The big move to our (much bigger) house went very well, despite the freezing temperatures on the day. Ten journeys across town in Wanda the Van-Car and a few very late nights cleaning the old house ready for our tenants… we were a little bit tired, to say the least. Probably not the best time to take a driving test – which I promptly failed within three minutes of setting off – but why do things by halves? An even better idea: why not go on holiday/business to Germany less than two weeks after moving?
So here we are: in Germany!
I do find it very funny that we don’t have the internet at home; yet we’ve got it for free in our budget hotel in Deutschland… You can’t beat Formule 1 and Etap when you’re abroad. Well, I’m sure you probably can, but for travelling on a budget, getting free internet in your room is a definite bonus.
What haven’t been so much of a bonus are the poor weather conditions and general malaise of troubles we’ve battled since being here. Here’s the list: Something went wrong with Wanda on the first Saturday here. She wouldn’t accelerate past 50mph without a downhill road and a whistle and a prayer. It snowed a bit on Saturday. We panicked. Sunday morning – it was about minus 11 degrees. Wanda wouldn’t start. We rang the breakdown people. A very old German man tried to help us. Eventually Wanda started back and we cheered, driving away and waving to the old man excitedly. In our excitement, we left Aidan’s rucksack behind on the car park. We didn’t realise until we were 40km away. The car was still refusing to rev past 2000rpm or accelerate AT ALL. Tempting though it was to do the Flintstones style of car powering, we pushed on through. This morning, it started snowing. Lots. Thankfully, this afternoon, we refilled Wanda with some new diesel and she seems to have got her mojo back. The snow turned to rain and our thoughts began to turn positive. Has our luck finally changed?
Despite the weather, the car troubles, forgetting anything and everything we wish to use, we’ve actually had a good couple of days. Today has brought in a particularly good haul of pottery, glass and other retro paraphernalia. Strangely, I can’t recall many individual pieces off the top of my head – a lovely, small Dumler & Breiden Polar piece does spring to mind – but generally, the calibre and quality of what we’ve found today has been rather good. I could have cried in the last place though. There was a fantastic orange colour way of the huge Dumler & Breiden half moon shaped Polar vase… cracked right down the centre. What a shame! Such a waste of a good piece of pottery. It does make me a little sad that most people here do not appreciate their native pottery; so little regard is given to it. Even when we’ve bought and paid for pieces, in many shops the proprietors slam the vases down onto the counter or against each other. One woman today didn’t even wrap the vases before clunking them together into a plastic bag. We’ve paid good money for those!
I’d forgotten about the staring. In case you’ve not read it before, there are certain aspects of travelling around Germany as a Brit that stand out. One of these is the STARING. Yes, we’re in a right-hand drive; yes, it’s a bright red van…. We know. Honestly, we do. The other aspect that causes us a few giggles is the presumption that we’re Dutch. I think it’s the matching black glasses, Aidan’s skinniness and my blonde(ish) hair. Added to the fact that we’re in Germany and not wearing army uniforms. The only other British people here are on an army base of some kind. In fact, the odd time we’ve met other Brits, they’ve also assumed that we were soldiers of some kind too. One of the few times I’ve been chatted up was on the ferry on the way back from Germany, at 4am on my birthday last year. I was buying a pint at the ferry’s bar to celebrate my birthday (on my own, as Aidan was asleep by this point), and I got chatted up by a soldier who asked me what base I was from. Mate – this is my internal monologue – I’m quite plump and wearing glasses, and let’s face it, a bit of a wimp. “I’m not in the army,” is what I said out loud.
So, people think we’re Dutch. Yesterday, a man spoke to us quite considerably in Dutch and then laughed his head off when we said we were English. No wonder we couldn’t understand his soliloquy of Dutch! Bought a nice money box from him anyway.
Tonight, we’re staying near to Wuppertal, one of my favourite places to visit because of the Schwebebahn. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll get a chance to visit it on this trip as we’ve got quite a long way to travel tomorrow. We’re travelling quite a way south, only giving a fleeting visit to Cologne and Bonn, as one of our friends, Stuart – hello! – has rinsed the area dry of any good WGP in the last few weeks. I’ll be honest, as I leave most of the planning to Aidan, I’m not entirely sure where we’re going. Presumably, a few more F1s and Etaps will be making our acquaintance though. As long as we can actually make it there… fingers crossed, the weather holds off for us.
It’s started snowing.