Tag Archives: Escheln

Six Wheels In Germany – Month 1

So I have now been here in Germany for one month.

I thought it would be good to offer a quick summary of life for a British person in Germany as I have experienced it. Did it live up to my expectations? Were the stereotypes of life in Germany accurate?

Short answers – YES and NO.

Did it live up to my expectations?

Yes. I’m having a brilliant time, I’ve settled in really well and kept very busy. I’ve also managed to keep up to date with my work which is good – the Internet connection here is reasonable for remote working.

Are stereotypes of life in Germany accurate?

There are certain ideas that people have about the German nation which are pretty familiar to most Brits – Germans aren’t very friendly, they are all law abiding, they are always on time, they drink lots of beer etc. So how did this pan out?

“Germans aren’t very friendly”

This is complete and utter rubbish. And always has been, in my experience.

I have so far (in my one month) only met one German person who was unfriendly (a lady with a dog outside a bakery). Everyone else has been nice, cheerful, helpful etc. And my landlord and landlady and their daughter have been incredibly friendly, making me feel very at home and including me in their social events, plying me with food, sharing sheet music with me in the choirs, lending me their car and more. People have offered me lifts and refused to accept petrol money, taken me out for meals, brought me along with them to events, made me feel at home, bought me cake… the list is endless.

“Germans are all law-abiding”

Although this is generally true, it turns out that some of the things I had been told before I came here weren’t quite accurate. I had heard from many sources as Sunday is a special day there are masses of things you can’t do on Sunday – such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn etc. That isn’t true here in Escheln, as I discovered in the first couple of weeks. My landlady says that the mowing thing isn’t very helpful if you work a full week and then are out all Saturday – maybe Sunday is your only option. Clearly in this little hamlet it’s considered OK. Apart from this I haven’t seen any obvious examples of rule-breaking, although when I gave Lara a lift in the car she commented (afterwards) that at a STOP sign I didn’t let all four wheels come to a complete halt so the German police might have told me off for that (fortunately there were none around at 6am!).

“Germans are always punctual”

This is a tricky one. My experience is that most people I have met are punctual (although this is also generally the case in the UK). However, friend Morten was impressively late for a lunch meetup at the SPEZI Radmesse cycle exhibition. We arranged to meet at midday; at 12:45 when I finally got through to him on the phone, he said he was just leaving the exhibition hall and would be with us in ten minutes. He may be the exception though! And he’s such a nice chap he can be forgiven a slight unpunctuality.

“Germans drink lots of beer”

Probably, although possibly not here in this part of Germany (Bavaria, on the other hand…) On the few occasions I’ve been with German people and they’ve been drinking beer they seem to have chosen non-alcoholic. Fizzy water on the other hand – there’s gallons of that in evidence wherever you go. My request for tap water is usually met with a look of incredulity. The tap water is fine though!

 

So what has life been like here?

Before I moved to Germany I had obviously visited loads of times, lived here for one month twice and done masses of reading. The forum for English-speaking expats in Germany, ToyTown, was extremely useful. I read  lot about people saying “where do I buy…” and asking for English or American food. I wanted to try to immerse myself a bit more and try to make do with all German food (except for teabags – there was no way I was drinking German tea for a year), but I discovered fairly early on that I am more entrenched in British food than I thought. And there are other things that it’s surprisingly hard to get hold of, such as:

• potato peelers (that are good)
• towelling bathrobes (not available in any of the normal shops)
• casserole dishes that go in the oven, not just on the hob
• bank accounts

 

The Potato Peeler Crisis

I like eating potatoes and was pleased to see two peelers in the drawer in my apartment. But, lo and behold, I seemed entirely unable to peel with them. Then I remembered! Previously in Germany I have also been unable to use their peelers (Sparschäler). I visited several large homewares shops and looked at the selection of peelers – usually five or six different ones – but they were all ‘wrong’, the blades seemed to be at the wrong angle. I did manage to peel a couple of potatoes (eventually) with one of the peelers in my drawer but it was a real mess.

