We left early on Sunday morning, hitting the road for our planned 5.30am drive to get our crossing over to France in good time. The universal question uttered by children travelling everywhere was repeated several times before we even left England. It was deemed to be a long drive when the ‘are we there yet?’ question was asked before we had even got out of our village. When we finally got to Folkestone we found out that the crossings were delayed and what should have been no longer than a 10 or 11 hour trip at the very most turned into one a few hours longer.
Ollie and Paddy were fitted with their travel bands before leaving and travel sickness wasn’t an issue for them. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that Isobel seemed to become a little prone to a projectile, motion-induced vomit or two on long journeys. Our first visit to Belgium saw us pulling over in a lay-by to haul out two potties for an emergency stop and it soon became apparent that toilet tourist Anna had challenged herself to visit every public WC in northern Europe. It seems she is well on track to meeting her target.
Driving through Germany is eye-opening indeed. With no speed limits it can be quite nerve-wracking to see vehicles speeding by, two or three or more weaving in and out between eachother with limited room to spare though thankfully coupled with perfect synchronisation. Our humble yet faithful minibus not even trying to keep up with the speed demons and that, truth be told, is how I like it.
The minibus seemed to be in shock of its own. Unused to being completely filled with diesel when we are at home, it rebelled against the gluttonous top-up it received by refusing to move further than the almost-empty line on the gauge. Obviously deciding to over-rule that it was actually full for once, it decided that a complete fill couldn’t possibly be true and that it would err on the side of caution. Mike said the needle probably suffered from vertigo, so unused was it to rising further than the quarter tank mark on a good day.
We arrived at Hammelburg shortly before 8.30pm – tired and relieved to finally be there. We had booked to stay in an historic old mill by the Saale river, in a wonderfully spacious apartment set at the top of the building. One factor in booking places to stay is the hospitality of the owners and our hosts Christa and Hermann were as terrific as they could possibly be. Not only did they help us unload our (many) belongings from the bus and carry them up the (very many!) steps, but they also provided us with bottles of water, fresh orange juice and two bottles of refreshing chilled beer which were extremely appreciated once the children were tucked up in bed.
The views from the house are fabulous. The river runs right beside the building and a large water wheel built by Christa’s father many years ago provides the building with all its electricity, as well as a lot more which is sold to the electricity company. Swans and herons make their homes in the river, as do pike which the children enjoyed trying to spot.
With only one full day here before heading off to Italy and a bunch of over-tired kids in tow, we took a short walk around the village. Farmland surrounded us, cars were scarce and we savoured the sound of nature as we walked.
Conscious that we aren’t a quiet bunch at the best of times, this really is a place where you feel you could hear a pin drop if you just listened hard enough.
Hay bales in one field were accompanied by row upon row of neatly stacked chopped wood in the next.
The logs were stacked neatly ‘just like Jenga’ as Eddie observed, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much fuel each row’s worth would provide.
Returning back to Roder’s Mill, we ate a quick lunch before heading out for a brief spell in the grounds.
Trying to work out how deep and how fast the river flowed was on the agenda for some of the boys…
While for others it was time to go for a walk with Daddy…
…and play Pooh sticks on the bridge…
Another short play…
…then dinner and bedtime for the younger ones. The older ones meanwhile…
…were thrilled to be taken on a tour of the mill and shown the workings of it…
…and they still haven’t stopped talking about it!
Huge thanks to Christa and Hermann for their warm welcome and genuine kindness shown to our family during our short stay. We look forward to returning on our way back.
Don’t miss our next post where we will be sharing some exciting news about our trip!