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Refugee Accommodation Alongside Leverkusen School

Refugee Accommodation

We – students of all ages, supported by amazing teachers – started the project team “Freiherr-in-action” in 2014, as soon as we knew that a refugee accommodation was going to be built next to our school. Our first goal was to make the refugees’ arrival a little easier by collecting donations, what developed from this was weekly football training and we even competed in a football tournament together.
Over time, we built friendships and are now focusing on raising awareness of racism and discrimination at our school.
In the last year, we visited talk shows, went to a concert, produced a short movie and we are planning to go on a short trip together. Such projects are to make our school an even more friendly, tolerant and open-minded environment, besides the fact that they are always exciting to accomplish as the team that we have become.

Sarah T.

Freiherr vom Stein
Freiherr vom Stein Gymnasium, Leverkusen

Students’ Government
The students’ government of our school is responsible for two major aspects of the school:
On the one hand, these elected pupils are the representatives of all students and therefore have to ensure their well being. To do so they, for example, stand up for their classmates when it comes to problems and are part of important decisions concerning internal school politics.
On the other hand, they organise events for the other students such as parties for the years five to seven, soccer and basketball competitions as well as movie nights.

Josefine P.

The Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gymnasium lies in the Leverkusen district of Schlebusch

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Life after Brexit?

 „Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” That is the question that adult UK-citizens will be asked in the EU-Referendum on 23rd June 2016.
As a German – English couple with different, not dual nationalities, having family in England, Sweden and Germany, and many close friends not only in these three countries but in Belgium, France, Spain and Austria, we are, of course, staunch and committed ‘Remainers’, though only one of us will be asked the above question.
As the heated debate about the right answer to the referendum question is getting more ferocious by the week we wonder why this debate seems to concentrate almost exclusively on the economic aspects of a possible Brexit for the United Kingdom, its economy and its taxpayers.
‘Brexiteers’ hardly give a thought to the potentially devastating consequences a Brexit at this particular moment might have not only for the British economy but for the stability of the EU as a whole, because whatever the result, the British are and will remain a part of Europe.
At present the European Union is seriously challenged by three critical issues:


  • The ‘Putin-crisis’ dominated by a Russian president who is reclaiming the status of a world power for his country and is trying to split the EU by a quite unique mix of propaganda, bullying and lies.
  • The refugee crisis which came to the boil in the latter part of 2015 and has caused bitter rifts within European societies and between western and eastern European states. Driven by fear and lack of personal experience with people from other nations and cultures, there is growing support across Europe for nationalism and populism because these appear to offer clear and simple answers to very complex problems.
  • The Euro-crisis which is far from being solved: Billions and billions of Euros have been pumped into the Greek economy – obviously in vain….

Solving any of these problems will take time, solidarity and firm resolve on all sides. None of these problems will disappear from the political agenda of the UK after 23rd June, irrespective of the outcome of the referendum.
On the contrary: If the UK left the EU right now this would not only make it more difficult to solve these problems but it would also weaken the EU as a whole and impair its urgently needed authority as an important international player. Moreover,the political and economic repercussions of Great Britain leaving the EU will undoubtedly do serious economic damage to this country which also might find itself politically more isolated than supporters of this irrevocable step can imagine:
“EU member states will be determined to prevent the contagion of disintegration among its member states resulting from a Brexit: so they will never make it easy for us to leave and will exact tough terms from us in prolonged negotiations. As President Hollande said, “there will be consequences”.
(Richard Barber, “EU Referendum – responding to the Brexiteers”, April 16, p.4)

This quotation is from a paper written by Richard Barber OBE, a former Commercial Director of British Steel. This paper, which you will find attached, gives a succinct summary of the issues which are at stake in this referendum. Barber’s principal argument:
“…in an increasingly interdependent world, countries must opt, not between pure sovereignty and the pooled sort, but between the pooled sort and isolation […] There is no strength in isolation and no power without allies.” (ibid., p.4)
Nobody should doubt that further reforms of the EU and its institutions are urgently needed. Nobody should doubt that national states – large or small – still have a decisive and indispensable role to play. Their diversity is our wealth, our happiness. But if arguments prevail and not a general feeling of uneasiness and fear of “Brussels” as the source of all evil the outcome of the referendum should be clear.

