An Unexpected Treat, The Journey Home and Something about Beer! 

Beer in Cologne is sold in small glasses, 0.2litre. They don’t ask what you want, virtually as soon as you take a seat a waiter is upon you and before you can say ‘what would you like’ to your partner you are presented with a beer each and the waiter has turned a Beer mat over and made two strikes on it. It is not that they are pushy, it’s just what they expect you to want. As soon as your glass is empty another is placed before you and this goes on until you take a Beer mat and place it on top of your empty glass. The waiters work for the self so obviously it is in their interest to keep you topped up. They carry the beer in circular trays with a handle and you can fit about fifteen beers in them so there is no problem catering for the large groups that came in after their days work. Of course you can have other beers but most places sell the Kölsch Beer and certainly it is the most popular.

On Tuesday morning we set out for the Wallraf museum, not really knowing what to expect, we had come across it the previous day but of course it was closed.

After a delicious breakfast in the museum cafe we went straight to the top floor and on entering the gallery were confronted with a wall full of Caillbottes, my favourite artist.

I took this to give an idea of scale!

Of course there were other paintings as well, several Caspar David Friedrich, some lovely Pissarro, here are some that struck me especially



And this lovely portrait by Ferdinand Hodler

After seeing so many excellent 19 and 20 century paintings the other floors really needed to be seen another day but their were some good Flemish paintings, and some Frans Hals portraits which were very fine.

After lunch we went to the Design museum, sadly the 20 century department was closed but there was some lovely glassware so not a wasted journey.
We were quite frankly by this time, all Cologned out so we headed back to our hotel. 

The next morning saw us up bright and early and making our way to the airport. We kept the sun with us and although we were there too early it was a very pleasant airport and easy to get around. Our flight was on time and for the first time we weren’t flying back to Bristol but Edinburgh. It felt very strange to be driving along the ring round looking out for signs to Jedburgh etc. 

We were back nice and early so I was able to rescue Flora from the cattery that evening. It felt good to be home.


Monday down time

Whenever you are in European cities you need to plan for Mondays as all the museums are closed. We decided on a day of shopping, we being the worlds worst shoppers, but we tried our best and went to the Apple Store to look at the latest purchase Gwil has made and marvelled at the lederhosen in the department store. Other than that we drooped around town, stopping for lunch ( unexceptional but pleasant) and beer, on the way back to the hotel.

Saturday in Koln, Sunday in Aachen

We decided to spend Saturday in Cologne and put off our trip to Aachen as we wanted to get the best value from our Cologne card. We went to an antiques/ bric-à-brac market first, by chance as we were on the hunt for breakfast. Loads of cds and records, lots of Tachen books and loads of wooden type in trays that Verity would probably have made a bid for. 

After a second look around we headed back to the Ludwig museum to see their collection of 20 Century painting and some sculpture. Very good art, well displayed in the museum with plenty of space for each art work. We were feeling pretty zonked by the time we had finished so we headed down to the water front and had starters and a drink as our lunch. I had herring and Hyw had salmon, it was delicious. We decided to walk back to the hotel but in fact it was far too nice so we went to the Botanic Garden for a couple of hours. Although it was the end of the season the gardens were still looking pretty smart. Later we went to the beer garden opposite the hotel and spent some time there. As it was getting on for 6.30 we caught the bus and headed straight back to the beer hall we had eaten at the night before. We were lucky enough to get the last table. We had another splendid meal washed down with their own beer, I also had a desert of ice cream and cherries as I was craving something sweet!

On the way to the Ludwig museum, round by the station. I didn’t take any photos there as I was too busy looking at the art!

The station is right next to the Cathedral!

So much space inside the Ludwig museum.

A well earned rest before we resumed our sight seeing

The botanic gardens, just next door to the zoo

Lots more to explore but I was well aware that Hyw was somewhere!

We had already bought our train tkts to Aachen so you can imagine our dismay to wake up to a thick fog! Nevertheless, we went  and in fact about half way there the fog lifted. We were very lucky with all our connections so the journey was pretty seamless. Aachen was a pleasant town but the old quarter was fairly modest and being a Sunday, most places were shut. Still, we saw the cathedral which is a Byzantine style with hundreds of mosaics covering the ceiling and three tiers of arches going upwards, supporting the central gold mosaiced cupola, much like the Hagia Sophia but smaller. It is a Unesco world heritage site. 

Example of some of the gold work in the treasury, much of it to do with Charlemagne.

