Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fly to Germany



Hamburg Airport.  Homage to Jeffrey Smart who died just last month

Sqeasy Jet to Hamburg on 23rd July from Gatwick. Picked up the hire car, a nice VW polo cross, black, again. We said no to a GPS at ten euros a day and instead, using the free wifi at the airport, cached our google map route out of town on Anne's new ipad mini that she bought off her mum. So actually, I do have a GPS. Except mine is a Girl Powered System.

We headed off, driving on the right hand side again with Anne under pressure as navigator and had to immediately pull over on the airport roundabout with too many choices in German. We deliberated, discussed, deduced, decided and duly drove on. We actually work together quite well in these situations but it would be a fib to say it's not stressy. We don't have GPS on Anne's ipad but the free internet at the airport that we were on, stayed connected and the local cells must have triangulated us because the navigator reported our position indicator was moving with us on Google maps! Don't ask me how but we had live updates for a while.

That was all very well except that once it dropped off and we hurtled north, none of the exits were the expected ones as we came to terms with German symbology. We eventually twigged we were on the wrong autobahn but not too wrong. We bought a map at a gas station and soon found ourselves at our accommodation for the night. Thanks Anne, always a stressy ask to make navigation calls when we are both trying to decipher German road signs as they whizzed by. What did that say?......

We used airbnb for the first time for that night's accomodation and found ourselves at Im Langen Moor just out of Molln in a beautiful deeply wooded area driving through oaks then tall pine trees past ripe wild raspberries to a driveway to say hello to our host Jan who was repairing his fibreglass canoe. The sort of accommodation you would never have or know about if not for airbnb.

Jan and Bea were our lovely hosts and we quickly felt very relaxed with like minded people. We walked into town sightseeing on a very hot day, picked raspberries on the way home and then they took us to their lake with their dog Fino. A beautiful deep lake that only the locals use. We had a welcome swim, Anne almost got straight in with little of her customary inch by excruciating inch deeper method. It was refreshing but we didn't swim as much as Bea who set off across the lake for an hour. I would have needed a wetsuit too if I had done it but she says she likes it for the bouyancy as someone new to swimming who doesn't like the idea of drowning.

Jan and Bea took us to dinner at a location we would never have found as tourists. Apparently it is quite famous as one of the few privately owned enormous lakes with a restaurant speciality of local fish. I think they were trout but can't be sure. Either way they were delicious.

In keeping with my theme that has developed since Singapore that 'There Is Great Beer In Life For Those Willing To Take The Journey' I've been sampling and documenting some on offer. This is what the acronym TIGBILFTWTTTJ stands for. Doesn't quite roll off the tongue so expect some refinement yet. Maybe it will just be Tigbil. Anyway I neglected to take any pics there except for my beer pic. The weiss beers are great. A wheat beer, yum.

Our stay with Bea and Jan was just delightful. In fact we enjoyed it so much we stayed another night. The joy of no fixed itinerary. The second night we had dinner at home with Jan's visiting parents and his father pulled out a twenty year french Bordeaux wine. V nice. We had a great time.
Arrival using the analogue method

Hamburg Airport map reading!

Lake at Molln. Electric boats on a very hot day.

After our swim in lovely clear, deep, fresh water, waiting for Bea to swim home.
It freezes over in winter and they skate on it!

Bea wades ashore and makes Anne and Pete look tough not wearing wetsuits

Forest walk back home from lake swim. Secret location. Too nice, can't tell you

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost 1920

Jan's Garden

Breakfast with Jan and Bea

Trout, I think. Yum
There Is Great Beer In Life For Those Willing To Take The Journey

Jan in repair mode
Sums it up really
Fino the hound

Here's to the Road

Brighton - London


Before we left England for Germany we hired a car again from Brighton and drove to Anthony's in North Dulwich, London for a birthday gathering. Anthony, Gavin and Phil (part of the Bristol Posse) are long time friends of Anne's. The weather was still at it's heatwave best for London so an afternoon garden party was in order with Anthony putting on a delicious spread with expert style advice from Bene.

Getting a photo of this bunch with all eyes open turns out to be impossible. For better or worse, I've also chosen the only one where Phil wasn't gurning. Sorry Phil.

