Being both excited and prone to being a bit late to these events - all my blogs seem to start with some sort of reference to lateness - I didn't bother going to bed on the Thursday night before our departure. At 21:00 I had arranged with Roger to travel up to Heathrow with him, courtesy of his most excellent and long suffering wife Iris, to which end, I was to be at their place by 04:25 - a time that could only be described as being indecently early.
There followed a pleasant enough seven hours during which I finished packing my stuff and then set to rebuilding my computer, which had gone boobs up after I had recently installed PATA hard drives using SATA adapters, and my poor little processor didn't have a clue what to do about it. Things got a bit rough when I was forced to start tidying up my DVD collection in order to stave off a fast encroaching sleep, but following a three o'clock dose of triple strength Alta Rica, and a dousing of my head in cold, cold water, my second wind blew in from the coast and I was lukewarm to trot. Thus refreshed and packed bags rechecked for omissions, I boarded the 04:10 Skoda for Rickmansworth, and set off on Bensheim bent for my Morris chums house.
NEXT UP! Wednesday 26 December 2018
Boxing Day on the Green
12.30pm, The Cricketers, Sarratt, WD3 6AS
I actually managed to get to Roger's for the prearranged 04:25 rendezvous with a bad-reputation-busting one minute to spare. I parked up outside the neighbour's house, hefted my goods and chattels over to Roger's car, and then presented myself to Iris for transit. We got toterminal 2 at about five past four, and about five minutes later I figured out that I needed to be at terminal 1 (I was on a BA flight and Rog was flying with the Luftwaffe), and headed off, excited at the prospect of a ride on one of those travellator things that's a bit like an escalator that does no escaling, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, Roger's caution about arriving and checking in on time paid dividends, and I had myself checked in and breakfasted before any other member of the team turned up, and a remarkably not bad value breakfast it had been too, given the expense of so many other comestible items on sale air side.
Both stuffed and contented, I went on the hunt for other Deutsche bound Woodies, of which I discovered a large bunch at the diametrically opposite end of the air side facilities to where I had based myself. Frankly though, with a weekend of dance ahead of me, it was probably a good thing if I walked off at least a little bit of the full English that hung so lavishly about my middle.
Soon enough, our flight was called and we embarked on the long walk to gate number something or other, which, we began to suspect, was actually based at one of the other numerous London Airports dotted around the south of England. Not to say it was a bit of a schlep from the duty free chocolate bars, but the walk lasted about a quarter of the time that the flight to Frankfurt would take; and all we were rewarded by was an Airbus 318, which, worthy though it was, lacked the economy class opulence of the 767 we went out on last time.
This time round, I did a lot of swallowing and pinching of my nose every time I notice a change in cabin pressure, hoping to avoid any unpleasant sinus related experiences like those I ended up with last time. When we were doled out a breakfast bacon roll by the stewardesses, I was pleased to recall my earlier glory back at the airport, and merely picked at the bacon until I came across what appeared to be a nose bleed in the bottom of the bun, even though there wasn't a nose within ten inches of it. At that point I decided to draw a line under any in-flight chewing that I might be tempted, or not, to do.
Arrival at Frankfurt was as uneventful as anyone could have hoped, with both engines remaining an integral part of the aeroplane, and the only unpleasant moment being the courtesy text message from my mobile service provider which informed me that I was about to be ripped off systematically for the all the time I was in Germany, and that if I didn't want to lose the car and the Castagnari, I had better switch off my phone now.
We met up with our Lufthansa conveyed compatriots in terminal 1, as well as John and Barbara who had flown from Manchester and a few Amersham representatives who had also recently arrived. This previously dispersed selection of Morris Men, their WAGs and other interested parties was then organised into a more malleable whole by our guide for the day, a rather colourful gentleman reminiscent of a Teutonic Ken Russell, but without the luvvie stuff.
We all bundled onto the courtesy coach, and headed for the Hotel Bacchus to drop off our gear before being given a tour of the Felsenmeer, or Sea of Stones, a geological feature in the hills to the Northeast of Bensheim. It was about half way between Frankfurt and Bensheim, whilst talking to Dave and Ann Lang about what kit would be required for the tour, which would include a photo opportunity with some civic types, when I realised that I hadn't packed any white shirts for dancing. It was a relief to identify my cock up of the tour at this point and not a little closer to the point when I would actually need the shirts.
First part of the tour was to grab a lunch and introduction to the Felsenmeer from two of the rangers - the geologists that maintain and research the area - and from Helmut Lechner, a much learned expert on the region. The venue was the Kuralpe Kreuzhof Hotel, nestled on the side of a German hill, that we would have enthusiastically called a mountain.
Suitably briefed on our next destination, it was off to the Sea of Stones for a stunning look round a small part of the Odenwald, with it's incredible scenery and atmosphere. The spectacle was balanced by the placement of a rather quaint looking restaurant called Aida's Buka only a couple of hundred yards away, catering for the Africaphile gastronome.
Then it was back down the hill to the Felsenmeer visitors centre, where we were given a further talk, and a taste of some local ale. Which was nice.
I have to admit that having stayed up the night before, I was dreading the idea of a tour, but by the time we were being dropped off at the Hotel Bacchus again, I had had quite a cracking time, both educational, spectacular and satisfying.
Back to business though, and it was time to get me some white shirts. There were a few minutes left before the local shops closed when we got back to the Hotel, so I set off to find a menswear store, and ended up holding an entire conversation in disjointed pigeon German, but I still did it, and swelled with pride for doing so well. It turned out that once of the ladies behind the counter spoke English anyway, but I think they appreciated my efforts anyway.
A return to the hotel was necessary to make use, by open consensus, of my rooms showering facilities; and it was good. I then scrubbed up for the evening's civic reception, at which we would be dancing and eating. The do was a nice little number with good food and drink available, as well as a performance from a local Scottish country dance team from just up the road - from Bensheim. It was a pleasant evening, with opportunities to acquaint ourselves with some familiar faces, and some faces that would become more familiar as the weekend progressed.
But my hotel bed was calling, though how it got my number I don't know, and the time had come to get some serious zed time after a very long and fulfilling 24+ hours!
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Squire: Dave Pearse
Foreman: Dave Lang
Bagman: Nick Wilson
Lead Musician: Pete Flanagan
During Winter, we meet at 8.00pm on Wednesday nights in the Pump House's Colne River Rooms, Watford. You would be most welcome to come along.
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