Hike from Schliersee to Tagernsee via Gindalalmschneid

Three days’ earlier we had entertained a walk that was a little trickier than we had anticipated from the guide. For this walk we decided to tackle a point-to-point walk Schliersee to Tagernsee. A total of 12.1 km mostly on gravel hiking paths with a 580m ascent (we think it was a little more than this).

The first part is forest – wonderfully cool, if a little monocultured. Hennererhof is the end of the navigable path by motor vehicles. The walk continues through the forest and emerges for a 30 minute ascent to Gindelalmschneid. The view to the north looks to the flatlands towards Munich (just visible on the horizon). The Alm is tucked in to the landscape below the peak (right). We took food with us and enjoyed it on a bench next to the Crucifix, the ever-present feature of alpine peaks.

Onward towards Tegernsee (left). More forest, but also exposed expanses of meadow with views (right). There are no great surprises, but the approach to Tegernsee has one anticipating a beer at the town’s brewery which, seemingly, was the old monastery. It is an imposing building and can be seen from a distance (left) with its two towers and inner courtyard.

The beer is good, too. On the outside benches, we had a dark beer (5 per cent, right). So good we had two which was enough to facilitate a rather too blase walk to the railway station in relation to fast-moving cars! 

Great walk. Peaceful. Not too strenuous (though the final ascent to Gindelalmschneid can set the pulse racing if needed). The lake itself was benign and evocative. A very nice place to sit and wind down, though it is a wealthy town. A small apartment will knock you back 500K Euros. Best just to visit.


German railways are learning how to screw up

The common myth is that German railways are efficient and reliable. I’ve been using Deutsche Bahn for many years. The InterCity services are brilliant. The coaches are roomy, there’s Wifi, sockets, etc. The Regio Bahn is also pretty good, especially if you have a bicycle – well designed and accessible platforms in most cases. However, some of the routes are being privatised/franchised. So, yesterday we used the BOB – Bayerische Oberlandbahn, a subsidiary of Transdev, itself formed out of the former operation of Connex and Veolia.

BOB is a curious network. It leaves Munich Hauptbahnhof as three,  two-car units – each unit detaches at various points and completes journey to Lenggries, Bayrischzell and Tegernsee. The return journey is made of attachments that are completed at Holzkirchen. Yesterday, however, the service left Hauptbahnhof in short formation arising out of a failure of a unit and no suitable replacements. The train was absolutely packed and left elderly passengers standing for over one hour. As is normal in the UK when this happens, there are no conductors to be seen. The chaos had to be self-organised. To be fair, buses were provided for those going to stations towards Lenggries on arrival at Holzkirchen. Whether this is symptomatic of the hollowing-out of the network, it is difficult to say. But what chance that if Deutsche Bahn had operated the service, there would be a possibility of an additional unit being available? Is this just a case of “sweating the assets”?

But if that were not enough, on Monday arriving back from Neuhaus (on the Bayrischzell route), the Munich S-Bahn (short-haul network of 8 routes each passing through the centre of the city), not for the first time, collapsed. Not clear why, but chaos nonetheless and very little information other than platitudes.

Then it is reported that the line between Rastatt und Baden-Baden is now out of commission due to tunnelling operations. This might seem trivial, but this Rhine route south of Karlsruhe is a significant part of the German railway network linking the north to Switzerland.

Photo BOB: Big87 – http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Integral_der_Bayerischen_Oberlandbahn.JPG

Change of plan – mixed economy holiday

We were planning something similar to what we did a couple of years’ ago – Danube, Altmühltal, Taubertal and Maintal. In the end, we decided to mix cycling and walking. From our base in Munich we are tackling a few Alpine climbs and cycle-route classics. First up for walking, a circular walk featuring a peak called Bodenschneid (1668m). We are using the Hikeline Wanderführer (authored by Katharina Spannraft) as our guide (left). I sense that Ms Spannraft thinks that the German Alps are a bit tame. They are far from that.

We took the train to Fischausen-Neuhaus from Munich. It takes about one hour from Hauptbahnhof. The signage is very good – yellow signs with particular routes captured by coloured dots (right). Navigation, then, is not so difficult; though in bad weather, one would need to be very attentive as some additional green signs are, by definition, not so easy to see.

