Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Gentlemen on the Road, Part 3: Eden, Gravestones and Phone Boxes

Monday greeted us with lots and lots of rain, so on our further way the the Southwest we decided to spend some time indoors, at the Eden Project, where you can experience various climate zones in some kind of hothouse for people. This turned out to be a very bad idea, for various reason: it was horribly overpriced, due to the weather a handful or two other blokes had the same idea, it was indeed NOT inhouse as you had to walk forever from the car park to the entrance, and then again from the entrance to the bubbles, and there was hardly anything interesting to see. We do not want to comment on waiting in line for an hour to see a mechanical T-Rex roar...

Actually the most interesting and surprising exhibit...

After that disappointment weather improved, and we continued our way towards St Ives, a beautiful little village, with a great beach, and thus a lot of people. For some reason they do allow cars there, so while admiring the beauty of the place you might get run over.

Before we found our way to Boscastle for a fantastic B&B we took the opportunity to visit a little cove south of Tintagel. We just could not keep our eyes from the water splashing against the rocks. Beautiful!

The next morning we actually went for a hike! A real one! In fanatastic weather!! The path led us to the Boscastle cove and then upwards to a rock from where you had a fantastic view on the Atlantic Ocean. We continued following the footpath up and down at the coast and then over fields to an old church with a beautiful cemetery. We would feel all the climbing in our legs for days to come...

There are two persons on this picture I could have done without:

In the afternoon we went looking for Tintagel, supposedly King Arthur's birthplace. Not really worth going to, although the ruins of the castle look pretty nice. Unfortunately it was not easy finding signs leading to it, so we ended up on the other end of the town, where we could at least get a glimpse of it.

The day ended with a nice dinner at a local pub, followed by the only thing these red phone boxes are being used for nowadays: a Tourist photo.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Gentlemen on the Road, Part 2: Dartmoor and Dartmouth

Sunday was all in the name of river Dart. We drove very small roads, with hedges and stone walls on both sides, praying that there would be no oncoming traffic. Dartmoor is a surprisingly versatile landscape:  the river area is full of bushes and trees, while the higher fields are as meager as you would expect. There are animals everywhere, you actually might get closer contact than you wished for...
Dartmoor is also a land of bridges. We were especially fascinated by the 13th century Clapper Bridge in the little town of Postbridge:
Who can read the clock?

Although we could have stayed forever in Dartmoor the weather started to turn against us, so we decided to spend the afternoon in Dartmouth, where the river meets the sea. A beautiful little village right at a inlet, where children fished for crabs that they sold to the local restaurants. We strolled through the harbour and then settled for an Indian restaurant that unfortunately could not convince even remotely. We will have to try that again!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Gentlemen on the Road, Part 1: The Truth about Stonehenge

Every few years Roland and his two long-time buddies embark on a Gentlemen tour. After a fantastic visit of the Montreal Jazz Festival four years ago the plan for this year was a trip to the Southwestern part of England. Frank (right) and myself met in Germany for a very very early flight from Dusseldorf to Heathrow (the cab driver bringing us to the airport was almost complaining), while we had to pick up Stephan who arrived from Sweden at Gatwick, of course after picking up a rental car at Heatrow first.

This was in fact quite a difficult task, as I had decide to go with a cheap option that did not have an office right at the airport, but a bit outside in one of the Holiday Inn Hotels that are scattered around Heathrow. We had to take a Shuttle Bus for 5£ per person that took quite a while to get there as our tour even included a change of drivers. Then our customer service representative was obviously not used to having foreign clients, as she did not manage to open her mouth while communicating. The car was not at the expected spot, and when we found it the tank was dryer than a sandbag in the desert. So we had to get used to the wrong side of the road, find a gas station, get to Gatwick, find Stephan at one of the Hilton Hotels, and then we were on our way. We thought...
Picking up Stephan at Gatwick
Eating healthy stuff
But unfortunately we had not taken the English weekend traffic on a bank holiday weekend in account. The destination of the day was Torquay, with stops in Winchester and Stonehenge; but we stumbled from one traffic jam into the next, quickly cancelled Winchester, and continued crawling towards Stonehenge. At some point traffic improved on the two lane highway, and so did our moods, until a one mile before Stonehenge an English traffic planer had the fantastic idea to merge two lanes into one, which caused another one hour delay. But to our surprise traffic did not get better after the merge, until we suddenly realized the reason: we were able to see Stonehenge from the road! And so were all the other drivers and their families, which meant that each and every car stopped for a minute or so, people took their photographs and then continued on their ways. So when it was our turn we stopped for a minute or so, took our photographs, and then we were on our way again. So all the romantic photos of Stonehenge, with fantastic skies and setting suns, they all are fake.

Stonehenge looks like this:
But obviously - when for once there is no car in the way - you can make it look a bit better:
In consideration of the crowds at Stonehenge and our growing feeling of hunger we changed plans again and settled for a nice American diner just a few miles further, where we finally had our breakfast at 2 pm.

From there it was a rather event less ride to Torquay where the weather had improved tremendously. We strolled around the harbour for a bit, enjoyed the sun and the scenery and settled for some English pub food in a freehouse right adjacent to our B&B where we let the day fade out with some good (albeit warm) British beer.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Busy Summertime

The weather could have been a bit better (as in warmer), but we made due with what we got. And we were out riding (be it bicycling, scootering or motorcycling) a lot. Related posts can be found on Sonja's blog.

Alpine Roads in Switzerland
Somewhere in France

We had another visitor, too. Andrea, who swapped the draught in California against the occasional torrential rainfalls in Germany.

Castle Hohengeroldseck, Blackforest, Germany

And now Roland is about to embark on a trip to Southern England with his buddies, while Sonja is mentally preparing for another exciting trip towards Italy. We are really getting good at life, aren't we?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Harvest Time

We had rented a cycle for Mom to be able to show her our backyard and our favourite place by the river Kinzig. She did a great job pedalling through the valley. And of course, we had to dip our feet into the refreshing water. The river level was quite high, so Roland made sure that Mom wouldn't be accidentally torn away by the strong current. (He was counting on dinner after all...)

Mom became quite excited when she discovered all the low hanging fruit. There were apples, peas, yellow plums and purple plums. And before we could say stop, she was already in the orchard harvesting, or better "collecting samples" (well, scrumping isn't exactly legal but widely tolerated by the farmers).

Caught red-handed!
Another fruit, another stop.
Mom's pickings