At last a move

We have been talking about a move for a couple of years now but no-one thought we were serious and didn’t think we would actually make a move, especially to Scotland! Yes, you’ve heard it here first folks, we now live in Scotland. There are various reasons for not blogging about this before, firstly we were so busy with the sale, and getting rid of furniture and also Hyw felt it would be very much tempting fate to ‘announce it’, so I kept quiet.

The couple who bought Spencer House viewed it 3 times and made the offer fairly early in the process. The were moving from Lancaster and would be living in a caravan down in Devon so we agreed to a fairly swift exit on our part. Things worked out well as we were able to move to Mark’s cottage on the 5/6 May and in fact had made an offer on a place I had spotted on the internet, on day 3 of our house hunting (Monday rang for an appointment, Tuesday saw it, Wednesday/Thursday bought it! It has taken about 7 weeks in total to complete the sale/ purchase. 

In the meantime we have been doing lots of site seeing, Verity has been to visit, as has Mark but at last we are in 23/6/17 although our furniture won’t arrive until 11/12 July as I am off to Italy and Hyw has very kindly agreed to wait for my return!

Our first view of Coldstream and the Bowmont valley

A day trip to Melrose

A trip to Wooler and Berwick

Verity’s visit to us in Scotland

A trip to Bamburgh with Verity and some day trips to Smailhome Tower, and Scotts View

Trips to Eyemouth, and St Abb’s

A trip to Flodden, a visit to the gardens at Mindrum and the river in full spate 

The last photos are of our first two days in Bowmont House! Hyw had to sleeps on the floor as I was driving down to Bath and I needed a good nights sleep. He now faces 2 weeks without me or furniture but he does have the cat.

Catch up!

It has been a hectic few months and I see that I didn’t even finish my write ups for Paris, I shall try to make good on that one by posting my pics and hopefully remembering some of the hilights!

This was the Pantheon, which was close to where Hyw and I were staying and where each night we would stagger home for a restorative drink, not in the Pantheon itself!

This was a very old style museum, just full of bones!

We went to the Tuilleries gardens, saw the big wheel and Monets water lilies in the Orangerie, fabulous.

Of course we had to visit the jardins zooalogique and also Le Jardins des Plants ( which we were a bit early in the season for)

A visit to Norte Dame, various restaurants for supper, lots of window shopping on the Boule Miche, trips on the metro etc. etc. But you will see the reason in future blogs!

A Quick Flit To Paris

Hywel had booked a flight to Paris some time ago, thinking it would take ages for our house to sell. As it happened the house sold much quicker than he had anticipated but we were still determined to go ahead with the holiday and in fact it did serve to take Hyw’s mind off the move. We were flying from Exeter so it was fairly relaxed and we were in Paris by lunch time. The RER took us to within a stones throw of our hotel which was situated in a leafy square opposite the Sorbonne.

We did a quick tour of the Luxembourg Gardens before heading for lunch. Of course our shoes were instantly covered in limestone dust but it was good to see everyone enjoying the sun. Our hotel turned out to be not only very well placed but also very well appointed rooms with a Nespresso coffee machine in each room, so I was in my element.

We quickly freshened up and went out to see the sights…

As you can tell we were right next to the Pantheon and as it was such a lovely evening we just had to go in and see, although Hywel had been before. It was very good as at that time of late afternoon there were very few other tourists about so we had plenty of time and space to really look about. Afterwards we went to a Charles Wells pub and ordered Erdinger and had a lively conversation with some young French men about the election, Brexit and all things that are generally wrong with the world. We staggered back to the hotel before going for a Vietnamese meal, not very good but it filled a space!

Sunday Evening, Monday and Tuesday

We didn’t feel like having supper that evening but in fact after a walk around the neighbourhood we ended up going back to  the Styrian restaurant where we were greeted like old friends. There was a lively atmosphere and in fact the sun had come out in the late afternoon so it was all looking very jolly and en fete.

Monday was rather grey but much better for visiting museums so we made a return visit to the Neue Gallery where I made a beeline for Nefertiti and had her all to myself for 5 minutes. Sadly you aren’t allowed to take photos there but I got plenty in the other galleries. It is a lovely restoration job, designed by Chipperfield. So many textures and he has deliberately left behind the scarring by the bullet holes and not tried to hide the buildings past.

Lunch almost turned into a disaster. We went to Galleries Lafayette but they didn’t have any wine in the seafood restaurant so we left there and Hyw took to me to an area that turned out to be a bypass! We quickly left there and turned up in Kufferstenstrasse where There was an old Woolworth, so we had to go in and Hyw bought a padded jacket for 19Euro!

By this time I had more or less given up on lunch but as luck would have it I found a French restaurant along the road a bit and although it didn’t look very prepossessing from the outside, it turned out to be excellent. 

After an excellent lunch we started walking but quickly decided to to catch a bus to the dreaded Hauptbanhoff and from there back to the Hotel Alexander. In the evening we went to the local bar and had a snack type supper. 

Tuesday morning we decided that the best thing to do was to go to the Zoo as then we could leave our bags in the lockers at Zoo station. Berlin always seems to have major building works going on, it will be lovely when finished but in the meantime it is a bit of a pain. Still we were relatively early so there wasn’t any crush to get a locker which had been moved to the street outside. 

