11 June 2024

Home Again!

Our BBF was annoyed and perplexed last night ( Monday 10 June ) when he couldn’t find affordable accommodation for our next night! His lack of fitness for maintaining 80-100 Kms per day meant that we would take longer and so the whole Adventure looked more expensive than first thought! The weather was far from perfect for rain was forecast on our route for the next two days. As we went to sleep our BBF announced that we would return home. He‘d rather spend money on outings with his patchwork families than on a cycle tour where only rain was our steady companion!

The next morning it was not raining yet which was a bonus. Alan was the only guest for breakfast after which he packed and then collected the bike! Once loaded we had a look at what Bergheim had to offer. 

As it was mildly sunny we Bears could sit where we too could enjoy the countryside. Bergheim, appeared to us to have far more Italian Ice Cafes than decent restaurants.

Once the right direction was found we headed out of town on a different route to the one we came in on. Eventually we did find and follow the Erft river again.

Without rain the ride was more entertaining and enjoyable! 

Once again we crossed over the river on small bridges! 

Occasionally we would see the odd human walking a dog, but we had the paths to ourselves! 

Then the route took us over a hill we did not cross before to find ourselves on the edge of a large windpark! 

Close by was also a brown coal fired power station. Later we came closer to one and found our small hut again!

It was cold on the bike which explains our BBF‘s head covering. Then it was on again until we reached home in good order. 

Alan left us to take a short walk into town to buy a few bits.

He didn’t fancy cooking so took himself off to Bowl Brothers for a meal. 

He was the only guest, though they appeared to do a brisk trade in takeout/deliveries! 

So ended a brief adventure. 

10 June 2024

The Three Rivers Cycle Tour Day One

Our BBF was in need of an adventure and so he decided we would cycle a route following three rivers. The suggested route started in Cologne and follows the Rhine North then follows the Erft to more or less its source and then the Ahr back to the Rhine. This morning 10 June it was overcast and rain was in the offing. The thought did occur to us not to go, but if we put it off we’d never go.

Coming from the North to join this circular route we cycled to Grevenbroich to pick it up, some 15 kms. The rain was light, but steady which meant our BBF put on all his oilies or what ever cyclists call their rain gear. It was good that he did as the rain didn’t stop. The route took us down Konstantinstrasse in Mönchengladbach where there is Stadler a large cycle shop. Our BBF stopped here to buy a rain cover for his helmet and a pair of new Galoshes. The ones he had were missing a strap and not the best one could buy. The first pair with his shoe size wouldn’t fit so he exchanged them for XL which did. Then after using their toilets we set off again. 

The route followed minor roads but with a fair amount of traffic which made it noisy. The cycle path out side of town was more often than not on the other side of the road. It got colder as we progressed so at a bus stop hut we stopped to put on another layer under the water proof jacket. In Grevenbroich we had a bit of a problem picking up the new route to follow the Erft, but eventually found the right way. 

Now the route was along one bank or the other of the river, through woodland where we were afforded some protection from the rain. At just the right time we came across a little hut with a bench where we stopped to have a sandwich lunch. Sadly opposite us was parked very a noisy soiled water tanker which had stopped to pump out the rain water drain. 

Were it not for the rain the route would have been pretty with places to stop and enjoy the river. We cycled on though. After some four hours of cycling our BBF was tiring and decided to find somewhere to stay. He found a small hotel in the middle of Bergheim and so we went there.

The hotel when we got there was all shut up, so after calling the proprietor we sat in the Italian ice cafe opposite to await his arrival. Our BBF indulged in a Coffee ice cream which was far larger than he expected!

The bike was parked in a garage and locked up and we made ourselves at home. After a wash and brush up our BBF had a nap. 

We found a Cafe not too far from our hotel for a meal and an isotonic drink. 

It has stopped raining as we write, but the forecast is for more of the same. Not nice but all part of life’s adventure our BBF says.


3 October 2023

The long journey home!

Our BBF slept well, but woke early. He dozed and then got up at around 08:30 hrs. Showered, shaved, got dressed and packed the last suitcase. When he took it downstairs he found Brec and Sandy there and so he sat and had the last breakfast in Milford.

He loaded his two large suitcases into the back of Sandy’s car with Brec’s help! 

Then they gave each other a huge bear hug with watery eyes! Promises were made to return Insha’lla!!

It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky as Sandy drove us all to JFK airport. There was much traffic on the road and it was good that we had left early.

When on the bridge over to Long Island we had a view of the New York sky line. 

Sandy dropped us off at Terminal 7 for Condor Airlines and then followed another tearful hug and grateful kisses for the generosity and the wonderful hospitality shown us!

Our BBF found the check in desk and dropped off his two suitcases. Then he had to go and pay for the second one, $118! 

The security took with the long queue about 30 minutes and he had to go through the X-Ray machine twice and be subjected to a body search as his artificial knee showed up on the scan!

Once belt, boots and everything had been gathered we were off to find lunch! Alan had one last Burger! Then it was just a matter of waiting till it was time to board!

The Air Tags seemed to show only one suitcase loaded on the plane! It says Backpack but it is a suitcase. We hope it’s a glitch and nothing more!

