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I think I may be Pregnant!

Wednesday and my first day out on the bike since my return, and oh, was it a joy. I have no idea where the other days have gone, just so much to catch up with.

First the garden, I had planted three drills of potatoes, could not have been mistaken for anything other, yet when I returned the ground had been flattened. I poked around and the potatoes were still there, but the young shaws were broken off. Thankfully there are enough eyes that they will come back and are now covered with flees.

My rhubarb root is nowhere to be seen and the wallflower have be dug up and lying in trays, looking very sad and near dead.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair – Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme? The herb garden was planted up before I went away (they would not have survived on my windowsills) and, covered with flees, they have been a big success most of the young plants have taken.

I prepared the ground in the little wooded area and planted up the woodland seeds, they are a mixed bag and as ever we travel hopefully that they come to something.

This afternoon I will try to save some of the wallflowers, this would have been their second summer and just coming into flower, for the first time, what a show they will make.

The daffodils have put on a fine display over the springtime, and now at the stage of deadheading, a gardener’s work is never-ending, and in there lies the pleasure.

I have had an almighty craving for food since my return, not food-food by mince and tatties, stovies, and I have been baking Soda Scones again.

(When I lived on board my boat or on long trips, I would bake soda bread, and I still like to bake it from time to time, but mostly it is in the form of scones that I cook in the frying pan.)

Lately, the house has been reeking of cauliflower, my favourite vegetable, covered in lashings of homemade cheese sauce; the craving is such that I’m sure I must be pregnant.

I have had little time to weary or plan future trips, but as the summer begs me outdoors, I’m sure there will be a trip waiting just around the corner.

Yesterday was History, tomorrow will be the Future, today is a gift – and why we call it The Present.

Stay safe. 

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We Get Requests

It’s been very interesting following your journey, Walter, and your thoughts.  Perhaps you can send a condensed piece for the Gazette, with the highlights of the journey and a couple of photographs. 500 or 600 words would be about right. 

This was the contents of an e-mail sent to me by Roger Alma, editor of the ‘Gazette’ the magazine of the Tricycle Association.

The places I visited over the month were London, Paris, the Black Forrest, Salzburg, Munchen, Ravensburg, Passau, and finally Wien.

I travelled with my folding bike, using it mostly to get around the cities I visited, or on occasion to go outside the city to see some attraction nearby, I only covered 763K over the whole time I was away.

My quarters were in the main Backpackers or Youth Hostel establishments, and have to add that the standard of such establishments is top end, even backpackers, demand it these days, no more given a cleaning job to do before leaving the YH. Although most include breakfast, I also carried my camp stove for I still like to rustle up meals for myself, and of course tea, I do get withdrawal symptoms (headaches) if I miss out on my daily fix.

If you have never been to Europe on a cycling trip, the first thing that grabs you is the extensive cycle free paths there are all over Europe and throughout every city, and none to of this “Share with Care” crap, these are proper cycle free roads, pedestrians have their own (pavements) and motorists their own (roads) supper safe.

At the risk of teaching granny to suck eggs. We of a certain age will remember the days of the big CTC – Café to Café (sorry cycle touring club) ride-outs on Sundays, so will know that bicycles are only efficient when they get up a bit of speed, momentum. We were taught to pedal at a cadence of around 70rpm (around 10mph) and use our gears to maintain that cadence. Therefore, cycle only paths are essential if we are to get people using bikes to commute and out of their cars, put in the infrastructure and people will use it, you see it all over Europe. Sadly the ones making such decisions on our behalf, the last time they were on a bike it had stabilizers.

What did I learn from the trip? If I were doing it over (a big city tour rather than a cycling holiday) I would not take my bike, there are bikes for hire in every city, mostly they are e-bikes at 10 cents a minute, and you can cover a lot of ground for a euro. For the young the e-scooters seem to be their chosen means of transport, they certainly cover the ground on them. Both are picked up and dropped off anywhere.

Cities are big and noisy places and I had to escape out and into the countryside from time to time, again the cycle paths (narrow tarmac roads, mostly running alongside the main roads).

What were the highlights, (apart that is from the friendliness I found all over, especially in YH/backpackers hostels)? Without a doubt the Black Forrest, then I have always been known as a hill climber rather than a sprinter.

The Black Forrest is of course the source of the River Danube, and why I originally decided to go there. Arriving on April Fools Day, as I climbed higher into the mountains I hit the snow line, and arriving in Salzburg a few days later, I again ran into snow may be best to leave later in the season, however, the temperature soon rose rapidly over the month of April, and I believe I only had three days of rain after leaving Salzburg.

What next, well I would wish to go back and revisit some of these places as a one-off trip, Salzburg to travel around the lakes that surround the city.

Passau, just so much to do there, you can cycle for mile after mile along the banks of the Inn (one of the three rivers that come together at this point), all of course on traffic-free cycle paths.

At many of the backpackers you can sign up for a free guided tour of the city, and don’t worry about language, on all tours you will be given earphones to wear that translate for you, anyway, the Germans speak better English than I will ever achieve.DSCN1076.JPG
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As ever stay safe.

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Home is the Sailor from the sea and the Hunter from the Hills.

I arrived home just before noon on Sunday 24th of April. I decided in Vienna that it was time to head home, and then disaster struck. I put my card in a hole in the wall and the sun was so bright that I could not make out what I was supposed to do, maybe I waited too long, or pressed the wrong button, but the machine stole my card. I was in deep shit without the proverbial.

I phoned the bank, told them what happened and they issued me a new card – to my home address. I asked a (good) neighbour if she would go into my home, find the card and e-mail me the card number, the expiry date and the three-digit code on the rear, take it to the hole in the wall (or supermarket) and either buy something or withdraw money from my account on my new card, (to activate the card). I then used the information to go online and buy a ticket home, my heroin.

The bank started sending me security notices wishing to send codes to my phone that I should return to them for security, problem was my bank did not have my new phone number, it was all getting a bit dodgy – so I am pleased that I had already made up my mind to come home.  

I have been on the road since 15:30 on Friday in order to get here today. I was able to sleep a good deal on the overnight buses, but now that I am home had a shower, clean clothes, and lots and lots of tea drinking, I feel it is catching up on me now. Even on the last leg, from Edinburgh to St Andrews the bus broke down, just after leaving the Hillend P&R and they had to send a second coach for us.

I had a brilliant holiday, feeling good, I had not realised just how much two years of lockdown had drained me, I am now a fitter, thinner, faster mean machine, with topped up batteries.

North, south, east or west, home they say is best, however, if you never leave the comforts of your home, how can you ever say that?

Like all my sojourning, I have learned so much about myself and the young people of Europe. They were so warm and welcoming, and their well-being was palpable.

The cities have changed so dramatically too, I have not visited Europe for a few years now, and the city centres have now become to a greater degree pedestrian precincts and cycling has become the chosen means of transport within the city centres. It is logical to me that most traffic travelling through our towns and cities, really does not wish to be there in the first place, the European planner seems to have grasped this idea and run with it, building bypass roads and flyovers direct onto the motorways, giving people back their towns and cities.

When leaving France the customs officers had little interest in my passport, yards further on in ‘Drawbridge Briton’ they took much more interest, scrutinizing the passport photograph against yours truly.

I have never believed in borders, or why we hang pieces of colour cloth from flagstaff, other than decoration.

Arrogant man, he squats upon the land

Pretending that he owns it

But when he himself has passed

Leaving only grey ash

Nature shall reclaim it.

The young people of Europe I believe are starting to break down those borders and in many ways are ahead of the European parliament on this, their well-being is palpable.

My father was a Darwinian, he truly believed we must adapt to our environment, and not try to adapt the environment to our will.

Only a few years ago we had the Glasgow Cop (out) already it has turned into ‘Greenwash’ and the money men back in charge, oh it is easy to spin coronavirus, the war in……. to hide the truth. I despair at the news that Germany will drill for oil and gas in areas of scientific interest, helping to wean themselves off the Russian gas supplies as their excuse. They use the war in Ukraine for their move away from global warming promised, but how much truth is there in that lie. However, the young people of Europe are fighting back, they may not be headline news anymore, but protesting against global warming in towns and cities is still there, ‘in your face, they have not gone away. The young of Europe is the future and will not be cowed by more failed American foreign policies.

It is hard for me to understand why Bush and Blair could invade countries across North Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake, refugee camps the size of small cities, an influx of migrants and refugees into Europe that will change the shape of these countries and is already doing so, these refugees and migrants are the future of Europe, like it or not, and to my mind a good thing.

Yet when Russia (no matter what side you are on with that one) invades Ukraine the world is turned upside down. No one ever suggested that Bush or Blair should be sanctioned, stopped from paying their debts, bank accounts of friends and families frozen, the money stolen along with any possessions they may have, what right is there when good for the goose is no longer good for the gander.

But change is happening across Europe the young are not content to see their economies destroyed by politicians that care only to protect the interests of organizations such as NATO at the expense of their futures. There is a battle going on at present for the soul of Europe, and the outcome is unpredictable, but I travel hopefully that the common sense of the young will prevail.  

When in Paris I was standing next to a large poster of the two main contenders for the presidency of France, Macron and Le Pen. I asked people who passed who would win. There was a split right down the middle between the young (under 50s) and the older generation, but for me, the truthful answer came from an elderly man, who answered my question by saying

“None of them”

Imagine there’s no heaven
it’s easy if you try
No hell below us
above us, only sky

Imagine all the people
Livin’ for today
(Ah, ah, ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
and no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
a brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

We need to join the young of Europe if we wish to enjoy the well-being of the people I met there.

In ‘The Hunt for Red October’ the captain of Red October when asked if trouble will come from this, (the abduction of the submarine) the Capt. answers  

“Perhaps, but a little revolution now and again is no bad thing – don’t you think?”

“Stop the world Scotland wasn’t to get on”

Or in the words emblazoned on the T-shirt of the girl in front of me at an AUOB march in Dunfermline.

“If you do not move, you will not feel your chains”

Stay safe.

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All dreams must end.

Another beautiful day here in Vienna, and the city certainly has been a healing balm for me after all the frantic travelling Jo&Joe have given me the time for unwinding and reflecting.

Yesterday I phoned the helpline of the Bank of Scotland to find out how my bank balance was doing, I knew instinctively the news would not be good, for although I had not been keeping tabs, I had a rough idea how much I have been spending over the last weeks, train travel mostly had been a lot higher than expected, they simply refused to take my bus pass. And as expected the new was not good although slightly better than anticipated.

It’s not just one thing, or one moment in time, or something said, it’s just a knowing that comes from within that now is time to head for home.

The journey has been good for me, physically and mentally, a topping up of my batteries. My pockets may not be full of silver but are full to overflowing with memories, of a culture I had not known, and friends (now) that I had not met. Europe is not at all like Scotland, it’s vibrant, it’s loving and welcoming. The people here are young in heart and spirit, and open to change. Their standard of living is much higher than ours, they gather in cafés in the streets and spend hours there gossiping and just unwinding after a day in the office. The shops are full of smart design clothing, the cake shops with mouth-watering delights as I remember them, Europe is one vibrant nation, Scotland to me seems to be suffering from ageism (demographic timebomb), we need to open up our country to young migrants, re-join the EU (in some form) and find a form of government that is willing to push the country forward and not simply try to stay in power for another term.   

The dark cloud, of course, has been the war in Ukraine, but that is mostly being played out in the high offices of government, not on the street, the people of Europe don’t want to know about the war in Ukraine, and I feel would rather they all kissed and made up. If the US (and their puppet the UK) continues their proxy war in Ukraine (which will last for years, a war of attrition) then Europe will suffer and could end the EU as we know it. There is a lot of talk about solidarity amongst the people of Europe over Ukraine; sorry I don’t see it on the ground.  

Well, that’s my summing up of my tour tomorrow I am booked onboard the bus for Paris, where I will spend a day or two. Then maybe Holland and a long boat ride home, or at least as far as Newcastle, best not to simply jump off the end of the holiday cliff.

Oh well, I will be home in time to vote, and see the selfies girl, Oor Nicola, getting a good arse-kicking. That’s something I suppose.

When I lived in Edinburgh I loved going to the theatre, all the big names came in their twilight years, Bing Crosby, the Hampton band, and the fabulous Shirley Bassey, and I will leave Shirley to sing us out, today.

The party’s over

It’s time to call it a day

They’ve burst your

Pretty balloon

And taken the moon away

It’s time to wind up

The masquerade

Just make your mind up

The piper must be paid

Keep safe.

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What a difference a day makes

What a difference a day makes, sunshine all the way, but only 5C. I needed to do some washing, so after popping my clothes in the machine I went up onto the roof terrace and snapped away.

The city at around 7 am this morning
Bugs reside here too

One of the boxes I wanted to tick when in Vienna was to attend a live opera in the world-famous opera house and I almost made it – Lucia Di Lammermoor, (blood on the floor) but the tickets sold out long before I even made it to Vienna, I should have ordered online months ago. Sadly the next one and far more fun is the Marriage of Figaro, but that is a month away, so I will just have to live with disappointment.

In the morning another jolly around the city, I know it quite well now so can buzz along the cycle tracks with the best of them. I found an open-air market so strolled along pushing the bike, on one of the stalls I found dates, they were twice what they cost in Munich, then again they had a bit further to travel.

I remember travelling somewhere up the west coast of Scotland on the back of dad’s motorcycle, we stopped at a little filling station for petrol. Dad asked the owner, why it was that the petrol was so much more expensive up here, the owner replied,

“How did you get here?”

“Up the road from Calendar,” dad replied.

“Aye, and so did the petrol,” the owner told him. (That’s you telt)

I saw this statue outside a church, and it turned out to be Hyden, (seems he was a bit of a musician in his day)

and you know what I’m like, I can not pass a church, so I went inside.

I always liken churches to me they are time capsules, a look into the past, and yes, I know that the Christian churches were all about power and just as corrupt as Westminster is today. However, they were great patrons of the arts, most of these statues would have been carved in wood then gilded with gold leaf, a lot of work for artisans and stonemasons, organ makers,

now the governments simply rob the poor to give to the rich, then we do have Social Security I suppose.

It was great to be in and away from the noise of traffic; Vienna is not a quiet city. I loved the solitude of the place. I wonder how long it has been since the organ lifted the spirits, or held an organ recital, not for a long time I’m sure

I attended an organ recital in Dunfermline Abbey, a while ago now, and the stale air and dust that fill the abbey when the organist sat down to play, I’m sure was a danger to health, (Legendaries disease, at the very least). I wonder if organs come under health and safety law?

So another good day, feeling very relaxed and lethargic (lazy) today then I have been on the go since 6 am this morning.

Had a strange encounter today, someone asked me the time, I take it they noticed I was wearing a watch, I simply showed them my watch, (no communication skill required) and to my surprise, they could not read the time from a watch, they have grown up with digital watches. How quickly the world I knew has disappeared.

Stay safe

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A little about Jo&Joe

for a start it could not be more central if it tried, a 100 yards or so from the underground, and tram stop, I have never been in a hostel quite like this one before, it is ultra modern, all service ducts and cable trays have been left exposed, and this standard of minimalist design is not easy to achieve, joints, ducts, trays, excreta have to be perfect, or they will stand out like a sore thumb.

The bunks are plywood,

mine is the messy one

and when I first saw them the lyrics, little boxes by Malvina Reynolds came to mind.

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same

And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same

They even have a roller blind inside so you are not disturbed by late (or should that be early) comers putting on lights. And I have never seen a vanity curtain for people to change behind,

And yes, the walls are painted black

saves a queue in the morning for the bathroom to change. The more you look around this palace the more you see that a lot of thought has gone into getting it just right, and why it is the most popular hostel on the circuit.

Night falling over the city
Scarry Man
I love these little cartoons all over the place (I did not read the once in the girl’s toilets)
The reason this one is black, it is in the cinema which is a blackout
These guys must be on the back shift
To the woods, -I can’t my mother won’t let me – how old is your mother – 21 bring your mother too, – too – to the woods.

I did go up to the roof garden, and yes it has stopped raining, but it was really too dark for proper photographs so will post some from there later, preferably when the sun is shining.

The kitchen hostels for the use off, and two big fridges for your food
This really is the high standard demanded of hostelers now, and every place I have stayed so far has tried hard to achieve this level, even in the older buildings where compromises have had to be made between room size and comfort, the biggest change I see in European hostels the areas to relax and work in, most people have phones and computers that require charging and this is also catered for with outlets in each bunk. Like the cycle tracks, put in the infrastructure and people will come – don’t and they will stay away.

The first rule in marketing, you must allow your customers, or potential customers, to design your product.

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Wet, Wet, Wet.

Not a lot to say today, simply because it has rained since early doors, and by 2pm I packed in and came back to the warm luxury of my billet, and what a billet Jo&Joe is. My cycling cap is pretty good at keeping everything dry, the handlebars and seat, but the panniers have to take care of themselves. Now the one I originally bought for the bike is okay, but not one hundred per cent waterproof, so everything has to go into plastic shopping bags first. The one I bought in Germany and German-made (the same makes my cycling cape) it’s heavier but 100 per cent waterproof, so like everything else, it’s a compromise.

