Monday, 31 December 2012

Day 28 Hay on Wye

Very changeable day weather wise.  The sun was actually shining this morning, then it clouded over.  It rained quite heavily at stages this afternoon and was quite cool.  At least we saw blue sky and the sun sometimes!!!

John, Alan and I went to a combined service at Bredwardine this morning, where a visiting baptist was the preacher!  Penny stayed home and dog sat.

St Andrews Bredwardine

This afternoon we visited Weobley, a village between Hay and Hereford, and about a 30 minute drive  from here.  It is a black and white village, and the local church has the second largest spire in the county.  We had a look at the church and we were impressed with the Vicars of Weobley board, with the date of the first shown as 1287!!!  Penny liked the floor pattern in the church.

We spent an enjoyable hour or so wandering around and reading the information plaques on various buildings.  We fitted the visit in between heavy showers, so that was a bonus.

The 17th century grammar school


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Day 27 Hay on Wye

Penny, Alan and I ventured further afield today and drove to Tewksbury, which is about 90 kms from Hay.  It was a very wet morning and we drove through lots of water on the road.  There was an amazing amount of water around Tewksbury and the River Severn was probably twice as wide as normal.

We went first to the old Baptist Chapel which they think is one of the oldest in the country. The chapel was originally a timber framed medieval house, and was converted for use by the Baptists in around 1620.  The museum guide there was very interesting and knowledgeable.  I was a little disconcerted that they had a display of birds of prey there though I did like the owls!

After lunch we went on to Tewksbury Abbey, which is one of the largest parish churches in the country, and is over 900 years old.    It has a beautiful vaulted roof, lovely stained glass (including some very interesting modern windows), and is a beautiful building - though aren't they all.

Tewksbury is a lovely historic town, and had lots of fascinating little alleys!

On the way home we stopped in Ledbury, and wandered up and down the main street, had a cup of coffee ( or tea) and then walked up a narrow cobblestone alley to explore the yard of the church of St Michael and All Angels, which unfortunately was closed as it was getting quite late by then.  

The rain cleared up in the afternoon and it was quite exciting to see the odd star as we drove home!

Ben and Sara left today so we are back to 4.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Day 26 Hay on Wye

Alan and I were out and about reasonably early this morning and walked to Hay on Wye to get haircuts then, with Penny and John, set out mid morning  - in the drizzle - to visit Raglan Castle, about an hour's drive from here.  It's a late medieval castle which was destroyed after the civil war in the mid 1600s.  We had a good look around and enjoyed the visit very much.  We had lunch in the cafe there, which included very nice luxury hot chocolates.  Yum.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Day 25 Hay on Wye

Half our merry band headed back home today and we did some returning to order and cleaning up.

John and Penny, Alan and I walked into Hay to check out the sales and Penny and I were quite successful in our endeavours.

Not much rain today but much colder.

Our fellow Christmas revellers

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Day 24 Hay on Wye

Another mild and wet day, with lots of good food and good company.

Ben's girlfriend Sara arrived today, so there have been 12 of us for meals - and John and Penny have achieved amazing catering feats.

Alan, Penny and I walked to Hay on Wye this afternoon to get some fresh air and we had a lovely time browsing shop windows planning our strategy for the sales tomorrow. Most of the others were more energetic but it is very muddy for venturing too far afield so we stuck to paved roads. 

The forecast is for still more rain for a few days yet.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Day 23 Hay on Wye

We have had a most enjoyable Christmas Day.  We walked in the rain up to the local Church for a nice Christmas Day service and spent the rest of the day eating good food and enjoying good company.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Day 22 Hay on Wye

Happy Christmas to all - though it's still Christmas Eve here (just).

Very wet most of today, but again reasonably mild.

We walked with Penny down to the co-op in Hay on Wye this morning to get a few last minute groceries.  Again  everything was very wet but we enjoyed being out, walking through the narrow streets, with all the stone houses.

Did a few domestic chores this afternoon and then Penny, Jan, Alan and I drove about 30 mins to the cathedral at Brecon where we went to a service of 9 lessons and carols, which was just lovely.  The choir were all dressed in their red robes, and included a large number of children.  They were very good and we enjoyed the first opportunity we've had to be involved in such a Christmas service.

