William Wallace Day – 11 October 2014 – Kommunales Kino Lubeck

In cooperation with Liane Cumming and Michael Cooper (from Scotland)

To mark the date of a historic letter from William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland, to the Hanseatic City of Lubeck on 11th October 1297, Kino Koki is presenting an evening of Scottish film. In the letter, Wallace wanted the merchants of Lubeck to know it was now secure to trade with the Kingdom of Scotland as he had just won a victory against England at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

The Wallace Letter is a treasured document which is the only artifact remaining in Wallace’s own handwriting, and is kept in the Lubeck Archiv.

Our Scottish films depict two stories showing the effect capitalism has on the ability to value our connections with the past and our relationships with nature, and our responsiblility for them.

Scottish snacks and drinks will be available between the two films with a special whiskey tasting opportunity with advice available. The entrance fee is €5 for each film.



You’ve Been Trumped (18 h)

Documentary film set in North East Scotland portraying the brutal nature of corporate power. The film follows a group of proud Scottish homeowners as they take on the might of celebrity US tycoon Donald Trump when he buys up one of Scotland’s last coastal wilderness areas to build a luxury golf resort. Once construction begins on the 1,400-acre Menie Estate, which Mr. Trump bought in 2005, the lives of the farmers and fishermen in nearby Balmedie, a specially protected area of Scotland are turned upside down. The film delves into the problems encountered by the remaining residents who make their last stand in the face of security harassment and legal threats from both Mr. Trump and the local authorities.

Anthony Baxter, GB 2011, 95 Min., OV, FSK: –




Local Hero (20.30 h)

A 1980s film portraying a humorous tale of a small idyllic Scottish village and its encounter with a giant oil company. An eccentric American oil billionaire Happer (Burt Lancaster) sends his yuppie executive (Peter Riegert) to Scotland to secure the property rights of a village and beach for an oil refinery they want to build. But things don’t go as expected when he meets sturdy, feisty locals, falls in love and sees the Northern Lights.

Bill Forsyth, GB 1983, 111 Min., OV, FSK: ab 12


€5 each film


Week 2 -21st-28th April 2013 – Proitzer Muhle – “haben in sich selbst zu vertrauen”

The week that was:

  • Tango dancers continued on their course until Wednesday – dancing into the wee small hours.
  • Ended with the Tango Ball and Buffet – quite a spectacular show of both food and dancing.
  • Brief lull on Wednesday then full into Celtic Spring from Thursday – involved getting a crash course in Irish dtep dancing and dancing all the way through the weekend! Phew!
  • Met lots of people from Germany who were interested in all things Celtic, including Scotland’s German Ambassadors Karin and Dirk! Liane crowned Dirk with her saltire buff!


The Help Xchange:


  • More weeding work in the front of Proitzer Muhle building.
  • Michael made a dish (Spargel Salat) for the Tango Buffet.
  • We made some tattie scones for our hosts to try!
  • More amazing food from the Proitzer Muhle kitchen…spinach and cashew nut curry; prunes mushrooms and potato wedges; apricot and nut sponge with crumble topping…”lecker” as they say in Germany!
  • Took part in an Irish step dancing course taught by Ian Hughes – a Welshman!.
  • Met some great people at the Celtic Spring through our dancing with Bettina, Karin, Monica, Heike, Donald and Dagmar, over a whisky from Donald McDonald, exchanging Gaelic tales with Mikael and so on.
  • We really got a flavour of what a special place Proitzer Muhle especially when we were saying good bye to everyone.


Our German quote of the week – “haben in sich selbst zu vertrauen”

Literary means to have trust in yourself or as we would say have faith or confidence in yourself. This was a comment made to Michael when he was working in the kitchen when he finished making his salad and asked the head member of staff if it tasted alright. When making this comment she was saying Michael should go with what he thinks and the have trust in this rather than ask someone what they think.

P1090712 (800x600) 

The spread at the Tango Ball

P1090709 (800x600)

This was all put together by just 4 kitchen staff…amazing!

Not many photos this week…we hope to post some of us dancing…we’ve asked if Proitzer Muhle could send us some!

Blog rethink…

We’ve had to rethink how we manage our blog. Trying to keep to the level of our first post it seems is unrealistic! Also we reckon the priority is really photos and a brief outline of what we’ve been up to. This means our blog will be more up to date and hopefully a bit easier on the eye too!

So we look forward to keeping you abreast of our German experiences over the best part of the next year. We’ll be posting entries for weeks 2 to 9 of our HelpX experience between now and Thursday then from Friday we hope to be posting on a weekly basis so it’s regular and up to date.

