Monthly Archives: August 2021

Six Wheels in Germany – August 2021 (Month 89)

A quite big event…

This month something quite important happened! Klaus and I got married. If you haven’t read it yet, have a look here: Reader, I married him

Visiting England

I started this month with a trip to the UK! This was arranged extremely last-minute when the UK adjusted its rules so fully-vaccinated people could visit without quarantine. A long time ago I had booked a flight to the UK in the middle of August to visit Mum for her birthday, with the hopes that the rules would be relaxed by then. However, my new job meant I would not be able to travel then. However, rather amazingly I was able to modify my existing Ryanair flights to a date two weeks earlier with no extra charge. So the flights each way were 9,99€.

But first I had to get organised. I needed a negative Corona test within 72 hours of travelling (I got one the day before) and it had to be in English as well as the local language. Fortunately the good testing station in Kempen provides English for the relevant bits, plus does the test with the correct specificity/sensitivity. It turns out that this information wasn’t really checked – just that I had a piece of paper that looked like a test certificate – but I wanted to ensure I was doing everything properly.

Negative test in hand, I now had to get to Cologne Bonn airport (Ryanair seem to have pulled out of Düsseldorf). As I now have Leo the car I could drive myself but parking was crazily expensive, around 55€ for the three nights. Plus fuel of course for a journey of an hour and a half or so. So I decided to take the train from Kempen instead – this cost me 17,50€ which was fine. Klaus would collect me on the Friday evening from Cologne and he also dropped me off at Kempen railway station on the Tuesday morning; he had to work so couldn’t take me to the airport by car but train was fine.

I bought my ticket and then got a message from the App 10 minutes later, as I was beginning to think about leaving to go to the station, that there was a points problem on the line and the train I had planned to get wasn’t possible. So we headed straight to the station and I got on the train to Krefeld rather than Düsseldorf (one stop rather than several) as there was an alternative (slower) route from Krefeld to Köln. This involved waiting for 40 minutes at Krefeld which isn’t terribly exciting, and then getting on a train which feels like it is in the wrong direction (Rheine is north east of Kempen, Cologne is south) but it actually does a U-shaped journey. Still, a bit of a weird feeling – although the sign clearly said it stopped at Köln HBF.

This was a comfortable journey except the guy on the other side of the carriage had his mask hanging under his nose. I had decided I would wear my FFP2 mask at all times, even when on the railway platforms, to protect myself as much as possible. Germany’s incidence of Coronavirus was 20 per 100,000 people at my time of travelling, and in the UK it was 300 per 100,000 people so significantly more, so I wanted to do all I could to ensure I didn’t bring it back!

I arrived at Köln HbF and then I needed to get the S-Bahn S-19 to the airport. There had been a sudden rain shower and there were warnings on the train app that there were some delays, but that an S-19 should currently be on Platform 9. So I went to the platform and there was indeed a train on it, but it had no signage on the side to say what train it was. I hopped on and asked the people seated there “is this the S-19?”. No-one responded at first so then I asked again and a chap said “no, it’s the S-12” so I turned to get off and the doors beeped and closed. I was staying on that train!

The chap said “don’t worry, it stops at Messe/Deutz too” (which was the next stop, which the S-19 would also stop at) so that was fine. I had plenty of time in hand.

We arrived at Messe/Deutz and I got out. As did everyone else, as the train driver announced the train was malfunctioning and would have to go in for service. But first it stayed for 10 minutes on the platform so no other trains could arrive. Eventually it moved off and then came the S-19 – I jumped on and it was 12 minutes to Flughafen Köln-Bonn.

I had flown into Cologne Airport last about 25 years ago and it didn’t look as though anything had been changed in the meantime. It is a very concrete, grey and unappealing building – a big difference to Stansted and Düsseldorf which both have the light, airy feel. I had tried to find out about food options at the airport and it seemed there were some places to get food through security so I decided to go straight through security. With the new Coronavirus rules I had no idea how long the queues would be and wanted to ensure I got to the gate with plenty of time. At this point I was in the airport three and a half hours before take-off so it was looking pretty hopeful!!!

Security (x-rays etc) had a queue which was not too awful and a monitor that said average queuing time was 15-20 minutes. I guess that was about right.

The chap in front of me in the security queue was very lucky though. He had a plastic folder with his documentation including his yellow vaccine booklet and as he lifted it into the plastic tray to go through the scanner, the vaccination book fell out (he was holding the plastic folder upside down) and it disappeared into the area where the plastic trays for scanning are stored. He didn’t see this, but I did, and told him – he peered in, stuck his hand in and got his vaccination book. It would have been very inconvenient for him to have lost it!

Directly after security I had a passport check (first time travelling on my German passport) and then we arrived in the airside area. Where there was almost nothing – just a very sparse duty free shop and two food places. I decided to eat a salad at one of the food places and so ordered what you see below – a green salad (with no protein!) and a small roll and a bottle of water. This cost me 10,61€ so more than my flight!!!

Fly to the UK or eat a salad – your choice for 10€

Once I had eaten my salad I headed off to the boarding gate. I was the first there, which wasn’t surprising as I was nearly two and a half hours early, so I amused myself for 30 seconds checking that my special Ryanair hand luggage fits in their sizer. Which it did.

I was travelling very light as I planned to bring some teabags back to Germany. As there was a 480-teabag-pack-sized space in my suitcase I had put in some t-shirts which I was passing on to my sister as they no longer fit me. I think I managed to pack about 10 of these tunic-style t-shirts.

Cologne Airport seemed to have decent wifi so I was able to watch the Olympics on my iPad whilst waiting.

Eventually the time came to board. At the gate the Ryanair staff checked the following:

  1. Passport
  2. Boarding Card
  3. Proof of negative COVID test
  4. Proof of vaccination
  5. UK Passenger Locator Form

I had all of this ready of course (I am very organised!) so was allowed onto the plane. Phew!

It’s just a 50 minute flight to Stansted and so we were soon back on the ground again.

Interestingly none of our documents were checked at Stansted. I went through the automatic passport gates (although it took a few goes for it to recognise my British Passport, weirdly!) and that was that. I had prepared my Passenger Locator Form of course but no-one wanted to see it.

I got the bus to the Mid Stay Car Park which was where I had arranged to meet Mum – as the short stay costs 7 pounds for 10 minutes!! Mid Stay is free for an hour and it’s only a short drive on the bus, and the buses come every 10 minutes. I had half thought about walking but it turns out there are no pavements on the route.

It was lovely to see Mum again after so long – we last saw each other at the end of October last year (when I was 21kg heavier too!)

Our way back passed Dedham so we thought we really ought to pop into the Essex Rose Tea Rooms for a Cream Tea.

I used to visit Dedham every couple of days to do my grocery shopping in the co-op there, and nothing much had changed except a few new Tiptree preserves have come on the market. Yummy!

The village seemed much more tranquil without hundreds of tourist coaches. There were a few but nothing like as many as before.

After a look around the Dedham Craft Shop in the old church we returned to the car and headed into Suffolk, arriving at Mum’s lovely cottage.

Mum has loads of great friends in the village and they keep her supplied with cake so after our evening meal of scrambled egg with smoked salmon (low carb) followed by blueberries and cream on a meringue nest (low carb except for the meringue nest!) I had a piece of cake with my evening cuppa.

The next day we would be having a visit in the afternoon/evening by my sister, niece Gwen and nephew-in-law Harley. In the morning we went to the brand new Aldi supermarket in Ipswich which was a real treat as it was surprisingly different to the German Aldis. Quality of food looked really good (with well-designed packaging too) and, marvel of marvels, they had Tetley Teabags! So I bought two of these 240 teabags packs to take back with me in my tiny suitcase. Price was good too.

We also bought salad stuff for me for lunches for the next couple of days. I was amazed by how cheap some of the food is – bags of salad in Germany are 99 cents for 100g, here they were 39p for 120g.

Here’s my shopping list below so the Germans reading this can compare the prices. At the moment 1 GBP = 1,18 EUR.

The milk is 1,89 litres (4 pints) and the Galpharm Loratadin are antihistamine packs of 14 tablets. These are 79p in the UK or a pack of 20 is 5,39 in the Apotheke here. I bought 6 packs (84 tablets) for 4.74 pounds, which would be 22,64€ in Germany. Thus we stock up when in the UK!

So I had the items below to fit into my suitcase. And not to make the suspense unduly dramatic, I managed it!

After we got back from the shops I decided to go for a walk, so ventured out through a very cobwebby wood (I was the first to walk this path on that day and felt a bit like it was something out of a horror movie with all the spider webs criss-crossing my body).

This is a lovely walk on a public footpath that heads south behind my Mum’s back garden. It goes down to Wash Lane at which point I headed towards Witnesham church.

I visited the churchyard (my Dad’s grave is there) and then decided to walk on a bit further, crossing over the river Fynn on a little bridge and walking past a very secluded house where someone was practising the drums. Probably very good the house is secluded!

I was following the footpaths on my Apple Watch (I have a map on there) and the footpath on the map was marked to go straight ahead from here, but I didn’t fancy plunging through a load of brambles so followed the arrow on the sign and the path soon joined up with the footpath marked on my map. Not sure what happened there – did the farmer move the footpath himself?

I got back after a relaxing 4.27km walk, enjoying the sunshine as it wasn’t actually that warm when the sun was hiding.

After our lunch (I had a salad) Anna, Gwen and Harley arrived having enjoyed (??!!) a Burger King on the way up from Southend. We had a lovely afternoon chit-chatting before heading off to Bekash Tandoori in Ipswich for our evening curry.

