Not having been on a long bike ride for several years I wasn't sure how I would cope with getting back on the saddle. Many months of slothfulness has led to a degraded heart/lung function and puny musculature - "chicken legs" in the unkind language of the grandchildren.
As it turned out, the 500k ride from Eisfeld to Minden down the Werra and Weser rivers in central Germany, being mostly flat, was merely tiring. Well, a little more than tiring, there were some nasty uphills. I was pretty stiff after the first couple of days and bikers' butt came and went quickly. But it didn't affect enjoyment of the lovely countryside - a river is almost always nice. Great weather too.
Some great flower displays; this carpet of white flowers looks cultivated as in a park but grew naturally in a mixed though mostly beech forest.
Buttercups too are out in force as are purple delphiniums and the exquisite geometry of the matured dandelions is everywhere.
The towns and villages along the way are very German cutesy-pie. Government money has led to refurbishment of many old properties. The state endorsed rigid colour scheme of Stalin Grey and Brezhnev Brown of the old DDR has mostly gone.
The inscription on the turret (?) of this restored timbered house records that Gottfried Hossbach and his wife Anna Marie Rathgeber and their only son, Gottfried jnr, a businessman or trader, completed the construction of the house on 8 July 1914. The further inscription is then to the loving memory of Gottfried jnr, born 1 July 1890 who had "fallen for the Vaterland" in France on 25 October 1914 just 3 months after their house was completed. One of countless tragedies.
I stayed overnight in the town of Hameln of Pied Piper fame. The legend has it that the Hameln townsfolk contracted with a 'pest controller' to rid the town of rats, which he duly did by piping them away. The townsfolk then ratted (!) on the deal and refused to pay the fee. So, on 26 June 1284, the piper piped 130 children out of the town and they were never seen again. The local museum has a big collection of children's books of the fable from around the world - dozens in different languages. There is also a display showing that the recorded history of the legend extends back at least to the 1500s. Like Robin Hood, the fable is much, but inconclusively, researched. Naturally, there are plenty of rat and piper references around the town as well as an interesting door handle.
So 7 days of beautiful cycling come to an end - good to get back on the bike.