Social media in Germany have been instrumental in starting an initiative “Hug a Brit a day!” – just to let them know how much we love them and want them to stay in the EU. So, dear family, friends and neighbours, we send our love with hugs and blessings.
Horst and Patricia. Bournemouth, May 2016
Horst and Patricia Tippkötter-Davis
Bournemouth BH8 9JA, United Kingdom
51465 Bergisch Gladbach, Germany


adobepdf35 View : Richard Barber, “EU Referendum – responding to the Brexiteers”, April 16 pdf

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Sandy Lane Pupils Visit Bracknell Lexicon Site

Sandy Lane – YEAR 5 trip to the Lexicon town centre regeneration site
Report by Ruby, aged 9, Kestrels Class
At the start of the school day, there was a huge rush of parents making sure that they got their children in on time. Because Year 5 had the special opportunity to see all of the arranged plans about the future Bracknell!

Once everyone was in the classroom and we had taken the register, we all got our warm and cosy wellies on and then got into about four or five groups. After that we got our hi-vis jackets and a few minutes later we were off!

When we got there, we all put our safety helmets on and met a lady called Ms. Kiz, who helped the teachers organise the school trip. In the meantime, two other groups went to get an amazing view from the top of Ocean House. Back at the building site, the other groups went up to the second floor car park and we asked the builders questions. Funnily enough we were even able to see Sandy Lane! Year 5 were also able to boss the controllers of the crane about! We made him do a 360 degree turn! After about twenty minutes of questions and fun it was time to switch around so that the other group could catch a glimpse of what it’s like to walk onto the amazing Lexicon!



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My work experience at South Hill Park

South Hill Park, Bracknell


My name is Nadine, I am 14 years old and go to Landrat-Lucas-Gymnasium in Leverkusen. In 9th form, every pupil has to do 2-week work experience. Since I wanted to do my work experience abroad and am very interested in various fields of arts, I was very happy to get the placement at South Hill Park. South Hill Park is a cultural centre and is located in a very nice, big park. There are lots of interesting offers such as workshops, classes, a cinema, a theatre or other events. You can even rent rooms for events.

I started at 10 a.m. every day and spent most of my time with the people of the set who were all really nice. In total, I worked for eight projects and painted e.g. sceneries or prepared a room for a birthday party. I got along very well with my colleagues and learned a lot about how much work needs to be put into a theatre play.

I really enjoyed my work experience very much and at the end I had the chance to watch the play “One Man, Two Guvnors”  which was really funny!

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Sandy Lane Primary School Links with Leverkusen?


We are a large three form entry Primary school with 656 pupils, located in the centre of Bracknell. In 2002, Sandy Lane Nursery, Infant School and Junior School amalgamated to become Sandy Lane Primary School. We have a wonderful team of staff, governors and pupils who help make Sandy Lane a great place to learn. We are also lucky to have lots of space, playgrounds and green fields to play on!

Sandy Lane Lion

Our logo is a lion and our motto is PRIDE:

Positive Respect Independent Determined Enquiry

We are very successful in sport and are lucky to have a specialist PE teacher, Mr. Medford. We offer all sorts of clubs including a brilliant choir led by our Assistant Head Teacher, Miss. Einchcomb. We have a Junior Leadership Team (JLT), who work closely with our Head Teacher, Miss Jackson.


At the start of this new academic year 2015-2016, we made a few changes to our Foreign Languages Curriculum. Last year the government made the learning of foreign languages at Key Stage 2 statutory. The new programme of study states that:

‘Teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language and should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one language.’

For many years now Sandy Lane has been ‘ahead of the game’ with French and German being taught at Key Stage 2. However, in order to adhere to the new curriculum, we made the decision that German will be taught across Years 3-6. We’re very excited about the level of language and confidence that pupils will have after 3-4 years of learning German!

Frau Marshall is a specialist Language Teacher who teaches German across Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11). Each class has one 45-60 minute lesson each week for three-four half terms of the six in the academic year. We learn German through all sorts of fun language games, short films, songs and stories. We also learn about German customs and festivals across the year. Sometimes we have native speakers who visit and we have good links to our neighbouring secondary school, Garth Hill College. Last year, we welcomed a group of Year 8 students, who taught a lesson about zoo animals to our Year 5 classes.