Onion Bhaji
Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Aloo, Pilau Rice and a Naan bread. Yummy!

It was a lovely evening and so great to see my sis and niece and nephew-in-law again. I hope it won’t be another 10 months until I can see Gwen and Harley again.

The next day I had to do my Day 2 Corona PCR test and then we needed to post it in one of the Royal Mail Priority Postboxes for it to go to the lab and get tested. I would not actually receive the results till I was back in Germany, but anyway.

We had a relaxing morning and then in the afternoon went out for a walk at Felixstowe, parking at Landguard.

There are old and new sights galore – with the old WW2 defence buildings next to a modern radar tower for the shipping and of course all the cranes for the docks.

I initially thought the ship below was the Ever Given, as I know it had docked at Felixstowe, but it was the Ever Gentle.

It was nice to see the sea! On the left hand side of the photo below is the North Sea, and to the right hand side is the mouth of the River Orwell and River Stour. Directly ahead in the photo is Walton on the Naze with the Naze tower.

And here a view east to the North Sea, with the tiny Sealand fort (Roughs Tower) visible.

After a bit of a wander around the nature reserve Mum and I headed back to Witnesham via the Royal Mail Priority Postbox at Claydon. I decided I would like a bit more of a walk so got Mum to drop me off in Henley, where I followed my nose east along various roads and then public footpaths to walk across the fields to Witnesham. The car route does three sides of a square, heading north and then east and then south again, so my route was more efficient!

This was Henley church, very similar to the church at Witnesham.

There are loads of lovely quiet lanes around this bit of Suffolk but they are very narrow – it would be interesting if you were driving and met another car!

And I was once again reminded that East Anglia is home to several airbases. A Chinook was doing its noisy thing overhead.

The lanes I was following went past a very posh house and then became a restricted byway.

I had a view over the fields to the east towards Witnesham which is on the ridge in the photo below.

It was very quiet and peaceful walking the public footpath towards Witnesham.

I joined back up with the route I had taken the day before and arrived home after just under 4km in 45 minutes. Mum was surprised at how quickly I got there, but it is a shorter route than the drive which is over 6km.

That evening we went for our meal at The Railway in Westerfield which is a very nice pub that offers slightly more upmarket meals than some pubs.

Mum had a starter (as her main course) which was duck in hoi-sin sauce but ended up looking surprisingly like potato croquettes. But tasted good!

I couldn’t resist having a pie! So I had a sausagemeat and onion pie with mash. It was a proper pie with shortcrust pastry base, sides and lid – not one of these silly puff pastry lids. I really enjoyed it!

My dessert was also traditional – apple and blackberry crumble and custard.

Mum had a trifle in a glass.

After my meal (mega carbs!) I was completely stuffed but it was very tasty indeed.

The next day was my day to return to Cologne. The flight was just before 14:00 but once again I wanted to ensure I was there in plenty of time as I didn’t know what the queues would be like.

Mum dropped me off at the Mid Stay Car Park at 10:30 and I caught the bus to the terminal. There were lots of holidaymakers on the bus and I had a chat with a family who were really concerned about all the documentation requirements as they had two children under 10 so there are different rules for them. All very complicated!

I arrived at Stansted and went straight through security as I know there is lots to do airside and plenty of food options. I had brought my lunch with me – leftovers from my salad items at Mum’s, so olives, cheddar, tomatoes, cucumber and houmous. Unfortunately security relieved me of my houmous.

As soon as I got through security, with only about a 10 minute queue, I sat down for a cuppa as I knew I had a long wait and there wasn’t much point going early to the gate. So I had my cup of tea (I was good and had no cake).

I could see the departures board and I liked their Remark – it used to say “wait in lounge”.

Not a whole lot of different airlines flying out from Stansted it seems!

The contrast between Stansted and Cologne could not be greater. This is Airside at Stansted – airy, high ceilings, not much concrete, loads of shops and seating.

I sent my sister the above photo so she could see there was a Burger King available as she would be travelling to Germany through Stansted 2 weeks later.

I went into several food shops looking for replacement houmous as my dipping vegetables would be rather boring without it! Eventually I found a little pack of houmous and falafel so bought it and ate it whilst waiting in the main lounge.

With about an hour to go I went to the boarding gate (only a 5 minute walk) and the numbers of people slowly increased.

When it became time to start boarding the Ryanair employees walked along the queue checking the documents and then giving out a small slip of paper with a signature so the gate staff knew your documents had been checked.

The documents I needed were:

  1. Boarding Card
  2. Passport
  3. Vaccination proof
  4. German Einreiseanmeldung (blue and white form)

This was all OK and I boarded the plane, which was about 80% full (similar to my earlier flight).

I refuse to pay Ryanair extra money to choose my seat or any of that nonsense but ended up in Row C with a good view in the cockpit before they shut the door for take off.

It was another easy flight and we arrived in Cologne on time. Passport control checked I had the Einreiseanmeldung form and my passport but not my vaccination certificate. I was out in the arrivals area meeting Klaus within 10 minutes of the plane drawing up to the gate.

Klaus and I had discussed where we would meet and where he would park and I found this fantastic website with information about Cologne airport. Read and enjoy!

Hints: Only Terminal 1 mentioned, although there is also Terminal 2; airport for West Germany which hasn’t existed since 1990; S-Bahn S-13 said to service it, but I took the S-19 to get there; it seems important to the author that the airport’s peace and tranquillity is not disturbed by urban noise so they conveniently have various oases (!!!) which is one nature reserve; the ugly concrete buildings are considered as historic; this airport is not amongst the busiest in Germany unless it is a very long list; it is not growing! Terrible writing!

Klaus had been there for over an hour as he didn’t know what the traffic would be like getting to Cologne because of the flooding problems and because it was Friday afternoon but it was OK in the end. The parking charge was a bit steep but hey ho, still less than my train ticket would have been and I was travelling in luxury! It was nice to be home again with my additional 480 teabags but I was so glad I was able to squeeze in this visit to the UK before I started my new job and wasn’t allowed holiday.

About an hour after I got home I received my PCR test result – negative!

I was impressed how quickly Eurofins completed the test as they can have only received it in the post that day. However, I have since read a news report about problems receiving the tests from them, so it’s really hard to know what is best to do.

I did fast tests every two days for the next week to ensure I hadn’t brought anything back from England with me and they were all negative, hurrah!

Sport this month

Here is my wheel of exercise this month:

As you can see, it includes my walks in the UK so the map is rather small. Here is the map of the local area where I have cycled (green) this month.

My total distance this year is a mere shadow of previous years but that’s OK, times change and it’s not a race!

But we are still doing SOME cycling (and I have continued my 5k runs three times per week).

Velomobile Kuchentour

A long, long time ago (last year sometime) when we had a velomobile meet at Landcafé Streithöfe in Willich, Klaus from Köln (hereafter KLKöln) suggested to me that I organised a tour to one of my great cafes. He knew it would be a longer ride as they were much further north but thought in summer it might be a good idea.

So when the lockdowns started easing I thought about this again and decided it was time!

I offered six different dates on the Velomobilforum and one of them, the 8th August, was the most popular. So 8th August it would be!

The choice of café for this first trip was obvious – Bauerncafé Büllhorsthof in Winnekendonk. This would mean a 200km ride for those coming from further south but the cakes would be worth it.

Various people said they would be coming, including two who were coming by car with trailer (one because he would be taking part in a 400-600km ride the two days before). The weather forecast for the ride was a bit rainy but the forecast improved as the day got closer and in fact we had no rain.

KLKöln arrived first with his velomobile on a trailer and we helped him get it ready. Then ReneF in his Milan SL which he built himself from a kit over ten years ago. Here is his Milan next to its larger brother the Milan GT.

More and more velomobiles started arriving and we soon had a very colourful gathering outside our house!

We set off at just before 11am, having informed the Bauerncafé we expected to be there at 12. I was the leader of the group as I was probably also the slowest, plus I knew where we were going!

I routed us through Stenden, Kengen and then past Issum on the lovely road through Zitterhuck and Achterhoek.

Photo by Kai/Fuzzu

Here is friend Kai’s video of the event – a couple who had ridden ahead to get photos and then the leisurely column of velomobiles led by yours truly, trundling slowly towards cake.

Photo by Klaus/KLKöln

When we arrived at Bauerncafé Büllhorsthof we found a large grassy area to park some of the velomobiles.

Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus/KLKöln

Three other Velomobilists had got there before us, they had come from the north.

And then it was time for cake! Here were our options for the day.

Photo by Kai/Fuzzu

Klaus went for a Himbeer Mascarpone for a change (he usually has Pfirsich Schmand).

Himbeer Mascarpone

Kai ordered two slices of cake to start with – this date and walnut cake as well as a Himbeer Mascarpone.

Dattel-Walnuss

Several of us ordered the Etagère upon my recommendation. It takes longer to produce so we were cake-less while the others were eating which made ChristianW a bit twitchy (he had ridden 400 kilometres the day before so was a bit peckish). When it came it was well worth it!

Kuchen Etagère

Kai still felt a bit hungry (well, he had ridden from Neuss!) so after his two full-size cake pieces he ordered the most filling of all, the rich chocolate cake. Amazing capacity!

Rich chocolate cake

We were also of course having drinks and lots of conversation – it was really nice!

After we had paid for the cakes (prices are really keen!) we were theoretically leaving but instead everyone stood around and chatted for nearly an hour!

Photo by Klaus

Finally we managed to extricate ourselves from the cake zone.

