Archives for the month of: October, 2012

We flew back into Dublin on the 11th October to rain and cloudy skies but the next day the sun came out again.  Everything does look much nicer when the sun is shining.

On Friday night Barney and Caroline took us to Dublin’s National Concert hall to hear the symphony orchestra playing Tchaikovsky,Chopin and Glinke.  It is a beautiful building and we enjoyed the concert.

We went on Saturday to Isobel one of Maurice’s other cousins for lunch which was lovely and on Sunday we went down to Wicklow to Brigid another cousin for lunch.  She lives in the middle of open fields with grazing sheep overlooking the rolling hills, a lovely location.We came back to a dinner party in the evening at Caroline’s house with two of her sisters (and Maurice’s cousins) and some of her friends.  A good night was had by all.

Maurice and I did a tour of the Jameson’s whisky distillery on Monday morning and I got to be a taster which was good fun.  We compared Jameson’s to Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch and to Jack Daniels Bourbon – ugh!  I don’t mind the Black Label but the Jameson’s Irish triple distilled whisky was by far the smoothest.  A good start to the morning.  After that poor Maurice and Barney were both in the dentist’s chair on Monday afternoon having  root canal (ouch) procedures.  What a nasty coincidence.

We caught the train and the bus then down to Clonmel to Paul and Nell McCarthy where  we stayed for 2days.  Unfortunately Nell had to fly urgently to England the second day as her father had died and Paul drove her down to Cork to catch the plane.  Maurice and I had a very relaxing day by the fire as all day it was very wet and windy and we went to a very good restaurant in Clonmel town in the evening.

Paul drove us to the bus in the morning and we went off to Wexford again to see Fritz at the Franciscan Friary again.  The Friary is in the middle of the town and there are a lot of shops, cafes and restaurants in the main street which is a pedestrian one.  I managed to buy myself a good pair of walking shoes to replace my old ones which I have been wearing for the last few months.

Maurice and I went for a long walk around the town in the morning and walked along John St where his grandmother grew up.  It was a lovely sunny day and even quite warm in the sun, though we still had our heavy coats on.

We went to get another of Fritz’s books called “love from Zambia” and the friars suggested that we try “Cenecal” religious bookshop.  We went to the tourist office to check where the shop was and the girl looked at us blankly.  Another woman there said “Oh you mean the holy shop”.  They didn’t have it there but we managed to find it at another bookshop in town.  Fritz once met an African in Northern Ireland.  He was accustomed to stopping all Africans he saw on the street and asking where they came from.  He got chatting to the guy and in the course of the conversation asked him if he was catholic or protestant, to which he replied “isn’t it bad enough being black!”

The next day was sunny and almost warm again so we went for a long walk down on the wharf where a Spiegel tent was being erected.  We had seen one of these in Perth for the annual festival.  As I was taking a photo of it a young man came along and asked if we wanted to see inside.  He was the promoter for the Spiegel tent and told us the history of it.  It was built in 1922 and belongs to a dutchman who owns 9 of them.   There are only 12 in the world.  They are an amazing feat of engineering in the way it is erected and also that it can hold three trapeze artists dangling from a central rope without a central pole unlike circus tents.  There are going to be various performances there by many people over a week as part of the fringe festival to go with the annual Wexford Opera festival the following week.
We took Fritz and some of the Friars to the Chinese restaurant that they like for lunch.  They had a wonderful gift of 20,000 euros from one of their parishoners so that they were in the process of having a lift installed in an already positioned lift shaft in the Friary which will make it much easier for Fritz with his walking frame to get to the ground floor rather than having to struggle down the stairs with help.

I also managed to find Sean Roche of our old Greyfriars Folk Club days in the 70’s who is now living in Cork and he has promised to go up and see Fritz which he will really enjoy especially if he brings his guitar.  He is a wonderful traditional folk singer.

That day we caught the bus back to Dublin and Barney and Caroline took us on a dinner cruise on the canals in Dublin.  It was fascinating to see the city from the narrow canals.  On the banks the trees were lit up and it was interesting seeing the city from below.  We went through several small locks and under several bridges where there were only milimetres to spare.  The dinner was delicious and there were only 5staff to do everything – a chef and assistant, one waitress, the captain to steer the boat and one person to operate and move the large beams of wood to open and close the locks.  The wooden barge was rebuilt in Holland 3 years ago and was beautiful inside.  It was a perfect night with no wind an again almost warm for the time of night and season.  Lucky again.

