Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 31 May

The storm continued unabated during the first part of the night - at one point, enormous hailstones landing on the roof made it impossible to hear ourselves speak!  And the last loud bang of thunder was just that: "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!" like that, before dying away. And so we slept, as the rain gradually petered out, too.

In the morning, it was still a bit cloudy, but we went out to explore the local Schloß on an island in what turned out to be the Traunsee. 

You had to pay to go in, but there were two museums, one about the history of the place, and the other about climbing, and mountain rescue on, the Traunberg. 

After that, it was time to move on so we drove to Graz down a rather hairy motorway with lots of tunnels, which gave the sat nav indigestion!  What slightly annoyed us was that yesterday we had bought our vignette to entitle us to drive on "All the motorways in Austria", as it says on the back, but twice there was a tollbooth where we had to pay again!  Ah well, I suppose they have to pay for the tunnels somehow, but they might have warned us!

Anyway, eventually we got to the place in Graz where we are going to spend the night and found that, as we had been warned might happen, it was full.  It is a Park'n'Ride, so we assumed it would get empty later (it hasn't much, so far), and decided that, because we were within reach of the Slovenian border, we would head down that way and visit the town of Maribor (Mauberg, in old money) before coming back.  

We realised that we would have to buy a vignette for Slovenia, too, and we agreed we had rather "had" motorways for one day, so we came off at Leibnitz (which, alas, was not home to the eponymous biscuit, but was still rather pretty), and then continued on the slower roads to Maribor.
And a slow, and thundery, journey back - had to flash our passports at the frontier - but we found a parking space in the P&R and have parked up for the night.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 30 May

I decided that, as the showers on-site looked really nice - not the swimming pool type you can only really wash your hair in, I would treat myself to one (they were €1 each, and I only had 1 coin) and it would have been perfect had the hot water lasted just 30 seconds longer so I could have rinsed my conditioner out. Not really a problem as, once I was dressed, I could rinse my head in one of the washbasins provided, but even still.....

We used the services and then said a sad farewell to the Achensee, driving down into the Inn valley (stopping first to buy a vignette for the Austrian motorway system), and stopping to shop in a place called Wörgl, and then headed on. It is a function of what was left of Austria after 1919 and the peculiar geography of the valley that it is quicker, when travelling from Innsbruck to Salzburg, to go via Germany​.  We told the Satnav we wanted to stop in Bad Reichenhall for lunch, as we had been to several skating camps there back in the day, and we had a lovely walk remembering former landmarks and discovering new ones.

After lunch we set off again to our overnight stop in Gmunden, but it was so hot and boring motorway that I slept through most of it. The SW went for a short walk when we arrived, but had to come back as there was a thunderstorm going on, which has eased for the moment but was very violent for a while there!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 29 May

The day started badly. The Swan Whisperer woke me by saying he was going for a run, but when I surfaced I found that he had neither made tea nor turned the bathwater on.  Not had he taken his water bottle with him. And then he didn't come back, and wasn't answering his phone......  I was very frightened,  imagining that he had had a heart attack or torn a muscle or something, but when he eventually turned up, it transpired that he had just run round the lake as far as the Dripping Rock and back, which the Chalet School girls may have done every morning, but is not actually practicable in real life.  And his phone, for some reason, was on silent.....

So breakfast was a lot later than I had hoped, but finally we were able to get away and catch a bus into Pertisau, where we visited the slate oil museum. The mining seems all to have been done by one family, so perhaps the poverty EBD describes was real.... Anyway, I then bought some shampoo and conditioner, which I hope will be nice, and some of the original ointment, which I gather never expires, like honey.

After which, we were in just nice time to buy tickets for a round trip on the boats that ply the lake,

which was lovely, and then a sausage in a bun before the bus back to Maurach. We had a wee bit of shopping to do, so did that and spent the next hour enjoying iced coffee in the nearest restaurant.  And just as we got on the bus back to Buchau, it began to rain!

We had hoped to eat in the campsite restaurant this evening, but it was closed, so I made lentil curry, which was very good.  The rain appears to be away, but who knows for how long. Certainly it could do with being cooler - EBD was not wrong when she had the girls go limp in the heat!

Oberstdorf and Austria, 28 May

The day started with the necessity to change our sheets, as we are over half-way through the holiday and three weeks is really too​ long to use the same sheets and towels.  It is not easy in a confined space, but we managed in the end. 

