1145-1147: Birthdays in Bad Harzburg

1145: Rammelsberger Bergbau Mine

Thursday 25th April – Saturday 27th April 2019

Happy Birthday Munchin and James!!

We ran where I’d walked the dogs yesterday, alongside one of the reservoirs.  Packed up and sauntered all of about 10 miles to Bad Harzburg.  The Stellplaz was one end of town, but right next to the TIC and the cable car.  The EUR10 nightly fee included the Tourist Tax.  We stayed 3 nights.

The high street is best part of 2 km long and lined with restaurants, cafes and clothes shops.  We managed a couple of drinks and ice creams, every time we walked it!  A special lunch was had on 26th as it was J’s birthday.  The TIC had recommended a couple of restaurants (not high on the TripAdvisor listing, of course) and the one we picked was super.  It allowed CO2 to join us and everything was really freshly cooked with quality ingredients.  With it being asparagus season, we shared a creamy asparagus soup and J had asparagus with his tender Schnitzel.  I went for the pan fried fish platter …. a bottle of good red and dessert.  The whole bill was EUR100 incl tip, which we didn’t think too bad for the quality.  

We caught the cable car up to the castle where fortified ourselves with coffee and cake (on a different day to lunch out, of course), before the downhill walk to the tree canopy walk.   We took turns on this as no dogs allowed.  

I got naked in public!  Yes really!  Strange as it may seem, it was less embarrassing to get stark naked than to keep my cosie on.  Whilst J napped, I went to the Spa.  Two prices, one included the 8 sauna complex, which I selected.  I should have picked up on the ticket sellers, slight tone of surprise when an obvious foreigner asked for the sauna ticket.  I swam and wallowed in the pools.  Did a hilarious aqua aerobic class, where the instructor got us splashing as much as we could, and was massaged by water jets.  Just lovely … time for sauna now.  In I wandered …. oops … I was the ONLY body in a cosie … so off it came!  Not sure I could repeat this if I was with anyone I know.  Interesting to note that there were a LOT of older men, but only younger women.  But I did feel really relaxed and clean after my 4 hours.

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Oker Resevoirs where we ran.

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We stopped a a small waterfall along the route.


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Birthday lunch.  And in a shirt!

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Birthday jumper.

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Birthday Dartington Crystal tumblers.  No slumming it in Jez!

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CO2 wedged amongst legs in the cable car.

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 You can just see the Stellplatz.

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Coffee and cake stop: I liked the blossom sun canopy and the phrase on the porch  Its good here.

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View of the Harz from the hill.

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A musical talent!  A big big for the motorhome  think hell stick to the guitar.

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The tree canopy walk.  Again another example of how the Big Outdoor Playground that is Germany encourages all age groups to get out and into the countryside.

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An 8 km contraflow.  At 6km, to go was a :(, at 4km was a :- and then at only 2 km was the 🙂

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1143-1144: Mining in Goslar

1143: Gander at Goslar

Tuesday 23rd April 2019

Once all the laundry was suspended wherever it could be (trouser hangers are VERY useful), we set off for the permitted parking in Goslar.  We parked opposite a Czech chap and his elderly father, who were in a tiny ancient caravan.  Seriously, it was stuck together with gaffer tape and cellotape.  No way could it have been towed any where.  Talking the the younger, both of us in school German, he told me he worked here and that the young dog came from Czech, but her papers were German!

The day ended with a short walk around the pleasant town, with market square.  Much more charming than Hahnenklee and much larger, and ice cream and supper in Jez.


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1144: Rammelsberger Bergbau Mine

Wednesday 24th April

Short drive to the Rammelsberger Bergbau Mine and Museum.  I’d emailed and pre-booked an English speaking tour.  When we arrived, there were actually 3 tours we could have done, but the one we’d been booked onto was fortunately the most interesting.  We got to follow the water course into the bowels of the mine inside the mountain. Herr Rammels, a mine manager 200 years ago, had engineered 4 giant water wheels to be built into caverns inside the mountain.  Each using the water from the previous.  Two were reverse wheels … by changing the gate from a header tank, they could lower and pull opposing baskets up and down the shaft  The other two ran the water pumping to keep the mine from flooding.  Three wheels had been replaced more recently, but we could still see the original long beams running down tunnels and walked along water courses.  It really was an excellent tour.  

