I love half-timbered houses, known as Fachwerkhäuser in German. There’s something about the random positioning — horizontal and vertical and diagonal — of the oak timbers and their natural forms that creates such an attractive and charming pattern of black and white. We were in Muffendorf, a village in the south of Bonn, the other day, still househunting. And it was astonishing, and refreshing too, to find not only white plastered walls but also yellow and ochre.
Looking at a Fachwerkhaus always cheers me up. It’s its quirkiness that appeals to the quirky in me. I had had my heart set on living in one. But having tried to negotiate the extremely narrow treads and steeply spiraling wooden stairs — some dating back to the 1800s, practicality won. Were I decades younger and more agile, I would have definitely opted for a half-timbered house.