Six Wheels In Germany – Month 16

July 2015

Cycling this month

Cycling Statistics for July 2015

July Rides

July Rides

Cycle rides this month

At the tail end of June and the beginning of July Claudia was off work and Lara was at a holiday club so we had several hours each day for cycling – and used the time well!

1 July – ride to Café Kornblume with Claudia

I have visited Café Kornblume just east of my house in Escheln several times for cake or breakfast and thought it would be a good place for Claudia to also visit – which leaving from her house would make a nice 56km ride. Here are the details on my tracking software VeloHero.

1 July ride with Claudia

We headed off north, following the Niers river and then at Abtei Mariendonk (somewhere I always seem to visit!) turned north east towards Escheln. We were too early for the café so stopped at my Wohnung for a cold drink (it was a very hot day) and to talk to the dog.

Café Kornblume is one of those places you are unlikely to randomly drive or cycle past as it’s not really on the way to anywhere but lots of people seek it out especially for its food.

We started off with a beer.

Claudia and beer

As it was lunchtime we then decided to go for the salad which was rather nice.

Salad starter

Claudia and Helen and salad

However, as we had arrived at a café that had good cakes it seemed churlish not to have one. So we did.

cake 1

cake 2

It was a really hot day, about 32 degrees, so being out on the bikes was the best way to cool off. Notice despite the heat Claudia is still displaying the recumbent grin.

recumbent grin

Overall it was a very enjoyable ride at an average speed of 16.4km/h so nice and relaxing.

1 July – To Krefeld-Forstwald with Klaus and Claudia

Klaus also wanted a chance to ride so after Claudia and I got back to their house I waited there until Klaus returned from a day sitting at his desk twiddling his thumbs in Mülheim. We had a plan to ride to Krefeld-Forstwald, the restaurant Forsthaus, and eat our evening meal there.

1 July ride with Klaus

The ride was 29.12km at an average of 17.8km/h. Here is the information on VeloHero.

We arrived at the restaurant Forsthaus which is pretty big and which very much promotes the all-you-can-eat buffet. But it’s 18€ or so – I’d have to do a long ride to work up an appetite before paying that much for food.

I was thirsty though as it was still really hot and asked for a large orange. I got what is almost a pint of the stuff!

Forsthaus orange

(You can see I look a bit perturbed about it – wondering what so much orange will do to my digestion? I survived though).

Forsthaus is an interesting place as the Biergarten is full of animals – lots of chickens and a cockerel and also at least eight peacocks, several of which were displaying for us. Of course decent photos weren’t easy to come by.

Displaying peacock

After our meal and a cup of tea it was time to ride back via Anrath. We stopped to talk to a dog (a young dobermann) and its owner who was pleased we had stopped and helped the dog get used to weird bikes.

We were whizzing along in the wonderful evening air although had to keep our mouths closed due to insect ingestion.

Speedy trikes

I had to stop for this wonderful photograph of sunset over the church at Vorst.

Sunset over church

4 July – Escheln loop with Klaus and Claudia

Before I moved to Kempen Klaus had developed a 50km round trip which happens to go almost past my house. I have ridden this a fair bit, as has he, and we decided to take Claudia on this ride with a small diversion to find some cake.

4 July Escheln Loop

The ride was 52.01km at an average speed of 19.3km/h. You can see more about this ride on VeloHero.

We set off towards St Tönis, deciding an early stop for cake was in order. Klaus and I had previously discovered a rather good cafe, Steeg’s Backhaus, which makes some very impressive cakes. So we stopped there.

Cake 1

Cake 2

Cake 3

I have often joked with Klaus that whenever I visit St Tönis I seem to bump into Hartmut who lives there and, lo and behold, he cycled past when we were sitting outside and noticed the three trikes and then us. Small world.

It was another very enjoyable ride with good weather (32 degrees and sunny) and excellent cakes.

5 July – to Café Poeth in St Hubert with Klaus and Claudia

Another day, another ride… this time the plan was to visit Café Poeth in St Hubert as they do nice cakes and Claudia had never been there.

To cafe poeth track

Our total ride was 46.48km at an average speed of 17.8km/h. Route on VeloHero.

We headed off on our usual 50km loop route. I had made the mistake of forgetting to replace my mudguards (which were back at my house) as rain was forecasted and in fact a huge thunderstorm arrived just as we were approaching St Hubert. We put pedal to the metal and went as fast as we could through the pouring rain, arriving at Café Poeth rather wet. They didn’t seem to mind too much though. I wiped the mud off my arms (from my front wheels) and then we settled down to some excellent cake.

Cake 5

Cake 6

Cake 7

By the time we had finished our tea and cake the rain had passed so we popped up the road to my Wohnung to get my mudguards and then headed back through Kempen. Yet another very enjoyable cycle ride and Claudia is very much getting the hang of cycling and cake eating!

