~In jeder Sprache wohnen andere Augen.~ ~I don't know where I am going but I am on my way.~

lundi 19 décembre 2011

December and 12 eggs later

Was it due to the nice and mild weather that time seems to have doubled in speed and Christmas is already there?
The building progressed in a good way and when we saw a free weekend ahead, we went to see our friends in Berlin. It was easy to be spontaneous because the chocolate dog was allowed to be a guest there, as well.

We had a fabulous time and got a great sightseeing tour, first by car, then by walking. The grey, dull and wet weather was a bit of a shame but did not any harm to the fun we had.

The tour started at the Wannsee where Joop and Jauch have their residences.

We then stopped at Sanssouci where Friedrich der Grosse is buried next to his dogs and which is famous for the landscaped park. The picture on the left below are the grave stones of some of his dogs which were most important companions to him.

After that, a big surprise for EG came up: the Meilenwerk. A fantastic idea to bring friends of oldtimers together: those who rent a glassed garage for their old cars and those who can spend their time in the warm, nice atmosphere of this old tram station where they can repair their car. If one struggles with his oldtimer, there are plenty of specialised garages where one can get professional help. And there are also traders where one can chose the next beauty from. Plenty of amateurs go, the entrance is free and the atmosphere is great! This concept exists also in Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart, so far.
If you look carefully, one can make out 'headless' EG on the right of the bit of orange car which is outside.

Whilst we were "digesting" those multiple impressions, we were driven downtown Berlin and first admired the new station.

We met some "bierbike" riders and a Trabant rallye.

We were shown were Frau Bundeskanzler has her residence.

Eventually, we left the car and ventured out. Those inner courts are so particular in Berlin, people have their flats there and party in summer in the courtyards. Plenty of theses houses have restaurants or little cafés just to walk in and sit down. That is what I admired already during my last trip to Berlin, 10 or so years ago: there was a real urban plan behind all this re-building after the wall had come down. Plenty of shopping centers were mixed with flats and cinemas and restaurants so that there can be an activity almost all around the clock.

(comments will be continued tomorrow - my men have arrived just now!
...Sorry for the interruption, EG had picked up son in the middle of the UK and they arrived just then happy and safe :-). )

Pictures below are from the Sony Center, it was very crowded all day and everywhere were we went, so we didn't stay too long.

After that, we went to the Potsdamer Platz shopping center, where we had the obligatory Currywurst, it claimed to be the authentic recipe and tasted quite nice.
This picture was taken from the window of the chocolatier: the Titanic in chocolate.

When it turned dark, my wish became true and we went to the Christmas market 'am Gendarmenplatz'. It is certainly one of the nicest markets as it sits just between these two identical buildings but there again, so busy that one could hardly see any details in the stands. After a mug of Glühwein, we headed home to the dog who had well kept the house.

Thanks, M&M for a wonderful weekend!

Just on that Friday when we left to Berlin, two hens, probably Helga and Michelle, started laying! I find now sometimes one egg, sometimes two of these precious tributes or sometimes, there is none. But I suppose that the others will start soon, as all of them, a part from Mimi, get now nice red comb colors. Mimi Labonq seems to be the odd one, btw ;-). She is always latest and the way she runs round seems the perfect example of a 'headless chicken'.
However, RobRoy is always near to them and loves to observe them. But if he comes too close in the compound, the two leaders, Helga and Michelle run towards him with fluffed feathers mainly round the neck (is that why in Dutch the word "dikke nek" comes from?)

Eventually the piggery had its skylights fitted and the roof was completed.
All the rest of the house and stables got the same gutter system with slate giving it a nice touch and we are so pleased with it, we thought even about a "pendaison de crémaillière" which is in Germany a big tradition when a new building has got its roof on.

