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 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.

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Christmas 2016

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.


Mo with green hands and a country walk near MO’s house in Ireland.

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.



Peak District near Bakewell and Flora in a box!

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.

A Short Trip to Venice

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. 


We must return to Venice, sooner rather than later!

Gardening in Bath

 
I went up to Bath on Thursday to lend VJ my expertise, muscle and car! I didn’t arrive until 12 but the weather was good so we got straight to work lopping trees, cutting the lawn and removing a wire trellis. We had a break for lunch in a cafe in Larkhall which was very pleasant but the near vertical walk back home wasn’t so good! Rich and his father came round in the afternoon to deliver an over locker for Vee to have on permanent loan, it looks horrendously complicated but there is a video if you get stuck!
We had a Chinese for supper as we were too exhausted to cook, at least, that was our excuse. The next morning we went to Lacock for the garden centre and whilst it was dry to start with, it came on to rain very heavily. We did not let that deter us and bought plants, pots and sacks of compost. By the time we had driven home the weather was starting to brighten up so we quickly unpacked the car, had a bite to eat, then went into town to admire Vee’s window displays and spend her credit note at Gap. 

   
 
We took a taxi back as by this time we were feeling pretty tired out. Saturday morning was spent planting out, generally tidying up  (including the bench we had demolished) and then we set about reseating all of the paving stones in the garden steps. I was more than ready to go home by the time we had done all that!

First Full Day in Copenhagen

We arrived yesterday, having got a lunchtime flight from Bristol. We had set off in good time as there was no way we were going to have a repeat of our abortive trip to Berlin!

The transfer from the airport to the central station was very smooth but we couldn’t find the metro anywhere so we took a cab to our hotel. I must say it was worth it as there is nothing worse than arriving worn out.

We went out once we had freshened up, as the sun was shining, and it was a nice evening. We went to an area on the canal, not all that far away, that had
many bars and eateries. Everyone was out enjoying the weather, we stopped about half way along and had the most delicious beer. We walked on a bit and found a restaurant, off the main drag but still very popular as it turned out. We were treated to a free glass of champagne, had champagne in our soup starter and a bottle of red wine so by the end of the evening we fairly rolled home.

I had a pea and fromage frais cold soup, with champagne, with scallops and prawns for my starter, duck, which was a bit disappointing, for my main and a carrot cake for dessert, delicious.

Today the weather stayed fine so we were off out fairly promptly. After some faffing around with the transport system we took a train over the Bridge to Malmo in Sweden. Fans of Nordic Noir will be sad to learn that we didn’t see any well known film stars although I did see a fellow who looked a bit like Torben from Borgen! Malmo was surprisingly nice, we walked around a bit, then had lunch out of doors, they eat very early here and all arrived at the restaurants in a space of a few minutes ! Lunch was very good and tasty, we then took the train back to Copenhagen and visited the Grand Magasin du Nord. After some retail therapy we went back to the hotel to rest our weary bones.

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Hot, hot, hot!

And so the heatwave continues, 15 days without rain and one could almost get used to it. Forget that only a month ago we were suffering from the coldest, wettest spring on record, forget the fact that the newspapers were telling us that we were half way through a 20 year cycle and we could expect colder, wetter summers as a result, no matter, enjoy it whilst it lasts.

So much has happened since last I wrote, where to begin? Vee, Mat and Mo came to visit at the start of the heatwave. We had a very pleasant few days with them which included trips to Woolacombe, fish and chips in Braunton, and swimming at Westward Ho!. Matt and Mo had to return to London but Vee and I discovered Chagford Lido and spent a glorious afternoon there. Hyw and I have since made a return visit, it really is most excellent and one of the hi lights of living here, I only wish we had discovered before!

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We went for lunch at The Beer Engine before Matt and Mo returned to London, as good as usual and so relaxed. We ate outside as it was so lovely.

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The good weather has continued and it has been too hot to garden, instead I have sat under a tree and admired all my hard work. The vegetables are doing well and I have bought a number of rose bushes which I have planted once the sun had gone down, still they have a hard job surviving in this heat. Sitting in the garden I also have a chance to take in the wildlife, when Vee was here we found a family of hedgehogs, its good to know they are still around. Here are some photos of our other wildlife including this Spotted Fly Catcher.

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I have bought this wicked bright green swimming costume as next week I am off to Cornwall to stay with my sister for a week. Knowing my luck the weather will have broken by then!

As I am now the sheriff of the Neighbourhood Watch (if you can’t beat them, join them!) I thought I ought to have a newsletter in an attempt to make it more inclusive. My first newsletter, courtesy of Mail Chimp went out yesterday and so far it seems to have been well received.

It was my turn to host the Felters today, this is a group of about ten women who originally met together to do a Felting course at the village hall. Since then we have met at each others houses once a month to try out whatever craft or interest the hostess has. Today I had six of the group round to try their hand at monoprinting, lino cutting and acrylic painting. It was great fun.

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House hunting!

Location, location, location, we have been on yet another foray to discover a new place to live but have come back home none the wiser except for where we don’t want to live. We are looking to move to a small market town, with a range of shops and a mainline to London. So far we haven’t found one that we both like, with property we can afford. But we shall keep searching, we will not be deterred.

Now the real reason I am blogging today is that Verity’s shop went live on Folksy today so here is a ‘plug’ for it. You really must take a look as she has some super prints of birds, ignore the fact that I’m her mum, you’re only a click away from some really innovative art work.

We may not have seen any towns that we particularly liked ( we haven’t got round to houses yet ) but I did manage to buy some more fabrics for the quilt I am making. I won’t say anything more about the quilt ( it is a present ) but here are the latest fabrics which should go well with my Japanese fabrics the quilt is largely made of.

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We called in on Vee on our way home yesterday and had a jolly lunch at the Wild Cafe. I had a lovely crab salad and Vee had grilled goats cheese with honey and walnuts, a reminder of France. The night before we had eaten at The Snooty Fox and had three courses of well prepared, quality pub grub. I had scallops with black pudding and apple sauce, followed by a delicious belly of pork and salad finished off with coconut ice cream and chocolate brownie. The only thing that let the meal down slightly were the chips as they were rather dry. We stayed at the Three Daggers, at Eddington, I would love to have eaten there but we had already booked the other place. The accommodation was superb, lovely bedlinen, a private lounge and kitchen where you could make your own breakfast if you liked!

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