What have we been up to? Where have we been? How is this new way of living? and more importantly has Jon served up another gourmet mashup (see previous post if you are not sure about this!)?
Following our first 30km cycle, there was no stopping us. On Thursday we headed off in bright sunshine towards a hamlet to the East of Groesbeek called De Horst. It was a small town with a church that looked like it should have been in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Definitely in the Bolivian style in my uneducated opinion. Jon stopped to take a photo while I cycled ahead. While he was there a very friendly local started to tell him that the style of the church came from Rome when an Archbishop came to visit and design the church – although this is hard to imagine. This elderly man also wanted to know why we were visiting this part of Holland, as most people head to the north for Amsterdam and then continued to tell us that he loved Scotland and had recently been to Paisley, Glasgow and the Highlands. All this took up 5 minutes or so and I began to think Jon had bike trouble (or was in a ditch) but he appeared eventually with these anecdotes, all of which make each day so interesting.
We cycled on into the Reichswald which is a vast forest that straddles the Dutch/German border. Not long after entering this beautiful forest we crossed the border, although you would never know. We followed our noses as the cycle paths and directions are not so clearly marked in Germany and, to be honest, any signs would spoil this naturally beautiful area. We ended up on a road that led to Kranenburg. Originally a medieval fortified town, which you can see from some of the buildings on the boundary the visible dried out moat. As we were now in a different country we decided a beer and cake was in order to celebrate, although I had to have coffee with my cake in the traditional German way before heading back home. Another lovely adventure.
On Friday it was very hot so we decided to leave the bikes and just take a slow stroll through the local forest. It is so cool under the shade of the trees. We walked for a couple of miles and then stopped at a pond to try and see what we think were bullfrogs disturbing the peace from their pond. No trace of them so we will never know….. As we stepped from the pond area to the nearest path, a racing style bike zoomed past and I pointed and said “that looked like Andy”, our friend from Molenhoek. Jon thought I was just waving to a random man in lycra but we were amazed that it was him. We could not believe we ended up in exactly the same place at the precise moment he came by. With all the choices of paths for him and us with the timing of how long we had spent looking for bullfrogs it is incalculable. Another one of those, “things are meant to be” moments!! All this excitement was followed by a balmy evening in the garden reading and chatting.
Saturday started rainy but we had another adventure planned. We had been invited by our friends’ daughter, Anouk, to go and watch her horse riding in Boxmeer. After a damp cycle to Molenhoek, we met up with Andy and Anya and headed in a convoy of fiats (Punto and 500) to Boxmeer. I must say I love the 500 but then again the Punto has character and you feel it had many a road trip story to tell. The riding stables were amazing. So well set up, they cared for the horses so well and the riders had great facilities for before, after and between lessons. Anouk was a natural and her horse that day, Anika, was graceful and nimble for her 35 years. Her friend, Benthe (hope I spelt that right!), was also having a lesson and her horse was called Beauty. Anouk and Benthe looked so happy riding and working with the horses, their faces were lit up, as were ours.
After a an unsuccessful trip a to a large garden centre/pet shop/outdoor accessory shop in Groesbeek to look at new riding boots for Anouk, we prepared with a glass of wine and a beer for our evening outing to a local restaurant. Of course, on the way Jon ‘volunteered’ to carry Anouks bag and managed to carry off the look in a very manly way (not).
This was no ordinary restaurant…… Jachtslot De Mookerheide, formerly a royal hunting lodge, is set in beautiful woodland and the interior is very traditional. It is now a hotel and function venue but part of the building has been transformed into the Brasserie du Bois. The decor is ornate but it has a very informal and comfortable feel.
We decided on the “Surprise Menu” (in keeping with our new experiences). This is a three course meal and all you do is say things that you do not like or are allergic to. Then, as it says, the courses are a surprise. The first course was salmon, followed by veal or beef, and a trio of strawberry desserts. Anouk had chicken (kip) fillets with a large heap of chips (frites) accompanied by apple sauce (strange but true!). All this good food was washed down with wine, beer, coffee and Baileys. Every course was beautifully presented…….so to answer my original question at the beginning no mashup that night!! Time for our tired group to head home – it was 11.30pm! Andy, Anya and Anouk were within walking distance but we had the bikes so headed off through the dark forest testing our cycling lights for the first time. It was a mild evening. So with full tummies and happy memories of another lovely day with our friends we were tucked up in bed back at the garden room by midnight.
As usual my intended short update has turned out rather longer than first intended…. but there is one final thing to say. We were wondering when it would sink in that we would not be returning for three months rather than our usual two weeks holiday. I think we are at that stage now. Despite not being able to be with Shaun on his birthday, getting personal updates on Ryan’s flying locations and being able to discuss wedding preparations with Sam and Tabitha on a daily basis, we both feel comfortable in our surrounds, loving our outings and long may the adventure continue.
Over and out till the next time……….
J & J x