Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Botanic Gardens

pink cameliaWith the weather in Cologne having turned back to wintry in the last few days, I had the urge to see some spring flowers to brighten my mood. I dragged my mate Nina to join the pensioners at the Botanic Gardens in Cologne.

By the time we got there it had started to sleet so we decided to take shelter in the nearest greenhouse.

purple flowerWe found ourselves in a tropical glass house full of beautifully blousy white, pink and red camellias. They were on display as a temporary exhibition. There was even gentle oriental music playing in the background to create a tranquil ambience.

Following us on the circuit of the greenhouse was a man sporting a 10 cm long powdery yellow line down his nose. Perhaps a man-bee hybrid who'd got too close to the pollen. (How do I manage to attract these people?)

palm frondsThe photos show just some of the wonderful specimens we saw.

So, now for the info-burst:
The gardens date back to the mid 19th century and cover an impressive 10 hectares/25 acres. They are home to around 12,000 plant species. I recommend a visit if you're ever in Cologne. Find out more...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cologne main station

collage of photos of Cologne's central train stationAnother journey with my kids, but this time much shorter and less hassled...

Yesterday I took a train from the main station in Cologne (Köln Hauptbanhof) to a nearby town called Pulheim, in order to get to a baby shower being held for a friend of mine. It was my first ever time on a German overland train and I was a little nervous of how I would get on transporting myself and two small people. I needn't have worried as a friendly lady offered to help me lift the pram on and off the train. Even better, both children were happy and relaxed, content to watch the scenery go by, throughout the journey. I wasn't surprised to find that the train ran exactly to the timetable (as I have always found the tram service to be very efficient).

Here are a few snaps I took in and around the station. I'd like to blame the dreary ambience of the photos on the fact that it was drizzling and not on my lack of ability.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Long winding road

We came back to Cologne yesterday after a wonderful holiday in England. We travelled by car, via the Eurotunnel. The trip was eventful:

1. April threw up half an hour after departure. We had to continue the rest of the journey (9 and a half hours) surrounded by the putrid smell of warm vomit . On a more positive note, April was much more content - perhaps even euphoric - after she'd purged herself of her breakfast of Shreddies and toast.

2. More purging, this time from little man: Alexander did a massive poo, five minutes after we'd changed him at the services near Stansted airport.

3. At a services in Belgium I picked up a balloon for April to play with while we had some coffee. She insisted on bringing it (why didn't I anticipate this?). For the rest of the journey we were interrupted with cries of 'boon' (which means 'balloon' in April-ese) every time she dropped it down the side of her car seat and was unable to retrieve it.

4. We enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing half hour traffic jam on the southern part of the Brussels ring road.

5. April escaped from her car seat by means of persistent wriggling. I only noticed when she raised both arms to the roof of the car for a good stretch. I noticed while we were driving at a reasonable speed along the motorway.

6. I had a little 'moment' at a services in the Netherlands. We were only an hour from home, but if you'd sat in a car with two crying kids, the smell of sick and a balloon bouncing around, your patience would be tried too.

We were very, very relieved to get home.

That is, until Simon opened a letter from the tax office claiming we owed 16,000 Euros!

Luckily all is well today. We have recovered from our tortuous journey and are enjoying being back in our house. Even better, having enquired after the tax bill we found it was an error. (Boy, what an error!)