So 2017 is at an end! This is a little something I wrote over the New Year 2017/2018:
I’m not the sort of person who looks back the whole time and lives on memories. Generally I feel happy with all my life choices so far and I appreciate the wonderful times I have had with family, friends and James over the last 46 years.
But a quick look back at last year shows that it was very different than I had expected!
I started the year relatively newly divorced but used to being on my own and happy with my own company (well, Poppy was also part of this!) I love living with the Roddays and find my life in Germany is peaceful and fun. Work was continuing its usual challenges but as I started 2017 my main focus was on trying to lose some weight and being a support to Klaus who was going through an incredibly tough time at home.
And then the path of 2017 rather changed as Klaus separated from his wife. As his closest friend I was happy to support him through this huge life earthquake and more time together confirmed what had been clear for a while really, that we could become a really good partnership. Our relationship developed quickly and we were soon planning to take a cycle tour together in June. This became a wonderful focus for 2017, a two week 1900km tour to Usedom on the Baltic Sea, then to Berlin, and then back. It was a fantastic life experience and my cycling partner was, as always, excellent company. On our return Klaus moved in with me.
There was lots of Velomobile activity over 2017, including our friend Ralf buying a DF and friend Hartmut making further investigations as to whether he should join the Velomobile gang. We took part in many group cycle rides with the ADFC and with others, finishing the year with the Oliebollentocht in Rotterdam with more than 100 velomobiles.
Klaus and I had several trips in the car too, to England for my hospital appointment and again for Christmas, to Dresden, to Berlin… all great fun and a chance to see a bit more of Germany or the UK without having to turn the pedals!
Looking forward to 2018, I have made few plans. One plan is to lose the 20kg extra that I put on this year (!!!!!!) so that I can fit in my Quattrovelo when it becomes available in February. This involves the low carb diet again and no cakes for the time being. Another plan is to increase my mileage, I want to make 10.000km this year, having managed less than 8.000km in 2017. Klaus and I have plans for 3 multi-day bike tours, one with Ralf, and we will also no doubt do some more trips in the car. I am developing plans to take my Mum to visit the bench in memory of my father on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. I will also be working full time, at least for the first couple of months of 2018, so must fit my social events in around that!
2018 will hopefully be one of health and fresh air and time spent with friends and family. Klaus and I are both enjoying the simple life, a chance to live within our means, to not buy unnecessary fripperies and to value what we have. With the uncertainty around Brexit and politics in general, it is good to have people with whom you can relax and be peaceful, and we have many good friends here.
I am looking forward to 2018 and wish you all a happy and blessed year!
The statistics speak for themselves… this year I have not done so much cycling!
I hope to achieve a bit more next year, but there were reasons why this year fell rather short of my target.
The Kempen ADFC group had arranged a Nikolaustour (cycle ride) at the beginning of December but there was such a heavy snowfall that we all drove in our cars instead to the venue where we were stopping for tea and cake.
Hartmut had provided a very attractive advent wreath based on a bicycle wheel and with remote control LED candles.
We also found ourselves on a cycle ride on Silvester (New Year’s Eve) as Hartmut realised the Fit Durch Den Winter tour had been advertised in the Rad am Niederrhein magazine although it had been run on another date. He felt he ought to do the ride anyway and asked if anyone else was about. In the end no unexpected people turned up, it was just the usual suspects, but we had a nice ride around St Tönis to Vorst where we stopped at Papperlapapp for tea and cake.
In the café was this excellent sign which ably demonstrates my concept for the year!
(Cake doesn’t make you fat, it just stretches out all the creases)
Unfortunately it is incorrect, cakes have made me fat (along with other things of course) so I shall have to eat a lot less in 2018!
Arguably the biggest event of the year for Velomobiles, the annual Oliebollentocht (cycle ride with Dutch Oliebollen doughnutty things),hart was in my diary from the beginning of the year as something not to miss. In 2016 there were 260 velomobiles, we looked forward very much to the Rotterdam 2017 version.
As Klaus and I were in the UK and coming back via Hoek van Holland/Rotterdam we arranged our return trip so that we arrived on the morning of Oliebollentocht. Ralf had very kindly offered to take our velomobiles to Rotterdam in a trailer and with friend Rolf along too it was a very full trailer!
