2018 travels

I seem to have neglected my travel posts in 2018… by which I mean I think I wrote about maybe two of our trips? We didn’t have a proper holiday (well, Jan did – 10 days travelling to Vienna, Sofia, Belgrade and Istanbul with his choir), but we did manage a few days out and weekends away. So before I entirely forget what we actually did this last year (almost forgot!), I thought I would write a round-up post of all our travels…

We started the year in Geneva, where we got very wet watching the New Year’s fireworks! We had arrived there on 29th December (I think) and left in the evening on 1st January. There was a festival of lights happening, which was nice, and we had a lovely walk around the lake, where we saw a woodpecker (which I didn’t manage to photograph), several robins and lots of different duck species, but overall I wasn’t that impressed with Geneva. It seemed dirty and despite not being particularly huge felt kind of like a large city, with lots of traffic going right through the centre. I much prefer Basel, as provincial as some may find it!

One Saturday in February we decided to head to Aarau, since it’s close by and we had never been. We discovered a cute little town where the undersides of the roof eaves are beautifully painted.

It was freezing and when it started to rain we were pleased to find an open café where we could have a hot drink and some Flammkuchen.

Later in February, we headed to Dijon for a weekend. The Sunday happened to be photo an hour day, so miraculously I actually posted about part of that trip! Dijon is quite a charming city but a lot of the old buildings could use some renovation. Best known for its mustard, the Dijon region is also the home of Kir – a French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine (Kir Royal uses champagne) – and, being in Burgundy, Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin. Those two dishes are what Jan and I ate on the evening we spent there and both were delicious.

We didn’t actually go anywhere in March… or at least I didn’t – Jan left for his trip at the end of the month. But on Easter Monday, which fell on 2nd April in 2018, I took a tram to the nearby town of Aesch and walked up to some castle ruins above the town. It was a cloudy day, but I still had a great view of Basel from the top.

At the end of the month, when Jan was back, we decided to go up to St Chrischona. Once again, it happened to be a photo an hour day, so I actually have a post about our walk!

At the beginning of May, we drove down to just outside Munich for my cousin’s confirmation. On the way, we stopped for lunch in Bregenz, Austria and the day after the confirmation we went to Partnach Gorge near Garmisch-Patenkirchen with my uncle who lives near Munich plus my aunt and uncle who came over from England for the confirmation.

We also did the 24 stops walk in May, which is a sculpture path between Switzerland and Germany.

Basel 24 stops
One of the 24 Stops sculptures

On 26th May, Jan got a car and we drove to the Trümmelbachfälle – a group of ten glacier-fed mountains inside a mountain. On the way back we stopped in Spiez to see it in the light, since the last time we were there it had been night time.

At the very end of May, we flew to England for a few days because we had been invited to a wedding on 2nd June. On the last day of May, we went out for the day with my mum and brother, first taking a walk around the lake at Druridge Bay, before stopping in Warkworth for lunch and finally visiting the beach at Amble. I my have lived abroad for most of my adult life, but I will always have a special place in my heart for Northumberland’s breathtaking beauty.

Later in the month, we took a day trip to Wasserfallen, where we took a cable car up a mountain, walked around and saw some people returning from llama trekking. No photos from there because I appear not to have them on the computer! Then on the weekend of 30th June/1st July, we had a mini-break on Lake Lucerne. We stayed in Vitznau, directly on the lake, and the next day took the cable car from Vitznau up to the Wissifluh – part of Rigi – before driving down to Stans to head up the Stanserhorn. On both mountains, we saw lots of butterflies.

I was actually pregnant at that point but had no idea.
The following weekend, we spontaneously decided to drive to the French-speaking part of Switzerland, specifically to St Ursanne, then later headed on to Neuchâtel where we ate dinner.

August was my birthday month but didn’t involve any travel for me – although Jan had a rehearsal weekend with his choir. But in September my mum, her friend and my brother came to visit and on one of the days we went to Mount Rigi and Lucerne for the day with our visitors. We got cheap deal day tickets and took ordinary trains, cogwheel trains and a boat. It was a long day but really nice. (Those last two sentences are copied directly from the draft post of my September recap, which was all written and just waiting for me to add photos. I never ended up posting it because the day before it would have gone up was the day I lost the twins and the post included pregnancy talk).

We didn’t do much travelling in October, for obvious reasons, but eight days after I was released from hospital we went to France, first stopping in the fortified town of Neuf-Brisach and then visiting Riquewihr, which was absolutely gorgeous but also absolutely packed full of tourists. Although I was still slightly weak from lack of iron, it was a much needed day out.

in November we wanted to get away from it all and went to Yverdon les Bains for a weekend. We ate delicious food, walked a lot and toured the castle. Back in Basel, after a meeting at the town council with the person responsible for bereavement, we got a car and drove part-way up a mountain then walked the Geissflue circular route. It was a beautiful day and the autumn colours were stunning!

At the end of November, while Jan was in the US, my mum and sister visited and we took a brief trip to Freiburg im Breisgau to see the Christmas market.

