This report had so many photographs that it didn’t display well on tablet computers so I have divided it into two posts. For the second half click here.
Cycling this month
August ended up with a pretty good total considering I had a couple of weekends when I wasn’t able to ride.
Here is the map of all the places I rode this month.
A ride to Roermond
This month has been a great one for visitors – including Peter and Jan (Wowbagger and Mrs Wow), my husband James and my friend Ines.
When James was here he joined Klaus and I for our usual Thursday evening ride (which ended up being on a Friday). Because Klaus had a dentist appointment he finished work much earlier on Friday so we were able to leave for our ride at 3 in the afternoon – which meant we could go a bit further. He had plotted a route to Roermond via Reuver which seemed a great plan!
First of all James and I had to get our bikes to Viersen. It turns out that you can fit an ICE Sprint and an Aravis Super Tourist bike in a Honda Jazz.
We set off after a 10 minute delay as I’d forgotten to put the track on my Garmin and had to do some fiddling about to transfer it from my phone. But in the end we were ready to roll.
We rode west first of all to Brachter Wald and Weissen Stein where we crossed to the Netherlands. We cycled through Reuver towards Beesel and it was then time for the ferry crossing. I half hoped the ferry would be at the other side of the river so we could buy an ice cream from the ice cream van but unfortunately it was on our side of the river so we rode straight on.
When we came off the ferry we turned left – the first time I’d been that way. We usually ride towards Venlo from Reuver so this was new territory for all of us.
There were some good views – here is looking back towards Reuver.
And this is looking towards Roermond.
Klaus had plotted the route using bike software but it’s not always possible to know how good the routes actually are. The cycle route turned rather rapidly into not-asphalt, a mix of gravel and earth surfaces. But it was good fun to cycle along and we had plenty of time.
And then we were confronted with a bit of an obstacle…
We sat in front of it for a few minutes pontificating,
We really needed to know how deep it was – so James found a measuring stick and had a look.
I didn’t fancy riding back the way we had come to find an alternative route as it had been pretty off road, bumpy and tiring. So instead we carried the trikes and James’s bike around the side. Which went OK. Here are James and Klaus carrying Killer round.
Luckily there were no more fords after this but we did find ourselves in a field of cows and the cows were standing right across our path. A bit of noisy shouting meant they moved out of the way.
As we passed they started running after us which was a trifle perturbing but we made it over the cattle grid without any further cow/cyclist interaction.
We rode into Roermond thinking it was definitely time for some food and made our way to the pedestrianised centre where we found some cafés and chose one. We had a hamburger and James a beer.
We also had a very interesting bit of entertainment whilst sitting there. First of all a load of motorbikes roared up and parked outside the town hall – and we soon realised it was a wedding. Then a man standing at an upper window starting singing operatic songs (O sole Mio, for example) accompanied by the bells of the town hall (which were partly in tune but mainly out of tune). Then when the wedding party came out again someone with a drone did some aerial photography of everything – watching the drone was more exciting than the wedding really! Then all the motorbikes roared off again and the town returned to its rather quieter demeanour. All very interesting whilst we relaxed with our food and drink.
The ride back from Roermond was new territory again but was fine – a good fast ride, incorporating the Meinweg which is a wonderful fast bit of cycle path. I was on a go slow but Klaus really decided to go for it and had a record maximum heart rate for him (199) and he ended up five minutes ahead of me after just four kilometres. I eventually caught up with James and Klaus (they waited for me) and we headed back through Niederkrüchten, Waldniel, Dülken and back to Viersen.
The ride distance was 87.73km in five hours twenty one minutes of cycling at an average of 16.4km/h, so leisurely but fun!
The ADFC Krefeld-Kreis Viersen organise an annual social event and this year it was a barbecue in the centre of Krefeld.
I cycled over in Penelope and made some shortbread to give to the bring-and-share cake stall.
I also had some cake…
Jochen was there so I chatted to him a lot. Hartmut arrived on his way straight back from a cycling holiday, and Gudula and Frank also popped in, so it was a nice chance to chat to friends whilst not actually cycling. The barbecue was good too!
Events this month
A weekend in Berlin
Berlin is my favourite city and as a birthday present Klaus, Claudia and Lara gave me a ‘voucher’ for a night in Berlin. So the four of us headed off in Klaus’s car (free fuel, bonus!) and stayed where they usually go, a hotel in Caputh near Wannsee/Potsdam.