If it is wet outside the best cure is to get wet inside so I am sitting here enjoying a bottle of Wieselburger Bier, German beers are so good but at 5 euro a bottle (0.5 L) they have to be taken sparingly.

Not much in the way of photographs, it was too darn wet to stop and dig out the camera. But I did get this block of flats with rather large window boxes.

One with this very attractive mural

Dose your bike need a service, DIY

And the barrel top outside a pub,

This shop is called ‘Cars and Trains’ and was closed, but I must return and tell him that Ecurie Ecosse was a Jaguar racing team and as far as I know, never raced Mercedes cars, These people have to be told.

As you can see we are pretty high up here and above is a Garden Terres which was very popular over the weekend – but not today.

And Jo&Joe had some good entertainment but that may have been over the Easter break. Reception, bar

and kitchens,

order and pay at the bar, (no cash only card) and pick it up at the kitchen counter when it is cooked. (I say card only, which seems to be the norm here, I have no idea how I am doing with my card, the machines do not ask if you want a balance, they just ask how much do you want) I did try to get onto my internet account to find out but as ever they have added a new tier of security, they send a code to your phone that you have to enter. Who bought a new phone and did not tell his bank that he has a new number?

One last thing before I go, there is a cartoon on one of the pillars, that tickled my fancy

Always leave them begging for more.

Stay safe

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Tales Long and Short

Rise and shine, the weather’s fine, the sun will burn your bleeding eyes out. I slept well and after a shower went out to stretch my legs, clear blue skies horizon to horizon. However, everything was eerily quiet, no traffic, no shops open, even as the clock neared 9 O’clock, of course, Easter weekend and bank holiday Monday, puts pay to Lidl being open. I did find a baker and bought a French stick, but no milk, drat and double drat no tea.   

I returned with my bunk with my bread, then set off to find the bold Peter Snowden, about 5k as the crow flies, but after a couple of wrong turns, I made it to his door. After establishing who I was Peter himself came down and suggest we go to the little café, just yards away, and have a coffee. We must have blethered for at least four hours and on one cup of coffee.

Fancy after all these years, he told me. Well, I did not come to see you only to see if you ever did finish that boat. Yes, it is finished, apart from a couple of little jobs, (then again there is always a couple of little jobs on any boat) but it is in the water,  and we have sailed in it, but only on the lake and only a few times, I have not seen it in over a year, and a lot longer before that.

I would love to see it, would that be possible? He did not commit, only to saying he would talk to his wife, (not sure he drives now). I was thinking of selling the boat, realistically, I can not see us sailing much now.

You will not get back half the money you put into it, I suggested, and he readily agreed.

Well, you could have a potential customer sitting right here I said. We left it at that.

We talked about his time in the Merchant Navy and the fishing, but mostly going over old ground, reminiscing. It was a great way to spend an afternoon, more so since I had never had a conversation with an English speaker for such a long time.

I asked about the May Day celebrations – they have not had one for the past two years, whether they do this year, I don’t know he told me, anyway it is not like in the past when they had huge marches to the park, lots of food and drink, and fireworks in the evening. The 4th May was big to it was Communist Day, big and colourful.  

I said, I’m surprised they did not turf us out of here, since we had only ordered one coffee apiece, no this is Austria this is what they do. We swapped e-mail addresses and phone number; I hope we can arrange something about the boat.

The photographs are a bit random, the coloured sets were in Passau, and kids like kids everywhere would try to step on one colour and one colour only.

What replaced the horse and cart for deliveries in Wien, well these.

Uniformity is the destruction of art – so make it into art.

All it takes is a couple of cans of spray paint, oh, and a big dollop of talent.

Recycling is big all over Germany and Austria, you will find these in all the hostels and they are used.

Not sure what this building was but it had too many steps for me to find out.

A church is just around the corner from here, note how I used the tree to hide the scaffolding.

Something you also see a lot of, tools to repair your bike.

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Germany into Austria

Awoke with a shroud of mist covered the city and river, strange-looking down from above, like being in an aeroplane looking down on clouds below, this will be my last full day in Passau, tomorrow I head off to Vienna.

Only a couple of hours up the road near the town of Engelhartszell is where the Donau leaves Germany and flows through Austria, I thought it would be good to cross that border on my bike, sort of symbolic.

I set out before the traffic became busy in the city and out onto the cycle path that mirrors route 130 all the way.

It was grand to be cycling in the cool of the morning much more to my liking. However by 10 am I had to stop and remove my trousers and pulled my fancy pants back on, they are so thin you could pap peas through them, making them ideal for cycling in. I also carried my anorak in my backpack strapped to the rear carrier, just in case the forecast was a bit iffy.   

The river passes through a narrow wooded gorge between Bayerischer Wald and Sauwald. At Schlogen, the river’s path is blocked by a hard granite ridge, forcing it to make a series of tight loops.

And the cycle path crisscrosses the road a few times, not a problem there was more cyclist than motorist out today.

At one point there was a road closed sign (even for cyclists) and the diversion (5k) was up and over the mountain,

and where I found St George, slaying the dragon.

The road back down was a scream – I was doing over 60kph at one point, really starting to gain confidence on a bike once more. The rests are just signs and anything that took my fancy.

Almost there

Home as the sun passes over the yardarm so time for tea, and chicken noodle soup, (from a packet, just add water and some heat) along with lovely crusty bread to dip.

A long trek today, but I had my secret weapon with me, they don’t half get you going when you are starting to flag

I loved the Goon Show on the old steam radio, it was spoiled for me when television came along, and I just loved the characters I had created in my head. In one sketch, Bridge over the River Y, Echols, had been volunteered to escape by the escape committee. Just as he was about to depart he was given last-minute instructions from the doctor.

Doctor: “If things get really tough, then take this little black pill – that will get you going”

Sound effect: Gulp!

Echols:  “What was it doc.”

Doc.: “Concentrated liquors”

I have not mentioned my well-being for some time but I am feeling so good, that I can hardly believe the change in me. I think I was like this before coronavirus came along, then two years of virtual inactivity took its toll; I am regaining a lot of my old self.

I was thinking of all the ways I could make a bob or two and stay here for a while, maybe a year or so, or at least until winter set in. Maybe I could be a Scottish speaking (in a kilt) tour guide around the cities. I was watching the guides here and they hand out earphones to those that do not speak the native language that translates for them,

“I could do that, gees a job”

Stay safe.

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Old Houses With Fringe Benefits

Sorry folks I kept calling St Stephen’s cathedra St Peter’s you know what it’s like when you get a name stuck in your head.

The sun really was a scorcher, by noon so I stayed indoors until the worst was over. I had set out along the ridge from where I am staying and quite by accident came upon“Bergfried”. I was looking for an alternative route off this ridge rather than the steep plunge at this end. And yes, I did find what I wanted the ridge runs out not too many kilometres from here and takes you out at the modern end of the city.

Bergfried was first owned by the Bishops of Passau as far back as the 16th century and served as far as I can tell, as a farm for Veste Oberhaus (which is here). In 1784 the then Bishop sold the property, and it changed hands several times after that.

Then in 1897, a “civil engineer” named Sebastian Muller and from this date until the outbreak of World War 1 ran it as a place of healing under the name “Bergfried” 

It was bought for 105,000 marks towards the end of WW1 (sounds like a lot of money, but the mark may not have been worth very much after the war) by the Schweikberg Benedictines who turned it into a college for theology students, and boarding school, and was thus until 1986.

In 1941 the National Socialists confiscated it and converted it into a training camp for female leaders in the Hitler Youth’s rural service.

The house returned to the hands of Schweikberg Abbey in the 1980s and became a house of silence. It suffered the fate of most houses of monks at that time, lack of numbers.

The complex has been on the market since 2006 and repeatedly advertised since then. The property includes five hectares of land and buildings – and the sales pitch is a “Quiet residential area on an unobstructed southern slope, with old trees and scrubs and a forest in an absolutely secluded location” Even changing the property from a “special monastery area” to a residential area, has not brought the buyers beating a pathway to their door, clearly, the asking price is too high, the other obstacle to a sale is the buildings are listed, so trying to get planning permission to do anything with the building will be difficult, if not impossible. 

The property as it is today

I really enjoyed scouting around, and it was a nice day for it.

Stay safe.

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All Inn

The day was shaping up to be another toaster so I wanted to be out of the city, and away from the traffic. I fund a circular tour along one side of the river Inn and back on the other bank. Mostly it is through woodlands and on well defined and cared for cycle paths.

There is a big dam halfway along possible part of a flood defence scheme, turning the upper reaches into a lake.

Then across the bridge and home by the other bank, only 8k each way, but in such great weather and traffic-free, it was heaven on a bike.

Someone had left a pair of boots here, but they were not my size

I saw the work of beavers but I think you would have to be a very optimistic beaver if you tied to build a lodge dam here.

Looking towards the monastery on the hill

The monastery on the hill, I never even thought to go there, although a young girl, carrying a massif backpack came over the bridge and straightway onto the stairs up to the monastery, rather her than me,

The monastery on the hill

And something totally different, I saw this wrote ironwork, it was so delicately fashioned, not the normal heavy chunky wrote ironwork we normally see

Just one of the University buildings
Sharing in the evening sun

,

Keep safe

Featured

It just keeps getting better – better every day

How long ago was it we were freezing the proverbial off in the snow, a lifetime ago now. Today it is hot, hot, hot. My roommate yesterday was a middle-aged motorcyclist from Munich, of all places. He was riding the very latest BMW (what else) a big 1200 cc touring bike, and boy will he eat up the miles on that bike. We did talk motorcycles, of course, and I told him I had a BMW R80RT back in 1980. The problem I had with the bike was, my ducks disease, (we short legs) and when I came to traffic lights or a stop sign I had to tip it over on one side to reach the ground, and on a heavy touring bike that is not what you want. He assured me the new models have height adjusting seats and hydraulic suspension, so you can set the high, up or down with the press of a button, however, I was not persuaded to rush out and buy one.

We met up at breakfast and chatted away me telling him all the things I like about Germany from its great cycle paths to its insane cleanliness, no polythene bags trees or chewing gum, stuck to pavements

“You will be fined for dropping chewing gum on the pavement,” he told me. Well, that explains it, for if there is one thing that Germans are good at, it obeys the law.

One thing, I told him, I would take away from this trip is just how out of step the EU and politicians, seem to be with the people I meet every day on my travels, and without any prompting, from me, he launched into a scathing attack on getting involved in Ukraine. Boy did he get on his high horse, about the economy, the cost of living, and the high cost of housing, seems they are becoming unaffordable for Mr and Mrs Everyman. Then again is it not the same at home.

After breakfast, I did a bit of dobby, (run out of nickers) before heading off on a sightseeing trip into the city. I still had my newly charged hearing aids in, and as I made my way down through the woods to the river, I was serenaded, with the sound of the morning chorus, of songbirds, which kind of set the tone for the morning.

In Scotland, you will see notices in recreational parks showing you pictures of the wildlife you are likely to see on your ramble and never do. Here I have seen all of these plants and yes, the little lizards too.
This is the townhouse or Rathaus, and on the wall by the door to the Tourist information is the height that the water reached in flood years, this is serious stuff. just see how low the river is now in comparison with the road level on the opposite bank add the height of the wall to road level then add the marks on the wall. We are talking here at around .

I

The Rathaus tower
The doorway with the markings and dates
For clarity
Shame about all the workmen’s vans, in the background the rear of St Peaters
Inside the building to the left was this grand staircase and this was one of the lamps on that staircase
Frolicking cherubs on the ceiling
The building from the outside
Most of the centre of the old town is traffic-free with narrow streets, pleasant to walk around
It didn’t work on me
Sets are everywhere, sets last forever and are easy to repair, here you see they have been laid on hard-packed sand with a layer of pee gravel – pee gravel is none compactable.
Spring is in the air
Sometimes I just sit here – Sometimes I sit here and think
A lot of work went into that little plot
The organ at St Peter’s
The nave
The builders are in
The alter
This is my home for the next four days – honest
I could go via these steps, but I have enough trouble with the two flights up to my bed
You cant be serious
Home at last
That’s my room with the open window
Nice view
Seems to have lost her reins
An unmade bed – maybe I should enter it in the Tate
And yes, we have them here too
the long and winding road
and a welcome cup of tea at the end

in the city, I just meandered taking in the ambulance of the place, lots of souvenir shops, of course, but not the tacky hey Jimmie hats, and junk, all the way from China we see in the streets of Edinburgh these days, most are selling quality, often hand made goods, especially leather.

Oh, and for you followers of fashion, the trendy colour this spring is Emerald Green, and if not that, certainly bright and colourful, so Hamilton is right in fashion with his trendy breeks.

By afternoon I was feeling a bit peckish and suffering withdrawal symptoms so headed back to the barracks. Loaded up with goodies and my picnic stove and went out to sit under the Spanish chestnut tree just outside my window. I seemed to be attracting a lot of people, and I may even appear on some web site of theirs,

The look isn’t he quaint, not sitting outside a café drinking very expensive coffee, he must be Scottish.

Stay safe

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Passau

Sleeping arrangements and my wish to spend more time in Regensburg and with Passau, being over 100k from Straubing, where I had just reached after a 35.5k journey, I felt it time to once more leap-frog, by train into Passau, this has always been part of my plan, the trip was never really about cycling but a mini grand tour, with the bike used to get me around the cities, or from A to B in the countryside however I found out fast that you need much more than a couple of days to really do a city justice, so I have been bunching up. 

Passau, also known as Dreiflussestadt – the city of the three rivers, for it is where the Danube, the Inn and the Llz converge. This truly is a special place, and once more would need more than my allotted time to explore, so I have extended it to 4 days.

I wheeled my bike into the station at Regensburg, the morning was clear once more but still that chill in the air. I bought my ticket from the machine and took the lift up the overhead bridge then down to platform 7 for the Passau train – only ten minutes to wait. When the train arrived it was an ICE you know the sleek electric trains that speed you along at up to 200kph (this one reached 150) at one point on our journey.

Now I know I should not have been on this train, my ticket was for local trains, and I had not booked the bike. This train did not have a special carriage for bikes, but in each compartment, there was provision for three bikes, what the hell, chance your mit.

When the inspector arrived to check my ticket he pointed out that the ticket was for local trains only, I acted dumb of course, so he went on to explain at length that my ticket should have has ICE printed on it, and there is no reservation for a bike, I gave him my, by now, stock answer

“It’s a folding bike”

His tong was sharp and O’ the wounds they bled,

But then I’m used to bleeding.

Bit of poetic licence there, he was okay about it only telling me that in future to make sure I have the right ticket. As dad would say,

“Act daft and you will get a free hurrle”

 Stepping off the train, the difference in temperature was evident (now 23C) and this has brought the people out onto the streets, like Livingston Daisies, they come out when the sun shines on them.  

Finding my YH was easy getting up there was another thing altogether, I have competed in hill climbs less steep than this, and there must be another way up.

Ha

At the entrance to the railway station Passau

halfway up there was a false summit, and I had to pull over and catch my breath, this is ‘heart attack’ country. A young woman came up the hill like she was walking on a pavement in town.

“Am I on the right road for the YH?”

“Yes, keep going, believe me, it will be worth it” she replied.

I did not ask if there was a first aid station at the top.

View from my bathroom window, the views from here are really spectacular.

Passau was one of the most prolific centres of sword and blade weapon manufacture in Germany after the Renaissance. Passau smiths stamped their blades with the Passau wolf – a trademark and sign of quality. The main architecture of the city is baroque; however, dominating the city is the Niederhaus a castle that stands on top of the rocky promontory at the coming together of the thee rivers. Tourism is big here and where most of the river cruises start, so the city always seems to be in flux. 

One piece of information I did know was that the organ at St Stephen’s was held to be the largest church pipe organ in the world, containing no fewer than 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. Organ concerts are held daily between May and September, and I would like to do a flying visit back here to here a recital when I visit Vienna.

St Stephens is a masterpiece of Italian Baroque, built under the direction of Carlo Lurago the Italian architect, and decorated in part by Carpoforo Tencalla. I spent hours in St Stephens, but it was all too much to take in.

Flooding has always been a problem for Passau, and over the years the city has seen some serious flooding, and on the Rathaus (townhouse) wall, they have marked the high water levels and the years that the waters reached those levels.

One problem that modern wars have brought to the doorstep of Passau is a big influx of refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, so bad has the problem become that funds have been diverted from flood prevention to the feeding and housing of refugees. In 2015 I watched a BBC programme that reported that traffickers drive migrants and refugees through Austria and leave them on the side of the autobahn the refugees and migrants then walk unaccompanied into Passau, the first German town, around 10% of whom are unaccompanied children. No matter the money spent to ease the problem of refugees and economic migrants into Europe the problem will never be solved until the problems are tackled at the source.

