|Once again we got together for the traditional summer BBQ at the Eisweiher hut in Riehen. In contrast to last year, where we suffered continuous rain, and many previous years where we always had to seek the shade, this year the skies where largely clear and the sun out. However, there was a cold Northwest wind blowing that had many of us shivering. Not only that, the gusts regularly blew away empty beakers and plates off the tables we had set up outdoors. Being British, we were not to be deterred by these minor inconveniences. The answer was to weight down both glasses and plates by keeping them regularly replenished with food and drink. The ladies once again did a remarkable job in providing us with a fine selection of salads, desserts and the obligatory coffee. Due to the cold, not a single beer was drunk. However, we made good inroads into the stock of both red and white wine.
The Eisweiher hut is an ideal location for this kind of event. The Eisweiher lies just west of the Riehen village center. Historically, the Eisweiher is a low lying former part of the marshland created by the meanders of the river Wiese. Before the river waters where channeled and the marshes drained, the area served to absorb the overflow of regular high waters. Later on it is said, that the meadow, which is the size of a football pitch, was deliberately flooded in early winter for the production of ice used in Riehen and Basle. What is sure is that for the past decades the Eisweiher, given a series of cold nights, was flooded by the authorities and served as an ice rink for the children of Riehen. The hut was the original changing and cloak room for the skaters. Some ten years ago the powers that be decided that ice skating was no long on. The flooding allegedly created the risk of contaminating the ground water which serves Basle as a whole. Not that we have ever heard of anyone having suffered any ill effects and most of us in Riehen have never really accepted this decision. Today, inhabitants of Riehen can rent this special place for parties. The former British Circle and now the British Residents Association regularly take advantage of this offer. That is some consolation and for as long as we find willing (and able) hands to set up and clear away tables and benches, we shall carry on with the tradition. So, watch out for announcements regarding the BBQ date for August 2017.