Aye! I love t’Dales!

Burma!  Egypt!  Malaya!

Hang on, wrong song.  That was from Sweet Banana.  Let me start again.

Masham!  Bedale!  Leyburn!

That’s where Schatz and I were at the end of August.

It had been over a year since Schatz and I had been in England (Redcar, Saltburn and Whitby – the North York Moors area).  Now it was time to show Schatz the Yorkshire Dales.

A smooth flight from DUS to Leeds Bradford Airport, preceded by a McDonalds breakfast at DUS.  (I must admit, I do like their muffins and their coffee.  Their branch at DUS does make a useful “office” for doing paperwork.)

Our taxi picks us up on time.  We head through the country roads to our hotel in Masham.  (A point on pronunciation.  It’s “Mass ’em,” not “Mash ’em.”)  We arrive at reception.  For the first time in years, I do not have to spell my surname.  The receptionist says, “I live in that village.”

Our room: nice and cosy.  Lovely double duvet, lots of biscuit by the kettle.  By now it is 4pm.  Schatz and I have not eaten since our mid-morning McAttack.

Wir haben Hunger.

We stroll off to the market square via the local supermarket.  I stock up on Ibuprofen: 90% of the price in Germany.  (I repeat this procedure several times over the weekend.  Why pay a fiver, when you can pay 46 pence?)

The fish’n’chip restaurant is not open for another 30 minutes.  It’s a hot, rather humid day.  Schatz has been dieting successfully this year.  Nonetheless I ask if she would like an ice cream from Bah Humbugs.  Brymor ice cream.  Made from Guernsey cow’s milk.  She says yes.  I bring her a cone with two big scoops of:

  • Black cherry whim-wham
  • Rhubarb and custard

I get myself black cherry whim-wham and chocomint.  Delicious.

icecream

Normally we would eat pudding after a meal.  But needs must.

Harry’s fish and chip restaurant.  Schatz  and I chat in German while looking through the menu.  (We know already what we are going to order, anyway.)

This is what we ordered.  British food p0rn…

chips

I also ordered curry sauce and onion rings to accompany.  Our plates were clean by the time we finished.

A waddle around the Market Square and then back to our hotel via the local fruit shop to buy postcards (and to buy postage stamps – the post office had closed months before, much to the locals’ chagrin).

Back to our hotel room.  We flop out on the bed for “a quick lie-down before we go down to the bar.”

Twenty minutes later, Schatz is in her night clothes under the duvet.  I am watching The Sweeney, 1970’s cops’n’robbers show on TV.  Schatz is now comatose.  I watch another episode of The Sweeney.

  • You’re nicked!
  • Guv’nor!

etc…

I get a second wind.  (I blame the onion rings.)  Lamy fountain pen out.  Postcard to Schatz’ parents.  Another to our church organist, caring for her dad in Surrey.  Another to Grasshopper.  I get dressed.  Off to the postbox in town.  Via the supermarket for more Ibuprofen.  Leg stretch time.  I bring back Nachos and dip for Schatz, who is now awake.

We munch our Nachos.  It’s been a very pleasant day in Masham.

Have a black cherry whim-wham day, won’t you!

 

Street Jewelry

Oz, a character in the hit 1980s comedy drama, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, once observed:

These German bricks lack the panache of British bricks.

I’ve thought the same on a number of occasions, when looking at Gewrman postboxes.  One of the distinguishing features of German postboxes seems to be grafitti, something I have rarely seen on Royal Mail postboxes.

Therefore, I was most impressed some days ago, when strolling through the scenic village of Kaiserswerth, to see two posboxes that were grafitti-free.  Praise be to the people and visitors to Kaiserswerth.

20190819_162910

Klemensplatz

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Kaiserswerth post office

Have a presentable day, won’t you!

“I never get any post”

Back in 2004 I used to send, Marco, my friend in Düsseldorf, a postcard every time I’d go to the Saturday market at Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales.

