Sunday, 31 July 2016

Karrebæksminde, Sjælland - Sunday, 31 July

A zero miles day. We've decided to stay put for today and spend a second night here. It's a lovely spot, looking out to the boats moored in the marina, even though there are camper vans between us and the marina. I went out for a jog and walk first thing this morning. This sun was shining and it was a perfect early morning.

On and off, we chatted to our neighbours, a Danish couple from Copenhagen of roughly our age.

This afternoon, we walked to the shops and bought some freshly baked bread and the fishy things for our seafood platter - smoked herring fillet, pickled herring fillet, salmon mousse, crab salad and gravad lax salmon with dill. This, together with a wedge of lemon and the bread was a meal fit for a king.

The bridge at Karrebæksminde
.. and then the bridge lifted
A beautiful early morning (G went out jogging!) followed by steady rain all day has turned into a lovely evening, cool but not too cool to eat out and then enjoy a stroll to admire the views across the water.

We braved the rain to walk to the Bageri and the Fiskehus this afternoon for supplies, and G produced a lovely fish platter for supper - marinated and smoked herring fillets, salmon pate, crabbesalat , and gravadlax with crusty seeded bread. Delicious! I have done some washing - the very amiable chap who runs the place didn't charge me for my tokens for the tumble drier "because you are English" - and washed my hair. We have taken advantage of the rain to enjoy the Sunday papers, something we never have time for at home. So, feeling thoroughly relaxed, it's not altogether surprising that we are contemplating another night here!

Most people do seem to be spending several nights here. We have Danish, German, Swedish and Norwegian campervans around us, and the common language is definitely English. But so far we have only spotted one GB number plate, and that was yesterday.

One small problem, how long will my iPad survive? It slid off the front seat onto the gravel two days ago, and the screen is crazed. It is currently being held together with cling film!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Karrebæksminde, Sjælland - Saturday, 30 July

We left Faaborg in torrential rain, having planned to spend some time at the open air museum (Den Fynske Landsby) just south of Odense. The rain eventually stopped but still looked very unsettled. We dithered in the museum car park but, as the rain came on again, decided that the 80DKK each for admission probably wouldn't be well spent. Therefore, we set the sat nav for where we hoped to spend the night. This would have taken us the motorway route but seeing the volume of traffic on the motorway and the spray from the rain, we pulled over and set the sat nav to avoid motorways. As a result, we had a much more pleasant drive.

Our destination was on the large island of Sjælland. To get there from Fyn is either by ferry (but a very long way round) or over a toll bridge some 18km long and costing an eye-watering 240DKK. We went by the bridge. It is a very impressive structure with water either side as far as the eye could see. There were some sailing boats but not much else. On the other side, we made our way to Karrebæksminde, which is something of a honeypot for holiday makers and boaters. Our overnight stop was at a marina which was supposed to have just six places. There were nine camper vans already when we arrived but we found an official numbered place and took it. We located the owner and booked in. Seems that he is happy to take in more camper vans and the powers that be take no notice. Our location is superb and very well placed for the town, which is only a few minutes walk away, over a lift bridge which carries the road over a river.

We walked into town and found an excellent small bakery and also a fish shop where we bought a couple of rollmops. The fish they sell, both fresh and smoked, looked beautiful and we are planning a seafood platter tomorrow evening, having decided to stay here for a second night.

After a beautiful balmy evening when we could have been in the Meditteranean, it was bucketing it down this morning. We had intended to visit the open air folk museum just outside Odense, but probably to skip Odense itself despite the Hans Christian Anderson and Carl Nielsen connections.  It was still pouring down when we pulled into the car park, so we had our statutory morning coffee with two digestive biscuits, and headed off again. The decision was made to head straight for Sjælland. One look at the heavy traffic and spray on the motorway, and we reinstated the "avoid motorways" instruction and followed a much more pleasant route to the bridge which links Funen and Sjælland. This is amazing, seeming to go on for ever, and incorporating a little island in the middle. It is even longer than the Oresund Bridge. At 240 DKK, about £30, the toll is steep, but justified.

