Cycling this month
Another low mileage month. In fact, it looks highly unlikely that I will reach my year’s target of 8000km and so will be the lowest year’s cycling total since I started recumbenteering ten years ago.
But do you know what? I don’t mind. This year has been massively different in my life with a new relationship with Klaus, him moving in with me, us beginning our lives together, plus a more-and-more stressful work environment for me as my workload increases. If I have to cycle less then so be it. But I do hope to get out on the bike more next year!
And here is where I went this month:
A trip to a local coffee shop
Klaus had visited alone a coffee shop in Uerdingen and said it would be nice for me to also go there as it had its own charm. So we headed off on our bikes to Beans & Sweets on a cold and slightly mizzly day, although the sun came out once we got there.
The café was full but we found a space on a table occupied by a lone female. The table was made from some old railway furniture where the seat folds out. It was rather creaky and wobbly so I was a bit wary of it!
I chose cheesecake
Klaus made the better choice, a kind of biscuity creamy cakey thing.
It was only 45km but I wasn’t on very good form so found it harder work than usual!
Penelope goes to a new home
I recently wrote on this blog that I planned to sell Penelope. I put an advert in the German Velomobilforum and had several people interested, including a relatively local chap who came to try her out but wasn’t keen on the colour. However, I was contacted by another chap, Thomas, who was very keen and made arrangements to get the train to Kempen and to ride her home if he bought her.
So Thomas duly arrived and I picked him up from the station. He had a look at Penelope and we adjusted her seat position etc to suit her, and he decided to have her after a couple of short test rides.
He had bought rather a lot of luggage with him – this is because he planned to cycle the 360km home to south east of Mannheim, a massively long journey even for someone used to recumbent trikes as he was.
I gave him a free spiked tyre for Penelope and then he handed over just six small pieces of paper to take Penelope away, but at least they were also purple!
He set off at about 2 in the afternoon, using his phone as a GPS (he had a backup battery but I was unsure it would last the whole way).
Here is is, just about to go:
I heard from him the next day that he had stopped after 270km and got a friend to pick him up as he was so tired. But what an incredibly impressive first ride on Penelope, and I hope he has loads of fun riding her around his rather hillier town!
I also now need to do some new artwork for the top of this page – Millie and Alfie are my only bikes remaining. But not for long…
Life in Germany
A weekend in Dresden
Following on from our trip to Potsdam, Berlin and Usedom in October, we had booked flights for a weekend in Dresden. The idea was to go on the mid-afternoon flight on Friday and fly back Sunday evening. We booked with Eurowings, found an apartment right near the centre of Dresden and then investigated car parking at Düsseldorf airport.
Then we had an email from Eurowings saying because of not enough passengers they now had a smaller plane and we would be returning on a different flight, to Köln this time. This was hopeless for us as we would be back stupidly late, plus have really complicated travel for which we would have to apply for compensation. Stress. So instead we cancelled the flights (and got a full refund) and decided to go by car instead!
It’s a drive of at least six hours but Klaus does it fairly regularly for work anyway, and his car is comfy and his diesel is free! Hurrah!
He took the day off work and came and picked me up from my workplace on the dot of 1pm and we set off eastwards… being stuck in all the Friday afternoon traffic as we headed through the Ruhr, but we expected that. It was a bit rainy and dark which meant the journey wasn’t as fast as it could be but we were stocked up with Gummibärchen and Klaus’s music system was playing his entirely playlist by song in alphabetical order. We tried to guess how many songs would start with “N” and what those songs were. Needless to say, we were not very accurate at this game!
We stopped for a Burger King on the way (Klaus’s favourite) and finally arrived at our hotel at 8pm. There was underground parking available but for some reason the gate wasn’t opening and as I stood outside talking to the intercom the heavens opened and I ended up looking like a drowned rat. But we had a parking spot in the centre of Dresden – and the car next to us had a Viersen number plate!
Our apartment was very spacious and even had a washing machine! But first things first, we headed off for tea and cake.
We stopped at the Kufürstenhof right opposite the Marienkirche in the centre of Dresden. Everything was very nicely set out. I tried this cake which had an interesting name (which I cannot now remember) but had meringue, jam, cream and pistachios.
