878-883: Its 34C in Marakesh!

878 -Friday 27th October 2017:  Wet and Windy (and that’s just the weather!)

Quite wet wether but Northern Germany and Poland have been hit hard…. we vanpottered and waited for the skies to clear – walked into Oberndorf village, posted some cards and wended out way home… a very quiet sort of day.  The highlight was watching the Police arrive with a trailer full of bikes and then teaching youngsters how to navigate the roads safely.  Part of the car park had lanes and junctions painted and the kids carefully followed instructions, sitting erect and careful on their bikes … arms out fully stretched and horizontal with the tarmac to indicate a turn.  Our motorhome neighbour told us that the kids get a badge they can fix to their bikes.  We spotted other car parks with similar road markings.  I don’t think UK Police Forces fund this any more … or do they?

879 -Saturday 28th October:  Cycling to Sulz am Neckar

Dry skies but cold….cycling through a forest along the Neckar – each wearing tights under trousers! On to Sulz am Neckar – and a complete impromptu lunch – the local Fire Service seemed to be all there lunching – good honest food – and a little vino…..

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Maultaschen:  sausage filled pasta pockets with 3 different toppings … hearty fare in Germany.

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Even our home towns of Bristol and Aldreshot are warmer!

880 -Sunday 29th October:  A Good German Tradition – Kaffee und Kuchen

What’s with this cold and damp weather? Is it Europe in October?  A friend had posted that it’s 34c in Marakesh!  Very helpful, indeed…  We decided to move to another Stelplatz with electric @ 1 Euro for 8 hours – heating on.  Haigerloch on top of the hill – posh castle/hotel. We visited the “Atom Celler” where German scientists tried to split the atom during WW2 – for various reasons – the Allies bombed the place once they worked out where it was.  The scientist were interred after the war in a Cambridgeshire country house with CCTV in every room … Big Brother-esque, but less extreme, I should think!   “Kaffee und Kuchen” – coffee and cakes, getting into German culture. The cakes had an unusual effect on our tummies – no more details required!  

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Atom Keller – apparently no risk of radiation!

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The view down to the town after the walk back up!

 881 -Monday 30th October:  Were Off

A tentative fart – very sorry, readers – a tentative start (the other one was probably right too post cakes!) – awaiting news from Kerstin about the post – our green cards  – no, we have not joined the Green Party.   Green cards for insurance for taking Jez into the Balkans.  Phone call from Kerstin – and joy – we’re on the way back to Kerstinland. Gorgeous neighbours helped with the postal vigilance – checking K’s post box and placing the envelope in the garage so we could pick it up, as K is away. Much ‘dankes’ and away southwards….travelled all day and got just south of Munich – overnight car park in Neuberen – Halloween party locally until 6:00 am – oh the exuberance of youth!  K walked O to the town – archway – lots of painted old buildings, hotels and restaurants.

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Neubueren – another come back to place.

882 -Tuesday 31th October:  Not that RAMP again!

Grahame Leslie’s 81st birthday – we donated whiskey from Scotland… part of the fun was doing the sampling ourselves.  

As we motored through Austria and climbed through spectacular scenery – there was snow on the roadsides. We chose motorways after hours in the hills – splashed out for vignette – our progress speeded up. Then, like flash – we’re back in Italia – bella Italia – la Dolce Vita. Can you tell how pleased we are?  Possibly our favourite country – the people, food and wine…  and, of course the chaotic driving!  We recited our limited Italian at each other … a fav being “Strade piccolo, Camper grande … Possible?’ and K’s perfect sentence asking fro stamps for postcards to England!  Given we spent 6 months in Italy our linguistic skills leave a lot to be proud of.

