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Fabric-hunting forays in Frankfurt

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to use this dammed hotel internet here in Frankfurt, so this update is being typed one letter at a time on my cellphone. Not that it changes my typing speed much.

It was -9 degrees here when we got off the plane at 5am yesterday morning. Bit of a shock after the balmy afternoon spent at Poderi Crisci on Waiheke Island the day before.

Of course Germany is on strike again. Germany always seems to be on strike. This time it's the buses, meaning that we will need to walk a mile or two, through the snow, to the railway station to get anywhere over the next few days.

I have stopped over in Frankfurt many times over the years but never actually visited the city. We asked the obliging Pakistani taxi driver to come back and give us a tour of the city, on an hourly rate, once we had checked in. When he duly arrived at 9am, it was still only half light and snowing gently, but the temperature had increased to a relatively tropical -2 degrees. "Everything to see in Frankfurt is within a radius of five kilometres,” he said proudly. He drove us through all the regular spots: The old city, the opera house, the Rhine, the red light district and the cathedral.

Realising we were from New Zealand, his commentary had nothing to do with the sights of Frankfurt, rather it was a ball-by-ball description of the 1992 Cricket World Cup semi final - the game where where Imran Kahn squared off against Martin Crowe and Inzamam-ul-Haq ran amok with his bowling to destroy New Zealand. This, gloriously in his opinion, left Pakistan to face England in the final. When the driver had finally described the last over of the game, we were less than an hour into the city tour. But he suddenly announced that that was it, there was nothing more to see in the whole of Frankfurt and dropped us, somewhat perplexed, back to our hotel where we still had five hours to wait before we could access our rooms.

Still, I was feeling I had made a lucky escape from Auckland. The liver and body weight had taken a severe beating in the month before Christmas, and with yet more friends and rellies to catch up with in early January, it looked like there was yet a lot more damage to be done. I felt certain that, even though I would miss Bad Jelly, things would be a lot drier on the other side of the world. This was possibly my first mistake of 2017.

We have come to Frankfurt for Heimtex, the world’s largest home textile fair. It's our first visit here. We have previously visited smaller, boutique fairs in other more remote parts, but the threat of terrorism makes those places less appealing these days and we kidded ourselves that this was a much safer option.

I feel like a kid at Christmas. The fair opens tomorrow and we are all chattering excitedly about the new products we will find to bring back home with us.

Our business has changed dramatically over the last few years. The big brands we grew up with generally started to be made in the east and the quality could no longer be relied on. They more often than not appeared, overpriced, in department stores and bulk retailers, only to reappear a few weeks later in a "half price” sale, but this time only a little overpriced.

Finding goods of style and quality that were still good value became virtually impossible. So we set out to find new, exclusive and exciting good value products of our own. Today we bring in a large percentage of our own stock; feather products like our duvets, toppers and pillows, sheets, some towels and throws, all types of rollers blinds and cellular blinds. Blind and curtain automation systems are also imported directly by us. Most importantly, an increasing percentage of our designer curtain fabric range, and our exclusive linings are all sourced each year at events like this one.

Who knows what we will find tomorrow to bring back home. Of course there has already been lots of beer to taste, pork, frankfurters, strudel and the odd late night. But, by a stroke of luck, I spied a book in the airport book store that, now it is purchased, may provide a reprieve from worrying about all this. It is called "The February Diet ".

- Gerald

Home Fabrics, 28 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna 09 486 1103  www.homefabrics.co.nz

By Gerald Sheehy

Channel Magazine: Issue 73 February 2017

Columnist articles by Gerald Sheehy