After a very nice dinner we had a fun night doing a quiz that Ben and Georgie had prepared.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Day 21 Hay on Wye

Overcast today with occasional sunny breaks.  A very mild 13.

Another day of preparation and relaxation.  We went with John, Alex and Ben this morning when they took Gunner for a walk.  The ground was very muddy after all the rain but it was pleasant being out.

Alan and I also went for a shorter walk this afternoon around the block.

Mark and Lizzie and Lizzie's parents arrived this afternoon, along with Django, so we have a full household, but its very nice meeting up with all the Winter family again.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Day 20 Hay on Wye

Rained all day today, but quite mild with a temperature of about 12.

Kept busy with Christmas prepations today - baking, decorating Christmas tree, putting up decorations and generally getting ready.

Ben and Alex and Georgie arrived this afternoon.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Day 19 Hay on Wye

A fine day, with a temperature of around 7.

Alan and I went into Hereford this morning with Penny when she went into her class.  We spent the morning browsing the shops.  We visited the cathedral and were fortunate enough to be there when the organist was practicing.  It's a lovely building and we enjoyed inspecting it and reading up on its history.  We found a path that took us across the River Wye and along the bank on the other side, before we crossed back further down stream and walked back to the city.  The river was very high and flowing quite fast after all the rain.  We also had a look inside the Black and White House.  We met up with Penny for lunch before heading back to Hay.

We did a very quick  turnaround when we got home, and headed back out to Waitrose Supermarket at Abergavenny, where we spent a couple of hours stocking up with supplies.  I don't think I've ever brought so many groceries at one time ever, but we are catering for 11 / 12 people for 4 days.

So lots of exercise today.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Day 18 Hay on Wye

Wet day today, with a mild temperature of about 8.

We were into Christmas preparations today.  John and Alan went out to get the Christmas tree and the liquid supplies; Penny and I walked into Hay in the drizzle to do some chores, and then got on with some cleaning and re-organising.

I walked into Hay again this afternoon to get some groceries.  It was still drizzling but I quite enjoyed the outing - a different experience to walking to Cooleman Court in the heat!!

Quiet night at home.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Day 17 In Transit

We flew from Munich back to London today.  A taxi picked us up at the hotel at 10.30 and we had a fast and comfortable ride to the airport.  At one point we were doing 150.  As John and Alan commented, you didn't notice the speed in the Mercedes.

It was a  good flight and we landed at Heathrow at 2.30 and were through all the formalities and on our way by about 3.45.  It was pouring with rain so it made driving very difficult though it eased off by the time we got to Cusop.

Now it's time to start Christmas preparations!!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Day 16 Munich

It was around 6 in Munich again today.

We again walked down to Marienplatz, which is the main square of the old town.  We did some shopping and John found a small baroque church just down the street - St Johann Nepomuk.

After we'd visited the church, John went off to do some of his own shopping and Penny, Alan and I visited the toy museum in the tower of the town hall.  It covered 4 floors of the tower and had a fascinating array of toys on display.

After we met up with John we headed towards the river and stopped for lunch in the Hofbrauhouse, a noisy, busy beer hall.

We continued on through the back streets and an expensive shopping strip to the Eisar Ricer and the Bavarian Parliament House.

We walked back to Marienplatz and Penny and John headed off to the art gallery and Alan and I picked up our morning purchases (we'd left them in the shop to save carrying them) and headed back to the hotel via back streets for a change of scene  - and less people.

Spent some time getting our blog up to date - you may have noticed we have pictures at last - and had dinner at a local Italian restaurant.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Day 15 Munich

It was around 6 in Munich today, so quite warm after the weather we've had.

Had a slower start this morning and headed out about 9.30 and walked down to the food markets - about a 30 minute walk from the hotel.  It was interesting seeing all the different foods for sale - fruit, vegetables, seafood, cheese, alcohol.  One shop we walked past was selling all parts of pigs - there were heads, trotters, hearts etc etc in the window.

We then headed back to watch the Munich town hall glockenspiel.  At 11.00 it chimes and re-enacts 2 stories from then 16th century, with musicians, knights jousting, and dancers.  It was quite amazing to watch.

