The reason for visiting Arnsberg for the weekend was to finally meet Nicole's penpal of 17 years, Heike!
I began writing to Heike in 1991, when I was still living in Melbourne. So we have shared a lot over these years.
When we arrived we met Heike and her partner Guido. Then we walked around the corner from their apartment to her parents home. Heike's parents have an amazing garden and her father belongs to the Fushia Club in Germany. He has an amazing collection of so many different varieties of Fushias. We were probably about 3 weeks to early to see them all in flower!
We had Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) at Heike's parents place, where her Opa also lives. It was lovely to get to know them, and finally meet them all in person. We spoke in German, as Guido, Heike's parents and Opa only spoke German, so it was quite good (they were very patient with our mistakes). Phil spoke at length to Opa about his experiences in the war when he was in Russia, and it was fascinating to hear about!
Heike's father has an amazing rock/gem collection, and he has glass shelves full of his collections. The boys thought this was fascinating (as they have looked at rocks and stones in Topic at school in Year 3). Heike's father gave them a few samples to bring home. They now have pride of place on their book shelves!
Heike's mother is a craft person, so I got to look at all the different things that she has made over the years which were lovely!
We went out to a steak house for diner with Heike and Guido, and it was great to get to know them more! Guido works at a paper factory, and he looks after a large machine which makes toilet paper. Much to Phil and my embarrassment, one of the boys (we can't remember which one) says "Every time we go to the toilet we will think of Guido". I don't think I could have gone a deeper shade of red...thankfully Guido thought it was very funny!
It was a really great afternoon to be invited into a 'German family' environment and only speaking German, and it was fabulous to meet up with Heike after all these years!