The first part from Neuhaus to Bodenschneidhaus (a welcome Alm eating house) is pretty simple – though the gradient is not trivial. The path is well defined and and made of stable gravel. However, from thereon, if the plan is to go to the summit, the path becomes less well defined and variously slippery, steep and ambiguous. At times of heavy rain, I suspect it becomes a river (left). At one point, the path is made up exclusively of exposed tree roots.

At the peak, of course, there is the obligatory cross. Bodenschneid’s is pretty impressive. And modern (right). As are the views (the sun thwarted my attempts at a good summit photo).

The signs to the tantalising Untere and Obere Firstalms were there at the summit. The route down is precarious and a stick is a major help as well as appropriate footwear.

We stopped at the Obere Firstalm – and we are glad that we did. Not only was the food ridiculously fine and generous (we had a vegan stuffed pepper), but necessary to complete the walk despite earlier sandwiches.

The route back starts with a steep track cut into the side of the hill. For about 50m one joins the road but very quickly goes left into the forest in the direction of Josefsthal. The forest is dense, but one is rewarded by a waterfall (right). The walk through Josefthal is dull. We missed the train by 6 minutes. They are hourly. There are no pubs – though there is a restaurant just to the South that seemed pretty busy when we passed.

The children are wise

I have just arrived back in Brighton, England, from my most recent visit to Munich. A favourite pastime there is photographing and commenting on cigarette advertising. It never ceases to amaze me.

Not so long ago I wrote a piece called Raddled Old Man (right) where the assumption is that if you smoke you will eventually turn into him having been a handsome chap (above left). Such is the impact of these lethal products.

Well, the children in Brighton have got it all sussed (right). Good for them.

Cool in the heat of the summer – JPS gegen Lucky Strike

It is the summer of cool in the world of cigarette advertising in Germany. JPS has got this Blue Stream nonsense. Blue in cigarette packaging is usually menthol, i.e shite. So it looks like they are trying to market a rubbish cigarette type as taste without compromise (presumably this blue stuff usually entails compromise on taste). So, there’s this new filter, a rounded taste, whatever a rounded taste is, and less smoke – a kind of smokeless cigarette, similar to smokeless fuel introduced in the UK in the 1950s to combat smog.

The second variation on this product has the strapline “Die hat es in sich”. I am not sure this translates very well…”it has it in itself”? Up itself, perhaps?

The Lucky Strike blue campaign really thinks it is clever. Here we have the strapline that translates as “take the dog for a walk without the dog”. Stunning.

Midnight Oil, Hammersmith Apollo, 23 July 2017

The music of Midnight Oil is part of my youth/early adulthood. There was a time when Antipodean music was all the rage with the likes of Icehouse, Men at Work, INXS and Split Endz. Midnight Oil also belonged to a rare popular genre of protest rock. Here one found The Jam, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Chumbawamba and Latin Quarter whose Album, Modern Times, still reverberates, having been exposed to it on a rather-poor quality Radio Caroline incarnation just-about audible in Hull. These were also the days when I used to read music papers and look at the gig list and see the Hammersmith Odeon hosting countless familiar names. It was a long way from home and I never travelled a long way from home. Like the ferries from Hull that also eluded me, now was the time to go to this art decor temple of sound and vision (below right).

Being Australian, however, Midnight Oil had this additional quality – a familiarly unfamiliar history. I was once in a school musical (I was perhaps 8 years’ old) where I had to choose to be either a cowboy or an indian. The downside of the latter was that as part of the make-up, one had to be covered in dissolved Oxo in order to get a darker skin tone. Those who know me, know only too well that I dislike being sticky or being face painted, or whatever.  The idea of having Oxo painted onto my skin may have swayed my decision to be a cowboy. Not a bit of it. It was a few years later, prompted by Midnight Oil’s song, Beds are Burning, that I realised why I had elected to undergo the Oxo treatment. Indians were indigenous people pushed to extermination by, largely, white settlers. With guns.

