Italy with the motorbike, part 6

Den deutschen Text findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 7)

18 May 2012
We were determined to see San Gimignano, so we started out, via Pontedera with its remarkable (irony) roundabout works of art, and Ponsacco to San Gimignano.

In the distance you can see the towers.

As you can see from the photos, we didn’t have a blue welcome-to-sunny-Italy-sky. It was actually more or less overcast all day, but warm.

Many say that this city is very touristy. Of course it is. In May, however, it wasn’t that bad, and despite the large number of people, the atmosphere was good. I found the small balconies and miniature terraces very remarkable, as well as the small alleys in which local products were sold, especially food, alcohol and handicrafts. And a boar’s head for 300 euros.

I would have loved to take the big vases with me, but that wasn’t possible on the motorcycle. Later a friend asked me why I hadn’t had them sent to me. The idea never occurred to me. Stupid!

Here is another work of art of a very special kind (see also first photo):

The „cornets“ were formed from wafer-thin slices of melon. So totally healthy with all that fruit!

We came across a Roma with a dog and a guitar. He lived in a small bus that was parked a little further away. We liked his music, flowing, easy … and we bought a CD. Often the music on a CD is something completely different then. That was also the case here. It was more in the direction of Django Reinhardt, which we, however, also liked.

And here comes a city tour of San Gimignano:

In the tiniest places people created gardens.

From the impressive city wall, one had a marvellous view over the Tuscan landscape.

This looks very much like a monastery.

I loved that wild growth on top of the city wall.

From San Gimignano we drove to Volterra, about 15 km away, a town with an impressive castle. But about that next time.

Italy with the motorbike, part 5

Den deutschen Text (zusammen mit Teil 4) findet ihr HIER.

May 16, 2012 continued

The Hotel Santo Steffano was run by a Swiss lady and her Italian friend. The associated restaurant, however, was driven by a different tenant. We ate there in the evening and thought it was very good. That night there was disco dancing at the restaurant until 2 a.m. Forget about sleep … We were actually most concerned about our motorcycle that was parked outside. We didn’t know what kind of people they were. Since we couldn’t sleep anyway because of the loud music, I snuck up to the first floor at the end of the disco evening. There was a window facing the parking lot, from where I could see if anyone was walking over to our motorcycle. But nothing happened, nobody even went near it, and after the last car door had slammed we could finally sleep. There is always disco on Wednesdays, so you are warned! Otherwise we can recommend the hotel. The lady of the house serves a very nice breakfast, even with an egg if you wish.

She told us how difficult it was to have a business in Italy; the taxes would eat you up. After paying her with cash, we saw her get into a car and drive off. We suspected she was out to pay someone to whom she owed money. They didn’t just live off the leased hotel; her boyfriend had another job. She was not very confident that they would be able to stay at the hotel under the circumstances that prevailed in Italy at the moment. It’s a shame, it looks like things are going downhill everywhere.


On Thursday we continued south. Friends had recommended the city of Lucca to us. We looked at the location on the map and found that there would be good day trip possibilities from there. So we decided to definitely stay there for three nights.

The way to Lucca led us via Carpi, Modena, Sassuolo, Frassinoro, Passo delle Radici, a beautiful pass road, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Gallicano, Bagni di Lucca.

In this section, too, I didn’t take as many photos as usual, I was so busy looking. So I will cheat and put in a few photos of the Passo delle Radici that I took on the way back.

In Lucca we only had to drive around for a short while to find an appealing hotel, Hotel San Marco. Since Saint Mark had already given us good accommodation in Auer, we decided to try it there. Also highly recommended, by the way, with underground parking. We have been lucky with our hotels. The hotel really looks like on the pictures, at least in 2012. The website is in four languages ​​and the young man at the reception spoke all four of them, English, French, German and Italian (he was Italian). The old town was only a five minutes walk from the hotel.

Here are just a few photos of Lucca, more will come later, because Lucca will get a separate post.

(To be continued)

Italy with the motorbike, part 4

May 16, 2012

We drove on towards Lago di Garda, but not on the motorway any longer, which we had already left in Bozen / Bolzano, via Trento, Arco, Nago, Torbole.

