Sunday 17 March 2013
The forecast for today was grey skies and showers.
The plan was to walk Poppy and then head off to church in Kempen.
She had a half hour walk and then I gave her breakfast and got ready to go to church (by trike).
The church is the Thomaskirche which is an Evangelical (i.e. Protestant) church. It feels most like a congregational or presbyterian church in the UK (i.e. not Anglican or happy-clappy evangelical).
The service was fairly standard (I have been to lots of church services in Germany before and this felt pretty familiar). I had my hearing aid in and their loop system worked really well, which was good.
Now I know that cultures are different and that people prefer different styles of worship, etc, but one thing that always surprises me in German churches is that no-one talks to you. As you arrive, a stranger, you might get your hand shaken but generally that is it. If you sit next to someone in a pew they are unlikely to acknowledge you more than possibly a nod of the head – they won’t talk to you. As you leave afterwards no-one will ask you who you are, if you’re visiting, what you thought of the service, if you’d like a coffee etc.
Kempen and Sankt Hubert have seemed really friendly places so far, so I did wonder if things would be different at the Thomaskirche. But, true to form, I made my way in (wandering slightly aimlessly as I didn’t know where things are) and no-one spoke to me or indicated where I should go. I noticed a woman who had arrived before me took a hymnbook out of a bookshelf on the wall so I did so; what I failed to notice was a pile of cushions at the back to make the hard pew more comfortable.
Unexpectedly the woman I sat beside did talk to me – she asked wasn’t I cold as I’d taken my coat off and everyone else still had their coats on. I said I was warm from the cycling but I did get quite chilly as the service progressed – they don’t waste money on heating! I had waited at the traffic lights at Kempen on my bike with her on my way to the church, and a man had commented over my head to her that I had a “tolles Fahrrad”, so perhaps an initial meeting outside the church meant that we were allowed to exchange words!
I am still surprised that Germans sit to sing in church and stand to pray (feels the wrong way round). The music was fairly good although the singing wasn’t very rousing. The organist clearly knows her stuff but it felt a little like everyone was there just to appear rather than really engaging with it (I was singing the loudest around me).
There was a selection of ages which was nice to see, less of a grey-haired theme like you tend to get in the UK, although half an hour after this service finished there was a children’s service – I saw a couple of young people walking into the church as I left with guitars – so it might be a bit more exciting and might have a lot more young people.
The Pfarrer shook my hand as I left but that was it. A bit disappointing, although I should be used to this by now. I didn’t get a particularly welcoming feel from this church which was in contrast to the welcome I got from the choir in the church in Sankt Hubert.
As it is Sunday most shops are shut in Germany. Obviously it was vitally important I found a bakery to get my rolls for lunch and also my cake for the afternoon. Just through the Kuhtor I found a bakery that was not only open but was doing a roaring trade in breakfasts.
It was 11am, I had cycled 3.6 miles and the weather was much better than the forecast (no rain), so I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss to go exploring on three wheels again. My cake was reasonably wrapped up so I hoped it would survive a longer journey, and I set off through the centre of Kempen following my nose to see what inspiration hit.
I then caught sight of a bicycle route sign to Tönisvorst-St Tönis and decided to head that way (I hadn’t visited it before), so off I went, very quickly out of the outskirts of Kempen.
I decided to head back now via Sankt Hubert and asked my Garmin to plot me a route. The strong southerly wind which had been working against me most of the way was now at my back and I flew along.
When I got near Sankt Hubert I decided to detour a bit (to increase my mileage for the day) and went towards Tönisberg. Once I had caught site of the windmill on the top of the hill I headed west back to Escheln through the woodland.
I did a few extra miles right at the end to give me a bit more distance.
Statistics for today’s cycle ride:
Distance – 19.86 miles
Moving time – 2 hours
Average speed – 9.91mph
Maximum speed – 21.93
Average heart rate – 114 (Heart Rate Monitor did not always record today)
Maximum heart rate – 150
Calories (estimate due to HRM not always working) – 900
Climb – 148
When I returned to the Ferienwohnung Frank, the landlord, was just coming out the front door. “Gott ist im Frankreich!” he exclaimed, which is apparently a comment on good weather (or is it a pun on his name?) Who would have thought!! He was right, though, the sun was completely unexpected!
After giving Poppy another nice half hour walk (during which she got to chase a cat which is always a bonus, as well as meet several other dogs), I settled down with my Cake Of The Day.
The concert I planned to attend was in the Thomaskirche again at 5pm. I set off at 4:30pm, originally planning to do a slightly scenic route there but I had forgotten that my cycling speed in Germany is much reduced (I’m lucky to get a 10mph average whereas I ride at 12mph average in the UK). So I realised I ought to take the direct route in order to give myself time to find a decent seat.
I got there ten minutes before the start and the central seats were all filled. More unfortunately, all the cushions had been taken! I managed to squeeze into a gap in the middle but had to do without a cushion.
And this is what was performed:
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
aus der Missa quatuor vocum (Madrid-Messe): Kyrie – Gloria
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen, Choralpartita BWV 770
Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630)
Zwei Motetten zu Psalm 90 aus dem Israelsbrünnlein:
Unser Leben währet siebnig Jahr
Lehre uns bedenken
Heinrich Kaminski (1886-1946)
Der 130. Psalm op. 1a
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Präludium und Fuge c-moll BWV546
Andrew Parnell (1954-)
The Dew Of Heaven
1. Enlighten me, Blessed Jesu
2. Blessed is he that fears the Lord
3. O send forth Thy light
The choir was absolutely excellent and I really enjoyed the concert. There were five voices per part for the women and four voices per part for the men, including a bass singer who had a fantastically deep and mellow tone.
The organ player was very good indeed but I felt the organ was slightly lacking in some of its lower notes. He also seemed to have to take ages between parts of the Bach partita to change the stops – maybe it didn’t have that numbered settings system – which rather broke up the flow for me.
The songs by Andrew Parnell (The Dew Of Heaven) were interesting. They were a bit discordant and modern for my taste but the texts were very lovely (in English) and turned out to be “Nachfolge Christi”, Buch 3, Kapitel XXIII, Absatz 4, 5 und 6 by none other than Thomas von Kempen (Thomas a Kempis). And then I realised of course that I was in the Thomaskirche in Kempen. So cool to hear that in such surroundings! The choir were excellent at singing in English; in fact I wouldn’t have been able to tell they weren’t native English speakers except for a weird pronunciation of a single word in the entre concert, “inseparable” which they pronounced as “in-sep-arable” rather than “in-seppura-bl”.
Overall I really enjoyed the concert but have subsequently discovered that Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater was being performed in Grefrath at the same time. If I’d known that beforehand I might have gone to that instead.
I had cycled another 6.6 miles overall so am slowly eating back the deficit of miles I have this month from two short days of cycling in the snow (for those who don’t know, I am cycling “One Mile Per Hour” this year, i.e. 24 miles per day (about 38km)).
Today I have also received a contract for staying here from 1 April 2014 until 31 March 2015. I’m checking a couple of details but it looks as though it’s all going ahead, hurrah! Poppy and I haven’t scared ’em off, clearly!
Two more days here and then we head off to the Ferry. Tomorrow is Poppy’s vet visit to have her worming tablet for her pet passport so she won’t be pleased with me!