Saturday 16 March 2013
Today was the date of the English-speaking Stammtisch (a kind of social group) that Babs, who I had met when visiting Mönchengladbach in December, had organised to take place whilst I was here.
Originally it was going to take place at the Royal’s Café which is an English-run café in Willich. Apparently I would get a full English breakfast! However, it turned out that they had a large party in so had no room for us and the venue was changed to the Café del Sol in Violstraße, Krefeld.
We were meeting at 10am and it was 11 miles away so I needed to get up early today (7am, yikes!) to give Poppy a decent length walk and then leave here at 8:45.
When Pops and I were out walking it became clear that it was very windy – and the wind was coming from the direction of Krefeld. I would have a difficult journey there! Here she is with the wind blowing her ears and tail!
I had plotted a route using Open Streemaps which mark out bicycle-friendly routes. I was out of the house at 8:45am and fetched Alfie from the garage. The landlord was around and had a little chat (he was interested in the trike) and while we were standing there talking we heard Poppy howling. She was quiet after a minute so I don’t know if it was because she could hear me talking or if she was just stretching her lungs.
I set off and realised very quickly that I was going to be late. Mainly because of the headwind which was pretty strong but also because I went wrong twice within the first two miles (going through Sankt Hubert). It was quite bright out and with my cycling glasses on and the sun reflecting on my Satnav screen it was fairly hard to see.
My outward route was the more southerly one (that goes to Unterweiden). It’s clear as anything from these two tracks that the return route (the easterly one, throug Hüls) was much shorter and indeed it shaved two miles off the distance. That route was plotted by my Garmin itself – I just asked it to take me home when leaving the Café and that’s the route it took.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
The going was hard – not because of the cycle path surfaces (mostly decent asphalt) but the wind was awful. Then my cycle route decided to go through a bit of unmade road which was muddy. Mindful of the hassle I had yesterday with mud and muck I decided to just follow the road signs to Krefeld and ignore my cycle-friendly route which was probably going to have further moments of tricycle-unfriendliness.
As you see, I went directly down Venloer Straße and into Krefeld. This had a good cycle path and not too many traffic lights so I made passable speed but the wind caused major extra effort!
I texted Babs to say I would be late but arrived at the Café del Sol at 10:20 which wasn’t too bad.
Everyone else was there – this was a group of ten people, all German except Rhiannon who is from Swansea (although has lived in Germany for ten years). The people in the group like to meet to talk English as it helps them with their jobs, etc.
Everyone else was having breakfast. I’d had some cereal at 8am and discovered the buffet breakfast here was 8,50€ so I decided to do without. Maybe not the best idea as I watched people bringing back fantastic food – loads of choice of rolls, meat, pastries, mousses, yoghurts etc. I had a cup of tea (using my own teabag but for which I had to pay 2,20€).
And here is the group at the table.
It was good to talk to everyone and I delivered some English goodies that Babs had requested (some Doctor Who magazines and some Boots toiletries). At 12:30pm I thought it was time to head back as Poppy would have been on her own for a fairly long time, so I said goodbye to everyone and headed off.
This time I just asked my Garmin to take me back to Escheln 27 and it calculated and said 8.7 miles, which was interesting as my outward route had been 10.9 miles. So off I went, following the Garmin.
The tailwind made things MUCH easier – rather enjoyable in fact. It wasn’t a particularly scenic ride – Krefeld is sprawling and not particularly beautiful – but there were always cycle paths which were mostly reasonable, like this one.
I did have to take care when cycling on roads with tram tracks – those things are very dangerous with a trike!
I positively zoomed back with the wind behind me. At one point a young lad cycling along with a girl on the rack of his bike asked me about my trike. I was rather amused to note that his first question was the same one as I always get asked by yoof in Essex, “How much does it cost?” After this he asked if it’s heavy (I said 18kg which he seemed to think was OK); this is not a question UK youth tend to ask. Then the girl decided to ask me if the chain falls off (it took me a while to understand what she was after, not helped as we were cycling along at 10mph and she was outside my field of view and hard to hear in the wind). When I realised this was the question I assured her that it almost never did. It leads me to suspect she’s got a rather naff bike with a permanent chain/chainring problem. They said a very polite goodbye as their route diverged from mine.
