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 meeting.it 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.
The first thing to say is that this is like no other Christmas:
1. The children aren’t here
2. We aren’t here
Matt has made the trip to Ireland with Mo…
“I must admit, I was a little worried about crossing the Irish Sea in storm force seas, luckily, the captain of the ship, while acknowledging that it would be “very bumpy” ( I knew what he really meant) signed off that it would be “nothing to worry about of course”. These are the words that all captains of all ships should sign off with.
So, we emerged from the breakwater and yes, it was instantly like being shot up 100 feet in the air and plunged down 100 feet and doubling your weight and all that. However, the boat didn’t rock from side to side, it only rocked front to back which was much better. I’ve been on boats where it does the side to side thing and it’s not nice thinking about capsizing for three hours.
Anyway, all in it was quite fun because the insanely large swell only lasted for half of the journey and after that it was just a steady rough journey with the occasional sound of screeching metal as the hull wrangled with the stormy waters below.”
This was as a result of Storm Barbara which mainly affected the north of the country just where Vee and Matt were headed.
VJ made the journey to Sheffield luckily in advance of Storm Barbara and the other two boys are in Taipei where they live with wife and girlfriend where the weather was bright and sunny. We travelled to Bexhill to visit my mum in her new apartment and Flora the cat came with us as I could not bear to think of her locked up in the cattery.
It was the first time that I haven’t cooked Christmas dinner and prepared like mad for 30 odd years so quite a big change but very relaxing, I recommend everyone should try it at least once.
The folks in Taiwan celebrating Christmas!
We left Bexhill on the morning of the 27 and mum went up to London for a drinks party and to stay with my sister. Matthew had an equally hellish journey back from Ireland as their flight was diverted from London City because of the fog and they had to catch a coach from Manchester, the entire journey taking 16 hours!
Well it’s almost the end of the year, we have Donald Trump to look forward to and Brexit will supposedly be triggered. Our house goes on the market and we will hopefully be in Scotland! A happy new year, it can’t be any worse than the last one.
October 3-7. 2016.
We booked a number of city breaks earlier in the year and the only thing we checked was that the dates didn’t clash, however, as it turned out, we were only back a couple of weeks from France and we were packing our bags again. A quick trip to Bristol airport on Monday and the next thing we knew we were in Venice. A lovely city, not like a city at all and much cleaned up since I was last there. Our travel arrangements worked like a dream and we were soon out and about seeing the sights and soaking up the sun. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many shots in such a short space of time.
It wasn’t at all crowded off the beaten track, but you could mingle with the tourists when you so wished. We didn’t queue up to go in any buildings, rather we admired them from the outside and watched ordinary people going about their business. We took a train ride to Trieste on Wednesday, it was as the websights all suggested, past its sell by date, but the weather was a bit overcaste in Venice and Hyw wanted to go, at least the sun was out when we got there! I had some black sandwiches for my lunch!
We had some good meals out and we tended to go to our local cafe, near the hotel at the end of the day. We became quite expert with the vaporetto and really felt at home in the city. On the Thursday we did make an exception to not seeing any art by going to the Accademia to see the Boche paintings which were advertised outside. We hadn’t made it to the museum outside Amsterdam so now was a chance to make up for it. The paintings didn’t disappoint although the Accademia itself could have done with an imaginative curator.
A whole week of sunshine preceded our trip to France so we were rather dreading that the weather would break when the time came for us to be off. It was a lovely sunny day on the Monday when I drove Flora out to the cattery and luckily for us it continued to be good for our trip.
We went over to Poole for the Monday evening and stayed at that well known hostelry, The Premier Inn, as we had an early boat the next day. As it happened we had to be there even earlier as one of the ramps on the boat wasn’t working, which meant that everyone who was on the second floor of the boat had to drive on, turn around, and go into a parking space backwards! Not the best thing to have to do in a new car but I was fine and luckily no one drove into me. The crossing was amazingly calm and the boat was not too busy so all in all a good journey.
