A Family Day out In Lübeck

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A and S in front of the Holstentor.

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We were a party of twelve all told, out for a wander around Lübeck.

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The Cathedral is huge, but has buildings all around it, so it’s hard to get a good view.

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The Rathaus is impressive too. The next few photos show various views of it.

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This…

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…is one of the buildings in the town associated with Thomas Mann. Günter Grass is another former resident.

Whilst these literary claims to fame are impressive, the first thing that springs to mind for me when I think of Lübeck is marzipan and the company Niederegger which has several shops around the town…

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That’s the principal one on the right. There’s a shop on the ground floor, a restaurant above that and a marzipan museum on the top floor.

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In Lübeck it seems that almost anything can be modelled from marzipan.

This ship was one of the displays in the museum…

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As were these almost life-size figures…

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I’ve been to Lübeck a few times. It’s a charming place with fascinating architecture.

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Although I’ve been a few times before, I didn’t know about the quiet little alleyways which abound. This time we had the advantage of a local guide, my cousin S who was born in Lübeck.

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The alleys seem like they might be private, but apparently there is a right of access, although some are only open to the public at certain times of the day.

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Little S was clearly wanting to venture down this watery avenue, but was hesitating…

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Until cousin S chivvied him along.

A Family Day out In Lübeck

Lauenburg Lakes

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Look a map! Let’s get oriented: the big lake south of Lübeck is the Ratzeburger-see and the blotchy red bit across the bottom of that lake is Ratzeburg, where we were staying. Actually there’s the Ratzeburger-see, the Dom-see (Cathedral Lake), the Küchensee and the Kleiner Küchensee, but they’re all linked so who’s quibbling? Ratzeburg straddles both banks of the lake(s) and also an island in the lake which is connected to both banks by causeways. Another glance at the map will reveal that the area is riddled with lakes of various sizes.

My aunt and uncle have lived in Ratzeburg for as long as I can remember and my cousins grew up there. Swimming in the lakes has always been a prominent feature of our visits over the years. This trip was no exception.

Here’s Little S in the Pipersee..

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My brother and his family had driven up from Switzerland in their campervan, en route to a holiday in Denmark, and were camped by this lake.

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Actually, that day we were a big family party, with three of my cousins and their families and a couple of sets of aunts and uncles with us too. A gaggle of us, of various ages, swam well out into the lake.

This…

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…is from an evening visit to Garrensee.

And this is the kids walking through the woods for an early visit to the same venue…

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It was our favourite swimming spot. Perhaps you can see why.

Through the summer months my uncle, now in his eighties, cycles here for a swim most mornings. We were never early enough to catch him, but he did join us, along with my aunt, for a later swim one day.

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My first visit here was during the hot summer of  1976, when I was a bit younger than Little S is now. We spent a day here. I remember a snake swimming on the water; unsuccessful attempts to build a raft of sticks and my cousin K, whose house we were borrowing this summer, briefly going missing, until we realised that she had swum across the lake (I think she would have been around 5 at the time). TBH saw a snake here this summer – it was when she was running around the lake, whilst the rest of the family were swimming.

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I’m pleased to say that the kids loved Garrensee, but the Ratzeburger-see had its own attractions…

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This was an evening swim, when the sky turned a bit threatening as the sun set…

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We also swam one more time in the Küchensee, in a spot with which I am very familiar. It’s close to where my aunt and uncle live and, when we visited, I used to love getting up early with my uncle to walk down the hill, past the hospital where he worked, for an early morning dip.

During one of our visits to the Garrensee I got chatting to another swimmer. After he had, rather inevitably, asked about Brexit, he told me that he lives in Hamburg and that all of his Hamburg friends would head to the Baltic coast if the they had a day off and the sun was shining, but he comes here instead.

“My friends from Hamburg don’t know about this place, how did you find it?”

Apparently there are 40 lakes in total in the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park, maybe someday I’ll come back and swim in them all.

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A Week in Ratzeburg

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After the party, we were able to spend a week in Ratzeburg thanks to the generosity of my cousin K and her family, who lent us their house for the week whilst they were away in their campervan. This is a different cousin K than the one mentioned a couple of posts ago – they are sisters, the oldest and youngest of four.

K’s partner J is a stone mason and sculptor and their house and garden are decorated with examples of his work…

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The buddleia at the front of the house was also prolifically decorated with butterflies. Mostly, but not exclusively Painted Ladies…

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Small White, I think.

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I haven’t been able to identify this day flying moth. It’s quite striking though, even without a name.

