Tuesday, September 11, 2012

François Skyvington's moped road movie #6

Episode #6 of the road movie was presented yesterday afternoon.

François and his moped left the sunny south of France for another exotic corner of Europe: the German Bight, on the edge of the North Sea.

His excursions started at the North Frisian port of Husum, where François boarded a vessel for a bit of prawn fishing.

Funnily enough, the crew members were intrigued to find that their French visitor was accustomed to crunching into small cooked prawns without removing their shells.

Next, François abandoned temporarily his moped and took a plane out to the remote archipelago of Heligoland, some 50 km off the German coastline, where he had a rendezvous with Rolf Hagel, in charge of the local seal population.

They started out immediately, on foot, to inspect seals on the nearby beaches.

They soon came upon a pair of baby seals that had been abandoned by their mother.

They would have to be captured rapidly and transported to the local seal nursery for feeding and care.

Next, François boarded a ferry for the bleak windswept island of Pellworm, which seemed to lie in the middle of nowhere.

Here, men were constantly building and repairing sea walls made of wooden stakes and bundles of branches.

Taking advantage of the least strip of earth emerging from the waters in this steel-gray setting, these warriors of the sea strive ceaselessly to prevent the island from disappearing into the North Sea.

François was guided by a local resident, Knud, who, besides his work as a seawall supervisor, has a job as a barefooted postman, walking across the beaches to deliver mail brought across on the ferry. On this particular day, the island's postman got a helping hand from François and his moped.

François' final encounter in this lonely but lovely universe was with a lady named Ruth.

After meeting up with François in a mainland food-supplies store and piling his moped into her van for the trip towards her island home, Ruth parked her vehicle and took control of her personal train for the journey along a narrow causeway with the sea on both sides.

She explained that she only owns the train, whereas the railway line belongs to the German Republic.

As for her home, it's built on a mound of earth that rises magically out of the flat sandbanks and the sea.

Whenever the sea surrounds the house, they simply close the doors and windows.

François saw amazing photos of what the house looked like whenever there was a tempest, several times a year.

Apparently, at the top of the house, an emergency attic has been built on four hefty concrete pillars. So, even if the rest of the house were to be swept into the sea, Ruth and her children could wait in safety for the waters to subside.

For the second time in his road movie, François was surrounded by a big flock of sturdy sheep, which enable Ruth to earn her living in this exotic setting.

When François asked Ruth naively if it might not be better to reside on the mainland and only step across to the island to take care of the sheep, she replied with a smile that her ancestors had been settled in this remote paradise for the last two and a half centuries, and that she felt fine there.

Finally, François trudged back along the causeway beside his trusty steed.

A big fat ewe watched him leaving.

The animal seemed to be saying to itself: "Why would anyone decide to leave this marvelous island?" In one of Ruth's amazing photos, we saw that, in times of tempest, the sheep gather on the lawns of her house as if it were Noah's Ark.

It's easy to understand that—for Ruth, her children and her sheep—abandoning this kind of existence for a mainland house at the other terminus of her railway line would be unthinkable.


  1. i dont like ur moped road movie .....

    im lovin it !!! ure the best ! please keep doing ur good work

    best regards

    daniel from germany

  2. Thanks for sharing information on this blog, i have visited your blog great post....!!!!

    Kerbing Toowoomba