Keep safe

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Stone Bridges and Water Runs

The morning was cold and I spent a lot of it indoors festering, I felt like a day off. I was reading Robert Reich (American political correspondent for the Guardian Newspaper, and he was talking about what Biden needs to do to win a second term. I touched on how big corporations are making money by buying back their own share and how the lack of competition has allowed these corporations to keep raising their prices with impunity. Wealth are being redistributed upwards from the average working people (many who live from paycheque to paycheque) to CEOs and shareholders, billionaires have become $ 1.7 trillion richer during the pandemic. CEOs’ pay based largely on the stock value (and remember they manipulate it by buy backs) is now at a record 350 to 1 ratio relative to medium pay.

Robert has a new book out that I will buy when I return home, ‘The system: who rigged it -how we fix it.’ (it will be interesting to see how he gets around the fact that the people with the money are also the people that have the politicians in their pocket.  

A video by an Irish YouTuber came up on my feed today and it’s just great. This is a fantastic reminder to stop and enjoy the magic that is all around us.

“If you don’t believe in magick, you will never find it…”

I hit the road again at around four in the afternoon by which time the wind had eased and it was a beautiful evening, strolling. I walked over the stone bridge,

and down onto the causeway that forms the mill run.

There were still the remains of old waterwheels and I could not help but wonder why they do not install modern water turbines in their place. You could have small propeller-driven turbines, that could be hydraulically operated enabling them to be lowered or lifted clear of the water at will.

How beautiful is that skyline, apart from the tower crane that is?

Note the clever use of the willow

This old paddle steamer is now a museum if it is not too expensive I might go on board and see for myself its huge boilers fore and aft of the wheelhouse and if it has a compound engine or not.

And the sun sets once more (on the beautiful town of Balham, with its ever-changing lights, red, red and amber, green, amber, red) and another Sunday, in Regensburg. Two weeks in, where did it all go, I ask myself.

Monday, on fresh and well-rested legs.

I found several of my blogs stuck in ‘Save’ and since I was not sure if they had been published I published them if I have duplicated them sorry.

The temperature outside was 4C however the skies were as clear as a bell. Navigation is easy here, you just decided if where you want to go is upstream or downstream and follow the well defined cycle path in that direction, today it was downstream, for I was heading for the Walhalla in Donaustauf.

The cycle path like all cycle paths, it is two meters wide and a proper job, well-laid tarmac, running like this all the way into Vienna, and as far as I know beyond.

This is a floodplain so flat, and I was soon bowling along at 20kph.

They think of everything these Germans

and soon arrived at

Donaustauf with its old fort on the hilltop. this was handy for I wanted milk, bread and something nice for lunch, all of which I found in the little supermarket on the edge of town.

Well provisioned I headed up through the village and came across a park with a Chinesischer Turm or at least that is what the information sign told me it was.

Sadly the gate was locked dup so no way of climbing up inside it.

you really have to pass up through the village anyway to get to the road leading up to the Walhalla, I took the main road rather than the cycle path for it was gravel and I much prefer tarmac roads.

Something strange has happened over the last 24hours, it is as if mother nature had turned on a switch and caused everything to start turning green or bursting into bloom. Climbing the hill the woods were festooned with little white flowers, I felt it this was Scotland they would be bluebells.

Walhalla itself was worth the climb, spectacular, a great marble folly. If this was Scotland you would not get within 100 yards of this monument, not unless they spoiled it is placing safety barriers everywhere, here they have a white line that they ask you not to cross.

The sun was out and turning the Danube as blue as the waltz.

The steps down from the front were not for wee boys of 8 or big boys of 80 so I took the lame route down the path to get a view from below.

Its that man again, I started off using my fancy pants as coveralls, to keep my trousers clean so I would only need one pair for when out sightseeing on shanks pony, now I need them to stop my pants from falling around my ankles, having lost my tummy

Inside was a bit special too,

again all marble and a notice that said no food, no bikes, now football, Oh, and no cameras. So I had to take these when she was not looking. I took one of Beethoven, (the only one I recognised out of what must have been dozens)

and of course holding court at the end of the hall the man himself again dressed as a Roman Emperor.  

The temperature had been rising all morning and was now at around 10C but felt much warmer on this glorious spring day.

I found a park bench and brewed up, made some tomato soup, (from a packet) I love these soups to dip my crusty bread in. what a wonderful morning it has been.

I have in the past talked about how clean and tidy everything is in this country, below by the side of the Danube were allotments and they too were a master class in tidiness.

To sum up my morning.

I liked Donaustauf and the ruined castle, once the home of Prince of Thurn und Taxis until it caught fire in 1880. With all these fires, one could have made a fortune producing a fire-resistant preservative for wooden buildings.

Just downstream from Donaustauf the Walhalla a realistic copy of the Athenian Parthenon, or at least as it would have been. Commissioned by the great eccentric King Ludwig and opened in 1842, it contains some 130 marble busts and 665 plaques commemorating the great and the good of Germanic-Speaking peoples. Some, like Beethoven and Bismarck, are certainly heroes of Germany, but some more, shall we say, questionable, such as Alfred the Great, William 111 of Orange, van Dyck and Rubes. The name Walhalla you will remember from school mythology class was where Wotan, leader of the gods in Nordic legend, welcomed new arrivals into heaven. 

It was well into the afternoon before I made it back to my billet, after lunch I intend to go into town in search of the Romans, but before I do, here is what a modern YH looks like.

Catch you later

Keep safe

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Sunday Part Two

I had forgotten that today was Sunday and like most other parts of Austria all shops are closed, the exception being the bakers and sticky bun shop. Luckily I had some rations leftover from Munich, butter, cheese tomatoes and bananas, so the bairn will not have to go to bed hungry.

This is my quarters for the next three days,

again something I have learned, and by it, have adapted my plans. B&B in hotels is super expensive in this part of the world so it is much cheaper to board a train to the nearest big town or city with a hostel.  

This is the Stone Bridge, the first to cross the Danube (although I am not sure it would have looked quite so pristine.

Churches upon churches, they are certainly a few around. And being Sunday, peels of bells ring out much like the Muezzin in his minaret calling the faithful to prayer. The biggest is of course St Peter’s Church the Regensburg Cathedral, and still seems to be under maintenance and repair, like all of these old churches.

I came across this sign for what appears to be part of the old Roman fort – closed today but somewhere I must visit.

Later in the morning I found this sculpture that is showing the line of Roman forts dotes all along the northern border. I can imagine the young recruits, having been trained at some boot camp in Italy, now on there pass out day and being given their marching orders, saying,

“Not the northern borders, please”

Much as the new officers leaving the Salvation Army training college in London, putting up a silent payer,

“Please God, any cross but Kings Cross”   

It is very cold now so it’s back to the barracks, for tea and bread.

Keep safe.

Featured

Waking up in Salzburg

He was only playing leapfrog. I had decided to go off-peak once more and to this end, I boarded a bus for Salzburg.

What will this day be like? I wonder.

What will my future be? I wonder.

It should be so exiting,

To be out in the world, to be free!

My heart should be wildly rejoicing.

Oh, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed for adventure,

To do the things I’ve never dared.

Now here I’m facing adventure,

Then why am I so scared?

Lyrics from ‘The Sound of Music’

Salzburg much like my home town of St Andrews is a university town, with a castle that once was the residence of the archbishop, and that is more or less where the similarity ends. The city takes its name Salt-Castle from the River Salzach on which the barges carrying the salt was subject to a toll, in the 8th century tolls were levied on the barges plying many of Europe’s waterways and rivers.

Salzburg has many a famous sons, however none greater than the greatest composers of them all, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, such is the quality of his music that it is still revered to this day. Although he wrote some heavy stuff, you can not help enjoy the humour he put into his music too, such as we find in his opera ‘Le Nozze Di Figaro’. I can not even think of the opera without hearing Cherubino, ‘Voi che sapette che cosa e amor – that will always be the magic of Mozart for me, from great musical storms to light humour.

My days here are so short I could have stayed a month and still not explored the city fully, or the beautiful countryside that surrounds Salzburg, with its many wonderful lakes but I only have the weekend so will have to move fast.

I sat in the bar area and sent off my e-mails and blog until after 11mp then off I went to my room, (there are four others in the room, two girls two lads) none were there when I went off to bed. I woke in a hot airless room, well rested, and was thinking what time is it? Is it time to get up? When in troops the others using there phones as torches. Gee, I must have only cat napped. When the room settled down, I could not get back to sleep so decided to get up and pad down to the sitting area and have a coffee from the machine. The time was actually 6am these youngsters are on the night shift.

There has been more snow throughout the night so I may take shank’s pony and the bus around the sights, a broken hip I do not need.  

I want to go out to Eagles Nest but I will leave that until Sunday or possibly Monday, then it’s on to Munich.

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Day one Saltzburg

He was only playing leapfrog. I had decided to go off-peak once more and to this end, I boarded a bus for Salzburg.

What will this day be like? I wonder.

What will my future be? I wonder.

It should be so exciting,

To be out in the world, to be free!

My heart should be wildly rejoicing.

Oh, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed for adventure,

To do the things I’ve never dared.

Now here I’m facing adventure,

Then why am I so scared?

Lyrics from ‘The Sound of Music

Salzburg much like my home town of St Andrews is a university town, with a castle that once was the residence of the archbishop, and that is more or less where the similarity ends. The city takes its name Salt-Castle from the River Salzach on which the barges carrying the salt were subject to a toll, in the 8th-century tolls were levied on the barges plying many of Europe’s waterways and rivers.

Salzburg has many famous sons, however, none greater than the greatest composer of them all, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, such as the quality of his music it is still revered to this day. Although he wrote some heavy stuff, you can not help but enjoy the humour he put into his music too, such as we find in his opera ‘Le Nozze Di Figaro’. I can not even think of the opera without hearing Cherubino, ‘Voi che sapette che cosa e amor – that will always be the magic of Mozart for me, from great musical storms to light humour.

My days here are so short I could have stayed a month and still not explored the city fully, or the beautiful countryside that surrounds Salzburg, with its many wonderful lakes but I only have the weekend so will have to move fast.

I sat in the bar area and sent off my e-mails and blog until after 11mp then off I went to my room, (there are four others in the room, two girls two lads) none were there when I went off to bed. I woke in a hot airless room, well-rested, and was thinking what time is it? Is it time to get up? When in troops the others use their phones as torches. Gee, I must have only catnapped. When the room settled down, I could not get back to sleep so decided to get up and pad down to the sitting area and have a coffee from the machine. The time was actually 6am these youngsters are on the night shift.

There has been more snow throughout the night so I may take shank’s pony and the bus around the sights, a broken hip I do not need.  

I want to go out to Eagles Nest but I will leave that until Sunday or possibly Monday, then it’s on to Munich.

Featured

Sunday Part Two

I had forgotten that today was Sunday and like most other parts of Austria all shops are closed, the exception being the bakers and sticky bun shop. Luckily I had some rations leftover from Munich, butter, cheese tomatoes and bananas, so the bairn will not have to go to bed hungry.

This is my quarter for the next three days,

again something I have learned, and by it, had to adapt my plans. B&B in hotels is super expensive in this part of the world so it is much cheaper to board a train to the nearest big town or city with a hostel.  

This is the Stone Bridge, the first to cross the Danube (although I am not sure it would have looked quite so pristine.

Churches upon churches, they are certainly a few around. And being Sunday, peels of bells ring out much like the Muezzin in his minaret calling the faithful to prayer. The biggest is of course St Peter’s Church the Regensburg Cathedral, and still seems to be under care and maintenance, like all of these old churches.

I came across this sign for what appears to be part of the old Roman fort – closed today but somewhere I must visit.

Later in the morning, I found this sculpture that is showing the line of Roman forts dotes all along the northern border. I can imagine the young recruits, having been trained at some boot camp in Italy, now on their past out day and being given their marching orders, silently saying,

“Not the northern borders, please”

Much as the new officers leaving the Salvation Army training college in London, putting up a silent payer,

“Please God, any cross but Kings Cross”   

A bit more upmarket than my place
Ludwig 1 note ow he is depicted like a Romen Emperor rather than a king

Everything is so pristine, squeaky clean even old Ludwig here has been washed and polished not covered in birds drippings as we see in George Square.

What do you do when the pubs are closed you have an open-air party, actually, it may be one of those high days and holidays, being Easter and all.

Also, there were a lot of people in national dress, which seemed to be used like the kilt in Scotland for high days and holidays, such as weddings.

It is very cold now so it’s back to the barracks, for tea and bread.

Keep safe.

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Yet One More Sunday

My computer tells me that it is 8C and frost.

No matter how often I travel by train, I still get anxious about being on the right platform, the right train have I passed my stop, and I suppose it takes its toll. After arriving here yesterday I felt tired although I had done little, but hump a heavy-laden bike around on and off trains.

Having booked into my YH and finding it superb, apart from sharing a room with 8 other lads, yet in no way does it feels claustrophobic, for the room is large and airy, and with modern ablutions giving it the feeling of a five-star hotel.

Now I do not mind shared rooms, but I am a bit old fashioned and much prefer single-sex rooms, the freedom of padding off to the shower with only a towel wrapped around, I like, although I am sure the girls do not mind, they will all have been to the swimming baths and seen much worse than this wrinkly old man’s body,

“Would you look at that Jessie, you wouldn’t credit it”   

I shaved and showered, and now in fresh clothing relaxed immediately, I find some places do that, I lay in my bunk bed and let my mind wander over the past two weeks, a lifetime away from the petty mindedness of home, and like Shirley Valentine, I did not want to return to my old life, then I suppose I have always been a bohemian.

I had been out for a short walk, and as I returned there was some confusion up ahead at the bridge with police and ambulance staff milling around, when I did arrive at the bridge whatever had happened was now over and the police and ambulance staff were indulging in ice cream and chatting away to one another, how different to the overstretched, and underpaid NHS I thought.

I was early to bed, and although I woke early, as usual, I felt no inclination to rise, I was warm, cosy, and very, very content with my lot so lay a while longer, days like this are good, and to be indulged. I will be going off to breakfast soon, all included as in Salzburg, and today being Sunday will take a stroll around just to be my bearings.

I have said something about the railways here and travelling by bike on them, take Munich for instance, it has 36 platforms, and thousands of passengers, coming and going all the time so somewhere in this maelstrom, you have to buy your ticket (from a machine the information desks have lines of people at them) find the platform (not always on the ticket) and the right train. The internet is a blessing for times and if you have to change trains. I normally use the arrival time to help me get ready to disembark.

Munich is different from all the other stations I have visited, for it is all on the same level, normally you have to take an elevator from the platform down to a sub level then back up onto the platform you require, I like the local trains rather than the big (and I mean big) ICE trains, that have a special carriage for bikes and prams, you have to book your bike on board these trains.

On local trains, you do not,

Not the safety strap acts just as a safety belt in a car

but bikes share space on all trains with prams and mums are not too fussy about pushing their pram into any space and clattering your stead, so if you see a woman coming on board with a pram, luggage and kids in toe, best help her, if only for your bikes health.

Ticket inspectors will say,

“You have not paid for your bicycle”

When they inspect your ticket, I always answer, it’s a folding bike, (which travel free on all trains) and the inspector will quickly apologise, no one has yet questioned why my folding bike is not folded, so there does not seem to be a rule that it must be folded to travel on the train free.

Off to find breakfast now then I will do a recognisance of the town, I really do love cycling around towns and cities since all have cycle only tracks.

Stay safe.  

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Regensburg

“Captain the engines will not take much more of this, the crystals are melting”

“Stop acting like an old woman Scotty – they make them good in Scotland”

I left the rain behind in Munich almost as soon as the train left the suburbs the sun came out; the land passing the window was very much rural then came the hops fields acres, and acres of them. And then as we neared our destination the scene changed to those little alpine type bungalows, you see all over the north of Austria.

The first train was like a United Nations congress whole families travelling together and seemed to have everything they owned with them. Strange the ticket collector asked to see the ID of anyone that did not look German, I thought at the time, that’s a bit police state, he is only a ticket collector after all, would he phone ahead to the police if they did not have an ID? Anyway when we pulled into the next station everyone started to get up and leave, the train carriage was totally empty, then cleaners came in and told me the train terminated here, and returned to Munich. that was not fair, my ticket said Munich to Regensburg. I then had to board another train that would not take me to my final destination direct and so change again. In a bit of a panic not to miss my station I got off a station early – the sign was actually telling me that the next station would be my station, not this one.

Then came “sometimes things happen for a reason”

The station I had inadvertently alighted at was Amberg, and with three quarters of an hour to pass I rolled into the square just as the market stalls were shutting up shop and spotted a crowd of people over by the town hall, they were dressed in traditional clothing, what was this all about well this tells all.

Yes, it was a wedding.
The bird and groom
It was hard getting a shot, with all the people coming over to congratulate the couple.
I believe these were the bridesmaids
This is where they married
with the spay of the river I don’t think it was a duck race.

As luck would have it the next train I did get went straight to Regensburg so no need to change. The YH was easy to find in the centre of town and not far from the station. But the reception would not be on until 4 in the afternoon. Still, it was after three now.

I felt I could have easily eaten a scabby horse, so went looking for some food. The Sugar Puffs I left at Munich YH, I may try again another 60 years from now. What I found was a Thai, restaurant, and more a sort of take-a-way so thought, why not.

It was really tasty and filling too, and cost 6 euros. I am here for four days so may give the wee guy a go again.