Sunday was again sunny for most of the day so we walked into Dalkey after doing some much needed washing.  In the evening we went over to Bray to Caroline’s sister Brigid for dinner which was very enjoyable and we had a few good laughs.  It was nice to be at Caroline’s which is a home away from home for us.  On two occasions we saw foxes in the back garden at night and one crossing the road.

A lot of the shops and houses in the area are preparing for halloween with ghouls, spiders and skulls adorning windows and doorways.

We had a nice lunch at a new Avoca cafe at Malahide Castle with Margaret and Roy McCabe on the Monday before they flew out to Florida.

We have sent some unused clothing home and swapped most of our winter clothes for Summer ones in readiness for the hotter weather in Dubai and India.  We will take our heavy coats and some warm clothes to London which promises to be very cold.

It was lovely to see all Maurice’s family and spend time with them.  The weather changed the last couple of days we were there to foggy, rainy days so we are looking forward to warmth and sun after our stay in London from the 25th October.

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Vidar, our friend Olaf’s son, a rock musician (who is now 29 and was 6 when I last saw him) picked us up in Oslo and drove us half way down to Arendal where we met Olaf and we all had an early dinner and then we continued with Olaf onto Arendal.  Olaf lives on Tromoy an island which is connected by a bridge to the mainland about 7kilometres from the town of Arendal.  The house is in a beautiful position right on the edge of a forest.

It had been 23years since I had been in Arendal but it was just as lovely as I remembered it with lush forests and water all around the town and the neighbouring islands.

On the Sunday we drove to Arendal and walked around the old town and had a coffee in the middle of town which wraps around the small harbour.  We then went and saw Heidi who has three children of her own now.  She was 11 when I last saw her. Olaf then drove us to Hove further around the peninsula to a very popular recreational place in Summer.  It was a bit cool for Maurice and me but we had our heavy coats on.  It is a beautiful spot and we walked around the lovely coastline for a couple of hours.    In the evening we went to Vigdis our friend and Olaf’s former wife for dinner. It was great to be able to catch up with both of them and have a meal together.  Vigdis had emailed me before we got to Norway that it had been raining a lot and she hoped for a bit of sunshine for us.  As usual we were lucky and brought the sun with us so we had another perfectly sunny day.

The next day we had a great time with Olaf who took us hiking along the coast to Bjelland. Luckily he suggested we wear sneakers as we had to negotiate small stones, large stones and boulders along the way. It was a bit of a  balancing act sometimes on the mid sized stones. He did estimate that it might take us one hour but it was a 2 1/2 hour hike instead but it was fascinating to see the stony beaches and outcrops along the way.  It only took us 1 1/2 hours back on the inland road.   We passed an old airstrip and also bunkers from the second world war. We were hoping for a nice cup of coffee at the end of the hike but the restaurant was closed as it was a Monday and now since it was autumn it only opened on the weekends.  I don’t know how a lot of the cafes and restaurants make a living as many in tourist spots are only open for a few months of the year.  The prices in Norway are very sobering and even the Norwegians say that everything is very expensive.  At the local pizza place  on Tromoy island we saw a price list and the large pizzas were between $30-$40.  A taxi driver who lives near the border of Sweden told us that he buys nothing in Norway but crosses into Sweden to do all his shopping.

Luckily it was only 1 1/2hour walk back to the car along the inland road where we passed some houses with a thick carpet of grass growing on on the roof.  These have a thick membrane underneath.  We also passed groups of letterboxes and rubbish bins.  There are no letterboxes on each house but rather groups of them alsong the street or as with Olaf’s street he has put them all on his garage wall away from the weather and the bins are further down the road.  Good for the garbos and the mailman.

We found a lovely hotel and got a cup of coffee there and warmed ourselves up (well Maurice and I did anyway).  Olaf couldn’t believe that we had heavy winter coats on as he most of the time was in a short sleved shirt or just with a windcheater.  He however is accustomed to the colder weather. It got to between 10 and 12 degrees on the days we were there and down to a few degrees at night. We went to a lovely Chinese restaurant with Olaf and Vigdis on Monday night and the food and service was excellent.