The route back was a different one, heading through Aengenesch and then Hartefeld, Winternam, Kerken and Stenden. There was a very strong headwind full in the face which was a bit annoying!

Photo by Robert/Feldhasenschreck
Photo by Klaus/KLKöln
Photo by Klaus/KLKöln

It also looked as though there might be some rain, but we got back to our house in the dry.

The contingent cycling to Neuss/Düsseldorf headed on after just a few minutes’ break and we then observed the loading of velomobiles onto trailers and waved goodbye to our guests.

Two velomobiles on a trailer pulled by a Smart!

Klaus and I both really enjoyed meeting up with Velomobilists again and spending time chatting to old friends. We hope we can do a similar ride before too long.

Some more trips by bike

Klaus, Malcolm and LaPaDu

Klaus went alone to LaPaDu (Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord) when I was out having a meal with my former work colleagues.

He took some pictures with his iPhone so here they are for your delectation:

Velomobiles in the Netherlands at last!

Klaus and I also together did a 62km cake ride to one of our favourite cafes, Jacobs just outside Straelen, but took a route which had a short section in the Netherlands, including crossing the Maas twice.

It has been so long since we have ridden in the Netherlands, at least a year, so it was wonderful to visit again!

Here wer are in the queue for the first river ferry.

We arrived 15 minutes early to Jacobs as we had been quicker than expected, but sat outside enjoying the sunshine.

And then it was time to enjoy the cake. As I had been in the Netherlands I ordered a raspberry rice cake as they have the rice cake quite a lot in NL.

Klaus had an Apple Wine cake which he liked very much!

Triking to Papperlapapp

We decided one Sunday to do a trike ride and I didn’t feel too energetic so a 30km round trip would do the trick. The café Papperlapapp in Tönisvorst-Vorst has very good cake selections so we decided to go there.

Here is the view in my wing mirror…

And here is the view of my cake!

And Klaus had something very tasty too.

We didn’t notice our landlord and landlady Frank and Gudula in the queue for ice cream in Vorst – we just sailed past them! They should have followed us for excellent cake as they had to wait about half an hour to be served!

Ride with Lara to Tönisvorst

One weekend when Lara was staying with us we suggested a cycle ride on the Sunday morning and she was game for that. She would ride my trike and I would follow along behind slowly in the Velomobile. Lara also had to borrow my shoes but they are fine for cycling.

It was a nice day so we decided to do a route towards Süchteln and then stop for cake in St Tönis,

I had an alternative track as the route that Klaus and Lara would take on the trikes wouldn’t always be suitable for the velomobile due to gates etc. But I rode with them most of the way, I just had about 4km of diversions in the 40km ride.

It’s been a long time since I had ridden the Bahnradweg between Süchteln and St Tönis. It’s become rather overgrown and also very bumpy in places.

It was also a surprisingly windy day – the flags on Lara’s/my trike were standing straight out the side.

We arrived at the St Tönis Obsthof and treated ourselves to cake. Klaus and I had the ever-wonderful Himmelstorte.

Lara had Pflaumenkuchen which she likes.

We all enjoyed the ride and although cycling a Milan at 16 km/h isn’t its usual métier, it was fine and I had the motor switched off the whole time so I used 100% my leg power.

Cake with Babs/Bella

It’s been almost two years since I saw my friend Babs. Actually, her name is Bella, Babs was a nickname and I will now be referring to her as Bella as it makes more sense for a grown woman!

Anyway, we arranged to meet at the St Töniser Obsthof again and I went by velomobile.

I recommended the Himmelstorte to Bella so she had a slice (as did I).

And as we ended up chatting for 3 hours (!!!!) we thought we ought to get another round of cake in. So this time I had a Heidelbeer Schmand Kuchen and Bella had a Mohnkuchen (in the background of the shot below).

They were, of course, mega tasty!

It was so lovely to catch up with Bella again and we both had lots of news. She also gave me my birthday present from last year – I was impressed she was able to find it after 14 months!!!

And a random photo – Klaus took this picture of Kempen whilst he was waiting for me to eat my ice cream one evening when we went there by trike. Kempen is such a lovely town!

I reached my weight loss goal!

I reached my weight loss goal of 75kg last month but decided to go a little under to give me some wiggle room.

It’s really interesting looking back at my weight figures in Apple Health from before I started Keto/Low Carb eating. Here is December 2017, hitting the scales at 113.2 on average.

I think it was January 2018 that I started with Keto/Low Carb, but went into it fairly gently. I was still eating breakfast at this time, but it worked well and I was slowly reducing my weight. I wasn’t counting calories or anything like that, just reducing the carbs that I ate. A year later I was down 7kg, having had a bit of a Christmas excess.

It was after this that I started the intermittent fasting (16:8), where I only eat over an 8 hour period and fast for the other 16 hours. In other words, my first meal of the day is lunch at 12:30 or later and my last food is 20:30.

Without doing the Keto/low carb diet there is no way I could do without breakfast. I used to wake up really hungry every morning and I would HAVE to have breakfast or I would feel starving and maybe a bit faint. If you eat very few carbs the hunger pangs go away and you can function perfectly well without food, which enables you to start thinking about reducing the amount of hours in a day when you are grazing food!

Intermittent fasting helped me lose more weight, and then in order to shift the final stubborn kilograms in late October I started tracking what I ate on an App (Yazio) to really learn what worked for me and what didn’t. Last month we bought some new weighing scales which measure body fat etc but the most notable thing about them was they weighed us as 550g heavier than the other scales, so they are not a perfect comparator to weights several months ago (or you subtract 550g from the weight the scales show).

And this is where I have ended up, at my goal weight or a bit under to give me some wiggle room.

Still lost weight in August despite mega cake-eating at wedding

Klaus has also been losing weight and is now actually below where he wants to be so he is working out what extra food he should have in the day to keep his calories up. We both feel very fit and it’s nice to be able to shop in normal clothing shops too!

After the wedding

As mentioned above, Klaus and I got married this month and I wrote a separate blog post about it… Reader, I married him.

Our wedding was on the Friday and the next day, Saturday, we entertained my mum and sister by letting them have a corona test in Kempen and then doing a bit of Saturday morning shopping.

Anna bought a dress and we wandered around, also visiting some of the very pretty side streets in Kempen.

Photo by Klaus

In the evening we went out for another nice meal, this time at Büskens in Wachtendonk. It was our first time there since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic so we were pleased to see he had survived.

Mum and Anna had a flight fairly early on Sunday so we left Heskeshof at 7 am for the drive to Cologne Airport which was much easier than when we collected them (1 hour travel time instead of 2 hours) but we got stuck in stationary traffic on the way home. Anyway, the flight home for them was also delayed but they made it back eventually and both had a date with their Day 2 Corona Tests the following Tuesday! These are done at home and then posted in the special Royal Mail Priority Post Boxes to the lab who do the test and then inform the person and the government of the results.

Overall Mum and Anna had a great time visiting Germany and we were lucky with the weather too. It was great to see them and the plan is that they will come over for Christmas this year (postponed from last year) so we are already looking forward to that.

A note about this blog

We have had many good wishes for our wedding from friends and from people on the Internet – it’s lovely to be able to share my life in Germany with my readers and I hope that you all find it interesting. After 89 months in Germany I don’t have that many new experiences but daily life here is rich and varied and I hope to continue to have things to write about for many more years!

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Filed under Cycling in Germany, Millie the Milan GT Carbon, Six Wheels In Germany, Velomobiles

Reader, I married him…

Yes, Klaus and I have just got married!

However, this is not just a short blog post about it, as if anyone has ever wondered how easy it is for two divorced people from different countries to get married in Germany, now you can learn the answer – not that easy!

Engagement

Klaus completely took me by surprise when he proposed to me on the way to a holiday in Berlin in October 2019. We had had some conversations in the past about our future plans and he had told me that marrying again was not his plan (his divorce was still in progress at the time anyway). We had discussed it as I was trying to arrange my dual citizenship because of Brexit and marriage would have given me more rights, but it was clear that his divorce would take a while so it probably wouldn’t be a solution for us anyway. Which it wasn’t – I got my citizenship before Klaus was even divorced and we would have had to be married for two years before I could claim citizenship through marriage, so long, long after Brexit was complete.

So I had no expectation that he would propose… and yet he did! After giving it some thought (only for form’s sake, I knew the answer straight away) I answered him “yes”.

While we were in Berlin we went to visit our friend Rebecca on the Baltic island of Usedom. Rebecca is a jeweller (Goldschmiedegalerie) and could make us our wedding rings. She has a range of jewellery which incorporates elements of architecture in the Baltic houses on Usedom and I thought this design idea would work well for rings for us, but using our names (both 5 letters) instead of the architectural designs. I had some ideas and explained them to Rebecca and she set to work to design the rings.

Suggested lettering for the ring

As you can see above, our names are included in gold on a silver base.

And here was my ring when completed, the ‘ele’ of Helen visible on the left and ‘Klau’ visible on the right:

Photo by Rebecca Grob, Goldschmiedegalerie

Here are both of our rings together. Klaus’s (on the left) is significantly larger. In the photo they show signs of tarnish as they have been in the ring box for ages – we cleaned and polished them up before the wedding!

Of course, in England Engagement Rings are a big thing, but they are not so important in Germany so Klaus wasn’t planning to get me one. However, he wanted to buy me something nice for Christmas 2019 (he was thinking about earrings) and we happened by a high quality jeweller in Kempen, Ophir Box, who had beautiful, simple rings. I suggested to Klaus that an engagement ring would be a rather nice thing and so he went along with the plan.