Lara, the daughter of the house, was heading off to England for a week’s holiday so I mentioned the potato peeler crisis to her just as a general bit of chit-chat. Then I received a text from her when she was there – did I want her to get me a peeler? She sent me a link to a peeler on tesco.com which was rather overpriced and not quite the type I like. I sent her a link to the ones I liked and said if she happened to see one, could she get it.

That day I was meeting up with a friend Olaf, a German chap who lives in London. He’d cycled over from Hoek van Holland and we met up for lunch in Orsoy/Walsum on the Rhein. I’d made some quip about peelers to him on Facebook about three hours before he set off for Germany. And, lo and behold…

 

Potato peeler hurrahSo, as Olaf said, the Potato Peeler Crisis was now over. It was from John Lewis’s too!

I texted Lara to say that she didn’t have to find me one now (and found it rather amusing that I had two opportunities to get a potato peeler within such a short time).

When I got back we collected together all the peelers in the house.

Potato PeelersMy new one is on the bottom right, Gudula (the landlady) uses the one on the bottom left and has done for 20 years, Lara likes the red and blue-handled ones. We plan to have a potato or carrot peeling competition in due course.

You can see that the angles of the blades are wrong on all of them except for the John Lewis’s one. Unless you are German.

Food differences

I’ve eaten lots of food in Germany of course (and one or two cakes!) but haven’t really had a long period of catering just for me and I’ve found myself struggling at times to eat the variety of dishes that are available in the UK. The oven here is a bit slow and it appears Germans tend to cook most things on the hob (no casserole dishes in the apartment, for example, and they seem almost impossible to buy as well at a sensible price). There’s an absence of things like Chicken Tonight (which is very useful for a quick meal) and also the choice of curry sauces was extremely thin and pricey – 3€ for a jar that would be £1 in the UK. On my next trip to the UK I expect to bring back some jars of sauces and also some naan breads as I haven’t found any yet (though I did manage some poppadums).

Rather than glass jars of sauces as we have the Germans tend to use packet mixes (apart from pasta sauces which are in jars). I’ve bought a couple which I will try in due course but I’ll be cooking 3-4 portions and freezing the remainder for another day.

Another noticeable difference is that there is fresh lasagne in the supermarket but only frozen pizzas, not fresh ones (or very rarely anyway), even in places like Aldi that sell them in the UK. But there are zillions of frozen pizzas, freezers full of ’em. I like pizza though so that’s good!

I like to eat fresh baguette or rolls rather than sliced bread so that’s OK. There is some sliced bread in Germany (that they call Toast Brot) which is alright for toast but not very nice for sandwiches. It also seems to last a remarkably long time without going mouldy – I have no idea what’s in it. I have only eaten two loaves in the month. The other unusual thing is that you don’t get the two crust ends on the bread.

The selection of cakes and chocolate is of course marvellous. The cereal selection has improved (I have got weetabix, bran flakes, crunchy nut cornflakes, shreddies and some nice muesli). Crisps are still mostly paprika-flavoured but we shouldn’t eat so many packets of those anyway. Vegetables seem generally the same although we’re in the middle of Spargelzeit (Asaparagus season) at the moment so asparagus is everywhere – mostly the white version. And there are fresh strawberries available from the farm shop 100 metres from my door – yummy!

Somehow I don’t think I’ll starve.

Paperwork

As might have been expected, Germans are keen on their paperwork. And their civil servants have special protection in the law against you insulting them etc. There are lots of things that you have to do (or that you are strongly advised to do) that aren’t necessary in the UK, which is why I did so much planning and checking.

When I arrived I had to register my address within a week – called Anmelden. This I did and was given a special bit of paper (an Anmeldebestätigung) which is vital for lots of things.

I had to get a tax number (Einkommensteuernummer) which is mine for life. This came from the Kempen Finanzamt after I filled in a complicated form.

I had to get a freelance tax number (Steuernummer, different from the above) which I have to use on all my freelance work invoices.

I also had to get health insurance as this isn’t part of taxation in Germany and is mandatory.