6 July – to the Netherlands with Claudia

Despite several long rides with me Claudia still hadn’t been put off and was really enjoying the riding and the good endorphins so, once again, we organised to ride together whilst Lara was at her holiday children’s club.

We would drop Lara off (by bike) at 10am and had until 4pm so I decided to plan a rather more interesting route than normal and take Claudia to the Netherlands – she had never cycled there. I didn’t tell her where we were going, it would just be a surprise.

Reuver map

The ride was 67.68km in total and we rode it at an average of 16.6km/h. Click for VeloHero information.

We dropped Lara off in Süchteln and then took the obvious route out of Süchteln towards the Brachter Wald. Unfortunately I had momentarily taken leave of my senses when planning the route and failed to notice it went over the Süchtelner Höhen and on an off-road gravel path with traction issues. We made it, eventually. Very hard work for the first few kilometres, also because of the headwind.

But Claudia is game for anything with the trike now she’s got the hang of it so we continued on, her just following me, me following the purple line on the Garmin. A magical mystery tour.

I told her about the lovely fast downhill in the Brachter Wald (and that she needed to be able to stop at the bottom) and whizzed off ahead. She had a classic baseball-cap-blowing-away moment so had to stop to retrieve it and consequently didn’t get up as much speed as was possible.

We crossed over into NL but Claudia didn’t notice – it isn’t particularly obvious really except for slightly different road markings. We passed Weissen Stein where I have regularly eaten (and always found it too expensive) and were soon on the outskirts of Reuver. Claudia was delighted to discover she had cycled to the Netherlands – a new experience!

I’ve done this route five or six times with Klaus but had just plotted it afresh and it turned out my route took us through the centre of Reuver (his route is much more scenic). This was a bit annoying to me as it was slower but Claudia liked to look at the houses and the front gardens and the people we pass.

We arrived soon enough at the Maas ferry that crosses to Beesel and cycled on.

Reuver ferry

The view from the ferry – another beautiful day with sunshine which made the water look very blue.

Maas river

From Beesel it’s a lovely fast ride along the side of the river and we found it very interesting how different the heights of the maize crops were growing along the river. Different breeds? Different planting times? No idea, but there was a huge variety.

When I ride this with Klaus we usually go to Venlo but I felt that would take a little too long and so it would be better to cross the Maas again at Steijl and then head back to Kaldenkirchen.

We had to wait for the ferry at Steijl so asked a passing chap to take a photo of us.

Helen and Claudia crossing Maas

We also took quite a few selfies – this is apparently also the word for it in German. However the selfie camera on my iPhone is a bit pants so none of the pictures are good enough for my high quality blog 😉

The route between Steijl and Kaldenkirchen involves cycling along a Landstraße but it is a relatively painless way of climbing up the hill into Germany again so we managed it without any issues. We had planned to get some food in Steijl but didn’t find anything suitable and it’s pricey and less tasty in NL anyway so I suggested we pressed on a few more kilometres to Kaldenkirchen where I knew of a very good Eiscafé. Claudia agreed.

We arrived and sat down and Claudia ordered a filled roll. I, with far more experience in such matters, ordered a waffle with kiwi and strawberries. After Claudia saw mine she had to order one too.

Claudia and Waffle

We enjoyed our waffle, relaxing in the sunshine in Kaldenkirchen, and then headed back along the lovely smooth Bahnradweg to Viersen. Another lovely day and another very impressive ride from Claudia who is relatively new to recumbent triking but is managing long distances at a decent speed already!

8 July – to Straelen with Claudia

Two days after our long trip to the Netherlands (which had left Claudia rather pooped) she had regained enough energy to come back for more… this time a trip to Straelen.

Straelen map

This was 67.39km in total at an average speed of 16.1km/h. VeloHero.

I had ridden this back in November 2014 with Klaus, Claudia and Lara and so decided to redo the same route as it was on nice quiet roads. We headed up the western track at a reasonable speed with an eye on the rainclouds in the distance. Rain was forecasted but we were hoping we might be able to miss it with our lunch stop at Straelen – and indeed we managed this, with the drizzle starting as we arrived in Straelen.

To discover there was some kind of massive flea market taking place and all the pedestrian areas were covered with people selling junk (like a car boot sale) and, now, getting concerned about the rain.

Straelen Flohmarkt

We were more concerned about finding somewhere outside to sit which had some shelter but were lucky that some people moved from a table under a giant umbrella at the café in the centre of Straelen.

Claudia ordered a slice of strawberry tart.

Straelen cake 1

I ordered a Strawberry Slice with cream.

Straelen cake 2

Here we are with the obligatory selfie. I seem rather surprised by the amount of cream on my cake.

Surprising Straelen cakes

We finished our cake and tea but it was still drizzling a bit. Oh well, we needed to head back to collect Lara so put on our jackets and headed off.

The route back went to Wachtendonk and so I decided to do the tiny detour to the weird little ferry that crosses the Niers.