It was a six hour drive to get there so we were pretty pooped when we arrived so a walk to stretch the legs was in order.
We walked along the river that the hotel faces, which included a bridge with lots of love locks. I rather liked this pair!
It was three o’clock on a Friday and we had plenty of time so decided to head into Berlin on the S-Bahn and wander around a bit. We drove to Wannsee where we parked and then hopped onto the train.
The first stop was Potsdamer Platz where we went up the tall building beside the DB Building which has a roof area where you can look at the Berlin skyline. The Panoramapunkt also has the fastest lift in Europe, apparently.
Those familiar with Berlin should recognise some of these pictures.
Here you can just see the Brandenburg Gate in the distance, looking very small!
One small area of the former Death Strip which is now a park/garden.
A room full of crates of beer in the Deutsche Bahn building!
We stopped for tea and cake of course (cake photos are in the ‘Cakes This Month’ section below).
After this we headed to the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche which I love. This church was badly damaged during WW2 but rather than being fully restored was made watertight but with the damage visibly remaining, both outside and inside.
A new (modern) church building was added beside the old one and the old building is now more of a memorial site.
I always find it very moving seeing the Coventry Cross of Nails.
We then hopped on a bus to take us to the Brandenburg Gate.
I liked seeing this Cycle Path marking beside the former location of the Berlin Wall.
We walked down Unter den Linden and stopped for a pizza before heading on the train back to Caputh. A lot achieved in one day!
The next day we visited the Berlin Olympic Stadium for a booked tour. I’d been there 15 years ago when there was just a caretaker there and we wandered around without much idea what we were seeing. Since then it has become a proper tourist area and has been upgraded for the World Cup and the Bundesliga Final so was a very impressive site.
We were taken to see the footballers’ dressing rooms, jacuzzis, various function rooms, the VIPs balcony and more, but what I found most interesting was the multi-faith chapel. It was really hot in there (they don’t know why) so we didn’t stay long but it had the most amazing gold leaf walls with writings from lots of different languages.
After we finished the tour we had a look at the victory plaque – a reminder that this stadium was built for the Olympics of Jesse Owens and of course Hitler.
And walking back to the car (we drove in today) there were lots of examples of this – an enterprising football fan doing his best to get a ticket for the Bundesliga final a couple of months ago!
After the Olympiastadion we headed off to the centre of Berlin to the Technisches Museum, the technical museum. I’d visited it before but many years ago and had it rather mixed up in my mind with the museum in München, but it was a very interesting visit. I spent most of my time around the aeroplanes.
They had a small display of a Lancaster Bomber
All they had was a rather damaged bit of wing – but it was massive!
And rather porous seen from underneath!
I spotted this Rolls Royce Merlin engine – I don’t think I’ve seen one on its own like this before. It is massive!
The new building is packed with planes but it was a bit difficult at times to work out what you were looking at.
This was very interesting!
And a bike in the museum – a bike for a railway!
Looks pretty hard work to pedal.
After the museum we went by car to the Nikolaiviertel and ate a meal at a famous (at least, Klaus knew all about it) restaurant called Zum Nußbaum.
It was opposite a church that had this plaque – so Johann Crüger was Kantor there!
We then walked to Gendarmenmarkt which is where I used to stay (in the Hilton) when I first started visiting Berlin.
And the controversial new Stadtschloss is slowly taking shape.
Walking back to the car we saw these rather lovely building reflections in the Havel.
The next day, Sunday, we were driving home. However we weren’t leaving until mid afternoon. The original plan was to visit Schloss Sanssoucci in Potsdam but it was a baking hot day and our feet were a bit blistered so decided to do a boat trip on Wannsee instead. Which was lovely!
Not only did we see some amusing pedalos, like this one, but also a chap piloting a motorboat on his own – standing stark naked at the wheel. Interesting!
The boat trip was great fun and nice and cooling on such a hot day.
We then went to have a meal at a favourite restaurant of my companions. Finding a parking space was a challenge and then finding a spare table. The menu was a bit pricey for my liking but I eventually settled on a bit of pork… which, when it arrived, looked like this:
It was an Eisbein and was a bit scary. Underneath the roll of fat there was some decent meat though, and it came also with Sauerkraut.
We then drove home enjoying the air conditioning. A lot of driving for just two nights in Berlin but a really enjoyable trip! And a fun reminder of my birthday as it was my birthday treat.