It’s gid, tell yir ma.

I have not had much of an opportunity to explore but this place is heavenly, so just for a taster.

I have successfully leapt ahead of myself on my DanAmbergube trip, on entering Regensburg, the most northerly place that the river reached on its way to the Black Sea, and one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, the city that time forgot.

Apart from walking, a bike is possibly the best mode of transport around the city’s tiny alleyways, mostly leading you out into attractive little plazas. I use that word deliberately for this was originally the Roman base for the legions, defending the empire’s northern borders. When the Romans left the town became the capital of Bavaria, (in about 530 AD) and remained so until around the middle part of the 13th century when it became a self-governing state under the Holy Roman Empire. When the map of Europe was redrawn by the Napoleonic Wars, Regensburg lost its independence and once more reverted to becoming part of the Bavarian Kingdom in 1810.

What a difference a bridge makes to a community. In 1146 the Steinerne Brucke (stone bridge) the first bridge to be built over the Danube, opened up a route between Italy in the south and northern Europe, and put Regensburg on the world stage, or at least the European stage.

As the riches flowed north and south the city became a hub for commercial trading, and with the wealth came vanity protection such as St Peter’s cathedral, with its spires soaring skywards over the city. This great Gothic cathedral began life in 1255 and was not completed until 1869; I wonder how many heated debates went on over the rising cost of the cathedral, for when the heads of visionaries and those businessmen collide, the temperature in the meeting will rise too, site meetings can become very vocal at times. In the end, it was the lack of funding that brought its construction to an end. So many churches were being built in the city that Goethe was led to utter ‘Churches built on churches’.

Two of Regensburg’s famous sons were Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), for his work on the orbits of the planets. His house in keplerstrasse 5 is now a museum, and Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XV1, former professor of theology at the University of Regensburg (1969-1977).

The Danube is no longer the quiet meandering stream I left back on the plateau, which seems a lifetime ago now. But a busy, bussing shipping lane, the landscape now flat and my way head will be mostly across flood planes and dikes. But that’s another story.

Keep safe

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Sorry more bikes.

Well, it did rain constantly, but never heavy and no predicted wind, so why not walk to the market that way you can keep dry under your umbrella. Walking also gives you a chance to stop when you spot something of interest; unfortunately walking is a lot more exhausting than cycling, and when I arrived at the market, was told,

Self-explanatory flower market just a small part of this vast complex

Sorry, the guided tours are off due to Coronavirus” drat and double drat.

What did we see on the way, the river,

and a lot of bikes,

Aride on pram two-seater plus driver with room for messages.

all different shapes and sizes,

and a boat on top of a bridge, which was actually a restaurant?

These are the hire bikes – you pick up anywhere and drop off anywhere – it said 10c a minute 5X60 = 3 euro per hour, you could easily do 10 miles, so even a five-mile commute to the station would only cost a few euro, and you do not have to look after it, service it, or leave it at the station until you return home, just pick up another. Then again storage at the railway stations is in multi-tier racks and undercover.

No more plugging an integrated cycle network, I promise. Anyway, it will never happen in Scotland – how long did it take to get permission for the Aberdeen bypass 20 years was it? Then there is the cost, and high cost there will be, although every pound spent would be returned tenfold. The Scottish government have wasted million on ferried no one now wants, over priced, years late in delivery. then the Bi-Fab. the selfie queen (Nicola Sturgeon) does not have a good track record when it comes to picking a winner. Oh, and please don’t mention the money spent to try and get an innocent man jailed, because he was her rival. Oh well, it was a nice dream anyway.

Keep safe

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All Change

Today’s weather is cloudy, possibility of rain and very windy. Now at this point, I wanted to go over to see one of Ludwig’s fairy tale castles but it is 130k away and about 35 euros on the train, so change of plan I will go and see the biggest European wholesale market. It would seem that they run guided tours for the princely sum of 3 Euros.

The Großmarkthalle München (Wholesale Market Munich) is a German-international wholesale market located in the Munich borough of Sending. In an area of 310,000 m², 270 importing companies and wholesalers offer 140 different product classes from 83 countries with a sales volume of more than 750 million Euros. Additionally, there are 65 horticultural producers, 45 florists and 15 wholesalers of miscellaneous lines. The market’s geographical sales area is virtually “boundless“: day after day it supplies a region with approximately 5 million people and delivers goods to almost every European country.   

I have been asked about various things on my trip, and one was,

“Why do I not use my new smartphone as a GPS?”

The short answer is I don’t simply wish to get from A to B I’m an explorer. I want to soak up the ambulance, hear the sounds, and smell the city, get to know her, find little gems that I would not have, found otherwise. You see it does not matter if the 6k journey takes me two hours to get there, I like cycling around the city, I’m having fun.

On the subject of markets, I have found my diet has changed dramatically. Here supermarkets and shops, also stalls outside shops, that seem to sell anything that will turn a profit, are fruit and vegetable displays, so you can buy several single items and not a pre-pack of one. So I have been buying lots of fruit, to nibble, things I have not had for years, such as Pomegranates, fresh dates, huge pears, and of course apples and oranges. They are super plentiful and super cheap, and really super to eat.

A have always loved Chinese food. When I lived in Edinburgh, we would go, at least once a month, to our favourite Chinese restaurant. Then things changed Indian restaurants and fast food joints arrived, which I never frequented. Out walking one evening I came across a small Chinese shop. I say shop because it was really just a kitchen with lots of cooks doing their thing, and then filling it into cartons for you to take away, there was a clue in the name, Box and Go.

There seemed to be the top ten listed on a board, so I started with number 1 at 3.50 euro and included noodles, spring onion and bamboo shoots. Boy do you get a lot for your money, I was struggling by the time I saw the bottom of the carton. I have not been going every night but had a couple of treats there, a pleasant change.

Of course, this change in diet, if that is what it is, comes at a cost, my visits to the toilets are much more of a splash rather than a plop.

This will be my last day and night in Munich off somewhere els tomorrow, (so my computer tells me) so another train ride.

These specialcarrages on the longer distance trains are split in two with a glass partition, bike racks in one-half seating in the other, local trains just have a place set aside for bikes and wheelchairs.
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Cycling Safety not Paying Lip Service

If you write the Transport Minster (as I have) asking about the appalling number of cyclists killed on our road, you will (as I did) have your reply from someone nobody ever heard of, telling you how much money the governments allocated annually to local councils to improve the lot of cyclists.

Write your local council asking them how they are using the money allocated by the Westminster Government; you will be lucky if you even receive a reply, or possibly they will tell you how much money they give to the likes of Sustrans, I’m not sure what they are about apart from keeping themselves in well-paid jobs, as a charity, collecting money from the lottery fund and local authorities. They tell you they promote walking and cycling. Well maybe that is what they believe but they are only a scapegoat so that governments and local authorities can wash their hands of their responsibility to promote safe cycling.  

Take the route from Forth to Clyde, Edinburgh to Glasgow, “mostly” traffic-free along a succession of railway and riverside paths. I have ridden this as a charity ride once and believe me don’t even try it without solid tyres on your bike, the amount of broken glass on the path (and that is all it is a path) was a disgrace.  I admit I have not ridden it since the Bathgate/Airdrie railway, reopened in 2010 with a cycleway along the side. In Glasgow, NCN 75 is a riverside path along the wide River Clyde.

Phoenix Trail (Princes Risborough to Thame) was well publicised when it opened so when I was cycling in that area I thought I would give it a go, yes, new-laid tarmac had been laid along a length of a disused railway, unfortunately, little had been done to kill off the bramble before they laid the tarmac (cheep and shoddy) now the young shoots were growing up through the surface. Yet Sustrans promote it as one of their flagship routes, – it is, they tell you flatly, well-surfaced and traffic-free. With magnificent views of the nearby Chiltern Hills, this is a lovely place for a relaxed bike ride or walk. The trail is rich in wildlife and, if you’re lucky, you may spot red kites, which thrive in this area. If we are talking about recreation at a weekend fair enough, but a far cry from anything close to making our roads within and without safe to cycle on.

A recent survey suggested that two-thirds of Scots questioned said Cycling was not for them and I can understand why. Scotland has no safe cycling in even its major cities and outside of the cities and towns, you simply take your chances along with the rest of the road traffic, most of which, treat you as nascence, and should not be allowed on the road at all.

These past two weeks I have cycled in London (taking my life into my own hands) In Paris (a joy), Salzburg and now Munich. This is the difference between a proper well-constructed traffic system that promotes cycling within the city and not Scotland discourages it.

I shall not go into why Scotland needed to build the cycling infrastructure to encourage people out of their cars and onto their bikes; the reasons are so obvious they do not need to be explained. Here is how it works here in Munich, and why there are no big (and expensive) car parks at railway stations, no endless people visiting their doctor with problems, that could be eradicated with a little exercise each day (cycling to the railway station not driving).

However, this will never happen unless the infrastructure is put in place to promote traffic-free routes around our cities (and I don’t mean a painted line along the side of some streets, (cyclists used for traffic calming) I mean dedicated cycle lanes separate from pedestrians, separate from road traffic.  

So what do we need to do in Scotland to get people out of the cars and onto a bike for short daily commutes to the shops, schools, and rail and bus stations? and before you tell me that a lot of money seemed to have been spent on infrastructure that no one is using, note how little traffic is on the road, I deliberately picked my time, so the photographs would not be full of people or bikes, the better to explain the system. I can assure you thousands travel around Munich each and every day by bike, you and old, mothers taking their kids to nursery school or on a trip to the local supermarket.  

This is a cycle lane, note how the broken white lines continue the cycle lane across the side road, Traffic coming out of that road must give way to cyclists.

Woried about hills, you can use E-bikes or these little E-scooters, You unlock them with your smartphone and send a message where you dropped them off (abandoned it).

When traffic and bicycle come together on the road the white lines clearly define cycle lane and road. hear straight ahead or cross over when the light is green.

Here we see Pavement (for people only) cycle track (for cycles only) road (for all other traffic) – supper safety for all.

These little scooters are really popular with the younger generation

The cycles has right of way at this junction

At major junctions, you wait for the lights.

Not until we spend the money putting in propper cycle lanes in Scottish cities can we ever hope to make the necessary, change for the well-being of our people, (and well-being of the environment).

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People who need People

In the movie Funny Girl, Barbra Streisand sang the song ‘People’


People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world
We’re children, needing other children
And yet letting a grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children

What I love most about travelling is simply people needing people. And when five strangers are thrown together in one mixed room, you soon become friends. Up until yesterday, it had been an all-male room, and then it was all changed when a young couple from Thailand entered our world. Now even when we tried very hard to be quiet and not disturb others, we sounded like a herd of elephants. This girl was really quiet from the first, letting her partner do all the talking and introductions, make all the decisions, almost dutiful like. But what really amazed me was how she could move around so quietly and with such delicacy that made her all but invisible. I would love to ask if this is a trait of all Thai girls.

Once more I am blessed with fine weather, and blue skies all the way, so I was up early and ready to hit the road on new refreshed legs. I want to go to the Nymphenburg Palace today, only 6k away, if I don’t get lost, my navigation skills have left something to be desired of late. When you pass the same building twice, you know something went wrong, but thrice, you know it is time to get out the map once more. Yes, navigating in cities requires a whole new skill set.

Here are some of the places I passed along the way, so clearly lost

Coming back was a doddle since it was into a headwind all the way there I simply let it carry me home, home in half the time.

The Nymphenburg Palace (Palace of the Nymphs) as the name implies, is built in the Baroque style and combined with its park (Nymphenburg Palace Park) it is one of the premier royal palaces of Europe. Its frontal width of 632 m (2,073 ft) (north-south axis) is big, even surpassing Versailles Palace (France). It served as the main summer residence for the former rulers of Bavaria the House of Wittelsbach. The palace was commissioned by Ferdinand and Henriette and Henriette Adelqide of Savoy it was they commissioned Agostino Barelli the Italian architect in 1664 after the birth of their son Maximilian 11 Emanuel. The central pavilion was completed in 1675. As a building material, it utilised limestone from Kelham. The palace was gradually expanded and transformed over the years. It then quickly replaced the nearby Blutenburg Castle as a major hunting lodge of the court and competitor to Schleissheim Palace.

Starting in 1701, Maximilian Emanuel, the heir to Bavaria, a sovereign of the Holy Roman Empire, undertook a systematic extension of the palace.

Finally, Nymphenburg Palace was completed with a grand circle, the Schlossrondell of Baroque mansions (the so-called Kavaliershäuschen – cavalier’s lodges) erected under Maximilian Emanuel’s son.

Charles Albert lived during his time in Munich as Holy Roman Emperor at Nymphenburg Palace and died there in 1745. In 1747, Elector Max 111 Joseph founded the Nymphenburg Porcelain. In 1792, Elector Charles Theodor opened the park to the public.

Today, Nymphenburg is open to the public but also continues to be a home and chancery or the head of the House of Wittelsbach, currently Franz, Duke of Bavaria.

the West Wing
The East Wing
You even have a canal running up to your front door
Not bad as front doors go
The back lawn is not so bad either

This would be a normal cycle track here in the city, and they do not stop, they go on like this all over the city. You are kept well away from the traffic and from pedestrians, you have priority when crossing site streets other than major road junctions where you take your turn at the lights. it is sheer heaven. I followed behind a young woman taking her two children to Kindergarten in one of these bikes with a box on the front and she did a steady 18 kph, bikes here are quicker than a car for getting around. Compare this with cycling at home – well, there is simply no comparison. and you can rest assured that the girl, in front, will not need health club membership, will need a doctor far less in her lifetime, and have a better prospect of a happier old age. Scotland is prehistoric when it comes to alternative transport, costing the country’s NHS in the end. If you put in the infrastructure people will use it, and it will pay for itself in the wellbeing of the nation – but then we are talking about the Scottish Government after all – a branch office of Westminster.

Stay safe

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PART TWO

Today is an unplanned rest day, just could not be bothered doing anything very strenuous, so I strolled around the shops just window shopping. The sun was out and whether it was because of the contrast over the past few days or not, it felt really warm, too hot in fact for an anorak. I bought a big stodgy cookie and sat for a while just watching the world go by. Early afternoon I took myself off to a nearby park and brewed up some mink tea and some German sausage, very tasty.

I had to buy a new woolly hat, left my old one on the train from Salzburg, thank goodness my heads screwed on.

I was thinking about the BMW museum and of course, it was not just passed models they were showing. When you get to the top of the tower you see Hydrogen and Electric cars and the first thing that you notice is just how few parts go into e-cars. Some have a full floor pan containing batteries others a spine running from back to front, much like the old prop shaft tunnel, in a conventional car. The other big change is the dashboard; they are no more, replaced by a screen (that presumably when switched on will give you all you need to know.) The hydrogen engines are far more complicated for they have to have gas storage tanks, which I suspect will be in cars that have to travel a good distance in a day or for commercial vehicles.

Here are a few of the cars on display

This is the hydrogen car
These are all the components of an e-car, floorplan battery, motor, and the box of tricks
This is what they were doing a decade ago, looks like it is doing 100 mph just sitting there
Always wanted one of these
Do you think this may have been aimed at the American market?
Real classic

Taht’s all Folks

 

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It is not raining here also

I was hoping to visit The Eagles Nest while, in the area, but it will not be open until May, which was a disappointment.

I have now settled in, but must not settle down, easy to let the time drift by when you are booked in for a week. I have been to the supermarket for some rations, mostly bread, butter, cheese and cooked ham for sandwiches for my daily treks, can’t really afford to eat out in cafes and restaurants every day, and yes, I did buy a packet of Sugar Puffs, probable have gone off them by the end of the packet. There will be no problem keeping stuff refrigerated just put it outside on the window ledge. Breakfast (all you can eat) 6 euro 50, not a lot but it will add up, I’ll have a go at the Sugar Puffs first.

The area I am in is hotching with hotels every other building seems to be a hotel. Shops are aplenty and all seem to be doing a roaring trade, unlike Fife where shops are struggling to stay open; then again these are shops selling everyday items, not tourist goods.

Guess what the password is for the internet? Happyhour@4:30 – Do you think they are trying to sell us something?

I have been reflecting on the past week how it has gone. I do not think I would really pick the Danube from source to sea the first part has little interest after leaving the Black Forrest, which was stunningly beautiful, and always interesting, then I have always been a cycle climber rather than a sprinter.  Going up or coming down at a fast rate of knots around hairpin bends, just too scared to look at my speedometer for the last time I did take a peek it was over 50K per hour, scary stuff at my age. Yes, there are better adventures to be had, not that I regret a minute of the time spent, maybe if the weather had been better…….

A good decision to up sticks and head for Salzburg, great accommodation at a fraction of the coast, and you will never be bored for something to do, outside and in. Although many of my fellow travellers were youngsters they were happy to bring me into their company, always said hello, asked what I had been up to, genuine interest, it meant a lot to me, not to be treated like an old man, “It’s a YH, the clue is in the name grandpa”. We need to start teaching languages in primary school in Scotland, these kids put us to shame, they all speak English like natives, (and better than this native).

