Archive for December, 2010

Leaving London & Happy Birthday Dante.

December 31, 2010

29th December

After repacking our bags and leaving what we could at Alex’s, Roy went off to pick up the car whilst Bernice attended to domestic duties. 

Car picked up, then back to pick up Bernice and our luggage and we were off.  We had programmed the GPS to take us to our B&B in Ivychurch, Romney Marsh and after an uneventful drive we reached our accommodation. Parts of this building date back to the 1460 and is quite quaint.

fireplaceSitting room with spacious fire

floorHall floor with a good hump in the middle

walland the wall also bends somewhat

After a bit of refreshment and unloading our gear, we headed off, albeit very slowly, to a local pub for an excellent dinner.  A total lack of photo’s  of our travels today as we had thick fog all day and evening.

30th December

Happy Birthday Dante.  Hope you had a great birthday and had lots of fun. Love Granddad & Bernice xx

plane 2We hear you got some Lego, here is a picture of Aunty Alexandra’s Lego plane.

Up and off this morning to Hythe to check out what was around.  Although the fog had lifted a little, it was till gloomy.  And Hythe was also gloomy, it seemed a very depressed place although we did manage to wander onto the pebbled beach and look at the fog shrouded sea!

fun at the beachBernice enjoying a day at the beach between Xmas and New Year

beach 1Looking along the beach at Hythe

military canalThe Military Canal built in the time of the Napoleonic wars.

From there we headed to Rye, and what a lovely village it was.  We wandered through the village, had a cream tea i.e. fruit scone, jam and clotted arteries cream!  Yum.

wicker workWicker motorbike spotted in one of the shops

remodelledRebuilt 1490!

Then off to look around the village, including a walk to the church at the top of the hill and then along to the museum, which just so happened to be closed today due to illness of the attendant. Just our luck. 

bulgeEven the flying buttresses cannot prevent middle age spread.

doorway heightBernice showing how tall she has grown on the trip when compared to the door height of these houses.

towerTower at the top of the town.

Then it was back down the hill to the info centre to watch a light and sound show of the History of Rye.  This was all done exceptionally well, utilising a model of the village complimented by light and sound. 

town modelModel of the town.

 fishing rye  Fishing boats tied up at the Fish market wharf       

From there we headed to Tenterden before heading back to our B&B for a wee relax before heading out to dinner at another local pub.  Another excellent meal, it is just amazing that these wee country pubs, stuck in the midst of nowhere are; busy, charming, with great staff and put out such fantastic meals all with locally sourced food.  Tonight Bernice had a Stilton Pannacotta with quince paste, toasted walnuts and salad, followed by slow roasted pork belly with Bramley apple sauce, mashed potatoes and a delicious cider gravy.  Roy has kidneys on toasted brioche followed by Sausage and mash and followed by an orange steamed pudding with a Cointreau sauce.  Fantastic – keep it up.

  dcuk  It’s all in the label.

An eye on London

December 29, 2010

27th December

Roy was up and off this morning, whilst Bernice and Alex had a little sleep in.  The girls met up with Roy at the London Eye. Pictures say it all really.

The London eyeThe London eye before the crowds arrived.

all aboard 1 Roy Snow and Alexandra about to go up

All aboard The three musketeers at the top

at the topLooking into the next pod at the top

parliament backgroundBernice and Alexandra with the Houses of Parliament in the background

Houses of parliamentOn the way down.

Snow 1Snow enjoying his ride.

From there we headed off towards Greenwich, but we did happen to come across a number of bookstores which we just had to visit.  Then it was off to GBK for lunch…yes, we know its a New Zealand restaurant, and it was oh so good too. Then it was off to the observatory at Greenwich.  Unfortunately we could not take any photos in the museum of the Harrison clocks etc.  We spent the afternoon there until the observatory closed.

  astride the meridean  Astride the Meridian

laserAt night the Meridian is marked with a laser

 laser 1 Shining down into the city 

on the meridean Bernice and Alexandra astride the Meridian

Caught the Tube home to have a simple dinner of cheese & chutney on toast, we were all still full from lunch.  We then sat down to watch Toy Story 3 whilst Alex made up yet another airplane from her Lego.