On Wachtendonk ferry

Claudia powered us across and I turned the wheel so we returned back again.

On Wachtendonk ferry 2

After all these exertions we felt in need of some more sustenance. Fortunately the Grefrath Pancake House was just a short diversion away so we headed for that.

Because we had already had cake something more savoury was called for – so we went for the soup in a bread loaf.

Soup in bread

I dunno if it’s just me but two of these together look like a pair of boobs.

Soup boobs

There was actually a rather disappointing lack of soup in there, just a couple of spoonfuls, but the bread filled a gap.

Selfie with soup

We now had the energy for the 10km back to Viersen so off we went. Another great ride and more experience for Claudia in recumbenteering. The Recumbent Grin was still regularly in evidence.

20 July – ride with Lara-R to Geldern

Friend Babs bought me a copy of the book Hereinspaziert 2015 which contains lots of vouchers for buy one, get one free cakes in the Niederrhein area.

Hereinspaziert

Two of the cafés are in Kreis Viersen (one of which is Hofcafé Alt Bruch) but the other 21 are in Kreis Kleve, north of Kempen – not somewhere that I tend to visit that often by bike (as I am so often starting in Viersen in the south). But now that would all change as I had a book with free cake vouchers!

So the plan today was to go for a cycle ride with Lara who I live with. She had a swimming competition in the evening so didn’t want to cycle too far so I planned a 42km ride to Geldern to take in a café.

Ride with Lara

I took Penelope for this ride and it ended up 45.85km at 20.9km/h. VeloHero.

As the café in Geldern was only 15km away I devised a circuitous route to get there that went via Wachtendonk and the outskirts of Straelen. Just past Wachtendonk we went to visit the little Niers ferry again as Lara hadn’t seen it before – but it involved a bit of off-road to start with.

Penelope off road

Lara powered us across the river and back again. What it is to be young and fit. Here are our bikes waiting patiently.

Bikes at Wachtendonk ferry

Kreis Kleve isn’t that well known to me but I thought it had no Knotenpunkte. I was wrong, there are some that are for specific routes it seems.

Knotenpunkte

Our destination was Landcafé Steudle. When we arrived there was only one other customer but there was a good choice of cakes. First of all I handed over my voucher – which would give us one free cake and coffee/tea. Bargain!

Landcafe Steudle

I chose a lovely light chocolate mousse cake.

Helens Cake

Lara had a rhubarb pie.

Laras cake

And here is the now-obligatory selfie.

Cakes selfie

It was a nice café although rather out of the way which may have explained the lack of visitors on a Monday morning. Still, we had good food and it looks like a nice place to return to someday.

We rode back through some drizzle, pedalling well along faster roads going through Nieukerk and then Eyll, Stenden and home. I had planned to stop at a bakery to get some bread for lunch but didn’t find one after Nieukerk so had to continue on into St Hubert.

It was a very enjoyable day’s ride, the first long ride in Penelope for several weeks (it’s been too hot) and I am doing the same again tomorrow, meeting friend Anja in Kevelaer for cake, again using a voucher from the book. I see a challenge coming – to visit all the voucher cafés. But some are a 140km round trip…

21 July – Kevelaer Twisteden with Anja

Anja has a new job in Goch so was ideally situated to join me for a tea and cake from my cake book Hereinspaziert 2015, especially as on Tuesdays she finishes at 14:30. So we arranged to meet at one of the several cafés near Goch, picking one that was south of Goch so that I didn’t have too far to ride – it ended up as 64.13km at an average of 21.5km/h.

Twisteden track

Anja would be travelling there by car, I decided to take Penelope (despite it being quite a hot day). For some variety I cycled a bit through the Netherlands.

Here I am arriving at Arcen, on the border.

Arcen

Cycling facilities are great in Germany but you don’t see roads like this very often – with two wide cycle strips each side.

NL road

We were aiming to meet at Café zum Schafstall at 3pm but I was ten minutes early so had a look at the cakes and ordered a cup of tea (well, Teewasser mit Milch, and added my own teabag).

Cafe Schafstall

Cafe Schafstall 2

I sat outside in the sunshine and soon enough Anja appeared. We showed them our Gutschein (voucher for a free cake) and then made our choices.

Cafe Schafstall Gutschein

I had this Stachelbeerkuchen (Gooseberry cake)

Stachelbeerkuchen

Anja went for the Erdbeerschmandkuchen – strawberry creamy stuff.

Erdbeer Schmand Kuchen

She liked it so much she had a second slice. This impressed me greatly as Anja is fit, not at all overweight, so I thought she’d be a single-cake-slice-eater. But no! She definitely got into the spirit of the cake eating.

Here we are advertising the book that provides all these vouchers.

Helen and Anja

We had a very enjoyable two hours there eating cake, drinking tea and chatting, and then it was time to head home – Anja in her car, me in Penelope.

