We hope all of you had a wonderful x-mas and we wish y’all a very exciting, healthy and peaceful 2019.
Time goes by so fast! Especially when you’re enjoying it. Our x-mas, which we spend as always with the whole family, was very relaxing and wonderful. Having the opportunity to see and catch up with a lot of friends and family is just a must at this time of the year and we -of course- enjoyed it very, very much. Thanks to my big brother, who is hosting the family over x-mas, we gained some pounds because of his delicious cooking 😋.
But we’re not talking about that…
Leveraging our long distance car driving training from the US, it was a piece of cake to travel the 1500 km (one way) by car from La Rochelle. Our first stop was in Aachen to visit Luis and joining his x-mas party in his flat. The funny thing is, nothing has changed! The parties are still the same, everybody is drinking, talking, gathering in the kitchen and having fun. The only difference was that Luis friends came to introduce themselves, including handshake(!), and were saying Mr. and Mrs Rickert. You feel soooooo old! Can you imagine?
As our niece Sarina lives in Aachen too we took the opportunity to see her by inviting ourselves for breakfast. Thank you kid! We had the chance to admire her (she just moved in) new flat and to meet her boyfriend. Hopefully with our crazy behaviour due to a light hangover we didn’t scare him off. 😜
Dortmund was the next destination where we had an exquisite (of course with this perfect piece of meat you can’t do anything wrong 😉) dinner with our good friends Anja and Stephan. Unfortunately we couldn’t spend more time together but better little than nothing.
The next days we spent in Essen to see and enjoy my parents and more very good friends with even more good food. Somehow it is weird to be back at the place you have lived for quite a long time. Everything is and feels so familiar although you think it must be different.
Before heading to my brothers place in Leipzig we had a stopover in Rhauderfehn to see Norbert’s parents. There we were spoilt with nice chats, a great lunch and of course several cakes at teatime.
Open ended sabbatical (some people call it retirement) is such a good thing! Once you realize it, you really have time. So this year was the first time we had 5 days in Leipzig which was great. Enough time to talk, read, eat, strawl around or just do nothing – we loved it. As we were expecting some visitors from Austin on our boat, we had to slowly travel home to Altimate.
As every year our dear friends Marion and Thorsten (living in Essen) did invite for an after x-mas-party and as always we joined the party with pleasure. It was always great and nice to catch up with all the people you only see once a year but this time it was a blast as a friend of them was singing and playing the guitar and the off-tune piano. Really good fun. Thank you guys!
Early the next morning we picked up Jana (she stayed at the party with a sleepover) and gave her a ride back to Paris and we headed further south to La Rochelle.
The nice thing of getting visitors is not only to have fun and spend time with them but being forced to clean and tidy up the boat. So we did and were very proud of it.💪 Dec. 28. we were invited at Éric’s and Anne-Claire’s place for a so called relaxing dinner. (Eric is a collegue of Norbert who owns a beautiful appartement in La Rochelle.) It was a terribly nice evening with delicious french food (I like relaxing dinner!) and european guests. Three germans, 2 belgiums, one english, one portuguese woman and a french guy. We enjoyed it very much. Thank you Éric! (All of you, don’t forget to visit us on our boat before we leave. You’re all welcome anytime.) The next day was El Capitano’s birthday but as his wish was to do nothing but relaxing on his speacial day, we just did that..nothing.
And then they came – yeahhhhh. Marketa and William arrived in the early evening Dec 30. Courageous as they are, they had no problem with sleeping in the tiny aft berth on our boat at wintertime. In fact, I think they quite liked it. It is pretty cosy.😉 We showed off with La Rochelle including the market and had a lot of “Huitres” oysters for lunch. In the afternoon we prepared a soup for New Year’s Eve which William called : “Cheeseburger Soup”. (The soup is from leeks cooked in broth with melted cheese and minced meet). We organised a boat hopping evening with our british boat neighbours, everybody was asked to prepare some food and we changed the boats inbetween. We started on Altimate with some beers and the “Cheeseburger Soup” followed by Lawrence boat. He spoiled us with a stew (British !) and at Paulin’s and Rob’s boat we got some french pastry and of course more beer. It was a very amusing evening with lots of fun talk. The first day of the year was starting a bit lazy but only to be fit for the evening as LR seemed to celebrate the New Year with a street party. A kind of comedy play back spectacle with lots of very different kinds of music and a big house light show. It was very beautiful to see and funny to listen to even though we didn’t understand much.
As Marketa and William came with the car to LR , we took the opportunity and headed off to the far end of Île de Ré to visit the lighthouse and to show them the beautiful island. We also took advantage of the car to refill two 20 litres cans with diesel so we didn’t had to do it by foot. That probably safed us more than half a day. Unfortunately the next morning was already the last day for them at La Rochelle. After a little walk and a nice “Café Crème” and a delicious croissant in a Brasserie we sadly had to say good bye.
Being alone spurred us to start our remaining projects. Norbert replaced the old batteries with new and better ones, found space for two more and added a new alternator-to-batterie charger. These new batteries pitchforked us from 300 Ah to 625 Ah! Yeah!
The HAM radio (Amateurfunk) devices are installed and almost connected. We made a lee cloth, a salon bed and a ( I think very beautiful) wooden tread in the cockpit. When we were tired of working on projects we took some hours off and visited the amazing aquarium of LR and one sunny day we spontaniously took the train to go to the little village Rochefort.
We still have a big list of minor projects, but the big and very important ones slowly come to an end.
The “only” remaining one is the renewal of the old antifouling. To do this we’ll haul out Altimate in the middle of February for a week. So, we’re very excited and a bit scared how this will work out. We keep you posted.