We boarded late and we Bears are in the shoulder bag under the seat in front!

The route to be taken we found interesting flying over the sea where we sailed just a few short weeks ago! We are amazed now that we sailed back and forth over that bit of ocean!

Our late take off from JFK we felt did not bode well for our onward journey! During the flight our BBF watched a film called A Wrinkle in Time about two children looking for their father! He then tried to sleep a bit but only rested his eyes. 
Another film was watched Fools Gold, and so the time passed till landing! 

Our BBF did his best to get across the airport to get his connecting flight to Düsseldorf, but failed as they had shut the plane doors a few minutes before! 

The Air Tag showed that one case is still in JFK! 

We were quickly booked onto another flight leaving at 08:35 hrs, so now went directly but slowly to that gate to wait! The family have been informed so now we just have to get to Düsseldorf to report the lost suitcase! 

And then the App told us that both suitcases had arrived in Frankfurt! Good news at least!

And then our BBF had a window seat, but tried to sleep!

We were in Düsseldorf in next to no time! 

And our Bags were there too!

Petra and Vincent were there to collect us and took us to Sigrid‘s for a welcome breakfast! Sigrid had her own surprise, birthday gifts for the sailor home from the sea! 

Back in our own four walls our BBF went to bed and we began telling the other Bears about our adventures! 

Alls well that ends well, now our BBF needs to recover from the adventure in America! 

2 October 2023

The Last Day!

Our BBF slept well and deeply. He woke at around 08:10 hrs and went below to make coffee. Brec was up eating his breakfast. Sandy came down and Alan made himself some breakfast too. It all got into a bit of a rush then, Sandy was helping out at Communion and left first. Brec and our BBF after getting dressed followed thereafter.

When it came to Communion the congregation formed a circle and those serving went round clockwise. Our BBF and Brec got on the side where Sandy was serving. Each human took a piece of bread from one server and dipped it into the wine (Sandy) before eating it. The congregation then held hands for the last prayers.

Our humans returned home, where Brec got changed into work clothes to go and sort out a few things on the boat as the weather was so fine. Sandy and our BBF got in the VW Beatle with the top down as it was so sunny and warm and went shopping.

They stopped for lunch at Five Guys which has the reputation of having the best Burgers in the country.

They were certainly good and came up to the hype they had on the walls.

Alan wanted a simple Luggage Strap for the new suitcase, but it proved a bit difficult  finding one. Eventually they did. He also bought a couple of Air Tags to put in the suitcases which they found in Walmart, and a couple of Luggage Labels too. Then it was back to Milford. He finished packing the one suitcase and then Booked in for his flight online.
That done a certain stress fell from his shoulders.

When Brec returned from work the humans went out for a last meal together in a really nice Italian restaurant down town.

Our BBF ordered a salad for a starter, but it was huge and he just ate enough to make him want more.

He had a Seafood Platter with Linguine and it was indeed good. Sea food here in Connecticut is always fresh and not something he can get as easily in Mönchengladbach.

The humans toasted themselves and the adventure that had shared and enjoyed some more good time together.

Back at home they relaxed and watched a film, the Green Book which is base don a true story,  was funny as well as being a comment on racism in America. One last toast using the Shipfaced Glasses filled with Port ended the perfect day before they retired to bed.

1 October 2023

A Birthday on the Lane.

The weariness in our BBF’s bones is still there for he spent a restless night and got up tired. He stayed in his PJs and just put on a warm top and went downstairs to make some coffee. Brec had returned from taking his brother to the airport. With coffee to revive him he felt better. His thought of getting abluted and dressed died. He made himself some toast for breakfast instead and thereafter went upstairs to have a trial pack. Alan had bought a new suitcase and initially intended to ditch his old one, but not everything he had went into the new one, so he decided he would use it to pack the rest of what he had and have no rucksack as hand luggage as he did on the way out. It will cost, but we remember one year when he sent parcels back by post and he then discovered that an extra suitcase was cheaper. Then there was another year where Sandy gave him an old suitcase for all his stuff!

The weather outside was cold and wet. The men had to go to a birthday party on the Lane. It was John’s party for all his cousins and family who live on the lane. After our BBF had showered and as he was finishing dressing he had a Facetime call with Petra and Vincent. Consequently the men were a bit late getting going.

The weather was not really conducive to having a picnic party on the Lane, but John and Barbara had put up some tents to give protection from the rain which fortunately did not come full force, it just dripped a bit, but it was cold.

Two brothers, Brec and the birthday boy John and  cousin  Mark standing in front of the Pizza trailer John had organised. It had a genuine wood pizza oven and the pizzas served were very tasty.

A huge birthday cake was produced with a picture of John as a baby which we all found cute.

The Pizza Wagon had real difficulty getting out of the Lane.

But after much to-ing and fro-ing managed to back up out of the lane guided by Brec and another cousin.

John made a couple of speeches and was pleased that many of his relatives were able to come and help celebrate his 70th birthday. People sang Happy Birthday and those that knew it also sang Sandy and Brec’s family birthday song. Our BBF and Brec were the last to leave and drove home in the rain and dark.