I also got Privathaftpflichtversicherung: sort-of like public liability insurance (very, very important here)

I also got Tierhalterhaftpflichtversicherung: liability insurance for the dog (also very important, and slightly more expensive than for me)

I also paid the Hundesteuer (dog tax) and Poppy got her tax disc:

I also tried to open a second bank account (I already had one from Deutsche Bank which I had had since 2007) but was refused. It turns out I don’t yet have much of a credit rating in Germany. Probably in a month or two the Deutsche Bank credit history will be part of their system (called SHUFA) and I might have more luck, but in the meantime Deutsche Bank have relented and given me a debit card which makes it much easier to buy things in shops. Amazon.de have also given me a credit card, not that these are used much in Germany except for online shopping.

I think I’m there with the paperwork now. Well, I could get the special green disk for the car that allows me to drive in Köln or Krefeld but as I’m not expecting to drive to either of those I doubt it’s necessary (it’s only 5€ so not a major deal).

Electric sockets

Before I came to Germany we bought a couple of UK multiway adapters and James put German plugs on them. This meant I didn’t need adapters for my 3 pin plug chargers/computer etc but could just run them from an extension lead. And this is working fine.

I also, of course, have some items with German plugs like bedside lights, standard lamps, iPhone charger etc.

And I have discovered that I really don’t like the German sockets without the on/off switches. If you want to unplug your television, for example, or the DVD player, you have to physically pull the plug out of the socket. And it’s usually hiding behind something or low down to the ground.

Fortunately in the second week I was Aldi did some socket switches for 1.79€ so I bought several.

Adapter Stecker

And here is one I use for the lamp in my work area. Much easier to just flick this switch than pull the plug out or slide the sliding slider thingie for the lamp’s brightness to ‘off”.

Socket with switchI think this is just a hangover from our British socket system with switches on the socket. We’re really good at turning them off at home and I don’t like to think of things drawing current (however minor) when not needed.

Friendly postman

Our postman in the UK (Roy) is extremely friendly and helpful. Lo and behold the postman for Escheln is also friendly and helpful.

Now that I have officially registered as living in Germany I am able to get a Maestro card (debit card) and also a German credit card. The Credit Card was arranged through Amazon.de and they sent it to me but they also have to do this proof-of-address procedure which usually involves me going to a post office with my passport and Meldebescheinigung, a proof of registration in Germany (a very important document that lots of people want to see). But it turned out that the Amazon card uses the postman – when he delivers the card he checks the details.

I wasn’t sure when it would arrive so I left my passport and Meldebescheinigung where the family below could get them if the postman arrived whilst I was out. And, after several days, he did.

He checked all the details, filled in the form – but needed my signature. And I wasn’t there. So he delivered the credit card anyway and left the form with a note for me to sign it and stick it half in/half out of our letterbox; when he came past the next day he’d collect it. Which he duly did.

Note from Postman

The local community

I live in the hamlet of Escheln (probably 150 houses) which is one mile from the large village/small town of St Hubert, which is two miles from the main town of Kempen. All the addresses round here (whether Escheln, St Hubert or Kempen) have the same postcode and say Kempen as the post town. However St Hubert seems to function pretty well on its own as a town.

My landlady seems to know most people in Escheln and the neighbours all seem very friendly. I thought there might be issues with my car being parked outside someone else’s house but it all seems OK. I’ve met several people out on dogwalks and they generally chat for a little while. I think I’m fairly well known now because of the velomobile.

St Hubert is a lovely little town with five bakeries, an Aldi and another supermarket (Edeka), a couple of clothes shops, key cutters, bank, travel agent, chemist and most of the other things you’d need. There also seems to be a fair amount of local pride in the town – lots of the local cars have a sticker saying “I like living here” so I have bought one to affix when I get an opportunity.

St Hubert Car StickerI’ve also seen a similar sticker for Kempen so I will see if I can get one. This one came from the chemist’s shop.

St Hubert has a large catholic church as its main feature which can be seen from quite a way away. I gather that most of the people in the town are catholic (at least nominally) and the local evangelical (Lutheran) church that I have started attending has far fewer people.

Escheln is on one of the cycle routes that cross Nordrhein-Westfalen and bikes are a very common site – not, generally, cycle tourers but just people going about their everyday lives. Lara has several friends who often come to visit and they all come by bike.

