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Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

But when she was down she was down!

What’s the quickest way down a mountain?

Me and my K2 of course ūüėĀ. Getting up a mountain is never easy and especially in a wheelchair, but no other chair helps as much as the Trekinetic K2! Using the brakes allows you to control the descent and do some cool spins too ūü§£

This is the Todtnau mountains in the Black Forest in Germany and follows a visit to the Todtnau Falls. Not something an average wheelchair could master!

Getting up the mountain would be impossible without my ‚Äėpower‚Äô – hubby ūüíĖūüíĖ

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We woke to the most glorious, crisp winter day. Having arrived at around 5pm the evening before it was our first opportunity for a bit of exploration….and to find a coffee shop – coffee is extremely high on my priority list and we needed to see if by some remote chance a coconut milk latte was possible in the Welsh wilderness.

Our walk down from the cabin was stunning and we had plenty of opportunities to get some great pictures.

Who doesn’t need a picture of themselves taking a selfie of themselves…

The head….

And the tail of the Welsh dragon…

We arrived in the village and had a quick wander around….

I found it….Ty Coffi….the village has a coffee shop (jumps for joy)…

The best bit? They served a very fine latte with coconut milk so our week here is going to be just fine. Lovely place and even lovelier people serving us. We got our ‘free with your first drink’ reusable cups which we will most definitely make use of each day with a 10% reusable cup discount – better and better.

Next we headed further downhill through the forest trail to see the festive lights. They did not disappoint – even in the daytime. Here are a few of our favourite pictures….

My trusty steed never disappoints and got me down and back up the green route – the easy option, but not for anyone of faint heart and weak pushing arms!

A lovely lady gave me a push over one of the uphills and between my pushing the wheels and Maryam pushing from behind with her walker, we managed the slow ascent eventually collapsing onto a bench at the lake. What’s the saying about the blind leading the blind?

A short bus trip back up the hill was definitely required because no way was I able to wheel myself that distance and elevation. Free bus or train trips run every half an hour and it was no time at all before we arrived back in Preseli View ready for a cuppa and a rest.

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Take 4 ladies of varying nationalities, each with their own unique cultures and origins,

2 children,

2 cars,

1 wheelchair,

1 walking frame,

3 walking sticks,

and a smattering of health and disability issues.

Put them together in a log cabin in the wilds of Pembrokeshire, Wales and you are bound to have an interesting holiday!

Day 1 and after a drive from Lancashire for one car and another from Milton Keynes we were so happy to be greeted by the friendliest staff at the reception gates.

In no time we were checked in and directed to our cabin at 43 Preseli View.

We’re in a lovely four bedroom cabin with 3 big bathrooms, open plan living, dining and kitchen and a nice big entrance that acts as a mud room where we can store all the shoes, coats and mobility equipment.

After unloading all our stuff Using our trolley to help with the load and fewer trips, I headed off to find out how I could move my car off site and then get back to the cabin. When I was told that because I’m disabled and have a blue badge I could keep and use my car on the site I was overjoyed because you should see the hill we are staying on!

The choice of bedrooms was between a twin downstairs and 3 bedrooms upstairs so that was an easy one because the South African wheelchair lady and the Iranian knee replacement lady both don’t do stairs, AND there is a lovely big bathroom next door; one that I can get my wheelchair or my walker into.

An early night was definitely in order and the impeccably clean white linen was calling very loudly by this point.

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A good story needs a good opening lines doesn’t it? So,….

An Englishwoman, an Irishwoman, an Iranianwoman and a South African woman descend on a resort in Wales.

What could possibly happen? Keep coming back over the next few days and you may find a few stories to entertain and inform.

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On those rare occasions that my human leaves me to sit in another location, there is nothing nicer than mucking about on boats! ¬†I thoroughly enjoyed¬†the views across the Saar river in Saarland, Germany on my latest boat trip…..

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Trekinetic wheelchairs are all about adventure!

