We're home in Berlin again!
Our trip back to the UK was so much shorter than previous years - just three weeks instead of the six we spent there last year.
This meant we couldn't meet up with so many people and I feel really bad about missing out on catching up properly with my friends. Most of my time was actually spent at opticians! More of that in another post, maybe.
As last year, we drove to and from the UK. It's one hell of a trip.
Driving through Germany is good.
The Autobahns are such fun! No speed limit. No worrying about speed cameras, no bunching up, no tailgating. Drivers drive properly, ie overtaking then pulling in as you are supposed to rather than sitting in the central or fast lane like the Brits do. Mind you, you would not want to stay on the outside lane for long as sports cars appearing out of nowhere at 200mph are a bit scary!
We stopped for a couple of breaks at the service stations. Germany is a very dog-friendly country and there are plenty of places to walk the dog during the stops. At one I found this gorgeous meadow behind the restaurant where Kita was able to stretch her legs to her heart's content.
We broke the journey at a hotel we discovered last year. After driving through the whole of Germany - which is a massive country - we stopped at the fabulous Hotel Sternzeit. It's a very dog-friendly place and Kita is welcomed in the rooms and restaurants. I can highly recommend this place and the food is amazing.
Tim had prepared a delightful surprise for me and secretly booked us a suite! It was wonderful; two rooms. I had the best night's sleep I've had in a long while.
After breakfast we prepared to leave, but Kita loved it so much she went into hiding. I think she wanted to stay there! I knew how she felt...
A quick detour to a village nearby so Tim could take a look at the house he lived in for a few of his childhood years then on to the next leg of the journey.
Speed limits now. Need to keep an eye out for them.
It may be just the route we take but service stations are few and far between. But it's not long until the next border...
Very flat landscape, of course. In fact, the entire journey is across very flat land. Wind turbines are much in evidence; I like them so enjoy seeing them.
Last year we got caught in a massive traffic jam in Antwerp. It was to get through a tunnel. So this year we made a detour to avoid it.
We have decided that Belgian drivers are nuts (with apologies to my Belgian friends and for the massive generalisation!). They pull out in front of other vehicles with no warning, swerve in and out as if they are driving in the States and are generally to be give a wide berth. Not easy.
Finally into France and to the Eurotunnel.
France is actually the prettiest country we drive through. And we take a much needed diversion to a beach near Calais before heading under the Channel. We discovered it last year when we were killing time before our allotted train time. The beach is huge and the sea is so far away we haven't actually seen it yet!
I am most impressed with this mode of transport - once I got over my fear of being under the water...
When you check in (automatically) you are offered the opportunity to catch an earlier train which saves so much waiting around.
Kita has to go to an animal check in place to have her microchip and passport checked, then there's just time for a comfort break, dog walk and a cup of coffee before driving onto the train.
After 35 minutes on the train journey we emerge into the grey light of England.
My first comment was "Hills! Proper hills!"
Yes, the English countryside is gorgeous, and it seemed that the endless rain had indeed emphasised this "green and pleasant land".
Then we had to negotiate the M25 and the appalling driving prevalent in Briatain.
Finally and very wearily we reached my Mum's house.