The Adventures of Milady in Rügen with Elizabeth von Arnim

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On Wednesday I start this summer’s “Big Adventure”. In 2013 I spent a month working at a B&B in Switzerland and last year and the year before I took myself off to Ireland for 4 weeks and 3 weeks successively. This year I’ll be travelling in Germany, Denmark and Sweden visiting Lübeck, the Baltic islands of Rügen and Bornholm, walking the Osterlen Way before finally spending two nights in the Swedish university city of Lund. Originally I had hoped to travel quite independently by ferry and car but there are no longer passenger car ferry services between the north of England and northern Germany or Scandinavia. I think there is still a service to Amsterdam but that is as far north in Europe as you can get these days. So, to save precious time, I’m flying to Hamburg and back from Copenhagen.

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One of my favourite authors is Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941) and in 1904 she published her book recounting the story of her journey in 1904.

Every one who has been to school and still remembers what he was taught there, knows that Rügen is the biggest island Germany possesses, and that it lies in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Pomerania. Round this island I wished to walk this summer, but no one would walk with me. It is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that are waiting for you by the roadside.

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A Postcard from Rügen

Thus her story begins. Walking was out of the question for Elizabeth since at that time she could not walk alone. In the end she travelled by coach and horses with her retinue, or at least one maid. For my part I prefer to have company for such a trip and one day that company presented itself in the form of Queen Breaca (QB) who comments here and offered to accompany me and indeed plan the trip to Rügen together. We shall be travelling by car and staying in one place but travelling out each day to different parts of the island for our walks.

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From that plan a visit to Lübeck was suggested by another reading friend (Rhona) and not quite finally, a friend who used to be a neighbour but has since moved to Derbyshire, suggested a walking tour in southern Sweden since Rügen is but a hop, skip and a jump from the starting point Ystad in Sweden.

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Hearing of this plan QB then suggested adding an additional trip to Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic of which, up to now, the only thing I knew and  remembered about it from my school geography lessons was that it is (or was) a major source of China clay!

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The map at the top outlines Elizabeth’s trip and we hope to visit many of the same places. Different adventures will befall us and we’ll do different walks too. I’m very excited about this adventure!

 

The Whale Watchers Walk – Palm Mar to Los Cristianos

On Wednesday we were back on the hills again – and several of them. It was  a tough climb out of Palm Mar and a very rough path over the cliffs of Mount Guaza to Los Cristianos. Los Cristianos is a huge resort and ferry terminal for sailing to the Canary Island of La Gomera. It seemed strange to be walking along part of the 10km promenade in our hiking gear. The promenade is lined with bars and fast food eateries but there amongst them is the office for booking Whale Watching Boat Trips. I’m not at all a sailor so I opted to take a taxi back to the house at Palm Mar. The others enjoyed seeing whales and dolphins but I preferred a lazy afternoon with my book.

Palm Mar

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To the Lighthouse … and beyond to Las Galletas

Last week by invitation of my friend Barbara from Bern I visited Tenerife. This was the first time I’d travelled so far south – to the largest of the Canary Islands 62 miles west of Morocco. Barbara and her husband, Paul, own a beautiful house there on the edge of the small resort of Palm Mar in the very south of the island. This year Barbara and I met with our two other friends from the Cambridge days to celebrate 40 years of friendship.

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Entangled at Turner Contemporary

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Tuesday was the only day we left the immediate surroundings of Ramsgate and we drove just five miles away to Margate to the recently opened and much acclaimed Turner Contemporary. We parked nearby and paid for three hours in the car park thinking that would be quite long enough to see the Gallery (as we are not into modern art), walk along the front and the Harbour Arm (jetty) and investigate the town centre. In the end we spent over two hours in the Turner, including a quick bite to eat in the airy cafe, and had quick walk to the end of the Harbour Arm for a view of the gallery and a breath of fresh air. It was a 10 minute walk back to the car park and we realised that we had Landmark Withdrawal Symptoms and drove straight back to the Presbytery to build up the fire for the evening.

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Broadstairs on Sea

On the first Friday of February after leaving St Edward’s Presbytery and dropping my sister off at Ramsgate Station I headed to the little seaside resort of Broadstairs. It’s practically part of Ramsgate but definitely a separate place. I liked very much what I saw. I’d always been intrigued by views of the town which show Charles Dickens’s Bleak House on a cliff looking  out to sea. You can see it in the middle of the picture below. There are several Dickens connections in Broadstairs and I probably didn’t see all of them. At that early hour in the morning I was able to park easily near the sea front. As near as you can get by car, anyway. There are pleasant gardens and paths separating the beach from the road and the main streets and narrow lanes behind.

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Broadstairs Beach

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Pugin’s Presbytery

St Edward’s Presbytery in Ramsgate is one of the latest properties to be added to Landmark Trust’s portfolio. It’s restoration featured in the 2015 Channel4 TV series Restoring Britain’s Landmarks.  Just before my Amsterdam trip I celebrated my birthday with a stay there. My sister joined me and we spent 4 nights relaxing by the log fire in the evenings and taking walks and making very local visits during the days. The furthest we drove was 5 miles to Margate and back.

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