It’s the only post I get these days, apart from bank statements.

I paid attention to Marco’s comment.  I resolved the following week to change this situation for him.

The United Kingdom has a lot of universities, from Aberdeen and Aberystwyth to York.  I googled “List of all British universities.”  I went through that list methodically.  It took a day or so.  I ordered Marco a prospectus from pretty much every UK university.  Every single one.

A fortnight later I rang Marco.

Marco thanked me profusely for his collection of reading material.  He had to go to his local post office to collect half of the items.  He had piled them up in his living room next to the TV.  One university had a translation and interpreting course that interested him.

He never complained about receiving very little “proper post” after this avalanche of prospectuses.  I don’t know why.

Have a voluminous day, won’t you!

brown envelopes in mail box

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Classmates Reunion Part 3

Saturday morning.  After Grasshopper has gone for his run, Schatz and I meet him in the hotel for breakfast.  I had a slightly sore head.  I’m not sure if Grasshopper did, too.  I’m sure a run and shower will have got rid of that for him.  For me, my sore head disappeared after five coffees and a cooked breakfast.

Off to the Altstadt.  Coffee and spaghetti ice.  Grasshopper and I upload to Facebook yet more German “food porn” photos.  It has to be done.  A trip along the Rhine on a boat.  More pics, and not just of food porn.  Schatz is shattered.  She heads home to the hotel for a well-earned siesta.  Grasshopper and I head to Kaiswerswerth for that German classic, the currywurst.  A short stroll to the river bank for more pics and to walk our currywurst off.

Back to hotel.  Power nap or lie-down for an hour or so.

Freshened up, we had to a nearby Bavarian pub.  Grasshopper has his Jägerschnitzel.  I choose Schlemmerpfanne.  Schatz chooses salmon, the healthy option.  More food porn photos are uploaded to Facebook.  Grasshopper and I enjoy our Apfelstrudel.  More food porn photos are uploaded to Facebook.  A few more glasses of Pils are enjoyed.  All three of us are merry.  Schatz treats us.  Star!  For Grasshopper is our honoured guest.

foodporn

Schatz heads to bed.  Grasshopper and I chat in the hotel bar.  41 years of “remember when…?” to catch up on.

The following morning it is time to say goodbye to Grasshopper.  Before he gets into his taxi, we hug shake hands.  It’s been an excellent weekend.  Rarely have I met such a good bloke, an interesting guy and very likeable, as Grasshopper.  It was a privilege and pleasure to meet him after 41 years.  And yes, so, we did get on face to face as we did online.

Grasshopper, let’s not leave it another 41 years, eh!

Have a friendly day, won’t you!

Classmates Reunion Part 2

Like the song goes, Train and Boats and Planes.  Actually, Trains and Blokes and Planes.  I hadn’t planned a great deal for Grasshopper’s weekend.  He’s easy, he says.  No point in timetabling every minute.  We head to the Altstadt.  We decide a coffee at an Irish pub is the obvious choice.  Coffee, craic and more chat.  We decide not to sing any of our dads’ politically incorrect songs from their days in Northern Ireland.

We have about three hours to kill before Schatz is due to arrive.  We walk and talk  along to the Rheinufer to get the typical touristy panorama pics.  Then I see the Rheinturm TV tower in the distance.

Taxi.

Grasshopper uses his German skills to buy our tickets at the Rheinturm.

Zwei, bitte.

(He’s fluent.)

Views, tea and apple cake with whipped cream.  It’s got to be done, hasn’t it.

Energy levels starting to sap after a while.  Grasshopper has been up since 04:00 UK time.  Back to our hotel.  Grasshopper checks in.  I nip to the local post office to pick up a package.

Schatz arrives.  We check in.  We then meet up with Grasshopper at the appointed hour on the nail.