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We were extremely comfortable in our home from home and very grateful to our hosts. We had a couple of very wet days and it was great to discover that they love board games possibly even more than we do. Here are A and B taking defeat graciously after a game of Settlers of Catan…

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A Week in Ratzeburg

The Party by the Küchensee

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Since my last post finished with an old, old photo of Little S and his cousin L, here they are again, this time from this summer, swimming in the Küchensee.

And this…

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…is a wider view of the lake and, this time, B in the rubber ring.

The party was terrific. First and foremost it was great to catch up with my relatives. The food was out of this world. And, once we’d eaten, we got to swim in the Küchensee. (My rusty German suggests that translates as ‘Cakes Lake’, but that can’t be right surely?)

My brother and his family and some of my cousins and their families joined us for a dip. Some of the other guests too, I think.

I didn’t take any photos of the party itself: too busy eating and nattering.

Ten years ago, my aunt’s birthday party was in the same venue and I did take lots of photos, but chose not to share any of them on the blog. These days I worry less about ‘going off topic’ – I’m principally writing for myself after all. I’ve been looking back through those 2009 photos, which was a bittersweet experience: the party was great then too, and the food, and it was one part of a terrific holiday; it’s interesting to see how we’ve all changed, but sad to be reminded that some of the guests from 10 years ago are no longer with us.

As people started to leave, I chatted to some of those, like us, who were staying the night at the hotel. Some of my uncle’s cousin told stories about growing up in what became the DDR and how they eventually escaped. Fascinating stuff.

Oh – and Brexit. Wherever we went in Germany, people wanted to ask about that. In every case they initially wanted to enumerate their connections to and express their fondness for the United Kingdom (or, on reflection, to England for the most part), but then went on to explain that they were baffled by and concerned about our desire to leave the EU. Could I elucidate? Nope.

 

The Party by the Küchensee

Schlafwagen Auf Dem Erlebnisbahnhof Im Schmilau

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After our stay in Wormerveer we needed to get to Schleswig-Holstein for my Aunt’s birthday. Little S was keen for us to break the journey, which seemed entirely reasonable, so, on the basis that it was roughly halfway, I settled on Osnabrück for an overnight.

I can’t tell you much about the place – we had a picnic by a lake; we played crazy golf (I annoyed the rest of the family by gloating about winning)(Oops – there I go again!); we walked a long way looking for a Chinese restaurant for S’s birthday meal, only to find the restaurant closed for a holiday; we eventually ate at a very reasonable and friendly little place which did pizzas and kebabs and ad hoc vegan meals which looked delicious; we stayed in a brilliant flat, quirkily decorated with mannequins and graffiti art, which was mainly prints of paintings by El Bocho, a Spanish street-artist who works in Berlin.

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The following day, we drove to Schmilau which is close to where my Aunt and Uncle live and even closer to the hotel which was the venue for the next day’s party.

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We’d booked two sleeping compartments in a stationary train at the ‘Adventure Station’. They have other accommodation, including tree-houses, and this mocked-up engine…

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They also have a very wide variety of vehicles: handcars on the old railway line, pedaloes and canoes and water-bikes on the nearby lake, and a wealth of freaky bikes…

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The DBs were in their element!

This bike, labelled Falschfahrrad, was particularly tricky:

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I think B had to pedal backwards, and steering left made the bike turn right.

I think this was the same sort of thing…

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…but in tandem. They didn’t get very far!

We never did get around to trying out the other sorts of vehicles, but later that same day the DBs were once again in their element, haring around a field on a souped up quad bike at a garden party at my cousin K’s.

This is her decidedly charming home…

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…which we last visited 10 years ago, when the DBs were less hair-raising to observe at play.

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Actually, this is Little S with his cousin L in the same garden 10 years ago. Nobody burned their leg on an exhaust pipe that day.

 

Schlafwagen Auf Dem Erlebnisbahnhof Im Schmilau

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I feel like I’ve been broadcasting my intention to do this walk for far too long, so without further fanfares – here it finally is. That’s my old school friend JS, close to the top of Causey Pike, at a very anti-social hour on a Saturday morning. Registration for the event opened at 6am and I arrived very promptly, but then mistakenly hung around in the car park waiting for JS: I should have know that he would be there before me, in fact he was the very first person to turn-up to register at 5.30am – he leaves nothing to chance. In my defence, he had only come from his hotel in Keswick, whereas I’d been up at 4 to drive up from home.

We thought we would be walking shortly after 6, but it transpired that the earliest start was at 6.30 to allow the marshals to get out on the course – each summit housed a small tent, a few volunteers and quite often some water and snacks to be shared.

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This is the initial, highly scientific, schedule I drew up. I did a second version with extra time added into each section to give an overall time only slightly under 10 hours.

After a prolonged spell of cool and often damp weather, this mid-summer Saturday brought much hotter conditions. We started the walk in shade, but as we began to climb were soon in the sun, and right from the off it was very warm.

