Saturday, 19 September 2009

Oktoberfest by proxy

This morning I went to the supermarket to buy a chicken to roast for tomorrow's lunch. There was one lonely chicken left and it was labelled as an 'Oktoberfest' chicken. (It didn't look particularly festive, unless you count being covered in spices as something to party about. And, hang on, isn't it still only September? And isn't Oktoberfest in Munich?) My brain. My brain!

traditional German dressIn the afternoon I took the kids to the park as Simon had to work. He'll be kicking himself for not coming. I went by tram and it was rammed full of women in revealing dirndl wench dresses with hair in plaits. Incidentally, there was a good quota of lederhosen-clad men too. It was 3pm and they were all off to start drinking.

This evening I've been asking the web to account for my Oktoberfest encounters.

Now I always thought that Oktoberfest happened in Munich. Apparently not: there's also been one in Cologne since 2004.
Although it is called Oktoberfest, it starts in September.
How does one celebrate it? Drinking. Lots. And eating grilled spicy chicken.

Tomorrow I shall be entering the spirit of the event when I eat my chicken. Maybe I'll have a drink. I'm telling you now that I shall not be dressing up as a wench to do so*.

*Though if I were to do so, I'd be getting my costume from the local C and A.

*Note: the image is courtesy of iStock Photography - because I didn't have the guts to ask if I could take someone's photo!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Oh yeah mate, build you one of them in an evening, no probs

Kolner Dom made out of LegoWe went to a very impressive exhibition of Lego models this week, held in the 'Rhein Centre' shopping mall. All the models are by a very talented group of Lego fanatics called the 'Modellbaufans Rheinland'.

There were recreations of whole towns and villages as well as models of the Taj Mahal, the Whitehouse, Eifel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral. The one that really stood out for me was a 2.9m high version of Cologne Cathedral. It is by a man called Jurgen Bramigk and it took him 2 years to make.

If you look at the amount of work in this close up then I think he did amazingly well to finish it in just two years. Detail from Lego cathedral

The features of the original have been lovingly recreated. There is an amazing attention to detail. For example, the dark and light grey tones of the bricks used really do give the impression of the real building, which is very sooty and grimy due to its great age.

In the close up above you can see a couple of little painted Lego men posing as decorative grotesques, as well as two small pigeons for authenticity.

Jurgen's masterpiece inspired me to make my own cathedral. Luckily Simon had been given a cardboard kit of Cologne Cathedral as a birthday present - which lay unopened on a shelf. I opened it for him. Well, we're married so what's his is mine and all that.Make Cologne Cathedral parts

Inside there were 47 numbered pieces to remove from their cardboard sheets and then fold and slot all together. (See all of the bits laid out ready to join up.)Building the cathedral

I managed to construct my version of the cathedral in a couple of hours last night. With Eastenders on in the background and other quality start-of-the-weekend TV shows.

This photo shows me mid-build. Witness a master mason at work! (Ahem)

Nave, transepts and apse completed and roof on, but no towers or spires yet. What you cannot appreciate from the pic is that at this point I was swearing and red faced because the buttresses were refusing to slot into the holes. And there were A LOT of buttresses.

The wine helped with the build process but may have contributed to the wobbly (jolly?) style of the finished project. My cathedral - finished!

Ta da! Here's the finished model. I've added the twin spires at the front, which are Cologne Cathedral's most recognisable motif (and indeed, of the city). Incidentally the arrangement of the two spires side-by-side means that Cologne Cathedral has the widest façade of any church in the world.

Cologne Cathedral's two towersHere's something to think about: My model took a mere 2 hours; the cathedral itself took from 1248 - 1880 (with some interruptions) - which is over 600 years!

More info about the cathedral:

Website of Cologne Cathedral...

Wikipedia entry for Cologne Cathedral...

Info about the Lego exhibition:
Modellbaufans Rheinland...