Munich is an attractive, vibrant city with grand buildings, wide streets and a welcoming atmosphere. The Lonely Planet describes it like this: “The natural habitat of well-heeled power dressers and lederhosen-clad thigh-slappers, Mediterranean-style street cafes and Mitteleuropa beer halls, high-brow art and high-tech industry, Germany’s second city is a flourishing success story that revels in its own contradictions. If you’re looking for Alpine clichés, they’re all here, but the Bavarian metropolis sure has many an unexpected card down its Dirndl.”
And so Munich was our holiday destination for the Christmas period. Despite ALL of the shops being closed between the 24th-26th December, and just missing out on the last of the Christmas markets, there was no shortage of eateries, beer halls and coffee shops to keep us in good spirits. We spent much of our time wandering around the streets in the snow, dipping in and out of coffee shops or sampling gluhwein, bratwurst, saurkraut, schnitzel, apfelstrudel and spatzle (not necessarily in that order). I did a few sketches while I was relaxing, so here is part one!
Airport security is a real chore. Gone are the days when you could turn up at the last minute, throw your bag through the scanner and expect to rush through security to catch your flight just as it was boarding. Now you have to give yourself plenty of time to allow for a full de-robing, body search and Spanish inquisition at the security gates. Don’t get me wrong, the Government is keeping us safe, but I’m forever amazed that even after the enforced de-clothing and de-cluttering of one’s person, I can STILL walk through the scanner and set the alarm off! I’m quite sure that no part of me that is metal, yet it happens to me every time…
“Up on to Dartmoor today via several stops for Amy to gawp at horses and take photos. We a parked at the Postbridge information centre to start the rather boggy walk up to some standing stones with picturesque views of the moors. We ended up meandering around a peat bog for a bit before giving up and following a wall to the obligatory water feature challenge of the holiday…” NB. We often find ourselves traversing fast flowing water courses on our expeditions.
“I think L has underplayed The Bog. We were walking for 8.5 miles and for at least 5 of those miles we were ankle deep in bog. At one point we found ourselves lost in the middle of a vast expanse of moorland (as far as the eye could see) with no visible path in sight. I was secretly calculating our water rations in case we started to sink into the stinky, relentless bog and had to wait for rescue…”
I must mention that today is my mum’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mum!
“We’re sitting in the Pilchard Inn, a tiny pub perched on the edge of Burgh Island, home to a posh hotel where you can stay for a mere £400-600 per night. If you want to come by helicopter, there is a convenient helipad in the grounds. The ‘Rif Raf’ are welcome on the island but only if they walk across the sand bar when the tide is out or catch the giant sea tractor…
We walked from Ringmore along the SW coastal path dotted with flowers and pretty grasses. The winds were high but they blew the forecast showers over our heads and inland. L has become adept at simultaneously pointing out wildlife and dangerous obstacles…”
We recently returned from a great holiday in Devon and Cornwall. Not usually ones for taking a summer holiday in the UK (due to unpredictable weather) we decided to risk it this year and it paid off. Clear skies, turquoise seas, belting sunshine, rolling moorland, white beaches – If you could always guarantee weather like this, who needs to go abroad, there is so much to see right here?
As always we kept a running commentary of the holiday by way of a diary and this year I aimed to draw a cartoon a day to supplement the entries. For the next few days I’m going to share a few short extracts from the diary and a quick cartoon. Don’t expect beautifully penned, Wordsworth-esq, descriptions of the holiday. Sadly, I lack the vocabulary to paint a picture, instead, I draw cartoons.
With my event planner’s hat on, I organised a weekend away in a coaching house owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The Devonshire Arms is four star luxury on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, overlooking the grounds of Bolton Abbey and into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This was a far cry from our usual ‘let’s celebrate by camping’ weekends, which are more often than not, marred by bad weather, inadequate bedding and loud, inconsiderate campers. Nay! This time we joined the coiffed, well to do, Range Rover driving, hunting, shooting, fishing folk and settled in for a weekend in front of log fires, sipping champagne and watching the snow fall by the bucket loads. Sadly not enough snow fell to render us stranded in the lap of luxury.
Amongst other things, the Birthday Girl received a book chronicling her life, with comments and anecdotes from friends and family. At this point, I’d like to plug www.blurb.co.uk as an excellent way of compiling and producing books. Whether you are a professional or a lay person, the quality of the blurb books is smashing and there’s no need to faff about uploading images to their website, you can do it all on your own computer (with Adobe Indesign) before sending them the finished product for print.