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Dalehead, Hindscarth and Robinson from Causey Pike.

We were already a little behind my schedule by the time we reached the summit of Causey Pike, but over the next section we were making up time. As we descended into Butttermere, it briefly clouded up…

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Just by the tiny church in Buttermere, a handful of gazebos had been erected. Refills for water bottles, and all manner of cakes, and savouries were available, best of all, really refreshing slices of orange. Like many others, we stopped here for some lunch, which put us back behind schedule.

The climb out of Buttermere and up to High Snockrigg was, for me at least, purgatorial. There was no breeze, the sun had appeared again, and I was seriously over-heating. JS was very patient with me as I inched up the slope. He’d tripped on the descent into Buttermere, and gone over on his ankle, but was admirably stoical about the discomfort he was suffering.

Buttermere Moss was every bit as soggy as I remembered from my last visit many moons ago. The path which ascends Robinson cuts across the slope in the photo below…

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Robinson from High Snockrigg.

…rising from right to left. The angle was a bit easier, there was now a hint of a breeze and I would have been much happier except I recognised the tell-tale sings of the onset of cramp. I found that if we stopped and sat down for a few minutes when it came on, or better yet, just before it set in, then we could get up the slope in steady bite-size chunks.

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Buttermere from Robinson.

From this point on, I seemed to get a second wind. The incidence of cramp became less frequent and less debilitating, eventually ceasing altogether, and I felt much better generally. JS put my recovery down to the small piece of millionaire’s shortbread I’d accepted from a marshal on High Snockrigg. Maybe? It helped that most of the hard work was behind us.

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North-western fells from Robinson.

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Newlands valley from Dalehead. High Spy on the right, Skiddaw beyond.

The climb from Dalehead to High Spy was very steady and from there it was almost all down hill.

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Cat Bells, Derwentwater, Keswick and Skiddaw.

For a while, I think we both entertained the possibility that we might actually finish in the allotted 10 hours, but although it was relatively easy going, it was still a long way to the finish.

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The hills of the morning, seen from the final descent.

We both ran out of water before the end and one final checkpoint where drinks were available was extremely welcome.

I wish I’d taken some photographs of the party which was in full swing at the Swinside Hotel. We were greeted by cheering, applause and cowbells. There was live music and lots of enthusiastic singing along. I even bumped into a couple of old friends who I hadn’t anticipated seeing there. The pub was extremely busy and JS and I waited quite a while for our long anticipated pints of shandy – when we finally got served we adopted an old tactic of mine, not always a wise on, and bought two rounds simultaneously. The first one didn’t touch the sides. The second – drunk whilst sat on a bench in the sun, listening to the music – was even more satisfying.

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That’s us at the Swinside. And the bench where we supped our shandies.

In the end, we finished in a little under 11 hours. I’m happy with the fact that I finished at all, because when JS first contacted me about the challenge I had severe doubts about my ability to do so. Without me to hold him up, I’m sure that JS would have finished within the required 10 hours, but then he would have missed out on my sparkling wit and repartee. Or something like that.

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I’ve never thought to include the gradient profile before, but I rather liked this one…

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Mapmywalk gives almost 17½ miles and around 6000 feet of ascent. My calculations of the ascent, largely based on the figures given by Wainwright, gave a total of 6600 feet. Either way, a good deal more than I’ve done in a day for quite some time.

Although, I found this walk much tougher than the Three Peaks, if anything the recovery was slightly easier. I even made it, briefly, to a friends birthday party in the village that night.

The event was extremely well organised, and although it meant that at times we were walking in a bit of a crowd, I rather enjoyed the camaraderie and cheerful atmosphere. Thanks again for those of you who have very generously sponsored me and made donations to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It’s not too late if you still want to chip in, my Just Giving page is here and that really is the last time I will mention it, I promise.

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Meeting

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Some photos from two shortish local walks during the half-term. The first was a trip over the Knott on a hot sunny day, when the views were decidedly hazy.

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I spotted this clump of pink flowers a little way from the path, near the top of the Knott. They had me puzzled at the time and I’m still none the wiser.

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This bee seemed to like them, whatever they were.

Much as I enjoy a wander up the Knott, that wasn’t the sole purpose of this trip: I was heading over to Arnside to drop in on Conrad of the Conrad Walks blog. Having conversed over the internet for many years, it was great to finally meet and chat. Hopefully, we’ll get out for a walk together too in the not too distant future.

The second outing was a wander around Hawes Water.

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An ant mound which has been very thoroughly dug over.

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The dead oak between Hawes Water and Challan Hall – the foreground of many photos before it fell.

Meeting