In Year 3, pupils take it in turns to take home a ‘German Bag’, which includes a teddy and his/her identity card, a board book, recipe cards, language games, a selection of Euro-coins and a note book. Pupils share photos, experiences, new facts or words with their class each week.

Die deutsche Teddybären heißen Lars, Leonie, Florian and Katja! The teddies get to go on some very exciting adventures from bowling to Cub Scout Camps and even abroad!

In Year 4, pupils learn about food and drink. This year we are planning a German Frühstück or Kaffee Kuchen. They will perform café role-plays, design menus and table mats and also serve each other, including some important guests using their German language skills. At Christmas time, Year 4s enjoyed sampling Lebkuchen, Spekulatius and Stollen! Spekulatius was the clear winner!


Children at Sandy Lane really enjoy performing and sharing what they learn in German to an audience! For example, at Christmas time, Year 5 put together a performance all about Christmas in Germany. They made shoes for St. Nikolaus and wrote a letter to him. They worked out the meaning of the poem ‘Advent, Advent ein Lichtlein brennt’ and designed their own Adventskranz. Christmas vocabulary and numbers were practised by making a class Adventskalender and we learnt the song ‘Lasst uns froh und munter sein’. Some children dressed up as St. Nikolaus, Krampus and German children in their pyjamas and acted out the song, whilst the rest of the class sang in German.

In Year 6, we learn about the weather. We write, perform and film our own weather reports to the class using props and our geographical knowledge of Germany. We are becoming more confident in writing from memory, using intensifiers and using our knowledge of German grammar.

Last year, the Year 6s also learnt how to describe their families. They used bi-lingual dictionaries to find adjectives, which described their mothers or a special family member and then made some wonderful Mother’s Day sentence flowers.

Sandy Lane Primary School would love to find a school in Leverkusen to share our work with and help us in our German language learning journey!

Writing to St. Nikolaus
Das Wetter
Christmas Treats
St. Nikolaus visited with gold coins


Sandy Lane Year 3 and 4 Playground


History of St. Nikolaus






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Foreign work experience in Bracknell

Work experience abroad


Where do you learn better English than in England itself? England, the mysterious island in Europe, that everyone knows, but not really.

Because I want to study English at university and I did not feel ready directly after school, I thought to myself:” Which preparation is better for this study then living in that particular country?”

At first I thought to myself to do a European Voluntary Service in Great Britain, but the places are much sought-after, because most of the costs are being covered by the European Union. Therefore it was more unlikely, that I would get a place. That is where my neighbour brought attention the twinning between my hometown Leverkusen and the English town Bracknell. Maybe the partnership could offer me a work placement? I contacted the person responsible for the partnership in Leverkusen and my request was passed on. I decided for six months beginning with September, so that I could deal with universities the rest of the year and not worry about it.

A few weeks later I got an answer: There was a possibility to do work experience. I would get accommodation with a host family. That, however, would be in Church Crookham, Fleet – ca. 30 minutes away with a car from Bracknell, where I would work.

I was so glad – in my relief (the weeks before I lived in a perpetual light panic) I have already imagined my life in England.

That is how I got a place as a trainee at the Education Centre of the Bracknell Forest Council in Bracknell. The Education Centre is on the third floor at Easthampstead Park – a old Victorian mansion. It is a centre for meetings and courses for all the things education that is used by the council, teachers and other people and not only by Bracknell Forest.

This could only be good.

But even in my dreams I did not imagine that in three points there would be problems: With the registration with a GP, with opening a bank account and with the public transport and the traffic.

In the first week we tried to register with a GP and to open a bank account. It was easier said than done. At the doctors they needed a proof of address, that could only be done by an official person (in my case my employer). At the bank they needed a letter of introduction, in my case form my GP, to be sure that I am the one I supposed to be. To cut it short: Without a letter of introduction no bank account and without a proof of address from my employer no registration with the doctor.