Viel Spass as they say in Germany which roughly translates as have lots of fun!

Week 1 – Vielen Dank fur ihre Geduld!

The day of our arrival marked a significant change. We were leaving the very familiar Berlin behind and venturing into a new area both geographically and personally. For the next 6 months we’ll be HelpXing – living as helpers with lots of different German hosts. Naturally this takes you out of your comfort zone – meeting new people, doing new things, not knowing the language and so on. So of course we had mixed feelings – anticipation and trepidation – excitement and nervousness.

It was change all around really including a seasonal one. The need to wear jackets had gone and now it was warm enough for t-shirts. So we arrived at our first HelpX host – Proitzer Muhle – a converted watermill near Schnega in Lower-Saxony which is used as a venue for hosting dance group holidays and training sessions.

Heike who owns the Proitzer Muhle, Jutta who deals with the day to day running of things and Sally who has been a helper here for a year have given us a very warm welcome and helped us to settle into the surroundings quickly and easily. We all eat meals together so we’ve been able to build really good relationships and find out more about Proitzer Muhle and an insight into German culture – from discussions about the German constitution to the meaning of die Streichholzschachtelchen. The wider staff team work on a casual basis but there is nothing casual in their endeavours. They turn out amazing food in huge quantities which is served in a buffet style so it’s very easy to find reasons to go up for seconds if not thirds.

On the work front we’ve mostly been doing gardening as spring has arrived for real and Heike is keen to weed out the flower beds to bring some colour after the long winter. But by the end of the first week we had been treated to a cycle tour (20km) of the local area a walking tour of the nearby village Salzwedel and a trip to the local flea market so it definitely was not all work.

The cycle tour was really interesting for us as we crossed the historic border of East and West Germany. Heike was able to show us exactly where the border was and took us up an abandoned watch tower which is one of the few reminders that the border or ‘wall’ was not just in Berlin. There was a no-man’s land here too, with villages located on the border evacuated to make a 5km clearing to be guarded or defended. Heike talked poignantly about how the border led to families being split apart and people experiencing oppression. Since the border came down this has been an area that has attracted like minded and creative people who might be regarded by some as being “alternative”. Initially people would likely have been attracted by the relatively cheaper prices for property. As a result like minded people have settled resulting in various arts and cultural events, festivals and activities developing. People live very sustainably and various campaigns have started from here usually associated with the environment, the most famous being the protest against a nuclear dumping site. So although the border has gone the state authorities still snoop on and intervene on the ‘new radicals’ and sometimes with their heavy hand. Different regime but same tactics.

Over and above our outings we took part in some Scottish country dancing in the first week. Heike runs a weekly class with a group of local women and amazingly some of them have been attending for nearly 20 years. So here we were having left Scotland behind only to find it again at Proitzer Muhle. We had never done any of the dances before (e.g. White Cockade, Trip to Gatilburg) so we felt pretty un-patriotic, especially as the ladies were so good with their dancing. Thankfully the group were very friendly, welcoming and patient with us and were so pleased when we got the dances so it wasn’t all bad however we still felt a bit like fraudsters. The group sat together and had a little chat (commonly known in Germany as “small talk”). Although we didn’t understand much it was a good experience to be amongst a group of people who come together to socialise and share an activity. Another great and unique HelpX experience.

There was a group of Kindergarten (nursery) teachers arriving at Proitzer Muhle the same time as us as they were about to begin one of their regular training sessions here – Sunday to Thursday. The course seemed very intense and therapeutic which involved the teachers reflecting on their past and themselves personally to see how this could influence their work with children. Seems Germany takes this kind of work a bit more serious than back home.

The teachers left and their rooms were quickly filled by tango dancers who were here for their tango dancing course/holiday. It amazed us how versatile Proitzer Muhle is to provide the setting and atmosphere for very different activities that bring fuflilment and joy to the people who take part in them. We look forward to seeing this more as future guests arrive and take part in their ‘thing’.

Our cultural observation this week was the politeness from people – both staff and guests. Like everytime you pass someone you are greeted with “morgen” (good morning), “abend” (good evening) or “guten appétit” (enjoy your meal). This is done by everyone and it’s done genuinely – with a smile and engaging in eye contact. Sometimes people extend this into a very brief conversation or comment. With us this tended to be people saying things about our work like “schon” (nice) or something along those lines. Again this was done genuinely.

Now don’t get us wrong this can become a bit tedious when you have 30 odd guests passing through a room at some point and you are greeted by every one of them. But at the same time it’s nice to engage in this exchange and it’s not something we’re used to at home. It gives us a tentative chance for us to engage in language at a very basic level and so gives us a wee bit of confidence.

