Border Country

Saturday-Sunday September 7-8

This was an early 'celebration' of the turtle adding another ring to its shell.

Heading south-west from Frankfurt late on Saturday morning and in lieu of a blindfold that might have made things a little difficult, the co-driver painstakingly fed destinations into the navigation system town by town, village by village to mask the ultimate target until, some 180km from home and under darkening skies, subtle changes in architecture and place names indicated that France was surely 'just over there!'  One could probably launch a stone at the border from elevated Kloster Hornbach, which served a terrace lunch that would have made even the portliest monk blush. 

Following a week of warm weather and blue skies, Saturday's offering of  drizzle soup was disappointing: what to do but back-track to Zweibrucken's 'Style Outlet', one of Germany's largest, to dodge the rain and stock up on trousers. As one ages, the more pairs you have, the better. One never knows......

In turn ruled by Romans, Franks, Carolignians, Holy Roman Emperors, French Republicans, Prussians, German Emperors, and a Franco-British mandate between the wars, courtesy of Versailles, the Saarland is not only mining but also border country that history has robbed of permanence, so it's not surprising that, pretty though the rolling and sometimes heavily wooded landscape is, it's also a little neglected, its villages maybe a little dilapidated in places, its memories perhaps not the best, many of them still too fresh for comfort.

Something over 75km due west of Hornbach, just south of Saarlouis and again hugging the French border, Überherrn in the Bistal is home to the almost-nine-hundred-year-old Linslerhof, one-time seat of the sporting abbesses of Fraulautern whose legacy is celebrated in today's stables, hunting school and, more modernly, one of Europe's most sophisticated shooting ranges. 

Arriving there in failing light on Saturday evening, we dined, perhaps fittingly, in the 'Georgstube' and spent the night in an outhouse so quiet that every drop of that night's incessant rain was heard clearly.

Sunday morning was a little too wet to dawn properly but a good, late breakfast set us up for a tour, direction N.N.E., of the Schwarzwälder Hochwald, the south-western part of the Hunsrück in the northern part of the Saarland. 

It's obvious from the slider at the top of this piece that, due to incessant rain, landscape photo-opportunities were limited to the more intimate variety over the weekend, but it also illustrates the marvellous performance of the Olympus MFT family of OM-D and EP-3 and, primarily, the 25mm Leica Summilux f1.4 that both bodies would like to wear permanently but still share comfortably with the very capable Lumix 14mm f2.5 and 20mm f1.7 lenses; a really high-carat glass trio.

To make up for the disappointing climatic offering, we found a little gem on the way back in Nonnweiler-Sitzerath, the Landgasthof Paulus serving up a memorable lunch and an unaffordable wine list: better to leave its stars in the glass display cabinet and buy another lens instead.