After I got the letter from my employer that says that I live under a certain address in England, we went to the doctors’ again. This time they could not register me, because I dod not belong to their assigned area, even though my host family had been there for years. But maybe they changed the laws over that time.

In the meantime I made enquiries at another bank: They would only open a bank account for at least twelve months. I wanted one only for six months.

In October I was finally registered with my assigned doctor’s practice. But they could not help me request with a letter of introduction from my GP, because they were not entitled to attest to the information I gave them about my address in England. Fortunately they suggested “Lloyds Bank” which does not need a letter of introduction.


After getting an appointment in the branch in Fleet and arriving there a bit nervous, I had to read that it is closed and had been so when I made the appointment. Full of panic I called them and made a new appointment in Farnborough, after they apologized and asked me whether I received a letter about the closure, which I did not.

After that there were no problems – I only needed my ID to open a bank account – as it should have been – we are all in the EU after all.

Thus I became the proud owner of an English bank account in the second week of November. And I thought it could have been already settled in September. So: Better find out ahead what you need for the doctor or to open a bank account. I definitely learned that.

But the good things overshadowed the bad things long time ago.

I was welcomed wonderfully by my host family and was spoiled with delicious food and interesting stories. I now understand the almost obsession of the English with all kinds of lemon cakes, but it is still strange for me to see other pies being filled with fish or meat. In addition you learn a lot of tips and tricks from the world of cooking from the many cooking programmes and of course from the “Great British Bake Off”.

Despite the two-hour-long way to work with three buses (of course I do not drive with a car here) I am always looking forward to it. The people are incredibly nice and you have the feeling of belonging there immediately. I was brought to the happenings instantly: The guests of the different courses, that were held every day, are provided with coffee, tea and biscuits and the ordered lunches are unpacked by us. Confirmation letters to courses have to be sent and invoices have to be paid.

I am sitting in the resources room, where teachers of Bracknell Forest can lend schoolbooks, CDs, novels and games. To make it easier, we are in the process of cataloguing and digitalizing the resources to make an online catalogue.

But the guests of the different meetings and courses always come first. And another new discovery for me: The Brits cannot live without biscuits. There are so many and different varieties and all of them are incredibly delicious – therefore one understands why they are so important. So: Without biscuits nothing works.

lisa03In the end of the day I can begin my journey home with the three buses. For that was the next shock: Firstly, most of the buses only have doors at the front, so that people get off the bus, before other people can go in (and that in a calm and orderly way). The first that got in was most of the time the first that waited at the bus stop and not in terms of the place he was standing but in terms of how long he waited. And secondly, the traffic that kind of appears out of nowhere. That the motorways are full was nothing new to me – in Germany it is common practice – but that normal roads are full, that was something new for me.

There are simply too many cars on too narrow roads and if anything goes wrong, it feels as if the whole system is breaking. But I am dependent on the public transport and do not want to be dependent on my host family.

That is why it is really stressful for me to sit in the bus in traffic, hoping that we arrive before the next to last bus, which brings me home, departs.

So: You should see the bus time tables in the south east region of England rather as a guideline.

And yet the bus drivers are not at fault, because they try to arrive on time and be helpful. In Germany I have never seen it really. Here it is appropriate to greet the bus driver and thank him in the end. That has a positive effect: When arriving late you are not that frustrated anymore, because the bus drivers are just human and they could not help it.

So: The traffic can be slow (especially at rush hour). You can adjust to it and have a chat with your neighbour and thank the bus driver in the end.

So the first impression: Wow! Actually it is different than I imagined. Even though sometimes there are problems in politics and in the economy, the people here are always kind and polite and on the streets kind of more chatty than in Germany. Maybe Germany could copy this.

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Leverkusen Teacher Visits Bracknell School but fails to meet Podolski in London

poldi02Writes Petra Schütte :

As a chemistry and physical education teacher at a comprehensive school in Leverkusen – Schlebusch with over 20 years of professional experience, I cherished for some time the desire to get an insight into life in an English school. In early May, 2015, I received the hoped for positive news from Bracknell Forest Council. They informed me that the Science Department at Edgbarrow School would accommodate me as a visitor. Contact with Bracknell Forest Council had been made via a colleague of mine, who was in contact with somebody in the Opladener-History-Society. As the summer holidays in England begin much later, I could use the first two weeks of my summer holiday to visit England. Questions I had about my stay : accommodation, travel, cycle hire etc., were answered in advance over email via the friendly and supportive help of Lyn Gash, (Head Teacher’s Assistant). In addition, I purchased current versions of the chemistry books used at Edgbarrow, to make myself familiar with the specialist English vocabulary. Using the internet and with the help of the school’s homepage and its Ofsted report I was able to become well informed about the school in advance.

