23 May 2015

Back to London

Drive to London? Are you mad, the locals asked. Ok, despite having done it ten years ago with no issue they were probably right it wasn't the best option with two kids. Nonetheless we set off at 4am and drove to the French Eurotunnel station where we drove our car onto the train to cross the under the English Channel. When we arrived at 8.50am (with three minutes spare till we missed our cutoff) our car number plate was automatically read and we just had to click "ok" on the touch screen to confirm our name and drive into the waiting area...Josh was most impressed with the whole operation. 

Back in English soil we headed to the nearest town to stretch our legs. First stop a ye olde lolly shop to obtain parking meter change.  

With the clocks going back an hour we felt a second breakfast was in order and we couldn't go past the local greasy spoon for an excessive amount of white sliced toast and jam. 

Sticking the little finger out is not easy with a mug this big. 

And then a short stroll along "the High St". 

We pushed on to London to our AirBnB apartment which turned out great and had a view of the canal and park to match. 

Finding a car park proved more challenging and two hours later I returned home after abandoning the car in a questionable garage 4kms away! 

In a moment of exhaustion induced insanity we decided a short stroll along the canal to our old London neighborhood was a good idea. 

The operation of the old canal gates was pretty cool though...We all secretly wished they opened the wrong gate and went flying downstream like a category 4 rapids. 

Two hours and several unsuitable dinner options later tempers were a little...frayed. We eventually found a hipster coffee shop that served hummus and carrot sticks. It wasn't the fish n chips we had aimed for and I had to contain my Hulk-like rage as this 'dinner' was served up. 

We pledged to take it easier today so caught the bus to central London. First stop Tower of London. 

Josh expressed his displeasure at the 'no climbing on me' sign on Shaun. 

Look, it's the new shard building! 

Sightseeing threshold reached (15 minutes for Josh) we went to meet our old pals Ulli, Torre and kids. 

Josh persisted with the balloon from the lunch restaurant but it did make him easy to find in a crowd. 

We retreated inside from the rain and found this wacky green screen play area that the kids loved. Spot the child that doesn't quite get it...

Back on the Tube Lew lead the charm offensive of everybody on the train with his uber cuteness and after staring down a woman eating a 'chocolate digestive' he even managed to get her to share!

And we pushed through the pain to show Josh the dinosaurs at the Natural History museum.

This one had "real eyes but the rest of it wasn't real".

We blindly followed the SatNav to the house of our friends' Sophia and Phil and their kids (who I won't name for Internet privacy's sake).  This mistake meant a 90 minute drive along a never ending series of shops through central London! But at least we got to drive over Tower Bridge which is always exciting. 

After Ben's trampoline 'double bounce' incident, Phil took over at a more sedate pace. 

Time to head back to Köln. Lew took the driving shift under the English Channel while we got some rest. 

Back on the mainland we stopped off at the small French town Gravelines for lunch. 

And then a stroll around the old medieval fort...love a good medieval fort. 

Do they still make TVs there?

The local phone company television tower - Köln Fernsehturm is a big part of the view from our lounge room.  As a result, Kirstie and the boys set off to attempt to answer Josh's query about whether they "still make televisions" there. 

Turns out this was never a large scale television production site, and also sadly visits to the top ceased in 1992... Darn just missed it. It was apparently still worth the walk. 

Happy Christihimmelfahrt

The second May public holiday, Christihimmelfahrt (or "Christ driving up to the clouds" according to my poor German translation) was spent wandering around our new suburb of Braunsfeld where we plan to move to once our shipping container arrives. Most importantly we had to verify the local brauhaus and make sure it was up to code: Biergarten with tree - check, charming decor - check, gruff waiter who warms up once you order a bier in German - check!  Kirstie ordered something that belonged on the flint stones and I went the standard mushroom sauce Schnitz! 

Oh, and Lew is generally getting into all sorts of mischief climbing in and on anything. 

10 May 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Glücklicher Mutter-Tag! 

Josh and I snuck off to the local backerei for some awesome croissants for the traditional brekky in bed (Kirstie had to be sent back to bed to enjoy them but she didn't put up much of a fight). 

And then off for a stroll to check out some potential houses... Hmmm think this one is not quite ready. 

"Lew steel"

Josh's self elected job is to count the stops for each journey... And to ask after. Every. Single. Stop. "Is this is the number four to Berwick?" Otherwise known as Bocklemünd to the locals. 

It's Saturday...

With Kirstie off for some 'her' time it was just us boys to explore downtown. Josh spied some old bones on a sign and so with the expectation of dinosaur sightings ahead we entered the Archeological museum! 

Stand here and look like this guy...can do. 

The 3rd century Dionysus mosaic was discovered in 1941 during construction of an air raid shelter and the museum was later built around it. "But when can we take the lift again?"

Culture aside we headed for the Lego shop. "Whoah". 

Josh liked making his own set of Lego men. Dad liked paying for them slightly less. 

Reuniting at the riverfront we watched the world go by and grooved along to the local street performers. (That is Kirstie "dancing" not squaring up to an elderly Frau).  

Josh get over here for a nice photo! :)

Köln Zoo

Monday saw us set off to explore the Zoo... Without Ben. Hang on, purchase train tickets, change trains, with Josh and Lewie, all by myself?? Sure, why not? We've been here almost two weeks! Luckily Mieken and the kids were on hand to greet us and show us around!

Chillin' with my home boi. "Do you want to take your hoodie off, Josh?" "Nah" (Oh good, now we have a yearly zoo pass photo ID with you and your hood)

Josh loves living in Germany for three reasons: pressing the lift buttons to the U-Bahn, counting the number of U-Bahn stops and playgrounds (in that order). Luckily for us, the Zoo trip hit the trifecta!

Lewie isn't quite as keen on playgrounds yet... Or maybe it's the sand.
Oh yes, and we saw some animals too! The buildings behind the elephants are heated for when it gets really cold.

The Affe (apes) also have a nice warm house to keep cosy.

My new fave word: Flusspferd (river horse)!

AND we got mail this week! Actual mail, not some official registration form/card for living in Germany! Thank you Auntie Sal xxx It brought a tear to my eye and Josh has asked to read "the sad book that Aunty Sal sent me" every day since :)