Turns out we've been test driving a range of Peugeots as our hire cars. A groovy new black 208 for our skippers ticket was very nice. A small black 107 and then we got an upgrade up several classes to another black one, a Peugeot 508 saloon for our trip to London which at least was very comfortable while Anne did a valiant job of navigating our way there with a paper map through London traffic. I am very close to getting a GPS device! Our only non Peugeot was the funky diversion of a Fiat 500, stylish but basic with least comfy seats.

Gavin and Anne on way to Anthony's

The Caterers

The Gang at breakfast the morning after.
Phil, Anne and Gavin ...and the rental auto
Old mates at Gavin's place.

From Brighton we trained up to Anne's Dad's so we could get up at 4.30am for an early flight to Hamburg. We said goodbye to Jenny's scratchy cat who seemed to be accepting us more and more, and, I have to say, never actually scratched me.

Anne's dad John went to the trouble of a roast dinner on a stinking hot day so the least we could do was have it outside in the rural garden setting after the heat of the day. John had to admit it was the first time ever he had dinner out there so it was a first for all of us.

Anne risks a right hook

Kitty Cupboard love

Tango Tinson in a rare non hunting repose

Summer dining chez John's Acres

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Don't Time Fly

The Anniversary and The Birthday

18th July 2013. That means that two years ago, to the day, I retired. Never has a decision been so right for one individual. Ok, so I've never worked harder than I have in the last two years, but it sure seems worth it now.

Today we are deliberating on The Next Move, sorting out the possibles. Strangely, when you are picking daisies in the field of all possibilities, while it may seem straightforward, not all daisies are created equal, they all have pros and cons, costs and considerations. We're just trying to organise a posy we can afford. We do actually have a couple of events that we must organise around, which poses (posy's) problems of timing, itinerary and connections.

Still at Jenny's in Brighton enjoying their gracious hospitality. Jenny has two interesting animals and a birthday. Tango the cat is a rescue cat. The cat that no one wanted because of his rugged individuality as a scratch-you-if-he-feels-like-it character. Jenny of course said I'll have him. He has settled quite a bit under Jenny's love and understanding and not to mention her cheerful acceptance of scratch and bite marks. He knows where home and the love is but retains his right to be an outdoor Bear Grylls adventure survival cat which includes eating mice and moths and storing the live mice for later under Jenny's pillow.

No urban fox gets in here on my watch.
The other animal in Jenny's collection is Speedy the tortoise. An interesting animal of unknown sexuality until he/she reaches seven years old. They live to 100 years old if they don't eat cat food and 50 years old if they do.

Speedy has a penchant for cat food and will paddle his way through it if given half a chance. Keeping cat food out of his way is not a problem for many months a year as he is hibernating, very low maintenance. Right now with this record breaking British heatwave, he is positively frisky doing multiple circuits of the property boundary and chomping into strawberries and other selected greenery he comes across. He is an interesting creature in his own reptilian way and has an enormous fan base amongst Jenny's friends.

 fresh strawberry from the garden
Steps no obstacle for Speedy

Jenny had her official birthday today as distinct from her party last weekend. After joining her reading a deluge of cards and watching her disappear in a foam of wrapping paper, Anne and I walked over to Louisa and Keith's. We took advantage of this great weather spell that Britain is having and joined them for a delicious dinner outside.

Dinner at Louisa and Keith's

Meanwhile the heatwave continues and thousands will die while newspaper editors have their way.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013




Schoolday Birthday

July 15th found us getting up early and walking in to Brighton to pick up a hire car for the day. We drove back out to Park Farm where we did the sailing theory course and did a one day vhf-dsc radio certificate. Technical sounding but straightforward enough. Anne and I almost got 100% but fell just short... we were robbed! A good pass all the same. We now have another certificate to add to the sailing dossier and dodge any problematic questions that may be posed by officials in future travels.

