Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 10: In the Forest of the Night

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In the Forest of the Night


A very unusual episode this one – think of the main ‘Who Premise’ (saving the Earth from invading monsters) …and turn it on its head! – and although it did feel like an episode aimed at CBBC rather than mainstream BBC One, there was a certainly a lot going on for kids and adults alike!

Great acting all round plus some very good ‘make-London-look-like-a-forest’ special effects made it a very watchable episode. Add to the mix that we’re slowly starting to learn that Clara isn’t all she appears to be – and the same seems to be happening for the character Danny Pink, and the few remaining episodes are positioned nicely for a big reveal of some sort!

Roll on next Saturday!

Holiday – Germany (Day 8) – Final Day

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It’s our final day of our holiday in Germany today. We’re travelling to Lübeck – another old town, as well as the home to some massive marzipan manufacture!

The weather is the worst we’ve had so far – absolutely chucking it down, and VERY cold too – with the forecast for the rest of the day for a slight improvement. Yuk!

And so, we boarded the now very familiar Underground route to get us to Hamburg Station, and then connected with our direct train to Lübeck, just 30 minutes away. For a Saturday, the train was pretty busy – and everyone seemed to be heading in the same direction as us. On arrival at Lübeck, the weather was much the same – dark, wet and looking pretty dismal! Initially, it wasn’t even worth getting the camera out, as everywhere looked so dull.

With everywhere OUTSIDE looking so unattractive, we headed for Lübeck’s most famous interior space – their marzipan shop, Niederegger’s. A quick walk round revealed that they manufactured virtually anything and everything in marzipan: Frogs made out of marzipan, ham made out of marzipan, cheese made out of marzipan, giraffes made out of marzipan – and of course marzipan made out of err, marzipan! Fantastic! We took the opportunity to have a coffee in their coffee shop – one of the few things NOT containing marzipan (but the accompanying cake did!!)

Marzipan Heaven – otherwise known as Niederegger’s

Then it was back to the elements where the day had slightly improved. It still wasn’t a photographer’s ideal canvas, but at least we got some shots of the town.


Scenes around Lübeck

We quickly determined that the Rathaus (Town Hall) was the oldest in Germany, dating back to 13th century – so the fact it was inside and warm, it made perfect sense to sign up for the guided tour later at 1.30.

With just an hour-or-so to kill before the tour began, we headed for the town’s churches – three to choose from, but the only one that wasn’t having serious renovation was St Jakobi, dating back to 1334.

St Jakobi Church

Our timings worked out pretty well, and by the time we’d finished at St Jakobi’s, it was time to head for the Rathaus for our promised conducted tour. As we arrived, we could see it was a pretty popular event, and we jostled with the locals waiting for the Tour Guide to arrive. Just before it all started, a local (who turned out to be the local eccentric) started chatting to me in his most polite German. Thinking that if I told him I was English, he’d bugger off, my plan failed spectacularly, as he then switched to perfect English, complimenting me on my camera skills, how The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were the best bands in the world, and that a ‘full English’ was the best meal going! Luckily for me, as soon as the Tour began, he drifted away. I saw him later through the safety of a window in the Rathaus, ‘entertaining’ other locals in the town square!

It was a packed Tour – there must have been over 50 people there. Unluckily for us, our Tour Guide only spoke in German, which meant that Ann picked up about 50% of it, and I picked up about 1%! Hardly an ideal score for a comprehensive understanding of what it all about. Still, it looked very old, had been very well preserved, and went on for ages (a bit like me!!!)

The Oldest Town Hall in Germany – Lübeck

With the Tour completed, we took a slow walk back to the Station, giving us just time to grab a few more shots of the town, before we jumped on the Train.

Final Scenes of Lübeck

We were back at the Hotel by about 5pm. A quick trip to Reception, and with their help, meant that we’re all checked-in for our flights home tomorrow, with our Boarding Passes printed. Clocks are back 1 hour here too tonight so we’ll get an extra hour’s sleep tonight, before we take the final walk back to the Underground tomorrow destined for the Airport.

So, what of the holiday? Well, I think that mid-October, weather-wise, isn’t necessarily the best time of year to travel around central Europe – we’d probably go in September next time – but on the whole, we had mostly dry weather, with only a few days of murkiness that really took the edge off the places we visited.

Accommodation-wise, the idea of the self-catering apartment (in Berlin), where we could do our own thing, worked out really, really well (and ended up costing us about the same as a cheapish hotel) – we’d certainly look to do that again. The Holiday Inn Express at our second location in Hamburg, was perfectly situated for transport links, and the staff were very helpful and the rooms well appointed.