28th December

We were all up and off by 9am this morning. to head into town.  Our first stop was Hamleys Toy Store, 5 levels of toys and games.

buzzAlexandra and Bernice with Buzz Lightyear

Then it was a short walk towards Fortnum & Mason but first we had to go past Bookstores.  Did I say pass?  We did succumb to going into the stores and yes a few purchases were made.  Then into Fortnum & Mason where we enjoyed looking through the store.  It was soon time for lunch, we found a lovely Italian place where the customers (including a lot of Italian) were queued to get in so we knew it must be good.

Suitably satiated, we then headed for St Pauls Cathedral.

in frontBernice and Alexandra in front of St Pauls

Between the Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge we found this memorial to the fire-fighters who were killed in the Blitz


From there it was a walk across the Millennium Bridge to visit the Globe Theatre where we went on a guided tour.  An excellent tour through the theatre and its history.

millenium 1On the Millennium bridge

  costume Costume in the exhibition

Hangings 2 The New Zealand hangings

hangings 3 Again

New zealand hangingsAnd the final one

tiersThe galleries where the patrons are seated

stageThe stage with the yard in front where the patrons stand

in front of the stsge    Bernice and Alexandra in the yard in front of the stage

  Outside the theatre   Roy and Bernice outside the theatre

Back across the bridgeThe bridge at night (4:30pm)

Back across the bridge to catch the tube home where Bernice & Alexandra made a lovely dinner with Brick Pastry filled with onion marmalade, feta, tomato and basil followed by Xmas pudding and custard.  Tomorrow we head south to the coast where we intend to explore the southern part of England including Cornwall.

Boxing Day Crowds

December 29, 2010

Ok, so who’s idea was it to go into Oxford St on Boxing Day?  After  realising that the Tube was out of action due to some pathetic strike action by the drivers (no sympathy here mate), we headed to catch the bus. 

On the bus spotted a number of places where people were taking advantage of natural freezing by putting perishables on exterior window sills.

making use of freezing temperaturesKeeping cool.


But of course everyone else decided that they too wanted to get into town so the roads were a little jammed, shall we say.  We eventually got into town and got off at Oxford Circus, to join the throng.  (We found out later that apparently there were around 8000 people queued up to get into Selfridges alone!!).  We had intended getting to the London Eye, but that was clearly going to be an impossible task today.

We wandered off as best we could before we came across Liberty’s,  Bernice enjoyed her quick wander around this famous old store. 

liberty exterior Liberty exterior

liberty interior 1Interior

 Liberty interior   and again

birds 1 Decorative birds around the interior guard rails


Then it was off to Carnaby Street and to check out the shops there, before heading to Sacred, a New Zealand Cafe, for a spot of lunch and a Flat White! No, we did not have a taste of their Lolly Cake, Anzac Biscuit or Sausage Roll but yes, the coffee was damn good. 

Carnaby Street Carnaby Street

Then it was off for more wandering before deciding it was probably about time to head home.  Yes, well, that was the next exciting adventure.  After waiting over an hour for the bus that never came, we caught another bus to take us as far as Marble Arch so we could change and get the bus home. 

Xmas lights regent stXmas lights in Oxford Street

OMG, it was crazy, the buses were packed and in the end the drivers were passing stops as there were just so many people waiting it was insane.  We got off at Marble Arch and walked back down Edgware Rd to try and find a stop that would have our bus.  It seems that because of the crowds and the traffic et al, they re routed some of the buses (not that they were telling anyone).  We got on the right bus after starting out to catch that particular bus nearly two hours earlier.  Got home where we had a lovely dinner of Xmas Day leftovers, watched some television before heading off to sleep. 