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I woke up this morning to a new year…in fact, my 53rd year, therefore a birthday outing was in order. ¬†Hubby and I had planned a trip to Saarbrucken for the day but for whatever reason whilst I couldn’t sleep properly last night I¬†had plenty of opportunity to think about what I have enjoyed this holiday, and therefore would love to do for my birthday. ¬†I realised that a large number of my best memories have been wine tours and vineyards, so surely that was the better option for my day out – hubby probably wouldn’t mind either! ūüôā

I planned a return trip to the Bad Durkheim region which was a couple of hours away, but during my route planning the points of interest on my satnav showed a huge tract of land a much shorter distance north of us which also has a wine region Рwho knew!  Exciting new vineyards to explore on the Moselweinstrasse.

When hubby woke, I posed the question about whether he would mind skipping our original plan for a wine tour – guess what his answer was?

We headed north towards Trier and hoped to find somewhere nice for breakfast on the way. ¬†Not 20km later we noticed signs for Villeroy & Boch…and then some more….they were following us, and it would appear rude not to follow the call of the famous pottery works. ¬†It turned out to be a great decision because the town of Mertzig is on the Saar river, and has Villeroy & Boch, and boat trips, AND great places to eat – what’s not to love.

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Breakfast consisted of all sorts of beautiful and fresh continental goodies – a real treat….IMG_4552

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We decided to go on the boat trip tomorrow as I had my heart set on the wine route today. ¬†It was a lovely drive through valleys along the Saar and Mosel rivers and into more vineyards than I have EVER seen in my life – and that’s saying a lot from a girl who has lived in South African wine country.

The scenery was magnificent….

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Then we stopped at the gorgeous village of Trittenheim on the Mosel river. ¬†Here we met a third generation wine farmer who has scaled down his operation to a mere 10,000 bottles of wine per year in his later years. ¬†What wonderful stories he had for us, and what wonderful wine hubby tasted. ¬†Needless to say, we came away with another 8 bottles of wine; but more importantly, with wonderful memories….

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Happy and satisfied with another wonderful day in Germany, we headed back to Campingplatz Siersburg…..

…and the question of whether I’m any wiser now that I’m a year older? Perhaps not nearly as wise as I would like to be, but definitely wise enough to know that spending a glorious day with my amazing hubby is priceless!

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Sometimes you simply have no choice but to make something on the fly.  Such was the case on our holiday last week when I had exhausted all my efforts in finding a phone holder for my car РI was absolutely sure that I would pick one up in any shop in Britain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland or even Luxembourg Рthink again!

Travelling all over Europe you need somewhere for your phone with the SatNav, and my first rig was a cup with a bungee attached to the air vents and was fine until it started to bend the cable coming out of the base of my new phone.

What to do? ¬†Crochet one of course! ¬†I had a tiny bit of yarn left over from the tea cosy the night before and I simply started stitching and this useful, if rather ugly, holder emerged…..

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It does the job.  It holds the phone in a position so you can see the screen and allows it to be charged on the go.  As useful as it has been over the last week or so, when I get home a new and more permanent version is on the top of my shopping list.

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….eat chocolate – LOTS of chocolate!

Our second day in Switzerland was dedicated to more eating Рthis time of the sweet variety.  Switzerland started the eating chocolate craze and continue it in style to this day.

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We were on the doorstep of the oldest chocolate factory in Bros Рthe Cailler chocolate paradise.  We absolutely had to go on the tour, and it was one of the best tour experiences we have ever been on.  It was a bit like a theme park through the history, the manufacture and then the tasting of chocolate РWOW!

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You get to try all sorts of chocolates and as long as you don’t take any out of the factory tour, you can eat as much as you like…

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…and I for one definitely had my fill – hubby on the other hand had to be dragged away with the promise of a cup of coffee in the restaurant. ¬†They obviously specialise in great hot chocolate, but by this point I had admitted chocolate defeat and settled for a Latte and an amazing Frappelatte…

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Now fully sweetened up, we went for a wonderful drive down to Lake Geneva and the town of Montreux – made famous by Deep Purple’s, ‘Smoke on the water’ – or so, hubby informed me because although I had been singing it for years, I had not made this association.

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The drive back was a bit of a¬†hair-raising affair as we traversed rather high mountains in search of the more scenic route! ¬†Boy, we certainly got that in buckets….and did I forget to mention that we encountered MORE vineyards? They are following us around on this holiday ūüôā

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Wow, the skills of these tree fella’s (get it….tree fellers?, oh never mind!)…DSCN6578 DSCN6585

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When left to its own devices, the Trekinetic K2 loves to be out in the wild camping. Here we see how well prepared and organised it’s campsite is. Enjoying a bit of German sunshine without human interference….IMG_4596

…..those precious moments when you’re not being pushed around!