After the course we drove just down the road to Glyndebourne which is an English opera institution. Glyndebourne is a 600 year old country house with a full scale opera house banged on the back. We just went there for a sticky beak but when we turned in to the driveway we were instantly shepherded to a parking spot. It turns out there was a dress rehearsal of Donizetti's 'Don Pasquale' and the first bells were ringing. There was a temptation to join the throng but we opted for a walk in the gardens instead. Turns out the deal is, setup a champagne picnic on the manicured lawns and gardens (in this case in perfect weather) then leave it and wander in to the opera and come back for more plonk at interval. So we walked through this scene of freshly abandoned champagne, strawberries and raspberries like being first on the scene at the Marie Celeste. I've never seen so much unattended plonk in my life. Lovely grounds, very posh, we would pass some one and say hello like we were members of this exclusive club enjoying a full dress rehearsal on a week day as you do. Wandering along a path we'd find another nest of picnic splendour with abandoned wine in some long grass like finding glittering easter eggs. Some great painted bronze sculptures everywhere and the odd Red Legged Partridge with chicks clucking about.

We drove back the way we came and stopped in at the Cock Inn, a 16thC pub for din dins and a little birthday card opening.

It was a beautiful warm day, I had no idea at the time that it was Britain's hottest ever day on record at 37.4oC in London. It was less than that where we were with the sea breeze cooling things slightly, but an historic birthday nevertheless.

The Marie Celeste

Painted Bronze Sculpture, Corten steel base

What's with the steely gaze buddy?

A pint of something local and a clutch of birthday cards on Britain's hottest day on record.

'Til next post.



I fancy a frolic on a Cambridge fen and a meadow meandering now and then.

I rather like the rivers too, long skinny houseboats with a rural view.

Cambridge was a lovely experience. 800 years of academia does that to a place. Even as an academic failure as Anne calls me, I could appreciate the mix that this place has of ancient buildings, extraordinary university landholdings, farmland, meadows, moo cows and fens, all criss crossed with plenty of bike paths to support a bike riding population second only to Amsterdam. Well almost.

Lesley and Angela were our hosts in their very comfortable, very vertical house. We pumped up the tyres on their spare bikes and did a nice little ride via the river to Fen Ditton for a pub lunch where we met Tony, an old friend of Anne's. We walked over to Rosanna's place for dinner along the river past rowing clubs, quaint waterside pubs and long slender house boats and all in perfect weather! Weather that I gather Britain has not seen for a long time. I haven't seen so much sunburn on white skin for a long time. As a sun shy Aussie, I'm usually the only one wearing a hat and sunscreen whilst all around me people are actively sitting in the sun, lying on the pebbly beaches or riding their bikes without shirts.

From Cambridge we drove down with Lesley and Angela to Brighton by the sea in Sussex to stay with Jenny and Steve. A fellow Cancerian, Jenny had an afternoon back yard party in perfect weather.
We followed it up with a walk along the white chalk cliffs of The Seven Sisters Country Park, England's newest national park. The cliffs are allowed to erode naturally with large chunks falling off occasionally. As a result, the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head remain a bright white colour, whereas the White Cliffs of Dover are protected due to the important port and are therefore increasingly covered in vegetation and are greening as a result.

After our walk we saddled up for a ride down to Brighton beach for a swim. Steve dived straight in and swam out to the wreck of the Brighton West Pier. I dived in, swam underwater a bit and manfully swam several strokes before I decided to quit before my core temperature plummeted. Jenny and Miriam happily swam about while Anne wrestled to summon the courage to go deeper than her knees. It was a gorgeous afternoon, dead still, lovely sunset light through the haze. A distinctive feature on the beaches is all the smoke from everyones portable/disposable/single use barbeque grills that seem to be all the rage for hot snags or burger patties on the beach.

All in all, the thronging humanity on the beach on a warm day is quite an experience.

Cambridge Boules with Jo Jo the expert beaten by Anne!

Fen Ditton, Cambridge.

funky Fiat 500 for a day
Anne & Lesley Cambridge

Saturday 13th July Brighton Beach

Jenny's Party and Speedy the Tortoise
Speedy the Tortoise Parties On

Steve and Jenny

Heading off on Seven Sisters Walk

Anne refuses to go past breakers of English Channel citing rogue waves

You just don't see much Munificence anymore
End of our walk and some hardy souls got wet. Hot weather-Cold water!
Riding down to swim on Brighton Beach

Anne seeks confirmation from Jenny and Miriam that it is definitely warmer further out.

Alas, some expired from the cold.

Anne, Jenny and Steve. Anne thaws out ankles after swim attempt.