Don’t look back – look forward

But first, a quick look back at our recent week in Germany (that hasn’t already been said).

We had a good week over there. We drove about 1,000 miles – not a dissimilar distance from what I would normally drive in a week – but when you have all day to drive the distances, and you are allowed to cruise at 100 mph, it’s not much of a chore. The roads are great, the autobahn isn’t as scary as it would first appear and the traffic flows much better than it does at home. Diesel and petrol are around 25p per litre cheaper than here – all good.

On leaving the Alps, we headed west to Bodensee (Lake Constance) passing into Austria for half an hour. Not that you’d notice the difference. The small town of Lindau, on an island in the lake, is well worth a visit, although the apfelstrudel was a little disappointing from a cafe that we found. Meersburg, where we stayed on the Tuesday night, is well worth a return visit and it’s definitely worthwhile hunting out the local red wine – as always, the decent stuff stays at home and doesn’t get anywhere near our shops. If we had taken our own car, we’d have brought back a bootful.

Then, we went onto Baden Baden, via the Black Forest and returned home late on the Thursday night. A very interesting week.

But… I didn’t take many photographs. I seem to have lost the will to take them, if that makes sense. It’s as if I’m losing interest in it. I ended up with a couple of colour films, a couple of black and white films about a dozen shots on my Nikon SLR and some on the Leica X1. Ann took more than me, I’m sure. We were in some really lovely places, but I just “couldn’t be bothered”. It could be that we were on the go most of the time, driving from town to town, and it’s actually quite hard to find places to stop and park when you are bowling along an A-road (or even a B-road). Or it could just be that I just couldn’t be bothered. I don’t know, but I hope the feeling doesn’t last long if it’s the latter.

At least I don’t have to take photographs for a living.

There’s one photograph that I did take that has caused a considerable amount of discussion on the Leica Forum. It’s the black and white film version of the red dressed girl on the podium, that I shared below. That was taken with the iPhone, so couldn’t be shared there, but this version is the Leica one.

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As I took it, knowing that I would share it there, I was wondering what reaction it would receive. The vast majority of people who have commented have understood why I took it, my disappointment at seeing a young person do this, but not my surprise. One person was offended and suggested that I shouldn’t have shared the photograph at all. Obviously, my feelings on the matter are completely different.

I think it important that people see that there are others who either don’t know enough about recent world history, or just as worryingly, don’t care, so that they feel it’s “OK” to stand where Hitler stood only 80 years ago and raise an arm. I am pretty sure that she was only doing this to show off to or acknowledge her friends who were on the ground below, but that she didn’t have the background to fully understand what she was doing is somewhat depressing.

But, that’s enough of that.

Looking forward, the voting is currently going on for the destination for next year’s competition. It looks like Istanbul is going to beat Lisbon and Tokyo (yes, that’s what I thought!), so that could be interesting. I haven’t come across a single person who hasn’t been to Istanbul and enjoyed the experience. Given the timing, and our thoughts about a holiday in France in September next year, I think that we might just combine the two, and go to the competition at the end of the fortnight. That way, we won’t be away twice in the space of a few weeks, which has to be better, and cheaper. Some serious planning will be required though.

And now the clocks have gone back and it’s dark at five o’clock and we can enjoy driving to and from work in the dark, never seeing daylight from one weekend to the next.

At least it will soon be Christmas…

In the Bavarian Alps

What a lovely part of the world.

We took an A-Road this morning to a town called Regensburg, on the Danube. This is a lovely city and could very happily make the base for a great long-weekend. Then we picked up the autobahn again and drove quickly down through Munich to Mittenwald. A Merc C220D runs out of puff at 127mph on winter tyres…

Fabulous scenery as you get down here and the town is interesting even in the Autumn (it’s clearly a winter resort). Need to find some decent food for supper, though – there’s only so much pork you can eat in one week. Never see any pigs though…

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Enjoying a drive around Germany. But…

After a very early start from Manchester on Saturday morning, we had a very good flight to Frankfurt and a great day with the Leica Forum gang in Wetzlar. There were around 40 of us at dinner and 39 entries into the Challenge, the best turn out ever. So good to see so many old friends and lots of new ones too. A really good day.

Having collected the car from the airport, we quickly found out that the voice on the sat nav would give us directions – in Portuguese. This wasn’t very helpful, to be honest, but we finally managed to get it set to English on Sunday night, with the help of a contact in America. Go figure, as I’m sure he would say.

Drove down the autobahn (avoiding getting a 150mph Audi A7 in my boot by a judicious application of getting back into the middle lane where I belonged…) to Nurnburg and had a very good walk around the city. Driving at about 120mph is OK for a short while, but you really do need to have your wits about you and there’s no way you could drive like that all day.

Anyway, the city is a really lovely place and the weather was beautiful.

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We also called into see the Nazi parade ground on our way out of the city. I wanted to see if it was a big as it looks on the old newsreels and unfortunately, it is. Some of it is now football pitches, but much of the main-stage area ( as it were) remains intact.

I have to say that I was particularly depressed to be able to take a photograph such as this one, but I wasn’t surprised.

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Now, having had dinner served by a lady in traditional Bavarian dress ( which I’m sure she wears to the shops too ), we are looking forward to a leisurely drive tomorrow further south to the Bavarian Alps.

Germany is very good value, by the way. Very good. And full of nice people.

And very fast cars.

Another excellent conference plus news of beanos.

I attended a conference jointly organised by the Leukaemia CARE and Lymphoma Association charities in Liverpool yesterday. Judging by the number of hands that were raised, there were more Lymphoma-ists there than Leukaemia folk, but I’m sure they won’t mind.

As at the previous conferences that I have attended (although I’ve not been to one of these joint ones before), the speakers were all absolutely first class, especially the specialist nurse from The Christie who gave a presentation on stem cell transplants. I will definitely go again next year.

Heading into another busy week now. Not only do we have the annual office strategy conference this week, but next weekend will be the Leica Forum Annual Beano, The One Challenge. We are heading to the home of Leica in Wetzlar, Germany, this year, but due to the aforementioned company do, we can’t fly out until the morning of the Challenge itself on Saturday. This doesn’t give us the usual opportunity of sussing out the location on the day before, but I am sure we will manage to scrape together something on the day.

We are using the Challenge as an excuse to take a few days in southern Germany and do a bit of touring around. I haven’t been to that part of Germany before (apart from on a visit to a glass factory on the Austrian border a few years ago, which doesn’t count). Our trip takes in the Bavarian Alps, Lake Constance and Baden-Baden, so this should be interesting. Lots to do before then though…

Determined to put my good fortune to good use, we have also decided on our now habitual “first week in March jaunt”. On the recommendation of a friend, we have decided to head to Sorrento for a few days and take a trip out to Pompeii (and Herculaneum, if the time allows). We have to fly into Naples, but have no desire to visit the city, so we will take a transfer bus directly from the airport to Sorrento. Will also try to hire a car for the day and drive down the Amalfi Coast road – one of the best drives in Europe, apparently – and maybe take a ferry to Capri for the day. Could be a busy week if we try to pack too much in, so will have to think about that carefully.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how very reasonable the hotel costs (a decent one according to Trip Advisor) and the BA flight from Gatwick was cheaper than the Easyjet one. Even the hotel we use at the airport, where we leave the car too, is charging about £20 less than they did last time. All very odd, but welcome.

I might even get to take some photographs – that would be a novelty…