On the Tuesday we went for a hike to a place called Jettegryte which means  “Giant pots”.I managed to trip on some wire which I didn’t see and wasn’t expecting along the forest walk and fell flat but luckily it was on soft ground so just got more of a shock than just a wet bruised knee.  The “Giant Pots” are just that – they have been carved out by water but one is very deep and about 5metres across.  Apparently in Summer people bathe in it.  The coastal scenery is beautiful and we were very lucky as everyone kept telling us that we could have had just rain or snow instead of the sunny and dry weather that we experienced.  The autumn colours were beautiful.  Bright yellow, brown and red leaves amongst the fir trees.

We then went to a lovely town called Tvedestrand and had coffee in very large cups almost like soup bowls.   We found that most people in Sweden and in Norway speak either extremely good English or some English which makes life very easy.

In Sweden and Norway and sometimes in Germany people have the habit of taking off their shoes in the house.  This is especially the case in winter when shoes and boots can be messy so most houses have an area where you can hang coats and leave shoes.  A lot of the heating is also underfloor which is very comfortable.

Olaf couldn’t believe that we didn’t have our window open at night and that we had the  heating on but it was otherwise too cold for us.  He told us that they always had the window open and one day Vigdis kicked a hot water bottle out of bed and in the morning it was hard as it had ice in it!

We went over to Heidi their daughter’s place for coffee and it was nice to chat to her and meet her partner Tom and see two of the children Leave and Lotte.  In the evening we had a meal of what Maurice called “reindeer balls” which were actually reindeer meatballs.  They were a bit gamey for me so I had sour salted herring instead which was delicious.

Norway and Sweden are not experiencing the problems with the labour situation plagueing most of Europe and they happy with their own currencies, Norwegian Krone and Swedish Krone. In Germany in most smaller restaurants and establishments we could not use even “Visa” credit cards but in Sweden and Norway we could pay for a packet of sweets with a credit card.

On Wednesday Olaf very kindly took us up  past Oslo and over on the ferry over the Oslo fjord to Moss where we had an early dinner at a Greek restaurant and then farewelled Olaf who had to do the 3hour trip back to Tromoy.  We stayed there overnight as we flew Ryan Air out of the country and the cut price airport is located quite a way out of Oslo.  On the 11th October before we flew to Dublin it had been -4 overnight and 0 degrees when we left.  Olaf said there was snow forecast for the weekend so we just missed that!

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We arrived on the 3rd of October to a misty Gothenburg harbour and were collected by Janne who took us to his daughter Josefin’s house who lives in the middle of Gothenburg.  We then all wen with her and her delightful 3month old son Loui to Alingsas which is about 1/2 hour away from Gothenburg to where Janne and Cajsa live.  It is a beautiful town of about 25,000 people with a lot of wooden houses and trees are all starting to change colour and others lose their leaves.

Most of the houses and gardens in the smaller towns we visited in Germany and in Alingsas do not have large fences or gates surrounding them.  The average temperature was about 10degrees so it was cold outside but nice and warm inside the house.   We all had lunch and their son Robert joined us at a lovely little Italian trattoria run by an Italian friend of theirs who has lived in Sweden for the last 40years.  We had changeable weather – a mixture of sun,cloudy skies and rain but with Autumn here we couldn’t complain after all the good weather we have had.  Josefin took us on a walking tour of the town which we enjoyed.

Aligsas has a festival of lights which runs for all of October and since 2000 leading lighting designers from all over the world have been invited to come and set up lighting displays and to demonstrate their expertise.  It was a bit wet the first night so we didn’t venture out to see it. Instead the family all came together and we had a lovely dinner at home.

On Thursday Maurice and I had a relaxing day.  We put on our walking gear and went for a long walk around the town and stopped for a coffee and a sandwich.  Prices here in Sweden are much higher than in Germany with 1sandwich and 2coffees costing about $20.

In the evening Maurice went with Janne and eight other work colleagues  from the local newspaper and friends went to see the lights of Alingsas on a horse drawn wagon with a stop to warm up with Swedish whisky and mulled wine.  Cajsa and I and her daughter in law Therese went instead to a fashion show in town held at a shop which had everything from kitchen layouts to handmade Swedish designer ornaments and ceramics.  After champagne and canapes we moved on to the dress shop to see the latest winter fashions.  We then met up with the men and walked home.

On Friday Maurice and I caught the train into Gothenburg and walked around the city which has a very laid back feel to it.  After lunch we met up with Josefin and Loui and we went through a wonderful fish market which sold an amazing array of fresh fish and seafood of every kind as well as per prepared fish dishes.  Josefin then took us to her favourite old  part of town where we had coffee in one of the many coffee shops in town.