I love rubies and we spent a good hour with the jeweller looking at various stones, ring settings etc and I ended up choosing an engagement ring with a ruby that was already set in another ring (he took it out and set it in the ring design of my choice). It was such a beautiful red colour, whereas rubies are often rather pink. It was not in any way cheap but is beautiful and I have been proud to wear it throughout our engagement and will continue to wear it now.

And here are all three rings together.

So, we were engaged, we had the engagement and wedding rings… now to get married.

Paperwork for marriage

I have mentioned before that I read the Toytown internet forum for expats in Germany and there are innumerable tales on this forum of people having real difficulties getting the paperwork to get married in Germany.

As I had been previously married in the UK and was a British Citizen when we started looking into this, it was clear it would be rather difficult.

The problem is that many German Standesämter (Registry Offices) provide a huge list of documents which are required, some of which don’t exist in the UK. They usually have to be certified copies of documents which are less than 6 months old, must often have an Apostille (official stamp from some other British authority!) and be translated. What often seemed to happen was that one document did not come through and so all the others go out of date. I read stories of people who spent up to 2000 Euro on documents and still didn’t have everything required for marriage in Germany.

Here’s the information from a very informative website:

Requirements and documents:

Both partners will most likely need:
* A valid passport
* An official birth certificate
* Proof of a minimum of 21 days of continuous residence in Germany (this can be a Meldebescheinigung issued by the local Anmeldeamt)
* Proof of being single (Ledigkeitsbescheinigung)
* Birth certificates of children (if any) the couple may have had together
* The required application and questionnaire from the Standesamt

One or both partners may have to provide the following depending on their particular circumstances and the requirements of the local magistrate’s office:
* Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) (Befreiung vom Ehefähigkeitszeugnis)
* Marriage certificates from previous marriages
* A financial statement
* Persons who were previously married must present either a death certificate for the former spouse or proof that the marriage was permanently dissolved by divorce. The former is usually no problem; the latter a rock on which many marriage plans have been wrecked. A simple divorce decree from a British court is usually not enough. Proof probably will be required that this decree can no longer be contested. It is usually necessary to get a statement to this effect from the court that granted the divorce.

Certified translations of non-German language documentation may also be required and many documents’ issue dates shouldn’t be older than six months.

If either one of the partners is a foreigner documents may be sent to a higher regional court in order to verify the legal status of that person.

https://www.howtogermany.com/pages/marriage.html

The overwhelming advice on Toytown was “get married somewhere else!”

The top choice was Denmark as it is easy to get to from Germany and their paperwork requirement is not too taxing. So Klaus and I were initially planning to get married in Denmark – once his divorce had come through.

But then things changed again – Germany no longer accepts marriages that take place in Denmark.

So the next possibility was Gibraltar, as it counts as the UK but you only have to stay there one night. We could have got married in the UK but would have to be there for three weeks and Klaus and I simply didn’t have enough annual leave for that. So Gibraltar was a good option, although slightly fiddly to get to from here.

And then came Covid… and travel became impossible.

Klaus’s divorce finally happened in February 2021 and now we could actually start trying to see if we could get married. We contacted the Standesamt Kempen and asked them what documents we would need to get married there. Things were a bit easier as I was now a German citizen, having been awarded my dual citizenship in December 2020, so this would reduce the required paperwork somewhat.

The Standesamt informed us that we needed the following documents:

Klaus:

  • eine aktuelle Abschrift aus dem Geburtenregister ausgestellt durch das Standesamt Mannheim (a current copy of the birth register issued by the Mannheim registry office)
  • eine Abschrift aus dem Eheregister mit Auflösungsvermerk, ausgestellt durch das Standesamt Heppenheim (a copy of the marriage register with notice of dissolution, issued by the registry office Heppenheim)
  • einen gültigen Personalausweis oder Reisepass (a valid identity card or passport)

Helen:

  • eine aktuelle Abschrift aus dem Geburtenregister, ausgestellt durch das Standesamt Bergisch Gladbach (a current copy of the birth register issued by the Bergisch Gladbach registry office)
  • eine Heiratsurkunde, ausgestellt durch das Heiratsstandesamt (a marriage certificate issued by the marriage registry office)
  • eine Bescheinigung gem. Art. 39 Brüssel IIa Verordnung über Ihre Scheidung ausgestellt durch das britische Gericht, welches die Scheidung ausgesprochen hat (a certificate according to Article 39 Brussels IIa Regulation about your divorce issued by the British court that granted the divorce)
  • Ihre Einbürgerungsurkunde (your citizenship certificate)
  • einen gültigen Personalausweis oder Reisepass (a valid identity card or passport)
  • Die britischen Urkunden müssen gemäß dem Haager Übereinkommen mit einer Apostille versehen sein. (British documents must be apostilled in accordance with the Hague Convention.)
  • Alle Dokumente in fremder Sprache müssen von einem vom Oberlandesgericht vereidigten Dolmetscher in Deutschland nach ISO-Norm in die deutsche Sprache übersetzte sein. (All documents in foreign languages must be translated into German by an interpreter sworn by the Higher Regional Court in Germany in accordance with ISO standards.)

This actually looked OK for me at first glance, but very soon it became clear that item 3 (non-contestable divorce decree) would be a BIG problem. Lots of googling eventually informed me that I MIGHT be able to get this document, called a D180, from the court that did the divorce. So I phoned up Bury St Edmunds Court, waited in the queue for 40 minutes (Corona times) and eventually got through to a young-sounding chap who said yes, they could provide this document. I needed to fill it in, email it back and the judge would stamp it. Eventually. Maybe after 9 weeks or so. There was no cost for this service.

He emailed me the document and I filled it in as best as I could and returned it by email 30 minutes later. And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After nine weeks I got an email from them saying:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your email.

Your divorce application is currently being dealt with by our court at Bury St Edmunds. We are currently processing correspondence received on 10/03/2021

You will need to re-send this emailand send all future correspondence to:

divorceunitbse@justice.gov.uk

Bury St Edmunds Divorce Centre
2nd Floor
Triton House
St Andrew’s Street North
Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk
IP33 1TR

The court will be able to assist with your query.

I couldn’t work out why they were asking me to re-send this email to a different address when I had replied to the original address, but I duly forwarded the email. I assumed the 9 week wait had started again. Sigh. I still wasn’t convinced I would get a usable document at the end, and as I wasn’t being charged anything for it it was rather hard to put pressure on.

So then we hit upon the idea of marrying in Scotland. This would avoid the need for 3 weeks staying in the country, and I would be getting married as a British citizen so the paperwork ought to be easier. Klaus would need his birth certificate in English so he ordered that from Mannheim. He would also need an Ehefähighkeitszeugnis (Certificate of No Impediment) from Kempen but that should be easy to get hold of. We didn’t apply for that as due to Corona we couldn’t travel to Scotland anyway, but we started looking into it – firstly at Oban (my Dad loved it the Isle of Mull) and then at Gretna Green because, well, Gretna Green.

Divorce and Prenup

Klaus’s divorce finally took place in February 2021 and he was free to marry again, hurrah! It turned out to be very expensive for him and his ex-wife, their divorce in total costing 8 times more that the combined cost for James and I, and their assets were significantly less than those of James and I. German lawyers…

We got in contact with a Notar (Notary Public) to prepare an Ehevertrag (Pre-Nuptial Agreement) as we both wanted to take all financial issues away from the marriage. We would both keep all our money and assets separate during our marriage and if we ended up divorcing everything would already be agreed. The Notar is surprisingly expensive in Germany as it is means tested, but we weren’t quoted a price at all, I just read up a bit on it. We spoke to him over the phone for half an hour for the initial discussion and he sent through the draft document a few days later.

So the Ehevertrag was discussed and arranged. We didn’t sign it immediately as we were waiting to find out in which country we would marry as this is mentioned in the document.

And then… Corona restrictions started lifting for the UK. Maybe we could go to Scotland finally!!

Marrying over the anvil in Gretna Green?

It was time to phone up Gretna Green as it looked as though we might be able to get married in summer 2021.

I had of course done lots of googling about documents required, but spoke to the Gretna Registry Office to confirm this. And the chap said that we would need the following:

  • birth certificates
  • a divorce certificate if either you or your partner was previously married
  • a certificate that you are free to marry under the law of your own country if not normally domiciled in the UK.

I said this was all fine, Klaus could get number 3 (which is the Ehefähigkeitszeugnis or the Certificate of No Impediment) as this is available from Standesamt Kempen. But the chap on the phone said we BOTH need this document as I am not domiciled in the UK.

Argh! I wasn’t sure this was possible.

So I phoned up Standesamt Kempen and asked if I could have an Ehefähigkeitszeugnis. The lady obviously looked me up in her records as she said “no problem, you. just have to provide me with the documents I asked for in my letter of 8 March 2021, including die Bescheinigung gem. Art. 39 Brüssel IIa Verordnung über Ihre Scheidung ausgestellt durch das britische Gericht, welches die Scheidung ausgesprochen hat”. This is the document that I was failing to get from Bury St Edmunds.

