After last night’s exciting reunion with Nina and her Neurons it was an early start (well for me, the girls a slightly more leisurely start) to return to Friedrichshafen’s premier supermarket “Norma” to return yesterday’s bargain walkie talkies because only one of them works.
Yes, you read it right dear reader I am going to flex my German language skills by returning a defunct piece of electronica (with a 3 year warranty) to a local shop for local people.  I mean they doubtless remember me, I’m quietly confident that the young (and not so young) mothers of Freidrichshaffen are still talking about the mysterious stranger with the distinctive hat who was in their shop yesterday.
Well I’m back ladies.
And I’ve a warranty claim to make.

I’ve long suspected that German is actually English with a silly accent (the German for “this is not functioning” is “Dies funktioniert nicht” – you’re fooling no-one Germany that’s just English backwards).
So I practice the phrase, even including a slightly apologetic tone of voice, and when it was my turn at the front of the queue I was ready. Proudly I repeated my new phrase and handed over the receipt. To which the lady behind the till replied rather curtly in fast German that she was in fact the eponymous Norma and she didn’t make her fortune by giving money to tall foreigners in ridiculous hats. I think she also wants the box back, which was one of those hard plastic shrink wrap cases that you can only gain entry to with garden tools.
I think. I mean she had the word Norma on her top and the rest is largely extrapolation. Now I think of it she also had a name badge but I’ve always thought it rude to stare at lady’s breasts, even if I do have a good excuse. And obviously all the other employees also had Norma written on their tops too but she looked like a Norma.
“Errm” I stuttered,” Sprechen Sie Englisch.”
“Nein” she replied, “Sprechen Sie Deutsch!”
Ah. We have reached an impasses which she resolves by asking me to pay for the things I have bought and thrusting the Walkies Talkies back into my reluctant grasp.
But this is Germany which means that passers-by are obliged to help useless foreigners and right enough I notice the shoulders of the chap in front of me sag as he remembers his civic duty before he turns round to intervene on my behalf. He explains to Norma that clearly I don’t have a box but they are broken so she churlishly gives me 10 EU and orders me out of her store. I mean the radios were 16.99 but at this point I would have paid HER a tenner just to extricate myself from the embarrassment so I consider the encounter a definite win for me.
I imagine the ladies of Friedrichshafen are even more impressed with me than they were yesterday, I will probably be the talk of their coffee mornings for years to come, as they wildly speculate about the intriguing stranger who was briefly in their midst…

I return to the flat and regale my family (and the AirBnB host who is there to clean the flat before the next guests) with only slightly embellished tales of my daring do in the world of consumer rights.

We’re off to Bregenz next via the island of Lindau but after that we are supposed to be staying in Romanshorn except the host has cancelled our accommodation. We tell the story to our current host to see if he has a vacancy (Romanshorn is 80km away by bike it’s just across the water by ferry) and, although he’s booked up, he promises he’ll be able to find us a bed somewhere if we are stuck so mobile numbers are exchanged as a contingency. Top bloke.

And we’re off – 34 km in the blazing heat, it’s flat (which is getting a bit dull) but the scenery is lovely and we are surrounded by other cyclists whizzing along on electric bike, pootling along on tourers and zooming past on recumbents and trikes. I start to think that the solution to my commute might be a recumbent, and as an older guy on a aerodynamic recumbent trike zooms past I give chase to have a closer look. As I start to discuss my plans for a new purchase with Suzy she advises me that, as a Buddie, she doesn’t think that the good inhabitants of Nitshill will give me safe passage in such a vehicle, regardless of how cool I think I’ll look. And as Nitshill is on my way to work I decide to listen to her advice.

We stop off in Lindau for Ice cream and a swim but the Lake, although tantalisingly close, doesn’t really seem accessible without access to a private members club so we finish our ice creams, visit a couple of churches, get separated (AGAIN) and then continue on our way. The temperature’s in the high 20s which is only comfortable if we keep pedalling to feel a headwind.


We’ve two nights in Bregenz in yet another airBnB place, this time a high flat with a view of the lake. The flat is ace, massive, spotless, looks like it is was probably owned by someone retired. 10 minutes cycle from the centre of town and a 2 minute walk from the lake shore where we have a well-deserved swim.
The impeccable planning by Suzy means we are in Bregenz for Bregenzer Festspiele and have tickets for Turandot tomorrow night on the famous floating stage. It’s going to be the penultimate night of the trip and accounts for most of our packing as we had to bring smart clothes…


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