Lunch in the cafe and then J retuned to walk CO2 and nap, whilst I spent another 2 hrs + wandering museums in the processing plants.  Everything from the geology of how the metal ores got to be there, to processing, machinery and local history.  The ore deposited been extremely concentrated but was exhausted by 1988 when the mine closed.  EUR16 each for the one tour and museums but really good value.  

After walking CO2 around the reservoir that fed the mine, we overnighted in a wild spot along another set of reservoirs near Oker.

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Theis does not do the scale of the enterprise justice, especially when you think so much of was underground.

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The Changing Room was the start point for the tour.  Hoisting clothes meant peoples personal clothes were secure and at night, work clothes were high up to dry.

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Hard hats were essential  everyone on the tour banged their head at some point.

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The water course.

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Lots of colourful mineral deposits.

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One of the large reverse wheels.

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A smaller drain wheel.

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Inside one of the many processing drums that ground the ore to a fine powder.  Water and air were then used to extract the metals.

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Sorry, lots of industrial kit pix, now  I just love the metal, rust of near recent industry.

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The ladders were formerly used to get up and down the mines. 

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The header reservoir that I walked CO2 around.


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A Dutch family had adopted this Spanish puppy  they had no idea how big she was until she arrived  and she’s only 9 months now!  Check out the frilly knickers  they could get proper in season pants in big girl size!


1141-1142: Walking and Washing!

1141: Easter Walk and Washing

Sunday 21st April 2019 – Easter Sunday

A short drive to a free permitted parking in Hahnenklee, with limited services, but 60l water for EUR2.  The guide book described Hahnenklee as a small and more tasteful spa town.  As we wandered this very small town, we decided it was a bit run down and lacked charm.  However, it did have a pretty Norwegian style stave church which we looked at before lunch.  Then I took CO2 for a 8km walk through the woods, with Corrie on the lead … just in case any protective breeding boar were around.  Oscar just plods along within 30m of me, so he’s no worry.  At the top of the hill is a complex with cable car, chair lift, bike park, go carts and a rodelbahn (karts on a track).  Germany really is one big outdoor playground.

German tradition is to have white asparagus around Easter, so we had that with a Bechamel sauce as our starter, followed by a turkey casserole … my family’s tradition is turkey at home … thus keeping all traditions alive in Jez.  

It was over this meal, that our plans changed again.  I’m not suggesting that we were inebriated, but mellow and happy with our lot.  Where shall we go after Kerstin’s 50th party on 11-12th May?  Stay in Germany?  Back to Naples?  Slovenia.  Then James came found it!  Sardinia and Corsica.  To justify the ferry costs, we shall put back our return to the UK by nearly a month … It will mean we don’t do our normal Ireland Scotland Summer trip, but if the dreaded B no deal does happen, we will have plenty of time outside the EU Schengen zone.  So we will make the most of our island hopping.  Now into planning mode!  I later ordered some guide books from eBay (old and used) to be sent to Kerstin’s for us to pick up … and forgot to change the delivery address from our house in Combe Martin … the one we are now using for holiday lets.  Fortunately our lovely plumber and his parents are staying there, so thank you Steve for posting them on!

Incidentally, Kerstin is our usual central Europe international postal address.  We’ve used her on previous trips for a replacement driving license and a green card.  On this trip, we also used her for James’ hormone injection.  The doctor agreed to give J the prescription so he could bring the pre loaded injection away with him, but the pharmacy did not get one in stock before we set off.  So my Aged P’s to the rescue again … they collected it and posted it to Kerstin’s.  Mum told a little fib … she told the Post Office that she thought it was a pen!  It didn’t arrive and a bank card she posted days later had arrived.  Bugger, Bugger.  It must have been stoped at the border and destroyed.  We booked J a flight home from Munich and a doctors appointment.  Then 3 days later, Kerstin sent me a pic of a parcel … the injection had arrived!!!  Must’ve either gone on the slow boat via China or, I reckon, had been scanned and recognised as medical and not illegal.  The good news is J doesn’t have to fly home for 2 nights and we did get the airport duties back from EasyJet!

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Gustav-Adolf Kirche 1907.  And James, not from 1907!

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We are in witch territory.  We’ve seen a lot of posters with witches and all the lamp post had a selection of Hexen.


Views from the top of the Bocksberg Hill on my afternoon walk. 



I passed this view twice, as a path Id intended to follow didn’t exist!


