Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Andrea Joins Us and We Have Tea With Count Moy

When I was staying in Almaty in the summer of 2010, I met a brace of German lawyers, Gabrielle Doering and her husband Wolfgang. Gaby keeps her own horse and promised to help me if I passed through her part of the world.  At that time I did not know my exact intentions, but when I checked her address after Franz and I had roughly planned out a possible route, amazingly she lived almost exactly on it at Blaubeuren near Ulm! 
Through Gaby we came in contact with her friend the redoubtable Andrea Renz, who has ridden through Germany and came on board to help with route planning.  Even better it turned out that she would be able to join me for part of the ride through Germany.  So she was waiting for us at Marienheim with her horse Leonardo, Leo for short.  To the delight of Mike we were staying with the family Nutz who incidentally have great success driving a team of Welsh ponies.  Andrea and I slept overnight in their tiny guest dormitory - upstairs in the small building shown below.  Unfortunately not very peacefully as it was also right underneath the town bell tower.  In Germany these are a regular feature, with bells ringing the hour and quarter hour - one dong for quarter past up to four dongs on the hour followed by the time in dongs on a different bell.  At first I was most impressed that someone was getting up at all hours to ring the bells and was rather disappointed to discover it is all automated. 
Andrea and Leo all dressed up to go early on the morning of May 7th, Leo with the fly mask he has to wear during the summer.
 The advantage of ridiing with someone is that I actually get photos of myself riding, rather than just a lot of photos of horse's ears....
 We continued to follow the beautiful tracks and paths along the Danube...
Beavers have been re-introduced into the area, and there was plenty of evidence of beaver damage to trees along the banks.   The amazing egg cup below demonstrates how they gnaw at the base of a tree to fell it. Presumably the top has then been sawn off by humans to make it safe.   And presumably beavers were also not responsible for the neatly stacked logs in the background.
 We were riding along this narrow and peaceful path alongside the Danube when we came across a lovely small chateau in a backwater village.
 We had arranged to meet Mike here for a rest stop, and it turned out he had been given permission by the charming owner, Count Moy, to park in the grounds.  Count Moy on the left, and on the right is a local journalist who appeared to interview me. 
 We were invited back for tea on the terrace later with his wife, an invitation we readily accepted.  The chateau is in an idyllic location above an abandoned course of the Danube, and the Count has recently relandscaped the area beyond the garden.  
The Count expounds on his efforts.....
.....and here are the commendable results......

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