We then went up to a tower on the top of a hill where we had a good view of all of Gothenburg.  We caught the train back to Alingsas in the early evening.  Cajsa and Janne had arranaged a dinner party for us and six of their friends and we all had a great night with a delicious fish and seafood meal.

On Saturday morning they kindly took us into Gothenburg where we caught a very comfortable bus to Oslo.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the scenery along the way was of lakes and lush fields and forests.

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We spent a lovely four days with our friend Reinhold  in Hamburg.

We arrived on Friday 21st September and went with him and Gabi a friend of his to a great Lebanese restaurant.  On Saturday we went to a nice little cafe on one of the hundreds of canals in Hamburg and then to see the market running along the canal.  Maurice then developed a 24hour stomach bug so we left him in bed an went off with a group to an Oktoberfest party held in a very large tent.  We got there early at 5pm to get good seats which was just as well as it was packed within a couple of hours.  The specially brewed “Oktoberfest beer” and food was excellent and the band played nearly non stop.  There were quite a few people dressed in “dirndls and lederhosen” as well as all the waiters which added to the atmosphere.

We danced a lot and a good time was had by all.  There were security people about but although there were thousands of people, there was no trouble.

The transport system in Hamburg is excellent and you really don’t have to walk far – there is always a speedy bus/U-bahn/S-bahn connection to wherever you want to go and in the main train and bus stations there are big signs telling you the destination of the buses and trains and how long one must wait – which usually isn’t a long time.

Its cute to see the dogs travelling with their owners and sitting well behaved under tables at restaurants.  Some were even walking with their owners through the department stores.   They must be all well trained because you never see a mishap!

On Sunday Maurice was feeling much better and we had a lovely brunch with an ernormous choice of food at a nearby pub/restaurant which was fantastic value at 7.50euros each.  You only had to pay extra for drinks.

We have found the food/drink prices here in Hamburg to also be very reasonable.  There are of course more expensive places to eat and drink but the good thing is that you can get extremely good food for very reasonable prices.  Much cheaper than in Australia for similar fare.

We went on to “Hafen City”  which is a reasonably new area full of appartment buildings, restaurants and cafes right on the harbour.  We caught a ferry and did a round trip around the Hamburg harbour which was lovely.  We were still very lucky with the weather and had no rain to hinder our excursions.  We sat outside in the sunshine and had coffee. Then Reinhold made us a delicious Mousaka for dinner.

On Monday we went back to the “Speicherstadt” which used to be old warehouses.  They have kept a lot of these and renovated them and a lot are various kinds of museums.  We went to the extremely well organised and very busy “miniature world” which was fascinating.  It is divided into countries and they have probably completed ten different coun tries and more are always underway.  They have a control room like an aircraft control tower where technicians are always watching the exhibits and if anything goes wrong they can spot it instantly and have it fixed.  There are not only minute figures of people/animals and vegetables but whole villages in miniature as well as a working airport with aircraft taking off and landing with all authentically finished aircraft.

Reinhold treated us  to a very good German restaurant for dinner.

We caught the train to Lubeck which took 1/2 hour and were met by my dear friend Ruth who I had not seen also for 17years.  It was like old times.  She has a wonderful appartment with high ceilings and large windows and has it beautifully decorated.  She took us on a walking tour of Lubeck and we only had a little rain after we came out of “Niederegger” which is the most famous marzipan shop in Germany.  They have marzipan in every shape and form and a lovely old style cafe.  They also have a marzipan museum with life size figures in marzipan and a larg map of Europe made into a glass wall where almonds form the countries.  It is amazing.

We stayed with another dear friend Irmi and Peter who live on the other side of Lubeck.

The old city of Lubeck which is surrounded by water and bridges is beautiful.  The buildings are fascinating and have been beautifully restored.  Lubeck is world heritage listed. The Holsten tower is one of two remaining city towers and like many of the old buildings tends to lean a bit which gives it even more character.   Ruth took us on a walking tour around the old part of the city and through small passages built between many of the houses where there are many quaint houses and gardens.  Some of these connecting passages were used by people like Willy Brandt in the 30’s when the Nazis tried to arrest him and failed.

Wenesday we went into town and walked around and then another friend Katrin came and we had delicious veal cooked in milk and bay leaves – sounds strange but was delicious.

The following day we caught the train to Travemunde, a small seaside town on the Baltic sea where we met up with another friend and had a delicious fresh fish lunch on the fisherman’s wharf.  There used to be up to 150 fisherman in Travemunde but there are only 50 odd left now.