Klaus went for this apple cake.
Suitably fortified after our long drive, we walked around a little looking in various shop windows. Initial impressions were that Dresden has a lot of watch shops. Further impressions were that Dresden has a LOT of watch shops, Dresden has OODLES of watch shops and Dresden has VAST QUANTITIES of watches for sale. Posh ones too. The most pricey we saw was 129,000€. Which is a lot.
The next morning, Saturday morning, we headed off to breakfast at a café round the corner. We had a few plans of what to do with the day, which included a boat trip along the Elbe.
But first we did some more walking around, seeing the sights. Klaus had been in Dresden some weeks beforehand so acted as my guide to show me around.
I had been thinking about getting a new winter coat and Klaus turns out to be an excellent personal shopper. We found the perfect winter coat in Karstadt and the price was fair so I was sorted! My grey hat doesn’t match it so that is my next challenge, finding a similar wool boater but in black. Not so easy!
In order to fortify ourselves for the boat trip we had some cake.
The boat trip was with a firm who have paddle wheel steamships but unfortunately we were on a rather more modern one.
It went along the river to the south east, past some very posh residential areas with palaces and castles. The architecture of Dresden was lovely, especially when you realise most of it has been built since World War 2 after the firebombing of Dresden by the Allies.
After the ship it was time for our next event which we had spotted the evening before – a service of Vespers in the Kreuzkirche including organ music. It was free entry but 3€ for a programme, and we had a 45 minute service consisting mostly of the Dresdner Kreuzchor singing. This choir has been going for seven centuries. They were very impressive, as was the organ, although where we were seated and with the acoustics of the building the organ was a bit overwhelming at times.
We finished our evening with a meal at a steak restaurant which offered Worcestershire Sauce Dresden Style!
We did some more walking after our meal, some more window shopping at watches (we both like them so this was fun) and then found ourselves near the Semperoper and stopped for some dessert cake. Klaus went for this.
And I chose this option. It had lots of fruit on so was very healthy.
After a busy day with lots of impressions we went back to our apartment. In the dark we could see into the windows of the building next to us – the Transport museum – and once I discovered it was open the next day (Sunday) that became our plan for Sunday morning before we left to drive home.
The next morning, after breakfast in the café we had another wander around and then checked out of our hotel. We were able to leave the car in the car park whilst we looked around the Transport Museum.
They had lots of older vehicles and many from the time of East Germany including Trabants and Wartburgs, of course. It was interesting to see a museum on transport history with the view from the former communist East.
Klaus and I rather laughed at this graphic though – a fellow Velomobilist recently cycled from Hamburg to Berlin in 5 hours 20 minutes.
They also had this enormous bicycle!
That wheel is rather dwarfing the bottle dynamo.
Here it is in all its glory!
This was also good news, although sadly inaccurate for me I fear!
It is more likely that I burn 300-400 calories per hour, so that’s not even one cake!
UK museums are a bit more interested in Health & Safety. In this museum you could try various bikes around the track which went around one medium-sized room. We were impressed that they had a recumbent bicycle in there, and then discovered a trike. So we both had a go.
Klaus’s Facebook message about it had a brilliant autocorrect from his misbehaving phone for the word ‘gesehen’ (‘seen’). It was a Sunday morning and I was not at church so I guess I was rather heathen!
The museum had trains and boats too, so we had a good look around for a couple of hours and then it was time to head home.
Klaus had fancied walking along the Elbe for a little but after lots of standing and walking in the Museum our backs were protesting so instead we drove along the river. After a while we spotted a sign to Glashütte. This is a town where lots of watches are made and as we had been in what appeared to be the Watch City we decided to do the 20km detour to Glashütte. My watch, that I bought in memory of my father, also came from Glashütte (from the firm Mühle Glashütte).
It turned out to be up a rather winding road through some attractive scenery (despite the rain) and, being Sunday, when we got there everything was shut. But we saw the huge posh buildings belonging to Lange & Söhne as well as the other big Glashütte brands.
From here to get back to the motorway was a bid fiddly as we had actually been going in the opposite direction to where we needed to go and also gone up into the mountains (Erzgebirge) a bit. But eventually we were back on the main motorway and passing Dresden again, heading for home. We passed signs to Colditz castle; I visited it years ago with my Father and James and would like to go again one day. Klaus hadn’t heard of it – it’s obviously British WW2 history rather than German!
