Sunday, 15 July 2018

Sunday 15 July - Tuttlingen

Where's Bertie? He's still at the Stellplatz at Tuttlingen.
Weather: Mainly overcast, but some clear-skied periods. A couple of short showers.

I was miffed this morning. My decision, last thing last night, to get up early, after not enough sleep, and run today was based on the weather forecast (dry today, wet tomorrow). I was just ready to go out when the sound of drumming was heard on Bertie's roof. Harrumph!

It turned out that we only caught the edge of the shower. It was dry within minutes of me setting out, and even though I could see rain falling over the high ground to the one side of the valley, it didn't catch me again.

Some doctorish/healthish TV programme I watched a few years ago mentioned a study that had been carried out that showed that people who go to the gym for an hour on a weekend morning can often be less active, and eat more, than those who don't. Their thinking (conscious or otherwise) is "I've done my exercise, I can be lazy for the rest of the day now". That pretty well describes me today, as I used my 8-mile run to justify doing almost nothing for much of the rest of the day.

Which isn't to say I stared vacantly out of the window. In fact, I could call the period I spent looking at maps and thinking about where we go next, productive.

On the one hand, I'd quite like to head south from here and spend a while amidst striking mountains. But, on the other hand, it feels like we've just timed it wrong to do that, having hit peak holiday season when the campsites will be expensive and the motorhome Stellplätze crammed. The parking options also become seriously reduced as the scenery becomes more striking, as the more touristy areas tend to ban motorhome parking in most of their car parks. Plus, as much as I love the mountains, my focus is on running just at the moment, and I do prefer to do that somewhere reasonably flat.

So, we're not heading south. Instead we will continue to follow the Danube for a while, which will take us NE.

Eventually the sitting around, looking at maps and parking databases, and reading my book got too much, so after lunch a strollette was had. With impeccable timing, it started raining as we stepped out of the door. That shower didn't amount to much either, although as I type this I can see patches of sky that look very dark and threatening.

(Bit of an interlude there as we've sat watching a family who have been quite clearly searching for a geocache. It took them a good long while to locate it.)

The outdoor TV screen at the other end of the car park is now in action. People wearing Croatian football shirts are around. It must be time for me to gather my knitting and for us to walk back towards the Irish Bar for our final football fix.


Just a modest amount of food. We had to wait about an hour to be served, so full was the pub that we had to ourselves yesterday afternoon.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Saturday 14 July - Tuttlingen

Where's Bertie? He's at the Stellplatz in the town of Tuttingen (exact location: 47.98549, 8.81490).
Weather: Mainly sunny. Warm again.

Good news: Mick is back running again! It was his second tentative outing, on his return from injury, this morning and whilst he reports being troubled by paranoia about his calf (it's a repeat problem that has been going on for years), so far it has held out. I ran at the same time, but not with him, as I was too fast. It's not often that I can say that!

Dripping sweat over Bertie (it was not a shaded route, as we ran along the open plain alongside the Danube), we then stuck around at last night's parking spot only long enough to have a quick wash and put everything away, before making tracks a whole 14km along the road to our next stop.

After weeks of having our movements dictated by being in towns for key World Cup matches*, today was the final time that we were to move with that sole purpose. Knowing that the Stellplatz here is popular, and with it being a Saturday (the busiest day at any town Stellplatz) we maximised our chances of getting a spot by arriving at the time that the previous night's occupants usually start to leave (between 9 &10am).

We arrived to find the Stellplatz to be missing, because the area had been commandeered for an outside screen, showing World Cup matches. Happily the adjacent car park is huge so we wouldn't have struggled to park anyway, but upon looking around we found that a section of car slots had been specifically signed as the temporary motorhome area. It was unfortunate that, of all the places they could have chosen for the relocation, they selected slots under low trees. A small bit of pruning was required.

Whilst the presence of the Big Screen just along the car park was a comfort (it's a nerve-wracking thing, arriving in a town with no knowledge as to whether any establishment will be showing the matches, particularly with Germany long-since eliminated), I didn't much fancy the backless benches (or standing), with no shade from the sun. So, we went on a recce to find somewhere indoors, in the process seeing what the town was like. The most striking thing is that we are parked within 50m of the Danube, and along its bank lies some manicured parkland, through which runs the Danube cycle path, and a footpath. The town isn't unattractive either, although it did strike us that the two main businesses on the pedestrianised main street are bakeries-cum-cafes and mobile phone shops.