I also drew here this cartoon which pretty much sums up what she does as a Maxillofacial Surgeon (head and neck surgery). Despite being dually qualified with both a dentistry and a medical degree, she can often be heard telling people to take two paracetamol and go to bed. Surprisingly, this cure works for a whole array of symptoms that I present in order to keep her on her toes. Some might say I’m a hypochondriac.
When I travel, I tend to keep a diary. Occasionally, I try to draw cartoons based on an entry – it’s good practice and provides some inspiration. This is a reflection on my recent flight from Calgary to London. I failed to draw the man reading a ‘Guns and Ammo’ magazine who was on the verge of using the baby as target practice. I did feel sorry for the baby as it obviously wasn’t well. Its parents tried incredibly hard to pacify it, but the combined experience of being shoehorned into a seat, subjected to the tinny sound of ineffectual headphones from the man sitting next to me AND a crying baby, made for a horrific journey.
7.30: We set off to watch Japan play The Republic of Korea for the Olympic bronze medal in the women’s volleyball. Destination: London.
7.50: L notices that our train is not displayed on the information board. Manic ticket checking and re-checking ensues.
8.00: Eight minutes before expected departure, harried discussions between ticket operator and other half reveals our train is due to leave from Nottingham, not Sheffield i.e. the city where we used to live, not the city we currently live in. Remain calm, all is not lost, let’s consider our options:
A) don’t go
B) pay for new tickets
8.27: We board the train with newly purchased tickets. Still time to make the match but it will be a squeeze.
8.35: The realisation that we’ve made a fatal error when choosing where to sit for the journey. We are now opposite a family of 5, including three children under 5yrs, but we can’t find new seats because the train is packed! The smallest of the three children starts to cry. The middle child takes umbridge at the fact that she is being ignored by her mother whose focused on the baby and starts to nag in a whiney voice.
9.50: All attempts at catching up on sleep are thwarted by screaming children. One child has excitedly dismembered a bread roll and scattered the crumbs along the corridor – presumably in a vain attempt to feed the ducks. Other passengers exchange looks of dissapproval.
9.55: The train has come to an unexpected standstill, no one is quite sure why.
9.57: A train operator announces over the tannoy:
‘We have come to a stop’. This is obvious. She adds,
‘The emergency alarm has been activated,’ this is also apparent as her voice is barely audible over the high pitched, siren wailing in the background.
‘The driver is investigating the problem, sorry for any inconvenience’.
The screeching children next to us are momentarily drowned out by the collective groan of the passengers.
10.20: Another tannoy announcement informs us that ‘train…forward…patience…fixed’, the information is incomprehensible due to the fizzing and crackling of the speakers, however the alarm is still audible. Our hopes of watching the Olympic game are ebbing away…
10.40. The train creeps forward to a round of applause and cheers from the passengers.
10.41: An announcement: ‘ladies and gentlemen, we have been unable to fix the problem and you will be required to disembark at the next station’. This time the groan from the passengers is of Olympic proportions.
10.45: All passengers disembark and wonder around the platform looking dazed and confused with no instruction from the train operators. It’s a bit like a scene from Zombies without the blood and guts.
10.56: Like sheep we follow a group of people who seem to know something. In turn, other people follow us and before you know it, we have all started to board another train with no evidence that it will take us to our destination.
The passengers who were already on the alternative train look aghast as 200+ disgruntled travellers squeeze in and jostle for space.
Now we stand like sardines, nose to nose, kept upright by the sheer number of people in the corridors and vestibules. We still have had no formal confirmation that the train is going to London. Thankfully, moments later we hear someone with a cockney accent utter the words St Pancras followed by ‘…in 40 minutes!’ which means we will certainly miss the start of the game.
11.45. We arrive in London and make haste to the underground.
12.30: Having reached our final station, we find that the venue is still a 15 minute walk away. By now tempers are frayed. The game, according to our iPhone app, is already nearly over.
We debate whether it’s worth it, having paid a considerable sum of money for the tickets and the train fare, and the other train fare…
12.45: We enter the venue after being searched and scanned by a number of bored looking soldiers.
12.50 with a sigh, we sit in our allocated seats amid chants of Nipon, Nipon, NIPON. The scoreboard shows Japan are in the lead.
13.00: No sooner had I unpacked my camera, taken the obligatory photo, updated my Facebook status and clapped at a point, the game ended. Probably the most expensive ten minutes of any sport I have ever had the privilege of watching.