Ralf and Rolf (also with Hartmut who came along for the ride) arrived way before Klaus and I as the border control out from the Ferry took forever. But we arrived in due course, helped get the VMs out of the trailer and then added them to the large selection parked in front of the trucker’s diner which was our base for the day.
Hartmut (on the right in the yellow/green waterproofs) was having a good look around before cycling off to visit his son. He is very interested in Velomobiles and this is about the best opportunity to get a look at a lot of them!
Hartmut appears in most of the photos and videos of the day, peering at various Velomobiles. Keep an eye out for him if you watch any OBT videos!
We were given armbands to wear which enabled us to have free tea and coffee and food that had been arranged. You can see that I have already got very oily from Millie after just being with her for 5 minutes!
Klaus and I had an omelette for breakfast at the café as we had nothing on the boat, caught up with friends and then we all rolled out on the ride of 63km which went along the Oude Maas via Portugaal before heading up to the heart of Rotterdam.
We stopped for cake at the restaurant Prachtig next to the Erasmus Bridge.
(Please note that some of the photos below are mine but others are from Klaus from Köln or Birger Landuyt, and possibly other Forum members)
We had some apple cake and tea.
Then it was time to leave.
Because Rotterdam has lots of traffic lights and pedestrians it was decided we would leave in groups of up to 10 velomobiles, so the guy in the dark green and cream Quattrovelo was our group leader. Klaus and I had already seen this Quattrovelo in Dronten and I had also seen it at SPEZI – it was the cause of my colour choice for my QV!
It was quite stop/start through the town and it was very hard to keep the group together. In fact, we didn’t succeed, and it split into various groups. Fortunately I had the route on my Garmin, as did others, as I wouldn’t have known where to go without as our leaders were often out of sight. The traffic lights take a long time!
The entire way around Rotterdam we were being filmed and photographed by people. It’s not often you see 100 jellybeans cycling around a major city!
Klaus spotted this photo amongst the thousands people have posted online – it is Millie and Celeste crossing the road.
I found myself leading a group of Velomobiles after a while as there was a younger girl who was not able to ride as fast so we kept pace with her and eventually my little group of 6 velomobiles grew to a larger group as we returned to the starting point. It was really fun riding in such a big group although quite tricky in the town, and there had unfortunately been one Quest/bollard interface at the beginning of the ride, plus another minor bump in Rotterdam centre.
We returned to the truck stop and whilst it was still light loaded up the trailer with the four velomobiles again. Here is Ralf practising his yoga.
Then it was time for the pea soup and Oliebollen (which shockingly I didn’t photograph!) and catching up with more friends again. It was good to meet Andrew Allen for the first time at OBT although it was sad to hear his tale of woe about his trip (he was taken out by a white van near Colchester on his way to the ferry and had to continue without his DF, mainly as he was collecting his new Quattrovelo). He discovered on the Rotterdam tour that the gearing on his new QV was too high and would have to delay his return to the UK to find an alternative sprocket for his Rohloff as these things are not so easy to get in the UK. I hope he had some success!
We had been lucky with clear weather although it was bitingly cold. It was a relief to be in the warm trucker’s restaurant with soup and tea. Ralf and Rolf headed off home pulling the trailer and Klaus and I left 15 minutes later. We had time to empty Klaus’s car of our week’s luggage from our England trip before the trailer arrived and we unloaded Millie and Celeste.
There are many videos on YouTube about Oliebollentocht 2017, it’s worth a watch if you have some spare time!
Thanks again to Ralf for transporting our velomobiles and for the organisers of Oliebollentocht for putting on such a fun event. We will be there again in 2018!
Life in Germany
Life in Germany continues much the same… I have been here over three and a half years now so am well settled in. But there are still always some interesting events each month!
In December we had a fair bit of snowfall. Most arrived on Sunday which was good as I didn’t have to drive (I don’t have much experience in driving in snow). Poppy investigated it in the garden but was cheesed off that I made her wear her fleece when we went out for a walk.
It had all cleared by the next morning and I drove to work on normal roads. But during the morning it snowed again so I had to clear the car before driving home!
More changes to our flat
Having an extra person in the flat means that we need to be a bit more organised with storage so I decided to buy a couple of sideboards. These arrived in 6 parcels altogether, each parcel weighing 30kg or more, but fortunately the delivery company carried them up the stairs into the lounge for us!
