This page blogs the 60th birthday celebrations of that little boy shown on the beach at Colwyn Bay.



Celebrations started rather early. With Jamie teaching in Crete it proved impractical to have the family together for my birthday so we all met up in Bavaria during the Easter break.  We stayed at Schliersee which is a nice little town on the edge of a lake of the same name.  The town is not as chocolate box over-pretty as some and all the better for it.  The lake is stunningly located on the edge of the Alps with towering mountains at the south end whilst at the north end, where the town is situated, the hills are rapidly diminishing to the plains that lead to Munich.


As Scott is teaching in Munich, Emma flew out to meet up with him and arrived in Schliersee a few days before us.  Jamie & Danae arrived from Crete the day before we got there.

On Wednesday, our first full day, Scott took Emma and Danae in search of skiable snow- it was melting fast locally so they headed off Mayrhofen way to the Hintertux glacier. Margaret, Jamie and I went for a walk by the lake but it was cold and misty, like a November day at Grasmere, so Jamie, more in need of rest than exercise, returned to base whilst Margaret and I completed the 7 km round lake tour.

A drive up the valley to the next lake , Spitzingsee, was rather unproductive as it was thick mist and we could see virtually nothing.  

The next morning Margaret and I caught the ancient cable car up the little hill by Schilersee where, from the restaurant at the top, we watched the mist starting to clear.


It's a strange thing.  In France we always feel like Brits abroad, no matter how hard we try to speak the language.  Here, however, we were regularly mistaken for Germans and I found my schoolboy Deutsch flooding back and could even answer questions and give directions as we walked back down the hill.

Schliersee from  hill top restaurant

Looking back to Schliersee from Spritzingsee road

At the bottom we were picked up by Scott and Emma for a return visit to Spitzingsee, which was a totally different proposition from the day before.  Excellent visibility, plenty of sun although still cold and stunning Alpine scenery and a nice lunch in a find old stubl. Germany's largest skiing area starts here but was now pretty much spent.


That night we went into Munich (Jamie & Danae had gone in the afternoon).  Rail travel, on BOB (Bayrische Oberland Bahn), is remarkably cheap.  18 euros buys a return ticket for five people which also covers the underground railways and buses in Munich.  

We met up with J&D outside the town hall and made our way to the Englische Gardens (nearly murdering the bongo player who insisted on inflicting his tuneless, senseless bashings on thousands of people seeking peace and tranquility) as we headed for the Chinese Pagoda Beer Garden.  Having consumed the mandatory beer and delicious bagel we crossed the park to find a most remarkable sight.  There is a river that runs through the gardens, fairly narrow but quite fast and deep.  It emerges, seemingly from nowhere, by a bridge where it hits a weir with such force that it produces a standing wave on which people were queuing up to surf, despite the fact it is Verboten!

Surfen Verboten

More Surfen, still Verboten

We walked back into the centre and on to one of Munich's oldest restaurants, very atmospheric, where I had SchweinHaxe- basically a huge knuckle of pork with the most perfect crackling.  The youngsters decided to go on to the Bürgerbräu Keller, famous for being an ancient beer hall and infamous for it being used by Hitler to launch his campaign.  We made an excuse and asked BOB to take us home.

Friday.  It was Easter and the hotel had been singing the praises of the Easter market at Bad Tolz so we opted to go there for the day. However first, Margaret and I decided to drive round Tegernsee, a nearby and rather larger lake, the southern end of which in particular looked very upmarket.    


We regrouped at Bad Tolz, a lovely medieval town where the pedestrianised area was full of traders, stalls for the Easter Market.  The trouble was, there were no traders; the Easter Market was closed for Easter.  Or for Good Friday at least.  Lots of people walking up and down and muttering but no shopping to be done.  So we commandeered a table in the sun at a restaurant and had a very pleasant lunch before everyone bar me went to the baths to enjoy the spa.

Easter Market Closed for Easter

47DON=60 begins!

That night we started the 47DON=60 celebrations proper.  Champagne on the terrace and then a stroll down to what we had been assured was the best hotel in town, the Hof Haus overlooking the lake where we enjoyed a splendid meal.



Saturday was home day but not until late on so we had plenty of time for fun on the lake. 

Jamie & Danae

Don & Margaret

There were some rather fine wooden motorboats so Scott took one with Emma, Margaret and me whilst Danae took the wheel of the other boat.  