So I said to the lady that I was stuck in a circle with no way out, needing this document which it seems very hard to get. She said to me, “I always wonder why the Brits find it so difficult to get this document.” This at least showed me that it wasn’t just me! And then she said “perhaps your divorce certificate will be enough. If you send it to me, with a certified translation, I will see.” I already had this document (also with Apostille) as I had it prepared for my citizenship. The document, apostille and translation were now 2 years old but the lady said that was OK. She suggested I send her scans of all the documents and she would check them through, and if they were OK I could deliver the real documents for checking later. I said that my marriage certificate wasn’t translated but she said that was OK. Fortunately I have a German birth certificate and I had already got the various documents she needed. So I sent scans of everything over and she said:

Die von Ihnen eingescannten Unterlagen reichen aus. Eine Übersetzung für Ihre Heiratsurkunde ist nicht nötig.

In other words, all my documents were in order and I didn’t need a translation for the marriage certificate (her English was obviously good enough).

Now Klaus had to send her his documents and then we could get married in Kempen if all was in order. I didn’t have to provide the document from the Bury St Edmunds Court. Phew!

Nicht Gretna sondern Kempen

Wow, this was a surprise. Kempen was back in the lead for the Race to Matrimony.

The next day Klaus sent across his documents to the lady, and then got a rather pert email in reply:

Allerdings reicht der Auszug aus dem Geburtenregister nicht aus.
Ich benötige eine Abschrift aus dem Geburtenregister, sowie Ihre Partnerin ihn vorgelegt hat.

Now Klaus has been German for 54 years and he’s pretty good at the language, but he couldn’t identify what the difference was between an Auszug or an Abschrift. Technically an Auszug is an “excerpt” and an Abschrift is a “transcript” or “copy”. Anyway, he had sent the document he had from the Geburtenregister, but apparently this wasn’t right. He compared the information on it with the information in my Abschrift which the lady said was the correct type of document and it had all the same information except for his parents’ jobs at the time of their marriage. He got quite cross about this as the whole paperwork exercise was wearing us down. He wrote a pert email back as he discovered he in fact did already have the correct document as he had ordered it when arranging the bilingual birth certificate, so he sent that document and asked the lady if she would kindly explain to us sometime the difference between the documents.

Her response was to say the documents are now all correct and we should phone her up for an appointment. She would explain the difference between the two documents when she saw us.

We phoned her, and she offered us the next week for a wedding! We thought this was a bit soon, and as she was then on holiday we fixed on 27 August. This was six weeks away and gave us time to plan and organise things a bit.

But finally the Paperwork Mountain had been conquered!

And then… three weeks later… an envelope from the UK arrived. Lo and behold it was my document from Bury St Edmunds! We didn’t need it now but at least I could prove such a thing did exist, it’s just that it took six months to get here!

Signing our Ehevertrag

When the final marriage location of Kempen was fixed we confirmed the details with the Notar and then visited in person to sign the documents, after he read them out and made a few additional comments.

We had also put a special document called a Vorsorgevollmacht mit Patientenverfügung which is a kind of medical Power of Attorney document. This was to make Klaus rather than my mother my ‘next of kin’ in case of medical emergencies or end-of-life decisions and to make me his ‘next of kin’ rather than his father, as we felt that this would make things much easier (I didn’t like to think of a German hospital phoning my Mum up and asking her if they could go ahead with treatments). It was valid immediately upon signing.

And as for the bill? All this time we didn’t know how much the Ehevertrag would cost. Various German websites gave hints but I couldn’t work out what it would be for us – potentially between 500 EUR and 5000 EUR, so that was a big gap!

The bill at a Notar is Means Tested so we had to send him information about our cash, assets and liabilities (debts) and then lo and behold the bill arrived. It was in two parts, one for the Ehevertrag and one for the Vorsorgevollmacht/Power of Attorney. The costs were different for both, and in both parts of the invoice he listed our Geschäftswert (net worth together); knowing the amounts that we sent him for cash, assets and debts, I couldn’t work out how he arrived at these two different figures. I was eventually able to work out that for the Ehevertrag the fact that Klaus still had a mortgage meant that they divided the value of his assets in half; as I had no mortgage all my assets were included in the calculation. We had assumed that the outstanding mortgage would pretty much wipe out our assets but no, not with this calculation.

The Geschäftswert for the Power of Attorney was a different figure again, about 60% of the figure he had calculated for the Ehevertrag, and I could not work out, with any combination of figures, how he achieved it. So it will always be a mystery.

The Notar has a table of figures he can use to charge, and a multiplier for different types of work, and (as with many German things) it is very complicated. Which is why I really thought he should have given us a rough estimate before we started, as we could have given him a rough idea of our assets and outstanding mortgage value. But there you go.

The total invoice from the Notar ended up at just under 1500 EUR so that was OK as we had thought it could be quite a lot more. There were other costs also to be added to the official German register for Powers of Attorney etc but overall it wasn’t too bad.

A small wedding in Kempen

We were to have a small wedding. Klaus would have his daughter there (she would need a day off school but that’s allowed for a parent’s wedding) and I invited my Mum. She was a bit nervous about all the travelling on her own so I had the bright idea of also inviting my sister who was fortunately able to get the time off work. The Ryanair flights from Stansted to Köln-Bonn Airport are 10 pounds each way. Crazy!

So it was planned for Mum and Anna to arrive on Thursday late afternoon, with the wedding at 10:30am the next morning. We also invited Gudula and Frank (our landlady and landlord) and friends Christine and Andreas from round the corner. Christine, who is an English teacher and translator among other things, said she would translate the service for my mum and sister so they knew what was going on.

I had to spring into action to sort myself out – wedding dress etc. I went to the shop Hochzeitsfee in Nettetal-Kaldenkirchen and the woman there was really great at helping me choose a dress. I knew roughly what I wanted but she gave me lots of excellent advice. I tried on three dresses and the first was great, the second not so good and the third perfect. So that was an easy choice!

She also let me try on some shoes which were lovely but at 150 € a bit steep for one day. I ended up finding some similar ones for a much more manageable price.

As I had bought a sheath dress I realised I would have to buy some helpful underwear to smooth out the residual lard (when you lose weight your skin doesn’t always shrink back properly and so I had a tendency to rolls of apparent fat around my midriff). So I spent several weeks trying various options, which all had drawbacks but eventually found some shapewear I thought would be comfortable for the whole day and which held the right bits under control.

I of course also needed accessories such as a handbag (that was easy to find), tights (tried several, found some good ones!), something to do with my hair… Klaus’s daughter Lara and I experimented with various hair things and in the end we fixed on curling it a bit using her special curler and I bought some weddingy hair clips. Lara and I had two practice-runs for the hair curling so we knew what we were doing and how long it would take. She is much more expert at this kind of thing than me.

Another problem I had was my foot suntan. As I wear cycling sandals a lot I have semi-permanent suntan marks on my feet which would show with the nice shoes. How to deal with this problem?

I decided to practice using fake tan to build up the white areas and hopefully cover the worst.

I bought some self-tanner and applied it once a day carefully on the white bits, avoiding the suntanned bits. I experimented doing just the left foot so I had a control (the right foot) to compare it to. As you can see, it was pretty successful.

I would also be wearing tights which would hide a bit more too, and I hadn’t been especially careful with the fake tan application for this test (this was 6 weeks before the wedding and the tan wears off after a week).

I considered this a successful proof-of-concept so five days before the wedding I started slowly building up the tan on both feet so that the white patches are less noticeable. I was reasonably successful!

And the wedding countdown was happening in our household – the blackboard in the downstairs hallway had the tally of how many days to go…

And then it was the day before the wedding!

Despite having only worked for 9 days in my new job I had built up over an hour of overtime so they said I could go home early on the Thursday, so that was at 11am.

I had arranged a Ferienwohnung for Mum and Anna when they came over – in fact where our original second garage was, now converted into apartments and holiday lets. I picked up my flowers from the florist and took them straight to the Ferienwohnung, along with my clothes and other bits for the wedding as I was planning to get ready there – Klaus would collect us when it was time to head to the Standesamt.

After a few hours at home having lunch and generally faffing about we set off to Cologne airport to collect Mum and Anna. Their flight was delayed and the roads were really busy so it took us 2 hours to get there but still had a short wait. It was great to see Mum and Anna.

We drove to collect Lara from Viersen (took nearly 2 hours, should be less than 1 hour) and then went straight to the restaurant Ela for a very tasty evening meal. We dropped Mum and Anna off at their Ferienwohnung, I would go round there at 8:30 the next morning for final preparations.

The wedding day

I woke up at 5am but this was to be expected. After failing to get back to sleep I decided to go for a run after a cup of tea – to burn off at least a few of the calories that I would take in later in the day!

Before I started running I decorated Klaus’s car and my Smart with some white ribbon so they looked like wedding cars – this is normal style in Britain, in Germany they tend to have lots of flower displays.

I ran my standard 5k and in a pretty good time too!

I went back to our flat and had my shower, dried my hair and dressed in normal clothes and then Lara and I headed off on foot to the Ferienwohnung where Mum and Anna were starting to get ready.

Lara curled my hair, having straightened her own the day before (yes, we always want the hairstyle that we don’t have naturally). Lara then went back to our apartment to support her father as he got ready and I faffed around opening cards and presents, before getting my dress on ten minutes before Klaus was due to pick us up.

My sister had done us an embroidery and if you look closely at it, she has got my dress absolutely correct! Mum sent her a photo of the dress and she embroidered it, including the slit above my left knee and the lacy sleeves!

Klaus picked us all up to take us to the Standesamt.

We waited outside till all our little party (of 9) were ready and then went in.

It was a short ceremony, about 20 minutes long, where the Standesbeamtin read out some thoughts about love and then we had to just say a few short words to finalise the marriage.

And then of course we exchanged rings – they were laid first on a special tray.

