30/06/2011 16:12 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Achtung Baby Or Are The Germans Overprotective?

Achtung Baby or Are the Germans overprotective? Getty

Here in Lower Saxony, having just let out collective sigh of relief as the source of the E Coli shocker was eventually pinpointed, we were told there would be no resting on our laurels. Just as we were happily munching our way through cucumbers again, a new threat to our health....hold on to your hats:


Struggling to read the sign, I almost crashed the car into the tree it was nailed to. Not only was I clueless as to the meaning in German, when I looked it up I was non the wiser. Turns out to be an Oak Processionary. A moth, the caterpillar of which contains a toxin which can cause a nasty rash. The Germans are in a panic.

I've been away from England for some years, but apparently these little horrors were first found in London. Without wishing to be presumptuous, I'm guessing you've never heard of them or come across them.

If you lived here, you would know all about them by the age of three. Not only that, you would be able to pronounce the word perfectly, due to the fact that you have been indoctrinated in kindergarten.

On the very day I had seen the sign and was attempting to find out what all the fuss was about, Finje came home from kindergarten and filled me in. A lover of all things gruesome she was brimming with information about its deadly hairs!

Once a week the children are taken out of kindergarten and allowed to run wild in the neighbouring forest. It's a trip they look forward to and judging by their mud caked, leaf strewn clothes, one they obviously enjoy. Last week the trip was cancelled. Not because of free roaming aggressive wild pigs or a freak tornado but because of a caterpillar.

Now strike me down with sun lounger if that is not typically German. Needless to say, I'm not revelling in the idea of Finje getting a toxic rash, but what are the chances? More chance of rabid squirrel attack. Is this not how kids learn?

Don't touch that hairy nest stuck to that tree or you'll end up looking like The Singing Detective. Easy. Not here. Here they don't like to take chances. It could well be that they haven't yet found a herbal tea that treats the symptoms but I think they are simply too careful.

Am I too blasé?