For the first time since I started this blog, I am blogging not from home but (more or less) "live" from the place I'm at right now: Ripon, Yorkshire, England.
This is possible thanks to O.K. who has kindly lent me his MacBook. It does not only mean that we can stay in touch easier (and not depend on text messages which can run up a substantial mobile phone bill from one country to the other), it also allows me to keep up with your blogs, look up timetables for buses and trains or opening times of places of interest, and of course I can blog, too.
I won't do much of the latter, as I do not have the equipment here to transfer pictures from my camera to the MacBook, but every now and then my sister takes a photo with her mobile phone, and I am allowed to use these.
The account of our journey from Ludwigsburg to Ripon is long... as was the journey! So brace yourself for more detail than you probably care to know, or simply skip the next few paragraphs.
We set off at around 1:20 pm from home and arrived at the cottage in Ripon around 9:00 pm. Add one hour for the different time zone, and the trip took nearly 9 hours. Only a small portion of that was spent in the air; the flight from Stuttgart to Manchester takes well under 2 hours.
But we had to take two different trains from Ludwigsburg to the airport. Our flight was delayed; it had not yet arrived from Manchester at the time it was actually supposed to be already in the air again with us on board.
While we were being processed for boarding, we saw the plane landing and people getting off. Then it was our turn. The 40 minute delay was cut short to 25 minutes thanks to favourable winds.
In Manchester, waiting for our luggage took some time, too. We then made our way to the train station as quickly as possible, but it was a rather long walk all across the airport. One train took us into Manchester itself. The next train - the Transpennine Express to Leeds - was already at the platform, and left exactly at the time it was supposed to leave.
In Leeds, it was the same story - our connecting (local) train to Harrogate was already there. It left even 3 seconds before its scheduled departure! In Harrogate, we walked out of the train station and over to the bus station, when the bus to Ripon was just pulling up. So, apart from the plane's delay, everything went really smoothly. We were so lucky!
The only "problem" about never having any waiting time between one leg of the journey and the next was that we did not have a chance to buy anything to eat or drink. Lunch had been little and early, and there had been nothing to eat or drink on the plane (flying with a cheap airline means they expect you to fork out an inordinate amount of money even for a small bottle of water). The plan had been to get sandwiches and drinks at some stage while waiting - but we never had to wait!
On the Transpennine Express, a friendly man with a trolley sold us a bottle of water, tea and a packet of crisps. That was all we had until we arrived at the cottage, where a most welcome surprise was waiting for us:
My sister-in-law had kindly left a bag for us, with bread, milk, orange juice, cheese, butter, eggs, jam, tea, coffee, biscuits and even a bottle of white wine! How kind and thoughtful that was!
Slices of bread with butter and cheese have never been so tasty :-)
You won't be surprised to hear that we slept like logs.
The next day, Wednesday (yesterday), was beautiful - warm, sunny, blue skies. We spent all afternoon in our garden, with my sister-in-law and my niece joining us for tea and cakes, and catching up with each other. It was a wonderful day, the first of our two weeks here in Ripon at "our" Matchbox Cottage.
(The pictures are from around lunch time, not in the garden but taken right in front of the house. The cat is our new little friend; we think she belongs to our landlord's daughter and have not yet had occasion to ask her name.)