We had decided that we would go for a swim, as we were parked up by an open-air pool, and this we duly did. It was lovely, and excellent value for money - there is a huge park with loads of chairs and tables and sun-loungers and so on; one could easily bring a picnic and stay all day, and you could see a lot of people were planning to do just that, this summer Sunday.  

I was shocked to find I could barely swim!  Oh, my body knew what to do and I was in no danger of drowning - I'm fat enough that floating is really easy -  but I did seem to be flailing rather and not getting anywhere!  I worked out afterwards that the last time I went for an actual swim, rather than helping a grandson, must have been on Minerva in 2012!

We enjoyed our swim but, sadly, found that the showers were either locked out of use or you needed​ a token to open the door.  And I had been so looking forward to a proper​ hair-wash! Ah well. So I had a quick one in the motor home, and then when we were both dressed and the place was ready, we headed on. 

The Achensee!  One of the loveliest Austrian lakes and the setting, of course, for the earliest (and arguably the best) of Elinor M Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books.  It was a lovely drive, too, via Bad Tolz and then down the Achenpass into Austria.  The camp site is very nice, we are parked right by the lake, although it is mostly reed beds just here, with a view over to Seespitz and the little train.
I did very little the rest of the day, and had an early night, but the Swan Whisperer has scouted the lie of the land and found where we get buses to Pertisau, etc.  He has gone out for his run, so I must get up....

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 27 May

Today was the final day of competition, and our last day in Oberstdorf.  We spent the first part of the morning getting the motor home in travelling rig, using the services, making sure we have plenty of drinking water, tidying up, doing last bits of shopping,etc. We had arranged to meet friends at the rink for a coffee at 10:45, and this we duly did, having time for a pleasant chat before the free dances started at 11:15.  These were great - the low level ones often make me wish I hadn't hung up my skates, and the high level ones are just gorgeous to watch. 
We grabbed a sandwich in the rink during an interval, and then watched the masters men, who were utterly fabulous!  And on that happy note it was time to go back to the Wohnmobilstellplatz for the last time to unplug the electricity, close the windows, turn off the gas, check all the cupboards and head on.
We are headed for the Achensee, but I didn't know, when I was planning the trip, what time we would want to leave Oberstdorf, so I found this aire in the car park of a swimming bath about half way there!  It has 3 motorhome spaces, but when we arrived it was full of cars from people swimming, so we parked up where we could and later went to get diesel, and by the time we came back, the spaces were empty. Sadly, it was 6:30 by then, and the pool closed at 7, so we didn't really think we had time for a swim, but we might have one tomorrow before we head on.  We'll see.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 26 May

I went into town this morning to do some shopping. The small Feneberg supermarket in the town had no tinned tomatoes that I could see, and only Innocent fruit juice, which costs the earth.  Also I couldn't see any sausages, although there were posters advertising them on special offer.  I did get cream cheese reduced, though. 
Then I went to Woolworth's. Big mistake - they had wonderful crochet cotton in bright colours which would make a perfect crochet jacket like someone was wearing in the rink the other day. I resisted temptation, however, only to fall prey to a pair of sandals in the sports shop reduced from €39.99 to €7.99. Rude not to, really.
Back to the motor home via Norma on the bus (no point having a Kurkarte and not using it) where I got the rest of my shopping. Then after lunch there was still an hour before any skating I really wanted to see, so I thought "soddit!" and went back to Woolworth's on the bus and bought 7 packs of the crochet cotton, and was just in time to get the bus back up! 
Then to the rink to watch various short dances and a rather dull Silver Ladies class followed by a very far from dull Masters and Masters Elite.  Then it was pairs, which I hate watching, so we went and had supper at Zorans, the restaurant above the rink, and then back to the motor home.
The motor home park is absolutely rammed now - far too many vans parked far too close.... I just hope we'll be able to get out tomorrow!

Oberstdorf and Austria, 25 May 2017

Hrrmph. Grrrr.  Aaaarrgh!  It was the day when we needed to do the laundry if we were to have enough clothes to last us the trip.  But I didn't expect it to take me ALL DAY, and most things still not to be quite dry at the end of it. Next year I must do the "Express" wash, and make sure the dryer is set on "Jeans", and I might get away with it taking just the while morning!

By the time I had finally finished, the Swan Whisperer had come back from the long walk he'd been on with friends, and he agreed with me that the cab of the van, which gets very hot in the sun, was a perfect substitute airing cupboard.  So our clean clothes are piled on our seats!