Our quest for a football-showing bar was only achieved when we resorted to a search for 'Irish Pub' on Google Maps. We returned there in time for kick-off this afternoon and it was so busy that we could have taken a different seat for every minute of the match (it was a big place!) and not have bothered a soul. We were the only people in there. I imagine it will be a bit busier tomorrow when we return for the Final.

We're around 10km downstream from where the Danube runs underground and, as you can see, it's a big river. As for the inverted pyramid of pigs: I have no idea!

(*We do have a TV in Bertie. What we're lacking is an effective aerial. This isn't usually a problem, as we generally only use it for watching DVDs, but we are going to have to come up with a solution to the lack of TV signal, as unmissable sporting events come around every couple of years.)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Friday 13 July - by Immendingen

Where's Bertie? He's still in the same car park as last night.
Weather: Lots of sunshine and quite warm.

There's an information panel that sits in between the car park and the cafe/play park/bivouac site, that describes a 13km walking circuit and we thought we could do worse today than following it.

As well as wiggling through the forest a lot, it visits three points of interest, the first of which is a disused quarry (quarried for the basalt between the start of the 20th century and 1979)...

...where we paused for elevenses:

The picnic tables are substantial structures around here. When we looked closely at the surrounding ground we realised that it sits amid a sea of discarded cigarette ends.

The picnic tables and benches then came thick and fast, often at viewpoints, until we came to the second point of interest - which wasn't actually interesting at all. It was a sink hole, but not a very big one, and so covered in undergrowth that it was nothing remarkable. We would have strode straight past if it hadn't been for the information sign there.

Much more wiggling through the forest ensued, whilst Mick recapped what has been going on in Game of Thrones*, which brought us to the final point of interest: the Donausinkungstelle, but, of course, we already saw that yesterday.

As I sit here and type this, the car park is full and overflowing. It was over half full when we arrived yesterday too, so it's definitely a popular place. It was, therefore, surprising that until we got back to within 1km of Bertie, we saw only two other people during the entire walk. Within the final 0.5km we saw at least a couple of dozen.

It wasn't an overly energetic outing (13km, 300m ascent), but I've used it as an excuse to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting down. As well as the usual daily afternoon activities (eating melon, doing the crossword, reading), the heel in my final ankle sock (the fourth from this ball of yarn) has been turned, ripped back and turned again, but I've still not managed an exact pattern match on this one. Hopefully, if I find myself shoeless whilst wearing them, people won't be inspecting my feet too closely, as it's not a big enough deal for me to rip back and try again.

(*Mick has long been a fan of Game of Thrones, having read the books before the TV series started. It's not my cup of tea at all, but as he was watching Series 7 during our trip in March, I started getting interested in a couple of the characters, so having vaguely watched Series 7, I've now started right at the beginning and we're now half way through Series 3. However, it being not really my cup of tea (that and the fact that I'm always doing something with yarn at the same time), I don't always grasp what is going on. Quite how Mick remembers so many details, I have no idea. When I read a book, even if I really enjoy it, the detail usually drops out of my head the instant I finish it, and I'm not much better with films.)

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Thursday 12 July - by Immendingen

Where's Bertie? He's in a car park by the River Donau (or Danube, if you prefer), just outside of Immendingen (exact location: 47.93190, 8.74868).
Weather: A sunny start with some clouds building later, but still with plenty of sunny intervals.

A couple of cloudy days with cooler temperatures lulled me into indulging in a lie-in this morning, after our late night last night, on the basis that it would be fine to run later in the morning. Thus at gone 10.30am, I set off along the cycle track ... under a clear blue sky. The next 45 minutes were sweatily spent.

We would have been earlier away from Donaueschingen, except that I couldn't possibly go anywhere until I'd found out the ending of Stephen King's The Outsider. That spanned lunchtime (Mick obliged with keeping me fed whilst I was so busily occupied...) and, conveniently, it delayed us almost exactly the amount of time required to use up the last of the left-over electricity.

