Eek - has it really been a week since I posted last? 7 whole days? No one nicked any....positive? I guess being my second last week at work, I was unusually busy. Colleagues finally realised I was GOING for 6 months and that if they wanted anything from me, now would be a really good time.
So, thanks to Hila, here is my favourite travel memory.
You may or may not know that Beloved is German, from a small village not too far from Cologne. When I say small, I mean 550 people. His family has lived there for nearly 900 years, and he is related to about half the inhabitants! We try and visit every 1 - 2 years (although that is of course less possible now with kids and costs), and I love going back. It's very grounding.
We went for Christmas 2004, and as Beloved's godson was having his first communion at Easter in 2005, we decided that I would take leave without pay and stay there for the in-between time. We found out 2 days before we left that I was pregnant with Pirate Jim.
Beloved returned to Australia at the end of January, and I stayed with his younger brother, his wife and their 3 months old daughter. (The very same who visited us earlier this year, although Miss M is now 3 years old of course). I had a fabulous time. My German improved out of sight, I got to experience a Karneval in the village, and did some travelling around to visit friends and family all over the country. Nothing like getting caught on an inter-city train without the correct ticket to give one's language skills a run!
This photo was taken a few days before Beloved left the village to return to Australia. The village is nestled in a little valley between several mountains; I am standing on top of Limberg, with the village and it distinctive spire behind me (although you cant actually see that! But what you can see is a bit more than half the village).
There was snow, and there would be a lot more that winter, but it was a period of several warm-ish, rainy days - hence the patchiness of the snow and the umbrella I'm carrying.
It was my first "white Christmas", and very very strange to be celebrating all rugged up with short, cold, overcast days, when Ive only ever had long, balmy (or baking) days in swimsuits and sundresses with post-feast naps in the shade. Athough the post-feast nap is apparently universal.
I have a dozen travel memories I can draw on, but I think this is my favourite because its the time when I really felt that I became part of my German family. It also gave a very strong appreciation of just how hard it was for Beloved to leave here and relocate to Australia (Bundaberg) in his 20s, with no family and only school English.
And PJ was there too!