 Emma, reflecting Scott, Margaret & Don

We had an hour to complete the circuit of the lake and only one collision en route and then back to the Hof Haus for lunch.

Boat Wheel reflecting Scott & Emma

Schliersee Church and Hof Haus

Emma left with Scott to return to Munich, taking Danae to its airport.  Jamie was coming home with us via Salzburgh so we had a leisurely drive including an amble and tea at Chiemsee, a quite vast lake.


It was a real treat for us to have everyone together, especially as that would not prove possible for my birthday.  We look forward to exploring Munich and the surrounding area more fully once Emma moves there in August. 




Click on the photos
for an enlargement or related large picture.








The good start achieved by priming the team of 12 with Champagne before Airport Services arrived was quickly put under threat when the driver announced that his battery was flat and he couldn’t start the bus.  That explained why he had been late arriving.  I had phoned Airport Services to ask his whereabouts and had been reassured that he was on his way but had had difficulty getting the bus out of the yard.  I had thought that they meant he had been blocked in, not that he couldn’t get it going.

Anyway, having dug out our jump leads, the bus was restarted and the driver sought to make up lost time by driving like a bat(tery) out of hell along the narrow lanes nearly taking out the odd car en-route.

On arrival at Liverpool Airport he announced that he had a problem.  He needed a wee but could not leave the bus unattended as he dare not switch off the engine in case the battery was not taking a charge so would we mind waiting for him to come back?  To be fair he was not long and we then went to check in, expecting that he would be on his way.  Half an hour later we glanced out of the window and he hadn’t moved.  Was he having his butties?  Had he stalled the bus?  Or had he absent mindedly just switched off? And were we bovvered?

After that exciting start, everything went smoothly until, having arrived mid evening in Krakow, we went down the hotel bar (Radisson) for a quick beer and bite.  The bar staff wanted us to eat in the restaurant but seemingly the restaurant staff didn’t want us to eat at all!  45 minutes to take our order and then another 45 minutes to deliver not quite what we had ordered turned it into a late and less than perfect night.

Wednesday 18th April was birthday day and we kicked off with a walking tour of Krakow. The weather forecast had seriously deteriorated and it was a damp start.  However our young guide Karina was brilliant.

She had the right balance of sufficient but not too much information, together with a nice sense of humour.  Except when it came to Swedes. And Germans. And Russians.  And beggars.  She took us round the outside of the castle, past the dragon to the Jewish quarter then after a coffee stop at Ian and Cynthia’s hotel (where they had enjoyed a splendid meal with live music the night before) back to the inside of the castle and on into the magnificent old town.  

It really is a very interesting and attractive place.

There was one amusing incident when, in a very old church she showed us a modern stained glass window depicting God creating the world out of cows.

There was a look of bewilderment on faces and some asked had she said “out of clouds?”  “No”, she confirmed “ Cows:  C.  H.  A.  O.  S.; Cows”!

 Click on the photos
for an enlargement or related large picture.











God created the world
out of cows!

We learned of an interesting coincidence.  It seems that the name Krakow derives directly or indirectly from the Polish word "krakac" for "to crow", or the noise made by the sacred bird, the Raven.  And Cracalt is a corruption of Crake Hall, Crake coming from the old Norse "krakka"- the noise made by a crow.

That night, we had arranged dinner at the Wierzynek Restaurant on the main square.  A fine old restaurant that did us proud with a traditional Polish menu of marinated salmon, delicate (yes- delicate) beetroot soup (more like a consommé), roast duck with apples then orange & chocolate mouse plus of course birthday cake with blazing roman candles, all washed down with Champagne, Pino Grigio, Crozes Hermitage and Vodka.  

And then the waiter whispered in my ear that he had a very special cherry vodka and would we like to try it?  Why not?

After that we gate-crashed a private party’s disco upstairs and had a very merry time!





On Thursday morning Margaret and I were glad that we had not arranged to go to either Auschwitz or the Salt Mines.  A quiet day was called for.  After a (very) late start we retraced the steps of part of our tour and helped to keep the local economy afloat at the craft stalls in the Cloth Market in the town centre. And found a shop for Plonkas!

The journey home that evening was incident free although we relieved to see that Airport Services had sent a different driver!


