Sunday 9 November 2014


Fifty three years ago, in 1961, approximately halfway between the time that Our Lass was born, in West Germany, and when the infant Tense first grizzled his way into the world, in north east England, the East German authorities constructed the Berlin Wall to divide East from West.

We were each blithely unaware of the others, or, at least, I know that Our Lass and I were not introduced... and neither of us were keeping tabs on East Germany.

Some time later, Our Lass and I found ourselves living together in West Germany...

Then, twenty five years ago, we left Deutschland to return to Britain. Twenty five years ago, the Berlin Wall came down.

Weird, huh?

I was thinking these odd Cold War thoughts, this morning, as Our Lass and I stood on the cliff tops at Hobbister, looking out across Scapa Flow and observing a two minute silence for Remembrance Sunday. As it is one hundred years since the beginning of the First World War, the occasion seemed to have a deeper significance still.

The 'safe' anchorage of Scapa Flow has seen its share of tragedy in the past century. In 1917, an accidental explosion aboard HMS Vanguard resulted in the loss of over 800 men. In 1939, the sinking of HMS Royal Oak by a German U-boat, also saw the loss of over 800 men.

This morning, the skies were overcast and sombre, there was not a breath of wind, allowing sounds to travel much further than normal.

After our respectful silence, remembering the sacrifice that others had made, we lightened the mood by wandering along the path, watching Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks on the sea below. Their calls rang out through the still air, mingling with the gentle sounds of waves on the shore. Amongst an array of grebes, divers and Black Guillemots, one small bird stood out. We looked at it... we looked at each other... and then we looked at it again. It was tiny, really small. Squat and compact in shape, mostly black but with white cheeks and breast, it had a short bill and a hint of an upturned tail. I could only think of one possible bird that would fit the description, but neither of us had ever seen one before, a Little Auk.

We will certainly remember today.


biobabbler said...

Wow, that's a pretty great bird (also jealous of all the others as your habitat/location is a wee bit different than mine). Congrats!

Was thinking about the whole East & West Germany thing tdoay, and when my parents lived in W. Germany (dad's military service). He was pretty much there because of the cold war. Interesting stuff.

It's amazing what people have had to deal with (and still do, in lots of places). There's some pretty freaking strong people in this world, wow. Makes me super grateful for what we have & enjoy on a daily basis.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Wise words. Hear, hear.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm hoping we don't slide back into a 'new' Cold War.

Aye, seeing the Lil' Auk was just fantastic!

Martin said...

Personally I'd be interested to hear more about life in Germany at some point, but it doesn't need to be blogged.

I went to see Ray Cooper (from Oysterband) play a small gig in Camden. His new album is called the Palace of Tears after the FriedrickstraBen bahnhof. It was fascinating to hear him talking about several trips into East Germany with Oysterband and made me realise how little I knew about life there. Maybe the third installment of Ken Follett's trilogy will fill in some of my historical ignorance.
Plenty to think about. We just have to hope that with time we learn and the world becomes a better place...... if only.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Although it was decades ago, in some ways, Germany was a greener place then than the UK now.

Which makes the releasing of 8000 balloons to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall all the more perplexing.

Martin said...

I was also perplexed until I saw a comment on a social-media platform stating that the balloons were "Naturkautschuk-Balloons" and biodegradable.

Imperfect and Tense said...

It looks like not everyone is convinced by biodegradable claims:

And there's still the concern over the string tangling animals and then the blatant waste of helium...