Week 78 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 6th September 2009

We arrive home in the UK in the early hours. When we awake it seems to be an Indian summer and my lillies are still flowering in the pond

Monday 7th September 2009

I spend all day talking to people and in the evening we go to the Loch Fyne fish restaurant in Knutsford - very nice.

Tuesday 8th September 2009

Yet another day talking and in the evening we stay in to recover.

Wednesday 9th September 2009

In the afternoon my girlfriend goes to see some friends of ours who have a new motorbike and a new baby. This is very surprising as they are not Indians.

In the evening we set off for the Sprowston Manor Hotel in Norwich which seems to be very good at first sight.

Thursday 10th September 2009

In the morning we are woken up at 7.00am by an somebody using a leaf blower. Every hotel we stay at has devised a new and special way of irritating the hell out of us and the Sprowston Manor is no exception.

In the early evening we eat at what used to be called Taps Restaurant in Horning, which we avoided for years because we assumed it was a Tapas Bar. Now they have changed to name to Three Rivers Steakhouse which is equally silly as it is not a steakhouse. Everything about it is wrong, the decor, the name, the location and the waitress - the only good thing is the food which is awesome.

At 9.00pm we arrive in Harwich and sweep straight onto the ferry where we have the best cabin on the ship. Hurrah! How did that happen?

Friday 11th September 2009

We leave the boat in Holland at about 8.00am and embark on an endless series of traffic jams and holdups. At places they have divided the road into lanes so narrow that you can scarcely squeeze a car into the outer lane and most drivers avoid it. Being British we keep the flag flying regardless. My girlfriend tells me that I am only a couple of inches from the barrier and about the same distance from convoys of big lorries. This seems unlikely but turns out to be true. Not a lot of margin for error at 50mph.

After Hamburg the Autobahn seems to be de-restricted but there is always somebody at the front crawling along at just over 100mph - very inconsiderate. Occasionally, we can get moving whereupon I discover something interesting about the car. As I approach a long bend at 136mph (according to my co-pilot who is monitoring the speed on the Tom Tom) I discover that the wheels refuse to turn with the steering wheel - this is the kind of thing that could be very annoying.

Eventually we arrive at our destination near Rheinsberg and just happen upon a really nice hotel that has just one room available - "the best room in the hotel", according to the lovely Renée. As we check in another couple arrive but are turned away - sorry about that.

Saturday 12th September 2009

When we arrive at the Marina Wolfsbruch, an hour early, we find that they have no record of our booking but are immensely helpful. Eventually they find us an identical boat and we sit down for an hour's instruction. Most of the manual is also in English which is a great help. I point out to the girl instructing us that some of the English is confusing. Needless to say, she is the one who wrote it but still allows us to take the boat and off we go!

Never having been through a lock before we decide to head south back to Rheinsberg as there are no locks in that direction. We moor up overnight in the Marina and plug in the mains power. On the Norfolk Broads nobody pays to stay in a Marina - it is a point of honour to pay for nothing - rather like the internet. But in Germany it seems that everybody stays in marinas which makes far more sense - otherwise you soon lose power and have to run the engine for hot water and to charge the battery.

We wander off in to town and discover it is utterly charming - there is a vast castle that used to be the home King Frederick II as well as a theatre, hotels and numerous excellent restaurants. We have a wonderful meal in Zum Jungen Fritz for an all in cost of less that 20e for two people - infinitely better and cheaper than in France.

An English town with a population of about 7,000 would be lucky to have a betting shop and a Chinese take-away.

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      End of Week 78 of Gibraltar Diary

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