December was an incredibly busy month between Jan’s choir concerts and Christmas, but we did manage one day trip… on Boxing Day we drove to Murten – a small medieval town near Fribourg. It was cloudy and cold but we still had a walk around the town and along part of the wall before heading into a pub for some food.

And that concludes 2018’s travels. Despite all the ups and downs of the year, we actually managed to fit quite a lot in. There was only one month without any travel at all! We spent New Year at home this time, but I am hoping to kick off this year’s travels with a trip out to somewhere tomorrow. And beyond that? We have no plans as yet, but I am hoping for a proper holiday in 2019. Stay tuned!

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Alnwick and its gardens

Waaay back in October, while we were in England, we spontaneously decided to visit Alnwick one sunny afternoon. It was too nice to be indoors, so we skipped the castle and purchased tickets for the gardens instead. Being October, a lot of the flowers were already on their way out, but I still managed to take many, many pictures! There was a kind of treasure hunt for children which seemed to involve finding all the different fairy tales and nursery rhymes that were referenced throughout the gardens, and I took great delight in spotting fairy tale items as well, even though I didn’t have a sheet to fill in.

Alnwick itself is a pretty little town, and is home to the amazing second hand bookshop Barter Books, the place where the “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan was first (re)discovered. It’s housed within the old Alnwick train station, with the bookshelves where the tracks used to be and space to sit and read in what used to be the waiting room. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit Barter Books that day, but if you ever find yourself in Alnwick you definitely should!

Before driving to Newcastle, where we were due to meet a friend for dinner, we of course had to stop on the Lion Bridge to grab a few shots of Alnwick Castle – which some of my may recognise from a certain film about a wizard with a lightning shaped scar… (others may know it from Blackadder).

Alnwick is one of my favourite places and I’m glad we got to have a stroll around the town and its gardens last time I was home!

Travel Monkey

Travel Theme: Ancient

Ailsa’s travel theme for this week is Ancient, and what could be more ancient than basically all of Rome? Here’s the Forum:

Foro Romano
Foro Romano

From Ancient Rome to Ancient Roman… here’s one of my absolute favourite Roman sites in the UK, Vindolanda.

Vindolanda

Just south of Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda Roman fort is best known for the discovery of the Vindolanda tablets – the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain. Excavations are still going on at Vindolanda, so if you go there at the right time of year you might get to see some real archaeologists at work!

Staying in the UK,  here are the ruins of Mitford Castle in Northumberland, which dates from the end of the 11th century. Jan actually took this photo and I love it. It could easily be a professional postcard!

Mitford Castle

You can’t actually go up to Mitford Castle any more (the above photo was taken from a car window) because it’s considered dangerous. The ruins aren’t exactly stable! Apparantly the farms have no problem letting their sheep roam around in there though…

To finish with, here’s Kells Priory,  one of the largest and most impressive medieval monuments in Ireland. It’s featured on the blog before, but I love it so I need to include it again for those who missed it previously!

Kells Priory 1

Got any ancient photos you want to share? The travel theme is still open until the end of tomorrow! Check out Ailsa’s blog post for more details, and to see the other entries… there are lots of way better photographers than me out there!

Hexham Abbey

Every year, my family goes to the Queen’s Hall theatre in Hexham to watch a performance by the travelling theatre company Oddsocks. Usually we go in the evening, but this year my dad bought tickets for the afternoon matinee – presumably because of my brother (who is now 7). Before the performance, we met up with family friends who also always go to the performance for Sunday lunch. It was the first time Jan had actually seen Hexham in the light! Between the meal and the theatre, there was a little time to spare, so my grandparents suggested taking a walk to Hexham Abbey. There has been a church on the site of Hexham Abbey since approximately the year 674, but the current building dates from Norman times (1170-1250). Since the dissolution of the monastries in 1537, the Abbey has been the parish church of Hexham. The Eastern part of the Abbey was destroyed when the monastry was dissolved and rebuilt in 1860. Here are some photos:

The abbey from the outside
The abbey from the outside

Below the abbey, there is a crypt with relics from the original Wilfred’s Benedictine Abbey built in the 7th century. It’s only open twice a day, so we couldn’t go down but I have been down there before when I visited Hexham Abbey with school.

~Please note that I am now in Madeira for New Year and am again unable to reply to comments. Feel free to leave one though, and I will respond as soon as I can!~

Who Am I?

This post was inspired by Charlotte at Sherbet and Sparkles. Recently, she wrote a blog post based around the question “Who am I?” and asked all her readers to get involved too. I’ve actually had quite a few new followers on the blog recently, so I thought this was an appropriate time to finally respond to her request.

So, hello! I’m Beverley, a 30-year-old English girl who is currently living in south-west Germany. Karlsruhe, to be exact. Most Germans should have heard of it because it’s home to both the German constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) and the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof). The latter is the highest court for all matters relating to criminal and private law, so Karlsruhe is mentioned on the news a lot. I share a flat with my boyfriend, who I will have been in a relationship with for 10 years in February 2014!