We visited plenty of places during our stay, and the public transport was easy to navigate, and very cheap – it saved the hassle of hiring a car, and what with the gazillions of cyclists in both locations, I’m not sure I’d want to be responsible for trying to look out for them in a car – they are everywhere, mostly on the cycle paths, but when these intersect a road or a pedestrian area, the cyclists don’t always let you know they’re approaching!  I’ve got a few bruised knees from some close encounters of the kerb kind!

Holiday – Germany (Day 7)

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Today’s adventure takes us to the ancient (and we do mean ancient, it was first mentioned in 994 AD!) town of Stade. We’re not sure what to expect, but it looked very nice in the photographs.

After another quick breakfast with what seemed like the rest of Germany in the Holiday Inn Express, we took the now familiar short walk to Lübecker Straβe Underground to get us to Hamburg Station. It’s another very grey day out there with a cold wind, so we’re dressed appropriately.

From Hamburg Station we caught the HVV train direct to Stade (but bizarrely, the ticket office didn’t take plastic, so it was a very quick trip to the nearest ATM before we could get our tickets).

Then it was off to platform 3 for the short wait for our train. Unlike yesterday, it was bang on time, and we grabbed the nearest seats for our 60 minute journey. It seemed longer, as the train trundled along, and stopped at every station between Hamburg and our destination – around 15 of them!, but the good news was that as we eventually arrived into Stade, so did the Sun – and it turned into a gorgeous day.

If you like your towns, very old, very colourful and very ‘chocolate box’, then Stade is the place you should visit – full of olde-worlde charm, with plenty of ancient history too!

Scenes around Stade

After a look round the outskirts that revealed some very posh apartments, we stopped off at a quaint cafe (almost full, but coping well) and sampled some of their home-made apple cake – scrumptious! 

If  the historic charm of this lovely town isn’t enough, then there’s a comprehensive selection of modern shops of all shapes and sizes, that seem to go on forever, with every turn of a corner revealing even more! All very tastefully done with a shop for every taste.

With our penchant for looking round old churches and cathedrals, we were also well catered for with TWO to visit. Both in very good condition and both showing no signs of any bomb damage from WW2. First stop was St Cosmae, wonderfully preserved with an impressive organ (stop tittering at the back!)



St Cosmae – Stade

Then, about 5 minutes away was St Wilhadi, also in fantastic nick on the inside (but with some serious structural repairs visible on the outside) with yet another impressive and well-preserved organ (titter-ye-not-missus!)

St Wilhadi – Stade

We did the town to death (but there was definitely more to see) and we decided to take a slightly different train route back to Hamburg Station as our rail-ticket gave us total freedom on the network. So, rather than simply the reverse of the route we took getting here, we came back on a similar line that took in (amongst other places) the infamous red-light district – Reepbahn – but as we’ve got all the coloured lights we need, after a quick look round (a very downmarket area but lots of flashing signs!) we jumped back on the train and headed for the relatively familiar Rathaus Station, where we’d travelled to on our first day here.

Hong Kong Express - Hamburg. Yummy food!
When in Rome…

By now, we were hungry, and luckily this area has a lot on offer courtesy of the Europa Passage, (stop it!), a two-minute walk from the Underground. In addition to shops, the basement of this Mall (the floor curiously called ‘UG1’) is full of places to eat. You name it, they provide it – from curry to pizza to Sushi, we’re were pretty sure they do cater for every palate. In fact, there was so much choice, we couldn’t decide, so we picked the one with the most comfortable looking eating area! – Hong Kong Express.

It was easy to see why they had ‘express’ in their name. We were served within 20 seconds of sitting down (and they WERE busy), and our first course arrived in minutes. All piping hot and tasting delicious. The main-course was the same – yummy! And we got change from 25 Euros – and that included drinks, starters and mains! Great value and great service too!

Forty-five minutes later, we were stuffed and cultured-out in equal measure, so we jumped back on the Underground and headed back to base. It’s been another great day looking around, with the unexpected bonus of better weather than we expected, and a town that was as pretty as it gets! Nice!!

It’s our last full day here tomorrow and we are planning to visit Lübeck – with plenty to see and the home of marzipan, what’s not to like????

Holiday – Germany (Day 6)

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We both enjoyed a good night’s sleep at our new home for the next three days – The Holiday Inn Express, Hamburg. Breakfast was continental or continental  – and that suited us fine – although the traffic-light system posted in the lifts for regulating the flow to-and-from breakfast, seemed to have imploded, as it seemed like the whole of the hotel, was having brekky at the same time as us at 8am this morning!!

