Christina/ July 5, 2020/ The daily grind

An excursion into idyllic Isenbüttel can be tough. This lesson had to be learned the hard way by 400 Russians 75 years ago. The guys empoisoned themselves in April 1945 by drinking methyl alcohol. This incident is written down in the “Gifhorner diary 1945” by Reiner Silberstein. Maybe the poor soldiers should have visited the nearbye ostrich-farm instead, entertaining themselves by watching these funny birds, instead of having one glass too many.

Kick-boxing with ostriches
Despite the disillusioning weather forecast for the day we decide to start our cycle tour towards the Tankumsee this saturday. We start at the former train tracks and bike until Bienrode. From there we cycle towards the airport and arrive at Waggum. We follow the signposting for bicycles to Meine. On the left hand side we pass by the symbol of the small town: the mill. Some metres down the road we discover the true surprise.Two ostriches are looking at us curiously over a fence. Aha, there is a sign stating “Chicken Farmer, CT” – it is attached to the entrance.

There are grey and white ostriches, running curiously and stalking over the grass. It is funny how they use to raise and lower their telescope neck. I am amazed how elastic these birds are with their clumsy looking corpse, their thin meagre legs and long throats. I came across this kind of bird in South Africa for the first time. Over there I learned that these animals are very fast, up to 70 km/h. A kick from their delicate feet can be dangerous for human beings. So you better keep your distance.

Sylt atmosphere at the Elbe-Seitenkanal
We can hardly break away from this lovely scenery, the more so as we discover ostrich babies in the back. But we still have more kilometres to go. Our route takes us through Ohnhorst to Isenbüttel. We traverse the small town and arrive at our destination soon: the Tankumsee. This artificial lake is a recreational area with all kinds of amenities: restaurants, hotels, beach bars, summer cottages and camping sites.

We enjoy a nice little rest overseeing the lake. The lap around the lake after the break is an affair of honour. Finally we take a look at the levee – because of the strong winds that day it feels temporarily like being on Sylt.

400 dead man by methyl alcohol
We are on our way back to Isenbüttel and pass by the cemetery. We spot a sign in front of the entrance. We learn about an historical hiking Russian soldiers in April 1945. The guys stole methyl alcohol bottled in cans from a goods trains. A deed with deadly consequencees as the alcohol turns into highly concentrated formaldehyde within the body and thus killed all of the 400 soldiers.

The double osstrich of Meine
We can’t help it and stop once more at the ostrich-farm. We are lucky as the ostrich babies have moved to the fence in the meantime and are thus close enough to take a picture of them. But we have to be careful “mother ostrich” is watching us closely. We are cautious though. After a while she trusts us and unblocks our view.

We observe the spectacle for a while and enjoy the lumbering walking attempts of the little ones.

Staying dry for most of the time and with more than 60 kilometres in our system – combined with some very strong contrary winds – we finally reach home on late afternoon. It was a very nice enjoyable trip and we are happy with our decision to make the excursion despite the forecasted scattered showers.

Being back home I just realize the funny picture of the “double ostrich”. Sure, this will be the post title.

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