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Thursday, 16 July 2009

No "Black Night" in Heidelberg

Last weekend I spent a very enjoyable couple of days in the German town of Heidelberg, ostensively to visit my partner Jenny's son Matthew who is doing a Phd at the University working on a potential cure for malaria. Despite Matthew's hectic working schedule we were delighted to spend a lot of time with him over the 3 days. The town is very picturesque lying on the banks of the river Neckar, with cobbled streets, lanterns, many turreted round towers, wooden paneled Tudor style buildings and a large ornate Castle built on a hill overlooking the town. 

We had chosen this specific weekend because my favourite guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (of Deep Purple & Rainbow fame) was playing at the Kongresshaus Stadthaille concert hall there with his band Blackmore's Night playing folk music and usually some classic rock on their "Secret Voyage" Summer Nights tour. 
I was hoping Mr. Blackmore would play several Rainbow & Deep Purple songs, they played exquisite accoustic versions of Rainbow's "Temple of the King" & Deep Purple's "Soldier of Fortune" (with sublime solos from Ritchie) but despite a 2 hour concert, a very enthusiastic hand-clapping German crowd who added significantly to the atmosphere, a great support band in Die Geyers Schwatzen and a high standard of playing throughout; I was a little disappointed that Ritchie didn't deem to play his electric Fender Stratocaster guitar at all! So there were no outings for either Deep Purple's "Black Night or "Smoke of the Water" probably his 2 most famous songs! 
Playlist: Locked Inside a Crystal Ball, Queen for a Day, Possum's Last dance, Under a Violet Moon, Soldier of Fortune, Temple of the King (inc. Ritchie solo)- both acoustic, Durch Dem Baccaus, (Violin & Keyboard solo), World of Stone, Peasant's Promise, Diamonds & Rust, Back Home inc. Drink Drink & Falderi, Ghost of a Rose, Wind in the Willows, I Still Remember, Rennaisance Faire, Clock Ticks on. Encore: Old Village Lanterne, Foreign song & Dandelion & Wine
On the Saturday night there was a spectacular re-enactment of the medieval burning and siege of the castle with special effects, lights and smoke and a half hour firework display on the bridge which was fantastic and the nearest I would get to seeing or hearing "Smoke on the Water" this weekend, Ritchie please take note!

Although not a birding trip I did see a number of birds including a very tame male Blackbird feeding on the postage stamp lawn in front of the hotel as we arrived at the hotel. We also heard several Black Redstarts singing from the roof tops including seeing one fly down from a roof top of a house opposite the Castle. Blackcaps were singing in the woods and one also flew across the track. On Sunday taking pictures of the very picturesque bridge over the river Neckar, I heard the familiar alarm calls of House Martins and a Hobby was seen chasing a group of around 12 Martins, an Egyptian Goose also flew down the river. On Monday, as we were walking through the packed cobbled streets I heard the distinctive call of a Peregrine Falcon and saw one flying around the top of a a very tall gothic "Church of the Holy Spirit" tower with another perched on the apex of the Tower.
I rushed up to the top of the tower using the 4 circular staircases leading to the top but sadly by the time I reached the top the Peregrines had gone, but I was compensated with stunning views across the town and surrounding countryside.

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