So one Saturday morning Klaus decided to start building the two sideboards, from the company Dänisches Bettenlager. They were called ‘Goliath’ which is pronounced totally different in German than English so we have had quite a lot of amusement over the names.
Anyway, he made a start:
He was ably assisted, as always, by Poppy:
Very complicated bags of screws, bolts, dowels, tacks and more…
But in just 2 hours Goliath Number 1 was complete!
Goliath Number 2 took less time as we were now experienced!
They remain relatively empty of items at the moment as we haven’t got round to sorting stuff out, but they will undoubtedly fill up soon enough!
This month I spent a lot of time thinking about whether I would increase my working hours to full time, at the request of the company. I thought long and hard and decided in the end to offer to work full time but with the proviso that if it became possible to return to part time I would do this as soon as possible. It was all agreed with my boss and so from 2 January 2018 I will be working full time. A bit of a change of pace for me, but I hope it will only be for a few months.
I have an assistant at work, a young chap from Bangladesh called Nasim, and he is very friendly. He noticed that we have cakes at work and so arranged for cakes to be made for Annette and I in the Bangladeshi style (except with less sugar as they like their cakes extra-sweet). How about these!
My colleague Annette regularly brings in a selection of cakes for us to enjoy during our meetings.
And the Quality Assurance representative of my customer also brought us cakes from Poland one day!
Nasim and I also had a visit from Nikolaus on 6 December
Christmas in England
Klaus and I booked to go to England for Christmas to stay with my mother. We travelled over on 21 December on the overnight ferry which was very packed!
As I had a lot of Stena reward points I treated us to an upgrade on the cabin – with a window and no bunkbeds! Also a free mini bar although we weren’t very hungry so didn’t get much value out of that.
We arrived by 8 in the morning and had a very relaxing few days with Mum before the busyness of Christmas. This included going to the village carol concert and I also went to my old church in Colchester for their Sunday morning service on Christmas Eve. After this service we went for a walk at Walton on the Naze near the Naze Tower – it was very blowy!
But we spent a lot of time hanging out at Mum’s house relaxing, chatting and making use of her fibre broadband!
We were treated to a beautiful day as well which showed her 450 year old house off at its best.
We celebrated Christmas Day with my Mum and her next door neighbours, plus some friends. We had good food (of course) and a very relaxing time.
On Boxing Day we had such beautiful weather Klaus and I decided to go to the sea again and this time went to Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast.
The beach is stony but large and we had a good walk along.
We passed a fish smokery so purchased a fish pie each.
As the sign says, any fresher and it would still be swimming!
Whilst we were buying the fish pie I noticed some people with strange hats and bells on their legs – yes, the Morris Dancers were here! I explained it briefly to Klaus and we waited to watch the beginning of their dancing. Another example of English eccentricity for him!
Further along the beach there is a giant shell which is artwork to do with Benjamin Britten.
We walked back and then awarded ourselves a cream tea at a hotel in Aldeburgh.
We very much enjoyed our time with my Mum and took the overnight ferry back again (this time in a cheaper cabin with bunkbeds and no window!), arriving the next morning in Rotterdam for Oliebollentocht.
Silvester/New Year’s Eve
As a dog owner, New Year’s Eve in Germany is never much fun. We knew the fireworks would start at midnight and go on for an hour or so, and that meant an hour of Poppy barking. But we decided to go out to an organ concert a few hours beforehand (9:30pm in Kempen).
And this is what we heard.
It was a great concert and the organ in the Propsteikirche is obviously very decent. We will look out for more concerts there.
Who says Germans have no sense of humour?
Another item of randomness. I was at a party celebrating the 50th birthday of Klaus’s friend and colleague and we were serenaded by a bagpiper!
There has been a cheddar famine in Aldi for the last couple of months (apparently a production issue, not that they are no longer doing it). Fortunately Lidl had a special offer on Cheddar which was also very good.
Cakes this month
As these are the last cakes I will be having for some time I thought I would display them full size in their glory!
Starting with some Krapfen made by Rohallah who lives with Gudula and Frank. They were fantastic!!
So that’s the end of 2017, see you in 2018!!!