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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Waldkirch - part 2

Waldkirch orgelfest continued (see also part 1): On Sunday morning we visited the organ workshop of Achim Schnieder who makes incredible instruments - lovely street organs and musical boxes. We had a tour of his workshop and looked at the collection of strange automata type instruments built from scrap with a group of local school children as part of an education / engineering project.  The instruments were mainly for sound effects as part of a musical performance later that day, however visitors could try them out.  DollMum's younger daughter, Laura and Reuben tried out this pedal barrel operated guitar and drum playing combination (you pedalled and operated a lever to change the 'finger position' on the guitar which was strummed by a barrel pinned with brushes and could at the same time pull a cord to make the green drummer above hit the drum).
Laura, Reuben & DollMum's daughter try out the music machine
The guitar and drum machine
At the organ workshop of Jäger und Brommer Laura and Reuben encountered a small colourful street organ which a perspex case which made it possible to see how the organ works inside.

Colourful street organ (busker organ)
side view of the colourful street organ
There was an unclothed barrel organ monkey hanging from a shelf, showing how its body is constructed.

Barrel organ monkey at Jäger und Brommer
Some of the street organs were being demonstrated in the workshop.  This little street organ has dancing couples which turn with the music.

Reuben and Laura enjoy the dancing figures street organ
Watching and listening to a small street organ at Jäger und Brommer
Laura, Reuben and DollMum's daughter at Jäger und Brommer
Listening to the dancing figures street organ
In the rain we walked to the Eltzalmuseum of Organs, which is a museum at the heart of the town filled with the history of Waldkirch including a sizeable collection of instruments built in the town in the past 150 years. The museum was very busy, with regular tours, and especially so in the rain!  15 years ago this special organ was commissioned as a joint project built by all the organ builders in the town and launched at the 1999 Orgelfest - it was designed with children in mind and is called 'Altobella Furiosa', with the visual design by Otmar Alt.  It is a firm favourite in our family.  During the festival it is brought out of the museum (down a ramp on the main steps) to play outside however they also play it indoors (it is quite loud).  Laura and Reuben decided to pose in front of it (not playing at the time).  You can watch a video of Altobella Furiosa playing an amazing Blues Brothers arrangement at
Laura and Reuben with Altobella Furiosa
Laura and Reuben with Altobella Furiosa
They also posed with Altobella Furiosa's little companion street organ.
Laura and Reuben with the companion street organ
Laura and Reuben with the companion street organ
In the museum the public can play some of the instruments.  This Jäger and Brommer street organ has paper roll music and anyone can hand turn it to play it.
Watching the Jäger und Brommer street organ being turned in the museum
Watching the paper roll being rewound to be replayed
Laura and Reuben help DollMum's daughter turn the street organ
In the museum basement are several of the larger organs in the collection.  The Swiss Alpen horns were meant to be playing outside however it was very wet so they played indoors instead.
Swiss Alpen horns being played in the Elztal museum
Outside on the stage beside the museum was the newly built organ with a 'pop art' style facade designed by Otmar Alt.  This instrument had been demonstrated for the first time on the Friday evening, however it isn't yet complete and the stage was used by other performers throughout the weekend.  Organo Caribe are a German group who specialise in playing Caribbean style music with their little street organ, we have a CD of theirs which is a favourite for long car journeys.  See and hear a short video of Organo Caribe at
Organo Caribe play outside the museum in the rain
Sadly all festivals come to an end and most organs on display stopped playing after 5:30 pm.  We returned to our hotel and had dinner with a group of visitors from the USA who always come to our hotel for their last night meal at the festival.  After dinner Laura and Reuben sneaked out to stand in the same spot where Peter and Matroshka had stood three years before.

Laura and Reuben pose outside Altersbach hotel
Laura and Reuben pose outside Altersbach hotel
The hotel owners have a street organ which they had used to welcome the American party.  In their display cabinet was a lovely little Bavarian doll, Reuben and Laura greeted her through the glass.
Reuben and Laura greet the little Bavarian girl in the display cabinet at Altersbach
The little Bavarian doll at Altersbach
On Monday we drove all the way back to the ferry.  It is a very long way (to Strasbourg then on the north French motorways).  We are always sad to leave the organ town of Waldkirch and the lovely people at the hotel.

Laura and Reuben wave goodbye to France
DollMum's younger daughter
drew this picture of Laura and Reuben on the ferry
Just in case you're wondering about their clothes, you may recognise Laura's outfit as the Autumn Swap pinafore set sent to me by Anne in Germany who has the Sasha Comoneo crew.  She knows the Black Forest well, so it was appropriate to bring this outfit with us.  Reuben's outfit is actually his Pinehurst school outfit without the blazer and with the addition of brightly coloured braces which I constructed on the Sunday morning from some ribbon I had brought with me.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Waldkirch - part 1

So where are Reuben and Laura going?  It looks like they are using the bag that Lorraine of Sewing for Sasha made for them:
Reuben and Laura in their special bag
This photo was taken on a ferry in the early hours of Friday as we crossed the channel to France.  During the remainder of the night and the early morning we drove across France and into Germany, arriving at Waldkirch in the Black Forest just before midday.  After a 2 hour afternoon sleep in our hotel in the Kandel pass we went down to the town to take in some of the International Orgelfest which is held every 3 years, then returned to the hotel for dinner.  Last time we went to the festival we took the two Australian Girl dolls and two of the Gotz dolls - see Meet Matroshka for their adventures.  This time it was Laura and Reuben's turn. 
Laura and Reuben enjoy the view down the
Altersbach valley from our dining table
On Saturday morning Laura and Reuben climbed into their bag again and came with us to the organ festival for the day.  In the park by the river we discovered this automata organ, with four figures 'playing' the music. The clarinet player's fingers really moved, the cellist bowed his double bass and the accordion players moved too, all the figures had eyes that blinked and moved.
The Swiss folk band organ
accordion player 
double bass player
this accordion player had a daisy flower in his mouth
The clarinet player with moving fingers
In Germany the small street organs are often used to tell elaborate stories with music.  The story pictures are on large banners with the story teller pointing to the pictures and singing with the organ grinder.  This group included three children as well.  We never understand the stories as they're all in German, however they're fun to watch as they're usually very dramatic and a bit sensationalist.
DollMum's daughter with Laura and Reuben on her lap (not visible)
watching the German organ story tellers
The Gruesome Murder Act! story in full flow
This street organ had an unusual figure in front of it (usually organs have automated figures mounted on the façade in front of the pipes - conducting the music or playing bells).  This figure wasn't automated.