Mike’s Birthday celebrations aka Christmas Day

December 27, 2010

Santa has been!  We woke this morning to a chilly but lovely day Roy set about organising a treasure hunt for Alex, well, we could not let her have a year without a hunt!  It was not too long before Alex was up, so the three of us started opening presents.  But before we get onto that, we have to back track slightly. 

Yesterday, Christmas Eve, after Roy had gone off to do his own thing in London City, Alex and Bernice set off to find the Parcel depot as notification had arrived to say that a parcel was waiting for us.  Some weeks ago through correspondence with friend in Waimate New Zealand, Anne Townend, Bernice and Anne discussed the fact that the Possum Merino jackets that the Vannini’s had bought prior to leaving were invaluable and perhaps another jersey would be very handy.  Ok, lets be honest, Anne was worried that we were freezing to death and wanted to make sure we were warm!   Anne kindly offered to get us a jersey each plus a hat each and some gloves for Roy (as he kept flogging either Bernice or Alex’s nice warm ones).  Alex and Bernice found their way to the parcel depot which was only a 15 minute bus ride away and duly picked up the parcel.  Once back at the flat, we opened it up to find that Anne had already wrapped each item in Xmas wrap plus there seemed to be a few extra parcels and also a wonderful Xmas stocking with a map of NZ on it full of presents.  Wow, this really was exciting!

This morning we opened the parcels to find that Roy & Bernice had a new jersey each, plus a lovely cardigan wrap for Bernice.  A pair of gloves for Roy, a scarf/neck warmer each and a hat for all three of us as well as sweets.  We were all thrilled!  Roy had bought Bernice a lovely vintage silver and marcasite fern shaped brooch which just so happened to be perfect for her new cardigan wrap. 

clothes All wrapped up

There were also books, chocolates and vouchers given and received.  Santa also brought us a Lego game of a pirate walk the plank where you build up the dice as part of the game, the three of us made and played with  the Lego until it was time to start cooking.

walk the plankBernice and Alexandra assembling the Pirate game

Alex had worked out the first clue for her Treasure Hunt but had to wait until Fran arrived as she held the second clue.

Soon, people started arriving, champagne flowed, presents were opened, the homemade crackers that Bernice & Alex had made were snapped/cracked/popped and much laughter was heard.

etc 1Clive, Alexandra, Kenny, Bernice and Kelly

etcKelly, Motasin, Joe, Roy and Ben

crowd 1 Liz, Alexandra and Kenny

fran cliveFran and Clive

Some of Alex’s friends had brought along all the nibbles;  salsa, guacamole, hummus dips along with crackers, nuts, and vegetable dippers.  Much  champagne (Bolli, moet..) was also supplied. Lunch of a stunning rib roast of beef plus all the trimmings was served, along with roasted potatoes, roast carrots parsnip squash and beetroot, brussel sprouts and green beans, a delicious red wine gravy and a horseradish/sour cream sauce.

tartTomato, Feta and Basil tart for the vegetarians

DinnerBeef and vegetables

beefReady for the oven

This was all followed some time later by desserts of fresh fruits – strawberries, blueberries, rock melon and pineapple chocolate log, profiteroles and Xmas pudding.


Alex got her second clue for her treasure hunt from Fran, took some time to solve that after being given a clue or two (by this time she was missing Ants to help her!!), then she was onto her last clue, after a little frustration and some time (yes, Ants, you were really, really being missed by this point), she solved it and got her final present – a Lego set of a 3 in 1 Creation set that made a plane as one of the options.

Later in the evening once everyone had left, dishes were done etc, Alex settled down to make up the Lego whilst Roy & Bernice watched Invictus the movie about the 1995 rugby world cup. 

The startStart

By the time the movie had finished, Alex had finished making her creation, complete with lights!

 complete    Finish

All in all a lovely Christmas Day and one that will be remembered for the lovely company, the laughs, and our first experience of a winter Christmas.

 fox   Next day fox photographed early in the morning in the middle of London

PS.  And yes Anne, we have worked out a few ways/places to wear our neck warmers!!