And then it was done! We signed the documents as required, were given copies and then we filed outside to take a few photos.

There was another bridal party waiting to go in so we headed off after five minutes to Bauerncafé Büllhorsthof in Winnekendonk where we would have some wedding cake.

We had a selection of cakes on the Etagère and they were, of course, very tasty! Here I am looking surprised at one of the 3 Etagères we had, as well as some individual portions of cake.

And here is the happy couple!

Klaus did his bit to show his support for marrying a British woman!

Here is the new family, full of cakes.

And here are my lovely flowers.

After all eating our fill of cake (and more) we headed home to rest for a couple of hours before meeting up again to go out for a luxury meal at Küppersmühle in Duisburg. As always the food, setting and service were stunning – a great evening was had by all.

When I returned to work a few days later my colleagues gave me a gift, a decorated candle (I work for a candle manufacturer):

We are feeling very loved and we had a wonderfully relaxed wedding day. I am really happy to be married to Klaus and I look forward to many years of contentment together.

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Filed under Recumbent Trikes

Six Wheels in Germany – July 2021 (Month 88)

Activities this month

Running

I first started running in July 2020, on July 27 to be specific. This was the Couch to 5k programme and I had no idea if I would complete it – I didn’t know if running would be for me.

Turns out I got on well with the Couch to 5k scheme and have continued running ever since.

My old Hoka One One running shoes had covered over 600km so I decided it was time to get some new ones. I liked the old ones so much that I bought the newer version for this year – a lovely colour!

For July this year I decided my challenge would be that every run I did would be 5k. I usually run for half an hour (which is 4k at my speeds) but I wanted to see if I could run 5 kilometres three times per week for a whole month.

You can see below all the runs that I did in July and I did indeed manage the 5km each time (14 runs). I am proud of this, even if I’m neither quick nor elegant.

Not only that, over the last 365 days I have run 500km!

What is also interesting to see is that my average heart rate has reduced as I have become fitter. My run today (1st August 2021) was with an average heart rate of 160 bpm and max of 168, with an easy average pace of 7:43 per kilometre, my first 5k run was on 24th October 2020 with an average heart rate of 183 and a maximum of 192 bpm and average pace of 8:14 per kilometre. So over the ten months that I have been running occasional 5k distances it has got easier, I have got faster and I am more adapted to it. We will see what progress I make in the next year.

Cycling

During our Austria trip Klaus’s gear cable snapped and so that needed to be repaired. He couldn’t find the spare gear cable he was sure he had so he ordered a new one. Once it arrived it was time to do the job – for more comfort with the trike on the garden table.

Unfortunately the new gear cable was too short! You need longer than the standard cable for trikes – we normally buy Tandem gear cables. Anyway, he ordered 3 long ones and they arrived and at this point he found the original spare cable, which was also long enough. So Malcolm was repaired and cleaned up a bit and good to go.

Now it was only Emily that was off the road and we managed to get her repaired too. We hired a closed box trailer and drove Emily up to Velomobiel.nl who removed the rear axle and changed the bit that was broken.

So we now have all four trikes/velomobiles on the road. Good times!

As the Corona restrictions have lifted slightly, plus we have both had two vaccinations, we have started cycling for cake again. On one Sunday Klaus and I decided to cycle to Bauerncafé Winthuis for cake – along with what seemed like hundreds of other cyclists!

It was our first long ride in the Velomobiles for a while so we took it easy. It was great to be out again but we both had a nasty moment with a car driver who shouted at me to get on the cycle path (not necessary) and then did a close pass with Klaus when Klaus was riding at over 40 km/h into the narrowing as he arrived at a village. We have not missed the impatient and unfriendly drivers!

A piece of cake each restored our tranquillity.

I have continued walking and Poppy the dog has now fully healed from her torn cruciate ligament so she can go on 5km walks with us too. But we left her behind when Klaus, Lara and I decided to walk to Kempen for an ice cream – and back again. This was the longest walk ever for both Klaus and Lara.

We stopped for cake at the Sylter Eiscafe to use up some vouchers my former colleagues had given me. I had Grillage torte.

It was a very hot day which Klaus and Lara both find tricky, but we all managed the long walk and burned a nice lot of calories!

Klaus and I also took the opportunity to cycle to Kempen for ice cream one warm evening.

The wonderful Eiscafe in the centre of Kempen is open again but they serve the Sundaes in paper cups now and they don’t feel as exciting like that.

Whilst out walking we have seen lots of wildlife including rabbits and hares, lots of birds of prey (buzzards and kestrels around here) and also a lot of the wild meadows have been very colourful.

Klaus has done quite a few evening rides on his own where he takes some lovely photos.

Photo by Klaus

Work and Colleagues

This month has been interesting work-wise too. I finished at my previous company officially on 30 June so from 1 July I was unemployed/job seeking.

I had an interview with a dog food company in Krefeld in June and they asked me to come in for a Schnuppertag/Probe Arbeit (to visit and see what it’s like and do a bit of work). I had kind of decided not to take the job following the interview as I felt it wasn’t a good fit but I thought it worth coming for the Probearbeit to get a better handle on the work.

The company is small and friendly and the work they showed me was all within my capabilities but I realised very early on that I would struggle to work with the other lady there as we had completely opposite work styles. She was full time and had been there for many years and very much set in her ways; it was clear to me that we would not have a successful working relationship. The boss of the company asked to think about things after my Probearbeit but in the end I wrote to say I would not be taking the job.

This was also because I got offered another job! Which I have accepted. I saw an advert in the local paper looking for an administrative worker for a local candle factory and this person needed to have special responsibility for the CRM software – this is one of my strengths and I had in fact integrated a new CRM/ERP system in my previous company last year. So I applied, I was invited to interview, I was given a second interview to meet the boss and he offered me the job there and then. It is 20 hours per week (4 per day) so slightly less than before, but with roughly the same salary per hour. It looks like a really good place and I am looking forward to starting on 16 August.

I also met up with some of my previous colleagues at Café Peerbooms in Kempen to have a catch up and to use up the voucher for cake there I had been given. I reserved a table for eight of us and was first there.

The others arrived and we all had a slice of cake and a drink and a really good chinwag. I had Käse Sahne Torte.

My former colleague Inna also brought along my Zeugnis (written reference) which I had had to chase up the boss for. I needed this for job applications etc. He finally signed it and I was able to pass it on to the companies where I was applying for jobs.

Berlin Berlin

Klaus and Lara and I had planned to spend the last week in July in England, visiting my Mum. Because of Corona this seemed very unlikely and so we decided to make alternative plans. Top choice was to visit Berlin as we all love the city.

So on a warm Saturday we set off in Klaus’s car to Berlin with the now-traditional detour to Tangermünde Kaffeerösterei to buy coffee. We would normally also eat cake but their café was still shut because of Corona, but there are other cafés in Tangermünde so we would probably not starve.

It was a five and a half hour drive to Tangermünde and as we left home at 9:30am we needed to find somewhere for lunch first (we don’t eat breakfast). We decided to head for a Burger King near Hannover as they do a relatively low-carb burger. However, some googling showed us that the ‘normal’ services past Hannover (Altwarmbüchen) had closed their Burger King so we would have to stop somewhere else. I found a Burger King a short way off the motorway at Garbsen so we headed for that.

We ended up following the SatNav to a large shopping centre but found some parking and found the Burger King – which was closed! Metal shutters down to the ground and no sign of anyone. So we decided to go to the Edeka supermarket in the shopping centre and buy a salad. They had a well-stocked salad bar so we were able to choose what we wanted and the cost for the three of us was less than the cost of one salad at a small café we had walked past. We ate the salads in the car in the car park which is hardly scenic. As we walked back past the Burger King it was opening – at 12:15 so rather a weird time!

Then it was back on the Autobahn for another two hours to Tangermünde, with me driving this time. we were off the main A2 motorway after a while and driving along the Bundesstraße 189 which turned into the A14 (Autobahn), then went back to being a Bundesstraße. The SatNav in Klaus’s Octavia had bits of motorway displayed that did not yet exist which meant it was useful we were navigating with Google Maps.

It is really interesting driving through the villages on the way to Tangermünde. We drove through Colbitz which every time I read as Colditz… and by the way, for the Brits reading this, did you know the Germans know almost nothing about Colditz? Also they don’t know the Sound of Music. And for Germans, did you know that we don’t know about Dinner for One at New Year? And Mr Bean isn’t much of a thing in Britain.

Anyway, after Colbitz/Colditz we drove through Dolle, Lüderitz, Hüselitz, Bellingen and Grobleben, before arriving at Tangermünde. These small villages, some were just hamlets, were like a time travel back into the DDR times. We saw no-one in these villages, and wondered what work they had – and how far they would have to travel to the supermarket or any other shops (presumably to Tangermünde).

We parked in Tangermünde and then walked to the Kaffeerösterei where Klaus bought a good stock of coffee, and then we headed back down the pretty high street to find some cake. We were successful.

Similar to Himmelstorte which I buy in Tönisvorst, this was called Himmel und Hölle (Heaven and Hell). It was heavenly.
Klaus and Lara both had a slice of this

After the cake it was time for the final two hours to Berlin. This was mainly along the B5 and it is fascinating to see how bare the whole area is – there seem to be kilometres and kilometres with nothing but arable crops or sunflowers, except for the good-quality road we are driving along.

From the outskirts of Berlin (Falkensee/Spandau) it is mostly a straight road directly into the centre of Berlin. The traffic wasn’t bad either, we were cruising at a reasonable pace between traffic lights!