Anyway, I was too fed up to feel sociable, so the SW went to watch the pattern dances while I watched them on the live stream and cooked dinner, and we ate while watching the last few.  And I went to bed early to sleep off my bad mood!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 24 May 2017

A long day today! I decided to start watching skating at 10:35, so spent the early part of the morning wandering round the village and doing a little shopping.  Got the Ortsbus back as far as Norma, where I stocked up on groceries, mostly tomatoes, and then there was just time to dump them in the van and rush to the rink for the start of the day's events. And there we stayed until mid-afternoon, when we went back to the van and I watched the Bronze Ladies on the livestream and the SW went for a walk. Then back to the rink, although I did pop out to buy a shamefully greedy ice cream at one stage.  Finally saw all the skaters we'd wanted to see and came away at about 21:30, to watch the rest of the class on livestream while eating a belated supper.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 23 May

A horrible night of wandery fever-dreams and I couldn't get up this morning, so went back to sleep instead. Eventually got up in time for lunch and then promptly went back to sleep again - it was quite an effort to wake up enough to go to the rink to do accreditation duty (and I may have dozed off a bit doing that, too!)

The Swan Whisperer had found a chemists and got me a throat spray, which is horrible and makes me heave, but which is effective, although it doesn't stop me coughing. I must get some cough sweets tomorrow.

Anyway, all this meant is was after 6:00 pm when we were free to go to the rink, but we watched various masters men and ladies artistic programmes, might very good indeed, and by then it was 8:15 so we came away and had supper in a restaurant near the rink.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 22 May

The first day of the competition. Lovely to watch so many really good artistic programmes in Bronze Ladies IV and V. 
This took up a lot of the morning, and in the afternoon we were on accreditation duty, which was quite fun. I mostly read and knitted. Then I came away to get supper, and my sore throat, which has been there or thereabouts all day, suddenly ramped up a notch. We watched the Gold Ladies on the live stream while we ate supper, and the SW is about to go back to the rink while I go to bed!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 21 May

To wake on a fine morning and watch the mists lifting from the mountains while the cows walk past, bells clanking.... Oberstdorf!
The Swan Whisperer, who felt energetic, went out for a run, and after breakfast we made our way to the rink as is offered to hold a short service. Only four of us, but that didn't matter - some who would have liked to have come were having practice. After this we stayed at the rink to chat to old friends, make new ones and watch the ice dancers practising.  Then it was lunch time, after which I went to sleep and then read and played video games while the SW indulged in his favourite pastime of walking up and down mountains, strange man! 
When he finally came in there was a quick cup of tea and then we went to join the others at the bar called The Loft, where an Apérol Spritz took away much of our sore throats (we both have them now, and I had earache in the night), and a very good burger was also had.  Then up to the rink again for the welcome party, which was noisy but so many friends...
Wonderful to see people, especially someone from Greece who we had met at the Mountain Cup many years ago. She kindly said I was much thinner than in 2003 - all the same, I know I'm not as slim as I was, say, ten years ago.  Oh well....  But it was a fun evening and I am now enjoying a last cup of tea before bed.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 20 May

We found we had only a 2-hour drive to Oberstdorf, and we didn't want to get here too​ early and have to pay another night's fees, so we didn't hurry.  We set off at about 10:00 am, and arrived in Memmingen at about 11, so I did a little shopping and then we had coffee and a rather delicious slice of strawberry gateau to go with it. Then we set off again and parked up at the entrance to the Breitachklamm, where we had lunch and then the SW went for a walk.  He came back with some spectacular photos!
Then it was time to move on to Oberstdorf, and we arrived at the Wohnmobilstellplatz, used the services, paid and collected our Kurkarte, and then the SW went to to the rink to see who was around, but I was busy catching up on things I wanted to do while I was on WiFi - plus I have rather a sore throat, which I hope it's not going to develop into a cold.  An early night might have been called for were it not already nearly 10:00 pm!  And kind Phil has bought us a little jar of Marmite!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 19 May

It rained.  All night (there was even a rather splendid thunderstorm) and all day.  So although in theory today's drive was only a little over 2 hours, in practice it took a lot longer.
First stop was at a supermarket to stock up, and then later we stopped for lunch and then, briefly, for me to buy some money. We found the aire here at the second time of asking. It is supposed to have services, but we can't see any. However, it is definitely the right place. And tomorrow to Oberstdorf!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 18 May

Having been far too hot most of yesterday, it then proceeded to rain all night. Very little wind - or we were sheltered - so very soothing for one's night's sleep.