22 July – cake with Christine in Escheln

It may have become apparent to you, dear reader, that this week in July is proving to be a cakey week. Indeed it is! I appear to have arranged for a cake every day this week and, as an extra bonus, I have not paid for any of them! I have clearly developed an excellent network of friends and cycling partners who all seem keen to encourage my cake consumption.

Anyway, Wednesday evening I would be going to the Süchteln Choir social meal – by bike – so didn’t feel the need to do a long ride to a café. But Christine, my neighbour, invited me over for a slice of cake so I was happy to say yes.

Here is the track from my ride:

Route to Christine

Yes, it really was a 750 metre round trip.

And here was the cake we had (a slice of both each).

Christine's cake

And here I am with Christine after persuading her to let me take a selfie (not really her thing).

Helen and Christine

Obviously such a long ride was tiring but it was worth it for cake of course.

23 July – to Krefeld for cake with Babs

Another day, another cake…

For my birthday, as well as the Hereinspaziert book (which has the vouchers for the cake) Babs also gave me a voucher for a café very near to her apartment in Krefeld which served excellent cakes. So today was the day that I would voyage forth to Krefeld (hopefully avoiding the tramlines) and enjoy some cake.

Cake route

I’m not too keen on cycling to Krefeld as although it is technically a Bicycle-Friendly Town the paths are quite narrow for three-wheelers and there are also issues with tree roots pushing up some of the paths. I also discovered this interesting barrier on my route.

Velomobile obstacle

I found an alternative way across the level crossing but it did remind me why I tend not to cycle to Krefeld too often.

We arranged to meet at 3pm and I was most impressed to arrive at Café Liesgen just as the clock around the corner was striking three. There was a spare table outside so Babs and I sat in the fresh air and ordered our cakes…

Babs had a carrot cake which she says she loves.

Carrot cake

I had a ‘Strawberry Milkshake Cake’ which was very tasty.

Strawberry Milkshake cake

The café did vegan Donauwelle and also several gluten free cakes. It was a very interesting and cosy café with lots of homely touches.

Babs and I were there for over three hours chatting away – as you can see, we were having a great time.

Helen and Babs

At six thirty it was time for me to head off so I took a different route out of Krefeld which gets me onto a Landstrasse more quickly. This is less scenic but easier for the velomobile than weaving around trees on cycle paths in the town.

I used my voucher for my tea and cake so it was the fourth day in a row that I had eaten cake that someone else paid for. Excellent!

25 July – to Rolf’s in Schwalmtal

And to complete my week of free cakes… a trip to visit Rolf in Schwalmtal again, and he provided cake!

However, this time I also brought some scones along, as well as Tiptree jam and clotted cream (that I had frozen following my visit to the UK in June – it defrosted fine).

Friday Rolf Track

I arrived first but Gabi’s husband Achim soon arrived in his Strada velomobile. Gabi and friend Ursula (who I met at Spezi in 2014) then arrived on their recumbent two-wheeled bikes. They had all ridden from Bonn.

This was Ursula’s fantastic new Zox bike. Very swish!

Ursula's Zox 1

Ursula's Zox 2

And this is Gabi’s Challenge Fujin. The first time I’ve seen her riding something other than her Quest velomobile.

Gabi's Challenge

We settled down to the scones.

Scones

And the cake that Rolf and his wife had made – cherry or gooseberry.

Cakes

Gabi and I discovered that clotted cream went very well with the cake too, after we had finished the scones.

Cake and clotted cream

Here we are relaxing.

Cyclists at Rolfs

Once again it was lovely to catch up with Rolf, Gabi, Achim and Ursula. It was just a 60.8km round trip for me and a rather hot day for Penelope – I only averaged 20.4km/h for the route. But it was good fun as always!

26 July – a trip to Streithöfe in Willich

Claudia and Klaus returned from their week’s holiday on the Baltic and both felt the need to do some riding… so we arranged to cycle on Sunday afternoon. An original half plan was to go to the very nice café in Uerdingen but we decided in the end that that would be too far so instead headed off to Landcafé Streithöfe near Willich.

26 July track

Off we went without a track to follow, Klaus was just making it up as he went along, but he’s familiar with this area so chose us a good route.

Two trikes

Recumbent grin

Recumbent grin 2

We arrived at Streithöfe and parked in the Hof.

Three trikes at Streithoefe

Streithöfe is somewhere I have been several times when meeting Babs. Despite Klaus and Claudia having passed it thousands of times (as they said), they had never sampled its cakes. So we were glad to rectify that omission.

Windbeutel

Strawberry cream cake

We had an enjoyable hour there relaxing and eating cake. Then it was time to head back, this time via Mönchengladbach Airport. We had a look at some of the old timer aeroplanes there.

Dornier Do 27B-1

That’s a Dornier Do 27B-1 apparently.

