A Postcard from Holm, Schleswig
My friend once told me the loveliest story of her Dad visiting a village here in Germany. He didn’t think it could possibly be real and, as if he were visiting a movie set or a reconstructed village in an amusement park, he peered through the windows of the houses until she told him people actually live in there and he was pressed up against someone’s very real living room window. Holm, a tiny fisher village in the city of Schleswig, is very much a place that begs you to press your face to windows.
We tacked a walk through Holm onto the end of our day trip to Schloss Gottorf. Ideally, we would have spent some time wandering through the city of Schleswig too, but with a tiring four-year-old asking for a car nap, we decided to leave that for another day. Picking battles and all of that.
An old fishing settlement, Holm used to be a little island – hence its name (small island in Danish) – which, until 1933, was reachable by a bridge from the mainland. Historically, it has long been home to the Holm fisherman who were, over the years, subject to various decrees about where around the Schlei they could fish. Today it’s a district of Schleswig and catches more tourists than fish, but it’s still apparently inhabited by a few fishers and families that can trace their history back to some of the early fishing families.
The houses form a circle around a little cemetery, which is kept as neat as a new pin (I actually love walking around village cemeteries, they’re so peaceful.) We were there at the height of summer, so the flowers were in full bloom and the little box hedges perfectly clipped. At the centre of the cemetery stands an old chapel around which the final resting places of the fishing families are grouped. It’s a lovely, richly historic centrepiece to the village.
We didn’t quite peek in windows (much … I mean I certainly got close) but there is something slightly unbelievable – in the ‘is this really real‘ sort of way – about this little Viertl. The doors and windows are so small, the roofs so slopey. The wind coming in off the Schlei whistles down the shiny, stony streets. It’s easy to think you’ve somehow stumbled across a film set or a recreated town and someone’s going to come strolling down the lane selling fresh herring for a farthing (no idea why my mind goes to ‘farthing’ when referencing old currency) any moment.
In fact, next time – and there will be a next time – we’ll continue on and find a Fischbrötchen somewhere nearby. After all, what’s a trip to a storybook fishing village without a bit of fish to finish it off?
We usually stay home for the summer holidays*** anyway, saving our days and money for an annual trip to Australia. This year we’re even more pointedly ‘holidaying at home’ what with Corona and all it has brought with it. In an effort to write during a time of my life I have even less time to do so than usual (kids at home more, working at home during an unusual semester) and in an effort to show you a little more of my adopted homeland, I thought I’d write postcards from our adventures this summer.
*** We’re closing in on the autumn holidays now, which my kids don’t get off. Regardless, we’ll try for a few day trips around here and try and catch some beautiful leaves.