Finding ourselves with a bit longer in Sjælland than expected, we decided to dip down to the south coast before heading north, and now find ourselves at another marina in the thriving little seaside resort of Karrebaeksminde. With good facilities including the comfortable (and empty) club house where I am writing this curled up on a leather sofa, we thought we might have a rest day tomorrow, and a break from driving. The rain had stopped, and sun and blue skies reappeared. A few minutes walk into town, mostly restaurants and holiday homes, and we discovered a wonderful bakery and an even more wonderful fishmonger, and the decision was made. With good wifi so that we can download the Sunday Times, and the attraction of comfort whatever the weather, plus the ability to do a bit of washing, it makes sense. And G is planning to shop for and cook supper - fish, of course!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Faaborg, Fyn - Friday, 29 July

Another day, another marina. We got off to a late start but didn't have too far to go. We left Jutland and took the non-motorway route to the island of Fyn (anglicised to Funen). The first town on Fyn was the delightfully named Middelfart (stop that sniggering at the back, boy!). Keeping off motorways means that we travel a little more slowly and can appreciate the countryside more and go through towns and villages. We are discovering independent bakery shops for bread etc., rather than supermarkets and could become addicted to Danish pastries, known generically as Wiener brød, as the idea for them was brought to Denmark from Vienna.

We have ended the day in Faaborg, a town on the south coast of Fyn, with a sizeable marina (space for six camper vans) and a town centre with cobbled streets lined with old cottages, radiating out from the town square. The town square was buzzing at 6pm with people eating outside bars and restaurants.

G had an early morning walk, and then we whiled away the morning with a leisurely breakfast and time on the fast internet connection in the comfortable clubhouse before setting off. We have now left Jutland behind -  with some sadness. It has been lovely - and crossed by bridge to the middle bit of Denmark, Funen. The countryside is quite different, very rolling and green, and the villages and towns look more like communities than the predominantly holiday places we saw around the Jutland coast.

We are now in one of six spaces reserved for campervans  in the harbour at Faaborg, on the south coast, where we can look across to the "unmissable and unpronounceable" island of Aeron - this is where I wish that I had followed G's example and discovered a Danish keyboard which includes all their odd vowels. Anyway, we shall be missing out on a trip there - even 11 weeks doesn't allow time for everything!

We have had a wander around the very attractive town. Lots of pretty, brightly coloured alleyways and cobblestones. The weather is still very pleasant, and the town square restaurants were already buzzing with people sitting outside to eat. We also managed to find a stationers where we bought an A4 binder and pockets so that we can rescue the pages of our precious Camperstop book which are already falling out through overuse.

It has been interesting to discover how popular Midsomer Murders is over here. Yesterday a Swedish chap told us how he had been to England and visited "all the important places. Oxford, London and Midsomer Murders country". He was particularly proud of the fact that he had enjoyed a drink in the pub where "Commissaire Barnaby" drank. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Børkop, Southern Denmark - Thursday, 28 July

Our last day in Jutland before we move on to Denmark's middle island of Fyn. From Horsens, we drove to Jelling. Lonely Planet refers to it as "an apparently nondescript village" but that it is "a kind of spiritual touchstone for the Danes, and virtually all of them will visit it at some in their lives." It is a Unesco World Heritage Site, it being the birth place of Christianity in Denmark in the 900s AD. There is an ancient white-painted church (which, unfortunately, was locked so we couldn't see the frescoes inside) but outside were two historically significant rune stones, two huge burial mounds and, across the road, a visitor centre giving much visual information about the monuments and their importance in Danish history.

Jelling church
We moved on only a few miles to where we had planned to stay the night, free places for camper vans in a forested area but with water, loo disposal and loos. However, we found that the loos had been subjected to an arson attack and we were plagued with hover flies. We had lunch there but decided to find somewhere else for the night. About an hour's drive away was Børkop, where we are now. It is, again, a marina, and we are in part of a car park designated for camper vans, with water and hook up. A short walk away, we have use of the club house facilities. It is altogether very good. Ours is the only camper van here tonight.

Whilst doing the washing up, I fell into conversation with a Danish man (a boater) who, after enthusing about Midsomer Murders (a Swede, this morning, had done the same), gave me a simple lesson in Danish with regard to the additional vowels they have in their alphabet - å - this is the modern version of "aa"; æ - this sounds like a cross between "a" and "e" and is a long syllable; ø is similar to the German "ö". One place we shall not have time to visit is the island of Ærø (which Lonely Planet says is pronounced "with difficulty").