(I forgot to mention in my last post that yesterday was bizarrely busy at the Stellplatz. Tuesday night it hadn't been full, but last night van after van after van arrived to find not a space to spare. We even moved over to allow an extra one in next to us (we'd parked sensibly on Tuesday, then our neighbours changed on Wednesday and suddenly we looked like the ones who had parked right in the middle of two spaces. Today, as we left, it was about a quarter empty.)

Today's destination nearly didn't happen. First the SatNav tried to take us via a 'vehicles prohibited' road, causing us to have to turn around only about 200m away from our destination. The next way the SatNav tried got narrow enough for us to pull over and for me to go for a recce on foot. I found the car park, but there was a 3m high bridge on the way and although we would theoretically fit under it, I thought it a bit close for comfort, particularly when you take the radio aerial (which is flexible, to a degree) into account. Not wanting to arrive in our next town stop, only 10km along the road, (where we intend to watch the weekend's football) until at least tomorrow, it was a relief when our third approach worked.

The main draw of this car park, except for the general forest walking, is the Donausinkungstelle - the location where the River Danube suddenly disappears below ground in summer (this is limestone country):

On the left the Danube, then, abruptly, a dry river bed.

If my reading of this is correct, the Danube runs underground from this point for, on average, around 155 days per year.

After walking up to the next car park, we could have returned to the 'sink place' by walking along the river bed, but we chose to cross at the stepping stones and follow the cycle route on the other side of the river for our return.

Bertie is out of shot on the left, so our view out of his front window is this wheat, with the trees beyond masking the nearby road and railway line.

Tuesday & Wednesday 10-11 July - Donaueschingen

Where was Bertie? He has just spent two nights back at the Stellplatz at Donaueschingen, arriving there 15 days after departing, and having driven in a circle during that period.
Weather: Largely overcast but with sunny periods. Wednesday felt cooler than of late (20-21 degrees?).

I've got behind in my blogging and it's all the fault of Stephen King. I picked up The Outsider on Monday and the time when I should have been tapping out words on the keyboard was spent reading instead. I finished it this morning, so normal service can now be resumed.

My time hasn't all been spent with my head in a book (not just because I was reading on my Kindle...). On Tuesday morning I trotted along some of the tracks in between agricultural plots around Bachheim (I hesitate to call them fields, because they don't tend to have field boundaries here; there will be a field-sized plot of, say, wheat, then next to it a plot of maize and so on, going off into the distance, broken only by the occasional track). Mick then joined me for a look around the village before I availed myself of the free town wifi to download some stuff, after which we made tracks back up the road to Donaueschingen.

Good finger posts in the village of Bachheim

The SatNav thought that the 23km to our next stop was going to take us an hour and thirty seven minutes, and it was only when I removed the intermediate stop at the service point (which sits about 0.5km away from the Stellplatz) that the time dropped to a more reasonable 23 minutes. Bizarre!

Back in Donaueschingen (and once again plugged into someone's left-over electricity), an afternoon stroll got extended due to inadvisably pre-empting a closure of the path we were following, only to find that our diversion left us stuck on the wrong side of the river, standing under the bridge we wanted to go over, and with no way of getting up to it.

Then came the main event of the day: the football. My thinking was that we needed to walk into town to watch the France v Belgium match on the basis that, if for any reason it wasn't being shown then we needed to have a rethink about where we went for the England match on Wednesday. We hadn't seriously expected it to be an issue, so it came as a surprise to find the bar closed for its staff summer outing.

After Mick's initial thought that we hadn't seen any other bar (other than the sister of the closed one - also closed), I remembered the 'Irish Pub'. Yay! Not only football, but also some atmosphere, in that there were plenty of others also watching. The downside was that at least 90% of them were smoking.

Yes, I did take a photo of the toilet roll holder in the Irish Pub. I loved the detail on it!

Wednesday morning was cool, so I didn't need to get up quite so early to go for a run, but I wasn't to know that until I was up, by which time there was no point in delaying.

