1 August - With Jon and Sarah (photos, left) to the lovely palace of the young Frederick-the-going-to-be-Great-when-I've-grown-up at Rheinsberg.

3 August - Day on the water, exploring narrow channels and hidden lakes (photos, right)

4 August - After an energetic day, we opted for a lazy exploration by car of a local road that we've not followed before: in the closest bit of the National Park around the lake at Kratzeburg (only 5 miles from the flat) which incidentally is also the source of the River Havel. The scenery, villages and wildlife were all delightful and there are several places we're intending to go back to. The road was not exactly Autobahn standard (see photos), but that's all to the good.

8 August - "I've never seen anything like it", says the Mayor of Neustrelitz in today's local paper. Someone has apparently put up a tent by the swimming beach on Lake ​​Dabelowsee. Technically that's not allowed — you can camp almost wherever you want, but there are "no camping" signs at some places in the National Park, including that beach. But the real problem was, that the campers were a couple, with their daughter. And a dog. And a horse. And ten sheep. They put up an electric fence to keep their extended family within the camp (it's a good way of controlling daughters). Photo here. As the Mayor points out, "what are you supposed to do with all the sheep poo?". When asked for an explanation, the couple said "we wanted to try taking the animals camping".

15 August - Speaking of camping, for several years now we've kept our kayaks stored at a camp site on the shores of lake Rätzsee. It's handy because they're on a stand by the water's edge and we can always get at them (by agreement with the campsite, to which we pay a small annual rent). But it does mean that they are outdoors all year round, which isn't really a good idea, even though there's no security risk around here. What we've really been eying up, is the wooden boatsheds that you find here and there at the water's edge. The puzzling thing is, that although there are a couple of websites devoted to buying and renting riverside and lakeside boatsheds in Germany, none are ever available in our district. I've noticed once or twice adverts in the local paper that specify "local family seek boatshed ..." and wondered whether there is a tendency to keep the boatsheds in local hands. Yesterday I was in the kayak, passing a little group of boatsheds that we've much admired. They are on the the beautiful and peaceful little river that leads from Lake Rätzsee into the next lake - just here, in fact, or at 5.05 on this film. And there was a man cutting the grass around them. So I got out and went over to him to ask whether any might be available. He was a bit reserved until I mentioned our little home in Neustrelitz, after which he was all smiles. "We get people from Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Halle — rich people from the cities — all wanting boatsheds. They can't have them. But there is one available for rent. If we put it on the internet there'd be a queue of cars here tomorrow morning. I'll check with the owner, but I'm sure you can have it". And sure enough, we're now just waiting for a contract to rent our own little riverside boatshed, for not much more than we were paying the campsite. So next summer will (hopefully) bring yet more new experiences.

Back in Ørsdalen - Another summer is over and we're back at home. Sunshine or mist, we still get to enjoy our peaceful valley (click picture, left, for view from kitchen window on two different days). Although it's still warm (have swum a couple of times in the lake), autumnal berries are out and hints of autumn are lurking (couple of photos here). And we wake up to find a unicorn family breakfasting in the orchard (click unicorn picture, right, for breakfast snaps).

Bill on the phone - Tracy is often rung up by her good friend Bill Gates, who rings from his office in Microsoft to tell her that he can see that she's got a security problem with her computer, which he can fix straight away if she'll just ... When he rang today he had quite a strong Indian accent. As it happens we were both at home and together in Tim's office, so Tracy decided to let him stay on the phone for a while. "Oh dear", she said to Mr Microsoft, "I do hope you can help me to sort it out". And he said he would. So Tracy put him on speakerphone and we did whatever he told us to. Tim's computer runs on Linux (not Windows), so it's perfectly safe. "So now you just press ctrl+n" (or whatever it was) "and what did it do now?". Tracy told him. "That's not possible", he said. "You must be doing it wrong." He'd been on the phone for nearly half an hour, repeatedly reining in his frustration and temptation to say something cross, before we finally tired of the game. "Does it make any difference," Tracy asked innocently, "that this is a high-security Linux system?" "A what?", asked Mr Microsoft. Slight hesitation. "Is it your own computer?" "No", replied Tracy honestly, before slightly mischievously adding: "it's a police computer". (This was only slightly misleading; it is of course a polite computer, and anyone can get one letter wrong). There was a longer pause. "Oh aren't I ... lucky?" said the voice, now an octave higher and with sing-song jollity, "talking to the ... police?" Another couple of seconds of silence before the voice went up yet another octave for a final, faint "aah" and a thud as the phone was dropped. So then we put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

Dinner guest - Unicorns for breakfast, but something quite different basking in the late-afternoon sun. We had many such visitors the first year we were here, but carrying each one carefully in a net over to the other side of the river seems to have kept them away for a decade. But this evening, the little black eyes were peering up at us as we looked down from the balcony.

2 September - T&T took a day trip to Molde today to visit Sofie (that's pronounced Sophia — remember?) and Beth, of course (Gjermund was away at work). She's very cheerful, standing up and considering walking — really lovely! (Sofie, I mean, not Beth, who has been walking for a while). A long day trip, though (four flights in one day, changing in Oslo to fly up to the familiar old Molde airport so we left at 4 in the morning and were back late at night), but worth it!

Comments
Joanna, 5 September 2019
Hi I am recovering from my new knee!! Slowish progress but much much less pain!! Best of luck with your Adder!! Its years since I last saw one!! Must have been before I was married, saw one on Sutton Bank road up from Mouse man furniture place in Kilburn!! Gosh doesn't time fly! Hoping to be able to drive again soon! Love to you all
Tim, 5 September 2019
Really glad that the knee is heading in the right direction, with you above it! Hope it continues to recover and become more serviceable!

5 September - All the talk in the UK seems to be about crashing out over a cliff-edge Brexit and about political avalanches and collapsing majorities. Over here it’s quite different. We’ve all been anxiously watching that mountainside just outside Åndaslnes — the one that for several years now has been threatening imminent collapse. Apparently the unstable mountainside is currently moving more quickly than ever — a yard a day, if you can believe it — and with rain falling steadily (which lubricates the process) they're expecting a big crash any time. Actually not so very different from UK politics, after all.

6 September - ... and sure enough, large amounts of mountainside (a volume of rock equating to more than half of the Albert Hall) came down during the night, cascading down thousands of feet. Even this, of course, is only the "little" avalanche: the really "big" one — hundreds of times bigger — will come eventually, but that's decades away. Probably. Typical that it happened while it was dark; even though the major news agencies have had day-and-night cameras trained on the spot for years, you don't really see a lot on the film. But it's a great relief to the people who live in the valley below and who have been evacuated 16 times during the last few years due to the threat of avalanche. They're dancing with joy and saying that now they can get on with their lives.

Visitors - A couple of Tracy's colleagues who had not visited Ørsdalen before came over for a visit. People always find it exciting and a little exotic to discover the world of our secluded valley, which as you've gathered over the past 10 years and more is quite different from the world outside. Tim (who had never met them) had to go out, but saw their car coming just before the end of the tunnel. So he stopped and got out with a reflective jacket and flagged them down.
"Could I see your passports, please".
"Yes, of course ... eeh, passport?"
"Yes, Ørsdalen isn't in Schengen, so you need a passport"
"Will a driving licence do?"
They were eventually allowed through — and didn't even get charged a customs clearance fee, though it was tempting — and had a good laugh about it. They filmed the incident (I'll try to put the film up here later) so other people in the city have been hearing about the amazing world beyond the mountains.

8 September - the other visitors - No customs checks for these regular visitors who seem to turn up in the garden almost every day.


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