The View from Room 511 – Not the 9th Wonder of the World!

We’re off to Bremen today, and as every schoolboy knows, the town is home to the story of the Musicians of Bremen, Grimm’s tale of four animals – a dog, a cat, a donkey and a rooster – who play musical instruments, fight off the bad guys (by perching on top of each other), and ultimately become squatters – Germany’s Got Talent ehh!

Hamburg Station

The weather was looking decidedly undecided as we left the Hotel, just after 9, and took the short walk to the Underground. Then, after a short wait (and a coffee), we were on the next leg, a sixty-minute train journey from Hamburg to Bremen itself.

Bremen Station

By the time we arrived, it was a lot colder, but we’d anticipated this, and were dressed accordingly, perfectly blending-in with the locals in their duffle-coats, gloves and general winter attire. Then it started to rain a little, but we soldiered on, taking-in as much of the town as possible.

Bremen’s most Famous Squatters


Scenes around the Town

As we arrived into the centre of the town, there was a food market and a mini-fun fair all competing for a small area – it made it very busy, but it was good fun watching the locals go about their business. One of the more popular stalls was the one selling battered potatoes (poor potatoes!) with a choice of dips. The cold temperature made it a perfect purchase – and most of the shoppers felt the same judging by the queue!

The Home for Battered Potatoes




More Scenes around Bremen

After taking-in most of the main sights, we discovered a couple of side-streets that revealing a much older side of Bremen. Still no sign of the famous acrobatic-animal-foursome, but we did see  and hear a man playing a clarinet accompanied by another on the guitar.


Scenes around the side-streets of Bremen

Having explored most of the streets, next stop was the Cathedral. This was busy too, and although very dark inside, based on the differing styles of stained-glass and the varying state of the brickwork, we could see that it had been partly rebuilt.

Inside the Cathedral at Bremen

After a quick stop for a light lunch, we took a final look round the town (just as the sun came out!), including a quick visit to a massive department store with a mega-kitchen department that was bigger than anything we’ve seen in the UK (seems they love their kitchens gadgets out here!) 

About 2.15, after a pretty thorough visit, we said our goodbyes to Bremen and took the short walk back to the Station.

Back to reality as we queued for the train at Bremen Station only to find that it was running late – not ideal with the temperature starting to plummet as we slowly froze on the platform. Still, at least, when it did arrive, the carriage was warm, there was plenty of room, and the seats were comfy (I’m sure we heard the sound of a single gunshot as a train-driver somewhere was punished for his tardiness!). In contrast, our final leg just caught the beginning of the rush-hour commuters and were were sandwiched into place for the final few stops. The weather was warmer back in Hamburg, and it didn’t take us long to walk back from the Underground, stopping off at the Supermarket opposite the hotel for a few evening-meal essentials.

Bremen was great and we loved it! Even the average weather and the lack of performing animals didn’t take away its magic, and I’m sure we’ll find a way of coming back for another look sometime in the future.

Tomorrow we’re travelling to Stade.

Holiday – Germany (Day 5)

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Today, we said goodbye to Berlin and took the train to our next destination – Hamburg. It was the perfect day to leave as the weather was truly atrocious – rain, rain and more rain. If we stayed in Berlin, I’m not sure how we would have spent the day! Getting soaked I reckon!!!!

The Lounge at Berlin Station

It was much more comfy in the Lounge at the Station, and we didn’t have to wait long before our pre-booked train arrived on the platform with typical German precision timing – 11.10! Then, in just under two hours, we arrived in Hamburg Station, ready to soak up what the city had to offer. After a short taxi ride, we were checking-in at our hotel – the rather functional (and very new) Holiday Inn Express. Room 511 is our home until saturday, and we were soon unpacked and ready to explore the City.
Holiday Inn Express – Hamburg

Luckily, the weather had perked up, and the Sun almost came out, leaving the rain behind although it was pretty cold. Still, that wasn’t going to slow us down, and we soon located the Underground station, and the correct line to take us in the centre of Hamburg. After a slight disagreement with the ticket machine, (that refused to accept any of our notes or cards), we were soon rubbing shoulders with the natives and tourists in the city centre.

Wow! what a difference compared with Berlin. Looking at the names above the shops – Gucci, Armani etc, it was immediately obviously that we were in a more affluent area of Germany, and we took the opportunity to have a good look at stuff we couldn’t afford!The 14,900 Euro necklace looked nice though!