Street organ with beggar figure
The carved wooden beggar
We visited one of the four organ building workshops in the town (Paul Fleck) where they had some music boxes on sale.  Laura really liked the miniature disc player.
Laura with the disc player music box
In the Markt Platz a very special Fair organ was playing and we sat down on the cobbles for a rest to listen.
Laura and Reuben rest in their bag while listening to the organ
Laura was tired and needed a cuddle
After a while Laura and Reuben became curious about this goddess and her attendants who presided over the music with such dignity and they loved the music.  The organ is one of only 2 Ruth organs ever made to this particular music scale (it is a Model 46 Ruth organ which belongs to a Swiss organ collector).  21 years ago this very same organ played on this spot at the festival for DollMum and her husband, it has not appeared at the festival since so it was a delight to see and hear it again.
Laura and Reuben approach the Model 46 Ruth fair organ
Laura and Reuben stand in front of the Model 46 Ruth fair organ
Back in their bag again (they swapped places)
Back at the park on the stage a Swiss yodelling choir was singing.  This year the festival had a real Swiss theme to it.
Swiss yodellers
One group who have attended the last 3 festivals are the street musicians from Chile.  They have 2 small street organs and 5 one man band musicians who spin and twirl to the music while banging their drums and clashing their cymbals - on this stage the sound was magnified even more than in the street!
Street organs and one man band musicians from Chile
We sat on the park bench for a rest while listening to the organs nearby.
Laura and Reuben rest in the park while DollMum's daughter draws
Near the stage was a large pile of saw dust surrounded by hay bales.  This was for the demonstration of Swiss haymakers - which turned out to be a special kind of wrestling.
Reuben and Laura watch the Swiss haymakers
We had a lovely meal with some Dutch friends in Markt Platz before the rain and thunder storms began, so returned to the hotel for the evening and more chatting.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

What are they talking about?

What are Belle, Matilda, Matroshka and Peter talking about with Laura and Reuben?  Why do they look so excited?
Reuben and Laura hear all about it from
Belle, Peter, Matroshka and Matilda
Clue needed?  When did Belle, Peter, Matroshka and Matilda feature in a post together?  Could this be another adventure?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Sasha girls in Scotland - part 4

Laura and Florence complete their blog about our May half term to Scotland (see also Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3):

On the second Saturday of our visit to Scotland we joined the family on an outing in Edinburgh.  In two days they had already explored the Museum of Childhood, had an open top bus tour, visited The Elephant House cafe where the first three Harry Potter books were written, been inside St Giles Cathedral, seen Blackfriars Bobby statue and grave, visited the University of Edinburgh Art Degree Show and had a private pre-arranged tour of an important no longer open to the public building in Edinburgh as part of a history project.

We walked from our B&B all the way up past the Castle to the Camera Obscura on Castle hill.  After viewing the Camera Obscura show of the city (10 minutes in the dark with a birds eye view of the city projected onto the large white dish table) we went outside onto the viewing decks for a magnificent fresh air sunny view of Edinburgh.  Wow!  It was so impressive.  DollMum looked at the list outside of other camera obscura's around the world (not many) and realised that she had also been to the only one in the Southern Hemisphere in Grahamstown (SA) and the one in Aberystwyth (Wales), apparently there are three others in Scotland.
The Camera Obscura sign on the tower
Florence and Laura view Edinburgh from the Camera Obscura
View of St Giles Cathedral (in the distance down the Royal Mile)
After that, we worked our way down the several floors of the museum exploring all the optical and scientific exhibits which taught us quite a lot about optical illusions in a fun way.

Mirrors played tricks on us in the Camera Obscura museum
Singing Cats and Piano playing dog automata in the Camera Obscura
Singing Cats and Piano playing dog automata in the Camera Obscura
Laura's left eye magnified 50x in the Camera Obscura
Laura's right eye magnified 50x in the Camera Obscura
Laura played with coloured light shadows
There was an amazing optical illusion room which tricked your eyes into believing that relative sizes were different from reality:
DollMum's younger daughter is only double the height of Laura!
DollMum's elder daughter is a giant, Laura is tiny
DollMum's younger daughter is bigger than her elder daughter
Laura is tiny compared to DollMum's younger daughter
Laura is tiny compared to DollMum's younger daughter,
while her elder daughter has short legs for a change
DollMum's daughters are the same size, while Laura is tiny
When we had finished at the Camera Obscura we walked all down the hill to the moat gardens, past the galleries by Princes Street and sat in the gardens eating ice cream in the sunshine.
Eating ice cream on a slope in the Edinburgh park
Eating ice cream and watching the world go by
We really enjoyed our day in the sunshine in Edinburgh (Laura had more fun than Florence who spent most of the day strapped to the side of DollMum's camera case rucksack watching everyone).  On Sunday we had the long drive home and were pleased to get back to all the others in the doll and bear family to tell them all about our adventures in Scotland.