09 Sep 2022 |
Posted by Jonathan Radnedge | 0 Comment.
** Our return visit to Hannover did not start off auspiciously, with half of our group of 12, on arriving at Heathrow, finding their direct flight to Hannover had been cancelled.
Many frustrating hours later, they were able to fly to Düsseldorf and thence by train to Hannover, albeit everyone was exhausted! But they did not miss the first event of the exciting programme which our friends in Hannover had set up for us.
On Friday morning, we all gathered in the Palais Garten behind the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Herrenhausen to witness the planting of a Peace Tree, a ginkgo sapling which had been grown from a seed of a tree which had survived the Hiroshima bombing in 1945. We were very honoured to have this tree given to us to celebrate our anniversary from 1947.
Also on this occasion, we were treated to some seafaring songs from our old friends, the Seemannschor, which were greatly appreciated.
Oberbürgermeister Onay and Deputy Mayor Asher Craig planting the Peace Tree
In the afternoon the official party visited the Slavery and Colonialism exhibition at the Historical Museum, while the association members had a delightful outdoor lunch in the Nordstadt and visited the Hannover Gin distillery in a late change to the programme, but members were interested to hear more about the background to the gin boat which had caused such a stir in Bristol at the Harbour Festival.
Later the same afternoon, some members attended the panel discussion on slavery, featuring Deputy Mayor Asher Craig and the Director of the Museum, Dr Thomas Schwark. In the evening, we enjoyed again the hospitality of Petra Pilger and Martin Gerdes for a barbecue in their lovely garden, where we socialised until late in the evening.
On Saturday morning we were all very honoured to take part in the official ‘Festakt’, an impressive ceremony in the Rathaus, where Oberbürgermeister Onay, Deputy Mayor Asher Craig and the British General Consul for Lower Saxony, Rafe Courage, all spoke very warmly of the relationship between the two cities, which had been so long-lasting and active, and was now looking forward to new ventures with the involvement of new groups of young people in particular.
One of these was the RISE Youth Dance group, who had spent a week engaged in workshops in the company of their new dance partners, from the Freizeitheim Linden, and now gave us a wonderful performance entitled ‘Human Rights Rise’, which was received with great enthusiasm by the audience in the Hodlersaal.
A Memorandum of Understanding, stating the commitment of both cities to further and wider cooperation was signed in English and German by the two Mayors and the two association Chairs, before the proceedings were closed, as they had been opened, by the wonderful singing of the Duo Kogi.
HBG Chair Robert Nicholls, Deputy Mayor Asher Craig, Oberbürgermeister Belit Onay, BHC Chair Ann Kennard after signing the MoU
After the ceremony, we were treated to a wonderful array of refreshments and drinks where everyone relaxed and chatted to old friends and new in the Mozaiksaal overlooking the Maschteich and park behind the Rathaus. Hannover City Council, and especially the Cultural Office are to be congratulated on the huge effort they put into the celebrations, and we are deeply grateful to them.
In the afternoon some members visited the Urban Nature Festival, with a podium discussion, again involving Deputy Mayor Craig, this time on the topic of street art, and there was an opportunity to visit the exhibition, in which two Bristol street artists took part.
In the evening, we were lucky enough to have tickets for the fantastic fireworks display in the Herrenhausen Gardens. This was part of an annual international competition, and this time we saw the entry of Mexico, on an evening which was warm, with a great atmosphere and lots of activities, stands and food and drink.
Sunday was given over to a train ride into the Harz Mountains, to visit the pretty town of Bad Harzburg. We had lunch on the Burgberg at the famous Rabenklippe Restaurant, with view of the Brocken mountain, with its great history with legends of witches on Walpurgis Night, including Goethe’s references in Faust but also as a radar station on the GDR border in the times of divided Germany.
Wood carving of a Brocken witch outside the restaurant
The Brocken with its communications tower
The group returned via either a walk or bus, or indeed the more exciting cable car and/or zip wire down the mountain, which was very spectacular, and then by train back ‘home’ to Hannover.
Monday was the day for our combined committee meeting, when we discussed how both visits this summer had gone, and started to make plans for next year, when Bristol will host our Hannoverian friends again in July.
There was the opportunity for some last-minute shopping, and we were lucky enough that Dr Schwark and his colleague Katharina Rünger opened the Historical Museum for us specially to view the wonderful Colonialism and Slavery exhibition, as we had been unable to do so on Friday.
In the evening we were delighted to have our farewell meal at the new clubhouse of the Odin Rugby Club, courtesy of our old friend Horst Josch. Horst had been instrumental in involving his friend the artist Della in creating a great banner celebrating the 75th anniversary, which now adorns the side of a number of trams in Hannover.
The food was great, gifts were exchanged and plans were made for a revitalisation of a rugby exchange, and we really look forward to meeting again next year!