I was thinking with the 30 something, doodling in the snow on the bench, we all have a child inside us, why are we so afraid to be ourselves? Why do we get all these feelings if we are not allowed to use them? Why do we suddenly change into grown-ups, whatever that means?

Watching young women (girls really) playing with their youngsters, giggling, laughing, unselfish love in action, why do we change?  

What I have found out is that the dream I set out with, almost knowing what it would be like, was nothing like that at all, it was so much more, the people I met along the way not only changed my perception, they changed me. And I suppose that is why I love to travel.

Coming to Germany and seeing first-hand, talking to the young people here, they are miles ahead of Scotland in their thinking, their attitude to work and play, and they do not suffer from the effects of failed government policies as we have.

The first thing anyone visiting Germany will find is, it is cleanliness personified, you do not see empty bottles, beer cans, litter and plastic are strewn along the roadside, chewing gum stuck to the pavements, even in the biggest cities the cleanliness and well-maintained properties are in stark contrast to Scotland. I ask a lad if this was something taught in Kindergarten, “No” he told me “before Kindergarten”. In Scotland the attitude is

“What’s the Cooncil doing about it?”

A lot to reflect on and that is what travelling does to you, broadens your thinking and outlook on life, sad that Brexit will stop so many young people from going to European Universities, finding work here and becoming better citizens of the world. The good news – “I swear it’s not too late” lyrics turn, turn, turn, (for an independent Scotland)

I have had my long lie, my Sugar Puffs and my endless cups of tea, time now to hit the road. The weather is overcast but thankfully no rain. The nearest attraction is the English garden 10minute ride from here then who knows what I will find.

Stay safe.

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Goodbye Salzburg Helo Munich

What a difference a day makes, blue skies horizon to horizon, but a biting cold wind. I have been seeing glimpses of a mountain in the near distance and today I rode out to the outskirts of town to get a photograph,

and the only clear spot in the city’s cemetery, being a Catholic aria the cemetery is massive.

Crossed back into the city via the bridge with thousands of padlocks attached, possibly someone started the myth that if you leave a bit of you (your padlock) you will return someday, like coins in a fountain, crap really, I like to think that I am under a greater authority than myth, I leave with a one more pictures of Salzburg for you.

Sew a needle pulling three, well I had to put in one

Waving a reluctant goodbye to Salzburg YH and headed off to catch my train for Munich.

Munchin 4th April 2022

I have been to Munich before first in 1962 for the Oktoberfest, what a weekend we had. I, still in my late teens, an immature youth, and wonderfully carefree, being teased and kissed by what must have been dozens of beautiful young girls, was just magical. (Such was my immaturity; you know what I still only used it for peeing.) Sadly youth is wasted on the young; with their smartphones and text messaging one another, growing up sexually far too fast, they miss out on the fun of youth and real communications.

Munchin is now one of Germany’s wealthiest cities, in the past, it suffered from its distance from the seaports and the Ruhr valley where the coal mines were situated, now however with other forms of power available this is no longer a problem. Munich’s shift away from heavy to light industry manufacturing precision instruments, optical and electrical appliances, and aerospace, high tech is the name of the game. But art and culture are not forgotten, Munich is famous for its beer, home to four breweries, and its annual Oktoberfest celebrations. Book publishing and printing along with television production, a centre of the banking and financial industry, and Munich also boasts Europe’s largest wholesale markets for fruit and vegetables, all contributing to their economy. Days won’t even scratch the surface. Much has changed since I was last here, the most noticeable is the multicultural nature of its citizens almost a third of the population has come from outside Germany.

I am here for the full 7 days, I want to use this as a base camp and travel on a light bike to see some of the city and its surroundings, mad Ludwig 111 build some fairytale castles around here.

Not quite as modern as my last YH but it has all I need, and the natives seem friendly.

Healthwise, seem to be getting stronger day by day, potting a lot into my time, but also a lot of sleeping time, early to bed, sadly I can not lie in bed once I am awake so early to rise too.  

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Saltzburg Part Two

Walter coming to Salzburg certainly made a difference, the weather has been lifting all day and by 12.30 there were blue skies to be seen and with the sun now beating down relentlessly on us (poetic licence) but the sun did make a difference, and nothing to do with me I’m sure.

My day started off early, I did not want to disturb my roommates by making a noise, well, they had hardly been in bed an hour. So I went down to the common area with my computer and found that the breakfast area was open. Self-service all you can eat, and there was every kind of breakfast cereal you could want, yoghurt, (yuck) a dozen or so types of tea bags, a toaster, microwave, even had a pancake making machine, all the different hams, cheeses, bread rolls, you name it. I spotted Sugar Puffs, must be 60 years since I had Sugar Puffs, have they really been going that long? For starters, they also have oranges, apples, grapefruit and bananas, so I tucked an apple, orange and banana in my bag, (keeping them for effter, I wish it was efter).

Being Sunday no shops open of course, but plenty of people out walking alongside the river, lots of dog walker’s too, and cyclist have their own road. I more or less simply followed the crowd. Crossing the bridge a woman asked me to take a group picture so I did but when she checked the result found my finger half obscuring the picture. Photo on the bridge take two, action! She made a much better job of taking my picture from the bridge.

Most of the public benches still had a good covering of snow on them, and of course, the kids were making snowballs and attacking their parents with them. However, further along, I came across a 30 something doodling in the snow on one of the benches and as I passed I said,

“Play bonnie hen”

Of course, she had no idea what I had just said but gave a nervous (I been caught red-handed) sort of smile, back.

Don’t ask me what all the photographs are, but mostly they speak for themselves.  

The result of overnight snow
It was the lampposts that attracted me to take the picture
now I don’t know about you and graphite, but when done well, it’s real art.

What are you looking down for, silly bugger?
Get out of the way cyclist, can you no see I’m getting my photo took.
This church was actually conducting a service and within the doorway was a large screen where you could watch the proceedings inside. the entrance had three beautiful doors, depicting the three spirits of God

The first
The main door
last, death and ascending

I just thought the craftsmanship was superb.

This bell tower is part of the Salzburg Muzeum and as I passed a campanologist was playing a tune that I did not recognize. I say (one) campanologist for they play the peal with the use of a keyboard.
The building that the tower is attached to.
I can’t remember his name, but I believe he charms the birds from the air with his music.
How do the local pigeons keep their feet warm in winter, they sit on the tram overhead cables?
Now would it not be great to see this sort of participation of people cycling in Scottish cities too. You see the sam at every railway and bus station across Europe. there is no park and ride car parks here, you cycle into town to catch a bus, tram or train.

      

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Waking up in Salzburg

He was only playing leapfrog. I had decided to go off-peak once more and to this end, I boarded a bus for Salzburg.

What will this day be like? I wonder.

What will my future be? I wonder.

It should be so exciting,

To be out in the world, to be free!

My heart should be wildly rejoicing.

Oh, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed for adventure,

To do the things I’ve never dared.

Now here I’m facing adventure,

Then why am I so scared?

Lyrics from ‘The Sound of Music

Salzburg much like my home town of St Andrews is a university town, with a castle that once was the residence of the archbishop, and that is more or less where the similarity ends. The city takes its name Salt-Castle from the River Salzach on which the barges carrying the salt were subject to a toll, in the 8th-century tolls were levied on the barges plying many of Europe’s waterways and rivers.

Salzburg has many famous sons, however, none greater than the greatest composer of them all, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, such as the quality of his music it is still revered to this day. Although he wrote some heavy stuff, you can not help but enjoy the humour he put into his music too, such as we find in his opera ‘Le Nozze Di Figaro’. I can not even think of the opera without hearing Cherubino, ‘Voi che sapette che cosa e amor – that will always be the magic of Mozart for me, from great musical storms to light humour.

My days here are so short I could have stayed a month and still not explored the city fully, or the beautiful countryside that surrounds Salzburg, with its many wonderful lakes but I only have the weekend so will have to move fast.

I sat in the bar area and sent off my e-mails and blog until after 11mp then off I went to my room, (there are four others in the room, two girls two lads) none were there when I went off to bed. I woke in a hot airless room, well-rested, and was thinking what time is it? Is it time to get up? When in troops the others were, using their phones as torches. Gee, I must have only catnapped. When the room settled down, I could not get back to sleep so decided to get up and pad down to the sitting area and have a coffee from the machine. The time was actually 6am these youngsters are on the night shift.

There has been more snow throughout the night, so maybe I should simply look upon this as a Christmas break without all the commercialization like in Sherly Valentine, she had given her husband’s steak to the neighbour’s dog and gave her husband chips and egg for his tea.

“What’s this?” he asked. 

“looks like chips and egg to me, then it might be a trick question”

“But this is Thursday we get stake on Thursday”

“You like chips and egg”

“Yes, on a Tuesday, I like chips and egg on a Tuesday this is Thursday”

“Then pretend it’s Tuesday” she replied.

So, I will pretend I am on a winter holiday, just as good. May not bother with the bike today but take off on shanks pony and see a bit of the town in the morning, get my bearings.

I want to go out to Eagles Nest but I will leave that until Sunday or possibly Monday, then it’s on to Munich.

Keep safe

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Salzburg or Burst

Two photographs you did not get of Donaueschingen, in my last ramblings, so stuck them in here.

The town of Donaueschingen did not have a lot to interest me, maybe if the weather had been better and I was cycling around more, the shops were all ladies top end and designer fashion (which is the code word for expensive).

The weather has not been kind to me at all since leaving the mountains, when it first started to snow, sleety drizzle, It did not stop. The route continues across the Baar plateau, so pretty flat land as far as Geisingen where you come to the limestone Donautal gorge through the hills of Schwabische Alb. This is an area of sinkholes and when dry (not today) the Danube will disappear underground. The smell of newly cut pine trees assaulted my senses all the way along this part of the trail.

On reaching Tuttlingen, I found it was market day although almost over, they have to clear the streets by two in the afternoon. Oh how I wish I could have cooked up a meal with all the vegetables on display, the smells of fruit, and vegetables and the heavy scent of flowers were everywhere. Unlike the small markets held monthly in St Andrew, these are well patronised even in this appalling weather they came in their droves. I did buy some fruit for my 5 since leaving home.

What I got wrong. I decided that my one pannier would suffice and anything extra would go in my backpack. This was a bad mistake okay when I left but the backpack became a burden the longer I used it. So as I passed a shop that sold only bags and rucksacks, and in their window was a pannier bag, I popped.

The shopkeeper was a bustling little woman that never stopped talking, mostly to herself, for I never understood a word she said. No matter that I had already chosen the one I liked she insisted on opening up everything she had in the shop. I paid and went out of the door leaving the box that it came in and the shop floor littered with boxes to be repacked. I asked her if there was a Velo repair shop in town, there was but it would be closed until after the market, 2 O’clock.

It was after two when I set out for my hotel. And by accident happened upon the bike shop, I went in and told the man my problem, a nut had worked loose and dropped off, an important nut for it held on the carrier and rear mudguard in place, I had patched it up with a cable tie, so it did not really need much explaining, he put a new nut on leaving the cable tie as belt and braces.

I produced the sheet of paper with my hotel for the night and asked for directions. This was my second time on this trip that booking online was a no-no. The last time it was – only one and a half kilometres that turned into16k. On that occasion, I did not bother to do the extra miles but booked into a hotel where I was at the time. This time it was only 5k and since I could not get much wetter than I already was I did the extra miles. It’s a lesson to be learned for the future, check on Goggle Map that the hotel you booked is where you expect to find it.

This one was Bahnhof 123 BahnofstraBe. I asked around but no one could tell me where number 123 was although I was clearly in BahnofstraBe, then I asked a young lass (that spoke perfect English, almost without a trace of an accent) who told me, “Here”. But this is the railway station I said and she answered simply “Yes”. And she was right of course part of the building was the station office, the other part a coffee, come restaurant, come cheap accommodation. Well, it’s only for one night and the trains may not run at night. I very much having that a backpacker feels to it, with a kitchen for making your own meals, and laundry, which I badly needed with so much dirty and wet clothing, after a day of sleet and rain. I had overcome the cold, by putting on almost every stitch of clothing I carried with me and looked a bit like a barrage balloon, still it took a lot of weight off the bike or is that Irish.

The place was packed with families, like some village meeting, turned out that on a Friday (is that the time already) they have an entertainer and the café for one night turned into a bar serving bottles of beer (no choice). Later after I was showered and had most of what I had been wearing in the washing machine I went down for a beer. The owner introduced me to two locals who had some English, so with my bad German and their better English, we spend the night together. When I went up to the bar for a second bottle I bought three, this started the ball rolling, soon the Schnapps were doing the rounds, oh well, I have some Parasitical in my bag. The singer went down well everyone was clapping along and having fun. Soon the little back room we were in spilt over with latecomers and conversation all but died, you simply could no hear over the din. However, it was clear that word had gone around the room about this mad old Scotsman cycling around Germany, which seemed to impress them, for another shot of Schnapps would come my way.

sorry about the photograph I had a few by then but these were the two lads I was introduced to by the barman
The party gets underway
And what do we see throw the round window children? The day after the night before
The sun tried its best to peep through the mirk but without success so I abandoned this leg halfway through (about 30K covered but it was just too miserable and nothing much to get excited over so hoped the train for Salzburg. Boy was it warm after a morning on the road, I could have dropped off easily but did not want to miss my stop.

What I have discovered during my trip is that the German people (real people not politicians) think that Germany getting involved in Ukraine is a very bad idea. 

What with one thing and another I did not get my blog off and today I am off to Salzburg, so I will send it off from the YH there.

Healthwise, I feel great a few war wounds, but nothing to write home to mummy over, and you will be pleased to know that my waters are much more straw coloured. Yes, I would have to say, despite the atrocious weather, and a good covering of snow this morning, this holiday has been good for me.

Here at last Salzburg, just booked into a brilliant hostel these modern YH really are the berries. I brought my laptop down to the bar and found that the machine gives out free hot water and with my own tea bags, Europeans make crap tea, I now have all I want in life. I am here over the weekend and leave Monday, so whatever the weather I will be out and about.

Coming over on the train from Ulm (u as in Oh silent L), a crowd of girls came on board with skies and snowboard, bad vibes I thought. The snow has turned to rain, by tomorrow it will be sunshine, now that I’m here, fingers crossed.       

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Living the P.O.S.H life

I sat at the computer to write my blog and could not get my head around it, I kept nodding off, so I decided to have a power nap, well it was just after three in the afternoon. I came back into the land of the living at 7am the next morning.

Breakfast was a buffet, helps yourself, so I did, cornflakes, followed by a roll-on cooked ham and another on cheese and lots and lots of tea. My legs felt fresh after 16 hours of solid sleep and I needed them for the morning climb. High into the mountains, I went, higher than the highest waterfall. The snow was still lying in the cullies, so I was pleased to have my extra woolly poolly with me, it was cold. The rain was sporadic up there but when it did come on there was nothing woolly about it, heavy, cold and sleety. So my cape was on most of the day which hampered my progress into the headwind. Once at the top the descent was breathtaking. Why the whole area was breathtaking totally idyllic and picturesque with little traditionally built houses and farms. They seem to grow a lot of grass here but I did not see any cattle, maybe they are summer pastures or simply used to grow silage. Lots of sawmills and stacks of cut firewood.

When dad had his first car a little Ford Popular and when worked the day shift, he would come home from work on Saturday afternoon ready to put his feet up with his paper only to find mum had other plans, biscuit tins full of sandwiches and National Health orange diluted in lemonade bottles, dad was not putting his feet up, mum had other plans,

“I thought since it’s such a nice day you could take us for a run”

We all would squeeze in and off we would go,

“Where’re we going, dad?” I would ask

“Up to the highlands,” he replied

After a long trip into the hills, I asked

“When will we get to the highlands?”

“We are in the Highlands” He replied

“But there are nothing here but hills” I retorted.

Yet today when I saw the mist lifting off the hills I thought of that trip to the highlands, in dad’s Ford Pop.    

 My pilgrimage days are well behind me now but I am still instinctively drawn to churches, I suppose that having learned so much about ecclesiastical architecture over the years – knowledge begets knowledge. So yes I did visit the highest waterfall in Germany, the biggest cuckoo clock in the world, and the museum of one thousand cuckoo clocks, but the story that intrigued me was that of Maria in der Tanne, a small baroque church just outside the town. The story goes that in 1644 a young girl was cured of eye disease by the water of a nearby spring. Soon after a local tailor was reputed to have been cured of leprosy by washing in the same spring, and as an offering, the tailor placed a small statue of Mary in the cavity of a fir tree. From this comes the name of the church – Mary in the Fir. The statue was lost over time, then years later rediscovered by three Tyrolean soldiers in or around 1700. A small wooden chapel was built, and later a larger stone church, finally the one we see today, built by pilgrims. The Main baroque altar by J.A. Schupp in 1705 is very over the top the church must have had some very affluent patrons with very deep pockets.

At Martinskapelle chapel I came across a car park and a footpath that lead me some 50 meters to the source of the Danube.

When I rode the Loire River from its sours to the sea, I found the sours to be like the start of most rivers, no matter their eventual might, to be a watershed. The Loire had seven sources arranged around a volcanic plug, one was chosen as the official source.