St Hubert has also recently invested in some electric bike charging points which are situated right outside the very nice café/konditorei.

Elec Charging Point 2

Elec Charging Point

The place is generally very dog-friendly too with dogs allowed in a lot of places that they would be excluded from in the UK (although not in bakeries and supermarkets – Poppy has got used to being tied up outside whilst I go and do my grocery shopping).

The choirs

I have joined two choirs since I arrived.

The first is the local Da Capo choir, affiliated with the evangelical church in St Hubert. It’s a group of friendly people who sing together mainly for enjoyment but who occasionally contribute to a church service. We sang on Easter Sunday, will sing this Sunday at a confirmation service and also at the wedding of the son of one of the choir members in August. They sing a mixture of music including Taizé music, well-known folk songs and more. They’re more into enjoyment than technical skill and there was no audition which means all levels and abilities are included.

The Willicher MusikProjekt Chor sings more traditional music (Beethoven, Haydn etc) and I had a short audition for that. It’s a four-part harmony choir which practises a couple  of times per month in one of the three churches affiliated with the Emmaus-Kirchengemeinde Willich. The director, Klaus-Peter Pfeifer (who has his own Wikipedia page), is also an organist and one of those all-round musical chaps who are always impressive to know.

I’ve been to a couple of practices of each of these and am enjoying them in their different styles.

Cycling groups

This is where I’ve so far been rather unsuccessful. There is a cycling group in Lobberich (with whom I cycled once last year) but it’s short distance and slow, for pensioners. There are possibly some fast cycling groups for MAMILs in this part of the world but I am too slow for that. The sort of groups that are often around in England – 10mph average rides of 20 miles or less including a cake stop – don’t seem to be available round here. I have been given several cycling magazines by friend Anja, some of which are more local-based, so I need to check those more thoroughly, but it looks as though I may have to make my own cycle rides. Which is OK but it’s fun to meet with other people, even though it’s hard to ride alongside an upright bike if you’re in a velomobile or trike as the speed profiles are so different.

There is a German velomobile forum which I am a member of and I’ve already met one member of that forum for tea and cake. There are a few other trike riders in the general area of Viersen so I might be able to meet up with them in due course. There is a bit trike gathering in Schwalmtal over the Pfingsten weekend at the end of May so I will be attending the bits of that that I can (as the dog will probably be left behind) which should be good.

 

So after a month here I’ve settled in, I’ve kept up with my work, met lots of nice people and taken doggy on lots of walks. The landlady and her husband and daughter have also taken Poppy out walking and cycling so she’s having a brilliant time. Just last night I went to the cinema with them in Kempen to watch the Nelson Mandela film; we went by car and were able to park, free of charge, about a 2 minute walk from the cinema which is right in the centre of town opposite the Town Hall. I can’t imagine that in the UK!

So I’m looking forward to the next months and longer here and to doing some longer cycle rides as I get more used to Penelope the velomobile. And, of course, meeting more people and sampling more cake!

 

 

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Ko2Ko – Kempen to Hoek van Holland and Great Bromley

My last day of my tour!!!

There are five bakeries in St Hubert and during my week long stay here in March I visited four out of the five. Now was my opportunity to get the full set by having breakfast in Café Poels.

The plan was to have a bread roll (standard German breakfast) but I was almost swayed by the display of cakes:

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And chocolate:

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But common sense won out and I had a Kleines Frühstück which is a cheese and ham roll and a cup of tea, pretty decent value for 2,40€.

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The café also had wifi which isn’t so common in Germany.

The plan was now to head for the Griesson de Beukelaer factory outlet shop on the outskirts of Kempen to stock up on some more chocolate. During this tour I’ve been rather underconsuming chocolate and thought it important to restock. There was a small amount of space left in my Banana Bags, after all!

So I headed off on the nice, smooth cycle route which nips under the main road and takes you into Kempen just a mile from St Hubert. The route by car is considerably longer!

The factory shop had rearranged itself a bit and had a quite different selection of goodies but still plenty that looked yummy.