Now then – 2 years ago in Chardonnay, our SatNav took us around Trieste to avoid the centre and motorways. But at one point, we came to a No Entry tunnel – and the only escape was to gun the van up a steep and narrow cobbled ramp with hearts in our mouths and the wheels scrabbling to gain a purchase!  We joked today as we skirted Trieste about that little fandango….. Minutes later, we rounded a corner and came to the same feckin’ No Entry tunnel!!!   The cobbled ramp is still there and we are a tonne heavier with less traction.  It’s called “Rampitupme Crustifer”!!!  A bit like the Egyptian Queen – “Ramitupme”.  We reversed subito and retraced our steps.  We ended up paying for a Slovene motorway toll for EUR16 for all of 5 km of motorway to avoid the ramp!  It’s sitting next to the Austrian one …. and we prefer to travel toll free!  The joys of motorhoming…  

Free aire with services in Gemona, some halloween noise from groups of kids – but a peaceful night – dreaming of cobbles. 

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Picture perfect Austria. 

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No stopping for us … we have snow chains but practising fitting them is still at the top of the To Do list!

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Sunset from our Italian Sosta.

883 -Wednesday 1st November:  Another New Country

Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia in 3 days for Oscar. Croatia new for K – I had stood on Croatian soil for 5 seconds 2 years ago when we thought we had wandered into Hungary… Lovely big Lidl lots of foodie things, aubergine, mozzarella, etc. Another m’way vignette (still visions of the Trieste cobbled ramp) – 5km again… Passports to show at border – holding up other cars as we retrieved them from our ‘gasafe’ secret store – now you all know – we’ll have to shoot you!  Or – you could sign “The Oscarficial Secretz Axe” – section 4 of course – for his birthday…  Approaching Porec, our chosen campsite was closed (in spite of their website saying otherwise). But all the campsites seemed shut – out of silly season….  Nice large free parking though with a few other vans, including one GB on our second day there.  We meandered into the old town and had our first Croatian wine….

“T’is the season to be jolly…..tra la la la la…”  Hang about, James – Christmas crumble is light years away – or is it?  Are the 2018 Easter eggs on sale in Asda yet?  52 shopping days…..yikes!!!  

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A nano stop just so Oscar could tread paws on Slovene soil. 

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Would that be the first HAPPY Croatian ice cream …

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 … And the first Croatian glass of vino? 

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Porec

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There are few vitamins in ice cream, thats why you have to eat so much of it!  

So true!

 

864-874: Provence Pligrimmage to Germany

865 – Saturday 14th October 2017:  Onto Castellane

A short drive to Castellane and into a paying aire.  All of EUR 6.50 for 24 hours but free services and right on the edge of the town.  We had a wander through the small old town.  The helpful lady in the TIC confirmed my suspicions that cycling the Gorges du Verdon with the Os-car would be dangerous and stressful.  We did this as a drive some years ago in our Bongo, and it was a magnificent drive, but not to be repeated this trip.  She suggested a quieter route to the lake just north of the town with an area where we could let Oscar run free.  That’s the plan for tomorrow then.

We walked up the path to the chapel on top of the rock … some nice views of the valley, but nothing special.  At the top there were three sets of dogs all on the leads – each one growled at Oscar who was loose.  I’d left the lead with James part way up, and bless, my boy behaved perfectly and came when called and sat by me as I admired the views.  He can pull it out of the bag when necessary.  But I am sure in a couple of instances the owners were transferring their own anxiety to their dogs … one daughter tried to convince her father that the dogs were friends … they may well have been given half a chance!

 A glass of wine (or two) and an ice cream and then back to Jez to sit on our riverside pitch enjoying the sun and the mountain views.  Life is good.

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The Chapel on the Rock over looking Castellane.

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Views form the top.

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866 – Sunday 15th October:  Abortive Ride in Favour of Lunch

OK, so we had a plan – clean the inside of Jez (badly needed doing as possibly 3+ weeks since we’d done anything but the floor!) followed by the bike ride.  But then our mood changed.  We’d worked hard cleaning Jez, the sun is shining and it is Sunday lunchtime!  A walk into town just to see if we can find a reasonably priced lunch.  OK – we found lunch, but not the reasonably priced bit.  My Aged P’s laugh at us, that we state we are on a budget, but then coffee, ice creams and lunches seem to feature quite heavily on the blog.  The set menu was EUR27 for 3 courses; all very good, but the star was J’s caviar of aubergine with an anchovy cream.  A post lunch wander back to sit in the sun on our river bank pitch.  Life is indeed good!