We arrived at our apartment, the same as we used when visiting last year, but this time with an Executive Apartment as it allowed an extra bed for Lara. However, overall we preferred the apartment last year as it had a balcony looking over the road outside which allowed lots of people-watching whilst drinking tea. Our balcony was very small (we couldn’t sit on it) and looking into the Innenhof, so nothing much to see.

Klaus parked the car in the underground car park just down the road – we had registered for a special parking card thingie that meant it would cost just 6 Euro per 24 hours, which was a better option than the original plan to take the car to Schönefeld Airport long-term parking and then get the bus/train back, which would have added an hour or so to the journey. That would have been 25 EUR for the week but we were happy to find the good value option near the hotel which means we could also use the car during the week if we needed to (which was not expected).

After a cup of tea and a short rest it was time to go to the supermarket to buy dinner and lunch for tomorrow (Sunday). We walked to the REWE Markt in Quartier 205, Friedrichstraße, and found some salads and a few other bits and bobs. However, I fancied something a bit more hearty, having done a 5k run in the morning before we headed off, so I walked down to Checkpoint Charlie to buy a KFC…

It was my first KFC for a year and I had no idea what was a good option on the menu but found a 5 Euro box which had two chicken burgers, a chicken leg, small fries and a small drink.

I had to sit outside (as I was not yet 14 days since my second vaccination) so found somewhere to perch and watched people walking around whilst eating my KFC, which I did indeed enjoy! Klaus and Lara had gone back to the apartment to eat their salads.

Berlin is much busier than when we were there last summer when Corona was becoming more of a thing. There were loads of people out and about walking, eating meals and the feeling of life was back to the city, which was lovely to see!

We went out for a walk in the evening plus an ice cream.

There was a Christopher March/Pride event going on at the Brandenburg Gate so that was interesting to see, and then we walked round the back of the Reichstag and down Friedrichstraße, then to Bebelplatz back to the hotel. Well, I went straight back but Klaus and Lara visited Gendarmenmarkt for some Blaue Stunde photography.

Photo by Klaus

The next day was Sunday where most things are shut, so we decided to get a day public transport ticket and visit some sites.

As it was forecasted to be hot again we decided to go earlyish in the morning to Gesundbrunnen to visit again the Flakturm. Klaus and I had visited it last year and talked to Lara about it. So off we went by bus to Wedding where we changed to an S-Bahn to Gesundbrunnen. But first we did some Wedding photography.

We got the S-Bahn to Gesundbrunnen and then walked up the steps to the Flakturm.

Here is a bit of information in English about these flak towers. We have also watched a couple of videos about the towers and their design purpose. They apparently had room for almost 40,000 citizens to shelter there during the bombing! It’s hard now to see what is there as there are trees all round it but from the top you have good views over Berlin.

We walked down again and decided it was definitely time for lunch as we were all peckish, so we got the S-Bahn and then U-Bahn back to our Apartment and ate a salad.

Klaus had bought all-day travel tickets for us so we planned to do another journey in the afternoon, this would be taking the bus number 100 from one end to the other of its route as it goes past lots of interesting sights. We had hoped the bus would have air conditioning (sadly not!).

So first of all we caught the bus to Alexanderplatz where we had a short walk around but it was very quiet and bare due to it being a Sunday. I was pleased to see lots of Pride rainbows around though.

Klaus also took the photo below of one of the hundreds of e-scooters that we see lying around. However, I must say that we see an awful lot of them in use too. It seems that in Berlin they may be successful, particularly as lots of roads are now closed to cars and are just for bikes/scooters.

Photo by Klaus

They can, of course, be a bit of a menace, although I would say the vast majority of users seem to be using them sensibly. What is a problem is people riding them on pedestrian-only pavements and also young kids riding too fast. The Terms & Conditions say that you need a Haftpflichtversicherung which means that people under 18 aren’t allowed to ride them but we saw vast quantities of kids riding them so they obviously ignore that.

We also saw a scooter accident which was a classic. We were walking along the pavement and were overtaken on the pavement by two young kids on scooters. They were going much to fast, passed very close to us, and then came to a corner – and at that moment a cyclist also rounded the corner (also on the pavement). The scooters couldn’t stop and so one crashed into the cyclist. He was annoyed but seemed OK. But he also should not have been on the pavement! If they had been on the road this would have been fine (and the road here was very quiet, hardly any cars).

Anyway, back to the tour. We then got on the bus number 100 and wound our way along Unter den Linden, round the back of the Reichstag and then along the Tiergarten to Zoologische Garten. I had found what looked like a promising café for cake so this was our destination, an 800 metre walk from the end of the bus line.

We passed these giant ducks – no idea what they were about!

It was pretty warm now and so we were relieved when we found the cake shop and could sit down. The cake shop was next to a Shisha bar so our cakes were experienced from a cloud of steam from the bar next door but they still tasted good. I had a chocolate pistachio mousse cream torte:

And Klaus went for a cheesecake which he said was excellent.

We got the S-Bahn back from Savignyplatz to Friedrichstraße where we changed to the U-Bahn for two stations south; I planned to stop at Französische Straße but didn’t realise it had been closed in 2020 so we continued on to Stadtmitte. The entire station is no longer as there has been a new station called Unter den Linden created at the join of Friedrichstraße and Unter den Linden and the previous station called Unter den Linden, much further west than Friedrichstraße, has been renamed Brandenburger Tor. This makes sense but was a bit of a surprise! We then had a longer-than-expected walk back to our apartment due to the train not stopping where I expected.

After a bit of a relax it was time to head off for our evening meal at an Italian we had seen just off Friedrichstraße. As we stepped out of the hotel the rain started and we very quickly had to wait in a kind of covered passage for the rain to ease a bit before we ran across the road and to the restaurant. It was lucky it was only 400 metres away!

We had some nice Italian food and Klaus had a beer.

The rain continued for a good hour and a half but had stopped when it was time for us to go home, all feeling very stuffed with good food! Klaus suggested a walk to Potsdamer Platz but Lara and I were both feeling a bit tired so we went back to the apartment.

Our plan for the next day was shopping in Mall of Berlin. Klaus needed a new suit as his existing ones are too big, and Lara wanted to get some decent smart shoes. Mall of Berlin would hopefully provide all the shopping opportunities we require!

It is a walk of just one and a half kilometres from where we were staying so we trooped off in the morning to hit the shops.

The first shop was Peek & Cloppenburg where Klaus found himself a rather nice suit. The trouser legs were a bit long so the in-store tailor came to measure him up and would shorten the legs for us so we could pick up the completed trousers three days later.

We also looked at some shoes for Lara and found some good ones but needed to try on a few more first so she was sure they were the best.

Suit and shoes had taken a while so we decided to walk back for our salad lunch (Lara and Klaus had salad left over, I bought one on the walk back). Then it was time to return to Mall of Berlin for the next shopping stage.

What was really noticeable to us was how much busier the Mall was than when we were there last year in June when there was hardly anyone there. To be honest, it feels like Berlin has returned to normal (apart from everyone wearing masks). I also heard a LOT of American accents so I don’t know if this is tourism again or if it is Americans who live over here.

Klaus was also successful with shopping, buying a couple of shirts, some zip-off trousers, some trainers and of course his suit. We bought Lara’s shoes and a few small bits and bobs for me, and then walked back to our apartment again. We decided we needed some cake on the way back though so stopped at an Einstein Café in Friedrichstraße. These cafes are everywhere as they are a chain so not necessarily the best food but my New York Cheesecake was tasty, even if it collapsed a bit.

Klaus had a standard raspberry slice.

Friedrichstraße is an important north-south road that cuts through the centre of Berlin. What is rather lovely is that they have pedestrianised a long section of it south of Unter den Linden and it now just has two bike lanes. The saved space beside the road (which no longer has cars parked) now has benches, street vendors, seating areas for cafes and static displays from shops in mini greenhouse-like structures.

It makes Friedrichstraße a much nicer place to be and there are loads of people walking around looking in shop windows – I imagine footfall has increased significantly.

Photo by Klaus

We went back to the apartment and tried on the various things we had bought. One of my items would have to be returned so I decided to take it back there and then whilst Klaus and Lara chilled out. So I did another walk back to Mall of Berlin, exchanged my item and then walked back again.

Klaus cooked dinner for us (scrambled egg with smoked salmon) and then we decided to go out for an ice cream. There was an Eiscafé in Gendarmenmarkt round the corner so we went there – but it was shut. We walked on and ended up in the Nikolaiviertel and then at Alexanderplatz where I bought an ice cream from a stand. Klaus’s back was hurting rather at this point so he had to sit down for a bit.

Alexanderplatz by Klaus

The new Stadtschloss/Humboldforum is now open – it was still under construction last year.

Photo by Klaus
photo by Klaus

By the end of the day my watch told me I had walked quite a long way (Monday, the previous day on the screenshot below). 24.6 kilometres!

The next day we had pre-booked tickets to tour Tempelhof Airport in the late afternoon. The morning was free so we made another visit to Mall of Berlin to return the trainers Klaus had bought as they turned out to be overpriced. In the end he managed to negotiate with the lady that she refunded him the difference from the online price from this shop. She was very grumpy about it and said he should have checked the price before he bought the trainers – but he didn’t know what he was going to buy before he went into the shop!

We wandered around a few other shops and then headed back, picking up our lunch on the way so we had another salad lunch in our apartment.

