Last weekend we were treated to a long weekend away courtesy of my parents as my birthday gift (it was a special number of birthday after all 😉 ) The destination was Germany, to visit mmy friend who I’ve known since we were paired up for the exchange that our schools organised when we were 14. We now both have families, and we don’t manage to write to each other as often as we once did, but we are still in touch and so are our families, who have visited each other on a few occasions in the past, including for each of our weddings.
Part of the present was for my parents to come with us for extra pairs of hands – I can’t imagine flying on our own with energetic 9 month old and 2 year old boys! So on Thursday, off we all travelled on our Germany adventure. We flew into Cologne/Bonn airport and hired a car to drive to our first location – a sleepy village in the Westerwald, home to my friend and her in-laws, about half way between Cologne and Frankfurt am Main. The area is beautiful, full of trees (Wald = forest), rolling hills and quaint villages. We stayed in the neighbouring village called Friedewald, in the old castle – yes that’s right, actually in the castle, which has been done up fairly recently (in the life span of the building at least) into a hotel. This was the perfect setting for us all.
On Friday (my birthday) we decided to go swimming because my friend, knowing how much we love it, recommended a pool that had very recently opened up in the nearest town – Loewenbad, Hachenburg. The weather was warm, muggy, overcast and occasionally drizzly, so we decided that swimming would be a great activity, especially as there was an outdoor pool as well as an indoor one at the complex. Plus we always take the opportunity to go swimming when we have extra pairs of hands because it can be quite a handful with both the boys, even with two of us adults.
We were very impressed when we arrived, there was something for everyone. There was a plain indoor pool where I could swim some lengths, as well as a gorgeous little padding pool with lovely warm water, just right for Joel. Andrew spotted the water slide outside, so he, Daddy and Grandad went outside to the slide and happily plunged into the cooling water. The little swimmer was slightly shocked by the temperature of the water as he came off the end of the slide, but was soon happy to do it again, and again, and again….! The outdoor pool was amazing: a plain pool as well as the slide and another bit for kids with a seal squirting water and even an outdoor heated paddling pool for babies which Joel enjoyed. The pool was set in a grassy area so there was plenty of space to play outside, sunbathe and eat a picnic if you wanted on a sunny day – the entrance fee was valid for a whole day, and was very reasonable considering you could spend a good day there. We had a birthday lunch planned back at the village, so just spent an hour or so there, going between the various parts of the pool between us. I haven’t been to an outdoor pool for a long time, and I was so glad that we all got to enjoy this outdoor swimming while the weather was warm enough.
Then on Saturday we headed about an hour and a half north to Hemer, the town where my friend’s parents still live, where I stayed for the original school trips before she moved south when she got married. It had been 10 years since I was last there, and the town has undergone quite a lot of regeneration. On Saturday late morning, just after we got there, we walked the short distance down into the town centre and the boys had fun on the new playground in the pedestrian zone. There is a blue ‘band’ with water in that runs down a slope around the playground; this was perfect for walking through and cooling off our hot feet, and both boys loved it. We spent the afternoon in the garden, and my friend’s sisters and their families came for Kaffee und Kuchen (German equivalent of afternoon tea). The kids had great fun playing with the various water toys, which included two water slides, a paddling pool, and some water shooters. We all got very wet once the toddlers realised that it was fun to get the parents and grandparents soaking as well as themselves. But we didn’t mind, it was so good to cool off in the heat.
On Sunday morning we headed across the town to a new attraction, the Sauerland Park. This was perfect for kids of all ages as well as their parents and grandparents for a fun family day out. We started off on the adventure playground, which is called “Zwergengold” (Dwarves’ Gold). It is made to look like a little dwarf town, set in the woods, and gives the impression of a little touch of magic about it. Andrew enjoyed this, and we all had a go on the twin log swing! Then we walked to the viewing tower, and those of us who weren’t afraid of heights or trying to get a tired baby to sleep without distractions climbed to the top to get an impressive view across the town and the Sauerland. Again Andrew was very impressed with this. Next we found an exercise area with outdoor gym equipment. We all had a go on a few things, and the trampolines were a big hit with young and old alike.
A walk further down the hill brought us to a sandy play area with water features. Next to it was a cafe so we bought some nice cool drinks and the adults sat and had a rest while Andrew played in the sand and Joel was just waking up from his nap. Andrew also spotted a carousel with various vehicles on it a bit further down the hill near the entrance/exit, so after playing in the sand we headed down there and he chose which vehicle he wanted to sit on – of course it was the fire engine! (Well actually he wanted to go on the tractor but another little boy had beat him to it!) Soon it was time to leave and get home for lunch with the extended family again so we could make our flight in the afternoon. As we walked to the exit there was a big paddling pool being filled with water, so we took our shoes off and had a quick splash through it on our way out – Andrew was particularly interested by the little boy who was riding his bike through the pool!
All in all we had an amazing time and thoroughly enjoyed our time in Germany. The weather was warm and mostly sunny which meant we had plenty of opportunity to get outside with the boys and the family we went to visit.
Next weekend we’re off to Devon to see Grandma and Pop – handy having the boys’ other grandparents living near the seaside – so I’m sure I’ll be back with more outdoor tales after that 🙂
Linking up with the amazing Country Kids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog