Sunday, May 10, 2015


     I normally reserve this blog for cycling activities, so I really need to spin it this way: our two week holiday (using the British term for vacation) resulted in my being off the bike, necessitating serious training now that we're back.
     One activity on our to-do (I detest the term "bucket") list was to volunteer at son Kurt's running events.  Several years ago he left the corporate world to pursue his passion: trail running.  Yes, he does run a lot (completing the Rocky Raccoon this year), but he and wife, Nicola, started Cotswold Running.  They organize off-road long-distance races.  I refer you to their website.  His Evesham Ultra (~45 miles) on April 26 fit nicely into our calendar.
     In addition, touring Berlin has been high on Marilane's agenda for quite a while, so we cobbled the two together since we were more or less "in the neighborhood."
     Kurt met us at Heathrow after our non-stop flight from Austin.  I prefer the back seat when driving in the UK, as I tend to not jerk as much when the cars come from different directions.  Therefore most of the conversation in the two hour trip was between Marilane and Kurt.  Once we left the city, the vibrant yellow rapeseed fields held my attention.  And, I managed to stay awake.  Kurt has a small house and Nic's parents from Scotland were also volunteering and staying with them, so we stayed at the Evesham Hotel (quirky but very nice).  I mention this because in strolling between the hotel and house, we passed lovely trees in bloom.  I might also mention we managed to bring some really cold air with us, so all pictures have us well-layered.
     It doesn't matter what the goal, be it studying for a test, achieving something in business, training for an athletic event, the old maxim holds true: the harder you prepare, the easier the test (task).  In my cycling venues, when everything goes smooth as butter, I know the organizers worked their butts off in the preparation.  Same for Kurt's runs.
     Marilane and I had several chores, minor helping with check-in, then walk to the first turns to direct the runners (they had the whole course marked, but people waving in front of faces and giving encouragement is always welcome), then we had several hours off before the runners returned.  We were charged with serving refreshments in the hall while Kurt and Nic handled the finish line.  In a seven-to-ten hour race, the runners come in more or less separately.
     One of the things Kurt does is post a large map of the race course on the wall.  I didn't think much about it until he started receiving calls from runners who had missed a turn and needed to get back on course.  He knows his routes like the back of his hand and only needed for the runner to describe the surroundings before he found him on the map and directed him/her the best way to pick up the course.  Almost all of the runners did "bonus" miles.  Interestingly enough, almost all the runners praised how well the course was marked, blaming themselves for their mistakes.
     All runners accounted for, none injured; we celebrated at the pub.  Check-mark on our list.  We managed a few touristy things also.  On a visit several years ago we attended a play in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).  This year we had a very interesting back-stage tour.  We also toured Hampton Court, another place on Marilane's list of things to see.  Then it was a flight to Berlin.
     Marilane had booked us a private guide to take us around town to important spots and explain history.  We learn so much more on a private tour.  Our first act upon checking in was to purchase five-day transit passes.  These are good on all the trains, trams, and buses within the city, and Potsdam.  I loved not messing with paying each time we got on.  Highlights of the trip included the Jewish Quarter, the
Wall, Museum Island (including Nefertiti and the gate of Ishtar) the Reichstag building, a trip to the palace in Potsdam and in the other direction, attended a choral concert at the  Cistercian Kloster Chorin.  We took a blah river cruise of the city. We also ran across a May Day protest march (several groups, mostly labor).  We didn't have time for several other museums, found a great vegan restaurant.
     The train drivers (are they really still called engineers?) called a strike for 3pm Tuesday.  I lost track of the day, so we took several unnecessary taxi rides on Monday.  Tuesday afternoon we flew to London, stayed overnight and came home Wednesday.  Here it is Sunday and I'm still not over jet-lag.



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