July 03, 2008
Holger and the joys of island life
We spent a relaxing long weekend on the small island of Baltrum - just off the German North Sea coast. Baltrum is very small and special in that there are no motorized vehicles on the island - except for emergency ones. Because of this, it takes a while to get used to the absence of motorized noise. Actually that isn't quite true as there is a little airfield, so you do hear the occasional sound of a motor.
One evening we were relaxing in the sun when we saw someone pushing a very large John Deere tractor-lawnmower (like one of these) along the main road between the two villages on the island. I jokingly asked if he had run out of petrol - and that is how we came to meet Holger.
Holger was born on the island of Baltrum and works half-days delivering crates of drinks to the various holiday homes and flats on Baltrum. Because there are no motorized vehicles, Holger rides round on his bike towing a trailer with the crates perched on the trailer. A common form of heavy-goods transport on the island.
Holger spends the other half of the day (during the Summer) mowing lawns and the larger grassy areas with his petrol powered John Deere lawnmower. Once on the lawn, Holger is in his element - he fires up the tractor-lawnmower and off he goes.
However, whenever Holger "meets" a road or other public path, he has to turn off the lawnmower and push it over the road to the next piece of grass. He is not allowed to drive over or along any public path without first getting a permit. Getting a permit means ringing up the police and requesting explicit permission to drive over (or up) the path he wants to take. So, due to this hassle, Holger resorts to pushing his John Deere over the island or hitching a tow from one of the many horse carriages.
Holger also introduced us to the concept of "extreme shopping" whereby a group of people from the island will catch the ferry over to the mainland, make a rush for the nearest town, split up to access different shops in parallel and then make a speedy dash back for the next ferry back to the island. Because the ferry only runs 2-3 times a day, there isn't much room for timing mistakes.
During the hour we chatted, Holger gave us some really good insight into the life on an island. Strangely attractive actually.
Posted by Matthew at July 3, 2008 12:06 PM
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