There is a viewing platform which I trotted up. The metal grill underfoot was a bit scary with my cleats but I managed it without getting stuck.

Planes from above

My fellow cyclists were lazy and stayed on their trikes!

Trikes from above

Total distance was 47.54km and we rode it at an average speed of 19.7km/h which is very impressive for the recumbent trikes, especially for Claudia who is relatively new to triking.

Events this month

A visit to the Eifel

The weather was really hot in Germany at the beginning of July and on the 6th July the forecast was for 37 degrees – too hot to do anything! Klaus suggested that we all go to the Eifel where it would be cooler. Claudia’s brother Andreas was visiting and we wanted to do something interesting for him so we all hopped into the car (with air conditioning, hurrah!) and drove the one and a half hours to the Rursee.

It was a good choice to leave the lowlands of the Niederrhein as the temperature gauge in the car suggested (note also the very apt song that was playing when I took this photo):

Tag am meer

There was additional amusement on the journey with this road sign for an excellently-named place. I may have to cycle there one day.

Titz

The Rursee is absolutely beautiful, as you can see from these library photographs.

Rursee

Rursee 2

However, it was absolutely heaving with people.

Rursee

There was very little space for us to sit in the shade but we managed it. The others went swimming but I stayed put (no swimming costume in Germany) and enjoyed people watching, which is always fascinating.

Lara who I live with works at the Kempen swimming pool and sent me a photo of that – they have 5,000 people there that day!

Kempen Aqua Sol

I had a bit of an unpleasant surprise at one point when lying down on the blanket though whilst the others were swimming. I felt something crawling on my arm, looked down – and it was a tick! I managed to flick it off before it attached itself to me but after that I felt itchy all over. Fortunately we headed back soon after!

Although it was a few degrees cooler at Rursee overall it was most comfortable when we were in the car with air conditioning! It feels a shame to hide inside the house on lovely sunny days but 38 degrees is just too much.

Sting concert

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth Klaus told me that he and Claudia were planning to go to a Sting concert in Mönchengladbach and did I want to come along? I said yes and the tickets were duly bought… some time in January I think.

Well, the evening finally came around and Klaus drove us all to the Hockeypark at Mönchengladbach.

There was a bag check at the gates but they weren’t checking for weapons but umbrellas. How random!

First things first, Klaus needed to get some pick ‘n mix. That stuff is expensive!

Pick n mix

Then we found our seats which were surprisingly not in a row but behind each other…

Us at concert

Claudia fortified herself with a mystery drink.

Claudia and drink

The concert venue was open air so we were lucky the rain stayed away.

Sting concert 0

When the concert began I didn’t actually recognise Sting. You will see why from this photo:

Sting concert 3

What a terrifying beard!

Sting concert 1

He sang really well though – doing all the old Police favourites as well as some of his later stuff. But none of the Dowland Folk Songs that he did some time ago.

Sting concert 2

He played for two hours and I was really impressed by the quality of his live singing and the other musicians. All in all it was a very good evening!

A holiday in England

Months and months ago I had the idea to invite Klaus, Claudia and Lara to come and visit England with me and they thought this was a great plan. The date was fixed, my husband prepared our house for three additional guests (and Poppy) and all was sorted.

As Poppy was coming we decided to travel via Eurotunnel (also as Klaus has free diesel in his company car so the extra driving would not cost anything).

First of all Poppy had to have her anti-rabies worming treatment at the vet’s and he had to stamp her passport. This was done several days before we travelled.

Worm treatment

One of my tasks is to swap around my phone SIMs – English SIM into my iPhone, German SIM into the spare phone.

Phone SIM swap

We left at 6am for the drive to Calais Coquelles for the Eurotunnel terminal. It’s usually about a three and a half hour drive but one of the motorways in Belgium was shut so we had a delay of about half an hour, compounded by the fact that they reopened the motorway and so removed some of the diversion signs once we were on the diversion.

Anyway, we arrived at Calais, checked Poppy in with her passport, but found the queues for the car check in pretty long. In the end we missed our crossing but got the next one twenty minutes later without any problems.

Here we are on the Shuttle – a car on a train.

On Shuttle

And a selfie of us all…

On shuttle 2

We arrived safely in England and then it was a two hour journey along the M20, M25 and A12 to my bit of Essex. Klaus did all the driving and coped very well with it but he was feeling pretty tired by the end and was relieved to get to our house just after lunchtime.

We had some vague plans to do a few things in the afternoon but these were put on hold as everyone was tired (and James was out sailing for the day so Klaus would have had to drive again). So instead we spent some time doing puzzles – James has lots of different Rubiks Cubes (and can do them all)…

Rubiks

And Klaus cast an engineer’s eye over my grand piano and how everything worked, which he seemed to find very interesting.

