Friday, August 31, 2012

Sunday 31 August

A lazy start to the sunshine day. Cooked breakfast, hot shower, shave and I was ready for more sightseeing. A drive through the centre of Copenhagen and out towards the mermaid but this time to visit the Danish Resistance Museum in Esplanaden. Here the complete story of the Danish Resistance is told by photos, drawings, maps, letter, documents, and models. A well written booklet describing the exhibition and the resistance is well worth the 1/3d. A very moving and heroic story.

A short drive to the Rosenborg Palace and the Crown Jewels. Parked on one side of the park – could not find the main gate and walk through - fairly crowded and well kept gardens - to the Jewel House. This exhibition is more than jewellery and a small museum containing all the many personal gift possessions of the Danish royal families. Well worth the visit – particularly the vast throne room. Back into the park for a cool draught lager (A had a bottle as quite rightly didn’t wish to pick up what was nearly a pint pot!). We returned to the tent via the station for purchase of Sunday Times, and spent a leisurely afternoon preparing for the relative late night at the Tivoli Lake. Tivoli was super – amusement parks, two open air theatres, two bandstands, lakes and restaurants – all over at once and all for 3.5 lr. Saw modern ballet and a baby elephant. Anne, to my disgust, had a candy floss and we both drank cheap lagers. So tired at the end could not wait to see the fireworks and so drove back to a “locked up” camp – left the car outside and walked to our tent. 

[I fell in love with this little fella - does not fit here but still....]

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Saturday 30 August

Also wrote to Ursula last night re accommodation in Basle. Woke this morning after a night of continual rain – to blue sky! A very strong wind was blowing and did blow all day (practice for Wellington Anne says) but NO RAIN. A day to be tourists started with parking problem.

At last found a space and ‘twas on to flat feet to see the Danish Design Centre Den Permanente where on show (and sale) are the highest quality arts and crafts items in all Denmark, chosen for their merit by a special committee. The items were superb but the only items we purchased was 4 postcards (good ones though). Next a walk over the river and canals along H E Anderson’s boulevard to Christiansharn – the older part of Kobenharn.

Sat by one of the canals and ate lunch – apples. Back on foot to the National Museum – here were very well laid out rooms depicting the growth of Danish culture – plus a little of everyone else’s. As in Oslo, complete rooms had to be carefully selected. Next gasp for a lager in the student quarter near the ‘car free’ shopping street of Frbergg/Osterg. We had visited this area and Tivoli last night – very exciting. The shops are filled with good examples of Danish design in clothes, jewels, wood, etc. A young student had played a violin quite well that night and received many tips – back today. After our lager and a walk along past the sex shops (the things A saw in the windows!!) to the Central Station to book our ferry to Germany on Monday (the first day of the winter rates) – another 59 kronor spend.

While we are exchanging some Swedish money a Negro in front of A at the queue peeled off a US$1000 bill from a wad of similar notes. Now for the big moment as to the ABC restaurant in Vesterbrogade. Here, in an attractive room, we wandered up the table for first fish dishes then meat and finally cheese, washed down with lager – that total bill was 32/-.

A short drive to the famous mermaid statue – much smaller than I imagined – was very worthwhile. After this long day I'm looking forward to my “wickey” and bed. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friday 29 August - On our way to Copenhagen

Friday 29 August

In fact we decided last night in view of the many things to see and do in Copenhagen, we would drive straight there. Woke at 6.30 and looked out of tent door – misty and sunny with the water of Hakefiord very calm. During the night it had been very windy causing large waves – half sleep I had asked Anne whether the tent was going to flood – went back to sleep on hearing, “No, there’s trees around us ...” Had an early but very pleasant breakfast – no shrimps though as these had been eaten by a cheeky gull early morning – and left about 9.15.

Pleasant drive down the Swedish coast on very good roads until Margretetorp, in the middle of an autobahn, the car ran out of petrol. Mmm!! Grabbed 1 gallon can, thumbed lift to next garage, thumbed lift back to car – ran across wide dual carriageway, and filled car. Ah well. I will not do that trick again. By now we have started getting rid of loose change by buying petrol near a border but as Swedish petrol is dearer than Danish, we lost out this time by me collecting a lot of silver when buying petrol - by the litre instead of the exact kroner.

