What a cracking day we've had! We spent the day at the Viking museum at Roskilde learning all about the building and sailing of Viking ships. The museum is brilliantly laid out with real hands-on activities, centred around the archaeological discovery, preservation and display of five Viking ships, from small fishing vessels through larger merchant ships to a full 80-man Viking warship. The high point of the day was a sailing experience aboard a twenty-man boat, complete with woollen square sail, horse hair and seal ropes, and long oars for getting us into and out of the harbour. We were all involved in rowing and sailing the boat which sailed beautifully in the stiff breeze. As we're discovering, the skipper and the museum guide spoke typically beautiful fluent English and really engaged us all.
We arrived here yesterday after the three hour drive from our first campsite near Give (more below). We'd had a lovely relaxing time there, mucking around on all the activities (trampolines, pedal go-karts, water slides....terrifying water slides!) and then visiting Give for a stroll around. It's an unremarkable but very Danish town – clean, quiet, orderly, modern and functional - but perhaps a bit austere. we stocked up with supplies at the local supermarket where the checkout lady responded to Frances' enquiry as to whether she spoke English with an affronted “of course!”, and then we popped in to a sports store to get me some running shoes, where we were served by the extremely nice and helpful young guy who spoke better English than any sports store assistant I've come across in either England or Australia!
The campsites are incredible – so well equipped and laid out that even when they're busy, as they appear to get over the weekends, there is still plenty of space and easy access to the facilities. The caravan and awning set-ups of the locals are simple awesome – huge twin axle caravans, full length and super wide awnings containing full size fridge freezers, wide-screen TVs, tables, chairs, lamps – we've even seen a couple with sofas and arm chairs. They really are a home from home. As Frances points out, most of them would live in relatively high density rented apartments – they use their caravans as their weekend and holiday retreats throughout the summer where they stay on permanent pitches. It means that we're going to have some company at weekends, at least for a while - but during the week I suspect we'll be pretty much alone wherever we go.
Meanwhile, our set up is pretty good. The kids are comfortable in their awning inner tents, sleeping on airbeds with sheets and duvets, and leaving us in relative luxury in the caravan. The couple of cold nights we've had haven't troubled us – a blow heater in the awning makes a huge difference. Frances has been cooking beautiful dinners, (venison meatballs and pasta this evening) and making picnic lunches (egg mayonnaise today) in rolls bought fresh daily by the kids. Our setting and breaking camp routines are also getting reasonably slick – the awning is a reasonable on-man job, the kids fetch water and investigate facilities, Frances sorts the inside of the caravan and awning, setting up the inner tents and making up beds. All done in less than two hours each way – hopefully we'll speed up even more, but that's not a bad start.
The drive here from Give was interesting – over the spectacular 22km Great Belt Bridge from Funan to Zealand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Belt_Bridge). The longest first section is over a relatively flat and low box-bridge connecting to an island mid channel, where the road begins a rapid climb as it connects to the vast suspension bridge. Fortunately the drive up to the bridge had been relatively easy – a lovely sunny day, not much traffic, no wind to speak of – so our nerves were in a reasonable state as we began the crossing. They weren't, however, by the time we got back to terra firmer on the other side! As we began to cross the bridge, the wind began to increase in intensity and the now-horizontal windsock showed it was now a direct broadside. My grip on the wheel tightened, George and Charlie became quiet, Frances looked intently ahead....and then we began the climb! The suspension bridge section is incredibly high – and with height the wind became even stronger. This was almost ok as it was relatively constant – until we passed the major upright sections which created a huge hole in the wind, causing the caravan to lurch horribly towards the barrier – the first time I gasped, but by the last I practically screamed!
We've decided to stay here for one more night – tomorrow will be a planning day as we work out our route and organise campsites for Sweden and Norway. We'll probably pack the awning tomorrow night so that we can get away first thing on Tuesday morning, giving us plenty of time to prepare for the even longer bridge to Sweden – oh, the joys of travelling with a caravan!
So far all the blog entries have been written by me, Geoff. Hopefully as we settle into a routine, there will be more time for the rest of the family to write entries – George will hopefully do so tomorrow.