Let’s be honest, Lake Garda is over-praised in my eyes. I would prefer Lake Como at any time (I haven’t been to Lake Maggiore yet). But I think we were on the less interesting side of the lake.

This place would have appealed to me …

O.k., I admit, it wasn’t that uninteresting at all! But much nicer on the other bank … Maybe “our” side was too touristy for me.
[Why on earth was I so negative? It looks beautiful!]

Still there were nice little places: Malcesine, Porto, Campo, Castelletto, we ate in a rather kitschy restaurant on the beach, where they served really good food. We took our first break in Castelletto. The restaurant came later.

You can see from the flags that the wind came from the north / north-east. Therefore, it was not very warm in spite of the sun.

View from Castelletto to the other side of the lake.

I’m trying to crawl down into my jacket.

Here are two pictures of the restaurant. Everything was coloured in gold, even the decorations on the tiles and the curtains in the toilet.

One had a nice view.

Our way continued via Lazise (here we left Lake Garda), Valeggio sul Mincio, Marengo, Goito, Gazoldo degli Ippoliti, Marcaria.

Our GPS led us from Cesole to Dosolo on the dike along the Po, from where we had a breathtaking view. I was so blown away that I forgot to take photos. At first we weren’t sure if we were allowed to drive there, but then we met a few cars up there, so it seemed to be legal. In Dosolo we crossed the Po again. We actually wanted to find a hotel, but that turned out to be difficult.

In front of the town on the other side of the river, Guastalla, there was a luxury hotel complex on the right hand side with the problem that it was closed and abandoned. There was another hotel right across the street, but it looked very shabby. We drove further into town but couldn’t make out a single hotel. The population appeared to be mostly Indian or Pakistani. Not that I have anything against them, it just surprised me.

We saw ourselves forced to drive on, via Novellara to a small place called Ponte Vettigano, where we found the Hotel Santo Steffano.

(To be continued)

Italy with the motorbike, part 3 Auer/Oro

In diesem Beitrag findet ihr einige Fotos von der wunderschönen Altstadt Auers/Oros. Wir waren dort fast die einzigen Spaziergänger an dem Tag.

… In this post you will find some photos of the beautiful old town of Auer/Oro. We were almost the only people walking there that day.

Ich hätte absolut nichts dagegen, dort noch einmal hinzufahren! Am nächsten Sonnabend geht es weiter in Richtung Süden … 😉 🙂

… I would not be sorry at all to visit that place again! Next Saturday we will move on southward … 😉 🙂

Italy with the motorbike, part 2

The next day it was beautiful summer weather and we set off for the mountains.

First of all, we looked at the surrounding area, but after the first pass, the pass fever seized us.

We drove over a total of three passes: Passo di Rolle, Passo di Brocon and Passo Manghen. With the last one I was a bit queasy, because the street was very narrow, yes I would call it single-lane, and there was no wall or similar protective measures on the side of the precipice. I’m afraid of heights, but I still can’t stay away from mountains because they are so beautiful. Finding an open restaurant on the way was not so easy, as many establishments were still closed.

I’ll just take you on a motorcycle tour (for nerds 😉 ):

At the little Virgin Mary chapel we had reached the „real“ Dolomites:

It was kind of between two seasons, no more winter sports and not yet summer vacation. Here are some names of the places we came through: Trudno corni, Montagna, Cavalese, Bellamonte, San Martino di Castrozza, Fiera di Primiero, Imer, Canal San Bovo, Castello Tesino, Strigno, Telve (sounds like music).

From the Manghen Pass I have a few pictures from above of the parking lot and a view of the road we were supposed to drive down. There was a ridiculous little fence on the left, and that was it for the rest of the way! Hardly any people drove down there either.

On the way back we could see a dark wall of clouds behind us that seemed to be getting closer and we hurried as best we could. It was still nice in Auer, so we could take a long walk through the town. I’ll show the pictures of it, really many, next time.

(To be continued)

Italy with the motorbike, part 1

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER.

The film „Tea with Mussolini“ gave us the idea to travel to Tuscany, more precisely to visit San Gimignano. However, several years passed between the idea and the action. We are that kind of people, who for example plan to travel to Amsterdam from time to time and then end up in Berlin, Oslo or Paris. We saw Amsterdam when we planned to go somewhere else.

