Funny how the same word can mean slightly different things in different languages, similar enough for the etymological link to be evident, but different enough to sound slightly odd if used in the wrong sense in the wrong language. By way of example, we have just been back to Alsace and Lorraine to récupérer the things we left in the safe keeping of various Peter and Mangin households (awning, poles, camping chairs, mountain bikes…). We have also recuperated the car papers (which had an interesting journey from Essex via Surrey in the throes of the December snow which paralysed most of Britain, then on to Strasbourg – only took them about three months) and the Christmas parcel Rose sent from Montreal at the beginning of December which arrived in Strasbourg mid January. Getting all of these things has made us feel better in all sorts of ways so that’s another kind of recuperation. It’s like we had left a trail of gobbets of our stuff behind us on our way through and are now reassembling it and regrouping for the next phase.
DSCF0065.JPGWe spent a couple of nights with Eléonore and Michel in Saint-Avold, and had lunch with Marc and Janine on Friday. It was 15 degrees (+!) in Strasbourg, the birds were singing their wee Spring lungs out, buds were bursting, and we came back the long way over the crests of the Vosges where there was not the slightest trace of snow. What a difference a few weeks make.
DSCF0064.JPGYesterday was one of those central European travelling days we have come to know and love. We had breakfast in France (always a pleasure), lunch in Germany (in a Nordsee in Saarbrucken), afternoon refreshments in Luxembourg (tea for us, gazole for the car) and dinner in Deux-Acren.
DSCF0061.JPGIt was good to be back in Germany. It always is. Food is better – and cheaper – than either France or Belgium. The roads are good, people in the shops are really helpful, and the children sing and dance (see pictures!). Oh, and Ampelmann seems to have made a return (the pedestrian crossings in East Germany had a very purposeful man in a socialist realist hat who was so popular on both sides of the former border he became one of the early – and lasting –  symbols of reunification. ‘Why do you always say we can’t live here?’ Dee asks. Because other places are always more fun to visit and the cracks in the veneer of sunshine and opportunity only really appear when you start to plan to stay. We have some experience of that this winter.
This afternoon Wilf, Gélise and Binam have gone off in Bini’s van towing Brenda (our trailer) to recuperate some wood from Gélise’s mum. This involved quite a complicated set of manoevres to clear a space into which Lotte could be moved so that Brenda could be descended from her perch. Dee has checked our mountain bikes and we have just taken them for a bit of a birl along the river. That’s the first cycling we’ve been able to do since November, and a different, very welcome kind of recuperation.

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