The northern coast of Germany is, largely, a national park. They must have got a special dispensation today. Or, they might not have been aware that noise can pollute the air as badly as smoke emissions.

We went up to St. Peter-Ording Bad today, to go for a walk through the dunes up as close to the North Sea as we could. Up to the restaurant Pádraig wanted me to buy some years ago. The one that his aunt and her husband ran for more than 20 years.

The famous restaurant chain “Gosch” managed to get a license to set up business right on the dike a few years ago, with a shop owned by the town’s mayor in the annex. In the summer, they organise life music right in front of their premises. Not so bad, if they managed to control the level of the sound a little. Today, we could hear it right up to the sea front, about a mile. So much for the famous national park, protection of nature, and a Helene Fischer tribute band entertaining the masses.

We’re still tired from the journey, but recovering. Pádraig likes it up here and tomorrow we’ll start visiting the auld haunts, places where we have spent summer day together for decades.

For me, the North is full of ghosts. My mother, my father, my sister, her husband – all present though all long gone. It would have been my mother’s 95th birthday today, a day we often celebrated up here with “Kaffee und Kuchen” and a big BBQ in the evening. With our kids coming up to wish her well. All past. All present.