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2nd Oct 2015

After one night in the previous campsite we moved onto Alte Saghmuhle in Sulzburg; only a couple of miles away in distance, but a million miles away in beauty and tranquility!  Saghmuhle means sawmill and this area is clearly BIG on timber.  The old sawmill wheels have been re-invented as water features on the site next to the main house….IMG_4276 IMG_4287 IMG_4293 IMG_4294

Our type of campsite is rural and we got this in spades….DSCN6417 DSCN6422 IMG_4313 IMG_4315

Amongst the magnificent trees and scenery of the South Black Forest, this campsite is deceptively large because so much of the terraced camping is hidden amongst a very old and established forest on terraces which are hidden from each other by vegetation.  This is our idea of paradise, and despite it being beautiful, remote and picturesque it still has all the facilities that we need with bathrooms, washrooms, laundry and electricity.  

Across the road, and where the majority of the sites are situated, is a very old Jewish cemetery set against the hillside in the forest.  I wasn’t able to go up these stairs, even my hubby puts his foot down at certain inclines, but hubby got some lovely pictures for me…DSCN6407 DSCN6413 IMG_4293

Next let’s talk about wood piles.  Not something many of you will get too excited by, but when your home has 3 working fireplaces (and 5 others to uncover) then you may begin to understand my wood pile envy!  Obviously in The Black Forest there is no shortage of wood for fires and wood piles are equally aplenty in back yards as well as farms, but here at Alte Saghmhule we have a pretty impressive woodpile by anyones standards…IMG_4321 IMG_4327

For me, forget all those other 5 star campsites with their swimming pools and restaurants, I would happily spend a few weeks here and tour the region, visit the vineyards, or sometimes just sit around the campsite.

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4th October 2015

We headed off through Basel and down towards Gruyere. ¬†An easy couple of hours on really good roads so we arrived in plenty of time to do a bit of sightseeing, and what better place to start than at Castle Gruyere. ¬†A stunning town set on a mountain top with a castle at the peak. ¬†We watch a short film on the history of the castle before going off to get some beautiful pictures of the building and surrounding countryside. ¬†This place is wonderful, but a REAL challenge in a wheelchair! ¬†My Trekinetic was a lifesaver and without it I wouldn’t have even got to the gates of the castle. ¬†I wasnt able to go inside the castle but they didnt charge me an entrance fee but I still managed, only just, to get around the grounds and outer yards.

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Next on the agenda was the factory visit to the Gruyere cheese board. ¬†Very nice, but very commercial, so we didn’t stay too long before heading off to find Camping Haute Gruyere in Enney.

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Dinner was an obvious choice because our campsite cafe offered cheese fondue on the menu. ¬†Hubby is definitely a happy camper….

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Today’s blog post is a review of our final camp site in Germany by my hubby….

The river Nied runs gently through Campingplatz Siersburg and the river front pitches are large and spacious with lovely views; all very picturesque.

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We decided to choose a pitch with a great view of the river, but this did mean we were at the furthest point from the ablutions. The ablutions are very clean and have all the facilities you need when out camping.  Access for toilets and showers for wheelchair users is in a separate space at the main restaurant and office complex and I did not make use of these am unable to make any comment, but the brochure does say they have heated shower and toilet facilities for the disabled.  

Our camper was on one of the larger pitches which had a hard standing which was level Рrather nice as we have not yet had the chance to buy chocks for the wheels to level the van.

We arrived in the first week of October and by then the site was entirely empty of families as they had returned for the new school year.  The only other campers were touring couples and a few semi-static caravans which had not yet departed for the end of season.

Generally the campsite is neat but as with all German campsites we have been to so far, there is a large number of semi-permanent caravans left on site all year and these were sometimes a little untidy as they were filled with a years worth of camping and holiday paraphernalia, but this did not detract in any way from our enjoyment of the site.  

Internet access on the site is excellent and available all round the site for a very reasonable cost per day.  A real bonus when you are attempting to blog about your travels.

