Rita and the violent boys

The dulcet tones of the ships announcer dragged us out of our North Sea induced sleep. She was telling us that we had an hour and a half before we had to abandon the ferry. Being in the lap of luxury meant we had tea and coffee making facilities at hand. A cup of tea /coffee while watching the flickering lights of the Dutch coast was definitely a great way to begin the day.

The puppies were, obviously, overjoyed to see us. They had been alone in the kennels. Which was possibly a good thing.

We took them for a walk in the little kennel deck area where we chatted to Rita. She’s standing in for the manager at present but had to apprehend a couple of miscreants before they left the ferry. They were a pair of teenagers, she said, who had had a few too many to drink. While they liked each other at first, they quickly descended into some sort of alcoholic fisticuffs.

We left her to it (they hadn’t actually left their beds by the time we reached Max) and settled down in the car.

Leaving the ship was even easier than boarding. Well, if you ignore the guy towing the van. He had difficulty making the exit work. But this lasted for the length of time it took to drive twice around the block. Then we hit the open road.

And the day only got better.

We drove across The Netherlands, heading for Germany. This meant stopping at numerous motorway services in order to walk the dogs, exercise Mirinda’s back and generally stop driving.

Possibly the best part in the Netherlands was the fact that in the first services there was no mask wearing. Mirinda commented that it made an ugly shop beautiful. I rather enjoyed the fact that it had a Starbucks as well.

It was a bit confusing for Emma who was determined to bite off a piece of tree for Mirinda to throw for her. She decided on a particularly knobbly bit of branch attached to a log we were sitting on. It was never going to happen but it didn’t stop her trying.

Then, of course, there’s the unexpected things which litter my posts like so much glittery confetti.

I lost my phone. Briefly. It was in a German toilet and a lovely middle Eastern family found it. There was a lot of adrenaline squirting around my body. Albeit briefly. Losing my phone would have been a disaster.

Also, unexpected was the road suddenly disappearing. We’d driven over 200km on it when, suddenly, we had to follow a stream of confused drivers on some sort of weird diversion.

We finally managed (by luck more than good navigation) to get back on track and found our way to our accommodation in Germany.

It was a very tiring day, but we eventually made it to the lovely town of Marschacht, along the banks of the Elbe. Around 550 kilometres and through two countries. Actually, when we crossed from The Netherlands into Germany, we almost missed it. There was a jolly sign and Linda stopped telling us the speed limit – there isn’t one in Germany.

Of course, shortly after arriving at our flat, we had to turn around and go back out to buy pizza, ice cream and milk. While I was sitting in Max in the supermarket car park, this ferocious looking woman charged towards me. I thought I was for it. I then realised she was parked next to us in an identical mini to Max. It was at the same time she realised I wasn’t sitting in her car. Her face relaxed almost inot a smile. Very strange.

Tomorrow we head for Rostock for a ferry into Sweden.

Today, this happened

The Siege of Sevastopol started today in 1854. (Though, for some reason, the British called it the Siege of Sebastopol). It was during the Crimean War and lasted almost a year.

Britain, Francc, Egypt, Sardinia and the Ottomans, decided they would try and take the capital of the Crimea with 50,000 men. It didn’t prove as simple as they thought it was going to be. In fact, it ended up being one of the classic sieges of all time.

The allied Navies bombarded Sevastopol a total of six times while the advancing army fought battles, now famous, on their way to the capital. Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole were there to help fix up the wounded in order to send them back out to fight some more.

The main reason for attacking Sevastopol was because it was the home of the Black Sea Fleet of which the Tsar was rightly proud.

While it was an allied victory, the deaths tell a different story. On the side of the victors, 128,387 had been killed while the total Russian figures for dead, wounded and died of disease was 102,000.

Then, in 1941, the Germans, Italian and Romanians (Axis powers) had a go in a second Siege of Sevastopol. This time, though, things were a little different. For one thing, the Germans had the Luftwaffe.

After nine months of constant bombardment and bombing raids, the Russians surrendered and the Axis powers moved in. It was a decisive victory for the Axis powers, in which they lost 35,000 men in comparison to the besieged Russians who lost over ten times that.

Clearly, Sevastopol has suffered a lot over the years. Not a place for the casual tourist, particularly during conflicts, I’m thinking.

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