We had some very light rain but nothing that stopped us from walking about and then our friend Ruth picked us up and we drove around the Baltic sea to Scharbeutz another seaside town with beautiful boutiques and coffee shops.  It is a lovely scenic drive around the bay and many avenues of trees which are just starting to change colour.  We then went to Wansdorf a fascinating establishment which is very large and sells everything in the shape of strawberries including some really kitch items and at the moment there are many pumpkins on sale for halloween.  It is an enormous place which also has some wonderful smallgoods and homemade bread, jams and everything else you can imagine for sale.  We drove through the surrounding fields and forests to Ratzeburg, another beautiful old town.

We had dinner at a Italian restaurant and then went to a very lively salsa club called “Havana”in the old part of town.

On Friday we caught up with emails and skyped and had another wonderful fish lunch with Irmi and Peter.  We were then dropped in the old part of town where we explored more of the old streets. We went into an old building which was originally a beautiful old church with three spires. Construction started in the middle ages about 1260 and a wooden building with small rooms was contructed within the church which formed the hospital.  Irmi’s son Malte and his partner and twin sons Broder and Magnus live in the old part of town so we dropped in to see them.

Ruth picked us up and drove us to the school at which she taught and showed us her classroom.  In the village that night they were having a celebration for all the children. Once a year a festival for the children is held and a lot the residents decorate their houses with colourful flags and balloons and the children walk around the streets with lanterns and then have a big party.  We then went with her daughter Judith and other friends to a great Tapas restaurant with live guitar music.

On the Saturday we relaxed in the morning and then a group of us went to a wonderful restaurant in the country called “Federikenhof” and we had the beautifully restored “pig sty” to ourselves where we were served a delicious meal.  The pig is a good luck symbol in Germany and there were piggies of all sizes, shapes and forms as decoration but very tastefully done.  The service was impeccable and the food delicious with excellent service for a very reasonable price.

There are many wild boars in Germany and they have to be tested by vets before the meat can be used.  There are also many deer in the forrest so that venison appears regularly on menus.  The pork in Germany is delicious and has a very subtle taste.  The Germans sure know how to cook it and the sauces and accompanying potatoes and vegetables are always very tasty.  There is just as much discussion about food around the table as in Italy – as they say “same but different”.

In the evening we went to a fantastic circus called “Roncalli” who are apparently very well known in Europe.  It is fashioned on “cirque de Soleil” and was wonderful especially the skits with the clown who had all of us in stitches.  He was very clever.

There is a lovely custom that we saw in many countries including China, Italy and Germany where when a couple get married they go to a particular bridge and along the wire or ropes along the bridge they attach a lock and then throw the key into the river which signifies their unity.  There is also another growing tradition in Lubeck at least of knitting squares or lenghts of wool and also attaching them to bridges or to bike racks just for fun.

We farewelled our dear friends in Lubeck and caught the train to Eutin half an hour’s train ride north the next morning to our friend Katrin (another friend I hadn’t seen for 17years)and she drove us around the many, many lakes and forests surrounding Eutin which is another beautiful north German town.  In the morning we picked up her gorgeous nearly  91 year old mother and went to Kiel where we drove around the city and down to watch the container ships and smaller vessels enter the locks which lead into the Kiel Canal.  Maurice had read much about the Kiel Canal as a child and has always wanted to see it.    The German sail training ship the “Gorch Fock” has just returned to Kiel after being in dry dock and was tied up on the far bank.  We had a nice lunch overlooking Kiel harbour and Katrin gave us a tour of Kiel city which is quite small but it has an interesting pedestrian area.  After we had said our goodbyes Katrin drove back to Eutin and we went for a wander around the town.  It still wasn’t getting dark until about 7.30pm but it was cool about 10degrees.

The next day we went for a long walk around the lakes and town and boarded the “Stena Germanica” at 6pm for the trip to Gothenburg.  Our hotel wasn’t far so we just walked our bags down to the dock.  It was a very efficient service to get on board and we were met with a small gin and tonic and given the keys to our cabin.   The boat was very modern and had good facilities on board and the cabin was excellent even though it was an inside one.  As we sailed overnight we didn’t think we needed a more expensive outside cabin.  We stayed on deck for a while as the ship pulled out and there was no wind and so it wasn’t so cold.  It was lovely to watch the lights of the city disappearing into the distance.

