Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Night Singer

Something I read on another blog recently (can't remember exactly what it was I read or whose blog it was) reminded me of a holiday the Old Bat and I took when we visited Alsace in north-east France.  Over the centuries, Alsace has sometimes been French and sometimes German (or whatever that part of Germany was before Bismark unified the various states).  This was very evident as there were many Germanic influences, many German visitors and very few other English people.  For some reason, Alsace is not a part of France that is visited by the English despite being extremely attractive with the Vosges mountains and old towns and cities such as Strasburg and Colmar.  Turckheim is but one of the many delightful small towns and villages and it was in Turckheim that I had booked a self-catering apartment.  It transpired that this apartment was actually in a small, gated courtyard with the (German) owners' house opposite and two small cottages alongside.  The apartment was over rooms used for storage and had a balcony overlooking both the street and the courtyard.

The town walls still stand around old Turckheim, although the town has long spread itself beyond the three gates.  From the beginning of May until the end of October, an old tradition is put into practice and at ten o'clock each night, the Night Singer starts his round.  There are just the two main streets in old Turkheim and the Night Singer, accompanied by a crowd of tourists, and wearing the traditional cloak and tricorn hat, carrying a halberd, a lantern and a horn, makes his way along them, stopping at certain places to sing his song, which starts, "Han sori zu Fir und Liacht" (take care of the fireplace and the candle).  Our balcony overlooked one of his "song points" and he would look up at us and wave as he went on his way.

This is the area where storks nest and it was most amusing to sit outside a restaurant and hear them clacking their bills.  We just hoped they didn't add something to the meal we were enjoying!

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