It was raining all the way back but we had a run with less traffic and were home at 7 in the evening. We stopped halfway – Klaus had a McDonalds Burger and I had something more to my taste:
We had had a brilliant weekend – you can pack a lot in over two days and we certainly saw a lot. Dresden is lovely and I hope to go back there again before too long.
I sing in the Willich Choir which is linked to the Evangelische Kirche in Willich. This year we were doing Paulus by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and I grew to really love this music the more we sang it.
Our two performances were two days apart in November. The first, in Anrath, didn’t go as well as it could have done (in my view), partly because of the tricky acoustics. The second performance, in the Friedenskirche in Krefeld, was much better.
I sat right behind a guy with a Contra-Bassoon. It’s an amazing instrument, sound like deep organ pipes and looks very complicated!
Next year we will be doing Joshua by Handel. I am looking forward to it already!
Some more cakes
We had a number of shorter rides this year with a cake as the goal. Here are the results of our travails:
I had this rice cake (and Klaus the apple cake in the background) in Arcen in the Netherlands. We went for a ride and then friend Ralf with his new DF Velomobile said he was heading our way, so we waited for him (not a hardship in a nice warm café with cake) and then rode back together.
My colleague Annette kindly shared some pastries with me at work one day!
On another occasion the ADFC Fit durch den Winter tour went to a café about 11km away. Unfortunately I had pulled a muscle in my back so couldn’t cycle but Klaus did. I went by car with the dog and met them there and had this very tasty Mandarinen-Schmand Kuchen.
A puzzling time…
When winter arrives and it’s less appealing to go walking or cycling I like to fill up some time by doing a jigsaw puzzle, so I bought a new one for November and made a start.
It became clear, however, that the piece of board I do the puzzle on was too small. Fortunately Gudula had a frameless frame available in the cellar and I could use the perspex on it as a larger work area. It was quite flexible so I used the old hardboard base to strengthen it from underneath. And the puzzle starts to take shape.
A day later and you can begin to see what it is…
And here it is finally finished!
I shall start another one during the Christmas break from work – I get two weeks off at Christmas, hurrah! I will be visiting the UK for part of that time with Klaus.
A work visit.
I work as a Key Account Manager at a Kempen firm and my Account is a Russian customer. I speak daily on the phone to this customer (in English, fortunately!) and also to an organisation in Bavaria with whom we partner on this contract.
In the last week in November we discovered a delegation from Russia and Bavaria would come to visit us for several days – from Thursday to Sunday. Unfortunately I already had appointments on Friday afternoon and the whole of Saturday but was able to meet the visitors at other times.
Thursday I went with them for an inventory at a warehouse we use locally and got to know the three representatives from Russia and the chap from Bavaria. We had a meal together that evening in Kempen. The next day they were with me in the office in the morning and then I met them again for dinner in the evening which was great fun. We had a really enjoyable evening, chatting in four languages (English, German, Russian and Polish) because of the mix of nationalities we had amongst us.
On Sunday morning I met my main counterpart in Russia for cake as she has read this blog for many months and so knows about my cake experiences.
I had this rice cake.
Klaus went for his favourite Käse-Sahne Torte.
Julia from Russia chose this Black Forest Gateau.
We had a lovely chinwag. Having spoken to her loads on the phone for the last fifteen months it was really good to get to know her in person. And, even more of a bonus, she had brought me some Russian chocolates!
It seems I have an invitation to visit the company in Moscow so maybe one day I will manage it – it would be great fun!
It’s been a tiring month work-wise for both Klaus and me. He was away in Nürnberg for a week which involves lots of travelling and standing around at the Trade Fair. I ended up having to do some extra work due to workload, plus I had a few days off sick at the beginning of the month which involved various tests at the doctors (all was fine in the end). The grey and cold weather that Germany is now experiencing isn’t very cosy either, but the Advent season is upon us now and I am looking forward to seeing my Mum and Sister and her family in the UK, as well as Oliebollentocht 2017 Velomobile gathering in Rotterdam just after Christmas. Watch this space!