The restaurant and bar served us an excellent takeaway meal last night and the owners are very helpful and friendly.

We were very happy to have stopped here for the three nights at the end of our holiday as it is quiet and comfortable with great access to the wine routes in the Rheinland.  We are also within a 4 Р5 hour drive of the ferry in Calais which makes it a good alternative to the other great camping site we stayed at previously in Luxembourg.

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3rd Oct 2015

Today was unification day, and an official holiday in Germany so we were not entirely sure what to expect apart from being told that all the shops would be closed.  When we set out on our tour of the countryside, we never expected too much, but we got WAY more than we could have hoped for.

Firstly a lovely drive through the Black Forest.  Then off to Staufen for a walk about followed by a pitstop for cake and coffee whilst we watched the local races around the town.  Different distances and age groups participated, but generally most people got involved and we notice that the Germans are a very active nation and they start them very young which is admirable.IMG_4373 IMG_4385

From Staufen we headed off to the wine route near our campsite because they were having a Weinwandertag, or wine-route-meander today.  We had expected to amble into the village and see what was going on, but we were immediately caught up in the local excitement of wine, food and a bit of fun in the sun, and decided to join in.  Firstly hubby had a glass for the road accompanied by the local German band in full swing, and then we grabbed our map of the route and struck out for the vineyards.  IMG_4435

I will admit that it was very hard work, especially for hubby, as these vines like to grow on hilly ground and therefore the route was up and down and all around!  Thank goodness for my trusty Trekinetic K2 because otherwise this amazing activity would have been beyond us.  This may well be the first time any of these folks have seen the route completed by someone in a wheelchair…and almost definitely a first for Trekinetic….Thank you K2!

¬†IMG_4412 IMG_4414 IMG_4417 ¬†(a little horsey one just for RM) ūüôā

This Weinwandertag is brilliantly organised each year by the Britzinger winery with very well stocked food and drinks stations along the way.  We opted for Rosenberg route 2 because it is apparently not quite as taxing as route 1 РI cannot compare them but boy am I glad we didn’t do more difficult one!!!

After a kilometre or so we stopped at the first station with tents, table and chairs and plenty of food and drink to be enjoyed before the next stage.  We forged on without stopping and after a wonderful walk through the vines we eventually arrived at the next station where we thoroughly enjoyed our refreshments.  We decided to skip out a number of the stations because we had started so late in the day and really wanted to be back to enjoy some of the food, wine and music on offer at the Britzinger winery.  The next stage was a bit of a killer, and hubby and I huffed and puffed up a number of very steep tracks and roads before getting back to the starting point.  Oh boy, that was a workout and after 6kms we definitely deserved that fat port roast roll and new wine.

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Seriously, this has to be one of the best days out you will ever enjoy.  If you are ever in Germany during early October, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Satiated and tired we headed home to pack up our campsite ready to leave for the next stop on our journey…

Switzerland, you have a LOT to live up to!

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1st Oct 2015

A quick 60km north and we arrive in the city of Freiberg, and the old historical part of the city definitely doesn’t disappoint.

The Munster is set in a very large square and despite some scaffolding covering parts of the spire, it is magnificent….DSCN6346 DSCN6381 IMG_4255

Outside on the square and in the surrounding small streets are the most exquisite buildings which are grandly painted…..DSCN6341 DSCN6386 DSCN6391

…and the most historic looking McDonalds I may have ever seen….DSCN6388

In this city, even the gutter covers are beautiful…IMG_4268

This is definitely a city that should be visited because it isn’t just the Munster and town centre that are lovely, but the bridges along the waterways are each a work of art as well.  

My trusty steed, the Trekinetic K2, did an incredible job once again, and made short work of all the cobbled streets.

Back to Sulzburg for a bite of dinner.  The village has an Espetata restaurant which is amazing!  The food was simply superb and we may have to visit here again.IMG_4272

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1st Oct 2015

Today was meant to be our shopping in a big city day.  We don’t usually do this on our holidays as I detest shopping so much, but we did need a few bits and pieces and therefore agreed that we should head off towards the Rhine and do a bit of sightseeing, a boat trip and then a quick shopping trip.  