Beds are Burning is not an ernest song; one of the problems I find with regular protest music. It is a stonking rousing tune that you can dance to. And probably should. Beds are Burning, and the album from which it comes, Diesel and Dust, is a body of work (which dominated this gig), but it is not the whole story. The lead singer, Peter Garrett, forced the band to break up in 2002 on his decision to enter politics and become a senator in the Australian Parliament (he was eventually elected under a Labor banner in 2004). But seemingly their early career relied on live performances due to the controversial nature of their lyrics and Garrett’s particular brand of outspokenness which rendered regular airtime difficult to garner. Thirteen years’ after the break, Midnight Oil are reformed and doing a world tour under a largely original lineup of Garrett, Rob Hirst – drums, vocalsJim Moginie – lead guitars, keyboards; and Martin Rotsey – lead guitars. The band’s bassist is Bones Hillman.

Beds are Burning got the audience to its feet after the relatively quiet and contemplative start with Outside World, even though the venue was all-seat. It was a bit of an anthem-after-anthem performancePut Down That Weapon, Dreamworld, Bullroarer, Sell My Soul, Ships of Freedom, Power and the Passion, Blue Sky Mine and the final encore, Best of Both Worlds. Just under two hours in total giving plenty of time to watch as well as absorb the music. What does one observe? Garrett has always been a striking figure – tall, bald and charismatic. Rob Hirst, from what I understand has, not surprisingly, been the beating heart of the band on drums and vocals. So much so that they are lugging around a giant metal corrugated bin (right) that comes into its own when he gets his rock-set drum solo during Power and the Passion – goodness knows where he gets the energy from. Moginie and Rotsey concentrate on guitarship – both being leads (Moginie is also the band’s keyboardist). Feasible, one senses, from an over-familiarity with one another, Garrett’s quirks and Hirst’s direction/conducting. This was great stuff. Another bit of my cultural history retrieved and shared with my beloved.



Camel Do Your Thing wtf

Camel’s Do Your Thing campaign reappeared last week in Munich with this gem. In the left panel a couple demonstrate two Camel packets, conveniently limiting exposure of the nasty death/chronic disease images that cigarette packets must legally display. On the right is the couple being tossers. That’s about it really.

German cigarette advertising update – early summer 2017

Not a huge amount to report on the cigarette company campaigns. No attractive young people having their lives ruined. Not consciously, at least. That said, one cannot get over the sheer cleverness of the campaign managers with their slogans. Take Lucky Strike, for example. Urlaub Eingereicht – holiday secured, if my translation works. Cause for celebration and anticipation? Hold on. Am 1. Arbeitstag. Not so good. A working holiday, maybe? At least we have Luck Strike. The hashtags seem to refer to the taste of the cigarette – icecold and, for want of a better word, persistent?

Then there is Jeanshemd Getragen. Zur Jeanshose (right). I think for this one, it is too subtle for me. Literally Demin shirt worn. To Jeans trousers. Double denim or long shirt not needing trousers? Whatever it means, the product is deadly, icecold or not.

Finally, JPS are sticking with the big packs. 10 Euros gets you 39 cigarettes in a megadeath box. Sorry, megabox.

University of Brighton Graduate Show 2017 – Fine Art

I have given quite a bit of attention this year to the 3-D objects. But the fine art remains the star attraction and it is fine indeed. As noted in my earlier post, I was a shade rushed, so my review is curtailed. Again, apologies to fine artists that I have not selected.

This year seems to me have been dominated by scale artwork. Big. There is also a good number of portraiture such as Jessica Zaydner’s work (above left). This is quite a face, despite its youth. There is something going on beyond the gaze, and I am not sure how good it is.

There is landscape as well, but not of the realist genre. The work of Bethany Carter is interesting here. Carter calls on influences from 1960s psychedelia to insist that we detach ourselves from our digital lives to think about the natural world. This psychedelic imagery spells out the interconnectivity between landscape and animals and what is natural anyway in the increasingly soiled environment “downtrodden” by human beings. Carter is asking a lot of questions in her work, not all of which I understand or agree with. But as a scale piece, A New Earth, works.

Next is the disconcerting work of Victoria Suvoroff (left). This piece belongs to her Phantasms show. Her work seeks to challenge gender’s social construction. The vehicle for doing this is to present body parts as phantasms (seen but not necessarily rooted in a physical reality). It is striking work.