Next was a wander down to the waterside where we caught a unique view of the fountain where, due to the water spray and and angle of the sunlight, we were treated to  a mini-rainbow to one-side of the water-jet.

Mini Rainbow by the Waterside

Then it was in to the rather posh department store – Alsterhaus – for another look at even more nice stuff! Next stop was St Peter’s Church, where were lucky enough to see a choir in rehearsal – great tunes with great acoustics!

St. Peter’s Church, Hamburg

Then, after a quick break for a nibble, it was off in the direction of the regenerated Harbour Area to look round.

Scenes around the Harbour Area

It was clear that a shed-load of money has been spent regenerating the area – and all for the better! It reminded us a little of the Docklands area back home, and with the Sun shining on the buildings, it all looked very attractive.

By now, the temperature had dropped significantly, and with the wind blowing off the water, dropping the temperature even further, that was our cue to head back to the Underground and our hotel room! Luckily for us, there was a Supermarket opposite the hotel, so we were able to stock-up on a few essentials for a carpet-picnic.

Another great day, helped by the lack of rain!Hamburg to us, seems much more attractive than Berlin, and we’re glad we made this a two-city holiday.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Bremen.

Holiday – Germany (Day 4)

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It’s our last full day here today, before we take the two-hour train journey tomorrow, to Hamburg.

The weather forecast is cloudy but at least dry, and we’ve got a few cultural places to visit, so we’ll probably spend most of the day inside.

As the day turned out, the weather held, and we did all-but-one of our visits without the aid of the Underground at all – preferring to walk everywhere (that’s most unlike us!)

First stop was the short (and only) Underground journey today – The German Technical Museum. This was full of planes, trains, model trains, boats, model boats, and everything else nautical – even a fully working industrial loom. A massive place, spread across four floors with plenty to interest kids and adults alike! And there were plenty of both there to prove the point!!! We could easily have spent another couple of hours there, and still not seen everything.

The German Technical Museum

After a quick coffee, it was then off to our first art gallery of the holiday – Kulturforum. 

We weren’t sure what would be on display, but fortunately for us, a large part of it was devoted to the ‘Old Masters’. And it was particularly impressive with room after room of paintings, probably the largest we’ve ever seen (so large in fact that my camera battery ran out of juice trying to snap them all!)

‘Old Masters’ at the Kulturforum

Then it was a short walk to Potsdamer Platz and and the Sony Center – a mini shopping area, full of futuristic looking buildings and eateries – including a 30 foot Lego giraffe (of course!)

The Sony Center, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

After a quick refuel at McDonald’s, next on our cultural list was the Holocaust Memorial, a rather odd looking memorial consisting of 2711 concrete slabs (no, we didn’t count them!) arranged in a grid pattern across a 19000 square metre site. I must admit, neither Ann nor I ‘got it’ in terms of what it was supposed to represent – it just looked like a jumble of concrete slabs. But we felt a lot better afterwards, when we learned that the Designer, one Peter Eisenman describes it as ‘a confusing and uneasy atmosphere’ and an ‘ordered system that has lost touch with reality’. A perfect description then! In spite of its bizarre visual nature, it was good to see some recognition of this atrocity, especially in Germany!

What is this?
The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Next up, was a longer walk to the TV Tower, but by now our choice to walk everywhere today was starting to tell and we decided that we give it a miss, in favour of a quick look round the Rathaus nearby.

The Interior of the Rathaus in Berlin

After our final coffee stop of the day to reflect on today’s visits, we headed back to the Apartment, just as the weather changed to a bitterly cold wind and a sky promising rain. After a slight detour to pick up some essential provisions, we were back in our room getting ready to pack for our onward journey tomorrow.

Cheerio Berlin – it’s mostly been a lot of fun, but in spite of a lot of great architecture, we thought you looked a little drab and unattractive in places. We were surprised too, that it was often easy to tell whether we were in the old ‘east’ or ‘west’ of the city – we guessed (maybe naively) that unification would have blurred the lines a bit more than it actually did!

Hamburg tomorrow!

Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 9: Flatline

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Episode 9: Flatline
Four Stars

Another one of those very creepy episodes, on par with ‘Listen’, earlier in the series. Once again, some fine acting from all concerned, with the twist that Clara and The Doctor swapped roles. But was it any good? Well, I enjoyed it, although I suspect that the internet will probably be buzzing more about the last few seconds, than the episode as a whole!

!I won’t spoil it here, but suffice to say, the much under-played story-arc is starting to reveal itself!