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I managed to remain sensible and just bought two bags of chocs, one that had little balls a bit like Ferrero Rocher (they had some for you to taste test) and another of very mini chocolate fingers.

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The factory shop has a lot of plates of chocolate for you to test and even a coffee machine to help you browse!

When I got to the checkout and paid, there was also a box of milk chocolate biscuits left on the packing area of the till I was at. I said to the lady that these weren’t mine but were presumably the previous lady’s and she said that as that lady had gone I could take them. Bonus!

I headed back towards Sankt Hubert and my second stop for food shopping – the Stinges bakery. Once again they had the fab Streusel trays which are enough for about six portions (and freeze very well). I had cleverly picked up a strong cardboard box with a decent lid at the chocolate factory and, lo and behold, it was exactly the right size for the Streusel trays! I bought two and they sat nicely on top of each other in the box.

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I also bought a pair of Nuss Striezel (which just fitted on top, slightly squashed) to take home and share with James and an Amerikaner for me for this evening if I fancied something sweet and unhealthy on the ferry.

Then it was back to the Ferienwohnung in some slight drizzle. There was a pretty strong westerly wind which will make my ride to Venlo harder work, and presumably will also mean my ride from Den Haag to Hoek van Holland is a bit blowy.

Here is Alfie parked outside Ferienwohnung Bienenstock – with empty panniers. Soon to be crammed full of luggage and edibles.

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Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday that when cycling into Sankt Hubert two young lads on bikes standing beside the road shouted at me “Are you part of the circus?” Not heard that one before!

Anyway, I took my time loading up my trike as eleven o’clock approached. I had the box of Streusel to fit in and wanted to try not to squash anything! Finally all was ready and I set off.

Here’s the map for the ride to Venlo:

Kempen to Venlo

This ride was done at a fairly leisurely pace. I didn’t think I was in much of a rush (apart from the issue of trains not carrying bikes after 3:30pm, and I would still be on the train at that point), so turned the pedals at only about 10mph for most of this ride.

I headed towards Wachtendonk, going through Voesch and then crossing under the motorway. The skies were quite fierce in the direction I was headed.

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The flat landscape was very familiar from my holiday here in March – I rode these cycle tracks several times but it was interesting to see it all with crops growing rather than snow on the ground.

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It was just outside Wachtendonk that I picked up the first sign to Venlo.

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From Wachtendonk I headed towards Wankum. I’ve done this route a few times but previously went on a narrower cycle track rather than along a road; that’s the thing with cycle path signage, it tends to give you lots of different options depending on your start point – which can also prove rather frustrating!

On the outskirts of Wankum I saw these straw people who looked very cheery.

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My route following the signs went a bit awry here and I (briefly) found myself cycling through a graveyard. I ended up on the main road and soon enough found more Venlo (NL) signs.

I had quite a delay trying to get round this chap – I had to wait for a crossing onto the road, cycle on the road round him and then it was a quarter of a mile before there was another crossing back to the cycle path. Still, good to see them cutting the verges of the cycle paths.

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At Herongen I had an issue with disappearing cycle path signs which means I did two sides of a triangle. This was frustrating, as was the fact that the bakery in Herongen had been shut (imagine that!) as I’d planned to get a filled roll from Germany for lunch. I then stopped at a weird mini food hall but they didn’t have any filled rolls, only huge cheeses, hams and giant packs of coffee. Within 100 metres I was in…

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I realised time was marching on a bit as I wanted to get the 13:50 train so pedalled a bit faster. I was slightly thwarted by some cycle path roadworks in Venlo and rather than taking the detour I just rode on the road (naughty naughty!)

I arrived at the station with 5 minutes until the train left – just enough time to buy my ticket and bicycle ticket and a tuna sandwich. Not time for the loo, unfortunately!

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The train pulled in and a lady with a bicycle started getting on my bicycle carriage. I asked her to wait for my trike as it needed to go in first, but I was talking German and she didn’t understand it. “Do you speak English?” she asked. I have to get used to speaking English again! Anyway, she moved her bike out the way so I could install Alfie and then her bike tucked in beside him.

