Sunday, 3 July 2011


If you order 'Krab' in a North German restaurant or cafe, then you will be served with a generous handful of these little bastards which are known in Britain as 'Brown Shrimps' and would normally come from Morcambe Bay before being skinned (with compressed air) cooked, and put into a little pot with butter to be sold for about £5. My disappointment at not eating crab was short-lived, though. They are 'extreme tasty' (as Thomas would have it) and great value for money. I only managed to eat half of the above plate.

Aside from traditional fishing and seamanship, Bremerhaven is remembered for another, more poignant and melancholy reason. If you live in the U.S.A. and have German ancestry, then the chances are that your Great, Great, Great, Grand Parents spent their last night as native Germans in the above building, before boarding a sailing ship the next morning and making the epic journey across the Atlantic to start a new life in the Big Country.

Thousands of Germans left their home country in the 19th century to begin afresh in America by boarding ships in Bremerhaven, and this place was the final, overnight holding-centre before the tearful fare-wells on the dock the next day. There is a large and modern museum for all the immigrants right on the dock, and every year many German-Americans return to look up the huge quantity of records that are archived there. Some of the names of the departed are engraved into the cobblestones that surround the place.

My friend Thomas is a classic Anglophile - he loves anything British and particularly things from the 1960s. This is his prime mode of transport right now (he has brought this Mini to England many times), but soon he will be visiting us in his newly restored M.G.

For some reason, he decided to give us a guided tour of the dyke area of the North Sea coast yesterday, whilst delivering us to Bremen airport for the flight home. He is 6' 3" tall like I am, but he is 10 years younger than me and does not suffer from stiff knees. The trip to Bremen from Bremerhaven normally takes about 40 minutes on the autobahn, but yesterday it took about 2 hours, half of which was passed traversing the rough cobbled roads of the dozens of small villages on the way.

Being somewhat smaller than me, H.I. was stuffed into the back of the Mini before I squeezed myself down into the front seat with my knees smashing against the dashboard with each small depression in the road. The whole experience was made even more pleasant by the strong aroma of exhaust fumes and leaking petrol from the ancient Dinky-Toy, and when we finally arrived at the airport to begin the rest of the hellish journey home, we were both feeling quite nauseous. It took about a minute for me to get out of the car.

The final part of the trip back to Bath was a 3.5 hour drive down the M4, made about 9 hours after we set off, so you can imagine what language I used when I shot past the junction for the M25 off the M11 as we hurtled toward central London and the congestion-charge zone. At least I made this mistake in a relatively comfortable Volvo.

I turned around in the Watford area and headed back north. I slept very well last night...


  1. Those shrimps look gorgeous!

  2. Pricey shrimps considering you can just wade out and scoop them up with a shrimping net. Look delicious though - I'd have wolfed the lot!

    I used to attend MOD scooter rallies on my old Vespa together with about 700 odd Lambrettas etc. Blue smoke heaven.

    Despite them being Italian bikes, Thomas would have drooled at he sight of all those Union Jacks and MOD targets...

    Glad you're back to disappoint.

  3. Sorry Tom but I cannot comment on the buildings or goings-on in Germany because that photograph of the brown shrimps so blew me away I could think of nothing else. Pots of Morecambe bay shrimps topped with clarified butter, eaten with brown bread and butter - my idea of heaven in a ramekin!

  4. Brown shrimps; heaven. Rye bread (if that's what it is); hell.

    In my youthful folly, I very nearly bought a cut-down mini. The windscreen etc had been reduced to a height of about 6 ins, the wheel arches had been splayed and fat tyres added, and the whole caboodle made a racket to wake the dead. Boy racer distilled! If I remember correctly the guy wanted £300. I didn't buy it because he was hauled off to prison for drug smuggling.

    I've missed the Brighton turning off the M25... It's almost suicidal.

  5. two german posts and two OVERLY DISGUESTING photos!
    Those shrimps have really turned my stomach inside out! ( what a revolting looking lunch)

    ( perhaps it was all that gin I downedlast night that may be colouring my post today!)

    nice to have you back
    old caustic one

  6. 'Disguesting'? Sounds like what Thomas did when he saw us off at the airport yesterday.

  7. That Mini is adorable. My 2006 Mini is quite roomy inside and you and H.I. would be comfortable.

  8. You have one of those German, BMW Minis, Olive? I can't believe that they weigh 1.5 tons, but they do.