Emily Alice Garnham’s work I picked out because of its allusions to one of my own favourite artists, Paul Nash. Nash drew on his experience of war to paint is often disembodied figures. Garnham draws from urban landscapes.

Working from photographs the finished work is not a depiction of an existing cityscape. Rather it is the creation of what she calls “an original utopian scape”. The green hue alludes to the interaction between nature and concrete.

Lucia Hamlin (left) admits to grappling with being brought up as a catholic. She nicely brings together colour, history/archaeology and superstition. The history, it seems, tells us that extended craniums were often seen as belonging to gods or God-like figures. She makes her figures deliberately offensive and immature “as a dig at the narrow-mindedness of religion, and to put across the idea that God has stopped caring and is now mocking the obsceneness and immorality of modern humanity”. Hamlin’s work is on canvas and also as 3-D structure suitable for sharing a selfie (right).

Finally, my PhD many years ago was about railways in the UK. The logo for British Railways is a design classic. Two lines with arrows oppositely directed brilliantly captured the purpose of the railways, particularly in its modernisation phase after WW2. An artist (whose name I could not find) has taken this logo and embedded it in something slightly bigger. I leave readers this year with the BR logo and the songbird (left). Naturally, my favourite piece.


University of Brighton Graduate Show 2017 – 3D design, textiles

Annually this show is a delight. There is always originality and discovery. I apologise to all students that I did not get to see the whole show – one needs a day of high stamina to get around all of the galleries. I had neither a full day nor stamina. But here are some of my highlights.

With regard to originality the garment on the right by Martina Stefkova Simeonova ticks many of the boxes. It is not a piece of art as I had first thought. It is very much a wearable garment. It is made of Lycra – so, probably not that easy to put together especially with bright orange stitching. The influence, according to Simeonova is vintage tennis gear. The skirt – which is probably not that practical on a tennis court – is pleated and held rigid by kebab sticks. Sensational.

Then there is the furniture. The example on the left is the work of Liam  O’Hagen Paul and is essentially cycle routes around Brighton. He argues that the journey is better than arrival. This may be youthful exuberance – as a keen youthful cyclist myself many years back I am sure I once felt the same – but if this is the collateral, then keep it up. I’d love this in my house.

And then this stunning chair. Probably not the most comfortable but beautifully made capitalising on the natural bends and imperfections of the wood. But more interestingly, perhaps, is the influence of the roof timbers of an old tithe barn. Another piece by the same furniture maker (left) illustrates this better. It is a cabinet, I think made of oak, and wonderfully arched like the tithe barn roof.

Ever wondered what a migraine looks like? I have to say that I haven’t only because I have never suffered from such pervasive pain. Jemima Bellamy has investigated the condition and has produced some visually representative jewellery that, as she argues, “challenges the visual and physical parameters to both alleviate and aggravate the migraine”. I am not sure exactly how it works, but the pieces are special (see right, for example).

Staying with the theme of health and illness, Ember Vincent represents her own experience of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME). These bowls are a fusion of ceramics and metals. Ultimately they represent the tendency of sufferers of ME and other illnesses to hide their “broken selves” behind tough exteriors. The utility of the bowls is not high. But they are wonderful.

There is always room for tea, I feel. Xufei Zhu undertook a study of Chinese and British cultural differences in relation to tea and life – in particular, contemporary living and its stresses. These are captured in her tea pots, cups and utensils. This foot shaped teaspoon is exquisite.

The next artefact to bowl me over was Teenie Connolly’s kingfisher. Made of reclaimed materials collected on walks between Brighton and Newhaven, they – and the complementary pots – represent the weaving undertaken by birds to make nests. She says that she has enjoyed a close relationship with birds in nursing a number back to health. Her underlying theme, however, is sustainability.

Next up is this extraordinary bowl made of desert ironwood and embellished with copper powder and epoxy resin. It has been precisely machined and sanded to 1200 gsm (I assume that is also precise). Because the wood is so dense it has a discrete functionality.

Finally in this section, I was beguiled by these lamps (left) by Darwin Simmonds. His theme encapsulates playfulness, childhood, fun and, ultimately, happiness. They are certainly uplifting in their bold colours and light emission.

Fine art to follow.