December 25, 2010

Saturday 18th December

Woke to more snow falling, so we made a quick getaway from the B&B in Ashbourne to our next destination Cannock.

Packing at AshbournePacking at Ashbourne

driving Conditions worsened as we went along

temperatureAnd the temperature went south with us!!!

The snow by this time was falling pretty steadily and heavily with a thick covering on the roads.  Although Cannock was only a short distance away, with careful driving it took a bit longer, however we still turned up at our hotel by 11.30am.  We were very warmly greeted by the staff, made comfortable with tea and coffee whilst we waited for out room to come available.  Spent the day relaxing and watching the snow fall!  Roy did venture out to get in some nibbles for us to have for lunch.  We had dinner at the hotel, which was very mediocre, before retiring for the evening.

Sunday 19th December

Another short drive to Sutton Coldfield where we were to meet up with cousins (on Bernice’s Dad’s side of the family).

road 1Residual snow from the previous night

We got to our Hotel (Moor Park Hall) which was set amongst a golf course and in beautiful surroundings, looking especially gorgeous all covered in snow.

hotel 1View from golf course of the hotel

golf courseThe golf course, closed for some reason.

We made contact with Veronica and arranged to meet at her place at 2pm.  It was with a little nervousness that we trudged through the snow to the front door, but once we met Veronica, her husband Vic and son Tom, we felt instantly at home.

veronicasVic and Veronica’s house, well snowed.

Although Bernice had not seen Veronica since she was 4 years old, after much talking and genealogy discussed, the years disappeared, and lots and lots of talking took place.  We were very well looked after and Vic cooked the most delicious roast of pork for dinner accompanied by a vast range of beautifully cooked vegetables and condiments.   We left Veronica & Vic’s after a lovely afternoon and evening of recollection, comparing notes and Bernice trying to figure out where everyone fitted into the family tree.  As we left in the car the temperature was only minus 8.5 degrees!

Monday 20th December

Back into Sutton Coldfield initially to look through the shops before heading off to Veronica’s to meet up with her sister Susan and husband Martin who were braving the conditions to come and meet with us.  Again we seemed to hit it off almost instantly and it was as if we had known each other all our lives!  Lots more talking of family, placing people into the family tree, comparing notes and looking at pictures.  Then it was to talk of New Zealand as Susan and Martin are heading to New Zealand in January as one of their daughters’ is living in Auckland…yes siblings, they will be calling on you!!

the girlsThe three girls all reminiscing and sorting out who is who.

Another wonderful day spent with extended family, and yes, it is amazing how certain family traits extend through the generations.

Back to our hotel to digest all the information.

Tuesday 21st December

Up and off to return towards Cambridge and to St Neots to Ken & Hilda’s.  However, we were going via Bletchley Park as Roy wanted to visit the museum there.  After driving through some very heavy snow, we arrived to find that the road into Bletchley Park was completely snowed in and closed.  Bugger, so it was time to head back to Cambridge to return the car.  Car returned we caught the bus back to St Neots and Hail Weston, after fighting not only the Christmas traffic but traffic snarled up due to road conditions.  However, it was not too long and we were back in Hail Weston with Ken & Hilda.  Hilda had prepared a delicious dinner for our return and we spent the evening catching up.

Wednesday 22nd December

Roy went off into Cambridge for the day, as he was pacing around like a caged lion.  Bernice stayed at home to deal to domestic matters.

CambridgeCambridge well snowed

round churchRound church built in the mid 12th Century.

Thursday 23rd December

We bade farewell to Ken and Hilda, and set off on the train to London.  Yes, we seem to have managed to avoid travelling when lines are down, snow is bad in other areas and general disruption.

woolly rugThat beautiful woollen rug left on the seat is actually snow.

We arrived in Kings Cross and made our way to Alex’s office to leave our luggage whilst we wandered the town.  Alex’s Office is right in front of the Gherkin so is in the middle of London.

the gherkinThe gherkin next to Alex’s office.