What was my favourite animal, here are a few good shots…

It was a slow old journey to the airport but once there we were processed fairly quickly and in no time at all we were back in Bristol with the sun shining brightly, as it has been ever since. It’s nice to go away but even better coming home again.

The sign is a bit premature, we are still in the process of selling but the agent seems confident anyway!

Sunday Morning Route to the Station and a Boat Trip

It was still quite warm but a little overcast, not the rain storm that the concierge in our hotel had warned us of! We decided to go for a boat trip as we have got into the habit of taking them on our European visits and find that they give a fresh perspective. So far we have done Oslo, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Venice (you can’t travel far without!) and we have Paris coming up. Berlin was no exception but I am getting ahead of myself, first the route, in pictures, to Savignyplatz Station.

We got to the KurfĂĽrstendamm and found a skating race taking place. In another part of Berlin it was the half marathon.

That’s the station, just ahead of us, but first the posters…

Then up onto the platform and take the train…

To the Hauptbanhoff, where we always get lost, it is such a huge station, but I think I’ve cracked it now. Basically head upwards, it is counter intuitive ( and don’t listen to your husband!)

The boat ride we were taking was from a pier opposite the station and luckily we only had a half hour wait before we were off. The sun made frequent visits but my photos don’t really reflect this, here I am having a beer (again).

The trip lasted a hour in total, here are some of the hi lights…

A fellow passenger!

After the boat trip we went back to the Hauptbahnhoff and off to the market for a slap up lunch, serenaded by a young British guy singing Ed Shearin songs. He was very good and put me in mind of G.

Dinosaurs etc

We paid a return visit to the Brandenburg Tor, a lovely sunny evening and everyone was being very good natured, even the horses who must be very tired of giving people rides around the streets, we saw one where clearly the girl had been proposed to so she was riding round with a group of friends and a sign saying “I said yes”. In the background you can see the famous Hotel Adlon where amongst others Bernie Gunter was for a time the ‘house’ gumshoe. Of course it has been mostly rebuilt now but you get the general idea.

Friday evening saw us making our way to “Honca”,  a Turkish restaurant we had discovered on our previous visit. It was just as good, if not better. The food flavour combinations are simply exquisite, and all the little extras like the ‘amuse bouches ‘, the petit fours and the liqueur made it a perfect evening.

On Saturday morning we visited the very splendid natural history museum and saw the dinosaurs, but much more impressive were the huge collection of specimens, mostly fish as far as I could tell. Here is a taster…

It was starting to fill up with kids and their fathers ( were they all divorced or perhaps their mothers wanted some time to themselves?) and we had a very tricky journey to make across the city to meet up with Carl Ryan, who had worked with G.. in Taipei and was now working in Berlin. We only knew him through Facebook so it was going to be a curious was really hot by now, so not the sort of weather you want to make transportation mistakes in. It took 3 underground trains and a tram ride but we got there with 5 minutes to spare (he was late!) On the underground I asked a guard for directions and the tramp who was speaking to him said “Brexit, it is a disaster”. Only in Europe do you get well educated “dossers”.

We met up with Carl in a Lebanese restaurant and had a wonderful lunch outside in the sun. He was very likeable and it seemed like we had known him for years. The conversation didn’t flag at all and afterwards, when we said goodbye I really felt that we had made a good friend.

By now we were fairly weary so we retraced our steps and headed back to our hotel for a lie down and some serious people watching, with a beer.

Berlin 30 March – 4 April

We took some ‘time out’ from the house sale to fit in a long weekend city break to Berlin, my second and Hyw’s zillionth. Flora was dropped off at the cattery the day before, much to her disgust and we set off at 9am the following day. A good day for travelling (I’m always worried about traffic jams since we missed a flight!) and it was bright a sunny. The weather held for our landing at Shoenfeldt and we made a swift, if wearisome transfer into the city. Someone gave us tickets so we were able to travel in to Friedichstrasse and then buy tickets for the week at the travel bureau. From there it is only a few stops to Savignyplatz, the station for our hotel.

It was quite like old times, treading the same old streets and being greeted at the hotel by the young girl who was there last time. After a quick wash and brush up we went out to drink some beer (much needed) and a meal. The cafe where we had the beer was just around the corner and the restaurant was just next door to that so not too strenuous! The restaurant had changed hands since the last time so it was no longer Swabian cuisine but was now Austrian or Styrian cuisine. To tell the truth there was not a lot to tell the difference, both being characterised by dumplings! I had a wonderful goulash followed by some apricot pancakes and coffee. 

Hyw in the cafe/ bar where we often stopped off for a drink; it was lit entirely by candlelight so the focus isn’t too good.

After an excellent nights sleep and a glorious breakfast of smoked salmon, herring and hard boiled egg ( I chose selectively) we strolled up to Zoo station and then onward to KVD, the big department store. Having looked at all the things we could not afford to buy we had a coffee outside, on the street, as the temperature was starting to rise.

Here is an ‘arty’ shot and one not so, plus some of the general scenery.

This one is of a Tesla car, which LJ is keen to buy although this is a top of the range model!