Although this might seem bit formal it does show the politeness in the German language and culture. This is something we’ve always found a bit ironic as the stereotype associated with German people (at home) classes them as being “arrogant”. There are other times when the German language and culture can be very direct – like when people ask a question and you don’t give them an answer or you try to avoid it or if you try to get on a bus thinking there is a queue but in fact it’s a case of everybody for themselves. To us that is not arrogance but just differences in how people see politeness. At home we would see politeness as routinely queuing for things here people see it as having conversations that are genuine and honest.

Despite having 3 trips in our first week Heike still encourages us to take breaks and work less so like our last HelpX experience we might be working too hard. Of course we’re still in a bit of a transition from leaving our jobs to being a volunteer. But also we want to give a big effort to help make Proitzer Muhle look colourful. After all it has brought a lot of colour into our lives in such a short time so we want to do what we can to return the compliment.


Seminarhof Proitzer Muhle main building


A closer look to take in the original old mill

P1090622 (800x600)

One of our first pieces of work in the garden…

P1090623 (800x600)

…planting trees!


Nice afternoon so we went for a cycle tour of the local area with Heike, Jutta and Sally


The watchtower we visited on the cycle tour…a reminder of the not so distant history


Watering the newly planted pansies on our return

  P1090636 (600x800)

A lovely street in Salzwedel – typical houses of the region


Johann-Friedrich-Museum Danneil Museum – another impressive Salzwedel building

P1090680 (800x600)

Back to some work…this is the before photo of a bed needing weeded

     P1090685 (800x600)


 P1090687 (600x800)

…and after!


Time for a break and some kaffee und kuchen!

P1090670 (600x800)

Then we go on a walk…this is our favourite walk around the local area…that’s Heike in the distance on one of her horses!

P1090674 (800x600)

A spot where you can buy some tatties in Molden a wee village nearby that we pass on our walk

P1090675 (800x600)

A war memorial in Proitzer village nearby with a St Andrew’s cross in the sky behind

P1090699 (793x800)

Heike’s tree house

P1090707 (800x600)

We finish our first week with a run – this is the view from our room window as Liane finishes her run


“Vielen Dank fur ihre Geduld” translates as “many thanks for your patience”. This was a phrase we used when we were doing Scottish Country Dancing and we’ve chosen it as our German ‘phrase of the week’ as we were pretty poor cultural ambassadors. But we would like to extend this sentiment as we’ve taken a while to start our blog, so we thank you for your patience too!


Die Streichholzschachtelchen, the name of our blog translates into English as ‘a little box of matches’. We learned this word so have chosen it for our blog as it captures the essence of what we are doing on a few levels. For starters there is a saying in Germany that if you can say this word you can speak the language and of course this is one of our main aims this year in Germany. So we can actually measure how well we are doing by working out how well we are pronouncing this word. Not exactly scientific but it might help a bit!

On another level die Streichholzschachtelchen could act as a metaphor of what we will be doing during our first six months in Germany when we will be volunteering through an agency HelpX. This involves living with a German host under an arrangement where you work for 4-6 hours per day in exchange for your accommodation and food. The host can be a family or a business which means the type of work you do varies. Usually settings are in rural locations and here work involves gardening, farm work or some other form of manual labour. Alternatively you might be asked to do some more general work like cleaning or housework. Hosts try to match what you want to do with what is needed to be done.

We plan to spend 2 weeks with each host to see how things go so will likely have quite a few HelpX experiences over our 6 months of volunteering. Of course if we get on particularly well somewhere we may stay longer and through this process we aim to form relationships with German people, learn about German culture and begin to learn the language.

So back to the metaphor – each match in our Streichholzschachtelchen or little box of matches represents our relationships with hosts. When one is struck a relationship begins. The flame might ignite quickly or slowly – it may burn for a long time or frizzle out quickly. When it does burn out another match will be struck and a new relationship and experience begins. Once all the matches are gone we hope to be able to pronounce die Streichholzschachtelchen and thus speak the language!

The word is also a great example of how the German language brings words together to form meaning. So for this word it is streich (strike) holz (wood) schachtel (box). The last part of it “chen” makes it a diminutive noun letting you know it is a small thing. So in our blog we hope to share some of our experiences with you. We hope it will be slightly different to our previous travel blogs. We will of course give some descriptive accounts of what we’ve been doing but we would also like to focus on aspects of German culture and language that we have been learning about. We’ll likely compare this to our own culture and language as being Scottish Central Belters!