We sit almost bang on the half-way point of the River Main, a river bendier than a bag of string; our days have thus been spent heading in a variety of directions, and not often towards Istanbul. The plus to this snaking waterway is that tankers are forced to crawl at a slow pace creating fewer bad waves and keeping Dora safely afloat. The calmer water also attracts plenty of fisherman so we find ourselves picking out fishing lines at the last minute or getting tangled in the ones we didn't see.
This week the temperatures have dropped to something more akin to British standards, making the morning bath in the river a very serious wake-up and bringing back the early morning mist. The first few hours of each day are spent paddling like this with mist shrouding the landscape and hillside villages in an incredible morning cloak.
We have also seen the big return of the name game for the first half hour on the water. Essentially 20 questions, we've seen some top level gamesmanship with the eclectic mix including: Steven Hendry, Rosa Parks, Cherie Blair, Sean Kingston, Oliver Cromwell and Ricky Martin.
Name game played, mist cleared, we start settling into a steady rhythm. And it really has been as systematic as this. Our camping is done with quick efficiency, we enjoy our first hour, and then we speed through the day to our target destination with only short breaks to refuel. At the end of the day we've also gotten into the habit of finding closed or somehow unsuitable camping that forces us on a few extra kilometers. In this sense the days have been monotonous but it has been highly suitable to cover the upstream distance and still have time to enjoy a village or read a book in the evening.
At the end of the week, and despite the last blog post, we ultimately find we have little to moan about. The weather has improved and so has the scenery. The tediousness of being moved on from our expected camp spot every night has been a pain, but we got the extra distance and the places where we've wild camped have been pretty spectacular. A bolt on our rear seat sheered, but we found a tool box at the campsite that night and mended it within an hour. The upstream paddling has been hard work, but that's inevitable and we've done the distance we planned each day.
And so we finish our week exactly where we planned having had a string of very successful days. Not only that but we find ourselves in good company! On Thursday evening we were joined by my girlfriend, Catherine and her friend, Siobhan, who have cycled alongside the river and camped with us the last few nights. We had a great evening in Lohr, the picturesque home of the Grimm brothers and their fairytales, and now rest in Karlstradt, where we conveniently found it is the weekend of the Wein Festival. Lots of wine drank and German songs sang with the brass band, we left the main square last night in the highest of spirits before Nathan and Siobhan also enjoyed the festivities of someone's 50th birthday party with a free bar and the opportunity for Nathan to briefly play DJ.
All that is left, of course, is to enjoy our rest day, smooth over the hangovers and plan the next week. Hopefully it will be just as successful.