But now to Italy, especially Tuscany. It was in 2012, we took a vacation in May because we are not big fans of summer heat (haha). Back then we had a GoldWing 1200 Aspencade, with which we set out.

At the Gedser ferry to Rostock.

May 13, 2012

First we went from Rødvig (via the Gedser-Rostock ferry, Lauenburg and Lüneburg Heath) to Bad Münder at Deister to visit friends. Then we took the car train from Hildesheim to Munich. The train leaves Hamburg-Altona in the late afternoon and arrives in Munich around 7 a.m. Cars are added to the train in Hildesheim. For the loading, which was an adventure in itself, we had to appear early and then had a few hours to enjoy ourselves in Hildesheim. Without a means of transport, it didn’t really work out like that, and the sidewalks around the train station were folded up (meaning that we were in the middle of nowhere). There were only drinks from the machine, and on top of everything it was cold. I was happy about my thick jacket. And not only the jacket was thick at the time … [and now for that matter].

We had a sleeping cabin just for ourselves, even with a small bathroom. That turned out to be a mistake because the beds were awful and you slid back and forth or up and down in the curves as you want to look at it. You slept across the cabin, not lengthways, so when sliding in curves, it was either the feet or the head that bumped into the wall.

May 14, 2012

When we arrived in Munich in the morning, it was 4 degrees Celsius MINUS. We had apparently chosen the year with the coldest May in a long time. But the temperature rose rapidly and became more comfortable. Into Austria, our way led us on the Brenner motorway, which is very nicely laid out for a motorway, at least when you are on it.

Rest area impressions:

We saw some beautiful little places along the way including one with a small single-family castle (Colma), and decided to take the country road on the way back to take a closer look at the small towns.



The following photos I took from the motorcycle while driving.

Our first place to spend the night was Auer or Ora. We were in Tyrol, where everything is signposted in two languages, German and Italian. We stayed at Hotel Markushof. We can recommend it! Nice people, nice rooms, good food, what more can one wish for, and not expensive. Actually, the hotel also had a camping site, and the bike could be parked in an underground garage, perfect. (This is unpaid advertising. I would stay there again anytime!)

We liked the place and the surroundings so much that we decided to stay an extra day. After all, we didn’t have a fixed schedule.

(To be continued)

Schottland 1974, Teil 14 … Scotland 1974, part 14

Ihr findet die deutsche Version HIER zusammen mit Teil 13.

Glasgow (Scotland)-Kirkby Stephen (England, Durham County)-London-Hamburg

August 3, 1974 (Saturday)

From Glasgow we set off for home. We want to stay at Barnard Castle because somehow I would have liked to see Alan again. But there is only a note with ’sorry, no vacancies’ on the door. Since I still want to speak to him, but he is not there, we first go to a snack bar. Then I go back alone, without luggage. This time he’s there. King, his black dog, jumps at me to sniff. But where is Topsy, the gentle, spotted one? Alan confirms the contents of the slip but doesn’t recognize me. He just says we’d be in good hands at Kirkby-Stephen Youth Hostel. I thank him and leave in a hurry.

Barnard Castle, market place, photo:

To Kirby-Stephen we travel with a strange young man who has just built a house. He is very social and is always joking. With him you don’t know what is meant seriously. The youth hostel is tiny, I think it has 28 beds. The Warden is a bit older and sits around a bit lost and unnoticed in the common room / kitchen. [Today I think that one absolutely should have found a topic to talk about with him.]

In the evening, as always, we want to have a little fun. Fortunately, two men approach us who give us a recommendation so that we can join the village club. We are introduced to the intricacies of bingo, a lottery game that is boring in my eyes. I prefer the music of the really good band. However, those present seem to take the game extremely seriously. They get really upset if you don’t cross out a number that is being called. Ils sont foux, les romains!

Kirby Steven, one of this cosy little places, photo: I think.