The Danube is formed by the coming together of the Brigach and the Breg just east of Donaueschingen. The source of the Donabach which flows into the Danube at Donaueschingen is often referred to as the source of the Danube; however, the Breg is the larger of the two streams and springs at a higher altitude so you pay your money and you take your choice. Politics, and I’m sure the old boys’ network, in the end, won out, the government of the Baden-Wurttemberg were persuaded to uphold Donaueschingen’s claim so now ‘officially’ Furtwangen should no longer be labelled Donauquelle on official maps. However, since I would be visiting both on my sojourn none of this really matters.

Bregquelle, to my mind, is the true source of the Danube River, it is only a rock-lined basin in a meadow close to Kolmenhof; however, it did have a plaque stating the Source of the River Danube, good enough for me. 

Furtwangen is the first town you come to after leaving the Bregquelle so the first town on the Danube. The town’s long tradition of making high-quality clocks and musical boxes goes all the way back to the 19th century and has left the town with a legacy of craftsmanship that is still carried on, and updated today, in the work at the universities departments of microelectronics and precision engineering. I was fascinated with the town’s clock and watch museum, before pressing on into Donaueschingen for my stopover.

Donaueschingen sits astride the Brigach and is the seat of the Furstenberg family all the way back to the 13th century. Their residence is the Schloss Furstenberg palace built-in 1723, remodelled in 1893 – 1896 in the neo-baroque style that we see today. On the grounds of the palace and adjacent, St Johann parish church was where I found the large ornamental marble monument marking the “official” source of the Danube.

The Furstenberg family have long been associated with, and patrons of the arts and a major contemporary music festival, is held in the town every autumn. In the centre of town is a large bronze fountain featuring a group of musicians, reflecting the town’s association with music.

I had booked a hotel in advance and the most expensive of the journey, but then beggars can’t be choosers when you are in an area like this. I booked in, found my room and after dropping my gear, I stripped and headed for the bathroom, ‘magic’ a real bath. All accommodation for the elderly has walk-in showers, no baths. Yet something I use to love was a good soak in a bath. When I lived in a flat in Edinburgh we had no bath or shower for that matter, we used the communal baths just a few yards down the street. The baths were massive you could wash a whole family in them and for me pure luxury to soak away the day’s labours.  

Money, money, money must be funny living in a rich man’s world.

With the rain still, a constant drizzle so I shan’t be doing much outdoors maybe just a walk around town under an umbrella, and another early night.

Stay safe.

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Sunshine all the way

With so many last minute things running amok in my head, I decided not to go on any cycle runs after Friday but start my packing early rather than try to do everything on the last day, thankfully I did, now the bike is a folding bike and the thing that sticks up most is the seat post. Not a problem the damn thing was always slipping down no mater how tightly I screwed up the clamp. When I folded it up to put in the carrier bag the seat post would not drop, stuck solid. I tried hitting the underside of the seat with a rubber mallet- nope – forced a knife down the side of the seat tube and sprayed WD40 down it – nope – maybe if I left it over nigh to soak in, (I could not heat it because it is carbon fibre, and could not twist it back and forth, because the tube is not round.)

I was up at 5 am this morning; I could not lie in, not with a seat post to free. Did the WD40 overnight soak work to loosen the seat tube? nope – I took it out to the garden, laid the bike down on its side and tied it to a tree, I then secured a ratchet strap onto the seat and the other end to the iron gate and pulled, and pulled, hit it with a hammer (shock treatment) pored more WD40 over the stem – nope. I did manage to finally get it in the bag but only after removing the saddle carrier and wheels for it would not go in the bag as it should have, not with a seat post sticking up like a flagstaff, (my advice – don’t by a bike with a carbon fibre frame, they are a nightmare if things go wrong).

I bought 200 euros from the post office and it was later that day I bumped into Ken who asked me how the preparations were progressing,

“Going well” I told him.

“I have a friend, same age as myself 79 years old” he told me “She dose a lot of this sort of thing, staying in YH but she travels by bus between each cities, she told me you need to have a money belt, do you have a money belt?” he asked.

“Well, I will be doing a lot of travelling by bus between YH too”, I told him.

Money  belt, money belt, where can I get one of those in a hurry, good old Amazon (some say) it will be deliver on Sunday, so just in time for my departure.

“Have you let out your flat?” Ken asked.

“I don’t think the landlord would allow me to sub let” I suggested.

“I have some friends over to stay, could I use your flat to sleep in” he asked,

Ken was a keen golfer, not sure, how much he plays now, however with the Open fast approaching, accommodation gets tight in St Andrews, I’m sure he is suddenly inundated friends asking if the guest room is free.

“Not a problem Ken, if fact I needed someone to be key person, just in case something unforeseen happened like a burst pipe”

Sunday is not my laundry day but I’m sure I can sneak in when no one is looking and wash the bed linen, for him.

I was reminded by a friend who had e-mailed me to wish me a fair bon-voyage, and remined me that the clocks change, you would not wish to miss your bus, she told me. No that would not be good start to my holiday. However since the clocks spring forward in ‘spring’ I would be an hour early – but when I get to Europe, where the clocks do not move as they do in the UK, then I will have to remember to change back or I really could be missing the bus, I think it is called Zulu Time.

I had promised to do a bit of spring cleaning today but the weather is simply gorgeous here so, do I head down to the East Sands, may get some colour in my legs, or do I do some spring cleaning? No contest.

Stay safe   

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Bairns not Bombs

I have been reading Robert Reich (US correspondent for the Guardian) I like the man’s thinking, how he is willing to go out on a limb, speak his mind, but this is not simply speculation or hot air, there are years and years of acquired knowledge about American politics behind his thinking. He tells us he sees a wind of change bellowing through American politics, he likens it to when the Russians launched Sputnik, both houses came together to expand education to play catch up. Kennedy told America,

Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country. A coming together for the good of the country.

The cold war he believed brought about the coming together of a divided America, and even went as far as to suggest that it may have been complicit in bringing down the Berlin wall. Now he is suggesting that Putin is once more bringing both houses in America together, passing bills that would have seemed inconceivable only months ago. The big cracks in NATO seem to be healing, Putin and the war in Ukraine has been like a soothing balm over festering sores.

I can agree with much of what he is saying, however, I personally would like to see the demise of NATO rather than Putin being its saviour.

And if Sputnik spurred the growth in free education and a drive for more scientists and mathematicians, and the coming together of a nation to defeat Russia (play catch up) why did it have to happen through their military wing?

I am not pro-Russian, not pro-American, not pro-British, or pro-European; I will never take sides in any war. Over my lifetime there have been countless wars both hot and cold, and yes the necessity of war has been the mother of many inventions that have been beneficial to man. But why can it only happen through a military wing?

Our world is choking to death because of man’s uncontrolled pollution, of its seas, rivers, and atmosphere by toxic chemicals and plastics. Great cities were destroyed along with great civilisations. We see in graphic detail every day on our televisions the sheer madness of war and its effects on ‘Real’ people’s lives, is this really the coming together that the world needs or do we, the ‘Real’ people, really want?

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has just published the top 100 arms sales figures, sales by country/region.

The Middle East           3.3%

Rest of Asia                  4.7%

Rest of Europe             8.9%

France                          4.7%

Russia                          5%

UK                              7.1%

China                           12%

USA                            53.8% American companies accounted for 54% of the top 100 arms sales, while Chinese companies, included in the top 100 for the first time, accounted for only 13% and Rusia only 5% – UK-based companies made arms sales of $37.5 billion, 71% in real terms over 2019. The figures include both domestic sales and arms exports.

We have some serious problems in this world and is it not time we had some serious people in charge to deal with them. How quickly the two houses in America have come together when NATO was threatened and with the USA responsible for 53.8% of the world’s arms sales, it is not difficult to work that one out.

Arms sale in 2020 alone amounted to $531 billion from the top 100 companies, all designed for one purpose and one purpose only, to kill. If the two houses in America, all the parties in Westminster (including the SNP, changed days since Alex Salmond’s time) and all the NATO  countries can come together over war, why then can they not come together for the good of the world rather than its destruction.

$531 billion per year could buy a lot of food for starving kids. A lot of medicine for the sick, go a long way to cure the world’s ecosystems of plastic and chemical pollution, could go a long way to wean the planet of fissile fuels and make fuel poverty a thing of the past, build modern eco-friendly home………………. Yes, it is time to come together for the good of our country and the good of all.

Bairns not Bombs

Stay safe.

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A wee run out to Scotstarvit Tower

With the coming, of spring, it would seem that I need less and less sleep and will normally be up and about by 6am, no matter how late I go to bed (seldom before midnight). Yesterday was no exception, after breakfast I started on my spring cleaning. First, windows were thrown open, all the way back to the walls, isn’t it wonderful to let the fresh air flood into the house once more. The biggest job first – my bedroom-come-workspace,

A woman’s touch, a woman’s touch,
The magic of Aladdin couldn’t do as much,
She’s a wizard, she’s a champ,
And she doesn’t need a lamp.

I did not have the magic of a woman’s touch; however, I did have my industrial size stoor collector, thankfully not as powerful as the one in the Pink Panther, wonder what happened to the Pink Panther have not seen him around for a while.

Yesterday really was a bit special, the wind had moved into the south-west causing the temperature to soar, and I had some shopping to do in Dundee, I needed a small backpack, so that my valuables would, not only be all in one place but with me at all times, (required on voyage) much like a woman’s handbag, tick. A sponge bag, tick, and a pair of light airy shoes or sandals, tick, I can’t walk around in cycling shoes all day, more so in the YH and my leather shoes would be far too hot, and heavy for summer use. I had looked at all of these in the St Andrews shops, but like everything else here they were all grossly overpriced.

Shopping over I treated myself to a bar lunch, “it’s beginning to feel a bit like” – being on holiday. Only need to go and change some pound notes into euros, and we are good to go.

My Historic Scotland (Alba Aosmhor) membership handbook arrived on the mat, and it said that Scotstarvit Tower was one more open.

I have visited many times over the last two years but the door has always been firmly bared against me, so I decided to give it another try today. You can go out onto the parapet for some magnificent view but you must arrange, by e-mail, in advance so that is out. If you really wish to have some spectacular views best to visit Hill of Tarvit and walk up to Homestead behind the house, at 211m and with unrestricted views down over Cupar and all the way to Dundee and beyond.  

The tower was built in or around the 15th century and remodelled in the 17th century – if you can ever really remodel a tower. Today it stands alone but would have had lots of outbuildings, stables etc. around it at one time. The kitchen of course would have been close to or attached to the outside of the main structure, a tower being like a chimney you would not wish to have the serenity of the home, disrupted by clattering pots and pans, (they had children for that) and the kitchen smells drifting up to the bedrooms above.

The spiral stair is narrow and difficult, not at all child friendly, or 80-year-olds friendly for that matter, Aye John, it’s a nice house you’ve built yourself, but you’ll never get a coffin up yon stair.

The building itself is in remarkably good condition, and I’m always blown away by the depth of the walls, you read so often about castle walls being three feet thick, but it is only when you see them in the raw, (as Window recesses in the tower) that you can appreciate a meter thick wall. The vaulted ceilings/floors above, tie the structure together you can see this clearly on the first floor where the ceiling is actually the floor of the second room, up. Each of the rooms has a fireplace, can you imagine having to cart firewood up those stairs each and every day, and buckets of ash down. Being more or less a chimney, the top rooms would seldom need the fire lit, for the heat from the fires below would travelled up through the building, and the building itself, once it dried out, its bulk would act as a storage heater, sucking up the heat from the summer sun only to release it slowly over the winter months.

Alas, the key person has not read his Alba Aosmhor yet for the door once more was firmly locked against me. Still the run home was brilliant, pretty much down hill all the way wind assisted, an enjoyable enough run, sadly no fringe benefits.

I see we are being prepared for a water shortage, they tell us, after a dry winter. Why do we always have this blame game? We are building more and more homes each and every year (although it seems never enough) and every one is fitted with a flush toilet so you go for a pee and then flush with a couple of gallons of water that has already cost, in hard cash, energy and manpower to purify to a standard making it safe to drink, Stupid is what stupid does, we then flush the money, its cost in its collection and purification down the pan.

The government will wait until it becomes a real problem before it does anything about it (which of course will be the decision of the privatized water companies, and not the government, other than giving them taxpayer’s money to help them sort it out.) Why not change building regulations now making sure that every new build is fitted with a grey water system, (channelling rain runoff from the roof into an underground storage tank, the water then filtered and used for flushing toilets, operate washing machined, dishwashers…..) and older properties to be fitted with a grey water system by ? date.

I read that the US president is heading to Europe for a meeting with the US armaments buyers across Europe (sorry that should have read NATO leaders). One topic up for discussion, how to safe face, and keep everyone paying into the NATO fund, (the American economy is totally dependent on a high spend on American weapon systems, and why NATO must be retained at all cost). Seems Russia did not back off when threatened by American sanctions or threats from NATO, America sowed a wind and they are reaping a whirlwind that is now threatening to get out of hand and the Europeans are taking cold feet.

It is not enough to win a war, the other side must understand they lost, and Russia is not going to stop now until NATO (America) is clear on that score.

Lot of talk that Russia has bitten off more than it can chew and they are loosing the war in Ukraine. Believe me Russia is still fighting this war with one hand tied behind its back, If NATO starts interfering, by supplying weapons, planes, missiles defence systems to Ukraine, as America seemed to be talking about now, that will be a direct threat to Russian troops and only provoke Russia, and escalate the war onto European soil and that the European leaders will never allow, (they are looking at the once grand cities of Ukraine and saying to themselves, is this how we want to see Paris, Rome, Berlin… They are already bucking at US sanction that so far is doing more damage to the European economy that Russia’s. And like every American conflict in the past 50 years Europe is suffering the consciousness of refugees and economic migrants from American failed foreign policies.

Already they are talking about peace talks, and the rhetoric has now changed – no more Russia Bad – Mother of all Sanctions imposed on Russia – who would have thought it? So, Predictable – So, Preventable.

Stay safe

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Spring was really worth waiting for

Had a really good morning ride, a bit different too, the winds, what there was, was still out of the east-south-east so still bloody cold. I had no destination so as ever all roads lead there.

As I trundled my way along the cycle path for Guardbridge, I was thinking Tentsmuir, however, on reaching Guardbridge I found myself taking the hill up to Strathkinness, a long slow climb from zero to around 90m and off I went whizzing down to the crossroads, zero once more. Started my climb all the way up to Drumcarrow at 170m and pressed on to the road junction at drumhead where I turned right for Baldinnie. Sticking to the major road here is a big weeeeeeeeeee all the way down to Pitscottie, zero once more. There I turned right down the Dura Dean, to the Edenbridge, climbed back up onto Knock Hill, 110m, pressed on into Strathkinness, and once more down the hill to the crossroads at the bottom, another zero, turned left for home. There was a lot of traffic on the B939 into St Andrews – locals were using it to keep clear of the road works on the A91 at Guardbridge I suspect.      

Feeling really good, spring was really worth waiting for.

Stay safe. 

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Still that cold easterly

The weather has improved but alas still that ice-cold east-south-east wind, still, I have been out for a circuit each day keeping up my daily exercise, but nothing much over 20 miles. Keeping my head down hardly going out, other than on my bike or pottering in the garden, the risk is just too great with Covid still spreading in Scotland. However, there is good news.

My oldest sister whilst recuperating from TB spent six months in a sanatorium near the small village of Scotlandwell. Dad would drive the family over on weekends to visit. Behind the hospital was a cliff face and in the summer I would watch the gliders from the nearby airfield circle on the updraft from the cliff. I so wanted to be up there in a glider.

In the movie ‘Thomas Crown Affair (Thomas Crown played by Steve McQueen) there were this hunting theme song ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ an Oscar-winning Best Song in (1968). The song was used to good effect in the split-screen images, and played perfectly for the sense in the cockpit of the glider, as Thomas looped and played in the air, I could watch that scene over and over. I wanted to be up there in that glider.

After my mother died (I had been her carer) I returned to Fife, I was out cycling one day, heading over to Loch Leven, and as I was passed close to the grass airfield that was home to the glider club I decided, there and then, to have a trip in a glider. As it turned out they did not do jollies; I would have to join the club and be taken up with an instructor and learn how to fly a glider, hold me back.

I was given a tour of the airfield; I saw lots of gliders and all the paraphernalia that goes along with such a hobby. Sadly for me, the instructor I was assigned with did not have a lot of spare time and the bookings were sparse and well-spaced out. Secondly, I soon found out that gliders are fickle and don’t like rain, a big problem even in a Scottish summer. Months went by, dates were cancelled at the last minute, the forecast was not good. My year’s membership fee did not even get me sitting in a glider, far less to soar high over Loch Leven, ho, hum.

In the movie Knight and Day, we get the line ‘sometimes things happen for a reason. I had booked into the YH in Budapest and doing my normal search on the internet ‘What to see in and around Budapest’ I came across,

MÁV Repülőklub – one of the oldest gliding clubs in Hungary – welcomes every visitor (and visiting pilot) who would like to have some nice flights and see a beautiful airfield in the close vicinity of Budapest. Our base, the Farkashegy Airfield located West of Budapest, – South of Budakeszi – can be reached easily by car, or public transport services.

