I was happy to be contacted by a local newspaper, the Warrington Guardian, who published an article about my travel book South to Barcelona!
16th AugustVernon Lacey publishes South to Barcelona: A New Life in SpainBy Jessica Farrington @JessicaFWGReporter
A TEACHER who has dedicated his time to teaching abroad has published his first travel book in a bid to help others follow their dreams.
, who grew up in Penketh, has lived and taught in Maghull, London, Barcelona and now Munich, inspiring him to share his experiences with those wanting to take the plunge.
The dad-of-three, said: "I have always loved travel writing.
"The inspiration to write my own travel book comes from having lived in a truly remarkable city, Barcelona, as well as hoping to inspire others who might be thinking of moving abroad.
"The motto of the school I attended, Penketh High School, is 'perseverance' and this is so true of moving overseas.
"There is a new language to learn, accommodation and employment to find, as well as meeting people.
"It is no small thing to do, but I have learned to take things one step at a time, and follow your goals. Never give up."
Vernon completed his teacher training in Warrington, first at Bridgewater High School and then Boteler Grammar School.
He recalled: "I found Boteler Grammar School an especially welcoming place where dedicated and innovative teachers did their best for the pupils.
"During my placement, I cycled every day from Penketh with my pannier bags laden with corrected exercise books and files containing all my lesson plans.
"It was a bleak winter in 1992 when my teaching practice came to an end and I will always remember my class sending me a card saying 'please come back and teach at our school.'
"After a hard slog to learn the ropes, not quite sure if I would even pass my inspection visit, it was just what I needed."
After qualifying as a teacher, Vernon made the important decision to leave Warrington and teach in an international school in Barcelona in 1997.
The travel book follows this journey and his perseverance as he arrives in the city speaking very little Spanish but soon ends up transforming his life.
Vernon has recently become a winner in the Bradt Travel Writer's of the Year Competition on the theme of Travelling With Kids.
His winning entry The Best Medicine is an account of a visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall with his daughter.
It will appear in an anthology of stories published by Bradt Travel Guides in October.
South to Barcelona: A New Life in Spain can be viewed at:
Celts in Munich?
I came across a Celtic stone circle recently in south east Munich and was amazed to learn about their presence in my adopted city. I love Celtic culture. I learned that the Celts made beer and given that to this day 40% of EU breweries are in Bavaria you could say their legacy is more than the stone circles!
The Fastnet Carnival in Rottenburg, Germany. The cavalcade lasts for nearly two hours and the masks are fascinating. The Lent period has been called the fifth season - and this one German town certainly knows how to mark its beginning. The predominance of witches and ghouls indicates the pagan origins of the ancient festival, long since absorbed into the Christian calendar. It traditionally marked the coming of the end of winter, expelling ghosts.
Hardy's poem Snow in the Suburbs captures vividly snowfall. The streets and pavements in Munich where we live were certainly 'mute'. The pictures were taken in the dawn light of a January morning.
Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall,
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.
A sparrow enters the tree,
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eye
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.
The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in.
After an eerily dry autumn, flowers and our magnolia tree almost brought to bud, a huge snowfall in the last two days reminded us that the Alps are not far away. Suddenly the light changes - everything is bright, pristine. Neighbours are out, united in a common purpose - clearing the snow from the footpath outside your house as German law requires. Kids go by pulled along by parents - off to a local park. Snowmen - or is it persons now? - appear in Gardens.
I love the seasons.
Stollen at Christmas is a must. Here is a recipe that goes back several generations - to Stuttgart 1930s. I can imagine a relative on my wife's side making this in her kitchen, all those years ago.
And now my wife makes it, here in our home in Munich. It's amazing - not too difficult at all - Stollen through time!
500g flour (i.e. a light spelt flour 630)
1 package baking powder
1 package vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tblsp rum or port or similar
A few drops of lemon juice
Grated lemon peel
Small pinch of grated cardamon
Small pinch of grated nutmeg
50g oil (i.e. sunflower)
250g Quark (low fat - 10%)
150g grated almonds or hazelnuts
50g (candied lemon peel – in GermanZitronat)
50g (Candied orange peel – in German Orangat)
For coating after baking:
preheat oven 250 °C
bake 50-60 min at 170 °C conventional oven
A window on our Christmas market, Munich. Children looking up at Santa with eyes full of wonder, adults sipping Glühwein, its aroma fragrant on the chilly air, musicians playing Alpine pieces, an older couple dressed in traditional Bavarian clothes making their way through the throng, kiosks selling stars carved from sweet smelling pine wood, others selling cheeses, meats, fabrics. All the way home I was thinking how the market brings people together. Makes the city local.
The Ritter Sport family chocolate business - chocolate and social history
A visit to the Ritter Sport chocolate museum in Waldenbuch (between Stuttgart and Tübingen) is a window on social history
Chocolate history, the Ritter family business through time, a window into ethical business - the company is proudly family owned - , patronage of artists through a gallery next to the museum - and amazing chocolate.
The video is a selection of: early days (the lorry is from 1926!!), the original till from the small shop where the family started in 1912, an ad from 1977 showing men in role as child carers (hoorah for progress!) ....
I left with + 6 kilos of chocolate - telling myself over and over - Christmas presents, Christmas presents ...
East Munich woodlands and old quarry in Waldperlach.
The woodland is within Munich city - a haven for wildlife and diverse species of trees and plants.
The energy of woodlands is unique. Transforming. There are signs of industry - a disused quarry, paths, machines, felled trees - their trunks sprayed with numbers & ready for collection.
But nature is returning, as it will and I was reminded of Wordsworth's poem The Ruined Cottage - how nature reclaims - as the trees have, all around and in the disused quarry. I recorded the music on my Lowden guitar and is one of my versions of Shebeg Shemore originally composed by the great Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan- shorter version to fit the video!
The numbers are staggering: 2018 will see 6.3 million visitors at Munich's Oktoberfest.
One of the best attractions of the Oktoberfest is the Oide Wiesn, an enclosed area with an entry fee of 3 Euros. Here it is a far less hectic experience and a chance to eat in one of the restaurants - the famous one being the Festzelt Bavarian beer tent. Yes it seats 5,000 - and has a dance floor- if you fancy grooving along to the famous Wolfgang Grünbauer and his orchestra.
The Oide Wiesn (Bavarian for The Old Wiesn or Oktoberfest) is full of memorabilia: Old cycles, motorbikes, parts of fun fair rides, tractors dating from the 1930s, a section of an old Wall of Death (with motorbike), and the traditional bands playing music as it would have sounded decades ago.