Last year in May, a friend of mine from work invited Tom and I to attend her wedding in Ratingen, near Düsseldorf. It was an interesting wedding – quite traditional, but not religious – and really lovely to be able to attend.
The weather was perfect, so Tom and I planned to take the train to Ratingen then ride a short distance to the ceremony venue. After the service, we would ride to the reception venue and later would ride to another train station and take the last train home.
When the photographer heard that we had brought our bicycles, he insisted that we get on our bikes and cycle through the park across the road from the ceremony venue so that he could get some funny shots. Last week, Eva sent me a copy of the resulting photograph, and I think it’s absolutely lovely.
We had quite an eventful ride between the ceremony and the venue, actually. First, we startled a small snake on a farm road in the late afternoon sunshine. We didn’t get a good look at it as it disappeared from it’s spot on the hot bitumen into the long grass, but we were very surprised! Somehow we assumed that there were no snakes in Europe. Obviously that’s pretty ridiculous, but it really did give us a big fright.
Not long after that, we were zooming down an incline and a huge beast thundered across our path, just missing my front wheel as I braked. A badger! It was much bigger than I had ever thought a badger would be – heavily-set rather than ‘tall’ – rather like a full-grown wombat, but much longer and with a thick, bushy tail. I’m not sure what it was running to or from or whether we had surprised it, but it ran from one side of the road to the other at great speed and like the snake, it disappeared into the long grass at the side of the path.
After that, I expected to see all manner of animals around every corner but that was pretty much the end of our wildlife experience for Germany. We made it to the reception and had a lovely dinner with the newlyweds’ friends and family then we rode off again in the evening. Apart from the calls of owls, nothing further disturbed our ride after that.