The plan was to go into Basel which is at the junction of three countries –¬†Germany, Switzerland and France – and therefore should be of significant interest. ¬†For whatever reason we had assumed Basel¬†was in Germany – WRONG! ¬†It is in Switzerland and we realised this as soon as the border crossing appeared on the motorway and a guard demanded 40 Euros for road taxes! ¬†We had expected this as we were heading off to Gruy√®re in Switzerland in a few days anyway, but this was not the plan for today. ¬†Luckily the road tax is for the entire year and we wouldn‚Äôt have to pay it again, but this place is huge, and industrial, and not what I had in mind so we turned around and headed back into Germany.

Fortune was on our side because the route back was via Wein am Rhein just inside the German border and this is when we stumbled across this….DSCN6274 DSCN6336

…the VitraHaus showrooms, factory and museum.  This site is an architect and designers heaven because it is full of iconic and famous architectural buildings and design pieces.  The current exhibit has just opened for Bauhaus and it seemed appropriate that whilst in Germany we should experience a bit of German design culture.  

My favourite building was completed in 2013 and designed by a famous Japanese architect firm that escapes me. ¬†This is one of the VitraHaus production facilities and is housed in a round building beautifully clad in white glass fibre with 400mm internal concrete walls. ¬†All of which reminds me of a super-charged water reservoir. ¬†(and yes, that bunch of crazies rubbing up and touching the outside of the building are a group of architects and students ūüôā )DSCN6303 IMG_4231 IMG_4232

Inside the VitraHaus showrooms Mark thoroughly enjoyed testing out all of the Eames, Bauhaus and VitraHaus furniture….IMG_4246

….I know a certain Dave B who would be very envious of this place and all these designs!

…and then one of the amazing sales team offered to make us a Nespresso coffee….it would have been rude not to!DSCN6328 IMG_4248

A tour around the facility and the museum was a real treat, and we are very happy we stumbled across this little gem.

A 1950s French gas station…a first in ready assembled roadside gas stations that would lead to what we all see today on the motorways…

and a 1950s Detroit motor showroom in the brand new geodesic design. ¬†A few of the interesting buildings around the site …DSCN6283DSCN6329

Next we needed something a little older and set our sights on Freiburg a little further north; perhaps here we will find some nice tourist sights and a bit of shopping too.

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30th September 2015…..

The mornings have been rather chilly on our holiday and there is nothing quite as nice as that first hot cup of tea.  We have an adorable little pewter tea set in our camper van but it was missing a tea cosy to keep the tea lovely and warm while it brewed.  Luckily I had brought a small bag of yarn and my trusty crochet hooks with me Рmostly in the hope that I would come across some beautiful German wool to buy and turn into a blanket.  

The only yarn I had were a few odds and ends left over from various projects, and those would have to do.  This particular purple was once created into a Minion hat for my granddaughters and it was doubled up with a few other bits to create a nice double, double yarn to ensure maximum warmth for the brewing process.

A very worthwhile endeavour on a quiet camping night, and an hour later here it is….IMG_4213

…it most definitely not going to win¬†the prettiest tea cosy prize, but it certainly does the job‚Ķand it will hold many fond memories of our trip to Germany.

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We packed up fairly early this morning and headed out on the hunt for some castles, or schloss in German.

First we drove through our new village to see if it had a tourist information centre..it didn’t, but it does have quite a few pop-up wine bars during grape harvest, and everywhere are the loveliest Autumn displays (I definitely need to bring some of these pumpkins home!)¬†IMG_4097

Our route took us through the heart of the German winelands, and along the way we stopped to admire the grapes and the skill of the grapes pickers…IMG_4103 IMG_4101DSCN6230

An added bonus was that this region is full of fruit trees as well! I could live here very, very happily! ¬†On the road opposite the grapevines was a huge espaliered apple tree orchard….two of my favourite things next to each other.¬†DSCN6232 DSCN6234DSCN6229

Heading back on the road we stumbled across a beautiful ruined castles and then the town of Badenweiler. To me, this is the German equivalent of Bath in England. Very wealthy and you come here to the spa and recuperate from whatever ails you. Apparently a great treatment is the imbibing of much Neue Wein…probably because after a few glasses of this new wine, you don’t remember what was wrong with you in the first place!¬†IMG_4112 DSCN6254 DSCN6253

Time to head back to our new campsite in Sulzburg. ¬†Kamping Alte S√§gem√ľhle is a beautiful little place with a water wheel, forests and camping under apple trees…IMG_4124 IMG_4128

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…the Black Forest, and more wine country!