My Garmin’s route took me through Hüls which I had visited in December and seems a bit unexciting to me. Still, from there it was a short hop to Sankt Hubert and I was delighted to discover, as I rode along the Hülser Landstraße into Sankt Hubert, that there was an Edeka supermarket! I thought there was only Aldi in Sankt Hubert. So I put a waypoint on my Garmin (so I could find it again) and went in.
And then a lady came up to me and started talking to me and I recognised her from the choir practice on Thursday. We had a short chat, during which time another member of the choir came past and said hello. Clearly Edeka is the place to be!
I bought a couple of food items (some salad for lunch and some salami to go on my bread rolls) and then stopped at the bakery outside and bought my afternoon’s cake experience. I thought it was time I had a cake rather than a pastry and that I could do with a bit more fruit (I’ve only really eaten bananas here) so I thought this fit the bill!
I was back at 2pm and took the dog for a quick walk around the block for her loo opportunity. Then it was lunch and some domestic tasks: putting on a load of washing, emptying my bins (I have discovered there’s a bin for food packaging like mushroom trays and yoghurt pots which I had just put in the rubbish bin so I need to do some more separating of rubbish from now on), tidying up a bit. The fluffy rug in my bedroom seems to have spread a bit of fluff about, but I wonder if Poppy is the culprit. I haven’t seen her chewing it but I shall keep an eye out!
The plan for this evening is to cycle to the Chinese take-away in Kempen. I’ve been cooking for myself the whole time and I fancy having a meal that someone else cooks, even if it’s a six mile round trip! At least it’s dry outside and in fact has got fairly warm (7 degrees at the moment) although that wind is a bit of a pain!
Statistics for today’s ride:
Distance – 20.47 miles
Moving time – 2 hours
Average speed – 10.18mph
Maximum speed – 17.94mph
Average heart rate – 137
Maximum heart rate – 178
Calories burned – 1030
Climb – 163
As it was such a lovely afternoon and work seemed strangely unenticing I decided to take Poppy out for a longer walk. The wind was still pretty strong (I had spoken to James on the phone earlier and he said in the UK, or at least in Essex, the wind was evilly chilly and making the house freezing cold) but I am made of hardy stuff and made sure I had a buff, a hat and the hood on my coat.
Off we went, walking along Escheln westwards.
I met a few dogs on the walk and Poppy generally ran around them and got excited. Most didn’t seem to mind.
Now as I was walking back along Escheln again I saw a big cloud of dust. It appeared to be a tractor with a fitting on the front a bit like one of those shoe shine roller thingies and was breaking up the mud on the road into dust.
When I got back Poppy flopped to sleep (that’s two good-length walks she’s had today) and I ate my fruit-topped cake. Yum!
I was just getting into my cycling gear to head off to the Chinese restaurant for a take-away (it turns out there’s a restaurant just a mile away that does take-away) when my doorbell rang. It was the daughter of the house, Patrizia, with her friend Johanna, bearing a gift!
They were three very tasty waffleds and after eating them I certainly didn’t need a Chinese.
After my meal I went downstairs to settle up my bill for the holiday accommodation this week and to talk about staying here next year as I wanted to confirm it. We had a lovely chat and Poppy really enjoyed having fuss made of her by the two girls and by the adults as well. She even got a chance to go outside and look out for a comet (they couldn’t see the one that was due though).
I then got a guided tour of the house which was very interesting (there’s a very decent-sized room above this floor) and when I got back to our apartment Poppy was so tired she put herself away in her crate (this is where she goes when she really doesn’t want to be disturbed).
I’m looking forward to my year here next year, especially if more waffles turn up!