The botanic gardens in Karlsruhe
The botanic gardens in Karlsruhe

As an army brat, the question “where are you from?” is not an easy one to answer. Do I say the place I was born, even though I always hated it and never felt like I belonged, even while living there? Should I say the town my parents are from, despite the fact that I’ve never lived there? Or is “home” the place my dad moved to once he got out of the army, and where I also moved to when I was 13? Usually, I tell people I’m from Northumberland without specifying a town – I tend to get away with it because most people couldn’t even locate the county on a map, never mind name any individual towns! My parents are both from Morpeth, where my remaining grandparents still live, and that’s been the most constant place in my life. We went there for at least one holiday every year. Both my parents now live back in Northumberland, although neither of them actually moved back to their home town simply because it’s too expensive!

Stepping stones crossing the River Wansbeck in Morpeth
Stepping stones crossing the River Wansbeck in Morpeth

As you probably know by now, after graduating from university I moved to Austria for 10 months. I still have a slight obsession with all things Austrian! In 2006, I moved back to Karlsruhe and as of September 2012, Karlsruhe is officially the place I’ve lived in longest in one stretch ever! Technically I lived in my birth town for more years in total because we were posted there twice, but Karlsruhe is catching up… if you count my year abroad, I’ve actually spent 8 years in Karlsruhe now.

Snowy Feldkirch, December 2006
Snowy Feldkirch, December 2006

I have one sister, with whom I share two parents, and two half brothers who are not related to each other. My younger half brother, my dad’s son, was born a few days before I moved back to Karlsruhe. He’s 23 years younger than me!

I used to be a natural red head, but based on the photos above, you’re probably thinking I’m a brunette. Here’s a photo of me from the days before I was allowed to dye my hair. See… red! Well, reddish anyway…

Me, aged 3 or 4, with my grandma's dog
Me, aged 3 or 4, with my grandma’s dog

What else can I say? I work at a translation company, which is usually interesting but can get stressful. You won’t read too much about my job on the blog because I’m not sure how much I can say without getting into trouble. I certainly know better than to name any of our customers 😉

My biggest love is reading and I dream of having my own library some day, like the ones you see in old houses and castles. My other big passion is travel – I get restless if I have to stay in one place for too long. So far, regular day trips and holidays have been enough to keep me from getting entirely sick of Karlsruhe but I’m not sure whether I’ll live here for the rest of my life…

So that’s me! I hope I haven’t repeated too much of my blog’s about me page. If there’s anything else you want to know, just ask and I’ll see about answering 😉 Now it’s your turn… tell me about yourself!

Travel theme: Stone

This week, the travel theme on Where’s My Backpack is stone, which gave me the perfect opportunity to showcase one of the most famous stone structures in my home county…. Hadrian’s Wall. Here are some photos of the wall and the surrounding countryside:

Hadrian’s wall was a 73-mile long Roman defensive structure built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Construction probably started some time in AD 122 and the wall was completed within a period of six years. Sections of the wall still exist along the route, although some of the stone was removed and used as building material at various points and to the west of the River Irthing the wall was made of turf, which is now long gone. The Hadrian’s Wall Footpath follows the line of the wall from Wallsend in Tyne and Wear to Bowness-on-Solway in North-West Cumbria… a route of 84 miles. There is also a Hadrian’s Wall bus service that stops at the main sights along the wall, including various Roman forts.

To join in with this week’s travel theme, check out Ailsa’s blog post.

If the BBC says it it must be true… right?

I was reading the news last night on the BBC website. I like to do that occasionally to find out what’s going on back home. So I clicked my way through to the “Tyne” section and came across the headline “Beach closed in pollution scare”. This was followed by the words “A popular Northumberland beach has been closed to the public after a mysterious oily substance was discovered”
Popular beach? Northumberland? Where might that be? I wondered. Cresswell maybe, or Alnwick. Intrigued I clicked on the headline and read the first sentence of the article: “Council officials called in Environment Agency experts after tennis ball size globules of a viscous black substance appeared on Cambois beach on Thursday” Cambois beach. Cambois?? Popular?? What? SInce when? Ok, people walk their dogs there, but that’s only because the people in Cambois have nowhere else to walk their dogs. We’re talking about a village that doesn’t even have a corner shop for goodness sake. The standng joke about Cambois beach is “if you go in the water you’ll come out green with extra limbs”. That’s what the local people think of Cambois beach. And as for pollution scares. Well… when was Cambois beach not polluted? It’s been full of coal dust for years! Huh! So much for the BBC. Next they’ll be telling me Stakeford is a popular tourist resort.

I then read an article about a Chinese couple who were murdered in Newcastle. Apparantly police suspect they may have been involved in various scams. Possible motive forthe murder perhaps? The plot thickens, as the saying goes. The article then goes on to say “the body of a cat, which had been drowned and hidden in a washing bowl underneath the bathroom sink, was probably killed by the couple’s murderer, said police”. So after killing the Chinese couple, the murderers then went on to drown the body of a cat? Wow, talk about overkill!

Do you think the BBC have proofreaders??