As regular readers know, I go to practise in the parks, because I like the trees and natural-ish surroundings... This blog takes extracts from an article that originally appeared in Slant Flying (the club magazine for Wu's Tai Chi Chuan Academy in Bethnal Green) about my park practising experiences abroad:

Using the Bad Homburg tourist office, I booked into an incredibly cheap dive near the main park, so that I could get some tai chi practise in the morning, before doing touristy stuff. Then to the "Kurpark" * for more tai chi in the evening. The internet forum (a German one that I had been reading prior to my trip there) had reported some problems in the parks, but that has not been my experience here: the runners ran smartly past me, the dogwalkers placidly exercised their peaceful pooches nearby and the Alpine walkers all said "Morgen!"

* The extensive Kurpark was a park with a town attached (rather than being a park in a town) and it contained various thermal treatment places, (which I avoided as they are rumoured to be "au naturel" and I am a repressed Brit),  public water fountains running with mineral water (real in-your-face stuff, not the usual wimpy bottled stuff), a Siamese temple, various follies with statues, an imposing cafe (I know "imposing" and "cafe" don't usually go together, but the only adjective that does this cafe's structure justice is "imposing"), a bandstand with regular evening performances, and of course lots of trees, glades, shrublined paths and manicured lawns as well. Oh and a casino - where the dress code is as for a Bond movie; not exactly what I had packed...

A few days later, when I returned one evening to my cheapo dive, I found a curt note pinned to my door, informing me that the owner wanted the room back, so I'd have to move out the next day. Now I was fairly sure he wasn't allowed to do that, but OTOH I was on holiday and didn't feel it worth fighting over. When I saw him the next morning, he said he could find me a room at his friend's house, but I had a weird feeling about the situation, so I went over to the tourist office.

After many phone calls they found me somewhere almost as cheap, but instead of it being a dive, it was more like a palace! Going up the beautiful marble steps to the front door, then entering a hall with white/gilt baroque furniture and stag's heads on the walls, different styles of artworks on each floor, with a swimming pool to myself, it was amazing!

So  my new pattern was to get up in the morning, wander downhill to a broad paved path beside a stream to do my tai chi practise, have a sleep, then swim for a while, before heading off to tourist around, then a bit of tai chi and a lot of lying down in the Kurpark to finish off.

In this new location, the reaction to my tai chi practise was somewhat more mixed... Cyclists swiftly speeded past, runners smartly raced past, Alpine walkers said "Morgen!" and dogwalkers - well, dogs one to seven bared their teeth, hackles raised and growled menacingly at my antics. Dogs eight and nine were like huge howling hounds of the Baskervilles, with glowing red eyes, slavering jaws and terrifying talons extended, with their owners having to physically restrain them as they lunged to attack me. Dog ten was the most massive and just stared very interestedly at me. Finally dogs eleven and twelve arrived as a pair and wanted to join in. Indeed one of them seemed smitten, wanting to stay with me, so that its owner had to put its lead on and haul it away. The owner was a very nice lady, who chatted to me every morning about tai chi and other things. A second lady told me how she had done tai chi many years ago ,  but given it up due to an injury and somehow had never got back into it. A third lady watched me doing sabre practise and asked me if it was... pilates! ha!

All too soon, time for a last swim, packing and leaving. Well, until next time in Germany!