As we entered Germany I felt really excited to be in a country again where I knew the language, knew some relatives like Oma and Opa and recognised the landscape and scenery.
Germany is my favourite country; The streets are clean, the houses are modern with little front gardens and there’s snow in winter when it is cold enough.
German motorways usually have 4 lanes and no speed limit. Driving on the motorway with my Opa at 160 kilometres an hour I was a bit anxious that something was going to happen. It felt like we were on a plane racing down the runway about to take off. I wondered what would happen if there was an obstacle and one person had to stop – all the other cars would crash into each other. Maybe a reason why German motorways don’t have a speed limit is because the Germans made so many fast cars. Car manufacturers wanted customers to buy their fast cars so they persuaded the government to not give them a speed limit.
I love service stations and road stops on the motorway. They have a proper buffet with different sections for: entree, salad, drinks, bakery with delicious “Butterbrezeln”, hot food and desserts. The toilets are clean and if you pay 70 cents to get in, your “toilet entry ticket gives you a 50 cent discount of items you can purchase in the shop like ice creams, ice blocks, lollies, chocolate and souvenirs.
We stayed in my mum’s home town Backnang, where we gave holiday workshops of Dancing Wombat and The Ring Bearer.
In the morning when the other Wayfarers gave the younger children the Dancing Wombat workshop, I went to the outdoor swimming pool with my Oma. That swimming pool had three big water slides (blue, yellow and green) and three short slides for the young children. I always loved going to the pool even though it was on cold mornings, especially when on one of the days, Vanessa and Patrick (my cousins) came over and we went down the slides backwards. There were diving boards but they were closed until we asked the lifeguard to open them on the last day I went to the swimming pool. I easily jumped and dived off the 1 metre and jumped off the 3 metre and finally summoned up some courage to jump off the 5 metre diving platform. It was a bit scary, for when I looked down it seemed so far, yet when I jumped I glided through the air for a few seconds and then went SPLASH! Those days at the swimming pool were marvellous but after a few days it got too cold to go there.
Every afternoon I took part in The Ring Bearer workshop for older children, teenagers and adults. The participants were excited to learn something they had never learnt before which made it fun to be part of. We worked hard on scenes like “The Prancing Pony” and “The Old Forest”. The narrations got translated into German so that the participants could be narrators.
In the middle of the workshop we had an afternoon tea break and my Opa brought food for the Wayfarers like biscuits, crackers, fruit and chocolate.
My Opa really had a very large part in organising our stay in Backnang and think he has done a great job.
My mum and I had a wonderful week with my grandparents: my Oma cooked delicious meals every day and always loved being with me. My Opa would do school work with me or show me special places in the Backnang area.
One of my Oma’s delicious baked specialities is “Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte” (black forest cake). She taught me how to make it and we invited all the Wayfarers to come over and eat it. I had been raving about that cake for a long time and finally the others could feast on what I had been talking about so long.
On our last night we organised a talent night. Initially it was meant to be Wayfarers and hosts but others heard about it and wanted to come too. Everyone wanted to hear a bit about our travels and see some photos too so we set up a slideshow. Finally the night arrived and we all brought a plate of food to share. We looked at the photos (every non-Wayfarer being extremely excited about what we had to tell). Some people performed a little piece of music.
Finally, the day of our departure had come. I was sad to leave my favourite town where I knew very special people but looked forward to coming back a week later on our week off. We said goodbye and finally started our long drive to Solothurn in Switzerland.
It has been quite some time since I wrote a blog actually talking about what Wayfarers have been up to so I apologise! I think the constant hard work has been getting to me and I just haven’t had the extra enthusiasm! Or there has been so many other wonderful things to do that I have got distracted. So here we are in the south of England with very little said about our travels through Europe. Ah well.
Our arrival in England was somewhat dramatic as the ferry that we were booked to travel on wasn’t running due to strike action. Fortunately we discovered this in time to drive to a different port further north in France (to Cherbourg) where we had to book new accommodation but were able to catch a ferry across to Poole on the intended day. So lots of phone calls to the ferry company, hostels, bus companies, and the car and insurance companies later, most of us were safely in England, being greeted by cheerful customs officials interested in what we were doing, though somewhat dubious about the singing that was going on in the queue leading off around the corner… then safely on the newly hired coach, had an enjoyable drive down to the school in Devon and then out to our different billeting families.
Unfortunately this was at the expense of our four drivers, Dave, Gawain, Heather and Evan who after dropping us at the ferry had to drive another 500km or so south to drop off the vans, then had to find another form of transport to get back to the port. They finally made it here last night, three days after the rest of us and with one hour to spare before we started our Ring Bearer performance!
On the bright side, we are in England! And it is so beautiful! We saw more rainbows on our drive down to Devon than I have seen in the last two years combined! Autumn is just starting so it is cold and wet, the trees area starting to turn, but when the clouds part, the sun is beautiful and warm. I like to joke that the weather here is basically a typical winter day in Adelaide. It is our first cold weather for the trip though, so after so many months of warm (and sometimes disgustingly hot) weather, it is nice to go outside in the morning and feel a cold chill in the air. It does mean though, that everyone in the choir is hurriedly getting out (or going and buying) raincoats and warm jumpers, scarfs, gloves etc. and our bags are therefore getting bulkier and heavier!
We are working at the South Devon Steiner School, otherwise known as Hood Manor because it is in an old manor house. It is so nice to be back in English speaking classrooms! To begin with I just love listening to the accents of the children. So fabulously English! (And I am sure they are getting equal amusement out of listening to our Australian accents, although I must say, these are getting less exaggerated in a number of us as we unintentionally start mimicking the accents of those around us.) It is so wonderful to be able to talk to everyone! We speak and they understand! It sounds silly, I know, but it makes such a difference knowing that what you say is being understood by the children, being able to ask a question of the person walking past “could you tell me where to find the photocopier?” Or strike up a conversation with someone on the bus. Not only could the class threes say ‘amphibians’ and ‘mammals’, they knew what they meant!
It is Sunday today, and our day off. But tonight we are having a combined birthday celebration for Kate and Manuka, and are celebrating by having a variety night. Which will be particularly enjoyable now we are finally all together again! Having four people away makes the group feel so much smaller! I think we might all need a bit of time at the beginning to go away and practice the things we thought we might do, but haven’t had time to rehearse! Because as always, we haven’t had any spare time to do such extraneous things as rehearse! It might end up being a bit of a shambles. But shambles or no, it is sure to be lots of fun because it is the first purely leisure time that we have had together in a long time and we Wayfarers just love spending time together! So off I go!