August 4, 1974 (Sunday)

The next day brings us wonderful sunny weather, and we hike a little through the area. We refresh ourselves at the Black Bull inn. There are only men present . and they are trying to persuade my friend to play the guitar. She refuses, saying that she only plays for cows and sheep. Then these grown men start mooing and mowing like idiots. We can hardly stop laughing. As the weather worsens, we hurry back to the hostel.

The Black Bull hotel, former Black Bull inn, photo: I think.

August 5, 1974 (Monday)

The next morning, London stands before our minds. Kirkby-Stephen in the morning is a very quiet, lonely affair. We are already figuring out how many hours we will have to stand and wait, when a mini with two young men stops. And where do they want to go? To London! Fortune favours the, yes, what, the timid, the patient or the fools? 😉  They are from Glasgow and often go to London. They usually take the M6, the west coast motorway. Only today did they exceptionally choose the A1, „for a change“. Isn’t that ridiculously lucky? – Their names are Lesley and Robert. Lesley short and plump, a fun-loving Glaswegian; Robert a bit taller, blond and slim with a hint of a cowboy image. Lesley can play the guitar and performs songs by Billy Connolly. He thinks we’re nice. „It is fine to meet nice girls. There are so many not nice girls. “ – Robert keeps getting quieter. I have the impression that he would have preferred the other kind of girl. Lesley lives apart from his wife because he wants children and she does not. But he wants to go back to her.

In London we drive like crazy, it’s fun! We are making fun of some Indian royalty who are slowly cruising through London with a chauffeur and who we strangely meet again and again. Lesley and Robert have transported a till that they want to sell to a takeaway owner. However, for some reason it wasn’t the right one. Now the long journey has been in vain. „We can as well dump it into the river! I am not going to take it all the way back,” says Lesley. He tries to take the whole thing with humour. I can’t figure out Robert.

I call Badhe and Bola from Chelsea train station and learn that we cannot stay with them, the landlord does not allow it. So we’re trying to get back to our well-known Summer Hostel. „We are desperate,“ I say to the receptionist. „Me too,“ I get as answer. Finally they put us on camp beds for one night.

We spend the rest of the evening in Hyde Park and watch the sunset over the lake.

Sunset in Hyde Park, photo: flickr

August 6, 1974 (Tuesday)

We are invited to dinner at Badhe and Bola’s. They are very sorry that they could not accommodate us. Bola cooked chicken for us so that we could have something decent to eat on the ferry! She is a very sweet person.

I then buy a fabulous pair of boots in red and blue metallic for my African friend and just hope he’ll like them. [In case you should be concerned: he was delighted.]

August 7, 1974 (Wednesday)

The crossing is uneventful, luckily, no storm, no seasickness. My best friend and I are very melancholy and brooding for various reasons. I would have loved to swim back, just like last time. My girlfriend spends the night outside on one of the rescue boxes. But it’s too cold for me and I stay in the foul-smelling canteen.

One thing is certain: it will not be the last time I have been to Scotland!

[Tip: if you don’t like to fly, there is a ferry from Rotterdam to Hull, which is already in the north of England. Then you can also visit Yorkshire and the wonderful Lake District on your way to Scotland. And they have the Humber Car Museum in Hull!!!]

Finished, over, end of story … 😉 🙂

After Scotland we finished the boring secretary school (which was actually quite useful) and then began to work, and adult life started for real.

Schottland 1974, Teil 13 … Scotland 1974, part 13

The photo does not have any connection to part 13, I just thought it was funny. I found out that there are different warning signs for elderly people in Scotland. 😀 From the distances mentioned, this should have been near Torlinnhe guest house, but there is nothing to find on Google Earth. What I did see there, were road signs in two languages, English and Gaelic … 😉 … that’s new.

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER zusammen mit Teil 14.

Mountquhanie Estate-Stirling-Glasgow

July 29, 1974 (Monday)

Cross-eyed, tongue-biting Francesca, who is actually very nice, drives us to the main road to Edinburgh the next morning, on the orders of Bob, who kisses us goodbye. Bob is a really nice, down to earth guy.

We arrive there around noon already, and there are only two beds left in the youth hostel. So we would have to sit in front of the door for two hours to be the first when it opens at 2 p.m. We say thank you very much and move on to Stirling. This city is very nice, with old half-timbered houses and a small castle-like building with an inner courtyard and lattice gate as a youth hostel.

