DAY 06: Borken to Stommeln, somewhere in Germany near Cologne.
After teaching ourselves a valuable lesson in how to park Doris for an overnight stay and NOT to park her under a tree if we valued our sleep. I failed. Parked her right underneath a big one, didn’t it. Basically imagine tapping on a tin can for hours on end and not getting annoyed with the noise. Basically sums up our entire evening of sleep. That and music (likely something to do with that marching band) till around 2AM.
We wanted to get up early today and explore the lake we’d parked next to, but with only a few hours sleep throughout the night we decided to snooze and rise a little later. Once up, we sat down to some coffee, mulled around a little and got ready for the day ahead.
Once out of Doris we walked around the lake besides us which was awake and full of life. Rowers, runners, walkers and all manner of activity going on at 10AM. All that and we managed to find a huge marquee filled with those from the marching band party of last night. That’ll explain the noise then!
The lake wasn’t too big and after about a 30 minute walk we were back at the van and ready to start Doris up and drive her south towards the cities of Cologne and Dusseldorf. The drive was relatively uneventful with motorways the majority of the way. We did manage to experience every possible weather on the drive south, though. From pouring rain, to belting sunshine and then the occasional hail storm for good measure.
I came prepared and had my beanie hat on, sunglasses, shorts and gloves. Bet those passing didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Our original plan was to park outside of Cologne and then cycle in for the afternoon to explore the city and then head back to Doris for the evening. Learning from the intermittent rain from a few days ago (read about that here) we decided to replan that for the morning and instead take a small walk into Stommeln instead.
There isn’t much to Stommeln, apparently there is a windmill here which we’ll find tomorrow. But aside from a beautiful church and some shops it’s just a small, quaint village in the west of Germany. A few essentials stocked up on and we were back in Doris and ready to get out on the bikes for a few miles.
Unfortunately the weather had different ideas. It’s been on and off rain, heavy rain, pretty much all afternoon with no signs of it letting up. No sooner does the sun pop his face out and it’s raining, again. We decided we’d done enough steps for the day and we’d retire to Doris and read a book or two.
I’ve got Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” which I have to say is brilliant. It’s about his journey through the Appalachian Trail, a 2000+ mile hike through the dense woodland and mountains of East America. His humour, writing and stories are absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to read some more of his books.
After dinner we watched some more David Attenborough as rain strikes Doris with a force. It’s a shame she can’t fight back as I bet there is some fight in the old girl. Instead, she sits lifeless in a car park letting the rain bash and crash down on her lovely body.
It’s cold here in Germany. We’re wrapped up in dressing gowns and blankets because I’m a tight arse with the gas and want it to last for as long as possible. Nat decided to make a hot water bottle when out of no where…
Okay. Maybe not quite boom, but the sound of a roaring flame, a distressed Nat, a bang and a hurry to get the hell out of the van. I rushed out of my seat, grabbed the fire extinguisher and got to the back door.
Doris was on fire.
Luckily the flame was only on the surface of the hob and must have been from the remnants of some cleaning product that we’d used not long after dinner. Thankfully no damage has been done, but a few wet slippers and a couple of slightly elevated heart rates.
Doris lives on another day. I told you there was fight in the old girl. Although I did wonder if we’d have to go back into town to get into this little thing to drive us back to the UK…
Tomorrow we’re going to cycle into Cologne before the city wakes to see some of the sights and to get some miles in our bums. I say that because in 3 months we’ll be landing in New York with just our bikes and our tent. Ready for a 4,500 mile adventure ACROSS America.
Tonights camping location: Aquarena Pulheim (CamperContact: 53179)