Crossed the Halsingborg/Helsinger ferry (saw Kronberg castle – Hamlet) and drove around the ring road to camp Absalom. This is 3 star and possesses the following (apart from good grounds): shop, hot showers, clean toilets, laundry room, cooking room, and money changer – all for 8/- per night (that’s total cost, not each). This is a typical site, the facilities will get less until Turkey and their autocamps – I must write to John Sperring in Istanbull!! Into the town tonight – despite rain which seems to appear each night when we camp (still both as white as ghosts). 

Thursday 28 August

Would you believe it’s raining again. We didn’t venture into town last night but stayed in the tent – listened to the rain and drank treble “wickeys”. Woke this morning and decided that because of poor visibility it was not worth going to the ski jumps.

Our first stop in the morning was the superb collection of The Vigeland Sculptures in Oslo’s Frogner Park. Custar Viegland (1869-1943) was a Norwegian sculptor who made a deal with the city of Oslo that if they would pay his housing expenses for 30 years, he would use that time to create a magnificent sculpture garden in the city’s Frogner Park.

The results is a unique collection of statues, all nude, depicting the lifecycle of man, from birth to death. Both joy and depression are felt when wandering along the statue lined avenue to the high hill showing Custar’s main works. I took many photos but these cannot express feeling – everyone should see this collection for himself (the old men were beautifully sculptured – I had not seen ‘age’ done before). From the park we drove down to the harbour, parked the car and, in front of the City Hall, purchased a bag of freshly cooked shrimps (we’ve just had the remainder for dinner on risotto). The shrimp boats come into harbour every day about eleven and after “cooking” in large vats on the decks. About 6 kronor buys a good day’s supply and these were eaten while sitting on the harbour wall – this means you can throw the shells into the water and pretend you’re feeding the gulls.

After our “snack” we wandered over to the City Hall. Built in 1950, it’s central hall contains the largest oil painting ever done – other rooms glitter with the best of Norway’s crafts and arts including “Life”, a painting by Edward Munch (of Munch Museum fame). Leaving the City Hall, we walked to the Post Office and sent letters off to Ma & Pa – both – and Ginny in Jordan. Next was the “main buy” in Norway of a pewter sugar spoon.

Regretfully we left Oslo on the E6 heading for Goteborg. Spent the last of our loose change on petrol and without fuss or formality (we didn’t see a customs man nor had our passports stamped), drove in Sweden. I should mention here that the Norwegian roads are generally bad but they are making a great effort to upgrade them and the new parts are good.

We both noticed a difference in the houses and scenery soon after the border (yes, the women are all blonde and wow!). Tried to find some rock earrings near Tenum but merely succeded in doing a long loop. Turned off the E6 at Ljungstate and headed for the camp site on the island of Tjom. On arrival at the site to find it devoid of people – caravans everywhere, some with neat gardens but no people. We had followed a GB in so found him and discovered that the place was officially closed but he had been here two days – free camping so up tent poles. The tent is on the shores of Hakefiord amid pine trees and within site of an awe-inspiring suspension bridge. It’s very peaceful – just had a good nosh. Tomorrow we will decide whether to stay a day or drive straight to Copenhagen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wednesday 27 August

What a city – last night after driving around most of the streets in suburbia we eventually found the centre and parked in Karl Johans Gate (all the main streets end in Gate). Walked around the main parts, City Hall, Harbour, National Theatre and ended up with a beer (10/- worth!) in the gardens at Storkings Gate. Cannot get used to whistling for service yet but have plenty of time to learn.

In the morning we decided to spend the day being real tourists. Started at the Viking Ship Hall. As recently as 1904 excavation found the last of the only three Viking ships to have survived the few centuries since they were built. All were used as burial chambers, the largest the Oseberg ship was reputedly the burial chamber of Queen Aasa, grandmother of Harold the Fair Haired.  Many relics were beautified, displayed and we purchased a slide of the boats. Next onto the pyramid-shaped building housing the Polar Ship “Fram” – the vessel that took Nansen to the Arctic in 1893 and Amundsen to the South Pole in 1910. The boat had been hauled on land and the building erected around it. This enabled everyone to see quite literally from top to bottom. We went “on board” – the cabins and mess rooms were very snug and filled with their ex-occupant’s personal items – clothes, books, medals, etc.