1142: Love Bench Walk and Washing 

Monday 22nd April 

Back-pack loaded and we set off on the Love Bench Walk 7km around the base of the hill.  Really well done … another feature of the German Outdoor Playground … a bit of fun to get people out walking.  It was well signposted, wooden benches carved with hearts, love poems, and plaques explaining the stages of a relationship; from dewy eyed lively chatter when love can deepen or not develop to a long lasting marriage where so much has been shared.  We stopped en route for Kaffee and Kuchen … huge slabs (I helped J finish his!) and didn’t really want our picnic lunch that we’d lugged around!

When we got back, we filled with water and I went into cleaning mode.  Initially, I put all the underwear and a few T Shirts into bowls to soak and then we cleaned the van.  When it came to rising and spinning, I decided to get the twin tub out.  But as we were in a car park it was not the done thing!  So we put the twin tub in Jez and bowls to catch the water … stealth laundry!  We also showered ourselves!!!  

The stealth laundry was so successful, that we repeated it the next morning and did 6 pairs of trousers, the rest of the tops and fleeces!  Clothes drying on hangers from every door and cupboard handle!  Sunny and windy – perfect with all the windows open!


Start of the Love Bench Walk.


J with Corrie on one of the love benches.


Quite a few cairns …


so we built one with 4 stones to represent, us and CO2.  Aaaah!


A foot bath at the end of the walk.  And 3 people were using it.


Stealth laundry.  Equivalent to 4 machine loads, which cost less than EUR4 for the water used.  Just our time.  The twin tub has certainly more than paid for itself.

1138-1140: Easter Bonfire

1138-1140:  Clausthal or Zellerfeld?

Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th April 2019

A leisurely start and then a steady drive into Germany.  We are in search of hills.  We overnighted on a EUR5 Stellplatz along a canal.  Surprisingly busy.  I walked along it with the dogs and we both ran it in the morning, before setting sail again.

Our overall plan is to spend a few days in the Herz Mountains, head to Dresden and into the Czech Republic before meeting Kerstin S of Munich.  Take note of this plan …

We arrived at the free permitted parking in Clausthal-Zellerfeld.  I walked the dogs off lead 🙂 and discovered one of the local silver mines being made ready for the tourist season.  The next day, the very helpful lady in the Tourist Information Centre warned me about the current dangers of letting the dogs off the lead … the wild boar have young that they WILL protect them.  She spoke German, and my German is very rusty and school girl … boar was established by me making pig noises!  So Corrie, who likes to roam, is now sometimes BACK ON THE LEAD :(.

C-Z is actually two towns.  We never worked out which was which.  As we were parked up at the intersection, we wandered down town on our first evening … the country’s largest wooden Church in Germany.  University sector, so a lot of cheap eateries, including donner kebabs.  We contributed to the local economy in one of the posh restaurants … just a glass, or two of vino … not sure how much these flasks hold.

The next day was our 4 year anniversary when we actually left the UK for our first trip lasting 360 days.  So we celebrated.  After gathering an inordinate amount of leaflets form the TIC, we lugged them to a cafe in the centre of a little park and had a light lunch.  I finished off with a huge sundae of 3 scoops vanilla, apple sauce, whipped cream and the egg advocat sauce … just yummy.  J took the dogs back to the van for a nap, whilst I went into the local museum about the local mining, the area and the people.  Sadly very little in English and way beyond my German.  A small craft area selling wooden bits and bobs and glass was just along the street, but I managed to keep my wallet in my pocket.

The TIC lady had told me about the Easter Fires … we’d seen a huge stack on our drive in.  I also read about them … pagan festivals to celebrate the dawning of Spring and the new agricultural year.  Tradition has it that people will take a burnt stick home with them to bring them luck, and people will walk across the ashes in the morning.  We certainly saw a lot of sticks being brandished aflame by some quite young children.  No H&S evident.  No barriers to keep people from the flames.  Small kids throwing wood onto the small fire as well.  They were having a great time, and how are they to learn if not allowed to ‘literally’ play with fire?  J spotted the fire service did make an appearance just before lighting the main pyre.

With the witch season being in full swing on 30.04, and the tourist info advising us of the wealth of things to see in and do, we decided to stay to see Walpurgnis (witch night) and skip Czech Republic.  So just like that our plans have changed.  Cos we can!

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Yay, CO2 off lead.

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My walk through the woods and stumbling on the sliver mine … I peeked through an open window.

