Tangerhütte to Gardelegen

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Watermill, Staats, which – if my German is right – provided the village with electric light during the interwar years. Stork nest on top of the chimney, but no storks spotted.

I did wonder if a 500-kilometre circular cycle route was a bit too short for a 2-week holiday . . . but now I think probably not, in view of the heat, the surfaces (how much sand can I cycle through while remaining upright?) and the rival attractions of Freibäder.

I find myself thinking about rural life and being part of an agricultural economy. Older, brick houses in the closely spaced villages are low, all with openings large enough for animals and carts to pass through to the yards behind. There are no big towns yet (even Stendal – a Hansestadt – seemed quite small) and everything feels somehow local and small-scale – like the watermill above. I thought about the village in The White Ribbon: would these places have been like that 100 years ago?

Very pleasant cycling (but very hot – in the thirties).

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Germany has had such a busy history since it was formed, and as I cycle I find it interesting to link what I see to what I have learned. So, the upgraded railway line from Hanover to Berlin is obviously an example of post-reunification infrastructure spending (for there would have been little need to link those two cities in the same way between 1945 and 1989); the street layouts in Stendal and Gardelegen follow old town walls; the memorial in Lüderitz was erected by the Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziziregimes; the whole “Junker” feel of this land of estate houses (the absence of the accompanying estate presumably due to DDR land ownership regulations); and the newish shopping centres (whether edge-of-town or central) that imply that the town’s original shops provided neither the space nor the range of consumer delights expected in the post-Wende age. (I say this as someone who can sulk if obliged to buy fruit in Netto rather than Lidl.)

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