The last couple of months have been quite busy, and I never seem to get time to write on here any more. Also our internet has been playing up for about three weeks now, and I have not used the computer much. We have another engineer booked to come out this week, but at this moment it is working so I will finish this post quickly while I can!
It is just a summary of things we have done since February.
We went to visit our friends in Holland for part of their Carnival celebrations. I have heard a lot about Carnival over the years as my friend went to it often before she actually lived there. I didn't realise what it was all about before. It has Pagan origins and then religious meaning too, as it was a Spring festival and has become associated with Easter. The Wikipedia article is a good summary. We went on the weekend of the 17th of February for the Prince's Reception. The most exciting thing about this year's Carnival for our friends, is that this year, Roel was the Prince. Each year a Prince is selected from the men who live in the village, and he leads the celebrations. The reception involved each of the neighbouring villages Princes and their adjutants, visiting and paying tribute to the other princes-sometimes through speeches, giving gifts, and some through more ribald means. One group were queueing up for their turn, and one of them was holding a large Lidl bag. When they got to speak to Roel, he chucked the contents of the bag all over the stage and floor of the hall. I thought at first it was rice, and then the smell spread-chopped onions! It was apparently because the village where my friends live is known as an onion village because they grow onions there. It was a fun weekend and a revelation about another country's traditions. I loved every minute of it!
The colours of Carnival.
The hat, and a clay Prince, made by the Prince's Mum.The dreaded and long awaited Ofsted came on the14th March. It was one inspector and a shadow who was learning the job. He was there for one day, and didn't come back, which meant that we had done ok. We now have the results and the school has come out as good overall. The relief of not having to wait for that call every day is huge. Now I just have to get my reports done!
The weekend after Ofsted, on the 17th March, we went to the Carey Arms in Devon for the weekend. We stayed in a lovely room-called a beach hut, but like a mini house with the bedroom on a mezzanine floor and a lovely round window to look out from over the sea. It was a relaxing weekend.
On Sunday morning, before we went to catch the train, we went for a walk up over the hill in the woods, and came out on a lovely cliff and downs, with lots of happy looking dogs and their happy looking walkers.
On the 8th April we went to Leicester for our friend Claire's fiftieth. It was lovely to see people-we don't get together very often but it is always lovely when we do. I took no pictures, as I forgot my big camera, and my phone kept running out of battery. So you will just have to imagine!
I spent the Easter holidays decorating the bathroom, and continuing to clear the house. I got a lot done, but wasn't very sociable. On the Easter weekend, we went to Cologne. Andy wanted to go there, and he would have liked to take a boat trip on the Rhine. The weather wasn't good for that, but we had fun nonetheless. We stayed in a lovely hotel, overlooking the river and the cathedral. The bridge is the Hohenzollen bridge. It is adorned with locks for love. All the way along. We saw someone propose to his girlfriend, after adding balloons. It was a lovely moment, and I did take a photo from a distance, but there was a woman taking photos on her phone who was right in the personal space of the couple. I don't think she knew them, she was just intrusive! 1200 trains cross this bridge every day!
We had sausage and potatoes-a traditional and extremely filling meal, and spent the Saturday visiting two museums and a strange antique shop, where Andy felt a bit pressured into buying a 38 euro wrench, but resisted a field telephone from the war, or the "Adolph Hitler period" as the antique shop owner put it. A lot of Cologne was bombed in the war, so a lot of it is modern looking. The cathedral is amazing, and huge. We enjoyed looking around, but were perplexed at why we went down to the crypt, as there was nothing to look at in there but everyone just shuffled around looking a bit confused!
Elmer the elephant.
We went to an ethnographical museum-the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum. The displays were interesting and beautifully done, and the cafe was good too. Then we went to a design museum called the Museum für Angewandte Kunst(Museum of applied arts) We were in there for ages as it had a lot to look at. Design through the ages, with many beautiful objects, including this angel.
A Fruh beer man on the corner of a building.