Inspecting piano

We had booked a table at the Haywain, a local pub, for the evening meal. Klaus and Claudia had always seemed rather unsure about British food – the reputation of British food is pretty poor in Germany and although I’d cooked a few things for them over the last few months (curries etc) I am not sure this much changed their opinion. However the Haywain’s food is very good and I think they liked it. Klaus also risked some English beer.

At Haywain

We also went for some desserts – there were lots of traditional British things such as spotted dick and custard, syrup sponge pudding etc. James and I shared a syrup sponge.

Syrup sponge pudding

Claudia went for a chocolate tart.

Chocolate tart

They liked the desserts but found them very sweet and very filling. Which they are.

The next day, Sunday, was a mix of different things. We all went to my church in Colchester (although Claudia and Lara couldn’t understand the language) and then popped into M&S for some shopping, followed by a trip to Waitrose for the English Supermarket Experience. We bought some Waitrose Quark for a blind taste testing for Klaus later on.

We then went for Sunday lunch at my parents’ house. I had tricked my Mum into cooking roast beef & yorkshire pudding (hurrah!) followed by trifle, excellently typical British food which everyone enjoyed. My parents live in a house that dates from 1491 called Buckshorns and had a lot of repair work done several years ago, about which my father wrote an interesting blog post here.

The house has low doorways which cause James and me to regularly bang our heads but my parents are shorter so OK – as was Claudia, who really loved seeing the house.

Klaus and my Dad settled down to test some of Dad’s whisky collection.

Highland Park

We also enjoyed some homemade muffins and playing some card games. It was a chance for my German guests to see a bit of British life and they found it very enjoyable.

The next day was our first London trip – this time to Greenwich. This is because little Lara’s English text book is based on the Thomas Tallis School in Greenwich (which does exist) and she wanted to visit the general area of Greenwich.

First, though, we went for a full English breakfast at the Hall Farm Café in Dedham.

Full English Breakfast

Full English Breakfast 2

It was a very filling breakfast to give us energy for the trip to Greenwich.

Because there were five of us (and Poppy), and the train from Colchester is fearsomely expensive, we decided to drive to Greenwich.

Driving to Greenwich

Klaus says he never really got used to sitting on the left hand side at the front but without a steering wheel and brakes!

We parked in an NCP near Millwall Docks on the Isle of Dogs.

Greenwich docks

Then we walked down to the Thames, looked across at the Naval College, and then went through the foot tunnel.

Greenwich foot tunnel

There was an option to visit the Cutty Sark but with Poppy with us that would have meant someone staying outside, plus it was rather pricey, so we just looked from outside.

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark 2

We walked along to the Old Royal Naval College.

Greenwich Naval College

From there we went to the National Maritime Museum.

National Maritime Museum

This wasn’t really Claudia or Lara’s kind of thing so after a brief look round they came outside and looked after Poppy so I could have a look inside. It was a very interesting museum!

Display of instruments

There was a huge map of the world on the floor and James, Klaus and I walked around showing places we had visited and then all stood around London.

Feet on London

As we were in Greenwich we decided we ought to visit the Meridian – its official point is in the Greenwich Observatory so we walked up the hill to get there.

View from Observatory

Interestingly, our iPhones didn’t have this as 000 00.000 for a technical reason that James understood (because the GPS on the phones uses a different datum known as WGS84). James and Klaus went to where their phones said 000 00.000.

000

I’d checked up on information about the Greenwich Observatory before we headed off to London and it was supposed to be free but it turned out the free area was actually very small. However, Klaus and I quickly popped into an exhibition about time. This one one of my mottoes!

Time is short

We were also able to go into the observatory and see the telescope.

Observatory telescope

Observatory telescope 2

The route out from the Observatory took us towards the Planetarium where James caught up with us.

Planetarium

There was an exhibition of photographs which were stunning. Klaus does photography as a hobby and was explaining to us how some of them were taken.

Claudia and Lara were looking after Poppy and waiting for some special dance thing to start (that was being filmed) on the area outside. They weren’t quite sure who was performing, and what exactly was going on, but it had been performed twice whilst we were wandering around the Planetarium.

Waiting for the music event

When we were all gathered together again we headed back down the hill, stopping briefly to stand on the meridian. Poppy is out of shot at the end of the lead!

At the meridian

When we reached ground level we headed for a DLR (Docklands Light Railway) station to get the train back to the car park but were feeling peckish so we stopped first at a Wetherspoon’s for some food – cake, mostly. I had an apple crumble and custard and the others tried it and liked it.

Using the DLR was interesting as we had two Oyster Cards between us but also several Contactless Credit Cards or Debit Cards which can now be used. It all worked pretty well for the short journey back to Crossharbour from where we walked to the car.

Conclusion about Greenwich was that it was nice but perhaps not a ideal venue for an eleven-year-old but the views of London from the Observatory were great.

The plan for Tuesday was for James and Klaus to go sailing in the morning and all of us go to the beach in the afternoon. The weather forecast had originally been all sunshine for the five days in England but had got less good with some rain forecasted.