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I settled myself down in the largely empty train carriage and was surprised to discover there is free wifi on the train

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I ate my sandwich and then still felt hungry so had to extract my Amerikaner from my bags to eat that as well! Sadly most of the icing had stuck to the bag.

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I arrived in Den Haag at 4:10pm which gave me an hour and twenty minutes before meeting Vince at the station (and we would then cycle to his recommended pancake restaurant in Scheveningen). After faffing reattaching my panniers and then putting my windproof jacket on (it was colder than I had expected) I set off ono the trike to the pedestrian area of Den Haag to find a café where I could have a cup of tea and chill out (and use a loo!)

Stadebrasserie De Ooievaer seemed to fit the bill so I stopped there for a tea and cake.

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The cake was very light and tasted fine but the bill came to 5,70€ as I was charged for the tea, something that tends to happen in the Netherlands and not in Germany. However I was able to sit there for an hour and use their wifi so I thought it fair enough to pay for the privilege!

As you can see it was quite grey outside so it was nice to be indoors in the warm – my ride to Hoek van Holland might end up a bit chilly!

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One thing I’ve meant to mention in one of these blog posts for days is to say that whenever I include a photo of someone I’ve talked to, I have always got their permission to post it on the blog. It’s polite and sensible to do so!

I cycled back to Den Haag Centraal station where I was to meet Vince.

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That short trip, just a quarter of a mile, proved that it had become quite chilly out and my legs (in shorts) were cold. I had some legwarmers at the bottom of my clothing bag (within two plastic bags to keep everything dry) but I decided it was worth the faff of getting them out as it would undoubtedly be cold on Friday morning riding back from Harwich.

Whilst I was putting the legwarmers on Vince arrived and we headed off to the pancake house on the seafront at Scheveningen.

Here’s the map of our ride.

Den Haag to Hoek van Holland

It’s much easier cycling on Dutch cycle paths in rush hour when you can follow someone who knows what they are doing!

The occasional blast of wind gave fair warning that the ride to the Hoek (Vince said he would accompany me) would be hard work!

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After a few miles we arrived at the seafront at Scheveningen and discovered a new meteorological situation for this cycle tour – a sandstorm. The sand was being whipped up by the strong wind and blowing right in my face. I was glad I had cycling glasses on and had to cover my mouth with my hand to cycle without getting a mouthful. We were shortly at the pancake house though so locked up the bikes and went into a tent-like structure at the front.

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We were given a menu but I saw no sign of Poffertjes (my favourite). Vince knew that they were available here though so asked and we discovered they were on the drinks menu (obvious, really!) I ordered poffertjes with strawberrries, cream and vanilla ice cream and Vince (proving he has gone native in Holland after 13 years there) ordered a pancake with cheese and ham.

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I really enjoyed my poffertjes and having a cup of tea, a sit down and a chat. Once we had finished we paid up and set off into the strong wind towards the Hoek van Holland.

I decided to extract one of my buffs from my bag of clothing which involved a lot of rooting about but was really worth it over the next 12 or so miles.

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We set off along the seafront, passing some really nice sculptures.

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It’s hard to describe the sand blasting but it was incredibly fierce, like little needles all over exposed skin, and the gusts took my breath away at times. People cycling the other way were flying past, we were working really, really hard just to hit 9mph on the flat. My heart rate was around 150bpm a lot of the time – to do 9mph. Crazy! There were loads of kite surfers out too – mad!

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A chap cycled past us with his surfboard horizontal across his body – and he was using it rather like a sail, not needing to pedal as the wind pushed him along. We also followed this chap cycling along with a second bicycle.

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When we got out onto the dunes the wind was even stronger and some of the mini hills seemed massive. Here’s a picture Vince took of me:

Auntie Helen in a sandstorm

The miles were counting down very slowly and it was hard to hold much of a conversation as the wind whipped your words away. People going past the other way were flying, we were grinding our way across this bit of the Netherlands.

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I realised that Vince was going to have the most marvellous ride back to Den Haag and kept reminding him of this fact – I was really rather envious. Whereas I was doing all this work into wind with no benefit!

Yes I look silly!

