thought uppermost in most minds was sleep, so after a visit to the local Church, we all fell into our respective bunks.

The next morning everyone was up at eight o'clock and soon learned what it was like to begin the day with a wash in c o l d water, but this was something we soon got used to. Warm showers were available for a fee, but no one dreamed of using these (or was it paying the fee?) first thing in the morning. Mr. Trevelyan, who was well known in the town from his student days introduced us to several of the local people, including the resident schoolteacher and the doctor, which proved to be very useful. When the schoolteacher, Herr Schappinger, learned that we had to pay for showers, he made those at the school available to us when we returned sometimes, hot and sticky, from long hikes. On several nights he also invited us to join him at home and in no time at all we were all chatting together in German helped along with bottles of Moselle and Rhine wine.

The doctor had a son in our own age group and he organised a table tennis tournament between some of his friends and ourselves, in the school's well equipped Youth hut. We managed to win the tournament, but only just. A game of football was also organised with the local team, on an extremely slippery, sticky and muddy pitch. The game was played in excellent good spirits and we lost hopelessly.

Wayside Shrine In The Black Forest
A scene often met with in the Black Forest, and unknown in England, is the wayside shrine seen outside most villages and small towns. They were for the most part, very simply made, but reflect the religious mood of the people of that area. Off the beaten tourist track, we had the pleasure of seeing some fine old buildings and churches. One amusing sight we had the pleasure of seeing was at Donaueshingen. There was a huge man made pool which had the title of "Source of the Danube". As tourists passed it they were invited to take photographs and then to toss some coins in the pool for luck. As soon as they had passed out of sight two small boys appeared and with soup spoons fixed to long poles began, very expertly, to fish out the silver coins from the pool, taking care to leave the copper coins as an attraction to other gullible tourists. At the rate that they were collecting, they will soon be able to retire quite comfortably.

On Easter Sunday we had a special treat awaiting us at table - a red painted hard boiled egg. Two of the boys were luckier - they had made friends with two of the trainee cooks beforehand and received a small basketful of small chocolate eggs. Pleasant surprises were the order of the day here. In the evenings we used to sit around the common room singing folk songs, helped by one of the trainee cooks who could sing and play the guitar equally well. A professional choir of young people had been spending a week at the, hostel between tours, and on Easter Sunday evening we built a huge bonfire. On a clear dark night under the stars it was quite a moving experience to stand around and listen to the magnificent singing which they provided, and it was with the deepest regret that we had eventually to say “Auf wiedersehen". The time flew by all too quickly and we had to leave Konigsfeld, where we had made so many friends, with the thought that our ways might not cross again. Herr Becker and his staff seemed genuinely sorry to see us go and the warmth of their send off eased the pain of the parting.

The following afternoon found us outside a closed Youth Hostel on the shores of the Titisee and we had to go to a private Hostel nearby which we afterwards regretted very much. The dormitory was built over a barn and sleep was virtually impossible, with the lowing of cows and the stench of pigs. We ate a miserable meal of raw bacon washed down with shandy and for this we had to pay something like £5!!!

The financial moral is self evident - don't go to the private hostels. The next afternoon we were in Basle, just inside the Swiss border and in the hours we had to spare before the train was due to leave, we swung from one end of the musical pendulum to the other. First we visited a beat cellar, later an Opera House and here we met another friend of Mr. Trevelyan, who invited us all to a fruit juice and cake party in her flat after the opera. We had to rush to catch the train.... Three weeks had passed and with rucksacks on our backs and happy memories in our heads we arrived home to regale our families with stories of our hike through the Black Forest and to prove that our German had improved.

H. C. Willis, 5.

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