City Grammar School 1968 Exchange
Trip to Siegen, Germany

Photo 01 :- Overlooking Siegen from the castle.
01 Angela Neill

Photo 02 :-
          01 Mechthild Banken - 02 Renate XXX - 03 XXX - 04 Jackie Taylor
05 Carole Drakeford - 06 XXX - 07 Ulrike XXX

  Photo 03 :-
   Angela Neill with Mechthild Banken and her family

 Photo 04 :- Almost back home !!!!!!!!!!
  01 Elaine Coulson - 02 Janice Wragg - 03 Angela Neill
04 Mr Bradshaw - 05 XXX - Mark Packham

 01 Derek Whiteley - 02 Mr Bradshaw

 01 Ian Bond - 02 Mark Packham - 03 Derek Whiteley

 German exchange girls :-
01 XXX - 02 XXX - 03 XXX - 04 XXX - 05 XXX
06 Janice Wragg

 Back Standing :- 01 Elaine Coulson - 02 Angela Whattam - 03 Norma Hewitt
04 XXX - 05 Janice Wragg - 06 Michael Grainger

Front Seated :- 07 XXX - 08 XXX - 09 Bryan Coulson (baby) - 10 Eva Druckrei

  Elaine Coulson (far left) with the German family she stayed with



The Siegen Exchange

Late Easter, twenty-two members of various forms from 3B to 6U took part in an exchange scheme with Siegen, a small industrial town on the River Sieg, about 100 kilometres east of Cologne.

We could not have chosen a more perfect fortnight as far as the weather was concerned:  during the whole of our stay it rained only once, on the day before we returned to Sheffield.  Because of the splendid weather, the trips arranged by Herr Scholtz, Mr Bradshaw's German colleague, were enjoyed even more.

The day after our arrival, a hike was arranged.  By this time we were already partly adjusted to the German way of life, and had made many observations about the country and our host families;  we continued to add to this knowledge during the stay.  We found, for example, that the majority of the German families with whom we were staying remained, as far as possible during the day and certainly at weekends, together.  Only seldom did members of the family go out separately.  Perhaps the most obvious difference was the cost of living.  Food and clothes especially are very expensive : for instance, it was not uncommon to see in the shop windows of Siegen dresses sold at the extortionate price of 600 D.M. - roughly £65!  My host family managed a supermarket in which small tins of fruit costing about 1s 9d. in Sheffield took 2s 9d. from the purses of the housewives.

Discussion of such matters naturally occupied much of our time during the hike, but it was impossible not to notice the magnificent countryside through which we were walking.  Looking in one direction from the top of a rather rickety fire-observation tower, we saw tall, dark pines rising up to form, on the slops, an impressive backcloth for the bustling, industrious Siegen, nestling in the valley.  In the opposite direction were high mountains shrouded in early morning mist.  The keen photographers in the group really had the time of their lives!

Arriving back in Siegen, having walked six kilometres we were all tired and hungry, and ready for the meal waiting for us at the Youth Hostel there;  it was quite a change from an English dinner, since it began with pea-soup with the consistency of thick porridge, and ended with "Quark", a dessert similar to yoghurt.  Luckily it tasted much better than it looked.

For me and for many others of the party, the trip to the Rhineland was the highlight of the stay.  That particular morning we had to set out from Siegen really early, as the trip to the Rhine is a long one.  Our day began with a visit to a recently-opened swimming pool, reputed to contain a substance to ease rheumatism, surprised us all, not only because of its coldness but also by its strange orange colour.  Afterwards we were taken by coach to Linz, a small olde-worlde town on the banks of the Rhine, where there was a stall selling a real rarity : German-English chips!.

After lunch came our trip on the Rhine.  Most of the group sprawled out in canvas chairs, and baked under the fierce sun;  the majority of us had set off armed with thick woollies, having been warned that it was cold on the Rhine.

Chugging merrily down the river towards Bonn, the "Rheindampfer" passed many famous landmarks, such as the Drachenfels, and Konigswinter, the tourist centre of the area.  Not until we arrived at Bonn did we know that Freddie Titmus, the England cricketer, recovering from his accident in the West Indies, was a fellow-traveller on the steamer.

After a brief trip round the West German capital, we set off to return to Siegen, on the way attempting to join our German pen-pals in singing famous German folk-songs.

A few days later, whilst on a tour of the school that the majority of our German counterparts attend, we were suddenly struck by the realisation that at the same time one week later we would be back in rainy England, hard at work at C.G.S....  Why must such holidays end?

Sylvia Marshall (6L)


Getting To Know Gerd

It was just before eleven o'clock when the train pulled into Siegen station.  As I looked out of the windows at the cold, bleak station, my thoughts turned to my partner:  what would Gerd be like?  What would his family be like?  I should soon know.  Was he one of those three boys strolling down the platform towards us?  Surely not the six-foot giant towering over the rest of the group?

Yes, that was Gerd.  "Mark, this is Gerd", the introduction confirmed.  From miles above me, a clown-like face with a red nose beamed a welcoming smile, a smile that he was rarely to lose.  His parents were waiting outside the station to take us home, and as soon as we arrived I was rushed up to his room, where the one passion of Gerd's life was immediately revealed to me:  the walls were covered, top to bottom with pictures of the Beatles.  I was soon to discover that he had every record - single, E.P., or L.P. - that they had ever made.

The stay in Siegen was most enjoyable.  Gerd proved the most amiable of partners, and those clown-like features turned out to be a very true reflection of his nature.  It was when he came to Sheffield in the summer, however, that I really felt I was getting to know him well.

His arrival showed that he had not changed one bit.  He still had to bend double to see out of the carriage-window, and needed the most complicated contortions to pack his huge frame into the back of our seemingly tiny English cars.  He greeted my mother extremely politely, then spent the taxi-ride home showing her all the pictures he had bought on his way across London.  No prizes for guessing who the pictures were of!.

The wide smile was still there, too.  Throughout all the long cramped drives, or even when he fell asleep on the back seat of the mini-bus we used for some of our trips, the smile was still there.  Our journey to the Norfolk Broads was partly by Hillman Imp, and despite the discomfort of sitting with legs almost wrapped round his neck, he still smiled and said "Yes, fine," when we asked him if he was all right.

He even managed to smile when, early during our stay on the Broads, he was initiated into the "Water Babies Club".  We had just got the fibre-glass boat out, and were ferrying the luggage to the boat.  This went without a hitch for two trips.  But on the third, I jumped to the bank as the boat came in, and Gerd, following me, had just put his hands on the bank when the boat started to move away again.  For a few seconds he hung on, his long body horizontal, inches above the water, then with a groan he capitulated and subsided gradually in a cloud of bubbles;  best trousers, school T-shirt and all, he went down smiling.

Gerd, like so many of us, had fixed ideas about eating:  a fish and chip shop in Cromer completely mystified him by providing no knife and fork, and when he learned that we intended to use our fingers, he looked at us incredulously.  His greatest find in England was probably milk shake;  it became his staple diet (he even tried to encourage our dog to cultivate the same taste), and this may have proved his undoing:  we heard that he had contracted a virus shortly after his return to Germany, and suspect that he had smuggled a quantity of milk shake back with him and consumed it when it was slightly over-ripe.

Luckily, the effect was not serious, and we hear that he is back to his normal carefree self.  He's bound to be smiling:  the only time he didn't was the day he left to return home, and we too were pretty glum that day.

Mark Packham (4b)


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