Having said that the facilities were good, G was not impressed last night when he went to have a shower, got undressed and placed  the "Tallycard" which we had been required to load up on a pre-pay basis, into the slot, only to be told 'not enough money left'. In Danish, of course! 25 Krone,  about £3.50, had provided one shower and a couple of loo trips. We shall avoid sites using Tallycards in future wherever possible.

Today's exploring proved very interesting. We headed for Jelling, which Lonely Planet informed us was a place of such historical and spiritual importance that most Danish people visit it at least once in their lifetime. In a small village, insignificant on the map, is a beautifully kept site with two burial mounds and a church between them. There is a most impressive information centre, with wonderful interactive moving graphic displays telling the story of Christianity in Denmark from the 10th century to the present day.

We then made for our planned Camperstop, which sounded idyllic. A forest Rastplatz, or layby, where campfires were permitted. Sadly, someone had taken this permission to extremes - the loos were wrecked and burnt out, whether by accident or on purpose it was hard to tell. But it was a shock to find such a mess when we have become accustomed to well kept laybys with never even any litter in sight. We had lunch, including our first experience of Proper Danish Pastries, seriously good, and then moved on.

Before heading to our alternative site we couldn't resist a detour via Billund. G pulled into a layby opposite the entrance to Legoland, and risked life and limb scampering across the road braving the coaches turning and the hordes of visitors to take a photo and prove we were there! We then headed out again, quickly, past the airport built especially to serve Legoland.

And so, another evening, another marina, this one far classier than last night's. It is just outside the small town of Børkop, and approached down a meandering lush road of large, impressive houses. There is a nice looking restaurant which was full when we strolled past, a few smart apartments, and a 'clubhouse' similar to the one at Egense two nights ago. The night is still, and the marina and the views from it lovely - reminiscent of the South Devon coast. We are on our own in the designated Campervan area. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Horsens, Central Denmark - Wednesday, 27 July

It's been a mainly driving day today, keeping off main roads and, thereby, ignoring the sat nav (which we've named Sally - or, occasionally, if we violently disagree with her directions, "madam"). We followed the road down the east coast for a while (which is what we had intended to do last night but, by this morning, had forgotten and mindlessly followed Sally's directions until we remembered and turned round and found a delightful cross country route back to the coast). We just ambled along, never doing more than 50 as that is the limit for the type of road we were on. Traffic is generally very light over here. Driving along a long straight road, it is quite usual for there to be no traffic in sight in either direction.

Having filled up with fuel before leaving the UK, thinking diesel would be more expensive in The Netherlands and Germany and filling up in Germany before we entered Denmark, we find that diesel is cheaper in Denmark than anywhere else so far. We paid 8.71DKK a litre which is something like 90p; we've seen it a little cheaper than that as well.

I learned today, with a little help from a Norwegian, how to operate an automatic pump dispenser where, on the forecourt, a credit card is inserted in the machine and PIN entered and card removed, the pump and fuel type chosen and the fuel is then put in the tank in the usual way. The payment is then taken by the machine automatically. If a receipt is required, you have to go in to the shop to ask for it.

We stopped for lunch in a very quiet picnic lay by, surrounded by woodland. What we have noticed over here in these areas and, really, everywhere else, is the total absence of litter. There are litter bins but they are generally empty so, presumably they are emptied very often.

We have stopped for the night at Horsens marina. It is busy with some sort of regatta taking place involving lots of youngsters. It is quiet though. There is room for five camper vans only. There were two here already and that's probably it now (correction, two more have now arrived together!). Access to the very good bathroom facilities is by means of a Tallycard for which we have paid a 50DKK deposit.

After having been a sunny, not too warm day, we have been overtaken by rain this evening.

Last night's site was very lovely, and we were not joined by any other Campervans. Most of the harbourmaster's house, we discovered, was given over to facilities for those moored in boats, and which were available to us as well. So a large kitchen with table and chairs, and an upstairs lounge area, gave the place the feel of a youth hostel. Very pleasant and comfortable. It was still light after 10 pm.