Our next stop was near Sulzberg on the edge of the Black Forest.

Not too long after setting off, it was time for a pitstop, and hopping off the autobahn we stumbled across a little jewel with the best beer garden ever…IMG_4082

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Sitting amongst the vines with a pretzel and a cappuccino in the sunshine was perfection!

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Today’s campsite promised more than it delivered I’m afraid because after the previous site, this one seems a lot more ordinary. ¬†Don’t get me wrong it is still nice, but it had a lot to live up to after our previous site.

No disabled toilet or bathroom to be found – despite the claims in all the literature. By this time of the day we can’t move on, so we decide to stay only one night and move in the morning.

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We set up our campsite and headed to the local store for some dinner. On our return we followed a sign for another campsite a few kilometres away. What a lovely surprise, and I believe we have found our next campsite.

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4th October 2015

We left Kamping Alte Saghmuhle with a bit of sadness because she will be missed.  We did however make a slight deviation from the route to stop and get a ‘not so little’ memento of our time in the Black Forest….meet Wald – that’s German for forest – because Wald is a log which used to be a member of the Schwarzwald or Black Forest.  Hubby thinks I am mad, but I wanted a reminder of our wonderful times in the forest and I also needed a log for chopping my kindling for the fireplaces at home.  Here’s Wald doing a magnificent job of hosting the camping kettle…

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…and here, the flowers from the camper van….IMG_4518

…he wasted no time at all settling in to camping life and making himself useful!

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Setting up in our first day was a bit of work because we were so tired by the time we got to the campsite – Camping-Freizeitzentrum S√§gm√ľle in Trippstadt, Germany. ¬†We decided to have a meal in the campsite restaurant which would have been much less stressful if the provided a ramp rather than the steep steps! ¬†No options to get inside, so if you are unable to climb a few steps this is not the campsite for you…unless you don’t ever need to go to the restaurant of course. ¬† The bathrooms here are brilliant, and on a crisp morning brushing your teeth standing in a heated floor is rather special.

Waking up to a very chilly morning with the sun just creeping into the valley was a real treat. ¬†This campsite set in the Palitinate forest is lovely and we were given a pitch on the lake…this is the breakfast view on a crisp, clear and quiet morning….IMG_4014IMG_4010

After a quick bite we headed out not knowing where we were going, but happy to simply explore. Happily this worked our really well because we stumbled across a wonderful town about 50km away – Bad D√ľrkheim – spa town with a rather unusual method of producing a seaside climate using a salination plant built in around 1860. ¬†This enormous structure is what captured our attention….

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The salt water is fed by a pump to the top of the building where it trickles down through blackthorn twigs and the wind passing through creates what is believed to be a very healthy atmosphere. A truly fascinating place and one that is highly recommended if you’re ever in the area.

They also have the most imaginative water playground ever! ¬†Here’s hubby having a lovely time testing the equipment…

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If this town wasn’t lovely enough already, it completely won us over because it is literally surrounded by and interwoven with vineyards – the winemaker in me was jumping for joy, and the wine drinker in hubby was ecstatic!

You are positively encouraged to walk around the paths through the vines and try out the ‘neue wein’ which is a speciality in the German wine lands….a partially fermented grape juice with sparkle. ¬†We purchased a 3 litre jug of it and hubby has been savouring it ever since!

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IMG_4022…and their other claim to fame – the largest wine barrel in the world! ¬†Take a closer look and you will see how many litres it can hold – although it was never used as a wine barrel, but rather as a restaurant from the outset.

 

 

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Outside our little hotel is the Rio della Sensa canal.  One picture late at night and the other early in the morning before boats start to disturb the surface.

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You can just make out our hotel (by the flags);¬†the Hotel Ai Mori D’Oriente which is a lovely Moorish themed hotel after the area we are staying in.

 

 

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… woodpile envy. Seriously, they have these amazingly neat and well stacked woodpiles wherever you go through the countryside. They would make really good garden partitions as well – something we are thinking about for home – it combines form and function which appeals to my controlling personality (no comments from the family peanut gallery!)