Taxi to Altstadt again.  Cocktail bar.  Planters punch, mai thai, Tom’n’cherry.  A few more rounds.  All three of us chat.  We reminisce.  We get merry.  Schatz speaks in English.  More in one evening down the cocktail bar than in years of us being together.  Result!

Grasshopper is as WYSIWYG in real life as he is over the internet.  Diamond geezer.

We make our way back to our hotel.  Schatz heads to bed.  Grasshopper and I continue chatting in the hotel bar till near midnight.

Shortly before midnight, my head hits my pillow after a quick glug of water to rehydrate.

It’s been a great day.  I hope I don’t have a sore head in the morning…

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Have a reminiscing day, won’t you!

Classmates Reunion Part 1

Is the answer 42?  No.  In this case it is 41: 41 year since Grasshopper and I last saw each other, when we were cute little pads brats classmates at a British primary school near the East German border.

Praise be to Facebook!  Nearly ten years ago, Grasshopper and I got in touch after I had shared a 1977 class photo on our dads’ old comrades Facebook page.  Then there was the Big C Diagnosis on the last Wednesday of October 2017, since when Grasshopper and I have often chewed the cud, and bombarded each other with jokes and internet memes via Whatsapp.

Fast-forward to last Friday.  Too idle to take the bus from my flat to DUS airport, I take a taxi.  Having a bit of time to kill, I set up “office” at the ultra-modern McDonalds.  The day gets off to a good start.  Plenty of empty tables.  I take my breakfast with one large coffee (much needed to kick-start my day).  I sit down at a table on the edge of the restaurant.  Munch, munch, slurp.  Diary time.  Samuel Pepys/Adrian Mole/Konrad Kujau mode.  I check my smartphone.  Grasshopper’s plane has not taken off yet, according to the messages from LCY (London City Airport).  It’s delayed 45 minutes.  Time for another coffee and a quick lookaround to see where the toilet is… ah, there it is.  Just round the corner.

I’m looking forward to seeing Grasshopper in the flesh.  We’ve had some really good laughs over the years via the internet.  We’ve had some really good, deep conversations.  He’s a net contributor.  He’s a switched-on bloke, who does a lot of good work in his spare time for a youth organisation.  He has a similar warped sense of humour to mine.  He is also a big fan of Not the The Nine O’Clock News.

But will we get on when we meet?  “Captain Paranoia” keeps whispering in my ear.  People are different when you meet them in person, or if you mention Danny Jones, etc,  who you couldn’t stand, and then it turns that Danny Jones is in fact, best mates with Grasshopper.

I go order another coffee and make a few phone calls.  I surf on my smartphone and find a few cute animals videos to smile at and to forward to friends.  My bladder tells me it is time to stand up and move.  Toilet.  Off to gate to meet’n’greet Grasshopper.  Out he comes.

No hugs.  No embraces.  We pads brats don’t do that.  A good firm handshake and pleasantries.  Without further delay we head to our train, and then chat for England during the short hop to DUS Hauptbahnhof.

Twenty minutes later we two are sending Schatz a selfie from the Hbf, getting ready to explore my adopted home town.

Have a welcoming day won’t you!

[To be continued.]

grayscale photography of man walking on stairs

Photo by Flavio Ardito on Pexels.com

 

Going for an Indian

I’ve been living in Germany for nearly seven years.  What do I miss from the UK?  A good curry house.  Let me qualify that.  Düsseldorf has a few curry houses.  But DUS is a big city, with about as many curry houses as a small town in England.  Indian cuisine is as exotic in Germany as Vietnamese is in England.

My favourite curry house in DUS?  Rajarbaar, literally the Court of the King.  Always great for Sunday buffet.  Always does a good lamb saag, and always does a delicious mango chicken (Schatz’ favourite).  The owner, Sahibji, is always hospitable and willing to put up with banter such as:

Congress zindabad!

(He’s a BJP supporter.)

DUS may not have the quantity, but it certainly has the quantity.

Image result for curry

Have curried day, won’t you!