 

867 – Monday 16th October:  With the Family

Anyone who knows us, will be aware that we have a 7 month saga of trying to get J his C1 post 70 years old licence.  He rang the DVLA and …. woohoo it has been posted.  The Aged P’s are due back from France tomorrow and can post it onto Kerstin in Germany.  Time to start planning to head that way.  But hold!  We are only a few hours away from Sarah and family in Biot and we don’t know when we will see them again … time to head for a quick stop to see them?  So we headed, via a supermarket shop to stock on on French specific items, back down to Biot and stayed over night outside their house.  Really lovely to have one final evening with them.

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Jade with ‘da rudder’.

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I haven’t done this for a loooong time!

868 – Tuesday 17 October:  What and Amazing Spot

We considered driving a different route to Reutlingen, Germany … through Italy and then north through Switzerland, along Lake Constance.  I investigated the Swiss road vignette … was it just motorways, which we could avoid?  No it is for class 1 and 2 roads.  OK … how much?  A no go … since we are 3.5+ tons, we cannot buy a standard vignette, but need to register our vehicle and then pay per kilometre.  A lot of hassle and cost for an overnight stay.  Switzerland must loose out on tourists not prepared to pay or deal with the hassle.  Back up through France it is then.

We stopped at an aire on a lake just south of Grenoble in a place called Treffort.  The aire is part of a leisure complex, including boats, and charges EUR10 for an overnight stay.  We nearly didn’t stop as we balked at the price for a quick overnight stop especially when we did not need the services.  We were tired though and asked another motorhome where to find the pay machine …. free out of season.  The other 5 vans were all hooked up to the free electric – we don’t consider it worth it for a one nighter.  Amazingly this area gets hardly a mention in our guide books, but the mountains are stunning, especially with the evening sun on the Autumn russets and golds.  This is a gem of a spot and definitely on our must come back to.  Must be a lucky spot, as I took Oscar out for his late night ‘opportunity’ and saw not one, but two shooting stars.  J has since read that Halley’s Comet is currently shedding debris, but how lucky am I?

Now I must mention supper … I had to attempt to recreate J’s starter of caviar of aubergine with anchovy cream.  It was not the same, but it was bloody good.  I really should start a recipe section on the blog.

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Inspired by fellow motorhomer Dan’s favourite socks, which a friend knitted him … thought I’d have a go too.  Managed not to drop stitches with knitting on the round and amazingly it came out sock shaped!  Just it’s pair to knit now.

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Our most stunning overnight spot.

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Should have taken the pix when we arrived and the sun was in the Autumnal hills.

869 – Wednesday 18th October:  

Another driving day, but we got just past Besancon:  Note to self … use the motorway to bypass it as it was very slow driving through it.  We stopped, once we found the right place at a free aire in Montebeliard … the original GPS coordinates were plain wrong, the second, close enough but not quite and then, thank you Wild Camping POIs – we got there in the end.  I was starting to have a hissy fit from being tired and hungry when J spotted the 4 dedicated spaces, and we squeezed ourselves in and had a thrown together ‘chef’s salad’ as it was quick!

 

870 – Thursday 19th October:  Onto Reutlingen

I texted Kerstin giving her the option that we could arrive tonight or tomorrow lunchtime … she is a Uni Prof with a stupid work load and strong work ethic!  Come tonight, as no lectures / meetings tomorrow.  We park up in a bit os spare land a couple of hundred metres from her house.  We could stay in her ‘guest apartment’ on the top floor, but we prefer our own bed.  The spot of land is used by some of the residents for parking but is destined to built on to house Syrian refuges.  Now, why is it these residences are generally for young men only?  Where are the women and children.  A village near Kerstin’s other house in Engers had the village population more than double due to the refugees … how is this integration?  Enough politics.

We had a great local walk as it really is quite rural here with some lovely views.  Supper in Kerstin’s downstairs kitchen (she has 3! Don’t ask how many loos!!) in front of the log burner.  🙂

 

871 – Friday 20h October:  Rottweil Towering

When we left here in August we headed to Rottweil, a pretty old town known for its painted buildings and iron shop hangers.  A new feature, not open in August, is the Thyssen Krupps lift tower.  It had just been topped out when we saw it before but now it is open to the public.  