After a very leisurely start, we made our way down the coast heading for tonight's stop at Horsens. We have already learnt to programme the SatNav to avoid ferries (except if we want one of course) after she tried to send us up the west coast via a ferry. We weren't prepared to reach a dead end only to find that ferries ran twice a week. This time we made sure to programme to avoid motorways, and enjoyed a very pleasant journey. The speed limit is 50 mph almost everywhere on the A roads, but they are wide and with relatively little traffic. It may take longer, but the journey is all part of the enjoyment, and these routes are much more relaxing and interesting. Lunch and a snooze in a wooded layby was enjoyable, too.

The site in Horsens is a bit of a change. Think edge of Car Park. A fifth campervan has just arrived to take the last place, and we are all quite closely parked. I am happy now that we have moved from our first position, next to the waste/loo disposal, and, being only little, we have done relatively well for space either side. It is a busy harbour, with a number of clubhouses and a restaurant, and a regatta of some sort was in full swing when we arrived. It is also the most expensive site so far, although the facilities, again shared with the boats, are good, and there is free wifi in the services building. G says we will have to find a free site tomorrow night to make up for it!

I don't think I have mentioned the third element of our navigational equipment. In addition to the SatNav (we have tried to give her a name but nothing seems right) and a road atlas, G has installed the Pocket Earth app on his iPad, and downloaded the countries we are visiting. This is a truly amazing app, and also means that I am not entirely redundant as a navigator. Without the combination, I cannot imagine how we would find these Camperstops. Using the app you can zoom out for an overview and in to get all the street names. I can also check that SatNav is not trying to take us down a dead end, which has happened a couple of times! The downside is that it is quite heavy on battery, so daily recharging is necessary.

After getting a bit humid, it is now raining in earnest, so crisps and a glass of wine call, I think, before supper. It's a hard life.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Egense, Northern Denmark - Tuesday, 26 July

We moved on towards Aalborg, although decided that there wasn't enough there to interest us to warrant a drive into the city. Instead, we made our way to Lindholm  Høje, an indoor and outdoor museum dedicated to the history of the Viking people who lived on the site. The outdoor part comprises a newly ploughed field from the Viking era and a burial ground with cremation graves bordered by stones. It had all been covered with sand four metres deep until the 1950s. The burial site was in use from about 400AD to 1000AD. There are over 700 graves. Two villages with farms were also unearthed.

Inside are exhibitions of everyday items excavated with models and pictures showing how life would have been there. We enjoyed our visit very much.

We are overnighting at Egense, on the east coast, east of Aalborg, looking out over the Kattegat to Varberg and Falkenberg on the west coast of Sweden. It is a haven for sailing and we are parked by the clubhouse at the Egense Lystbådhavn. People from the boats use the clubhouse but I've used the kitchen for washing up. Once again, excellent facilities. Quite a few cargo boats have gone by on their way upstream via the Langerak to Aalborg. We are the only ones here, although there is room for six. It will be a very quiet night.

One good reason for keeping a blog is to keep track of the days, which is already getting difficult. We have managed to download The Times most days so far, (and also to find showers on all but one day, sometimes unexpectedly, as at tonight's stop, of which more later.)

We decided not to brave Aalborg, Denmark's fourth largest city, but made for the Viking Burial site Lindholm Hoje, just north of it. As well as the extensive area of burial mounds ranged over the hillside, there were two exhibitions, one of life in the village to which the burial site had been attached, and the other about early Viking history around the local fjord area generally. Although there are Viking museums everywhere, I suspect that this is THE one to visit - but I expect we shall visit others in the weeks ahead.

We arrived at today's Camperstop destination just after 4 pm, ready to settle down with a cup of tea or two, and are still the only camper here, at 6pm. This may be because it costs less if you are just here between 8pm and 10 am, so perhaps we shall have company later. There is room for six.

We are at a quiet little harbour at Egense, where we have paid the Harbourmaster in the Harbourmaster's house, the downstairs of which is a clubhouse for those moored up here - and us! The area around us is very open and green.There are loos and showers, which, like those at Logstor last night, are obviously provided for the moored boats as well as for those parking here to walk and cycle. Apart from bikes for hire, and ice creams for sale, and a small children's playground, there is nothing else here. There are plenty of picnic tables and chairs though, and some barbecues. The Danes are very generous with their picnic tables, and loos, in laybys all very nicely laid out, too.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Løgstør, Northern Denmark - Monday 25 July

It was just fifteen or so camper vans and a couple of cars when we woke this morning; such a change from the busyness of yesterday. We left by mid morning and only a few cars and a couple of camper vans arrived. A lovely morning, but a Monday. We wanted to head for Aalborg, to the north east but were happy to split the journey over two days. We drove in the Aalborg direction without any idea how we would go today. It was an easy drive, mainly along the A11 road. There wasn't a lot of traffic. The landscape ranged from flat to gently undulating. I remarked on the cropped fields being blown by the wind being similar to those we'd seen in the Scandi noir series on TV. In black and white they'd have been quite atmospheric.