View on Stirling from Stirling Castle, photo:

In the evening we go the inevitable walk to the pub, the ’Red Lion’, a pub for young people, where a lonely guitarist makes music. Here we see a boy with the currently so modern, individual, coloured strands of hair. Also popular are those Spanish matador pants with a high waist and then an earring in the left ear. In the cities, the boys also run around with pants that only go to the ankle, but have wide legs (the trousers). The girls all look the same on Friday evening, because almost without exception they wear the latest fashion and makeup, without much variation. Of course, we really stick out, no make-up in our backpacks.

The Red Lion pub does not seem to exist anymore, so I give you a city scenery. I like Stirling.

July 30, 1974 (Tuesday)

The next morning we plan a trip to Bannockburn, where Malcolm’s mother lives. We can get there without difficulty, but neither Mrs. MacInnes nor Malcolm and Margaret are at home. They will probably spend a few more days in their caravan in Morar, they had hinted at something like that. Since we‘ are in a bad mood anyway, we stroll around Bannockburn and spend most of our time eating.

Bannockburn, back to historical times …

[History: The Battle of Bannockburn (24 June 1314) was a significant Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence, and a landmark in Scottish history.
Stirling Castle, a Scots royal fortress, occupied by the English, was under siege by the Scottish army. Edward II of England assembled a formidable force to relieve it. This attempt failed, and his army was defeated in a pitched battle by a smaller army commanded by Robert I of Scotland (Robert the Bruce).
I don’t want to be negative, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have helped them much …]

July 31, 1974 (Wednesday) (July 31 to August 2; departure August 3, Saturday)

The next day we continue to Glasgow. We want to spend the next three days there, such idiotcy! We don’t know what to do without Margaret, who is at Loch Windermere with Eddie and the girls. Mainly we go shopping and get bored. My best friend is homesick and finally wants to go home, while I would like to move on forever. In the evening we don’t dare to go anywhere on our own, except to a really nice Italian restaurant, where they are very friendly and courteous.

Youth hostel in Glasgow, Park Terrace, photo:

Some of the other hostel guests tell us stories that once again put the friendliness and helpfulness of the Scots in their true light. A very young American was picked up by an elderly couple somewhere in the country, soaked in the rain. They took him home, gave him food and let him stay overnight while his clothes were drying. The next morning they gave him a thick sweater as a present.

Another boy says he was stranded alone in Glasgow one night. A police officer gathered all the young hitchhikers he came across in the shelter of a bus stop, because it was too dangerous at night alone in Glasgow.

One evening we are walking in the vicinity of the youth hostel when a blond, slightly drunk Scot approaches us. I think his name is Alex. He really wants to show us a really great pub. On the way there he keeps slapping us clumsily on the shoulder. The barmaid in the pub is classy to look at, with short, straight, black hair, very painted, but that probably follows with the profession. Alex calls her ’Fury’: „This is Fury, she is a really good friend“.

Then he drags us to another pub, where, it seems to me, mainly very young girls (around 13 years old) and older men hang out. One of them joins us, a friend of our blonde. He is a typical slime and tries to get into conversation with me. He tries out all sorts of topics, including football (yawn). Every time he tries, I just reply: „I do not know anything about this!“ or „I am not interested in that!“ – That way I get rid of him very soon. [I wonder why we went with this guy in the first place, but I guess we had to pass the time somehow. We didn’t have too much of a drive at that time.]

Coming back to the hostel, a letter from my African friend is waiting for me, in which he gives me precise instructions regarding his boots. Snake skin is out! How good that we didn’t buy them at the beginning of the trip. 😉

(To be continued)

Schottland 1974, Teil 12 … Scotland 1974, part 12

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER, zusammen mit Teil 11.

A short part, our last day at Mountquhanie Estate.

Mountquhanie Estate, photo: Rightmove

There is also a dog on the farm, a completely uneducated, black, smooth-furred island dog named Moy, who is beautiful but excruciatingly annoying. While eating, he playfully bites our legs under the table and tears everything off the table that is not nailed down, if you leave him alone in the kitchen. Once he spreads half a pound of butter on the floor and sprinkled it with the contents of a large bag of peanuts (peanut butter, hehe).