A few facts:

  • 2640 tons of steell
  • 3.6 m progress per day
  • 246m highest visitor platform in Germany
  • 21m diametre
  • 16,000m2 tefloncoated self cleaning glass fibre fabric around the outside
  • 15 mins is the time the fastest employee took to climb the 1617 steps
  • 30 secs for the visitor lift
  • 12 shafts for lift testing
  • 1.5km of shaft
  • 18m/sec the fastest test escalator, about 65 km/hour
  • 240 tons active mass damper to balance wind forces
  • unique simulation to make the tower sway to mimic extreme conditions in which to test the lift.
 
Kerstin and I went up the tower first leaving Katherine with Oscar. Superfast elevator to viewing platform – immense views 360 degrees – I expected some wind movement – but nil – hence the success of the damping mechanisms…..
 
Kerstin stayed and I let K join her at the top – it’s over 800 feet in old money!  Incredible feat of German engineering – a world beater, definitely.  A brief walk around Rottweil, coffee, ice cream, of course – and back to base HQ.

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The cladding is the fibre glass self cleaning fabric just going on.  Quite a few worker abseilers.

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View from the top.

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The almost see through glass fibre mesh.

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A very small old prison in the centre of Rottweil, has a football captive!

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Perhaps this double tower was a forerunner of the Thyssen Krupps lifts?

872 – Saturday 21tst October:  Biking to Tubingen

The e-bikes reappeared – Kerstin borrowed one from her Uni – a quiet Os-car (mostly) and we sailed the short distance to Tubingen sedately. A lovely and lively town – world famous university. Lunch by the river in a busy restaurant – it was peak time – I had a local beer and K’s had wine.  We discovered that there is/was a Mr Alzheimer who studied in the town – medical science owes him a lot.  And Friedrich Miescher who discovered nucleic acids. A leafy park (the Autumn leaves are really falling, now…) and a magnificent building completely covered in street art/graffiti…   Another splendid day in Germany!

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The pretty old town.

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The waterside restaurant where we had lunch later.  Spot the punt – reminiscent of Cambridge?  

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History has not been changed here … this statue was allowed to remain even though it is is of a composer whose works were later adopted by the Nazi Party.

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The lab within the castle and part of the university where Miescher worked. 

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View down to the old town hall.

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So lovely to not be tour guide for once!

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The main town square.

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You can just make out the Os-car and our bikes were very safe … it takes 20 mins to fix all the locks.

 

873 -Sunday 22nd October:  A Chocolate Pilgrimage

Yesterday, it was 18C and nicely warm – today dawned at 6C and never got above “very cold” – I know – we’re softies these days, chasing the sun around Euroland…  Yesterday’s cycle ride was about 14k – today was to be approx 60k!!!   Extra layers of clothing – and my Orkney wooly hat was packed – it very soon made it from the saddle bag to my head!   K worm cashmere tights under her trousers.  Forest trails, uphill and down dale – thank goodness for the e-bikes for that extra power – more excellent German engineering… We reached the Ritter Sport chocolate factory (nobody called ‘Charlie’ there, though) and museum, after 3 hours in the saddles. I believe it was getting colder – coffee – and it rained…. The 2 Ks toured first and then I followed suit.  Mega chocpurchases later, we pointed our pelliton towards Reutling.  Our bike batteries had run down quite a bit – we hoped they would see us powered home.   Katherine and I swopped batteries as she needed the extra oomph to tow his nibs.  Not long later, I ran out of power. Now, this meant I was back to cycling a non-powered bike – as we had done for years – no problem?  Yes, problem – these machines are much heavier than standard cycles…..  I got used to walking uphills. The girls offered to seat me in a bar and fetch Jez – but the indomitable Irish spirit declined the kind offer (madness?). It rained again and I swear it got even colder.  K:  My Hero 🙂

The journey home was a bit shorter – thank goodness – and no sooner in the door of KerstinHaus, we wrapped ourselves around some good Muscatel – and Kerstin lit her roaring log fire/Aga stove…

Oscar had barked his way home solidly at the end – why? Even K telling him p**s off didn’t work.  Think it might have been dinner time! But a fantastic day, again – in the Arctic/Germany – well worth the conditions. We are definitely getting softer…..  would we survive a Winter in the British Isles – no!!!