My whole holiday schedule went out the window and was hastily rearranged; cancellation here there and everywhere, if there was even the slightest chance of taking the controls of a glider it had to be taken. I had already booked at the YH in Budapest for two nights – not near enough – this would have to be extended to at least a full week and weather permitting I will be at the airfield each and every day if necessary. I sent an e-mail to the head instructor, however, the airfield does not officially open until near the end of April, so may have to wait until they open to receive a reply. I will be in Budapest on the 22 April leaving on the 30th April, my fingers, legs and everything else crossed.

As for the weather, April seems like a not too bad month – average temp. 17.7, 10 hours of sunshine, wind speed 11.9 KPH, rainfall rising in April – wettest month May – average rainfall 11.4 days for April so I am there for 10 days that works out (on average) at 3.8 (call it 4) of those days it might rain, I’ll take those odds….. I am flying, I am flying ….. It is good that when I contacted Hostelworld asking about rearranging booking, there was no problem, ‘People rearrange all the time’.

My trip has been turned on its head by this piece of information and if I can pull it off who knows I may be able to save enough to fly back to Budapest next summer for an extended stay, might even become a fully licensed glider pilot, Now wouldn’t that be something I wonder what a second-hand glider costs? Can you get insurance for a glider at 80? I’m I getting a wee bit carried away with all this?

Stay safe

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Is this spring or just wishfull thinking?

My run was uneventful but pleasant enough in a cold morning air. on my return and by the time I had showered and sat down to breakfast, the sun was up and the day was inviting me outdoors. I put on my working togs and loaded my barrow with gardening tools and some thirty or so Gladioli bulbs saved from last year display. Rather than have canes sticking up all over the garden I planted them in a long row, then by driving in a stakes at each end of the row and shorter canes as backstays I was able to run two lines of twine between them in essence I had built a low fence, much neater and tidier and once the foliage hiding the twine, and the flower stems are tied in place it should be quite a display.

Talking of displays the daffodil bulbs and miniature daffodils (they are supposed to represent water flowing down the bank) well, maybe in a year or two when they thicken up.

I also planted my potato seed, I know it is a bit early but this is my last chance, I leave Mothering Sunday (27th) on holiday. The place I chose is very sheltered and I did add a base layer of mulch in the bottom of the trench so they would not be sitting on cold soil. They are a French variety with a waxy flesh – perfect for summer salads.

Tided up my onion and garlic patch, they have survived the winter in remarkable good condition. Next my herb garden, again a little early but they were getting leggy growing in pots on my window sills, and although Charles said he would look after them when I was away, I decided safer planted out under a sheet of fleece. If they do not survive – well, it was only the price of a packet of mixed seed.

We have a large area in the shade of a very mature tree, I want to plant that out as a wild flower meadow, but that will have to wait until my return, which is probably about the right time for planting seed anyway.

The French runner beans, poppies and Sweet William can all go in then too, don’t you just hate to see a bare patch of ground.  

Stay safe  

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“Aten-Wait for It – Wait for It”.

What started off as a simple cycle run down the EuroVelo route from the Black Forest down the Danube River as far as Vienna returning back via Salzburg has turned into a lifetime adventure? For a while there I thought my trip would never happen when coronavirus struck, well, possibly someday, however as we all know, only too well, someday is only the code word for never.

There is always a silver lining after a storm, coronavirus has meant that not too many people are booking holidays in Austria and as the holiday season, fast approaches hotel (and YH) are dropping their prices. The war in Ukraine has also been a strange sort of a blessing too, tourists to the Baltic States, have vanished like mist off a Scottish hillside.

The Danube flows all the way out to the Black Sea, when I was touring Europe, in the good old days of a disposable income, Budapest was difficult to get to, the collapse of the old Soviet Union has changed all that, “BUT” – some fools started a war in Ukraine.  

I heard the president of Hungary tell the people, that Hungary will be staying out of the war in Ukraine, and will not be sending any weapons to that country (The man has much more sense than the Numpty, and leader of the Tories at Westminster). Now it may seem a little foolhardy by wishing to go to a country that is, not only close to a war zone but where the towns and cities will be streaming with refugees from that war. But then again, I may well be living on borrowed time anyway, and could drop down dead on South Street, tomorrow, who knows, not I.

I have always wanted to see the beautiful city of Budapest and the lands that surround it, so have booked myself into the YH in Budapest for a week. I could not resist being so near without a visit and with rooms only costing £7.00 per night it was a no-brainer.

So I now have my whole route planned out, rooms (and some long-distance transport)booked. The highlights for me will be revisiting Wien (Vienna) – Salzburg will have to start practising the Landler (as performed in the film The Sound of Music) – revisiting Munich – Innsbruck (stay there at least three days and you get to travel on the public transport systems and some cable cars for free, Scotland has much to learn).

I wanted to spend two nights in Zurich and travel back overnight to Paris but did not notice that the overnight bus leaves at 01:55 in the morning, which of course is another day so had to cancel one of my nights in Zurich.

I love Paris in the springtime – I love Paris in the fall, I really do I never tire of the city – sad that cars have taken over so much of its streets, would be my only complaint. So will spend some time there arriving on the morning of the 12 May and not leaving until the overnight bus on the 15th and this time just before midnight.

I shall be taking the first bus out of London for home so possibly home on the 16th or 17th May. Home just in time to do a bit of gardening – have big plans in that department, (and cheerfully trying to write my blog, having just read a very sad book – my bank book. )     

Edinburgh to London Sunday, March 27th March 22:40

London to Paris Monday 28th March 23:20

Paris to Strasburg 29th March 19:30 Arrives 01:55 on the 30th March

Train to Triberg 7:30 March 30

B&B Gastehous Ursula – Hornberg March 30

B&B Naurfreundehaus-Brend Furtwangen March 31

B&B HUA Baron – Muhlheim am Main April 1 

08:55 bus from Muhlheim (Donau) RE55 (3211) for Ulm

10:56 bus form Ulm Hauptbahnhof EC113 Klagnfurt

13:59 bus to Salzburg

Salzburg YH arrive Sat. 2nd April Leave Monday 4th

Train to Munich

Munich YH arrive Monday 4th April leave Wednesday the 6th

Eriebnishaus Spiess, arrive Wednesday 6th April leave the 8th

Jachabauer arrive Friday 8th leave Sunday 10th

Regensburg arrive Sunday 10th leave 14th April

Jugedherberge Passau arrive 14th April leave 17th April

Sovea Kaisergasse Linz arrive Sunday 17th leave Tuesday 19th

Sankt Pantaleon – Erla arrive Tuesday 19 leave Wednesday 21th

Osterreich arrive Thursday 21st leave 22nd

Train to Budapest

YH Budapest book in 22nd April to 30 April

Vienna YH Sat 30th April leave Sunday 1st May

Train to Graz

Graz arrive 2nd May leave 4th May

Mapi Jaru arrive 4th May leave 6th

Innsbruck YH arrive 6th May leave 10th May

Train to Zurich

Zurich arrive 10th May leave 11th May – 01:50 Overnight bus for Paris 12 May, arrive Paris 11am on the 12th May

De Jeunesse Paris arrive 12 May leave 15th May

Stay safe

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Wee Blethers

Out early and before the wind devils were out of bed, there is always much less wind in the early morning, however, you will have to content yourself with the cold morning air, seems there are no free breakfasts as well as free lunches.  

Just did my normal circuit, Cupar, Pitscottie, home. The crosswinds (semi-headwinds) were a bugger out to Cupar but gave me a very fast run home. After the climb out of Pitscottie, it was fun getting the little bike up to over 30KPH and keeping it there all the way into town, so exhilarating but exhausting, I was pooped on reaching City Park, (silly old bugger).

The wind is starting to rise now, chasing off the puffy clouds, I was thinking about, doing a spot of gardening, but it seems I’m a man with a dying thirst, so may opt for a pint instead (So many difficult decisions to make in life.)

Stay safe.   

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‘Go West Youngman’

As you know, for I’m sure I told you, Charles my neighbour (and a bit of a pal) has Lupus (a hereditary disease that seems to manifest a bit like a stroke or Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s there is no cure). Anyway, Charles had been down at Methil and came back with a T-shirt – Bright yellow – with “Going that extra mile” on the front and “For People With LUPUS” on the rear – he said he would like me to wear it on my trip, it’s the least I can do.

Do you think it will go with my new cycling pants?

Don’t you think they go well with my new T-shirt

New Route

I have been spending a lot of time (far too much actually) tracing my route down the Danube, The Black Forest (I will spend a night at Triberg) then on down the river.  

What I have found is – well it is all a bit boring at the start of the trip and not until you reach Regensburg does it start to get a bit more interesting, so change of plan. I was already booked in at Muhlhem so will push on to Sigmaringen Bridge the following day, arriving on the 2nd April 2022.

Here I will catch the bus for Salzburg arriving on the 2nd April – booked into the Youth Hostel there for two nights leaving on the 4th April.

The next day cycling over to Eggstatt near Rosenheim and on the shore of a beautiful lake, (one night stand), on the 5th April, it is on to Munchin, booked into the Youth Hostel there for two nights (well it is a big city will need at least that time there) Leave Wednesday 6th April.

It is getting a little expensive now (tourist area) but found a place in Moosburg, I have chosen to spend two nights here since I want to ride over to Landshut (an interesting quaint German town, but too costly to stay there) so it will be a day trip and back to Moosburg.

Friday 8th April, to a place just outside Abensberg, seems Napoleon had a bit of a battle there, and there seems to be some very badly constructed buildings there – may be where we get the name Jerry Built. Again two nights at only £41.00 seems a bargain. Lots of town names are underlined here, so plenty to see in the area.   

Check out on Sunday 10th and it is then back onto my original route, where I was already booked into the hostel in Regensburg. All downhill from here all the way into Wien on the 31 April – let the May Day festival begin – virus-free – Please!

Where too now? Since I have by now already done the Salzburg part of my trip, looks like I may be on a long train journey – Go West Youngman (poetic licence.)

I think I did the right thing in changing tack – I would have been disappointed otherwise since the upper reaches of the Danube are not all that aspiring.   

Stay safe

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My Trip

Cresting the hill at Bow Hill House and seeing the river for the first time, as grey as the grey sky that is reflected. The wind cut like a Wetter knife coming as it was from out of the southeast. The back road out of Kilconquar had taken me onto the A917 coast road and in through St Monans and Pittenweem the finally Anstruther. As I rode along into St Monans the wind tore a parting in the low grey cloud, and the river was a pool of quicksilver.

I dropped down to the harbour at Pittenweem, I wished to pop into the Fisherman’s Association shop to see if I could pick up a top for my holidays. The one I chose is Maroon in colour – maroon far ma rou’d shoother’s.

The fish market
The old harbour
Pittenweem is mostly art galleries now

After leaving a cold and windy Pittenweem harbour, it was off to an even colder and windier Anstruther harbour.

The homeward journey was a breeze (sorry) with the wind now on my back. I am always amazed by the difference when you run with the wind.

With me? – Without me? – With me? – With you, Okay then you’re the navigator I’m the DJ (from the movie Knight and Day)    

Stay safe

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Just a Note

Very overcast today, and although the wind was starting to rise on my return journey there really was nothing to write home to mummy about.

I was surprised how light it was at six o’clock this morning, maybe the coming of spring, for I have been wakening earlier and earlier, full of beans and ready for the new day. I’m sure “drip – drip” a fellow workmate from way back – and the most depressing man I have ever had the misfortune to known, would have some dark omen to attach to that. I often wondered how his wife put up with him.

He was the kind of man that if you worked for a security firm delivering gold bars around the country and found at the end of the day you had one bar of gold leftover, and said to drip, drip,

“It is going to be more trouble than it is worth to return this bar of gold, do you want it?”

Drip, drip would reply,

“Do you know how far I would have to carry that from the bus stop?”

Anyway short and sweet, off to Aldi, out of milk and bread.  

Stay safe

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Is this really the best the world’s governments can come up with, in response to a pissing competition, between Russia and America?

Yesterday was another fine day awheel, I believe it was a bit warmer although the wind was certainly up and from off the North Sea, never good. Boy, these Pukclar Polarized sunglasses are the business, not only do they work like a charm against the low bright sunlight but you get lots of street cred – make you look like a G-Man.

Just look at the mess after only a few days of the war in Ukraine, and you have to ask yourself

“Have the lunatics finally taken over the asylum?”

A stand-up comedian (now president of Ukraine) screened in the Commons to prolonged applause, for him it must have been like winning an Oscar for best performance. We heard quotations from Churchill’s speeches (that must have gone down well in the Commons) but the quotations were selective. He also said,

“Jaw, Jaw, not War, War” and possibly more suited for the Commons.

None of this makes any sense the global money markets in turmoil, economies collapsing.

“Solving the gas conundrum is tough enough, involving a combination of increased production from elsewhere, reducing demand, buying more liquefied natural gas (LNG) and pushing harder on renewables and nuclear.

Throwing oil into the bargain only adds to the headache. “A disruption on such a massive scale cannot be met by other producers, at least not for the foreseeable future,” said Ole Hansen of Saxo Bank.

One option under discussion is for the US to lift sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. “Iran could add about 1.3m BPD of additional oil into the market,” said Sophie Udubasceanu, a global crude oil expert at ICIS. But she warned that contribution from Venezuela relied on the country solving persistent output problems.” The Guardian.

Good news for Venezuela and Iran – and possibly global warming as Russia turned off the gas and oil into Europe, I suppose.

Ukraine is turning into a pile of debris, and we now have a humanitarian crisis as refugees stream from the war zones into the EU (and when they see what is left of their homeland – will they wish to return?) We have not witnessed such scenes across Europe since the Second World War.

This is turning into a horror movie. In the scenario, a war virus has been spreading from country to country, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen………. and now Ukraine. Even the vaccines against such wars UN, EU, NATO have proved ineffective, only having a limited effect, and in no time at all, the virus flares up once more.

Is this really the best the world’s governments can come up with, in response to a pissing competition, between Russia and America?

I despair.

Stay safe.

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The Kerry Recruit

I have not been watching the television news or listening to the radio news broadcast since the Russians moved into Ukraine, I have listened too often, to, too many war correspondents, over my lifetime I already could see the power play as clear as the waters of a mountain stream.

It was all so predictable and all so preventable.

Now Putin is going to show Biden and Johnston that it is not enough for to win – the other side needs to know that they lost – as for Ukraine they have always been ‘just’ pawns in this war.

The People of Ukraine lost the battle back in 2014 when America plotted a coup in Ukraine; it was easy for the CIA and FBI in such an unstable society. They sowed a wind and reaped a whirlwind.

All the ducks were in line, America loosing the war in Afghanistan, the polls In America showing that only 25% of Americans wish America to become involved in another war. NATO (made up of America and European countries) was set up to defend Europe against attack, but the European governments were never going to allow America to use NATO to escalate a conflict in Ukraine to flood over into Europe, taking NATO  forces out of the picture.

We see the people coming onto the streets across Europe calling out “Stop the War, end the expansion of NATO” – their message may appear to be aimed at Putin – but the message is a loud cry to European, and American leaders. They do not strengthen the hand of Biden or Johnston they only weaken their hand.

Ukraine, now led by a man that was a stand-up comedian before 2019, he may be a good behind a microphone but has no grounding in politics or world state craft. His country is at war with its self. Far-right factions so extreme they will be happily see their country torn apart by war; we have seen the unfolding civil war in the east of the country, their barbaric neo-Nazi tactics over the Jewish enclave in Odesa, the western press had been blind to what has been happening in Ukraine over the last seven years, because if they had not been they would have to tell Americans part in it.

I read yesterday that Biden had spoken to Putin on the telephone asking him to stop the fighting in Ukraine, the answer he was given was, when the Ukrainians stop fighting the Russian guns will fall silent. If the Ukrainians believe that they can continue a gorilla war with Russia – they will quickly find out that the curtains they hide behind to snipe on Russian troops is no shield against an artillery shell. (Remember Chechnya).

Russia was never going to allow American military bases in Ukraine (under a NATO flag) Russia was never going to allow the British aircraft carrier Prince of Wales (equipped with American aircraft) to be stationed permanently in the Black Sea, (the harbour of Odesa was being modified for just this purpose). Both would have been a direct threat to Russian security, and the only ice-free port and route for Russian navel ships into the Mediterranean Sea.

Ukraine has now lost the lands along the north shore of the Black Sea, no mater the outcome of this war, what peace agreement is reached between Russia and Ukraine – Russia will never be put in the position of their navel base in Crimea being isolated by a foreign counties presence in Ukraine.  

As for the EU, they have seen the flood of refugees from every war that America has been engaged in across the lands from Libya to Afghanistan, (mostly failed states now). The people flooding into Europe from such conflict zones are war hardened veterans of survival, they are proving difficult to fit snugly into modern European life, and their numbers are growing. Europe is learning a hard lesson of war, without rehabilitation after conflict, even draw bridge Britain it seems can not hold determined people back for ever.    

