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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Shadow and Light - July edition :-)

Roses in the front yard of my father's house

Hello again to everyone who's reading this - I hope you're well and happy at your respective end of the world! Welcome to yet another rambling post about how life has been treating me lately :-)

Again, it has taken me longer than anticipated to write on here - I don't know why I keep mentioning it as everyone knows by now that there is no real rhythm or regularity in my activities on this blog. I'm sure that you've all got used to my erratic writing rhythm. The thing is that I feel it should be different - but the truth is that I just don't always have the time or inclination to write up a post. I admire people who have a regular schedule and write - say - a post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, every week, every month, throughout the year - but I just can't seem to do that *sigh*

Well, as indicated in the header, this is yet another post about how life is a mix and how I'm trying to get on with it - without getting too many bruises along the way.

I'm writing this in my little study at home, surrounded by boxes and plastic tubs full of stuff - I'll go into the reasons later - and feeling a little despondent. When am I ever going to get some order back into this room - and into my life, for that matter? For a long time, I've been feeling like I'm careening and lurching about - or in other words, I've been feeling unsettled. I do know that it's part of life, and you can be quite happy in one department of your life while you're very dissatisfied with what's happening in another department. It's all a matter of perspective - sometimes you'll emphasise the clearly positive things despite being aware of the not so great stuff, at other times, you'll find it hard to look on the bright side although you know there's always, always something to be thankful for and you're just being a merchant of doom, so-to-speak.

But let me recap what's been going on around here so you'll get an idea of what's been keeping me busy and pre-occupied!

First of all, I have sad news to share - as you may remember from my last post, my uncle hadn't been doing too well for a while. Well, he passed away two days after that post. It wasn't unexpected, obviously, but still - when it happens, it hits you like a brick wall. In the end of this month I'll be going to the funeral service (actually, 'going' means 'flying' as I live far from where it's done, and going by train could get complicated due to having to change trains and running the risk of missing my connection)... I'll just stay for a night, so it won't be an extended family visit.

Now, that this is out of the way, there's room for some more positive and light-hearted news - I have been on another holiday. Yes, again! It was just a week, so nothing too lengthy, but it was fun, and it helped me to recharge my batteries (this year, they seem to be on a constant low... I hope this will change again eventually!!!). 

The husband and I decided that we'd like another break, and since being active always helps to get rid of the cobwebs, we went hiking and biking. We started with a little hike (roughly 4 km one way, so it's 8 km round trip) from a small village to Eltz Castle (more about that place here).
This is the view from the footpath when you arrive and look up to the castle. As you see, it was overcast!
The castle is furnished, but it's not inhabited any more. However, you can join a guided tour and learn more about the history and the family that owns the place. Once you've entered the inner ward, you get presented this view, so it's quite impressive altogether. Taking pictures is not allowed inside, so you might want to have a look at this site to get a better idea of what kind of attractions wait inside.
We stayed in our B & B for two nights, then we set off by bike and went to the town of Andernach on the Rhine. We wanted to go there mostly because of the cold water geyser there (more about the whole thing here!) - and it was well worth the visit! There's an information centre (it goes on about volcanoes, springs, geysers etc. and explains the local phenomenon - it's interactive and lots of fun!), and the ticket includes access to that as well as a 15 minutes journey via ship on the Rhine - that takes you to the geyser and back to the pier in Andernach again. 
I didn't quite know what to expect, but have to say it was rather impressive to see how the geyser rose from a very small spring (see above!) to quite the fountain (see pic on the right!)... There was someone explaining what would happen, and we were all offered a sip of the water that came out. I didn't try it, though - it didn't smell too great, I have to admit, and I got put off! The husband tried, though, and he said it was rather salty and a tad bit stale, so I don't think I've missed too much!
From Andernach, we went up the river Ahr to Ahrweiler (more info about the place here). It's the smaller part of the community Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, but in my opinion it's the nicer part! It's more tranquil and peaceful, I think. We had lunch sitting on this square - and yes, the weather was brilliant!

We decided to cycle on from there and try to find accommodation in the Adenau area - or thereabouts. We knew we'd have several options on how to continue our trip in that area, so we pedalled on... 

Eventually, we found accommodation in a small village called Insul (nothing to do or see there, so there's no link!). By the time we arrived there I was dead-tired, and since we hadn't booked anything in advance, we had to look around a bit... The first two places we appraoched were closed for holidays - quite frustrating! - but in the end, we had a lucky find in a large country inn. We were given the 'studio' which meant we could really spread out. You'd think that's not a big deal when you travel by bike because you don't have much luggage (true... each of us only had two saddle bags, I think neither of us had more than 7-8 kg of luggage), but the thing is that usually you'll have to wash your clothes because they're all sweaty and smelly, and you don't want to slip into them like that on the next day, so you need space for hanging stuff. For that reason, large rooms always are welcome!

