Alsace, at Last!

DSCF1023.JPGWoke up this morning in Obernai. It’s exactly four weeks today since we left Lewiston. Within that time there were only 8 travelling days in which we covered just over 1,000 miles, some places we stayed a bit longer than expected because we were comfortable, relaxed and able to recover our strength (Mum’s, Eléonore’s), and some where we had an enforced extension for one reason or another (Stratford, Chertsey).

DSCF1021.JPGThere may well be something in that it’s taken us a full cycle of the moon to get here, I’m not sure what exactly, but one of the lessons of the last few weeks has been about the importance of respecting natural rhythms. Plus we’ve noticed before that the French seem to be particularly interested in biodynamics and moon cycles (‘le jardinage avec la lune’). When we were at Saint-Avold Michel with great kindness brought us some weekend papers – including an edition of the Sun which having quickly perused for the essentials (football, latest gossip about Strictly and X Factor contestants) I then put to good use under our doormat – and a couple of gardening magazines, one of which has a handy lunar calendar for 2011.

Our first sortie having pitched last night was to the Obernai Christmas market, just as the sun was setting. Gentle lights, soft music, an intoxicating smell of vin chaud and chestnuts, subtly mixing with tarte flambée, bretzels, bière chaude and myriad other culinary delights. The crowd seemed to be overwhelmingly local (I heard no German or English, although there seem to be quite a lot of Belgian cars around), animated and good-humoured (doing that European thing that the British seem not to be able to manage of having a bit to drink in a crowd without turning aggressive or thieving).

DSCF1022.JPGThere are lots more Christmas markets to visit – with an eye on commercial possibilities and gaps we might be able to fill (there’s no-one selling hand-made cards or place-mats for example – if there were an artist or two in the family there might be potential here…

We also keep reminding ourselves we are not here on holiday, nor just to write and illustrate the story. But I do have a rather splendid view of Mont-Sainte-Odile and Haut Koenigsbourg at the moment (castles and monasteries atop every summit, we must be in Central Europe), which is both inspiring and distracting.

DSCF1024.JPGWe changed pitch this morning, moving about 50 meters closer to the main campsite office in order to pick up wifi. Today’s additional challenge has been that Dee tried to fix the heater  (it was making heat fine, just also making a bit of a noise about it) and having got the thing apart we can’t get it back together again. It’s still making heat, and even more noise. An engineer is coming tomorrow afternoon.

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