Socratic Dialogue – Springe – Postscript

Sunday Walk up into the beech wood

With the place to ourselves, we walked out and up into the wood. Maddie, Mitko carrying George, Julie-Marie and I. George is 10 Kilos, and Mitko carried throughout – only half way giving the support of my Indian scarf wrapping it around as the Indians use it to carry their children. We walk up past my old friends, Weiner the wood collector who, as in 2 years ago, carefully prepares his split wood for winter in neat stacks.

Up past the old quarry, where a family are chipping away at the stones in search of fossils. Up the old track, used may be a hundred or more years ago when the quarry was used, stone based with roots of trees securing the bank, and so much moss which had intelligently colonised the north moist sides.
Mountain fern moss / Broom fork moss / Fern moss – all boundary plants (between earth and air), who have an extraordinary ability to suspend themselves when conditions are poor typically with no moisture, and come alive again when conditions improve.

At the top we fail to unfold the mystery of what man was doing up here. A cave with harts tongue fern, a view over Springe, ruins of stone buildings. We cross the old bridge, marvel at the size of these beeches at the top, that I call Elephants for the skin is so similar, these are surely the oldest here.Finally we turn left to circle back along a main woodmans track.

The ease of track allows us to look up and be absorbed by at the wood. At one point I investigate what I think are exposed roots of beech, Maddie joins and picks up what I’d supposed was rubbish, and turns out to be a Geo Cache. Inside I write our names, calling us the Socratic Dialoguers. Will we or even George return years later to find? This stimulated the idea of George pushing Mitko in his wheel chair down this track, a few years hence. Mitko saying ‘Don’t mention the Russians.’

This image naturally keeps returning.

The last gentle rises are tough, we’ve done 10k, Mitko carrying 10 kilos, so we rest on the lawn beside where we did our Dialogues, Julie-Marie playing easily with George.

Downhill to dinner in Springe. I’d seen this restaurant the last time I was here, and thought it looked interesting. What convinced us was the menu based on Chanterelle (from Serbia) and the kindness of the waitress.
‘Its a disaster’, announced Maddie with George and no Mitko. ‘Lidle not open, No baby food, no chemists, no taxis. What is this place? Everything closed.You could DIE on a Sunday in Springe’. We drank our cool welcome beer, JM distracting a hungry George with the music of keys. Eventually Mitko arrived having gone all the way back and forth to fetch some food from their room. So it was we began our feast of Chanterelle in the unknown restaurant, exercised, in good humour, and a beer inside of us.

The second waitress it turned out was from Stockport, a place JM knew well. Her name was Naomi and she has the sweetest nature. The first and tall waitress, whose family ran the restaurant, was from Serbia, and shared Maddis exasperation with German people. ‘They are so negative. One said to me this evening: But these chanterelle are too large, I will have to cut them’. Both the girls longed to escape from Springe, the land of no taxi’s, a dead end place, lightened this evening by our eccentric company.

Meanwhile, the chanterelle, it turns out, come from Bulgaria! (The Bulgarians are most are amused). They are served on snitzel and pasta and are delicious, but the food is almost immaterial to our humour. Mitko told me a little of his origin with SFCP. Back in 2005, when he was a student, it was Anita who introduced him to the Socratic method. He fought it, found fault with it, before he came to respect it. Kirsten and Dieter were his teachers – he misses Kirsten, who he says is not well. His love still is of analytic philosophy.

George was our alarm call to leave finally, and we walked up the hill, not a soul around, Jupiter evident in the southern sky as we reached the top.

Meanwhile, Naomi had found some items (my diary among them) we had left behind by mistake, and delivered them all the way up to our campus reception. What a star.

Train to Amsterdam

The Bulgarians left at Sparrow’s fart, while JM and I had a last delicious breakfast and walk down to find the train from Springe to Hanover and then one to Amsterdam. It was a joy compared to a flight, although somewhat uncertain for my ticket did not include a seat reservation. I sat next to an eccentric large coloured man, who turned out to be from Chicargo and have quite a story, which he shared through the plains of Germany and finally, mask-less, when we crossed the border to Holland.
He’d been turned out of First class, as the air conditioning at broken. ‘Beats me, they didn’t just keep the doors open.’ He had such cool and sharp turns of phrases, I knew I’d forget them, so sat back and let them wash over me. Doesn’t your music help with your anxiety? I asked No he replied, Music is a commodity, and breeds stress.’ I admired his black armband with 4 watches on it, very gothic. ‘That was a gift from a woman who loved sex, so we had loads of sex, good sex’, he laughed. ‘My problem is I fall for drama queens. Oh she had all the script, all the actions, the sighs, the words.’ IN the end he let me listen to his music (his name Jamal Moss) Hieroglyphic Being
‘I’m goin straight to Lush and buy some sweet smelling bath oil, and check into my hotel and soak in my hot tub.’
I thought of him, as I walked out into the streets of Amsterdam.

It’s the bikes of course. Thousands at the station parked up. I never got right looking left or right. Electric cars where particularly difficult, with no bell to sound.

Along Prince Gate, a rehearsal for tomorrow morning, to the Rijkesmuseum. Two wheat beers on the way, the last one with an apple pie, from an eccentric local bar. The bar man, thin, too thin, intense, unsmiling, a Dutch Karl, finished my sentences with a please and thank you, which I had omitted.
Apple pie – taking me on a path to Arambol and the German Bakery serving Dutch Apple Pie. Bicycles weaving in and around with ease like eels swimming. Peddled with long limbed girls and men, legs bronzed from the long dry summer, fit and well, non over weight, in silk dresses, shorts, flowing tops. They carry their pizza, children, dogs, handbags, man bags, pieces of wood. It is a city of sneakers, trainers, thick bouncy soles, gold, silver, black, walking on the mosaic of bricks that make up the roads and paths. Older men, so sexy, (unBritish) their long hair sometimes in a pony tail, lanky legs, easy smiles, confident, stylish.

I am going to visit my friends, I said to Jamal Moss on the train, when he asked what I will do in Amsterdam. My friends in the Rijkesmuseum. I never did see the Pieter De Hooch. But a woman gallery attendent engaged me in front of the Night Watchman. I was pondering why it was displayed so, on giant wheeled stretcher. ‘It is being restored’, she explained. ‘In situ, so people can watch the restoration process. The hundreds of nails from the canvas removed was restretched, she showed me the neat stitches and with a batton around it is stretched with wires connected which can be adjusted individually,
She showed me the repair they had done to the slash, the test clean in the corner. She drew my attention to the difference between this painting and Rembrants contemporaries around the walls – the character, the depth the darkness of some of the faces in the shadows. They were the faces I’d seen in the streets of Amsterdam. Same eyes, same shape of face. She was a brilliant and kind teacher.

The air bnb – an American couple who settled here 20 years ago – gave excellent directions and recommended Aps to download. So it was I found the Hoeke de Holland, boarded the ship and found the time to write up these notes.

Michael and the 3 dogs welcomed me at Harwich. He’d saved my day by buying me this ticket, getting me home, and here he was to collect me, 8pm dusk time. It was a joy to see him, and the dogs of course.