Michael's Europe 2000 Tour - Week 5


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    Mon, 28-Aug-2000

I woke up first and since I couldn't get back to sleep got ready for the day with a nice hot shower. I then settled back comfortably with my book and awaited the waking of the rest of the house. This turned out to take a while...

Once everybody was alive we had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausages with toast. It took a bit longer after breakfast before people got motivated enough to actually go out and do stuff, but that was fine by me.

Eventually we did get going though, and Gulli drove us out to Stonehenge. The actual site is not all that much to look at but considering the age it is very impressive and quite interesting to speculate how and why it had been built. The entrance fee includes an audio tour which went into a lot of detail, not only about the Stonehenge site but also into the surrounding area and the people that inhabited it from about 5000 years ago.

From Stonehenge we took a picturesque route through Woodford back to the house, and from there we headed out to visit Salisbury Cathedral. That turned out to be a winner as well, and the first cathedral in the UK in which I could take pictures, woohoo! Unfortunately we couldn't climb up the tower, as you need to join a guided tour for that, and the next one wasn't for a few hours yet. So we returned to the house, and then decided to wander through Salisbury and sample the local pubs.

Strangely enough we forgot all about the tower, and the fact that Anita and Nick had to go to dinner, and the fact I had a train to catch back to London. By the time we realised what the time was, it was a mad rush to get back, collect our gear, and then go to our respective appointments. Gulli kindly offered a lift to the train station, without which I probably wouldn't have made my train. The return journey went rather quicker than the inbound one, as I wrote postcards and then continued reading.

Finding my way back to Richards apartment went pretty much without a hitch, and when I got there I discovered I had missed the good-bye dinner they had prepared for me. Ooops. Well, they had saved a portion for me, so all was not lost. The rest of the evening disappeared with chatting and now I'm here catching up on my diary. Tomorrow it's back to Germany, with it's lack of decent internet connection. Sigh. Don't expect regular updates from now on...

    Tue, 29-Aug-2000

I got up in time to say good-bye to Richy and Mel. After they had left I took my time getting ready to go, finished packing, and finally hoisted my baggage onto my shoulders.

I had no problems getting back to Waterloo station by bus, and then spent another hour or so wandering around before I could check in. I sent off the english postcards and bought the 5th book of the 'Wheel of Time' series, as I was already halfway through the 3rd one, and at the rate I've been reading I didn't think the ones I had would last...

Finally it's time to check in, after which I had another hour or so to wait, in which time I did some reading and spent the rest of my english pounds - they're too expensive to keep! Time went by quickly and soon enough we boarded the Eurostar. I was pretty lucky, getting a double-seat to myself, so I settled down in comfort and kept reading.

The rest of the trip went by quite smoothly, with a quick change of train in Brussels, and another in Koeln, and by evening I was ringing the bell back at my uncle's place. My timing was perfect: dinner was still warm! After dinner we sat down with a bottle of champagne to celebrate my birthday from last week, and then I headed to a well-deserved slumber after a day spent travelling.

    Wed, 30-Aug-2000

I got up late today - not entirely my fault though! Simon had closed the shutters, so it was pitch-black when I woke up. Thinking it was still the middle of the night, I tried to go back to sleep. By the time I gave up and decided to get up for a drink I discovered I was the only one left in the house.

I got ready and had breakfast and then took Bobby the dog out for a walk in the close-by forest. By the time I got back it was lunchtime, and I headed off to Bergish-Gladbach, a town not too far away, in which I spent the early afternoon. I failed to get a new battery for my watch though, I'll have to try again in the city next time I get there.

By the time I got back Barbara was home as well, so we chatted a bit before she went shopping. I hung out the washing, and then settled in the backyard in a still-sunny spot for a bit of reading until people came home again.

Not long after Helmut got home we headed out for a walk with Bobby again. By the time we got back dinner was well underway, so we set the table in preparation. Dinner was followed by doing the dishes, and for Helmut and Barbara, going to the gym.

Now I'm sitting here updating my diary and pondering sleep...

    Thu, 31-Aug-2000

Today I got up a bit later, and went for my morning walk with Bobby through the local forest. When I got back I jumped on the bike and rode to where Barbara works to help out with the computers there, which took the rest of the morning.

For lunch Barbara and I bought some Doner kebabs, which are somewhat different here than back in Australia, and headed back home to eat them with Simon. Afterwards we headed back to work, I still had some bits to finish off, but that didn't take much longer, and soon enough I was pedalling my way back home where I spent a quiet afternoon reading.

In the evening dad came with another uncle of mine, Siggi, and we all sat around chatting with a drink or two.

    Fri, 1-Sep-2000

Today dad and I went together to take Bobby for his daily walk and we walked a lot further than I normally did by myself. After the walk, dad was thirsty so we thought we'd walk to the nearest pub and do something about that. Unfortunately the nearest pub that was open was in town - right opposite Barbara's work. So we let her know where we were, and settled down to a drink or two, commiserating about all the poor people who have to work!

When Barbara finished work she came to join us for a few drinks as well and by the time we thought it might be about time to go home it had started to rain. So I rang Simon to come and pick us up which he was kind enough to do.

Back home we pretty much carried on with things, sitting around talking and stuff. Detlef, another uncle of mine, came by later on as we were going back to his place with him. The evening was spent over dinner and drinks, and got longer and longer, but finally it was time to get going. I had packed all my gear back into the backpacks and soon we were on our way.

An hours drive or so later, and we arrived in Buchholz where Detlef lives with his family - quite close to where I used to live as a kid. As it was already late nobody was awake anymore, so all we did was crawl into bed. Hmm... comic-books next to the bed.. nasty nasty! They kept me awake for another hour or two...

    Sat, 2-Sep-2000

I got up a little later than the other people had, so I ate breakfast by myself. My cousin Jennefer was also around and she was happy enough to take me for a little bike ride around the area. It's a nice little town surrounded by forests and fields perfect for hiking or riding.

When we got back I went to take a look at their computer, reinstalling graphics drivers. Hmm, looks like wherever I go here, someone's got problems with their computers.. and I'm supposed to be on holidays!

I went back downstairs and dad, Detlef, and I played Skat until lunchtime. After lunch, dad lay down for a nap and Detlef started reading newspapers so I headed upstairs to see what Jennefer was up to. She and my other cousin Annika where busy playing computer games, so I sat down with the girls and watched and later on joined in when it got to Worms 2. Why is it girls always gang up on males?

The girls and I ate a late dinner, and then we talked my aunt Annelie into playing Rumme with us, which we did until bedtime. Needless to say I lost again...

    Sun, 3-Sep-2000

Today, despite the name, dawned rainy again. We all sat down to a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs with freshly baked bread.

After breakfast the adults headed out for a walk - it was a close call between staying home and playing computer games with my cousins or heading out but I ended up donning my jacket and shoes and heading out into the blustery cold german summer.

We had quite a long walk down to Asbach, another small town close by, and then circled around through another town where we stopped at a market for a Rollmops breadroll and ice-cream before keeping going back to Roesrath. In Roesrath we stopped for a drink and then headed back home. On the walk I remembered quite a bit about plants and stuff here in Germany, it's amazing the sort of things you remember from your childhood with the right triggers.

Now I'm waiting for fresh plum-cake and have taken the momentarily idle computer to update my diary!

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Last updated: 3-Sep-2000