Maurice and I have developed a taste for an “Aperol Spritz” which is very popular now in Germany and Sweden.  It is three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol, 1part Sparkling water with lots of ice.  It makes a wonderful aperitif.  In the north of Germany “shandies” are also popular but they are called “Alsterwasser” after the river in Hamburg.

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We again flew into bright sunshine this time to Frankfurt on the 13th September and on the way in had a good view of the city. We stayed in Raunheim about 1/2 hour from the airport by shuttle bus. A bit rich calling it the Mercure AIRPORT hotel! but otherwise it was a good hotel and it was a nice 15minute walk to the “S” bahn station to get the train into the main station and then out to Frankfurt Messe – to the Automechanika trade show. Maurice was observant on the way to the station and found 45euros on the pavement with no one else in sight so that wa a nice surprise for us but not for the person that lost it.

We caught up at the Messe with a few of our ex suppliers from Sydney and it was nice to see familiar faces from Australia. The “Messe” covers an enormous area with many enormous pavillions and with the usual German efficiency was very well set up. Some of the companies in setting up their stands and bringing people in from al lover the world and promoting their goods spent over 3/4 million euros for the trade show. Included in the entrance ticket was free public transport to and from the Messe which was a bonus. Raunheim is a nice little village with lots of pubs and restaurants so we had excellent meals the three nights we were there – German, Italian and Lebanese – on different nights of course!

Since leaving Italy and the heat behind we have not been drinking much water I suppose because of the cooler weather. In the afternoon at the trade show I felt very faint and so we wandered off to the first aid station which was closed. Maurice went and found someone and before I knew it I was carted off by ambulance with paramedics to their clinic in the Messe (they wouldn’t let me walk much to my embarrassment) and after having every check done including EKG’s and calling the doctor in, they pronounced me in excellent health only lacking in water. Never having felt that way before did give us a scare but as soon as they had plied me with a litre of water and had me resting for 1/2 hour all was well again. We have since been drinking copious amounts of water and therefore searching for toilets every 1/2 hour!

I went into Frankfurt the next day while Maurice went back to explore the other pavillions at the trade show. I managed to find myself a nice pair of boots which I had tried to obtain in China but there they only laughed at my shoe size. At least here in Germany a 41 shoe size is not laughed at!

Frankfurt shopping area was full of people being a Saturday and had the usual number of beggars on most street corners holding their cups and others with cats or dogs or a goose! sitting next to them to tug at the strings of animal lovers. The other rort we have found on a few occasions is that someone comes up to you and says he is going to catch a train to a certain place and he is short one euro to get his ticket. I guess it is a novel way of begging but sad to see. We have also noticed that the people here in Germany going through the bins for the recyclable drink bottles and cans are better dressed than in other parts of Europe or Asia.

On Sunday 16th on another bright sunny day, we caught a very comfortable train to Dollern which with one change took us about 5hours.  Dollern is a very small town about 1/2 hour south of Hamburg and it was nice to see some old friends that I had last seen 17years before when I took my mother to Europe. Dollern is in a particularly pretty part of Germany with the (“Altes Land” – Old country) nearby where the very neat ancient houses are beautifully and ornately decorated with very instricate wood and brickwork. It is also a major cherry and fruit growing area and very close to the Elbe where from the dykes you can watch large ships moving up and down the canal. The apple and pear trees were laden with fruit and we met many tractors pulling bins of fruit to their storage places.

We met up with four generations of the family and Helga the great grandmother is 77 but looks 60 and does everything in the house and garden and still mows the lawn and clips the hedges. She is a powerhouse, drives extremely well and really enjoys life. We had the attic appartment which has been beautifully furnished to ourselves and we felt right at home for the five days we were there.

We had a wonderful stay with her and caught up with the whole family and other old friends there on several occasions.  We took Maurice for his birthday to a very good fish restaurant and he had a special treat when we went to the viewing platform at the airbus factory which is nearby. There were two Emirates A380’s on the tarmac as well as many others so it made his day.

We had a few drops of rain while we were in the car but otherwise we had bright sunshine every morning and exceptionally dry weather for this time of year and were able to go for long walks around the area and along the dykes on the Elbe river and into Stade a larger town with a lovely small harbour and ancient buildings.  It was cold in the mornings but our heavy coats were even a bit too warm. They will probably fine for when we get to Scandinavia.

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Sorry no  photos for the time being.  WordPress is being difficult and won’t upload them.