My stay in Crowthorne lasted from Monday, 29th June until Wednesday, 8th July.

Anna MacKenzie-Dodds (Head of Science) warmly greeted me at the school, provided me with initial information and created a timetable for me. I got the opportunity, in natural science and chemistry classes, to observe teaching and was able to take part in various
extra-curricular activities e.g. sports festival, introductory chemistry-lesson for the new year 7`s, science teachers’ staff meeting, morning registration and break-time supervision. In addition I used a variety of opportunities after lessons and during break-times to talk with teaching colleagues. So I got an interesting insight into school life and the learning and working environment within Edgbarrow School.

I found the way that everyone worked together in an appreciative and friendly way particularly positive. This included supportive and very eulogistic dealings with the pupils in the classroom and cooperation characterised by helpfulness and friendliness within and between the pedagogic and support staff. In addition I have not seen major support in German schools by non-teaching staff to this extent. In this context it should be mentioned the large number of personnel in the office area, with a wide variety of tasks, supporting pupils and teachers. Also three technical assistants, who are exclusively responsible for the preparation and follow-up of experiments and practical science teaching – in support of the students and teachers. In addition to the particularly good learning and working environment – highlighted in the school’s Ofsted Report – it was mainly the extremely dedicated and friendly science teachers who helped make my visit to Edgbarrow School, for me, an unforgettable experience.

Edgbarrow02My leisure time I used to explore the surrounding area on foot, by borrowed bicycle (lent by the very nice school caretaker) or by train. I visited Bracknell, Reading and Dinton Pastures Country Park in Wokingham – and all graced by outstandingly fine weather.

For the crowning final piece of my England journey I spent five days together with my husband and two sons in London. In the Arsenal Emirates Stadium we had to make do with the life-size figure of German football international star Lukas Poldolski. Unfortunately he had already left for Istanbul to join his new employer …

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Aquilafest in Leverkusen


About the Aquilafest in Leverkusen-Küppersteg

 Today I‘ll tell you something about the „Aquilafest“ in Leverkusen.

Two weekends ago (5/6-6/6) there was the „Aquilafest“ in Leverkusen-Küppersteg.

The Aquilafest is a party where you can drink, eat or dance. My job was to collect empty glasses and to help with the  barbecue.

This party is organized by a Club named „Aquila“ (Aquila is a lake in Leverkusen). They care about tradition and neigbourhood. Members organise events for the young and they help in old people’s homes. You can meet new friends. The club has 250 members and they meet 2-3 times  a year.                           

At this weekend there was a special programme with a dance group, two belly dancers and a crooner. When I asked our chairman what he liked best today, he answered: „ It was very good because the weather was very hot and  many people came.“  

My favourite was the DJ because he mixed new and old music.


Club logo                                                  two belly dancers  (photo: P.L.Schmidt)

(by Paul-Leander Schmidt, year 8)









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A Letter from Bournemouth

europeflagBy Horst Tippkötter

2014 – what a year it was, for my families in Germany, England and Sweden, for our countries and for Europe!

To start on a positive, optimistic, confident note: We were surprised by joy because a healthy, pretty, very sweet little baby boy was born to my son and his wife. His name is Florian Rafael, and he will be baptised after Christmas. How wonderful, how encouraging,   particularly for the grandparents, who don’t bear the immediate responsibility for the babies and their upbringing – for Opa and Grandma or, to use the Swedish expressions,“farfar”( father’s father) and “farmur”(father’s mother) and, of course, for “murfar” and “murmur” as well.

2014 has also been the year of many anniversaries, particularly of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, as we say in Germany, or The Great War as it is called in England.