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Because even in the Italian Alps they grow vines for their own winemaking! Every tiny bit of garden clinging to the side of the mountains has a little vineyard – hubby is envious.

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We left Zurich on a beautiful, crisp, clear morning heading towards Milan. The area around Zurichsee is stunning all shrouded in snow.
We are travelling through many tunnels which pop out into incredibly beautiful scenery of lakes and mountains which inspire one to ski, climb and generally get outdoors – but I am tempted only for a moment because the minute it gets cold I want to head indoors for the fire and coffee. I am definitely more of a thinker than a doer so my ideal would be a large fire in a conservatory overlooking the lake in the mountains.

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Yodeleyhihoooo…..

If I hadn’t seen the signs or the Swiss police I would still know we had crossed the border because even the railway stations in Switzerland are spotless. What a pleasure after graffiti at all the stations between London and the Swiss border.

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Does the fact that I am under the ocean make me a sub-mariner? As this is the ONLY way I am going to get below the ocean, I’ll accept it in the long seafaring tradition of our family.

It is amazing to think that in 20 minutes times we will pop out of the Channel tunnel and be in France – INVASION!!

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Look what we are having for dinner tonight …..

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Gem squash with a lovely blob of butter – and to top it all off a proper SA mielie (maize) on the cob and a nice big piece of steak!

We are making sure our last meal before our flight tomorrow really counts.

Ahhh! Good food, good friends, amazingly good God!

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It is a rare day that comes along, captures your heart and burrows deep in your soul – well, today was such a day.

My wonderful, amazing friends arranged a day out to the projects run by Northfield Methodist church in the fairly new township of Etwatwa east of Benoni.
I was not sure what to expect but it was a truly inspiring and uplifting experience – proof positive of the amazing power of the love of Jesus working through people to improve the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.
The South African people have an incredible spirit and despite many hardships should be an inspiration to everyone because of their love of life – here you are greeted with a beaming smile and many different handshakes.
The people in the church and these projects work tirelessly and have created an environment where the young are nurtured, the lost find a place of refuge, the sick find comfort in their time of need and every single one of them is grateful for the little they have – a truly humbling experience.

We stopped at a real African shop and were bought freshly baked fatcakes (vetkoek in Afrikaans) which we ate with burning fingers because they were too delicious to leave to cool down. We met inspirational people that work and run the John Wesley Centre. We watched the littlest children in a marimba band. We observed teachers in lessons for all the little ones they care for while their parents work to give them a better future. We walked around the newly built pre-school donated by one kind individual and built by local labour. I gave rides to a couple of children on my much admired Trekinetic K2 wheelchair and we ended our tour with tea and more fatcakes with Thoko, a new hero in my life, who manages the centre.

I believe it should be each and every persons responsibility to spend even the shortest amount of time in a place like this – here you will really learn about the beautiful people of this world – and learn to truly appreciate how fortunate we are.

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We headed off to do a little shopping and much visiting with our wonderful friends today. They suggested we try out the new Gautrain that was built in time for the soccer world cup and we happily agreed after the glowing reports it has received, but this is a story for another time.

Heading into the mall from the station is quite an incline and still not being at full strength myself, the two Mark’s with us lent a hand by pushing, one on each handlebar – this is really the life because we moved along at a very hasty rate of knots which I suggested was like Mk1 and Mk2 – pretty handy actually because now when I want to ask one of the Mark’s a question, I can ask for Mark1 or Mark2 and they know who it is addressed to.

Now, how do I arrange to get Mk2 over to England more often to make use of both of their outboard motor skills on tricky outings?

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…..is anyone still out there – or have you all given me up as a lost cause?
Don’t worry we are here in a beautiful sunny Johannesburg but what they have in sunshine, they lack in quick easy Internet access!
We Brits are truly spoiled and can get onto a wifi access point just about anywhere; we have had a few challenges in South Africa with us moving around so much. I am concerned that my iPad and iPhone have had to remember so many friends and families wifi passwords that I am going to run out of memory as they switch constantly from one to the other.
I really am hopelessly behind and will need to make a concerted effort with my writing when we are in one place long enough to take a breath AND have access at the same time!

Cheerio for now and have a cuppa on me…..

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