Anyway, James and Klaus headed off to the boat and I went with Claudia and Lara to Dedham to look around the Craft Centre there. We spent quite a lot of time trying on their hats!

Dedham hats

Claudia bought the wonderful lilac hat for Lara – it is a Paddington Hat, we decided – Lara is very keen on Paddington Bear.

Dedham art and craft centre

We had a little walk around Dedham including the church with its Constable painting and a little look at the Stour river before heading off for tea and cake at Craft Nurseries.

We all chose a Cream Tea

Cream tea at Craft Nurseries 1

Cream tea at Craft Nurseries 2

Cream tea at Craft Nurseries 3

It was very tasty and of course very filling!

As we were finishing our scones we had a phone call from James to say that they were on their way back from the boat so we made our way home and got ready for our beach trip.

Some friends of ours from church have a beach hut at Frinton-on-Sea and they very kindly said we could use it, which was brilliant! Here you can see James standing in the doorway.

Beach hut

We had the beach to ourselves (and there is a lot of beach at Frinton), although this was probably partly because of the weather.

Threatening clouds 1

Lara went straight into the water, the rest of us faffed around a bit making a cup of tea in the beach hut. The weather was looking a bit ominous.

Clouds over the sea

It started to rain so we all went into the beach hut – except Poppy, we didn’t think a wet sandy dog in a beach hut was a good idea.

Poppy outside

James enjoyed the chance to sit down and relax.

James resting

The rain only lasted ten minutes and then it cleared up a bit so it was time to go out onto the beach again. Lara, Claudia and I all swam. The men were feeble and stayed out of the water, sitting on beach chairs and playing fetch with Poppy.

After we’d finished swimming Lara and James started making a very long drainage ditch from a pool of water by a breakwater…

JAmes and Lara digging

It became a multi-person job!

More digging

Whilst this was still underway my sister arrived with her two youngest daughters. Here am I with Anna looking out of the beach hut window.

Helen and Anna

The water channel was finished and worked very well!

Beach and water channel

Anna had bought a picnic with her so we ate some of that and then began to clear up. Here are most of us sitting on a wall.

On the beach

The plan was to have Fish ‘n chips at my house, so we drove home via the chippy in Ardleigh where we had a selection of different things.

Fish n chips

Klaus made the mistake of ordering an entire portion of chips for himself. He doesn’t eat much carbohydrate and felt a bit dodgy after the meal. Not helped by having a small portion of the deep fried mars bar (I had never had one before and thought it worth trying it – but I won’t bother again!)

Deep fried mars bar

The first thing you have to do with modern children when they visit is give them the WiFi password. The second thing is that they have to take selfies…

Three girls and selfie

It was a school night for Anna’s children so they headed off back home (an hour’s drive). It was good to see them all and interesting for Claudia, Klaus and Lara to have met more of my family.

The next day was London Trip Mk2 – this time to the touristy bits.

Once again we used the car to get to London, this time parking at Walthamstow Central and taking the Victoria Line underground from there. So we all piled onto a tube train again.

On the tube

The first stop was Regent Street where we walked down to Hamleys so Lara could have a look at the Paddington Bear toys. She bought a little teddy, as did Claudia, and they posed beside this huge bear. James and Klaus wisely stayed outside.

Hamleys

We then walked down to Buckingham Palace and watched some of the guards walking back and forth.

Buckingham Palace

When walked down Birdcage Walk and stopped to watch a marching band practising – and one of the soldiers was walking around without an instrument but with a huge bandage on his thumb. He was with the Trombone section and it looked as though even if he couldn’t play he still had to march! It was good fun watching them for ten minutes.

A little further and we were at Westminster Abbey, then Big Ben which had a lot of Sikhs with colourful turbans protesting outside.

Big Ben and demonstrating Sikhs

We walked past Downing Street and also had a look at Horseguards Parade.

It was definitely time for tea and cake and I was pleased to discover my cake radar, which is so effective in Germany, did not fail me…

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake 2

Cheesecake

Nice tea service

Just down from Trafalgar Square isn’t the cheapest place to eat but it was good and we were refreshed.

We had a look at Nelson and the church of St Martin In The Fields and then hopped on a bus. The plan was to go to Liverpool Street station and then get a taxi to Tower Bridge but the bus decided to stop unexpectedly at St Paul’s (there was a road closure ahead) and we found ourselves directly beside the wobbly bridge (millennium bridge), so we changed our plans and decided to walk across the bridge.

Wobbly bridge

It was here that I took a photo of which I am very proud – with my iPhone. Click to enlarge.

London's bridges

I worked in London 11 years ago. Since then the skyline seems to have changed quite significantly. The Cheesegrater and walkie Talkie buildings are new.

Cheesegrater and Walkie Talkie

Here is a view back at the wobbly bridge, which we crossed, and St Paul’s.