We chose to end the day at Løgstør, about an hour from Aalborg. It is a harbour town, known for its mussels, and we have parked with other camper vans overlooking the Frederick VII canal, where there are numerous sailing boats moored at jetties. A jazz festival starts just where we are but in two days time so we'll miss that, unfortunately. Beyond the canal is a wooden walkway and wall, the other side of which is a shell covered beach and then a vast expanse of water, Lim Fjord, quite choppy in the wind which, after joining with other fjords, eventually reaches the sea. It is obviously a popular halt for sailing folk. There are excellent free shower and loo facilities nearby, behind the Kulgaard restaurant.

It is very quiet now in the lateish evening and the only sound is the eery whistling of the wind in the rigging of the sailing boats.

Renault 4CV in a supermarket car park

We had prepared for a noisy night with the possibility of beach parties and the noise from a couple of German families travelling together as our near neighbours, who had been drinking Scotch all afternoon. The wife was particularly loud, and a little mad - although maybe that was just the Scotch - but still managed to converse with us in reasonable English while swaying slightly. However all was calm, and we slept well, needing a blanket for the first time. They are much quieter this morning!
The beach and views were lovely this morning with no cars or crowds. The public services over here are impressive - in the middle of nowhere someone arrived this morning to clean and resupply the loos, etc. I guess that's what you get if you pay high taxes and the revenue is properly spent on public services.

Still on our way north, we headed to Lemvig and onwards where, really for the first time since leaving the ferry, we encountered gently undulating scenery, together with lots of lakes. We are now settled at a Camperstop in Logstor, beside the marina, with a splendid view of boats and the accompanying sound of rigging in the breeze. We have loos, showers and wifi all included for about £12. As I was allowing £25 a day for campsites, this is all good. We have been surprised to find that diesel is under £1 a litre. Food though is not cheap - but all looks delicious.

Near Lemvig, Central Denmark - Sunday, 24 July

We spent a peaceful night in the car park. I wanted to drive past Esbjerg and then up the west coast which looked interesting on the map. There are two quite large inland stretches of water with spits of land between them and the sea. There is a road over the spits. In fact, there was more land either side of the road than there appeared on the map. On the right (the inland side), there was flat farm land with many wind turbines in view. On the left, for miles there were holiday chalets, many of them thatched, quite randomly placed and with an occasional holiday village along the way. Beyond these, to the left, were high sand dunes, covered with marram grass, with the sea level on the other side. We drove for quite a few miles along a very straight road. The traffic was very light.

Our destination was a free camper stop on the coast, with an indicated ten spaces. The Camperstop book listed it under Lemvig, although the town itself is some miles away. What we found was a long, busy car park overlooking a great beach stretching a long way in each direction. We bagged a flat space for the camper, having arrived early afternoon. Most of the other spaces were already taken. We've whiled away the afternoon and evening in the sunshine.

Sun setting at Lemvig
We decided that our walk around Ribe yesterday was sufficient to soak up the atmosphere of the very lovely picturesque little town, and G also went back at 10 pm to follow the Night Watchman on his rounds . 

A much cooler and more comfortable day, continuing the drive up the west coast of Jutland along a couple of strands, and we are now parked in a large but isolated beach car park. It was full to overflowing with cars when we arrived, unsurprisingly for the first Sunday of school holidays, but only campervans are allowed to stay overnight. The beach is lovely, the sea calm, and the views up and down the coast beautiful. Reminiscent of Norfolk.

Geoff had a walk, I had a lovely swim, so we are both happy. With water, loos and outdoor cold showers, and a washing up station all provided, and all free it may be hard to drag ourselves away.