We went to the Spittalfield Markets and had a look around the area before it was time to meet up with Alex and head home to her place.  Then we went into Westfield and to Wahaca for a delicious Mexican dinner, collected a few groceries ready for Christmas Dinner before returning for the evening.

trees at westfieldXmas tress at Westfield.

two happy punterstwo punters awaiting … dinner

mexican 1… which duly arrived

Friday 24th December

Its Christmas Eve, woke this morning to the news that Sarah (Bernice’s niece in Auckland) had given birth to her third son, a few weeks early but ok and yet another Christmas baby, welcome Finn Bradley Webber.  In our immediate family we now have 24/25/26/30/31 December covered!!

Roy went off into London for the day whilst Bernice and Alex had other things to attend to – Christmassy things that we cannot divulge here just yet!  But we returned to the flat to find that we had no power. Brrr, it is supposed to be put back on by this evening, and it had better be otherwise it will be a raw Christmas dinner for us!

Footnote:  Power resumed, calls made, Love Actually watched.  Merry Christmas everyone.

Cambridge to Ashbourne via Sproxton

December 18, 2010

Thursday 16th December

Ken very kindly took us into St Neots to catch the bus.  We did not have long to wait for our bus, and we must say a very comfortable bus it was too, complete with leather seats and free wifi!  And all this for 2 pounds for the 30+minute trip.  We spent some time wandering the streets of Cambridge looking in shops and sheltering from the rain.  This is definitely on our list of ‘to return and spend some time in’ place.

angels Angels flying in the mall


Off for a bite to eat at Carluccio’s – very nice it was too – then on to the car rental place to pick up the car.

As we were waiting for the car, it started to snow!  Unfortunately there was no GPS available from the rental company so it was a quick trip down the road to buy one.  Note: We sold Heidi, our trusty European GPS, back to the van rental people as there were no NZ/Oz data available in that system.  Now we have a TomTom GPS which we have downloaded a NZ voice to tell us where to go, as the supplied voices were just plain horrid!  By now the snow was falling very heavily and steadily.

Off we ventured with the GPS coming well into its own as it was just after 4pm and already dark!  Onto to a little village just outside Melton Mowbray for the night and a stay at the Crown at Sproxton.  A quaint wee pub in a village that contained nothing else apart from a  few houses.  We booked into our room,  and a very pleasant room it was. 

pub room

Then off downstairs to the restaurant for dinner.  What a very pleasant surprise the dinner was, we should have realised as the restaurant was booked out as well.  The food was excellent, and the service attentive. Bernice had Duck Confit with Cassoulet followed by a wonderful tender rack of Lamb.  Roy had Onion Tart with Stilton followed by Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, all this washed down with a bottle of Rioja.

diningDining in the corner

wine roomWine rack within the restaurant

bang 2Prior to dinner we had crackers

bang 1Bernice appears to have a slight fear of this cracker.

confit duckConfit of duck

onion and stiltonOnion Tart with Stilton

lamb and vegLamb

Next morning the early riser took a walk around the village and took some shots of the scenery

The CrownThe Pub with snow around

outdorrsCourtyard off the dining room

morningSnow fields around the village with the sun just rising

Thurwell's horsesThurwell’s ponies are alive and well.


Friday 17th December.

After a good nights sleep, we headed back downstairs for breakfast, which again was very good and the service excellent. Off into Melton Mowbray to check out the village.  First we had to defrost the car. 

We found our way into the centre of Melton Mowbray, and had a quick wander around the town and of course had to try a Melton Mowbray Pie and some Stilton. 

From there we headed off over the pretty countryside, very Christmas Card looking with it all covered in snow.  


We ended up in Ashbourne at the start of the Peak District.  After a wander around the town we had found a number of interesting photo ops.

bears     A window full of bears

GeorgeSt George on the front of the George and Dragon in the main square.

 husbands  And finally a sign that Sal might well make use of!      

