Hardly slept at all, and awakened at the disgusting hour of 5.40am with the loud knock on the door and the light switched on. Had a cup of tea at least, but it took a long time to get used to how early it was. Panic over Jerry Mouse who was apparently lost – later discovered in the over-night suitcase to everyone’s relief. Our car was already out for us thank heaven, some people must have waited for hours, further back in the boat. Drove into Gouda looking for bread – eventually tracked down a sliced loaf, and sat in the car in the market square eating bacon (brought cooked from home) sandwiches. Weather dull and wet, and continued thus all day on and off – thunderstorms mostly and very unpleasant. Had a stop for coffee at 9.30 at a very pleasant motel, very civilised, it even had a little drinking trough for dogs outside. Coffee was very welcome, especially for David who hadn’t had an early drink.
Drove on down the autobahn – very congested traffic only moving slowly especially in the Ruhr, terrific number of heavy lorries, often pulling trailers. Coming the other way even more traffic, much worse than our way, with lots of army lorries crawling along pulling guns, etc. Decided to lunch off the motorway as we needed some bread to go with the cooked chicken we’d brought from home, so drove into Siegburg, just past Cologne. Bought rolls, sticks and strawberry flan in the bakers, the children were given some sweets which pleased them! Then got some wine and had a picnic in a bus shelter, very enjoyable, with lots of innocuous Bingen white wine.
Drove on – road congested all the way, made our motorways superb in contrast, and driving standards certainly no better than ours – much weaving in and out of lands and dreadful cutting in. Stopped for a cool juice near Frankfurt then bashed on to Karlstuke. This was appalling traffic, at a complete standstill very often – only 2 lanes and therefore easily blocked with all the heavy traffic. Tottered off to Pforzheim, parked the car in a multi-story car park and looked for an hotel. It was going home time – 5.30 so streets were crowded, but found a hotel in a side street, negotiated for two double rooms and settle the children in bed after feeding them chicken and rolls. Their room very nice, plenty of room for all three in the vast bed (2 single beds pushed together) and down covers instead of ordinary bedding. We had to dry out contents of the over-night case – heavy rain had penetrated a tear in it, and many things were soaked. Fortunately radiators were working in the bedrooms, so this was coped with.
David and I staggered out for a meal after bedding down the children. Very boisterous by now. Shops all very prosperous looking and expensive, some incredible furniture, very avant-garde, orange plastic chairs for example which folded into an egg shape when not in use! Found a ‘cellar’ which served nice sounding food, and had a gorgeous meal amid all the bourgeois males (no other women!) of Pforzheim. Super chicken noodle soup, the goulash, noodles and pink cabbage for me, and wiener schnitzel and a collection of salads for David, and large glasses of chilled white wine.
On our way back we saw a florist’s with fascinating automat containing bunches of flowers, thought it a very good idea. Also saw a wedding car with beautiful bouquet arranged in a vase on the bonnet.
Pforzheim quite big, and mostly very new. Obviously an industrial town, but nothing very evident except that the river was a very odd shade of brown. Stuttgart nearby has precision industries, so Pforzheim similar no doubt. It was a long day’s drive, starting at 6.30am but we did 400 miles and felt well on our way to Venice.