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Two slaves for one turkey … know which I’d rather have.  But where to put them in Jez!

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Clare Ritter invented the square bar so people off to exercise could put a bar in their top pocket without breaking.

Oscar’s Diary

“Guten Tag, mein herren und damen” – that’s German, you know – boyos!  Now then, these ‘owner’s of mine have shown me quite a few countries since last August when I allowed them to adopt me from Solihull… All excellent fun – and some games. J is doing nicely with his ‘playfighting’ lessons – he gets carried away with the biting thing – but dammit, he’s only 70, after all – some concessions to age must be made.  Where was I going with this?  Yes – the chocofrenzy pilgrimage thingy wotsit – of yesterday!  Ok, I pretend I don’t mind the Ocarcarriage to humour them – but – they put me in the pram – in zero temperatures, bounce me along 60k of forest trails, up and over kerbstones, etc. – and they have the cheek to tell me not to bark!!!  The European Caninevention of Human Bites – section 13 para 6 – clearly states that a K9 must not be subjected to ‘bouncing, freezing and kerbing’ in any vehicle – my owners are in clear contraflagration of the law.  My remedy before the courts?   Freedom to bark, extra rations and bedrest – at my leisure…

Yours, respectfully (with bedsores) 

Oscar

 

874 -Monday 23rd October:  A Water Pilgrimage

The Ks left J minding Oscar and Jez and made a return visit to the Spa they visited back in August.  Two exercise classes, two Zen steam rooms, massage jets and various pools of various temperatures, they returned somewhat wrinkly.  J tidied and sorted and blogged.  Our last night here, Kerstin has to return to the day job, until we get the nod that the green cards for the Balkans have arrived.  





798-819: Gastarbeiter

798 – Saturday 5th August 2017:  A Long Drive to a Wine Event

Services completed, we left the campsite and headed south into Germany – for a 5 hour trip… the A3 motorway looked busy but flowing…..until about 2:30 pm.  everything ground to a halt.  Not to worry (we said) just a minor ’bouchon’ (I don’t know the German for traffic jam).  4 hours later, we moved again, well more than 2 yards – folks had been walking about on the motorway – and using the hard shoulder for wc visits – we could have made money renting our toilet facilities…  Anyway, an accident had happened (no injuries thankfully) and substantial roadworks – so a 5 hour journey became 9 hours!   We almost had to call the emergency services to us, just to add to the stoppage … we were almost out of fuel.  In, fact when we did make it to the fuel station, we put more in than we ever had before – 73 litres and a whopping EUR100+.

We did arrive just on time for the street/riverbank party (our intended international table decorations did not happen) and we joined 100 metre long picnic tables!  All to celebrate the local village’s wine production.  Wine, food and fireworks along the Rhine!  Thank you Leutesdorf.  A lovely family evening with Kerstin’s god-daughter and her parents. Kerstin stayed in our van parked at a local winery…  

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At the end of the wine tasting picnic, Oscar had drunk himself under the table.

IMG 1304The Leutesdorf firework display.

799-813 – Sunday 6th – Monday 21st August:  GastArbeiter

“Guestworkers”?  How about “Non-restworkers”, Kerstin? 17 days hard labour – but well worth it….. wood chip wallpaper sticks like ’tihs’ – work that simple anagram out? Answers on ‘toiletenpapier’ please.  2 evenings out for dinner at Engers – and a whole days freedom – more below….. Kerstin’s cousin Axel joined the workers for the weekend and dined out with us. We drove and watched the ‘Rhin in Flam’ fireworks from a vantage point where we could see about 4 displays.  And it was far enough not to upset Oscar with the noise.  We’d head a lot about these firework displays … villages host they own fireworks and then a final display at Koblenz.  Actually, it happens all along the Rhein.  What should have been a spectacular evening damaged to deliver deposit the teaming rain.  K&K found chairs and sheltered their legs with a sleeping bag, that absorbed the water like a sponge.  J and A sheltered under a tree.  Not a damp squib in sight and  it didn’t dampen our spirits.

When the ‘gaffer’ had allowed us a day off, we cycled to watch a local triathlon – mega exciting – and I got my boat ride!  We could have entered a hybrid team – Kerstin swimming, Katherine cycling and me running – maybe next year? Our team name could be “The Gassybelters”!    Kerstin is a member of the local dive club who were part of the water safety crew so wangled J a Rhein ride in the slowest boat on the river.  J should not have expressed the wish for a Rhein ride as he got another one as we crossed to Leutesdorf, which provided an excellent lunch and we pedalloed home to the accompaniment of an “Oscarchestra” in – of course – O Minor – or O major?  He certainly gets an O-Level for barking…  

17 days labour for the whole team saw an amazing result – the whole house ready for the professional trades people!!!  K: aren’t we the pros??? We were paid … ice cream and wine!

Thus, the Jezacaravenette migrated south towards Reutingen – HausK3… 

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How many rooms stripped?

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Still at it …

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A night off with Kerstin’s cousin Axel:  supper in the dry, but not dry followed by the Rhein in Flam firework display in the wet!

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Kerstin investigated a vantage point where we could see 2 or 3 villages’ firework display and then the main Koblenz one.  And far enough away so Oscar was not worried by the noise.

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Another Frikadelle night out … yum.

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The first leg of the triathlon.  Swimmers did not have to work hard as the current is so strong, but they needed ‘catching’ to make it out of the water.

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J had expressed an interest in a boat ride along the Rhein.  Not quite what he had in mind, but Kerstin got him a ride on one of the water rescue boats … it just happened to be the slowest one of the water!

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Another boat ride … from Andernach to Leutesdorf, with the bikes.

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Fab location and food for lunch.  An ice cream on the cycle back!

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One of Kerstin’s neighbours owned what was formerly a quarry and now a pleasure ground.  However, the council want to close it so he’s had to cancel the fishing club and can’t allow people to picnic there now … a real shame as he has spent 50 years creating art and picnic spots and it has become a nature park.  With lack of use and the owner’s age against him, it is now looking very overgrown and un-cared for.  A crying shame.

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The owner may be 80, but he is still building … this is a volcano, and he lit some papers and you can just see smoke coming out of the top!

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Little seating areas and views all over the grounds. 

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Kerstin’s garden over looking the Rhein.  The pool may look blue, but was putrid and the pool man never came to sort it … promises, promises Kerstin! 

814 – Tuesday 22nd August:  The German Wine Route

We don’t need a compass to steer us along the German wine road….just followed our noses!  The aire we originally wanted – approach far too narrow so we aborted. A very helpful local man guided us at top speed on his bike to a lovely alternative pleasant aire – and we were alone – no other vans….  We walked in search of a restaurant for supper out – but in spite of more local knowledge, ‘nil by mouth’ was the disappointing result!  Oh well, more K Haute Cuisine – left over Frikadelle!  What could be better? 

815 – Wednesday 23rd August:  Reutlingen

At Kerstin’s invitation, we Jezaparked just near her residence – K3 of course. Her Mum, Erika joined us too.  A walk around the huge allotments that people buy here – chaps have livestock and massive sheds and summer houses.  A boozy supper and an Award Ceremony!  We were aptly rewarded for our decorating labours!

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We were presented with medals and wine for our efforts … Master Wallpaper Remover and Master Painter.  Our medals are now hanging proudly in Jez!

816 – Thursday 24th August:  A Run, A Spa and Rotweil

Morning dawned and I set off for a 10km run – the furthest for more than 2 years – ambitious?  I had run 8km recently…  Directions from Kerstin and map ‘roughly’ in my head – off I ran through the forest – lovely with nice ups and downs.    Out of the woods (I had followed excellent trail markers) and on to the main road.  Hmmmm – no markers – nothing daunted, off I went following ‘the yellow brick road’ – slight exaggeration, dark asphalt road…..  Half hour later, I was sort of lost…. I could visualise K laughing – in her magnificent spa experience with Kerstin…  Thinks – “I must not phone for K directions unless desperate.”   Keeping to the main road, I knew (?) roughly where Kerstin’s village was….  Stopped to ask – and was pointed back in the opposite way!  I had now covered 8 km and was visualising 12 or 13 in total – not as planned… 

Back uphill, I spotted a left turn with some trees in the distance – could that be the woods I started in?  Took a chance – and hey Bisto (gravy?) – presto – it was the woods!!!  I dance around for joy and trotted home…….  Exactly 10 km and only 2 hours on the road. When the girlies returned, suitably pampered – I had consumed 4 bottles of zero alcohol beer!  A bit teedryated, you know! 

