Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Friendly Alsatian

On 21st May I left the horses with the Werner family at Odelshofen near the Germany-France border, and drove the lorry back to Hungary to fetch my Shagya arabian mare Zahira who had now been covered by a Shagya stallion and tested in foal.   It was quite a tearful parting for her previous owners , shown on the left here with her breeder Robert Grubits and his daughter Adrienn. 

It was a long journey to Dieppe where she was to stay until my arrival with Welsh pony breeder and friend Ingrid Delaitre.  But she travelled well and we arrived safe late the next day.  Here she is the following morning....

 Then it was back to Odelshofen, where Mike and I were treated to an unforgettable jazz evening next door featuring .... Reinhardt, a relative of Django no less.  With the Werner family the following morning 26th May 2012.  Erhardt and Anne, and daughter Eva who accompanied me to the border on her horse.
Arriving at the Rhine which is also the border between Germany and France.....

...and arriving at Strasbourg in France!.......I don't think the speed limits will affect me...

Coping with the time-consuming logistics of tackling the EU, and concentrating on the primary task of crossing Hungary, Austria and Germany, I had not got round to sorting out a more exact route with relevant maps for France.  However I realised there was a network of canals in France which appeared to have paths running alongside which could perhaps provide a convenient route. In particular the Rhine-Marne canal reached the Rhine at Strasbourg, and led westwards to Nancy. 
I contacted my French friend Ingrid. Could she ask the relevant canal authorities if I would be able to use the French canal paths?  The answer from the powers-that-be was not an official 'yes' but neither was it negative. In fact they merely advised me to avoid cyclists by using the service path on the opposite bank where possible, which I translated as an unofficial at-your-own-risk go-ahead!
  Negotiating the built-up areas on the Rhine banks in Strasbourg, I was soon able to join the canal and set off along the adjoining cycle path.
 Riding past the European parliament, shown on the left.....
The little green protestor's tent is pitched outside the European Court of Human Rights which is on the right hand side. I would have liked to have had time to stop and find out their complaint, but I had a couple of dirty looks from passers by here and moved on swiftly!
 Zorbee meets a flock of swans on the cycle path, which has a constant flow of cycle traffic.  It must be a most pleasant way to travel to work in the city.
 We have soon left the city limits and are out into the country... 
I had arranged to meet Mike at a bridge crossing the canal near Krautwiller.  The name gives a clue to the history of this region.   We were now in Alsace-Lorraine, an area annexed by the German empire in 1871 during the Franco-Prussian war. Many German names still remain, though the region was returned to France after World War I.
After waiting some time for Mike and with my mobile out of battery I was starting to get anxious. I knocked on the door of a house by the bridge and an Alsatian emerged.   I am not a huge fan of the canine variety, but this was Jean-Marc Jacob, who not only spoke excellent English (he had been a chef in London) but let me use his phone to contact Mike who was waiting at the wrong bridge.  And not only that, he invited us to use his premises - a canal side restaurant he had recently closed down. There was a grassy orchard for the horses, an outside restaurant area with wifi, and even an outside pool shower, though we did not take advantage of the latter.  
Mike pushes in the tethering stake while Zorbee rolls the sweat away in the lush grass and Bolly tucks in........


  1. Dear Megan,
    I am a French journalist writing in an online daily newspaper in London. I would be happy if we could plan an interview when you get back to London.
    Can you please write me at
    Thank you very much, (et bon voyage en France).