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May 15th 2014

Mansfield and Kneipp
The AustroBrits’ Excursion to Bad Wörishofen

It was a miserable rainy Saturday morning when about 18 indomitable members of the Austro-British Society met at the gates of the Handelsakademiein Innsbruck Katherine Mansfield for our annual excursion – this time heading north,into Bavaria, and focussing on the legacy of Katherine Mansfield, the New Zealand writer of exemplary short stories.

nfortunately our president, Andrew Milne-Skinner, could not come with us; his part was taken over by Lynne and Heinz. On the way to Ettal, the latter briefed the party about the New Zealand background of Mansfield. After that, Lynne told the story of how Mansfield came to stay in Bad Wörishofen and what she was up to there. It seems she was a rather strong-willed and impetuous young person – the ‘daughter from hell’, as her mother would come to call her.

After a short stop in Ettal we reached Landsberg am Lech just in time for a walk around the lovingly preserved medieval town and an excellent lunch at the restaurant Hazel had chosen for us. Landsberg had another cultural connection on offer – it seems that while being stationed there with the US Air Force, a certain Johnny Cash wrote a song called ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. Well...

On to Bad Wörishofen. Sadly, the traces of Katherine Mansfield have all but vanished. In the place of her ‘German pension’, there used to be a hotel called Allgäuer Hof,where a commemorative plaque was on display – but both are gone. The only remaining building with any connection is the Kurhotel Kreuzer in the very centre of the spa where Katherine Mansfield spent the first couple of nights on arriving in Wörishofen.

However, Bad Wörishofen’s claim to fame rests on Pfarrer Kneipp rather than literature. It was here that the famous priest and lay doctor spent most of his life, as Hazel informed us in her concise introduction to the man and the place. Not surprisingly, Wörishofen houses a museum dedicated to Kneipp and his cures. In our, the AustroBrits’ case, the little town had something else on offer: sunshine. Yes, the sky smiled on us – so much so, indeed, that after a leisurely stroll through the place, some participants enjoyed their first ice cream of the season outside a café in one of the gardens.

n the way back, Heinz was persuaded to read one of Mansfield’s stories from the volume In a German Pension; a wonderfully biting satire on blunt Teutonic manners and, needless to say, containing references to the odd rituals of Kneipp’s cures popular even at that time.

We must have been a happy party, judging from the chatter that was filling the coach throughout the day. And yes, it was a wholly successful excursion, thanks primarily to Hazel’s excellent preparation and organization.


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