Tues 5th Oct – Today we left ‘you can bring your dog here providing they don’t touch anything’ Belgium at the crack of dawn (no jokes please) but not before I’d blown their stupid circuit with my hairdryer/kettle/heating combo. Did I feel guilty? Err no. 84 miles later we had crossed the remainder of Belgium, dipped our tyres in the Netherlands and picked our way down some very bizarre and narrow lanes (at one point I thought I was going down someone’s drive) to arrive at Campingplatz Stadt Koln – that’s Cologne to you and me. The owner is very pleasant and helpful, speaks English and has a batty 11 month old Golden retriever. I could pitch wherever I wanted but be warned it was boggy. I settled for a money can’t buy view of the Rhine (site is right on the banks) and the autobahn bridge. There’s no parking etiquette here, if people like your spot they will park within inches of your van! Great amenities, free hot water and a kiosk that today will be selling mainly beer – I love it. I have a spectacular view of the river and the German pursuits of running or power walking.
Weds 6th – HOMESICK BLUES (again)
I braved public transport and caught the metro into Cologne. I got caught up in world war 3 between 7 dodgy immigrant types and 4 butch looking ticket inspectors. The former didn’t have tickets and were asked to produce their passports then it all kicked off. Oh my stars what a welcome to German life (not). The people at the tourist info office were lovely but the remainder of Cologne aren’t paid to be so they aren’t. I took a few pics of the cathedral (Dom) found an internet cafe (cheap life saver) and went into 2 shops. It’s as if my head has suddenly been slammed between 2 bricks and reality has hit hard. I don’t like it here and I want to go home to the country I despise but know. Discovering a leak in the van just about sent me running up to the bridge to contemplate a swim. We now have no running water (had to turn it off to stop the leak) to go with our ‘never worked’ water heater – luxury. My plan to bugger off back to Calais and the Eurotunnel was soon scuppered when I realised that the stupid pet passport laws mean you can’t re-enter the UK until 6 months after your dog was blood tested…argh!! Don’t ask me why it’s bloody British bureaucracy so we’re stuck here til Jan 7th whether I like it or not. Lack of human interaction for me and the dogs is making this a very lonely trip.
Fri 8th – MUSIC AS THERAPY
After several hours wondering why the hell someone who feels very ‘alone’ in her own country would travel hundreds of miles to feel 10 times worse in a foreign country I opted for some ‘me time’ on the banks of the Rhine with my mp3 player ear phones glued in my ears and Paul Banks for company (if only) to watch the wonderful sunset. That guy soothes my soul and as I frequently say I would travel to the ends of the earth to see my band then that is what I must do. I may not like Europe and its inhabitants enough to stay but Interpol in Vienna will be worth it even if I do turn around and run straight back to Blighty. I’m sure many people will be rubbing their hands together at what they see as a failure but they’d be doing that anyway as I’ve never lived up their expectations/idea of a perfect female and all the usual crap. I suggest they sell up, pack up and come out here on their own before they judge. I have no desire to return to the Midlands nor the normal rat race – that much I do know and maybe that better life is still out there. Maybe I should’ve just looked a little closer to home before flinging myself across the channel. Oh well you live and learn.