Monday 18 March 2013
So today is my last full day in Kempen. However the holiday has been a real success as I’ve found the area is great, I really like the Ferienwohnung (and the family who live downstairs!) and Poppy seems very at home. I have just signed the contract for renting the place for 12 months from April next year – now all I have to do is sort out all the minutiae of moving to a different country (albeit temporarily) within the next thirteen months.
But that’s getting ahead of myself. First I need to tell you all about today, a day with eight hours of sunshine, blue skies and – of course – cake!
Today was the day of Poppy’s vet visit to have her worming treatment for the pet passport. Here she is before we headed off – she looks slightly po-faced so she may have got an inkling of where we were going.
(If Gudula the landlady is reading this then no, Poppy isn’t really sitting on the sofa, it’s all done in Photoshop!!!!!)
Note that she had already said hello to the doggy and been very submissive and calm. Once they’ve gone past then she can be fierce and chase after them – because they’re not going to do anything. She’s a wimp beneath it all really!
We were twenty minutes early for our vet appointment but he was just finishing up with the previous customer (whose bill for a huge Rottweiler cross dog came to over 200 Euros) and let me go in next. He patted Poppy, gave her a worm tablet (which she ate – she doesn’t always), told me she was sweet, filled in the passport and we were done. He only charged me 11,10€ which is pretty good value (I paid 15€ in Nettetal and 32€ in Koblenz). He was a rather dishy vet and Poppy, being a girl, appreciated that.
The dog that came in afterwards was a Neapolitan Mastiff (huuuuge) which does make his statement that he is a Kleintierpraxis (small animal practice) seem a bit random as the other two animals have been enormous!
We walked back, enjoying the weather (I was actually getting a bit too hot with my coat on) and then, after a quick cup of tea, it was time to go out on my trike to make the most of the weather.
Because it had been so warm on the walk I decided to leave my waterproof cycling jacket behind and just ride with the windproof. I thought this might be a mistake but no, I was just the right temperature all day.
My plan was to cycle to see the Rhein at Uerdingen (the nearest bit of Rhein to here) but, as you can see from the map, once I got there I did a bit of detour to Willich. All will be explained in due course!
I decided it was time to get another photograph of me so stopped a couple out walking and asked them to take one. I had a nice chat with the elderly gentleman and his wife – he was pleased to identify my flag as “A Union Jack”.
The route I was following was one I’d put together using Open Streetmaps. I wondered if it would be lots of off-roading but it turned out to be a really good route – wide, smooth roads with no traffic – and I was averaging 11.5mph which is way more than I can usually do in Germany.
I was really enjoying the cycling and Alfie was going well. As I was zooming past the Stadtwald on the northern edge of Krefeld I got a text message – it was from Babs (who was at the Stammtisch on Saturday) saying she had time for a quick cuppa with me after 2pm if I fancied it. As it was 12:30 and I ought to be at Uerdingen by 1pm I texted her back to say that would be lovely if she could find a venue ten miles away from Krefeld or less (so I could get there for two).
After some back-and-forth texting we decided to meet at the Landcafé Streithof outside Willich (where we had our cuppa in December). This had the advantage of me knowing where it was as I would have to rely on my Garmin to find the way. Babs was disappointed to discover Poppy wasn’t in the basket with me so she wouldn’t have a chance to meet her.
After that I zoomed towards Uerdingen. I passed a school at chucking-out time which was rather interesting (lots of yoof trying to be cool and step in front of the recumbent trike, moving away at the last minute). Still it was all good natured and my brakes are good so I played chicken with them and they always stepped back!
The last couple of miles were on a road with tram tracks which I never enjoy but soon I found myself at the Rhein. I parked beside a flood defence and walked up the steps to see what I could see. And this was what I saw:
I cycled round the corner to Uerdingen pedestrian high street and bought a filled roll (filled with a schnitzel of course), eating it quickly before programming my Garmin to find me a way to the Streithöfe. Which turned out to be almost 10 miles away, I’d have to get a move on.
Town riding in Germany is always slower because of all the traffic lights and because you are absolutely definitely totally not allowed to cross on a red man, even if there are no cars in sight for a mile in either direction. I am a good tourist and obey this rule which means in towns with lots of major routes I spend a lot of time waiting at traffic lights. Ten miles in an hour might be a bit of a a struggle but I knew Babs wouldn’t mind waiting a few minutes for me. I had those scary tram tracks to negotiate again!
I was now heading south west into wind which wasn’t too strong but was enough to be noticed. I went through the areas of Bockum and Oppum and then reached Fischeln. Whilst waiting at some traffic lights I checked something on my Garmin. Another cyclist, an elderly chap, came up to me and asked where I was going. “Willich,” I replied.
“Krefeld?” he said, “it’s that way.”
“Krefeld is over there!”
“I have been to Krefeld, I am going to Willich now.”
“Do you mean Krefeld-Willich, it’s that way?” (pointing the way I had come).
“I have a bike Satnav,” I said, getting worn out by it all. “It says to go this way.”
“Oh, well, if you have a Satnav that’s fine!” he said, and trundled off in a different direction. Weird!
From Fischeln onwards I was in open country again on pretty fast cycle paths so was making decent time.
I arrived at Streithöfe at 2:15 which was five minutes before Babs was due to get there (she had driven from work). I had a quick glass of orange while I waited and considered the cake options.
But when Babs arrived five minutes later we decided to sit outside as it was such a lovely warm day.
It took me over an hour to eat all that! And very yummy it was too.
We spent about an hour and a half there but then I thought I really ought to be getting back as it was another thirteen miles back to Kempen and Poppy had been on her own for quite a long time.
My journey back was fabulously fast with the wind behind me and mostly fast roads. I cycled to Willich and from there headed towards St Tönis, straight through the town centre and then the speedy route back up to St Hubert. I was averaging about 16mph on the way back with the tailwind and Powered By Streusel.
I got home at 5pm and Poppy was very pleased to see me. After a short walk and some domestic chores I had a nice chat with Frank and Gudula and Frank helped me stick the headlamp deflectors on my car (which I should have put on when I arrived in Holland but I didn’t get round to it and wasn’t driving in the dark at all). We have stuck them on with sellotape as they are ones I’ve previously used and peeled off so have no sticky left. I am stingy like that!
I signed the contract for the Wohnung and met their son as well who was visiting for a meal (he lives in Mönchengladbach at the moment). It feels like I am becoming part of the family which is rather nice! Poppy certainly appreciates the attention.
Tomorrow I shall leave here at about 5pm which should give me plenty of time to drive to the Hoek van Holland for my ferry which leaves at 10:30pm. Poppy won’t be pleased when I start packing I am sure, and I suspect she’ll be disappointed to leave such a doggy paradise!
Statistics for today’s cycle ride:
Distance – 35.69 miles
Moving time – 3 hours 7 minutes
Average speed – 11.44mph
Maximum speed – 23.36mph
Average heart rate – 140
Maximum heart rate – 181
Calories burned – 1698
Climb – 292