K:  As well as my medal, Kerstin reward me with an amazing morning in a Spa.  It was amazing.  Have I used that word?  Really amazing.  Lots of pools in and out, different temperatures and lots of massage jets.  The best massage area, had a light to tell you to move round to the next jet … they started on the feet and moved around different areas of the body.  My fav was the twin jets that hit each butt cheek?  Exercise posts, which we did attempt and then an hourly aqua aerobics … we managed one class.  We wandered into the Steam room and thought this was bit un hot or steamy.  A member of staff arrived, flicked a switch and poured some lemon into the central post.  Darkness followed by a ZEN light show as the temperature rose … and rose.  I think Kerstin aborted first and set off a wave of exodus.  I was one of the only 3 who stayed till the end … followed by a vocal cold shower.  To complete our chill out, we bobbed around one of the main pools floating on ‘poolnoodles’.  And all for EUR11 per person …. worth driving back here from miles away … truly amazeballs.  And I’d spotted a Gery Weber (clothes brand I and Mum like) outlet store.  So we stopped on the way home … 3 jeans and 3 tops later for all of EUR138 from the biggest Gery Weber store I’ve ever seen … I was a completely chilled and a happy bunny.  Oh, and I picked a voice mail from a lost James!

A quick lunch back at Kerstin’s and then we set off back for a wander around the discount shopping town – shoes for K and shorts for J!  Next destination – Rotweil – home of the barking variety …  late arrival at a convenient aire next to sports centre and close for town walks.   If we’d had the time, we would have stayed longer just to use the superb sports facilities – in and outdoor pools, climbing walls and tennis courts.

817 – Friday 25th August:  Rotweil Walk and Onto Belfort, France

Lots to see – K picked up a town walking tour – and ice cream too of the Tiramasu variety.  Nearby, the Krupps company had built a massive tower – for testing speedy elevators – 200 metres tall.  It has only just been topped out.  When it opens in October there will be a visitor info centre and a viewing platform.  We’ll definitely visit next time we are nearby as it really is an impressive structure with views.

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Spot the Rotweiller!

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Seriously pretty Rotweil.

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Lots of wrought iron signs to advertise the shops.

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The Krupps tower, still with a crane on top.

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 We lunched back at Jez and hit the road again. La Belle France welcomed us back – and into Belfort town. 

818 – Saturday 26th August: Belfort Walk and Mercey sur Soane 

The day followed a similar pattern to yesterday … a town walk.   Belfort has a massive Vauban fort and a sandstone lion that celebrates people repelling enemies.  A pretty town centre.  Then lunch back at Jez and then back on the road.

Our friend from Brizzle had invited us to stay for one night in Mercey near Besancon – gorgeous swimming pool (Kerstin – this pool was OK to use!!!) – hot day and straight in for a dip – after a welcoming libation…  BBQ and chilling on the veranda.  In the AM, the village was taken over for kart racing but they made room for us to drive through – huge thanks  – we’ll be back.   

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Another massive Vauban fort.

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An almond croissant for breakfast 🙂 

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The red sandstone lion was designed by the same architect as the Staue of Liberty, Bartholdi.  

819 – Sunday 27th August:  Driving South to Nice

Nicebound to see my daughter Sara and granddaughter Jade Scarlet….. 10 hours driving (longest since Portugal-Nice in march) and a welcome stop at Digne le Bains – large and crowded aire but just the ticket for the not-too-weary travellers….. Zzzzzzs.

Looked like it might be great place to buy our putative French home – but on enquiry – winter snow and lots of rain – not for us sun worshippers, though. 

Nice tomorrow to see S, G & J 🙂