Ribe, Southern Denmark - Saturday, 23 July

The cockerel started crowing next to us at 8am but I'd been up for a while and it didn't seem to bother Amanda and she didn't wake. Another lovely morning but not quite so hot. We had a leisurely breakfast and got away around 11.30. We were planning to go to Ribe, a small mediaeval town not too far away but, first, I wanted to go up the coast road and over a causeway road to the island of Rømø, which is very much a tourist haven. By the way, we are in Jutland, the main part of Denmark, north of the German border.

It being Saturday, we thought we should find somewhere to overnight. We headed for a massive beach area where vehicles were parked maybe half a mile away, looking out to sea. It wasn't clear if overnight parking was allowed so we went back to the road. Near the more or less only town on the island (although still small), were two adjacent camper parks, both arranged around a lake. From a distance, they looked like rough parking areas but when we got close, it was clear they were something more. They were purpose built with posh bathroom facilities. The areas were grassed but with a gravelled road around the lakes with gravelled  bays for each camper van. Each bay had a marker post with a numbered badge. If the badge was green the place was free, if red then it was occupied. Unfortunately, they were all red so we drove on. In the end, we decided that, it being weekend, we might fare better on the mainland so aimed for Ribe.

In our Camperstop book was a public car park just 500m from the town centre. There were twenty five places in all and we found one free. There are loos just a few yards away, open from 6am to 10pm.

We're tucked away beyond the van on the right
We took a walk into Ribe, which is very attractive, the centre being Torvet, where the cathedral is situated and there as various eateries. Radiating out from Torvet are cobbled streets lined with old houses and shops, restaurants and so on. There was a lovely little waterway or dyke coming into the town, lined with small river craft. I walked down it, past a little restaurant. A couple was eating outside and their meal looked so good (seafood and charcuterie), I was tempted to ask if I could photograph it.

We are now back at our car park. We ate our supper sitting out behind the camper in the early evening sunshine. Others were doing the same. We are all nationalities here - Swedish, Danish, German, French, Belgian, Italian, and us. Just before 10pm, I walked back to Torvet for one of the main tourist attractions of Ribe, the Night Watchman Tour, joining some fifty or so others to hear a costumed night watchman making the rounds of Torvet and nearby, telling the history and stories (and the odd song) of the town, its buildings and characters. It was in Danish and English. There has been a night watchman since the 14th century. The post was abolished in 1902 but reinstated in 1935 as a tourist attraction.

Today from rural idyll to semi-urban stop. We have secured a place in a Campervanstop for 25 vans within walking distance of the town centre of Ribe, having driven up the west coast of Jutland and done a detour around the island of Romo accessed via a causeway. Romo is clearly THE place to head to on a hot summer Saturday, with massive sands, and a large Butlinesque campsite. It also has woods and cycle tracks, and a large, new and very impressive Camperstop, where all 50+ places were taken. But our urban facility is free, and even has a loo and camper service station, with water, etc. We plan to head into town to explore before supper, to plan what to see there tomorrow.

I was just congratulating myself on a first - having washed my hair in the camper- when I realised that the tap from the waste water tank was not fully turned off and the water had shot all over the tarmac just where the next door campers would step in and out of their door. A big breach of campervanning etiquette I fear. I managed to apologise in their native German and was told it was not a problem!

I am very much enjoying reading "The year of living Danishly" recommended by Bristol friends. I guess it would be as well received here as "A year in Provence" was there, but it is very informative as well as entertaining, even if the author is a bit irritating. Would you really set off to live in another country without even a few very basic words and phrases? She and her husband move to Jutland when he is offered a job with Lego. Billund, the Lego Kingdom, is not very far from where were now.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Bylderup-Bov, Denmark - Friday, 22 July

Another day of driving. This time, around Hamburg, with heavy traffic and regular delays caused by narrow lanes due to roadworks. The dock area around Hamburg was immense, viewed from the road. After a stop for lunch on the A7, we motored on till mid afternoon, crossing the border into Denmark. This was loosely controlled by a narrowing of the road into one lane only and police eyeing each vehicle travelling at a snail's pace. We then made our way on minor roads to our planned overnight stop. There are only two spots here for campervans. It is an isolated smallholding which also does B&B. We were made very welcome. The bathroom facilities are in the house. It is very quiet except we are parked next to a chicken run. There is a cockerel but it remains to be seen whether we are woken in the early hours by its crowing.

Since we arrived, there has been a thunder storm and rain lasting around an hour but it has now stopped. Tomorrow, we can have a shorter driving day as we start our planned meander up the west coast of Denmark.