We located a B & B and settled ourselves in for the night.  However we had to brave the cold (the tempertaure had not gone above zero all day) down the road to the local pub for dinner,   which proved have excellent pub food.

Home to chosse a destination for tomorrow and a good nights sleep.

Hail Weston

December 16, 2010

Monday 13th December

Up early as we went on the tube with Alex on her way to work.  We said our farewells as we then headed off to Kings Cross and to find a train to Hilda & Ken’s (Bernice’s cousin on the maternal side of the family) up in Hail Weston.  We were on the train by 10.20am and  in less than an hour we were being greeted off the train at St Neots by Ken.

We spent the rest of the day catching up and also attending to the mundane things such as laundry.

Tuesday 14th December

Another day relaxing in Hail Weston although we did venture into St Neots to partake in a little retail therapy.  Continued attending to the housekeeping/laundry tasks and generally relaxing and chatting.

Wednesday 15th December

Ahhh, relaxing with Hilda & Ken, its nice to stay still for a day or two.  Been catching up with family history and stories as well as contacting a few people regarding meeting up.  We have booked a hire car from Cambridge which we pick up tomorrow afternoon, first we will catch the bus from St Neots to Cambridge, have a look around Cambridge and probably check out a museum or two.  Then we are off towards Birmingham to meet up with some second cousins of Bernice (paternal relations).  Along the way we have discovered that we should really head through Melton Mowbray…yes Dad, we will sample a pork pie or two and report back…and also some Stilton.  We have to return the car on 21st, then it will be back here to Hail Weston for a night or two before we head back to London for Christmas with Alex, Fran and friends.  Plans from there on in are still being formulated!

Ye olde London town

December 13, 2010

Saturday 11 December

The wake up call was set for 7am but we were both up and ready to go when the call came through, so off to the Frankfurt train station to pick up our bags and to grab a bite to eat before we set off on the train.  Ahhh train travel, have we happened to mention before how wonderful and civilised it is to travel by train??

time for offWaiting fore the off.

Our trip was uneventful, we had to change trains in Saarbrucken to the TGV and before long we were in Paris. 


We arrived at Paris Est station and had to drag our luggage for the 10 minutes walk around the streets to Paris Nord station.

We had an hour or so to wait for the train so by the time we had a bite to eat, go through customs and immigration, we did not have long to wait before we boarded the Eurostar to make our way to London.

A very uneventful ride, including the trip through the channel tunnel.  We arrived in London late afternoon and Alex was waiting for us at St Pancras station.  Off on the underground to make our way to her place as her flat mates had agreed to have  a wee shuffle with Estelle giving up her room and bed for us.

Off to Westfield Mall at Shepherds Bush and Wagamama for dinner.  As well as a wander around a small portion of this enormous mall…some of us had to be dragged out of the Lego store, other out of the bookstores!

light trees   Light trees outside the mall 

car outline Outlined car

Home to bed.

Sunday 12th December.

A lazy start to the day for some of us, but we headed off back to Westfield mall to see some more Lego!! and to check out a few more shops.  All in all a day spent wandering. 

sewing machinesDisplay of sewing machines as window dressing.

Back to Alex’s flat where Bernice made dinner for everyone of Confit duck and mushroom risotto.

Tomorrow we are heading north to St Neots to Ken & Hilda’s then plans are a little weather dependent form here on in, but we hope to make a run up to Scotland to visit more relations.

All good things….

December 11, 2010

Before we begin, we hope that you have noticed that the last couple of posts are out of sequence!  Three countries in one day should be before Cologne and Cologne 2.

9th December

Woke to reasonably steady snow in Cologne, so we decided that we would pack up and head off towards Friedburg, which is just north of Frankfurt and is where we need to return the van by tomorrow.  Everything is packed and stowed ready for the trip, but first things first, we cannot move as the van is stuck in the ice and snow!  Luckily the camp ground has a tractor to tow us out, however, we could not find the tow points for the van so plan B was initiated i.e. place snow tracks under the front tyres to enable us to drive ourselves out.  That done we were on our way.  All the major roads were cleared of snow, but it was clearly evident that the further we got on during our trip, the deeper the snow. 

driving 1Roadside snow

driving 2and on the forest in the distance

We had earlier made the decision to drive straight to the campervan rental company to see if we could stay there the night and use their facilities to clean the van before returning it.  We duly arrived and were warmly welcomed, and yes, it was no problem to stay there.  In fact it would be good, they said, as they had some Australians arriving later to pick up a van and they too were staying the night so we would have company.

