19 August 2016

Life is a circus so enjoy the ride, 22nd July 2016

During the second week of the school holidays, Poppy had returned home to Australia and Josh had expressed interest in joining the circus. Well... Kind of. I may have had a few freak out moments when I realised the school holidays would last for six weeks, and then a LOT more when I realised it was actually closer to SEVEN WEEKS, so I looked into the summer camps that are run in Koeln. There were quite a few to choose from located close to us, but not all for Josh's age and not all catering for English speakers (although Josh's German is so good now I don't think he'd have any trouble, he still feels more confident in English and so do I!). As I was rattling off the list of options and what each did, we got to the Circus with its description of trampolining and fire twirling, and Josh's eyes lit up. And then I heard his good mate Tyler had chosen the same camp, so we were set!

Josh was a little surprised on the first day: it didn't look how he expected and there were more children there than he expected. He was worried and he didn't want to stay. After we talked it through for a bit, we agreed he would stay and he could call me at lunchtime if he wanted to come home. I was so stressed that he wasn't enjoying himself, but he didn't call. When I went to pick him up later he ran to me saying, "CIRCUS CAMP IS THE BEST EVER!!!" Thank goodness!

Josh and Tyler out the front of Circus Camp.

On the last day, family and friends were invited to watch a performance of what the children had learnt and enjoyed throughout the week. It was clear some of them had really gotten into it, so I was interested to see how Josh would go.

Circus or fight club??

Josh helping set up the mats for the trapeze demonstration.

Josh upside down and Tyler waiting his turn.


He loved Circus Camp!

While Josh was at Circus Camp, Lewie and I had some time together at home. Josh and Lewie play really beautifully together, some of the time, but it was also nice seeing Lewie do his own thing. He is such a busy boy!

Another day we went swimming at the local pool. I had hoped to make it home in time for Lewie's nap by feeding him lunch in the car on the way back. It didn't work.

Without visitors to entertain, we had to entertain ourselves. So off for a bike ride we went! I had hoped that the awesome coffee place I discovered next to th Circus Camp would be open, but it wasn't. It was still a lovely ride though. I think it might be time we got a bike seat for Lewie, I'm sure it's not the same experience in the Croozer.

Fahrrad fahren in den Wald (bike riding in the forest) :)

Playing in our yard.

Lew getting the hang of the balance bike. He's starting to pick up speed now!

Dinner with friends at Raph's BBQ. The food is great, the playground next to the outdoor eating area is fantastic!

Playing at home with Michael, and Michael's lightsaber.

Whose idea was the glittery "tattoo" pens?!?

Th kids in the "leaving the house position", and waiting for Mummy.

Happy birthday Lewie, Poppy arrives, Utrecht, Aachen and Koeln, 7th July 2016

Lew is 2: 7th July 2016

Our gorgeous Lew celebrated his 2nd birthday, and his 2nd birthday in Germany, with a lovely (rare) sunny day at home and at a neighbourhood playground with friends. Happy birthday beautiful boy!

Yellow digger.

Car park.

I know you're in there... Let. Me. In...

Birthday crown that Josh and his friends made for Lewie at kinder.

Liene, Evie, Lydia and Lucas on the swings.

Nothing says "Happy birthday" like balloons and fairy bread!

And to continue the celebrations, Poppy was in town!

It's a long flight...

So we headed out for coffee and had our first (and so far only) bubbacino in Germany!

Finally the sun was shining in Koeln...

and the Cats were playing at a time where we all could watch. Hooray!!

Utrecht: 10th July 2016
For a different travel experience, we decided to try a train journey to the lovely Dutch town of Utrecht. It was a long day, but it was really nice being able to move around and not be confined to car seats. I'd like to try some more train journeys in the future.

Look who we found! Paul had a conference in The Hague, so we just had to meet up! So excited!!

First stop: lunch. Second stop: Utrecht's Dom, also known as St Martin's Cathedral. There is the famous St Martin on his horse. Where? Behind you! Where? Other side! Where?

We then wundered the city in search of Miffy's traffic lights. We stumbled upon some awesome cafes, have-to-have fish n chips (despite it not quite being snack time) and a beautiful flower market. I need to know what these flowers at called, for now they are The Lorax Flowers.

I had heard the traffic lights could be difficult to find, but the crossing was hard to miss. 

Hello Miffy, we found you!

Ice cream is always a good idea! It was so great to see you, Sharon and Paul. We can't wait to see the THREE of you again soon! :)

Koeln Zoo: 12th July 2016
I quite like the Koeln Zoo. Yes, it is a bit "old-fashioned" and some of the animal enclosures could do with updating, but it is small so you can see a fair amount in a day and there are two amazing playgrounds inside. Perfect for a school holiday day out!

Exploring the adjoining Aquarium with Amber and Tyler.


I didn't get a good picture, but the scissor ants on the 1st floor are amazing. There are two large containers, one with a few braches with leaves, and a tunnel connecting the two. The scissor ants snip off parts of the leaves, carry them through the tunnel and use them to make their HUGE nest. It is fascinating seeing such tiny creatures carry comparatively large leaves through the tunnel and the busy-ness of the nest building. I loved watching the construction, but I also felt a bit itchy! 

Josh and the crocodile. Spooky.

Lew leading Poppy down the garden path...

One of our favourites: the giraffes!

Of course we ended our day at one of the playgrounds. Great fun!

Koeln stroll and Dom tour: 14th July 2016
No trip to Koeln is complete without a visit to the Dom. As Ben was in Frankfurt for the day, Josh, Lew, and I (with the aid of the English Tour Guide), showed Poppy around the largest cathedral in the World.

We also walked over the rail bridge to take in the views back over to the "proper" side of Koeln from the top of the Koeln Triangle.

Aachen: 16th July 2016
Aachen is a Roman spa city located less than 60km away from Koeln (so about 20min on the Autobahn!). We had passed it many times on our way to other destinations, and thought it was about time we made it THE destination. Plus, there is a spot nearby where the borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet, which we thought would be an interesting sight to see.

The kids found a play area near a coffee shop. For a while it seemed this was all we would see of Aachen!

But then we spied the Aachen Dom, which was constructed by Emperor Charlemagne and was his burial place when he died in 814. It was also the site of the coronation of most of the German Kings and Queens throughout the ages.

Getting closer...

Closer still...

We made it! Inside the Dom, the ceiling was covered in amazingly detailed mosaics.

The Ancient Greek She-Wolf statue. Ok, everyone show me your best wolf-face! Uuummmm...!

Exploring the Roman ruins after lunch.

Only in Aachen: Printen, a special type of ginger bread.

Blue Steel Lew.

Luckily we didn't find this model railway shop after the play area and coffee shop when we first arrived, otherwise we NEVER would have seen anything else. Josh and Lew would have stayed there forever watching one train go back and forth. It then became a decision between the train and the meeting point of the three country borders. We (the kids) opted for the train!