St Pauls and Wobbly Bridge

We walked along the river bank. James and I were on the search for a taxi (we wanted them to experience a traditional London taxi) but of course none were around. We also fancied an ice cream but they were so fearsomely expensive we decided against.

We walked about half a kilometre before we found a road with taxis on – and hailed one. We all squeezed in.

In taxi

Our destination was Tower Bridge.

Looking across at the Tower of London I was struck by how much it was dwarfed by these new skyscrapers. 400 years ago the Tower would have been the biggest and most impressive building, I suppose.

Skyscrapers and The Tower

We walked across Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge 1

Tower Bridge 2

I was interested in the juxtaposition between the old, old Tower and the new scryscrapers appearing behind it.

Tower and Shard

Tower and Cheesegrater

Tower and Bridge

We then made our way to Tower Hill tube station to get our two tubes back to Walthamstow. You can see some weary travellers here!

Weary travellers on the tube

We had a meal at the Haywain again in the evening – we were all completely pooped.

The next day we (excluding James) set off back to Germany.

Leaving for Germany again

Operation Stack was in place on the M20 which meant it was closed… the diversion delayed us so we missed our crossing but got the next one so were only 20 minutes later. Here is the view on le Shuttle.

On le Shuttle

And driving through Belgium we spotted another Kempen on the SatNav!

Another Kempen

All in all it was a very enjoyable holiday although rather busy! It reminds me why I’m not a big fan of London – too crowded – but it was good to do the touristy things with friends. I was happy to be back in the peace and quiet of Great Bromley and Escheln though!

Miscellaneous

You may have notice I’ve done a lot of riding this month. This is partly because the company I have worked for over the last ten years unfortunately went into Administration at the end of June so I am now unemployed. I’ve been doing some other freelance work (proof-reading of two Master Theses, for example) but am currently looking for a part-time job here in Germany. So I’m brushing up my CV into German form (with the help of neighbour Christine) and will start applying for jobs in September when all my visitors/guests have gone home.

This month my house became a temporary home for a fortnight for Peterson the Guinea Pig, who belongs to little Lara. As the family were having a week in England with me and a week on the Baltic I offered to look after him (for the Baltic week) and Lara here would look after him for the England week.

Peterson 1

Peterson 2

He had more luggage for two weeks in Escheln than I did for a week in England!

Peterson's Impedimenta

He is in the cellar in Escheln, up on a worktop so out of sight of Poppy.

Peterson in Escheln

James is coming to visit at the end of August for a few weeks so we have decided to do a short bike tour – the Ruhrtalradweg from Winterberg in the Sauerland back to my front door (the Ruhr goes to Duisburg where it flows into the Rhein and that’s just 30km from home). So I’ve bought the Bikeline book and also got a couple of free brochures which are very helpful. We think we’ll take 3-4 days to do it, so fairly leisurely (it’s 260km in total).

Ruhrtal Radweg planning

I also met a Canadian lady named Jill for a drink in St Hubert. She had contacted me through my blog as she had moved to Kempen from Berlin and wanted a bit of information about accommodation options. We met at Café Poeth and had a good chat – it was interesting to discuss the differences in food between Germany, the UK and Canada (she’s a vegan chef).

I’ve published this blog a day early (there is one more day in July) but I will be on a weekend holiday in Berlin so unable to update the blog. Next month you can read about my three days in Berlin, my favourite city.

Views this month

Sunset over church

Viersen sunset

On a ride to Waldniel I got caught in a rainstorm so hid under some trees.
In the rain 1

Rainbow 1

Menacing clouds

Sunset 1

Sunset 2

Cakes this month

cake 1

cake 2

Cake 1

Cake 2

Cake 3

Cake 5

Cake 6

Cake 7

Italian Waffle

Helens Cake

Laras cake

Stachelbeerkuchen

Erdbeer Schmand Kuchen

Christine's cake

Syrup sponge pudding

Cream tea at Craft Nurseries 3

Carrot cake

Strawberry Milkshake cake

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake 2

Cheesecake

Scones

Cakes

Cake and clotted cream

Windbeutel

Strawberry cream cake

Black forest gateau

I have got into the habit of making shortbread for friends which is a bit dangerous as, obviously, I have to test them myself first…

Shortbread

A very nice pancake in Grefrath.

Pancake

3 Comments

Filed under Alfie the Trike, Cycling in Germany, Penelope the Velomobile, Six Wheels In Germany

3 Responses to Six Wheels In Germany – Month 16

  1. Nic

    I thoroughly enjoyed your July journal, so many yummy cakes. Best wishes on finding employment. Have fun in Berlin – Cheers!

  2. Geoff Adams

    Truly epic! Lovely as always. I hope you find a decent gig!

  3. Quite a lot! I’ve been riding over the Maas myself, albeit a little further down the line. Sting was in M’gladbach? Must have missed that. Ich muss jetzt eine Selfie machen.

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