We went straight to Briquebec and settled into our room before going out to explore the sights and to have a beer in our favourite PMU. We had supper in the castle dining room, a magnificent repast, and afterwards coffee in the lounge. Early to bed, but not before catching up on the news, there had been terrorist bombings at the airport and metro in Brussels.
As it was bright and sunny we went to Carentan for a look around and then off to St Vaast for lunch. Unfortunately the seafood place was undergoing a refurb. But had a good lunch in a little bistro. I didn’t get my oysters but all was not lost as I had them as a starter that night at the hotel.
On the way back we called in at Valognes where there were massive road works, as usual. We walked around and came across a bit we hadn’t seen before! We also called in at Negreville to see the church and walk around the seemingly deserted village. After our supper that night we had a last wander around Briquebec before turning in.
Our last day, a little overcast but otherwise fine. We went to the supermarket to get petrol then off to Saint Sauveur le Vicomte to see the church, Coutances, where we had a very good lunch, then slowly back via the coast, gun emplacements and Montebourg, making a last call at the Auchun supermarket outside of Cherbourg and before going to the boat. Unbelievably, although it was fairly windy, we again had a smooth crossing and this time the ramps on the boat were working!
Unfortunately it was raining when we arrived in Poole and we had thick fog on the journey home but we got back in the end about midnight. The next morning I went and rescued the cat!
Well we are back at Lake Garda for a repeat of last year’s excellent holiday. We left the UK at the start of a heat wave but not to be outdone, the weather in Italy is even hotter. We arrived after a trouble free journey from Stanstead, at about 2 pm. We thought that we were unlucky in that we didn’t have the same room as last year but in fact we have come up trumps with two self catering bungalows and excellent views. As a result, rather than eating in the cafe at lunch times we have made a trip to the local supermarket and bought all sorts of goodies including wine.
Our first priority once we were unpacked was to go for a swim, and then another! It was glorious and not at all crowded. After our first night, when all the staff recognised us, our first full day was spent as ‘a day of leisure’. We went to the town of Brenzone via the main road as there was a nasty car accident which damaged the parapet to the way through to the beach. Luckily that was soon mended so our usual route was restored by the next day. As I have already mentioned we bought post cards and goodies for lunch. We had lunch at the poolside cafe and swam and read our books for the rest of the day.
Today we decided to make our own way to Garda so we walked to Brenzone and caught the fast catamaran to Garda. It took us an hour and a half and was certainly as good as the lake tour we did last year and called at much the same places. We arrived in Garda at 10.30 and immediately were swallowed up in the vast market where I bought a dress and Evelyn bought various things. The heat started to get the better of us, despite various stops for drink ( and we bought a supplement which we added to our water bottles) so we stopped for lunch and then decided to go back to the hotel as to go on as we had intended was just not practical. We caught the bus back and got back just before the storm broke. More to follow …
Both Laurence and Verity have moved house recently, one in Taiwan and one nearer to home, in Bath. I was not able to help Laurie but he had his brother to help instead. I didn’t think that Verity needed me either as she had taken my advice and got some professionals to do the job but inevitably she had several car loads to move on top of the van load that had already been delivered so I was happy to go to the rescue. I stayed overnight so that I could take her to work the next day and get rid of the packing material that threatened to take over the house.
Matt is in Budapest for a short holiday and seems to have done very well with the apartment they have rented. Gwilym and Fiona have passed their Taiwanese driving test and are intending to purchase a car. Laurie has been camping recently and Gwilym and Fiona intend to do the same once they have transport.
Last week Hyw and I acted as polling clerks for the first time. It was a long day but it was bearable and I am looking forward to the money. Sadly the election result was a shocking win for the Conservatives with Labour and Lib Dems losing loads of seats to UKIP and the Conservatives. The result is that the SW is totally blue with the exception of the Exeter City ward. Lots of good people lost their seats and Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband have both resigned.
Verity, Matt and Mo came down for Easter and we went to Dartmouth