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So, I’ve just read the guide book … this is Clausthal, the University bit with the largest wooden church.  It can seat >2000 from 1642.  we did walk around it but no way in.

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 A night cap.

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4 year travelling anniversary lunch.

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Most interesting exhibits in the local museum (that I could understand) was the display of hats through the ages. 

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Zellerfeld, in the N, had amazing wooden clad buildings in shady wide avenues.

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It’s not often you are met with a group of youngsters with blackened faces and charred sticks!  And they are friendly!  We were told it is the tradition to blacken everyone’s face as they arrived at the easter Bonfire …so …

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… I had to let them blacken my face, just a little!

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James’ face was untouched!

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We found a warm spot next to the small fire, where small children throw on small and not so small logs.

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Getting ready for the big one.

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We automatically moved back as the heat intensified.  Who needs safety barriers?

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I told a lady I was waiting for the tree to fall, but apparently it very rarely does.  As the spruce trees burned, we could see a wood scaffolding structure holding the central tree up .. young wood perhaps.

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Environmental concern?

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1136-1137: Windmills and Steam

1136-1137:  Windmills

Tuesday 16th – Wednesday 17th April 2019

We left the Wildcamping campsite (there’s an oxymoron!)  a.m. – most of our friends and ourselves moving to a pre booked aire at Alblasserdam – and for a farewell meal…..

We drove to the Cruquius Museum on the way to the aire – site of Hollands largest steam engine – from Coventry! Massive steam power driving more water power – sucking the water from the Amsterdam basin into the canals – and still working! British engineering working with Dutch technicians….  

I slept later in the adternoon and K took doggies to the Zaastad windmills – rush hour with tourists and selfie sticks – not the best way to see a place.

Driving to Alblasserdam took far too long … well into aperitif time!  We might not work, but we hit Amsterdam and Den Haag rush hours … 2 for the price of one.  Instantly on arrival two things happened.  1)  We got chairs out and joined our friends for a drink.  2)  K got told off by the aire manager … all dogs on leads at all times.  Now Corrie was technically was on a lead, just K was not attached to the other end.  Juggling a tugging Oscar, a chair and a drink, Corrie had been allowed to walk over free and was spotted.  K apologised and the manager offered to show her the site rules!  In fact he was a bit of a mini Himmler, he pounced on any misdemeanour almost before it happened, but that’s what keeps the aire pleasant for all.  Our tour leaders also came under his displeasure too, as they pretty much arrived last in our group … apparently tour leaders SHOULD arrive first!

The next day we caught the free shuttle bus from aire to the UNESCO Kinderdijk Windmills.  On arrival coffee & cake was consumed whilst we downloaded an audio guide. No sign of Don Coyote – sorry, Don Quixote – wrong country methinks…  no tiliting here.   Later K walked the children (well, they are our kiddies) – Holland is not great for dog walking off lead, but she found a park where they were allowed … until May 1st!  Shopping – and a lovely supper out with our wild camper friends! Not a wild supper, but in a smarts restaurant – and afterwards to a nearby hostelry – managed to stay until 1:30 am with Ben and Lin – ‘Benelin’ – good for easing throats – we eased some wine into ours!

We all left after 2 nights – and lots of adieus/Hasta prontos, etc. “We’ll meet again, somewhere sometime…” 

Now after the lovely flatlands of Holland – to Germany and the mountains…….

Slan go foil – the Irish readers will know this – another ‘Pasta Honto” – adieu for now…


Cruquius Museum:


You can see the metal spider like arms that pull plungers up, to pull water up from the lower level the the canal on the right.


The machinery was set in motion which was an amazing sight.  The cylinder is in its highest position, pulling the spider legs up, drawing up the water.  It was a really smooth action, and had a breaking mechanism top and bottom.  It has not been used since 1933, but still in complete working order.


The ‘wells’ that sucked up water.

Zaanse Schans:


Tourist territory.  Typical houses and windmills have been moved here.  



Kinderdijk Windmills:

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19 windmills used to drain Alblasserwaard.  They had to keep adding new drainage pools and windmills as water levels changed.  

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A few are museums, but most are lived in.

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There was a story about how a mother died saving her child from a sail, as he’d forgotten which exit door to use (depending on wind direction).  The come down to a foot above the ground and do move fast.

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Cosy interior

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Where the Noord and Lek converge.  And my fave pic of the windmills.