A relaxed departure, allowing time for a good chat with neighbouring Campervanners on their way home to Switzerland after 6 weeks touring around Denmark, Norway and Sweden. About our age. Sadly their bikes had been stolen in Copenhagen two weeks ago, so they were heading home a bit early, but had otherwise had a wonderful time.
After a sticky journey, including a mass of roadworks around Hamburg, we arrived at our present site about 4 pm. We are the only ones in what feels like the back garden of a B&B just into Denmark. We have chickens on one side, and horses peering through the fence on the other side, and have been presented with two home grown cucumbers. Apparently guests are usually given eggs, but with a full house the hens have only produced enough for breakfast tomorrow. This is Airbnb for campervans!

More thunderstorms and lots of rain this evening, so feels a bit cooler now.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Buchholz/Nordheide, Germany - Thursday 21 July

After so little rain last night, today was bound to be another scorcher and so it proved to be. We left the site around 10am and returned to the A1 motorway in the direction of Osnabrueck. Not a lot to say about it really. We pootled along at around 60mph. Early afternoon, we consulted the Camperstop book and headed for a site by a lake that looked about right. Unfortunately, it was closed to campervanners for a few days due to some sort of celebration so we had to find somewhere else. We are now at a very good camping/caravan park with a swimming lake and good facilities. I took a walk into the nearby village and bought fresh strawberries and herring fillets in a cream sauce, both for immediate consumption. Early evening, a thunder storm came over very quickly with strong winds, driving rain and even hailstones. It lasted an hour or so and the result is a very still, cool evening.

The hailstorm, looking out over our awning

A comfortable night was spent despite worries about the heat. I was glad that I had packed a spare duvet cover, which was all we needed to cover us. Thanks to my sister for the suggestion! We tootled off late morning to see how far into Germany we could comfortably get. G has earned himself trillions of Brownie Points with two fantastic purchases before we left. The first a book, Camperstop Europe, which has proved excellent so far. It lists loads of small sites which take a certain number of campervans and means we can avoid paying for all the facilities we don't want or need, and crowded sites into the bargain. The sites listed range in cost from Free - mainly simple small hard standing areas - up to 15 euros or so a night depending on facilities offered. A bit like Certificated sites in the UK, but for campervans. My eye was caught by one which involved parking in the Marktplatz of a small town, and had instructions to post payment through the Town Hall letterbox. The sites are not bookable in advance, and it is first come first served. An excellent departure from the rigours of booking ahead for big sites.

The second purchase was a European Sat Nav to enable us to find the sites. Entering the co-ordinates has worked so far to find very out of the way places, and we have enjoyed being able to get off the motorway and see a bit of countryside.

Tonight we are just southwest of Hamburg in a good sized, very pretty wooded site with a lake and all the facilities we could ask for - apart from wi-fi! After sitting out for a while, we have had thunder, lightning, pouring rain and hailstones which have hopefully brought the temperature down a bit.

We have also had our first marinated herrings - first of many I suspect as they are a favourite of both of us - and some most beautiful strawberries from a stall in the town 10 minutes walk away, which G went to buy after we had pitched.

I have gathered my first - again of many no doubt - batch of insect bites. I comfort myself with the knowledge that if I wasn't taking anti-histamines they would certainly be worse than they are. And I am expecting them to be much worse in Scandinavia, where the mosquitoes are positively legendary, it seems. G is quite happy. They leave him alone when I am around. I am obviously much tastier.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Netherlands - Wednesday 20 July

We disembarked at 8am into what was going to be a scorcher of a day. The sat nav was set for somewhere on the west coast of Denmark where we expect to be in a couple of days time so as to get us the way we want to go across The Netherlands and Germany. We weren't planning a long day so I delved into our Camperstop directory and looked out a few stopovers along our way. The one we have stopped at is at Hertme, near Almelo, a site that can accommodate 25 campervans in an orchard. There is an adjacent cafe where we have had a beer and there are decent facilities. I may go for a walk in a while. It is very friendly. I went to connect the hookup cable only to find that I didn't have an extension with a Continental plug on the end. A motorhomer nearby saw what the problem was and has lent me an adapter so we have electricity.