In the folk clubs in Scotland we would sing a song about the Crimea war, it was called ‘The Kerry Recruit’ and the lyrics of the last verse went like this,

Oh, there is the story that me grandfather told
As he sat by the fire all withered and old;
“Remember,” says he, “that the Irish fight well,
But the Russian artillery’s hotter than hell.”

Stay safe.

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All looking very real (and scary) now.

I think it must be something to do with the light, days lengthening. Overnight frost had left all standing water along the roadside iced over, and the air cold as ice. But it did not seem to matter somehow it was fine, Just loved my morning ride.

As I sorting through stuff I would need on my journey – what I should take and what would really be superfluous, always difficult. It would be nice to have an extra sweater for those cold mornings but is it worth the extra weight and room that it will take up? Maybe a little discomfort for an hour or so would not be a problem?  

Which brought me to my laptop? I touch type so like my big keyboard that feeds the laptop by a Wi-Fi signal now that would be nice but defiantly superfluous. The laptop – not very big – no too heavy but re-charging would mean it could only be used in the Youth Hostels – But it would be needed to send e-mails and download photographs from my camera. Can I do without it – only if I had a smartphone?

I went off to the phone shop and I am now the proud owner of a smartphone a OPPO A54s, and a big headache – how do you work the damn thing. Thankfully I still have two weeks to find out, and there are sure to be lots of school kids around – they know everything these days, just do my old soldiers act. Old soldiers never die – we always smell that way.

The lad at the shop set me up with a roaming link to the phone, it cost £10 per month but he set it for only April – May when it will end, more or less the two months that I will be away. If longer then we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

All looking very real (and scary) now.

Stay safe.   

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The sun is out, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view…..

Great line Hamilton but I think Buddy Holly got there before you. Out on the road by 9am, and although all of the above was true it was bloody cold, and roads had to be watched, frozen puddles and frozen runoff from the fields. Pitscottie, Cupar, and onto the B937 for Lindores, truly beautiful out, I came back on the A913 into Cupar and home by Pitscottie once more. I had really stretched my legs today, and over a distance that I will be hoping to cover each day when away, but of course, spread over a long day. By the time I arrived home, I did feel it in my legs.

My box of ‘Not to be forgotten’ is filling up fast, still stuff to buy such as a toiletry bag, and some antiseptic cream, for the war wounds.

I hardly ever carry money these days; all purchases are made by a bank card, the exception being barbers that seem now to live in the Gig economy. This set me thinking about – should I take euros with me, or will I get away with just tapping my card in supermarkets, cake shops and friendly bars in Germany?  

I think I have everything more or less under control – although the officer in Bridge on the River Kiwi, told us “There is always one last thing to do”. And for me, that is learning how to download routes onto my Garmin Edge. I know now how to record rides, but that is about it. I know there are EuroVelo Routes you can download and EuroVelo 6 covers the area I wish to ride, but when I looked it up on the internet, seems you need a smartphone to do the business. I did ask at the computer shop here in town but he could not help. I’m sure out there somewhere there will be a cyclist with a Garmin and all the knowledge I need, the problem is catching up with him/her, ho-hum.  

The weather over the weekend is predicted to be good, so I intend to prepare the ground in the garden for planting out (possibly a week or so before I go, since I could be gone a couple of months, maybe more if the money lasts). I will cover with fleece and ask Charles to keep his eye on the seedbeds and when the plants start pushing the fleece up and the weather is settling down he can remove it, (possibly May). I want a big display of meadow and woodland flowers, and the Santa sleigh (now converted into a planter) will be filled with Sweet William.

I tried Sweet William in the raised beds at the back door but what the rabbits did not eat the frost and cold constant winds that blow across there done for them, the ones that did survive over winter are showing signs of growth, so fingers crossed. I believe we will have more success at the front of the building for it is much more sheltered.

I also have two dozen seed potatoes, they are a French variety (whose name escapes me) but I know they are a waxy variety so perfect for salads, I should manage to get a couple of rows out of them, (and hopefully more than two dozen in return), nothing better than potatoes straight from the garden, no chemicals, no processing, my mouth is watering already.

The net is up and the bed prepared (since it is along the wall of the old kitchen, I made a raised bed and I dug in lots of leaves last year, topping off with my free compost from the Botanic Gardens, the leaves should have rotted well by now). This will be for French runner beans, one they are very colourful and two they are great to eat. I’m fast becoming a vegetarian.

Keep safe.     

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Fool if you think it’s over ‘Its Just Begun’

I had a circular from out local Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) it was headed,

How Can We Help?

It was about a charity set up in Methil to help refugees of the war in Ukraine, he was supporting their cause by his endorsement. The circular was in the form of a e-mail but alas you could not reply to it (only pledge money) I wanted to reply by telling Willie Rennie, the best way you could help the people of Ukraine was to

Do His Job.

I did not watch questions to the Prime Minster – or questions to the selfi-queen in the Scottish parliament. All exited about war and how they will support Ukraine to the hilt, well at least so long as their sons or daughters do not have to actually be there. It is fine to grandstand – to pledge to fuel the fires of war by sending even more weapons of destruction into the conflict, even to have, once more, Scotland youth, marching boldly behind the pipes, cannon fodder for who ever the guns belong to this time.

So many warning that have gone unheeded, by the US and European governments, opportunities for a peaceful settlement between neighbours flaunted, it is easy to start a war, much more difficult to stop.

Just look past the rhetoric,  “It was him mum, he started it”  

look what modern weapons can do – you are seeing it daily on your television, is this really what the people of Ukraine want for their country, nothing to come back too, but rubble?

Is this what neighbouring nations wish thousands of refugees streaming into their country – needing feed, clothed, a roof over their heads, schooling, hospital treatment, healthcare, to contend with. Yes for many the dream of being in the EU has become a reality – but this is not the way it was sold to us.  

Talk in the parliaments all over Europe, talk in Westminster parliament, in the Scottish parliaments – on Capitol Hill, the White House, the UN, and Uncle Tom Cobblers and all – talking. But if they are all singing from the same hymn sheet and not talking one side to the other of the conflict, then they are only preaching to the converted.     

I read a blog this morning and it stated that Germany (I believe they buy gas and oil from a ‘Russian energy company’ and the numbers are around 40 to 50 per cent of their needs) saying that Germany has to wean itself off Russian gas as soon as possible. And I heard a spokesperson for the government in Germany saying that it was wrong to be so dependent on Russian gas.

Only months ago Russia was a trading partner with the EU building a new gas pipeline from Russia (who have lots of gas and selling it at a good price) into Europe (who need gas badly but now paying through the nose for infated gas prices, self inflicted wounds) the pipeline would have, when compete, given to the people of those European countries warm homes, hot water and gas to cook by. The gas needed to keep their economy growing from strength to strength, to pay for your health care, schools, social services, pensions…….. Why would they wish to cut off their nose to spite their face? The Russian gas company has now become the ugly beast that lives in the dark forest, in all the best German fairytales.

I call upon all the peoples of Scotland, of Europe, to march down to their parliament building or into the city and town squares and tell their representative their,

Do Your Job –Stop The War – disband NATO – talk Peace not War.

Stop the stupid rhetoric War, War, get around the table and make this right for the sake of mankind – not to save your face or your job or your arms industry. The people of Ukraine (and the world) deserve better from you than this.

Stay safe.

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Even if we did have a Scottish government that wanted independence for Scotland, would it really ever happen, I think not

With my dog walking days behind me I set out first thing into a dark and dreich morning the cloud base was low but it was almost dry. I had intended to put some miles into my legs my trip is growing very close now.

On reaching Cupar the rain had started light at first and by Pitscottie peeing it down, here in Scotland, this weather is known as ‘mild’ weather. Cresting Knock Hill I had to remove my cycling cape, the wind was such that I was in danger of losing control as the wind caused the cape to whip and crack, not that it was doing a lot of good anyway for the rain was running from it and onto my trousers and my shoes and socks were soaked through. I am never despondent and look on days like this winter training; I am off to the Massif Central in March so it will be anything but sunshine all the way, best to be prepared, and yes, I will be better prepared for a wet day in the saddle.

If there is anything guaranteed to kill off any threat to Johnston’s leadership it is war, even a proxy war, see how the troubles disappeared, how no one is talking about ‘Partygate’ or about inflation, high cost of living good old Russia has come to Biden and Johnston’s rescue once more. We can all come together now that we have a common enemy. The length the European and American media bandwagon has taken this to their heart is astounding, no more balanced reporting, we have a bogyman to slay and like all good fairytales, the bogyman is always ugly – always evil.

I was thinking about this as I rode along, keeping your mind off the cold, the wet, the misery of your present situation. Thoughts turned to the May elections and how many in Scotland were hoping for a big turnout against the present encumbering government in Scotland, but that is not going to happen, we are all Unionists together now.

Even if we did have a Scottish government that wanted independence for Scotland, would it really ever happen, I think not. You see Cameron could never believe that the Scots would ever wish to leave mother England after all 700 years of conditioning had made that most unlikely after all we are British through and through – as indelible as the name through a stick of Blackpool rock.

Even with all the mastery of the spin merchants, the lies, old people will not get their pensions – you will not be able to join the EU – you will not be able to use the pound – as for the oil in the North Sea, the well has run dry, Scotland is too wee, too poor, and too stupid to look after it’s own affairs, go it alone, you need the broad shoulders of England (sorry typing error the United Kingdom) better together.  However when the votes were counted – all the false postal votes had to be added to get the No Vote over the line, far too close for comfort, we English (sorry again, UK) will never make that mistake again.

But, I hear you cry under Resolution 1514 of the UN charter it clearly states that all nations have a right to be independent if they so choose. But there is a caveat it says colonial people, we were not a colonial people when we were bought and sold for English gold.

This lead me to think about how the people of the Chagos Archipelago were forcefully removed from their island. Some two thousand people lived on the Chagos archipelago at the time a British dependency. The people were cleared from the island at the bequest of the Americans; they wanted the island for their military base. It is hard to believe today that this could have been done in complete secrecy neither the UK parliament nor the US Congress knew about it and no journalist spoke out about it at the time, although some must-have know.  When the base had been established on the island a group of ‘defence’ correspondents were flown out by the Ministry of defence and reported as expected no one had ever lived there. During the Afghanistan and Iraq war US bombers flow from the island of Diego Garcia.

How did this come about? – In February 1964 a secret Anglo-American conference was held in London.

In November 1965, Britain created a new ‘Fake’ colony, British Indian Ocean Territory – principally the Chagos Islands.

British Indian Ocean Territory came into being by a secretive, unaccountable group known as the Privy Council. The Privy Council is made up of government ministers past and present. They stand before the Queen in Buckingham Palace, the ‘orders in council’ are read out by title only, and no discussion takes place. The Queen simply says, ‘Agreed.’  

British prime ministers use it to take the nation into unpopular wars, such as the invasion of Egypt in 1956 – Iraq in 2003. Dictators do the same but without the quaint ritual.

The Wilson government used it to deport an entire population so as to hand their country to the Americans – forty years on the Blair government used it to thwart the High Court’s attempt to allow them back.

In December 1966 Lord Chalfont signed a contract in Washington giving the Pentagon a fifty-year lease on Diego Garcia with an automatic extension of twenty years.

In 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that the population had been expelled – as one official put it, the islands were to be ‘swept’ and ‘sanitised’ and described in the secret files as ‘a neat, sensible package.  

It is hard to believe that these people were shipped from their homes and their land then sold to the Americans without even the Westminster parliament or the US Congress knowing anything about it for a father decade.

1975, the Washington Post published an exposé, the US Senate revealed that the British government had been secretly ‘compensated’ for the Chagos with a discount of $14 million off the price of a Polaris nuclear submarine.

With such powers in the hands of the few in England, what chance Scotland will ever be aloud their independence?

Think what would be at stake, America’s nuclear submarine base would be at risk if the Scottish people chose to be a nuclear-free country. Then there are the oil and gas deposits, mostly owned by American companies. And I can vouch that Scotland is a very windy country, it has lots of tidal waters away from shipping lanes, and with global warming and the high cost and ever scarcer resources of fossil fuels. Wind and tidal power will be the next big bonanza, with Scotland left out of the rich pickings. Scotland is still pretty much in control of its own water, how quickly will that change, as water complains in England find it cheaper to simply build more pipelines from Scotland to England than build reservoirs, in England?

What precious minerals lie under or lands and seabeds of Scotland?  

No Scottish independence will slip further and further down the agenda for the SNP, (possibly they are already thinking of a change of name, perhaps the Scottish Unionist Party) why not. Sturgeon has been playing the Scottish public for a fool. Dangling the independence carrot in front of their nose – just enough distance between it and their mouth so that is is never grabbed always, just in sight but always just out of reach. That carrot is getting very fusty now.

Sturgeon’s plan has always been to make the SNP the predominant party in Scotland and to keep her in power, she seconded the Green party into her ranks to get those crucial votes and give her a majority.  She split the Yes campaigners, to stop a momentum towards independence. And when Alex Salmond spoke of a come back into mainstream politics she moved quickly (with the consent and help of Westminster) to have him jailed, or at least his name blackened, killing off any hope of a comeback.

When Labour votes were said to be weighed rather than counted in Scotland the Tories struggled to keep control at Westminster. The SNP MP at Westminster are not Labour MPs and too small in numbers to challenge, so are no threat to the Tories. As long as Scotland keep voting SNP then the Tories will stay safely in their seats at Westminster, therefore Sturgeon will play along, for to do others would see her out on the street.

Stay safe.      

Vienna Told in Pictures

It has been another fine day, a bit cold out first thing, warmer as the day slipped away, into the afternoon. As it is still a public holiday all the shops are shut, apart from the fast-food joints.

I had to go and see the Big Ferris Wheel and it did not fail to impress.

Now I can’t get that dam Harry Lime theme out of my head, is surrounded by fairground rides, sideshows and yes more fast food joints. After a lazy stroll around the amusement park, boy some of these rides look scary – the traditional chair-o-planes would have been my limit.

Did you ever wonder what they did before selfies?

Next the Danube, a little uninspiring after Passau, onwards and upwards to the Folkstheater aria of the city, with more 19-century architecture than you can shake a stick at, sadly most of it was shrouded in scaffolding.

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

When did you last see one of these machines? the last one I remember was in Woolworth’s in Dunfermline and that wasn’t yesterday? For 20cents this one told me I weighed in at 77 kilograms, that’s in old money that’s about 12 stone, and by the rule of thumb you subtract 7 Lbs for clothing

Grand Design – and under the eve was all decorated

this is the townhouse and as you can see they have the builders in

I asked what all the tents were being erected for and was told a marathon

You will never get off the ground with those wee wings hen.

Looking more and more like a builders calender

The End

 

Easter Weather

Wien at Last

The weather has changed dramatically; then again, it is the Easter bank holiday. At Passau, it was mostly families with youngsters, then again it is a YH and not a backpacker, you need to be a paid-up member of the Youth Hostel Association (or affiliated, I by my SYHA membership, thankfully it was in my wallet) to get a room. All accommodations are now full to overflowing, so I’m pleased now that I booked earlier in the year, even though it was a bit dicey about COVID and the weather.  

I chose the bus from Passau, simply because it was direct, with the local train I would have had to change at least once possibly twice depending on the train. The bus should have been cheaper too but the driver insisted I pay a further 9 euros for the bike. Now I have had that bike on board half a dozen Flexbus, and no one has, until today, asked me for more money. Of course, you just have to pay up no alternative; they have you over a barrel. Still, the trip was, smooth and fast, straight along the motorway – or should that not be Autobahn.

By the time I was booked in and had a shower it was into early evening, so nothing to write home to mummy about, but this is a big city and there is a lot to see so a busy day tomorrow.

When I was out the clouds parted and I could see it was a full moon tonight, with high spring tides.  

I will go off and try to find my friend Herr Snowden, we sailed out of Grimsby together almost every weekend the club would have a race out for the full turn of the tide (12 hours) and on long weekends they would organize a trip up to Bridlington or down to Norfolk. We put in a lot of sea time at the Grimsby Sailing Club (only sailing yachts could join), any way to cut a long story short Peter, married his long time girlfriend and the moved back to her home town Wien.

Peter bought a classic sailing yacht and had it shipped out to Austria, and like all old boats that you buy wearing your rose-tinted glasses, he had not only bitten off as much as he could chew, he had gone and swallowed the whole cow. Once you get into these things you just keep digging. He would write me from time to time asking if I could find various parts for his boat and I would send them off to him, sometimes the cost of postage was more than the second-hand part.

We did keep in touch – the odd Christmas card would always be answered with another – even if belated. Last year I did not receive a reply to my card, I am hoping it is because he has moved home, possibly closer to where he sails his boat. A great ending to this story would be that I find him again, he has finished the refit (reconstruction) of the boat and we can once more sail together. As always we travel hopefully.

I wonder what their reaction will be after all these years,

“Oh, no look what’s going to our door, send the bairn to answer the door, tell him “Mum and dad are not in”.

“A you sure?”

“Mum – dad, share your no in”

Stay safe.