We arrived at Hoek van Holland at 8:30pm at which point we said our goodbyes and Vince headed off downwind for 15 miles – lucky chap!

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I realised I was rather hungry after all that effort and, as I had time, popped into the Hoek van Holland pizzeria and had a quick pizza to warm me through and replace some carbohydrate energy.

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I then headed straight to the ferry check in. I was distinctly surprised when the woman greeted me by name as I rolled up – I wondered if this meant I was the only cyclist (she didn’t say, but I did see some other bikes tied up on the ferry). Excellent service anyway!

The sun was setting as I looked behind – Vince ought to have a rather pleasant ride back with the sunset before him and the wind behind him.

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I took this picture of the Garmin trip computer whilst waiting for loading. By the time I had found my parking spot on the ferry it was on 40.00 miles exactly.

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Notice the elevation – 43ft above sea level. The photo of the Garmin trip computer at Meersburg shows it as 1,534 ft, so I have been on a nice downhill run overall (spread out of 781 miles/1,256 kilometres)

I found my cabin on the boat and then searched – in vain – for functional wifi. I think too many people were trying to use it!

I briefly went to the back of the ship for a photo of the sunset but it was so cold I only stayed outside for a minute.

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A close-up in the mirror of the cabin showed a light covering of sand all over my face and a gently sand-blasted appearance. As I said to Vince, people pay a fortune for this kind of dermabrasion and I’ve had it for free!!!

As the wifi wasn’t working I was unable able to write up and post this blog so I went to bed and slept through till the wake-up call at 5:30am.

When I returned to my bike on the Ferry (which was at the back) I saw that the ferry car deck was pretty full and it was absolutely heaving with old MGs, Rolls Royces and various Morris cards (minors, Travellers etc), all with Dutch number plates. There’s clearly some event going on in the UK and it was wonderful to see all the cars, some with old-fashioned leather suitcases strapped to the back.

We were out by 6:30 and I went through passport control and then it was time for the ride home, 15 miles or so.

I didn’t feel like taking the windy, fiddly and hilly NCN51 route (the National Cycle Route from Harwich) as it adds a bit of distance so decided to start off riding down the A120 dual carriageway. At 7am it’s not too busy with British cars although of course all the cars coming off the ferry, and the lorries, passed me. It was a great chance to see (and smell) all those classic cars going past.

I also discovered that, of the various nationalities, the Dutch pass far closer than any other cars, which I wouldn’t have expected. The Germans leave most room and the Brits are somewhere in the middle.

It wasn’t a particularly pleasant ride although was fairly fast and I was pleased when I got to Wix where I can come off the A120 although still be on a reasonably fast road. Unfortunately I’d forgotten that it had been recently surface dressed so the road was really bumpy with gravel chippings and not that comfortable to ride on.

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till, after twelve miles I saw a sign to Great Bromley, nearly home!

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And at 7:45 I rolled up to the front door (having stopped at the local pork butchers for some food for tonight) for the end of my journey.

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A rapturous welcome by the dog (and a reasonably rapturous welcome by James once he saw the Streusel and Nuss-Striezel I had brought him!), a cup of tea and a hot shower and it was time to settle down to work. Three weeks away meant that I had 385 emails in my inbox. Yikes!!!

Anyway, here is the total of all my rides on the Konstanz to Koblenz trip:

Ko2Ko Final Figures

I have also updated MyCyclingLog which lists my monthly goals and also two different yearly goals (One Mile Per Hour, i.e. 24 miles per day, and the slightly higher goal of 9000 miles in the year). Here they are side-by-side before and after I added the Ko2Ko trip.

Stats Before And After

And, finally, I take part in a little mini league amongst various cyclists on the YACF forum. I had slipped down the rankings somewhat during the tour (as I wasn’t posting the figures as I didn’t accurately have them till I got home) but you can see my ranking has rather dramatically improved now! Before is above, After is below.

Ticker

Thanks for reading and it’s been good to chat to lots of different people – please feel free to add a comment below or send me an email using the sidebar on the right hand side (which will be near the top of this page). I do appreciate hearing from readers!

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Konstanz to Koblenz, Recumbent Trikes