Pottering and reading, with a bit of strolling, took us through to the evening, when we decided that given the choice between the no-smoking bar with no atmosphere, or the Irish Pub with atmosphere, we would go for the latter. I think there may have been one other chap in there supporting England. There was definitely more cheering for Croatia's goals. There were plenty of tooting cars driving through the streets afterwards holding Croatian flags out of the windows. Whilst I'm pretty sure that I'll not forget the result, I'll record it here just to be sure: 1 all after normal time, Croatia won 2-1 after extra time, thus eliminating England from the World Cup at Semi-Final stage.

It was a dark walk through the park back to Bertie (it was the extra time that did it), and a late night by our usual standards.

Taken during a walk through the park earlier in the day. Two weeks ago there were two swans and 9 cygnets. This time there were two swans and 9 significantly bigger cygnets. That can't be normal, having that many survive!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Monday 9 July - Blumberg and Bachheim

Where's Bertie? He's in a walkers' car park at the village hall at Bachheim (exact location: 47.85634, 8.40763).
Weather: Wall-to-wall sunshine for most of the day, gradually clouding over this afternoon.

This morning we answered the question I posed at the end of yesterday's post. The street art had not been scrubbed off the roads overnight, but it was gradually being worn away by the passage of tyres on the reopened road:

Almost all other evidence of the festival (the stage, the mobile bars, the food stands, the portacabins full of public toilets) had disappeared overnight. I had to wonder what we would have made of the street covered in art had we not arrived in the town until this morning, oblivious to what had gone on over the weekend.

There had been queues yesterday to view the 3D works, but today we were able to play around and pose without holding anyone else up.

It was gone noon by the time we finally left town, via a couple of supermarkets...

A display of sock yarn in an ordinary supermarket!
...having decided, after even more dithering on the subject, to head for Bachheim, taking a little bit of a punt that it would be a good place: a) for a walk; and b) for overnight.

We've managed to find ourselves a not-too-slopey space in the car park (finding a space was not difficult; once the walkers had gone home we had a choice of all bar one of the 60-odd here - the slope was more of an issue), and had a surprisingly nice walk too (advertised as 8km, actually 6.5km). I'm not sure whether there's a saturation of nice walks in this region, or whether we just keep randomly hitting the good ones.

Bachheim is, incidentally, to the NW of Blumberg (which we departed this morning) and SW of Donaueschingen (where we left 2 weeks ago today). Thus, if you were to plot our journey of the last two weeks, it might look as if we are driving in decreasing circles. We shall go against that appearance when we leave here, as our next destination is Donaueschingen, with the intention of staying there until after England has played its next match on Wednesday evening. Unusual, I know! It's only Monday and we know where we are going to be on Wednesday!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Sunday 8 July - Blumberg

Where's Bertie? He's still at the Stellplatz at Blumberg.
Weather: Mainly sunny, with some cloud. Warm.

It was a mundane sort of a start to the day. After a run (7.5 miles off-road alongside the railway track; just me - Mick's still injured), it was time to take advantage of having electricity, with haircuts for us both as well as strimming of legs and beard (should I clarify that was for me and Mick respectively?!). All electronics were charged and I was just about to start on boiling water to fill the flasks, ready to move on, when Mick said that he'd like to stay here a second night and visit the art festival today. So we did.

Below is a small snapshot of the creations on display, all created with chalk directly onto the surface of the road. There were 99 2D works and 10 (?) 3D. The quality varied enormously from amateur to 'Master' and I would say that about a dozen were extraordinary.

Having intially walked through starting late this morning, we returned at 5pm to see the finished works. I didn't take as many photos this afternoon, hence many of the snaps above are of works in progress.

We did, of course, pay the €4 each entrance fee today (as today we were there to join in, not just to find a pub with a TV) and it was worth every cent.

Now we wonder what happens to all of the art. Do they send a street sweeper in overnight and erase all that hard work, or is it left to wear off by the passage of traffic? Either way, a lot of work has been put in by a lot of people (in hot, sunny conditions, but all things considered, hot is better than rain!) for a very temporary exhibition.

And now, as the day marches into 'late evening' we are hoping for a quieter night. Last night was blighted by boy racers nearby. The squealing tyres would have been bad enough, but these were accompanied by much tooting and yelling. After today's exertions, I'm after a good kip tonight!