He resembled this one, but totally black. Photo:

[I can’t remember the older boys, maybe they weren’t even there, just the two girls and the baby.] The girls have ponies that look very fat. I express the desire to ride, so of course the two girls also want to and put on their fancy riding gear, only to ride an ungroomed pony bareback. The animals have not been ridden for a long time and obviously want to leave it at that. Believe it or not, we have to shove them out of the paddock!

Photo: Pixabay – Alexas_Fotos

Once outside, they show themselves more willing. I’m sitting on the bigger pony with one of the girls behind me. It could be very funny if Moy (the dog) weren’t chasing after us snapping at the pony. When he then bites into the tail of our pony and lets himself be dragged along, it’s too much for the horse. It jumps into the air a few times with all fours (with two riders !!!) and kicks out, with the result that Moy runs away, howling. The pony must have hit him hard. We see him chase around the house a couple of times like a black lightning and then disappear into it. The rest of the day he remains unseen, as does my riding companion. Of course we fell off during the bucking, but we didn’t fall deep and into soft grass. Anyway, I have the pony to myself for the rest of the time. And Moy is unlikely to venture near a pony again anytime soon.

Photo: Pixabay – minka2507

Felicity is now planning her vacation trip. Her choice falls on Cyprus, from where, because of the war, all foreigners are being evacuated. (But nowadays it is no longer called war, but ’conflict’.) She loves to go where there are not so many tourists and where there is something to experience. (I find this snobbery inappropriate. After all, people are dieing there!)

On our last day in Mountquhanie, a new au pair arrives, Francesca from Edinburgh. The girls hope that she is not a ’Beauty Queen’, because those are useless.

In the evening the five of us go to the pub (Jim with four women, he enjoyed that …) [ I think Caroline the secretary was the fourth woman], for a welcome drink for Francesca and a farewell drink for us, because we want to leave the next day. I think it’s pretty boring because the conversation is almost all gossip. Francesca is very nice. There is only one thing I don’t like: she sometimes underlines her stories by squinting, sticking out her tongue and biting on it. That should be ’cute’ for sure, but after the umpteenth time it loses its charm and looks silly (at least to me, maybe men see it differently). Anyway, Jim seems very taken with her. And he finally gives us a plausible answer to the question why one puts milk in one’s tea: „Because otherwise it is too hot!“

It could have looked like this, the freehold pub in Cupar, photo:

[At that time the estate was mainly used for agriculture, at least that’s how I remember it. Nowadays rooms in the manor house and cottages on the estate are rented out to tourists, often golf tourists. (It’s close to St. Andrews, the Scottish Gulf Mecca.) In my opinion, the rooms didn’t look as nice as on the website at the time, but maybe I just didn’t see them. We all ate together in the kitchen. However, the link does not work anymore, Mountquhanie does not appear on that B&B website anymore.]

(To be continued)

Schottland 1974, Teil 11 … Scotland 1974, part 11

That was a comparatively short distance for us to travel in one day. The bridge must have veen 2 km long (ca. 1.4 miles).

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (Teil 11 und 12 zusammen. Wie ihr sicherlich bereits bemerkt habt, habe ich mich bemüht, mehr und bessere Bilder zu finden).

Perth-Mountquhanie Estate (Cupar, Fife)

July 26, 1974 (Friday to Sunday, departure Monday July 29, 1974)

Our next destination is Mountquhanie Estate, a large estate in County Fife, near the village of Cupar. We got the address from a Franciscan nun, an acquaintance of my friend. In response to a letter, we were invited to visit. [I don’t remember exactly why we were invited, but the owner at the time was a very hospitable man.]

We are taken to Dundee by a Scottish politician named John Fairly [I googled and could only find one Jim Fairlie who fits in age and with the political activities] (he was either an SNP politician or a union man). He reports that he used to hitchhike himself when he was still studying and had no money. We have a very interesting conversation with him in the parking lot in Dundee. We tell him about the radical from Invershin. He says that in ten years Scotland will be independent, without violence, democratically. [That was 1974. Unfortunately that didn’t happen in 1984; in 2015 they had a chance though.] I also mentioned the Scots‘ depressing attitude towards their own country. “No wonder,” he says, “if you tell a people for centuries that it is worthless, in the end they will believe it themselves!”

