Before I get to today’s blog content, I must apologise for not having visited everybody else’s blogs this week, but I’m rather swamped with client work right now, all of which has to be delivered by certain deadlines. I will eventually get around to reading all the wonderful blog entries that have been accumulating in my email folder.
Also, I apparently picked up two awards, the Sunshine award and the Versatile Blogger award, which I shall adequately honour and celebrate in a separate blog entry. In the meantime, thank you so much for nominating me and for following my humble efforts.
Back to the location of my The First Intergalactic Dating Agency novel:
With such a wealth of historic buildings to choose from and such an enormously rich source of good story lines I have to make some tough decisions. What do I want my time travelling kids to experience and which buildings should I concentrate on?
One story and building that intrigued me right from the start was the 17th century Red Ox Inn (Gasthaus zum roten Ochsen) at the open air museum Hohenlohe in Wackershofen-Gailenkirchen (www.gasthauszumrotenochsen.de, www.wackershofen.de). Unfortunately, these two websites are not available in English, yet, but you’ll be able to see the pictures and get a feel for the place and the surrounding countryside that is Hohenlohe. Click on “Essen und Trinken” on the right hand side menu and you get to see more pictures of the Red Ox Inn.
Once again, my idiotic camera sabotaged all my efforts and the many pictures I took, didn’t come out, unfortunately. You’ll find a French lady’s efforts were rewarded and she took some splendid pictures of the museum’s buildings and grounds at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8666432@N04/sets/72157622431039886/
The historic building was moved to the museum’s grounds in 1980 and painstakingly reconstructed by volunteer craftsmen and women, until in 1985 is opened to the public, showing off all its splendours once more. Today the historic inn is run by Barbara Glaser and her family and I have eaten there many a time…the pork and beef, by the way, come from the museum’s own animals, as there is a working farm on the museum’s grounds.
At some point in history a mysterious death occurred at this public house, but that was when the Red Ox Inn was still standing in its own, original location. The name is a popular one and goes back to a time, when the postal carriages where criss-crossing the countryside and nearby Schwäbisch Hall had a large cattle market. Many public houses were called The Red Ox, simply because the traditional Hohenlohe cattle is small, sturdy and…you’ve guessed it, RED and white in colour.
Hohenlohe cattle are pretty good at clinging on to the steep hills and mountain sides, where they are forced to graze, so I guess that’s why they are so small – a fully grown ox doesn’t stand much taller than the calf of a black and white Frisian. Hohenlohe pigs, by the way, are also very distinct, as they are black and white in colour.
Incidentally, throughout the year the museum holds interesting events that revolve around living in the countryside through the ages and on various weekends they showcase some of the rare breeds that still exist in the Hohenlohe region. Should you ever find yourself in that part of Germany, do stop by. The bus drops you off just outside the museum’s doors.
The other public house on the museum’s grounds is the beautiful Rose Inn, which may even date back to the 16th century, but is more likely to be from the early 18th century in its present form. Here I also find rich pickings with regard to story lines. The Rose Inn once had an evil landlord, who was cruel to his family and undoubtedly in league with bandits.
Using historic places, in particular specific buildings or streets, within the setting of my time-travelling adventure will lend great atmosphere to the story and hopefully draw the reader in, making my story more believable for young readers. By researching some of the people who lived at such places through the ages, I can build up a picture of what it must have been like to live, play, work, love, lose, win and – most importantly – be a child during that time.
The choice of an historic public house seems an odd one for a children’s book – but I grew up in my grandparent’s pub, so have first-hand experience of how little time grown ups have for children, when they are trying to run a busy pub. I can weave my own childhood memories into the story, while at the same time transporting my young readers back to an earlier century.
If you had to write about a historic building, what would it be?