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31 Back in Europe (Oct 1998 to mid Dec 1998)

After uneventful flights from Tawau and Singapore we landed at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen. Travelling into town was now simple – no need to catch an airport bus or to take a taxi - rail services had been extended to the airport. We caught a train to Nørreport Station and walked about a km with our rolling baggage down between Perblinge and Sortedams Sø[1] to Tim[2] and Louise’s apartment on Nørrebrogade where we stayed for some days. They had an old apartment with large rooms and high ceilings and were starting the process of renovation and redecoration taking them several years. Our son Ben, who had also been living in Copenhagen, was on a visit to some American friends (met on Lamma Island) now back home in Colorado in the United States.

Me with Dorte peering out of windows at her and Ole's house in Tranekśr

After hiring a car we drove across the recently constructed Storrebælt Bridge[3] to Fyn and then on to Langeland Island to Dorte and Ole’s house at Tranekær. Their new home was an old half-timbered farmhouse with outside sheds and a large garden with mature fruit bearing trees. Tranekær Slot (Castle), surrounded by a moat and still inhabited by the Count, was close by with horse stables converted into a restaurant – tables were placed in each stall with horses’ names displayed on polished brass plaques. We later wandered in the castles vast grounds and hugged an enormous tree trunk – we were now in a sentimental back to nature era despite universal hydrocarbon pollution.

We arranged for the contents of our Lohals house to be packed up, after sorting out which of Aage’s furnishings, belongings and numerous books we wanted, and had them transported and stored in Sheffield where we intended buying a house - two of our children and Martha our granddaughter lived there. I also remembered, from our days in Doncaster almost 20years earlier, the Peak District close by with opportunities for good walking.

Cubby with Aage & Fifi at breakfast at Herning

We journeyed from Fyn over the old Lillebælt Bridge across into Jutland and on to Herning where Aage now lived with Fifi in her apartment. We stayed there for some days before going sightseeing to the north of Jutland[4] passing through vast sand dunes covered with heather on to the tip of Jutland, to Skagen where the Baltic Sea (Kattegat) and North Sea (Skagerak) angrily collide. We found that we could check for internet mail free at some towns public libraries – fortunate as there did not seem to be ‘internet cafes’.

We, avoiding a return journey through Fyn, took a ferry from Ebeltoft across to Yderby on Sjælands Odde (a narrow spit of land) and then drove a short distance to Rövig where took another short ferry journey across Isefjord to Hundested and drove on to Gerdas[5] house near Ramalöse on Arresö an inland freshwater lake. Gerda’s late husband, Knud Sorenson had built a magnificent house with views over the lake and they had retired there. Their house was nostalgically filled with memorabilia from their time in South Africa. Usually Gerda shared the house with her adopted son Ole but he was away in Croatia working for some aid agency. Her adopted daughter Gitte, unfortunately handicapped by a wasting disease from her youth, had died some years earlier. Gerda in her mid eighties was spry and still played table tennis.

The next day we drove to Else Willert, Cubby’s widowed aunt’s apartment near Helsingor for her 85th birthday celebration dinner. The whole family clan was gathered, all Elsa’s three children, Mette, Hannah and Soren (Cubby’s cousins), their spouses and her grandchildren. Elsa’s siblings, Aage (Cubby’s father)  with Fifi, and Kisse Brink (her other aunt), and Cubby’s sisters Bodil and Dorte and her husband Ole with their grown up children Tim and Sandy. Cubby was once again back in the heart of her large Danish family.

Cubby's aunt Else's 85th birthday - with her daughter Mette. Elsa's three children - Hanne, Soren, and Mette with a congratulatory song (the picture on the wall is of  bank manager Soren Brink - Else, Aage and Kisse father. Aage is in the lower pictures with Pia (Mette's daughter) and Cubby. 

A few days later we drove south down through Germany, encountering two lane concrete Autobaans being upgraded and widened and stayed a night at a hotel enjoying a German buffet breakfast with fresh and preserved fruit, cheese and ham, before cutting west through Alsace on to Paris. At Paris, I ratcheted up my aggressive instincts to survive impatient drivers swarming around the peripheral motorway – to hesitate was fatal – signal and go!

At our apartment we settled in, rested and reacquainted ourselves with this the most pleasant of cities. I sorted out various pensions accumulated in France through earlier employer Spie Batignolles and wrote letters of application for jobs in the UK. I was still unreasonably confident, despite being over 60years, of being able to get another job in Civil Engineering.

Matty with father, Christopher, and grandparents takes over our apartment in Paris

Our stay was brightened by a visit of Christopher, Beverley and granddaughter Matty, a lively 2year old - they stayed with us in our apartment for about a week.

Before flying[6] to Andrea in her rented house in Sheffield just before Christmas, we dithered and were undecided as to selling our apartment– we had become attached to it and tentatively thought of keeping it for holidays.

[1] Two of a chain of 5 lakes constructed as a defensive moat to the west of old Copenhagen.

[2] Cubby’s nephew married to Louise

[3] Trains now went through a separate tunnel. A French friend working on this project told us that the tunnel had been bored through Glacial rock and soil with copious infiltration of fresh water. To eliminate the water inflow, holes were apparently drilled vertically from barges into the seabed and freshwater dewatered in advance of the bore – nicknamed a Moses project. The later rail tunnel, connecting Denmark from Amager to Sweden together with a bridge, was more easily constructed as an immersed tunnel avoiding boring.

[4] The excellent film ‘Babettes Feast’ is set in Jutland in physically and morally austere bleak surroundings.

[5] Gerda Sorenson, Cubbys godmother, at her christening in Cape Town.

[6] It was cheaper to get a weekend flight to Manchester and not use the return ticket than to get single fares.

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