Then we toured the Munich Residence which was the political and cultural centre of the rulers of Bavaria from 1623 until 1918.  We went through the museum, treasury and theatre.  The items displayed in the Treasury were amazing, with crowns and jewels and porcelain and ivory.  Some of the carving was so intricate.

We had a late lunch and then visited the town hall Christmas Markets, where we sampled some wares and were lucky enough to see some guys playing alpen horns.

We visited the cathedral and browsed some shops before heading back to the hotel for a bit of a rest.

John found us a very nice Afghan restaurant where we had a delicious dinner.

It's about a 30 minute walk to where all our activities have been so we're getting lots of exercise.  

Monday, 17 December 2012

Day 14 Munich

It was foggy and icy in Passau this morning but was much warmer when we arrived in Munich.  The temperature was around 5.  Didn't need hats and gloves for a change.

We ended our cruise this morning with breakfast on the River Beatrice, and shared a taxi to the station with Dennis and Sue, another Australian couple from the cruise.  We also bought a Bayern ticket for the trip to Munich which meant the 4 of us could travel for €36, which is incredibly cheap.

It was a good train journey through the snowy countryside.  We were quite surprised by the number of solar panel farms we saw on the way.

Penny and John met us at the station and we walked to the hotel and checked in.  After a quick lunch we visited some Christmas markets and then climbed the 302'steps in St Peter's church for great views over the city and to the mountains in the distance.

We did some more Christmas market browsing / shopping and then made our way to St Michaels where we enjoyed a choral evensong.  It was lovely to sit in the beautiful church and be surrounded by music.

We had dinner in a very nice brewery owned restaurant and wandered a bit more before making our way back to the hotel.

I'm still wrestling with a cold so my stamina is a bit lacking, but it was a good day and nice to catch up with Penny and John.

Still not sure of the Internet here so photos may have to wait until we're back at the Winters.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Day 13 Passau

Not so cold today - around 1 degree, but heavy rain this morning, with very light showers this afternoon.

And the rain posed a problem for us as it made the ground icy.  We were supposed to do a walking tour this morning, but when the guides arrived they strongly recommend we not go as it was so treacherous.   We had been watching people slipping and sliding so we were happy to take their advice.

We had a nice quiet morning.  At around 11.30 things had improved so we ventured out and found the Christmas markets, where we enjoyed a quiet browse.  Mostly it was fine walking but there were some icy patches which were a bit nerve wracking to negotiate.  Particularly for me after my fall in Bratislava.  I was holding Alan's hand so tightly he reckoned the blood circulation was cut off!!!

After lunch we ventured back out and found the main shopping area and browsed there for a while, including visiting an Apotheke, where I had to get some paracetamol as I am fighting a cold.  The sales assistant was so helpful and even gave me a glass of water.

We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and getting the washing up to date.

We have just enjoyed the Captains cocktail party and dinner for our last  night aboard.  The food has been very good and the service has been amazing.  All in all the cruise has been a great experience.

We're going to listen to some Christmas music and then go and pack.

Tomorrow Munich and hopefully better wifi so we can add some photos.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Day 12 Linz and Salzburg

Cold and clear day.  I think we made it into plus territory today - it was forecast to reach 1!!  It was nice out but quite cold in the shade.

We had an early start today, catching the bus to Salzburg at 8.30.  It was about a 2 hour drive.  There was fresh snow everywhere and it was like driving through every snowy Christmas post card you've ever seen with lovely little villages, and forests and open fields.  We did a walking tour that lasted just over an hour around the old town.  We visited the 15th century cathedral and also the graveyard they used as the model for the Sound of Music.  We then had a couple of hours on our own and we caught the fenicular railway to the castle overlooking the old town.  There were fabulous views of snow covered landscapes in all directions, and also of the town itself. We had some nice warming soup for lunch and browsed the Christmas Markets and also the main shopping area in the old town before heading back to the bus and driving back to Linz.

We drove through the old town of Linz on the way back to the boat.  Then crew were waiting with hot chocolate and a warm towel as we came on board, and that was very welcome.  We were about 2 minutes walk from the Christmas markets so we rugged up again and headed out to inspect them.  They were very crowded with lots of locals at all the food stalls and it was a bit hard to get around.

One more day to go and we got all sorts of instructions tonight about when we have to be out of our rooms, etc etc, so the end is nigh.