The carpenters place a green tree - often pine or birch - with colored ribbons on the top and a big party is held. If, however the house owner has been mean with his builders and did not look good enough after their needs in food or drinks, then it can happen that the lavish green tree will just be a piece of odd rotten wood and everybody can see that they did not feel well treated.
Here in Belgium, the tradition exists only in some areas but not where we live.

The garden is still quite alive. Viburnum bodnantese is not only an eye-catcher due to its beautiful flowers but also attracts with its sweet smell when in bloom.

The nights got now colder and we have light frosts.

Just before the snow arrived, the windows were fitted and the piggery is now closed. This is how it looks now:

We will do the plaster work before the end of the year and start with the concrete on the floor. Then, in the new year, we will break through from the main house. Big excitement ahead!

I wish everybody a peaceful and merry Christmas and hope that 2012 will be a good one for all.

lundi 14 novembre 2011

The Staircase Travel

bayou's quote number 1:
One must always combine the pleasant with the useful.
bayou's quote number 2:
One always finds a good reason to travel to the UK.

In fact, the reason was so good, that friends spontaneously loved to come with us and the fun was doubled. We took the risk to take only one car and no trailer, hoping that the cast iron spiral staircase would fit in the car altogether with 4 people. During the journey we discussed already the issue how we would manage, if not. Ladies suggested the gentlemen to drive home without them and the credit cards whilst men had in mind to send home ladies with the car and staircase whilst themselves were parked for an undetermined moment in a pub.

King Henry's pub was as cozy inside as it promised to be from outside. Unfortunately, hungry travelers do not get anything else on Monday's than hot soup or pizza. I was very disappointed that it does not say so at their webpage.

However, the dismantled staircase was safe in the car and as the adventure had started in a huge hole were plenty of builders were building a new home for a very poor family who needed even an own home cinema on the basement, we happily entered the pub and were welcomed herewith:

Henry's six wives as well as many other details from that era are giving this pub a true historic touch.

Right across the road is the entrance to Hever Castle, home of Anne Boleyn.

We have been here in September last year and enjoyed then the gardens so much.

Due to winter time and early sun sets, we did the walk around a bit quicker than what we normally would have done. We filled our lungs with this special autumn air and were enchanted by the colours which surrounded us.

This time again, beautiful seasonal displays were to be seen all around.

There were only few visitors around but I had a chat with this little robin in the rose gardens. (below left)

This view was so great, again - but this time with the warm autumn colors.

I remember having discovered this red rose here at Hever which we also have at home, Deep Secret, all still flowering.

We then visited the castle and have not regretted it whilst the entrance fee is quite high. But as they don't belong to the National Trust, they certainly have to get those prices to keep it all maintained. Photographs inside the castle are not allowed and the lady in the authentic costume was so nice to go with me outside to get her picture.
We left with the impressions of a warm castle and that this could easily be our home, so small and cozy the rooms seem and all the wood panels give a beautiful feeling.

The night came very quickly and we drove in the dark to our next stop...

...the Griffin Inn in Fletching.

A roaring fire welcomed us and a wonderful evening was spent with great food and charming rooms and a very comfortable 4-poster bed. In the morning, after a cooked full English breakfast, we discovered that the pub had a beautiful garden and a fine view. We left this pleasant place and kind people and can only recommend it to anybody who will be in the area.

Our next stop was Lewes.

A beautiful little town with many antic shops and a great ambiance.

We did power-shopping until the credit card gnashed and the car went on its knees.

Then we headed to the seaside and visited Eastbourne.

Again, spoiled by a blue spotless sky.

When the nearly full moon came up, it was time to leave for our train through the channel tunnel.

We arrived at 1h by night and had the builders arriving in the early morning.
I did not expect that much dust when they were sand blustering the old stones inside.

The picture below left shows the end result. Where the wall is still white will be the opening through to the house.

The roofers came last week and renewed the top of the façade by covering it with slates.

These last pictures are from today, the roof construction is on and what was the piggery is now closed so that the builder can come to fill the gaps of the inside wall.