The Champagne Walk

Or Champers Trampers as brother Alan termed it.  

30 folk turned out on a slightly chilly Saturday morning and set about tackling the champagne! The whistle had to be blown to get their attention, then I waved my birthday present stick like a latter-day Gandalf and they all followed me down the bridle path from Cracalt to Larkrigg and along to the suspension bridge where the person limit is 25.  I had hoped to take a team picture with people lined up along the bridge but certain nervy ladies just flew across the bridge and could not be enticed back.

On to the aptly named Nanny Pie Lane.  Aptly named because by the underpass Jason and Cathy were waiting with more champagne and a goodly supply of those delicious small Melting Mowbray Pies.  Plus one large pie which was presented to Tony because he had asked in an e-mail that he hoped there would be plenty of pies.  “Oh thanks,” he said,  “That’s just want I like for my tea!” and promptly buried it deep in his rucksack and got stuck into a pile of little pies!

On round the back of a plastic clad Sizergh Castle which for some strange reason does not open on Saturdays and hence the tea room toilets were not available to the ladies so there were several excursions into the bushes.  Over the fields to Holeslack Farm and up the hill to emerge at Helsington Church where there was a fine view to be seen.  Namely Jason and Cathy, this time with butties and bubbles.  

Here we lost two and gained one before setting off up the bridle path where we found three little lambs in danger of being orphaned.  Their mother was lying flat on her back and the three youngsters were suckling for all they were worth, somehow knowing that maa couldn't right herself so this might be their last meal.  They needn't have worried. Tony, assisted by a couple of other who know about these things, leapt to the rescue and got maa back on her feet.  I could not quite see what they did.  Maybe they rolled her but I suspect that Tony whispered in her ear "If you are not back on your feet in 5 seconds, I'll turn you into a mutton pie for my supper."

After this excitement we pressed on to Briggs House Farm and over the fields toward Kendal.  After an unplanned route adjustment (O.K. I admit it, we went wrong.  Slightly.) we reached the outskirts of Kendal and took our life in our hands crossing the A591 (Tony putting the pie at serious risk in the process) to the safety of Scroggs Lane, at the end of which, by the river, miraculously were Jason and Cathy once again this time with bubbles and crisps.

Margaret cheated and cadged a lift back but the rest of the party responded to the waving of the magic stick and gamely plodded on along the river, up Hawes Lane to the canal bridge then across the fields to the farm and home.

The official mileage was 7.25 with 761 feet of climbing.



Alan C, bless him and Dinah for all their help, said a nice thing.  He said that that afternoon he had gone on a walk with a whole bunch of people he didn’t know and that evening he went to a party and found there was a whole group of friends.

Tony confided that he had indeed dined on the pie before coming out.  With chips, naturally.

From my point of view it was a very enjoyable evening although inevitably with 60 people there, it was difficult to spend a lot of time with everyone.  It was also very good of daughter Emma to allow me to hi-jack her birthday!

Charlotte, as ever, did a great job with the catering and Jason and Kathy provided invaluable support.

The next day was like another birthday as, despite my instructions to the contrary, a number of presents had been brought and in the melee of the evening they had remained unopened.  In a couple of cases I regret to say I have only a hazy recollection as to whom they were from- it’s an old age thing or so I am told.  If there is anyone whom I have not thanked either on the night or subsequently, then please accept my apologies for my advancing senility.

Looking back over the few days it had certainly been an epic birthday, right up there with the very best and I am so pleased that so many of our friends were able to share at least part of it with us.

And the award for the most persistent partygoers goes to…..
.....Philip & Ann and Robert & Diane
who were with us on all three events.

But it doesn’t end there!


BB0713  Helvellyn- the range; North to South

47DON: The Return to Sawrey




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With apologies to both
the Lion and Albert.


There’s a quiet Cumbrian 'amlet called Cracalt

What’s noted for nowt,
they do say,

But Mr & Mrs
D. Spenley

Went there for Don’s sixtieth birthday


A grand birthday present they took ‘im,

The finest to be found
in Ripon,

T’were a stick wi’ a fancy wood handle

And a ring saying
47 DON


You could see how
t’lad really liked it,

'E held it up ‘igh
in his 'and,

Blew his whistle so's
all folk could see ‘im

And follow t’stick
right round Natland.

































BOOT boys

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