Over the hedge
Our next stay was about an hour out of Berlin in a cute rural town called Bollensdorf. We nicknamed our Airbnb accommodation ‘Over the Hedge’, as the home stood surrounded by huge well established shady hedges and stunningly well kept garden. A little like what we would imagine an enchanted ‘Secret Garden’ would be like.
Our host was just wonderful to talk with and so giving of her time. She told us stories of what it was like for her and her family when the Berlin Wall came down as our Airbnb home was in the Old East communist part of Germany. She came with us to the shops, treated us to a loaf of bread and gave us a lot of information making us feel right at home.
The home was where she had lived as a child. Left to her by her beloved father she told us stories of how her dad had loved building with wood and working in the gardens.
The home was filled with character using timber and was decorated with family antique treasures. We were blessed to be staying in this rare treasure.
The beloved gardens had a well established walnut tree out the back and hazel nut tree out the front. There was a basket of walnuts and hazel nuts to crack and eat which I did sit and partake in this simple pleasure.
Rob and I enjoyed sitting in the backyard on a wood timber seat whilst listening to the birds and watching the Spring insects do their thing.
This garden was a treasure to enjoy by all. On the wall hung a natural hive which was a really cool way of promoting bees to come into the garden.
Sunlight danced through the crystal glass balls that were artfully placed on timber stumps and branches.
Many insects, lizards and birds had made the secret garden home along with a family of hedgehogs who came alive once the sun set. They scurried under the green hedges to look for food. Being nocturnal critters they seemed to enjoy the serenity of the twilight hours amongst the garden as they foraged for insects, lizards and nuts amongst the leaf litter. We were excited to sit and watch the hedge hog scurry by and explore. It was a little bit like the hedgehog highway. We felt like we were part of an exclusive extra addition of a David Attenborough film on hedgehogs in the making.
As we sat and watched from our window, under the hedge they came at a quickening pace on a mission to cross the garden and crawl through the hedge to visit the neighbouring house who also had a beautiful hedged garden oasis.
We got to know the guys next door who are a somewhat refuge for this prickly cutesy.
Our neighbours witnessed our excitement of seeing these little bristled creatures for the first time. They feed them each night. We watched as four hedgehog scuffled in and ate cat biscuits in their yard. Two others were present but were I am sure a little wary of our presence.
They didn’t mind being picked up or having a tummy scratch. They had the smallest cutest faces, just adorably petite with tiny eyes and a pointy nose. Their bristles are extremely hard and they have very soft tummies. They can curl up into a tight tennis ball so they are pretty much free from predators except human traffic on roads which is sadly common.
It is experiences like this that have made our travel through Europe so unforgettable. Here we stood in the backyard with our kind host’s neighbours sharing the joy of watching hedgehogs eat together. Our conversation were again forged by patience, meaning making and our kind neighbours trying hard to find a few English words so we could learn about how they have helped raise and save the hedgehog family that now lived between the two gardens.
Though our chats we learnt that hedgehogs hibernate during the cool winter months here in Germany but to hibernate without dying they need to weigh around 700 grams. So our new found German friends do what is called hibernation in human care for underweight baby hedgehogs which are called hoglets. Though having a barrier of not being able to speak each other’s language, we understood that these caring guys have saved many hedgehogs by keeping them in the warm garden shed and waking the hibernating hedgehogs to feed them, I think by hand so that they don’t die from being underweight. The simple pleasure of helping these balls of bristles was clearly evident. We were delighted with our experience here.
What we learn was so much more than facts about hedgehogs. What we learnt was how welcoming our German host was and how kind and friendly her neighbours were to us. We were extremely humbled by their kindness and eagerness to chat and waved as the days went on. They even surprised us with a tiny pottery hedgehog as a departing gift which we will treasure and place in our garden back at home. It is interesting how language can be a barrier but connections can still be forged.
We have read that hedgehogs are quite vocal so we imagined some of the grunt and snuffling sounds we heard at night were from the resident hedgehog family in the bushes outside our bedroom window.