We spent the afternoon packing up our gear, we had even had to buy another bag to put the excess into…a nice purple bag!…most of which we will ship back to NZ once we get back to the UK. That done, cleaning all done, we went to introduce ourselves to our Aussie neighbours and to give them all our excess bits we had accumulated during our travels.  A truly lovelier family we could not have met, we ended up walking into town for a bite to eat and to look at the Christmas market and lights before heading back to the van for our final night in the now familiar 4 walls.

Friday 10th December

One final clean and check, remove all our luggage from the van, and bid farewell to neighbours Kurt, Debbie, Craig, Kim and James and  wished them well on their adventures. 

last hoursOur last view of our home for the past ten weeks.  Sitting on snow in the yard.

We were promptly away to the station to catch the train to Frankfurt.  We are so pleased that we made the decision yesterday to make our move a day earlier than required, as we were on the train just after 10am, and in Frankfurt in a lovely hotel by 11.30am.  We have found ourselves another nice Hotel not far from the train station, the hotel we stayed in last time was full, however, this one, The Corner Hotel, is just as nice. Bernice treated herself to a nice long soak in the bath…ahhh bliss.

Roy went walkabout and found the Xmas market in the centre of Frankfurt.

buildings Attractive buildings as a backdrop to the market.

  windmill   This is an extreme example of a very common Xmas decoration found in all the markets.  The home versions range in size from about 15 centimetres to over 1 metre.  These are generally driven by candle power from candles mounted  beneath the blades, although I have seen some that are electric with the heated air from the bulbs driving the blades.  However the one shown here was at least 3 metres tall mounted on the top of one of the stalls in the market and driven by the wind.

Also found this interesting glass roof on one of the major multishop buildings in the main street.  

roof 2 A shot from inside showing the exterior roof lines.

roof 1This shot shows the interior side of the roof.   The roof originates from several points within the building and then twists and turns as it covers the building.

We have stowed all our cases except our overnight bag in the luggage lockers at the train station as tomorrow morning by 9am we will be on the train to Paris to catch the train to London.  By tomorrow afternoon we will be back in London.  Another three countries in one day and the end to our adventures in the motorhome.  And are we sick of living together in such close quarters?  the answer to that is an emphatic NO! 

Cologne 2

December 11, 2010

8 December 2010

Woke to a light addition to the show outside.  At least it covered the ice and made it a bit safer to move around.

good morning 2Early morning


  good morning

Decided to go to the Cologne Xmas markets in the city.  So off on the bus, then tram, to the centre of the city.  Arrived to find it snowing again.  Made bookings to train from Frankfurt to London on Saturday.  Then off to the central Xmas market.  There are in fact six Xmas markets on in Cologne.

cologne cathedralCologne Cathedral


finialOne of the finials from the very top of the spires, set down at ground level to give a perspective of the size of them.

Snowing heavier, we made our way around the market, but it turned out to be much the same as we had already seen in Brugge, Brussels, and Aachen. 

snow in the snow Snow in the snow at the market

After seeing much of the same we decided to miss the other markets.  But we did have a very nice roll with hot ham and sauerkraut for lunch from one of the stalls.  Wandered around the city for a while and then decided to treat ourselves to afternoon tea, well actually coffee, hot chocolate and cake. Very posh!

afternoon tea 2

So back home to the warmth of our van.  It had now been snowing  off and on all day.  Not hard but steady enough to add a small layer of snow to everything.

Short and sweet but, I must admit, have just about had enough of the snow and cold.