We then took the U6 tube south for the three stops on the “Kurzstrecke Ticket” to Mehringdamm. This train ticket is just 2 Euros so we went for that and walked a bit further to save money! From Mehringdamm we walked to Bergmannstraße where we wanted to have tea and cake. The place we ate at last year with fab cakes said on its website that it was closed but I wasn’t sure as that seemed a bit unlikely; we had found another café further up the road so were aiming for that one, but as we passed Frau Behrens Torten it was indeed open. So we had cake.

Chocolate Ganache Torte
Himbeer Marzipan Torte
Blueberry Cheesecake / Heidelbeer Käsekuchen

We sat outside looking at Bergmannstraße which is a busy road in the Kreuzberg area – there were lots of people and different shops, including several vintage clothing shops.

Lara and I went and looked around one second hand clothes shop. The place was huge and stuffed full of clothing including ball dresses, winter coats, shoes, everyday clothes… but it was hard to find the sizes of the clothes you were looking at, or the price. We spent nearly an hour in there but came out empty handed.

Our next event was the tour of Tempelhof Airport. Klaus and I had visited last year but not done the tour and we thought it would be worthwhile – it was!

Tempelhof was built by the Nazis and is a huge building with over 7000 rooms. It has been changed over time, including some of the more impressive Nazi architecture being toned down, for example by lowering the ceilings. Here is the main entrance hall, 100 metres long.

We then went outside where you can see the huge arms that go either side of the centra building, with a roof over them. The people flying in to Tempelhof would not get wet when getting out of the planes!

Photo by Helen
Photo by Klaus

There were also aircraft hangars built in to the massive two arms of the building with huge doors.

Photo by Klaus

There is normally a Rosinenbomber plane standing outside but it had been moved as they were preparing for a Formula E race the next day. You can just see it in the distance in this photo, below the tall white radar tower.

Here is looking back at the central building.

And the building curving away to the other side.

We walked up one of the towers built into the structure (which was meant to make it look a bit like a fort). This tower was one used by the Americans and it had not only a bowling alley in it but also a basketball court.

Unfortunately as you can see from the photo the roof now leaks so they have to put down plastic sheeting. The guide also told us that they have calculated that the changes the Americans made were actually too heavy for the structure so it is not safe to walk on that floor now either.

Americans so unfamiliar with European football (Soccer) that they can’t spell it!

We then went below to a room which is above the false ceiling of the main entrance hall. This entrance way was originally 12 metres higher than it now is as the Americans put in the false ceiling. This was the real ceiling above, damaged by smoke from some of the WW2 fighting, and then with the marble column cladding removed to be used in other places which were visible to the public. Apparently this room was used in the Hunger Games films.

Photo by Helen
Photo by Klaus

We were then taken to the air raid shelters which were designed for people to shelter for 30 minutes, although in reality they were sometimes there for three days. With no toilets! There were moralistic messages painted on the walls of the rooms. Here you see the painting on the wall to show where the gas overpressure line is.

One of the gas lines to ensure positive pressure in the air raid rooms.

The tour was two hours in total and is well worth it – we walked a fair way and learned a lot about Tempelhof. My father flew his light plane into Tempelhof just before it closed so there is a small bit of family history involved for me.

We took another Kurzstrecke U-Bahn ticket back towards home, getting off at Checkpoint Charlie so we only did the 3 stops (the “short distance ticket”) and then wandered back looking for a restaurant – we found an Italian and had a nice meal, following up with an ice cream in Gendarmenmarkt. Although we had done a lot of walking it was less for me than the previous day – only 17,000 steps or 12.9km in total.

The next morning I went for my second run in Berlin.

This was a similar route to last time but running a bit further west so I turned just before the Siegesäule. On the way back I passed the memorial to murdered homosexual people which had huge flower displays laid before it. I had been impressed to see the pride flags flying outside the British and American Embassy buildings on Unter den Linden, it is good to see that there has been some progress made at least since WW2!

I enjoyed my 5k run and was happy to have burned the calories as we were going out for a posh sushi meal in the evening!

We did our shopping for our salad lunch and made and ate our lunch and then afterwards went by bus and tram to Hackescher Markt, which is a series of boutique shops in a rabbit warren of buildings.

Klaus got sidetracked by a nice watch shop but was eventually able to tear himself away.

We wandered around some vintage and second hand clothes shops and stopped for tea and a small piece of brownie before heading back to our apartment to get ready for the sushi meal. We dressed up smartly for this and then had to walk quite a long way to U-Bahn stations and then at the other end to the restaurant so my feet were complaining a bit. But the fantastic food at Sticks & Sushi made it well worth it – we can heartily recommend this restaurant.

The next morning we decided to make the most of our remaining 24 hour Public Transport card and so got the S-Bahn to Schlachtensee in the south west of Berlin, almost at Wannsee, to walk around the Schlachtensee lake.

Photo by Klaus
Photo by Klaus

It’s a good 5km round and we saw lots of people swimming as well as joggers, dog walkers, cyclists, people pushing prams and more.

We stopped for a cuppa when we returned to the town near Schlachtensee and I enjoyed some Quarkbällchen.

After a nice relaxing sit outside a bakery to drink our drinks we headed back on the train. I am rather pleased with this photo where you can see Klaus and Helen reflected in Lara’s sunglasses!

We returned to the centre of Berlin, stopping off at Mall of Berlin for Klaus to collect his suit trousers which had been altered to fit, and picking up our salad for the day.

We had a lazy afternoon (well, Lara went out walking on her own) as we were going relatively early to Potsdamer Platz to meet Lara and Lars, our landlady’s children, for a curry.

We met at the restaurant Amrit at Potsdamer Platz – this was a huge Indian restaurant with lots of outside seating. We were sitting outside as Lara cycled there on her posh bike and wanted to keep an eye on it – the last time we met for a curry in Berlin her bike was stolen!

Here are Lars, Lara and me.

And here are the rest of us.

We had a lovely evening and then walked back, admiring Lars’s new car on the way (a BMW 1-Series) and I stopped off at the British Embassy for a photo.

Klaus also took some more great pics of Friedrichstraße/Unter den Linden.

Photo by Klaus

And also of Mall of Berlin.

Photo by Klaus

We picked up an ice cream on the way back to the hotel, so our evening meal was very high carbohydrate (I had a Naan bread and rice with my curry). That meant I had a not-so-comfortable night as I struggle to digest lots of refined carbs these days…

And the next morning was my running morning, the last of my challenge to run 5 kilometres three times per week in July. But I managed it!

Lara decided to do her own thing that morning so Klaus and I went off for a bit of a walk with the aim to find him some new jeans. Rather than making our fifth visit to Mall of Berlin we decided to head to Alexanderplatz for the shops instead. We walked there and passed the new Museumsinsel U-Bahn station which was being built last time we were here.

We also were able to go into the new Stadtschloss which was also still being built last year. It’s a huge new building but with a fascia and the back in the old style (the side elevations are modern). Klaus did some of his excellent photography again.

Photo by Klaus

My more normal offering is below, a view from inside the Stadtschloss.

I liked the trumpets in the relief!

Photo by Klaus

And here we are.

Klaus also did some photography outside. As you can see, we weren’t that far from the Fernsehturm!

We were successful in C&A and managed to find Klaus a pair of jeans and a pair of casual trousers – but in a smaller size than before. He, too, has lost weight and his current trousers were all a bit too large. He thinks it’s at least 30 years since he was able to fit into trousers this small.

We walked back to the apartment for our salad lunch and then had a bit of a relax. Lara came back later, having explored alone, visiting an English bookshop and more. She had eaten lunch whilst out and about.

We were meeting with Klaus’s friend Istvan that afternoon. Istvan had been working in Berlin for six months or so and his family had moved to Berlin to join him two days before our visit. They lived in Roermond before and we had visited them on our Round the Netherlands Velomobile tour in 2019. It was good to see them again and they had provided a good selection of cakes!

It was really good to speak to Istvan and his wife, particularly about their experiences registering in Germany having previously lived in the Netherlands. Istvan is also doing a rather dramatic shake-up of a company in Germany, bringing the Dutch can-do attitude to what sounds like a traditional German company which is perhaps wary of change. Interesting times for him! Their two children will be going to an International school for the two years that Istvan is seconded to Berlin.

After a very enjoyable afternoon we headed back, picking up dinner for the evening on our way (salad with chicken, mushrooms and onions). After the salad it was time for our traditional evening walk.

This time I decided to have a go on one of the Electric Scooters which are everywhere in central Berlin.

It was actually good fun and I got on better with it than expected (seeing as I have ridden 3-wheeled bikes for the last 12 years). Klaus and Lara both also had a go.

After six minutes on the scooter (which totalled 2,14 €) it was time to park it and go back to walking! We wandered along the Spree and looked back at the Reichstag. You can see the difference between my photo and Klaus’s (he has the iPhone 11 Pro and uses a special app and HDR and filters).

Photo by Helen
Photo by Klaus

He took this lovely photo of Lara as well!

Looking at the Stadtschloss from beside Museumsinsel.

Photo by Klaus

Then it was back to the hotel for a cuppa before bed. The next day we were driving home.

Our journey back was easy with one stop for lunch (Burger King salad!) and then a second stop to change drivers as I was feeling tired. We were very happy to see Poppy when we got home, and to follow Lara’s triathlon that she was doing in Berlin – she got third place in the women’s middle distance triathlon. Well done Lara!

So now it is back to work for Klaus and for me to start my new job in two weeks but first… I will be heading to England in a couple of days to visit Mum as the UK now accepts European vaccination certificates. You can read about my England visit next month!

Keep safe everyone!

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