Our good Samaritan's own motorhome is below. The smaller "camper" behind is a trailer which contains a little car. Very neat.

A thunderstorm was forecast. It came with thunder and wind but very little rain. Still, the temperature has dropped significantly which is nice.

Our first full day, and it is scorching! The Dutch lady we chatted to at our Service Station stop told us it is never usually like this in Holland. As happened last year on the Danube, we go to Northern Europe and Scandinavia to keep cool and get heat waves .

Overnight Harwich to the Hook was good. Calm as calm, and a lovely roomy cabin with a double and a single bed. Could have done without being woken up an hour and a half before docking though. They obviously want you to spend money in the shops and restaurants.

We - or Geoff to be accurate - have done about three hours driving today. A gentle start to acknowledge the lack of sleep over the last two nights. We settled at lunchtime in to a lovely small rural and shaded site on the Dutch side of the German border and plan to relax here for 24 hours.

UK to Netherlands - Tuesday 19 July

Travelling to Harwich via Milton Keynes and Cambridge proved to have been the right decision as, apart from a rush hour snarl up in MK, which we made a detour around, the journey was very good, especially the A14 to Ipswich. The traffic reports of the M25 were dire.

The ferry crossing to Hook of Holland was perfect. A vast, new ship, very impressive cabin and the sea as calm as a mill pool.

The adventure begins.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Last minute panics

First, awaiting me on returning home from a few days backpacking (blog was a letter from Direct Line saying that a payment I made a few days ago for European Breakdown Cover hadn't been processed and could I call them. I did and it seems that their system is at fault. They quoted online for ten weeks cover and I accepted online. Apparently, they don't offer more than thirty days and this confounded their system. After a lot of faffing around, we went with the RAC.

Another thing happened while I was away. The "rock 'n' roll" bed suddenly wouldn't go fully up or down. It has been a bit temperamental from new but two days from departure was a real pain. I decided initially to ring Autosleeper first thing this morning but then decided I would just go over to their service centre which is only half an hour's drive away and maybe stand a better chance of getting some help. They couldn't have been more helpful. Their man spent half an hour inspecting, diagnosing and advising a workaround to get the mechanism to work properly. There is a problem so I'll book the 'van in with them in the next few months to get it sorted.

Most of today was spent stowing food, clothing and other items in the 'van and also filling the water tank. We don't have to leave until tomorrow afternoon so no rush. Our sailing from Harwich is at 11 o'clock tomorrow night. 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Scandinavia is expensive

We'll take a lot of food with us as eating out won't be cheap and, as a matter of convenience, having food on board means that we won't have to worry too much about being able to prepare meals on the spur of the moment. However, it will take up quite a bit of space. Whilst we have a cupboard where food is usually stored, this won't be adequate for trip of this length. I've suggested a dummy run for packing the food away. I suspect that some will be in boxes "loose" within the vehicle, to be moved around depending on whether we are on the move or stopped for the night. I'm told that we have about forty evening meals plus breakfast cereals, teabags, coffee bags and powdered milk. A couple of wine boxes will go in as well. To add to the evening meals, a quantity of mince will be cooked. I shall then dehydrate it and it will be available for such things as spaghetti bolognaise, chilli, etc.

Introducing the camper

Some camper owners give their vehicles a name. We don't. It's just "the camper". And it's not a motor home. This photo was taken in the far north of Scotland in 2009.

Yesterday, I thought I'd check that the spare wheel was OK. Despite having owned the camper for eight years (and never had a flat), I realised that I'd never investigated what was involved in accessing the spare for use. I thought I had but was getting it confused with our previous camper. I'm glad I did. It is underneath the rear of the vehicle, supported by a metal bracket. Going straight to it with the wheel nut wrench, I realised that it could drop suddenly when released so had a look in the handbook. This described the set up and the correct procedure for undoing the two bolts, then using one end of the wheel nut wrench for lowering the bracket carefully to the ground. The tyre pressure was fine. The greatest problem then was getting the wheel back on to the bracket. It was OK getting the wheel off the bracket but, try as I might, I couldn't get it back on. There just wasn't the clearance beneath the vehicle. What they don't tell you in the handbook is that the job is made so much easier by jacking the vehicle up by a couple of inches, which is what I did. So, in the event of a flat tyre, I'll be able to deal with it.

The camper has recently been serviced and MoT'd.