As the girls sleep later than I do we tend to fall into a routine where I go out first thing in the morning to buy breakfast while they are still sleeping. I really enjoy it to be honest, there’s something exciting about meandering round foreign towns when most people are on their way to work. I find myself in strange supermarkets filled with old people and housewives going about their lives, whilst I try to blend in like a down-at-heel spy, looking for all the world like a local. I’m wearing German sandals and carrying a battered pannier for goodness sake, if it weren’t for my hat I’d fit right in.
Of course there’s a downside – I don’t know where anything is and I don’t recognize any of the brands. This morning I’m in a kind of cut price Aldis called “Norma” and it’s an intensely frustrating process thanks to their utterly illogical layout of produce. Someone needs to explina to “Norma” (if there is a Norma) that honey does not go next to the cat food.
“That bloke’s got a tree lopper and long reach hedge trimmer combo” I notice as I find myself gravitating to the bargain section, idly pricing windscreen wipers and mowers before remembering I’m on a cycling holiday and I can’t get an arc welder in my panniers no matter how portable it says it is on the box.
And I don’t know how to use an arc welder.
And Suzy will kill me if I come home with an arc welder.

I keep up my pretence of being a local until I reach the checkout when I have to resort to tipping out my pockets of coins and crumpled notes onto the conveyor belt with a look of bemused helplessness on my face when the woman mutters something about having the right change. Obviously this is said in German so she could have been asking me my opinion on the political situation in the Ukraine but, you know, context.

I long ago discovered that the best way to get one’s bearings in a town is to get lost in a town, so after the embarrassment of the checkout I casually cycle off, looking like a local again (except for the hat), following first one fellow cyclist then another so I don’t have to think too hard about traffic laws (technically guidelines to cyclists and tourists) until I finally see the Lake Constance poking through the trees and I start to recognize streets and shops…

“You’ve been gone ages!”says Suzy when I get back.

I tell her I’m surprised she’s up and dressed to which she replies “Why the hell have you bought walkie talkies!”

Dornier Museum

The second of Suzy’s aviation museums is the Dornier Museum at Friedrichshafen Airport. Now look, I understand that stories are better if our experiences are rubbish. Many more people enjoyed our adventures on The Western Isles where we fell off and had to get lifts everywhere than they will this story of us pedalling round on lovely days going to museums that are OPEN and have CAFES. (I’m talking to you Visit Scotland).

But the Dornier museum is absolutely fantastic (that’s a heavier than air VTOL cargo aircraft in the picture above and a lighter than air one in the picture below– cool huh?), its multi lingual and the AV displays are amazing. And did I mention that the museum is based on an airfield which has ZEPPELINS? Now Suzy is determined that we should go for a ride in a Zeppelin, and I am determined that we are not spending 1230 Euro for an hour in a very slow aircraft that doesn’t go anywhere (except up, around a bit then back to where it started). Here is a picture of a Zeppelins.

I’ll put you out of your misery and let you know that I won the “shall we go for a flight in the Zeppelin” argument but instead we went for a liason visit to Friedrichshafen Tower (via several phone calls to the UK). An excellent group of chaps, although no cup of tea, they made us feel very welcome. They got aircraft to do fly bys- this is a Boeing Stearman and if you look closely you can see the pilot waving.



They also answer Suzy’s incessant questions about Zeppelin operations, most of which can be answered by the phrase “It’s like a helicopter but much slower.”

“What happens when it is windy?

“It doesn’t fly.”

“What happens when it snows.”

“It doesn’t fly.”

“What about when it is rainy.”

“It doesn’t fly.”

Etc etc.

They have Class E above 4.5A up to FL150! Madness I tell you (I recognise that that last sentence is of limited interest to half of my readers but rest assured dear reader, the other 2 are gasping in astonishment right now).

They got the Zeppelin to fly by too…

Old friends

We first met Nina nearly 15 years ago in South America but because she isn’t on Facebook, and as far as I’m aware doesn’t have an email address, it means we have no idea what she has been up to for the last 15 years (unheard of in this day and age). But a mutual friend says she lives near to Friedrichshafen, gives us her number and we arrange to meet up.


Nina now has 3 kids and we met her and her brood, who will always be known as the Neurons, outside the flat at the culture festival. Her middle daughter Nike (also 10) and Millie stared at each other for a moment and then one said to the other –
To which the other replied with a grin “Swim.” And we didn’t see them again for 3 hours. Language is less of an issue when you are 10.

An ace evening marred only slightly by briefly losing her youngest for a bit when he went off to buy a Gecko (stuffed)…


Somewhere in this picture my daughter and her new friend are swimming.



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