However, he also has a question for us. A group of Bavarians recently visited Scotland and said that they played a role in Germany that was similar to that of Scotland in Great Britain: Bavarians were also denied independence. In my opinion, the two situations cannot be compared. Bavaria was a member of the German Confederation, which later resulted in among others the Federal Republic of Germany. Bavaria was not colonized by its neighbours, and its raw materials are not being bought by the neighbouring states at underprice, at least I don’t think so. [That is what we were told in Scotland, that they have to pay more for their own products than the people in London. I heard the same said in Wales on a later travel. I do not know, if it is true.]

An impressive bridge, but this is not the one we walked over, this is the railway bridge. Okay, okay, yes there were railway bridges we walked over … 😉 Photo: Wikipedia

We say goodbye and make our way over the Tay Bridge. It’s long, longer, longest, if you have to cross it in a strong headwind. The place on the other side is called Newport, apparently a settlement of better-off people, where we have lunch at the Seymour Hotel. The young waitress finds it boring here; she would rather live in Dundee. I don’t find Dundee particularly appealing myself. But maybe there are nice spots there too.

This is the one we walked over, it is for cars, cyclists and pedestrians. You can clearly see the difference between Dundee and Newport. Photo:

Bob, the owner of Mountquhanie, picks us up from Newport. Felicity, his wife, reminds us of a decadent noblewoman; Bob seems more down to earth. They have six children, two girls and four boys, one of whom is still a baby. Two au pair girls are always employed on the estate, ’Felicity’s slaves’ and Jim, an agriculture student, ’Bob’s slave’. I would prefer to work for Bob. The girls are busy washing dishes and cooking food all day and otherwise have to take the children for a drive in the car or do something else with them. Bob also has an agriculture secretary, a sturdy girl.

In order to earn our food in some way, we offer Bob the work of our hands (those lily-white hands). The only thing that bothers me is my cold. I feel really bad.

Bob actually finds us a job. We are supposed to help clip the wings of the pheasants.

There are four large cages full of the critters. They are to be driven into a small wooden hut in front of each lattice, cage by cage. With the first cage, it’s still comparatively easy. Meanwhile, however, the others have noticed that something is going on and are behaving accordingly hysterically.

One of us has to go into the hut (small, narrow, filled with pheasants in advance), grab a bird there and reach it with the head first through a small hole outside, which is opened by means of a flap from the outside at the command of the one that is seated inside. There the other receives the animal and holds it while Caroline (the agricultural secretary) trims the feathers of the wings. We are getting used to it very quickly. Sitting in the hut is uncomfortable. The frightened animals get scared (and the runs) and bite and scratch as far as they can in this narrow space.

At the end of this battle we load the pheasants into wire baskets and put them in a large outdoor enclosure while Bob prepares the houses for the new chicks. Until now these have been housed in an empty hayloft in an empty barn, in small, round cages that are unfortunately open at the top. When we start to catch them, a good number of them scuffle over the fence and hide behind the chipboard that is conveniently standing everywhere.
Pheasant chicks are cute, like all chicks. I don’t know how many there are, but very many, an endless bustle. I find it kind of cruel to transport these many chicks in just two wire baskets, stacked on top of each other like sardines.** Not everyone of them survives the transport intact; some arrive with sticky, bloody feathers or a broken leg or wing. (But farmers somehow have a thicker skin. How else can you raise animals just to be gunned down by some people? But I am a hypocritical meat eater: if I had to kill the animals myself, I would be a vegetarian.) [Since 1983 I’m a vegetarian.] We count the chicks into the little houses where Bob has now hung up heating lamps, because if possible there should be the same number in each one.
** [I thought later that maybe even more would have been injured, if they could have moved freely in the wire baskets during transport.]

Mountquhanie Estate House. Even from above one can see how beautiful the house and the lands are, and well kept. Photo: Google Earth.

(To be continued)