I went out first thing to try to find the bakery, but couldn't, which was dim of me, but the Swan Whisperer knew where it was and went out rather more successfully.  We set off just after 10:00, and told the Satnav we wished to go via Verdun and Metz, which again was fairly slow, but enjoyable. However the first port of call was to the services in Reims, which were rather necessary, and then our journey proper could begin.

We stopped for lunch on the far side of Verdun, and afterwards we stopped for diesel.  And then we arrived here, at the Ferme du Steinbach, which we stopped at on our last trip, too.  We bought some cheese, and a saucisson sec for the Swan Whisperer, and treated ourselves to an ice cream - mine was strawberry and his was coffee, and very good they were, too.

The SW hadn't had any exercise for a couple of days as it was too hot yesterday and this morning too wet, so he went out on a ramble for a couple of hours (the weather here being delightful, although a little humid still) and texted me, very amused, to say that he was walking along the border between France and Germany, and Google maps was showing all the paths on the French side, but none on the German. "Here be dragons!"

We tried to go out to dinner in the village but the two restos in our price range were closed and the third far too expensive, so we came away and I cooked aubergine pasta with some of the goats cheese, and it was lush!  Lidl's Creme Caramel rather a come-down for pudding, but also very good.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Oberstdorf and Austria, 17 May

Today was hot. Even when we woke, at just before 7, French time, it wasn't cold.  After breakfast I weft over to the Carrefour and did a little shopping, and then after getting diesel, we set off.

It was a long, hot old drive to Chaméry, especially as we didn't use the motorway. I drove for a little, but mostly dozed. We stopped for lunch at the Aire in Landrecies, where we had spent the night last time, and rather annoyed to find we'd left the picnic table at home, so we had to eat in the motor home. 

We thought the tyres might be a bit low, but when we tested then they seemed fine. The first two petrol stations we tried didn't have air, but third time lucky.

We were the only people in the aire when we arrived, although there is another van here now. We do have our chairs, so we sat out and read for a bit, and then I got supper. It is cooling down now, thankfully, and I expect I'll go to bed and read.

Oberstdorf and Austria, 16-17 May

Such an easy journey yesterday it is hardly worth commenting on!  I did a lot of loading up in the morning, and packed all my clothes away, except my coat and shoes, then went to look after my grandsons for the afternoon. Got home about 6:00, we had supper at 6:45 and were away shortly after 8. I fell asleep on the motorway, and was very surprised to find we were already at the check-in. A 10-minute wait and then we were off. I got into my night clothes and then knitted until we arrived, when we had a cup of tea and a snack - supper had been a long time ago - and then bed about 1:00 French time. Came awake just before 7, have had my tea and am about to shower, dress and get breakfast!  It is a lovely morning.

Monday, 1 May 2017

The London Wetlands Centre

Anybody would think we'd been sat on our bottoms at home ever since we came back from Alsace, but that isn't true.  But I don't think a description of how we went on the railway replacement bus from the Angel to Seven Sisters, and then back all the way home on two buses would have been very interesting.  Nor was taking the Boy round railway bookshops and then lunch at Nando's.  Nor do I particularly want to write about the day I spent learning how to drive the motor home more confidently, although that was fun, too.  The car had broken down, which meant we had to go to and from Sussex by train; it felt quite like old times to see my father waiting for us at the station!

However, today, being that peculiarly British institution of a Wet Bank Holiday, we decided to go to the London Wetlands Centre, which is run by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust - we have been to their sites in Arundel and in Caerlaverock.  As we needed to change our gas cylinder at Homebase, we drove there, and as we had printed off our tickets before we left home, we were in very quickly.

The first thing we did was have lunch - sandwiches and chips, yum - and then we set off down what is called the South Route, past a very great many children's playgrounds and exhibitions showing what the centre was all about.  There were also several hides looking out over the lake, where we saw swan, coot, tufted duck, moorhen, gulls and various other birds. 

By the time we walked back to the main entrance, I had had enough, so I sat down with a cup of tea while the Swan Whisperer went off to explore the other wing of the site, which is where the various home-bred ducks and wildfowl from other parts of the world live, and he said there was an otter, too.  I, meanwhile, was entertained by friendly robins and jackdaws:

And then we came away, after a quick glimpse at the gift shop (nothing really caught our eyes), and came home via Homebase to get the gas.