Wedding in Devon
We were delighted to be invited to the wedding of James’s cousin Claire near Exeter in Devon at the beginning of August.
Because Exeter is a very long way from Colchester I flew from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to Bristol where James and his parents collected me by car (it was a relatively short detour for them). Unfortunately they had a lot of traffic problems on their drive from the south east so were pretty tired by the time we all arrived at our hotel in Teignmouth.
Jenny my mother-in-law had booked two rooms and theirs was on the first floor and pretty poky. Ours, which was the same price, was on the third floor and was palatial (for an English hotel room anyway) with a four-poster bed, jacuzzi and more.
We had a pretty cool view too!
After we checked in we went for a walk around Teignmouth which is a lovely quaint fishing port.
We stopped for dinner at a café which was offering something I haven’t eaten for years and years – Steak Pudding (suet pudding). I couldn’t resist!
Part of the reason for eating this was that I had been reading a German book on England (Das England-Lesebuch) and it had a (rather uncomplimentary) chapter on English food and said something I really didn’t understand initially:
Das Rindernierenfett wird aus dem die Niere umgebenden Fettgewerbe gewonnen und ist in der englishen Küche sehr verbreitet. Es hat einene niedrigeren Schmelzpunkt als Rindertalk und schmeckt, anders als man erwarten könnte, nicht nach Nieren. Deshalb findet man es auch viel in Kuchen und Gebäck.
We don’t eat beef kidney fat? What rubbish is that!
But when I mentioned this to my Mum she said that this is suet so we do indeed eat it! Oops!
Anyway, I’d mentioned this to several people so when I actually saw a suet pudding advertised I had to eat it. It was, as I remembered, delicious and filling. I could feel my arteries blocking up with every mouthful. Yum!
Our room was very comfy but my poor in-laws were kept awake by the incessant seagull calls. The long journey for me meant I was tired enough to sleep through it all!
The next morning we had a short walk on the beach before breakfast.
And a very tasty breakfast it was too!
The wedding was to be much more of an event than weddings twenty years ago. First of all we were meeting for a walk, then a pizza lunch, then the ceremony in the afternoon, then games in a field, then an evening barn dance. A full day indeed, which involved having changes of clothes of course.
The walk was well attended with about 30 people in total. It was at Haldon Forest Park which was much higher than Exeter, overlooking the river valley. There were some fabulous views as we walked round.
Here are the bride and bride before the wedding.
The park also had an aerial activities section called ‘Go Ape’ where people could move around on high wires and do various fun-looking things. We were walking below lots of people sliding from tree to tree. It looked great fun and Claire said she had done it and it was brilliant!
After the walk we headed to the Farm in a village called Ive where the rest of the day was taking place.
There was a large barn that had been set up for the evening do as well as the lunchtime pizzas which were cooked in a portable pizza oven.
There were lots of signs that it is still a working farm – including this shelf of wellies that I rather liked!
The ceremony was to take place in a small orchard with hay bales to sit on – we were instructed to bring blankets to sit on!
The lady in the photo carried out the wedding ceremony (this picture was taken afterwards).
Here we all are waiting for the ceremony.
Claire and Hannah arrived together hand-in-hand and said their vows.
It was a lovely simple service and it was great to be part of it.
Here are Claire and Hannah opening the champagne after the ceremony:
Afterwards we were all asked to add our fingerprints to a card as a reminder of the day – a really clever idea!
We all shared champagne or orange juice afterwards.
Here are my in-laws and James enjoying their drinks.
And me and James.
The next event was games in the field… which involved lots of brilliant games from my youth such as welly wanging (throwing wellie boots as far as you can), racing on space-hoppers, quoits, coconut shy and more.
Here am I doing rather badly at welly throwing
James also had a go.
James and I did a space-hopper race and I won, despite wearing unsuitable clothing!
After an hour and a half of playing games and chilling out we returned for the barbecue.
Rather than a traditional fruit cake wedding cake, instead Claire and Hannah had a cheese cake (i.e. a cake shape made up of different cheeses) which we ate with biscuits and with grapes. A really cool idea!
For those who wanted something sweeter they also had three huge piles of Brownies (white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate) with berries. This was one of the stacks.
And from behind, more brownies evident!
These were very yummy – we had them with Cornish ice cream of course!
After the food we cleared away the tables and then it was a barn dance.
A great fun day and wonderful to celebrate the wedding of Claire and Hannah!
Read part 2 of this month’s report here.