Some of the embroidered Bishops cloaks which were on display in the Treasury

We had an excellent lunch outside in a small cafe and then wandered down to the bus stop for a twenty minute wait but we were lucky with the train as there was one in the station. We are back at the hotel now having a well earned rest ( again )

Koln Zoo

After a reasonable amount of catching buses, trams and underground, twice in most instances as we always went the wrong way,  we found ourselves at the zoo. It was far too nice a day to be tramping round museums so we decided to see how well Cologne Zoo did for itself compared with others we have visited. 

It was nicely laid out, with imaginative planting and super houses and grounds for the elephants and big cats in particular. A red panda had free reign over the tree tops of his enclosure. The animals all looked in excellent condition too, especially the giraffes. Once again you will have to wait for pics as I forgot my download thingy. 

Coming back was much simpler as we did it all right first time. After a short rest we went out again to the Chocolate Museum. Not my usual sort of place but it was in a good location, opposite the hotel and on the river. After learning all there was to learn about chocolate we went for a weissbeer on the river. We were fascinated by how many people were out enjoying the sun and each other’s company. We then took the bus along to the Heumarkt and found a very good hostelry where we met an American cargo pilot and fell into conversation with him, so much so that we had a meal there as well. After he left we had a brief conversation with a local before Hyw staggered and I walked back to the hotel. He has been snoring for the past hour!

At the chocolate museum

Looking slightly bemused by the machinery

In the undergrowth! (Out of focus as my glasses were steaming up)

Back at the hotel, in the lift!

Serious business drinking, more about that later!

Trip to Cologne

Took poor old Flora to the cattery yesterday ( it’s quite nice actually ) and set off at 8am this morning for our trip to Cologne. We had to divert to St. Boswells as the road was closed at Nenthorn, we had mist and rain and then the usual stop, start journey on the ring road round Edinburgh. I thought at times we weren’t going to make it. We turned off for the airport but there are loads of long stay car parks so of course we went in two car parks before we actually found the correct one! The airport was fairly straightforward but our plane was late so all in all not a good start. On the good side it is warm and sunny here!

A Gay Social whirl!

Since our last brush with country life we have become firm devotees of the sheep, so much so that we took ourselves off to a ram sale. Now who would have thought that a Texel Ram would be worth so much money, ok £700, ok £1500 but £25000!

We have also had a visit from the Tour of Britain cycle race, these are shots I took of the event from the TV.

We have been to several film showings at the Wauchope Hall, a really excellent Yerma with Billie Piper and some local history ones, made a few years ago with first hand accounts. 

I am also involved in the play that a group of local thespians are putting on, I have chickened out of acting but will be the prompt. And finally we had the first quiz the other night and we came 2nd, one a half point behind the winners.

First Family Visit (second time around!)

I don’t know where this post went to but I was half way through and it disappeared! So this is another attempt, fingers crossed.

The family ( those that live in England) made their first visit at the end of August to see our new house. Mum came from Bexhill, was met at Victoria by Matt who then had to hurry to Kings Cross to meet up with Verity and Mo. Mums train being cancelled had left everyone feeling slightly stressed but luckily Matt had allowed for ‘mishaps’ and so they caught the train with time to spare. 

I met them at Berwick and drove home over the hills, past Mindrum and came in up the Bowmont valley. The sun was shining and the house certainly looked good. After glasses of wine, cups of tea, oohs and aahs they were suitably impressed. 

The sun shone ( a bit ) so they were able to see Kelso and the rest of the week the weather was kind to us. We did several local walks, blackberrying, and walked over to the pub at Kirk Yetham. One day we were walking along the banks of Bowmont but ran out of bank so we had to cross the river ( Maureen and I wore our shoes) in order to complete our walk. 

Maureen and Matt made a trip up to Edinburgh to catch a performance before the festival ended and we went to Melrose,             (where I discovered a wonderful cheese shop) and bought fabrics and generally had a good old explore.

A noisy meal was had at the Plough, we went to Wooler and Verity and Hyw visited the Donkey Sanctuary at her request. We did something everyday so they really got a taste of what life is like for us here in Scotland.

Mum and Matt as we were just going to The Plough

Verity at the donkey Sanctuary

Hyw tries to train a goat


A stiff walk up Venchen Hill

Waiting for food!

For some reason I cannot add anymore pictures to this post, maybe another time. Anyway, suffice to say we had an excellent time, can’t wait for Christmas to see the rest of the troops.