Tripartite Weekend Oberhausen 18 – 21 May 2023

This year our club was hosted by members of the Rotary Club Oberhausen Antony-Hutte.

Four members of our Winchester Club together with seven members of the French Club Le Havre de Grâce, were warmly welcomed at a reception held at the hotel in Oberhausen where we were staying. It was a joy to see old friends again and to meet new ones from both clubs. Language difficulties were soon overcome as most members of the German and French clubs spoke excellent English.

We were home hosted for dinner that evening by several German families which was a great opportunity to meet and get to know each other even better.

Friday began with two very interesting presentations concerning the energy crisis as it is impacting on Germany together with the extensive research and development of new materials  taking place in Oberhausen to save energy for the future.  It was clear their problems are similar to ours.

After a very pleasant drive we found ourselves in a forest clearing. Out of the back of the bus, our German hosts produced, in a flash, a couple of picnic tables laden with delicious smoked salmon, fresh French bread, accompanied by white and rosé wine, followed by delicious Italian amoretti biscuits. The sun shone, the wine flowed and so did conversation and laughter.

In the afternoon we enjoyed a guided tour of an enormous open mining Brown Coal Field site. Not  far away we could see on the hillside many wind turbines converting the kinetic of wind into electrical energy – a stark contrast to the brown coal of the open mining.

In the evening we gathered for a most delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby – a new enterprise which the Oberhausen club wanted to support.

Saturday morning saw us “down the coal mine.”  This is actually an old coal mine converted into a museum – challenging for those who are not comfortable in dark, narrow, claustrophobic spaces. The guided tour was extremely interesting and brought home to us the dreadful conditions under which coal miners worked. The mine closed in the 1970’s.

The afternoon saw us visiting the huge Gasometer Oberhausen which is Europe’s highest exhibition hall. Not knowing what to do with this daunting, defunct building, finally it has been very successfully converted into an exhibition centre. The centrepiece is “The Fragile Paradise” exhibition where we can lie down or stand up and look upwards to a series of stunning, moving photo images which demonstrate the beauty of our planet and the damage we are inflicting on its fragility.  A very moving series of global photographs showing the harm we are doing to wildlife and their habitat surrounds the walls of the exhibition.

The evening farewell dinner was very well attended by the Oberhausen club and their families. Speeches of thanks and appreciation for the Tripartite weekend were given by the presidents. Nick Bell, representing President Deborah, gave a gracious presentation and extended our club’s welcome to our French and German friends when we host next year.

The warmth, fun and friendship we experienced will remain with us for long time.

Our thanks and appreciation to the Rotary Club Oberhausen Antony-Hutte for a memorable weekend.

Diana Brooks

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