I have been reading extensively about the causes of this “Urkatastrophe”, of this catastrophy of catastrophies, always hoping to learn more about its causes,  learning the lessons that this tragic chapter in the history of our two countries could and should teach us.

The Sleepwalkers. How Europe Went to War in 1914 , written by the Australian, Christopher Clark, Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, was the most inspiring and helpful book that I have been reading and studying on this topic.

In due course, in the wake of the Elections to the European Parliament in May 2014, my English wife Patricia and I visited the battlefields of the Somme in Rancourt, France, to remember my uncle Heinrich Horstmann, my mother’s eldest brother who was killed in action on July 1st, the first day of the battle of the Somme…We remembered him, as well as the more than 800.000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives and all the others from so many nations who were happy before the war ate them up, cannon fodder…

Helmut Kohl, the great German Chancellor, always insisted, that Europe is a question of war and peace. For a long time, even to people of my generation, this seemed to be an exaggeration.

Looking at the result of the European election, looking at a wave of surging and resurging nationalism and populism in all our countries, looking at Mr. Putin who obviously wants to re-erect a Russian Empire –“Russia is where Russians live!” –  my conclusion as a European who has family in three countries is clear:

Don’t believe in pied pipers!

 Don’t be afraid!

 Keep calm and carry on !

We will sort out our European problems, with patience, tolerance, good will and in a democratic way, and we will remember all those who laid down their lives for their countries, for freedom and peace in Europe.

Horst Tippkoetter
Horst Tippkötter

Dr. Horst Tippkötter (77), former Head of the Werner-Heisenberg-Gymnasium  in Leverkusen (1986 – 2001), deputy chairman of the Freundeskreis Bracknell Leverkusen e.V (2001 – 2006),  member of the Europa-Union Leverkusen for many years, lives in Bergisch Gladbach and Bournemouth.

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A Holiday in Scotland

In September 2013 I travelled with my wife to Scotland on holiday.  The reason for this journey was to experience Scottish railways.  The trip was arranged by a firm in the town of Cupar.  The railways were the normal scheduled services but sometimes using restored carriages and locomotives.  The group members were all enthusiastic about the equipment and the lovely landscapes.  All had maps, binoculars and cameras.  Scotland has mountains, moorland, lakes, woods and islands.

We travelled by air to Edinburgh.  If one wishes, a car can be hired there which would be good if a route is self-planned.  Edinburgh, the capital, has much to offer the visitor.  It has a castle with a lovely chapel, “Queen Margaret’s Chapel”.  Also the city has attractive buildings, wide streets, elegant houses and a royal palace, “Holyrood Palace”.  A bus waited for our group.  We stayed during the visit in the town of Strathpeffer.  This is a small elegant town which was famous in the 19th century as a spa.  We had accommodation in a hotel and were met each morning by a bus which took us to a railway station.  The first of these, Aviemore, is a winter sport centre.  When the weather is warm and dry one can take walks.  There are many opportunities for renting rooms or houses.  Not far away are the Cairngorm Mountains, these can sometimes be dangerous in winter because of extreme weather.

We travelled east by train to Boat of Garten, Thurso and Wick.  Wick has a small harbour which I specially like.  It is possible to explore the harbour on foot and fishing and other boats can be seen.  On the western side of the land we visited Kyle of Lochalsh, Fort William and Mallaig. From Fort William you can see Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland.  From Kyle of Lochalsh the isle of Skye is visible.  Here I remembered the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson which describes the journey of Charles Edward Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”) when, after his defeat at the battle of Culloden in 1745, he fled to Skye.  Today there is a new bridge connecting the island to the mainland.  From Fort William the train travels over the Glenfinnan Viaduct which everyone wishes to photograph.  The viaduct is a Victorian wonder with brick-built columns.

Before the end of the holiday the train or bus had passed along the side of Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.  Both of these lakes are more than 20 kilometres in length.  Scotland is beautiful but beware! The weather is changeable.  Protection against rain is important.  But the sun does shine also.  The population is friendly and I recommend a visit to Scotland.  It is best, I think, to arrange a journey through a travel organiser, but it is possible also to plan alone.  For the original Scottish breakfast do not forget the porridge (made with oatmeal).