We went on to Daun / Eifel on the next day - that was a pretty mixed tour as it was a lot of up and down, and it got fairly hot that day. We got lost a few times because our map wasn't precise and the signs were contradictory, so we weren't in the best spirits when we arrived. However, it all was good after we had found accommodation ('big room, but old-fashioned bathroom', as the receptionist said... we didn't mind! This sign was on the door of the bathroom, for that matter!) and taken a shower :-)
Our next leg was a trail that used to be an old railway line, so the inclines weren't too steep. For the first 5 kilometres, we went uphill (the incline was just 2-3%, so you cannot call it a 'hill'... still, with the luggage you do notice it!), then we went through a tunnel - and after that, it went downhill all the way for 40 km! 

We arrived in Wittlich in the early afternoon and had a light lunch there. Then we decided we'd go all the way to Traben-Trarbach (Moselle region) as it still was early - but we would have to book accommodation in advance so we'd know we'd have a roof over our heads when we'd arrive. So, we went to the tourist info in Wittlich, booked a room in Traben-Trarbach and set off. We knew we'd have to take a shortcut - and that meant we'd have to leave the official bike path and cross a hill full of vineyards. 

I'm still not so sure that this was a good idea. It was very hot (over 30°C), and I don't function so well in the heat. So, it was quite a struggle to get over that hill... but eventually, we reached the Moselle valley again. The last 15 km seemed to drag on forever, though. Since the Moselle valley is rather narrow, the heat accumulates there (great for the wine, obviously!), and you feel like you're in a sauna. At one point - halfway from where we had reached the valley -, I nearly passed out and had to take a break - fortunately, our final destination was only 8 more kilometres away, and I got there in the end. That day was really, really tough - it had started out so nicely with the downhill ride to Wittlich, but the afternoon had been a real struggle. Oh well, all's well that ends well, I suppose.

We set off for Bullay on the next morning (about 25 km), and from there, we took the train back to where we had parked our car, stored away the bikes and drove home.

It was good to be home again, but of course, duties were waiting here. The return to work went fairly smoothly, fortunately, but I was dreading the Friday... Friday is my day off, and usually I take advantage of that by making necessary appointments then - like seeing the doctor, going to the hairdresser, running errands etc. This time, I had scheduled another clear-out at my father's place - and that's always somewhat challenging and can even be traumatic. To make it a little easier, I had asked a friend to come with me, and that turned out to be a good idea. It was good to have her around as she looked at things neutrally and just helped me to get the job done and get on with what was necessary. We even shared some laughter - so that was good.

I took my mother's sewing machine with me, plus all her sewing supplies (we are talking about over 200 rolls of sewing silk and cotton here, plus buckets of hooks, press buttons, needles, bobbins, elastic band, bias binding etc., etc.), a box of candles, a huge bag of gift ribbons (I'll never ever have to buy gift ribbons any more in my entire life, I think! The picture shows only the lilac / blue / pink section of my supplies now! I have more in red, green, cream, white, silver and gold!), and my grandmother's good coffee / tea crockery set, including a coffeepot, a teapot, a specific little bowl for cookies, two sugar bowls (because one isn't enough)... and the whole lot. You know, I need crockery like a hole in the head, and it's not even dishwasher proof (my grandmother passed away in the early 1970s, and the crockery was bought throughout the 60s), but this set always was put on the table for special occasions, I grew up admiring and wanting to touch it (which wasn't allowed until I was a teen and my mother trusted me that I wouldn't drop a cup or so!)... I couldn't just leave it behind. Of course, I had to wrap it up in something for the transport - so I have over a dozen new dishtowels now as well (my mother had stashed them away in another closet, as I found out...)!

And now I'm sitting here, surrounded by the tubs, baskets and boxes, and I wonder if I'm ever going to get this mess organised. And looking at the items makes me both happy and sad - I know this is part of the normal grieving process, but boy, do I wish to be done and over with this! 

A friend asked me yesterday how I'm feeling these days, and I came up with 'tired'. 
Ah well. I'm not complaining. I'm simply describing how I feel :-)

So, this is where I am right now. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings, and as always, feedback is welcome. 

Until next time, take care and be safe!


  1. What an adventurous vacation you and your husband took! I admire you for biking from one location to the next, and everywhere you went was just so lovely!!

    I can't imagine cleaning out my parent's house. That must be so difficult for you, and yet I'm glad you were able to find mementos that you will treasure.

    1. Thanks a lot for your comment, Shelley! How nice to hear from you! I love your blog, so it's fun to see you checking in on here! - Our vacation was huge fun - and it wasn't the first time we did a tour like that (when you click on my travel tags, you'll find we've done more tours in the past). You'd think it's exhausting - and yes, it is in a way, but it's also very relaxing as you get the cobwebs out of your head... you're so busy breathing, pedalling and looking what's going on that you forget your everyday life rather quickly, and all that counts at the end of the day is finding a place for sleeping and eating :-) You're reduced to your primal needs, so-to-speak :-) - Regarding my parents' house - yes, this is difficult and sometimes painful. But it has to get done. My brother and I have quite different ideas about how to go about the whole thing, so that doesn't help, but we'll get there in the end. And honestly, it also has its funny moments. It's important to find things to laugh about, otherwise you'll sink into doom and gloom... - Well, thanks again for your message, and I hope you're doing well at your end of the world!