Then into the nearby building holding the Heyerdahl’s balsa wood raft. The complete story is told by model and photographs of their 5000 mile journey to test the theory that South American Incas may have settled the South Pacific. Since the language used in the Norwegian Navy is English, it’s easy to read all the diaries and notes.

Next to the Folklore Museum. This is laid out in about 1 square mile of parkland and consists of three main buildings and tons of old Norwegian houses. Inside the main building are housed relics of Norway’s history including Lappland and Eskimo items, tapestries and a superb collection of modern photographs. The grounds have been used to house transposed building decking from 1550. Some of the houses can be entered and each one has a “keeper” – a woman dressed in national costume. These houses are very dark and it gives quite a scare to suddenly meet one of these women sitting in the shadows. As we had noticed on the drive from Kinsarvick, all the houses were built on wooden piles and “double insulated” by a false outer wall (including the stone church).

A quick coffee and into the “Sentrum” to the Norway AA for an International Campers Card, and then onto the harbour front for a very late lunch. Still raining, pity, but still back to camp site to dry and write postcards. Going into town again for coffee [this time] tonight. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tuesday 26 August

Anne read diary and commented that I had missed the main item from the ferry voyage – ah well!! During the bad storm one of the large windows of the front lounge broke – water of course poured in and the occupants of the front cabins, about 30 in all, found their floors covered in about 2 foot of water. An announcement was made ending with “we are not sinking” – to anyone in the cabins this must have been a relief!

Well after all that we did leave Kinsarvick at 7.15 after packing a very wet tent. We have not “shaken” down yet as this evening was to show! Things are still not in their right place and at present to get one item about 4 others have to be moved. Still it [and us] will get better.

The drive was superb. I have never seen such majestic mountains. Apart from the rain there seemed lakes everywhere – and all on different levels with streams/waterfalls connecting. Took lots of photographs. Some of the village had very old wooden churches and a remnant of the past – drying/storing huts on stills.

More very long tunnels – one very scary with a length of about 1½ miles and a continued downward gradient.

The road, for most of the way – is being rebuilt and these sections that have been finished are very good. Saw people picking wild strawberries but couldn’t find any ourselves. Arrived at the camp site and was just putting up tent when the rain started – good beginning to Oslo – still just had dinner and am now off to see the city. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Monday 25 August

It raining – and did ALL day. Decided to drive on road 7 to see waterfall and glacier. because of mist, low cloud saw neither – still scenery glorious. Neither of us had seen mountains like it. Bad road with some terrifying bends and cliff hanging narrow parts. Drove on far as Dyranut.

Coming back past some road works, a gravel lorry nearly backed onto the car – repeated horn just stopped its driver. Stopped at Eidfiord on way back and looked into very old church built about 1290 during the reign of Erik the Priest Hater by Ragna the Wealthy – a charming woman who had the church built to atone for her sins e.g. her habit of lacing her weak husband on a rock in the fiord when she set sail for town– only to save [untie] him when the tide reached him.

Parts of the church walls were 2 yards thick – because of the snows I guess. Steak and kid for dinner – small “wickey” and bed ready for 7.00am start for Oslo tomorrow. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunday 24 August

Drove to Kinsarvick along narrow twisting E68. Average speed only 20 mph. The worst part was, for me at any rate, the driving from bright sunlight into pitch dark tunnels hewn into the mountainside. Nearly lost A, after forgetting about keeping to right, on the front of an oncoming car – she only squeaked quietly. Funny on the narrow roads – no driver likes leading and so, every now and then, the front car would pull in and everyone would move up one place – as soon as it was my turn I pulled in for lunch – chicken again! Had my first continental “pee” against the front wheel of our car. Crossed to Kinsarvick from Kvanndal on one of the cute little “inland” ferries east for about 2 miles – 30 minutes car plus A and me £1-1-3 (18 kr). To my surprise these ferries run every 35 minutes and take about 300 persons plus 30 cars – because, on our ferry, they had 31 and could not close rear gate – still I suppose that string would hold.

Arrived at the main camp site – contacted the manager, who was slightly taken aback at 7 whiskey bottles but agreed to buy them – profit for us of 15 kr per bottle –hope the rest of the ideas work as well! Spent quiet evening but got talking to NZ and Aus couple who turned out to be friends of Lorraine. They told us about shrimps on harbour in Oslo and sold us some unwanted ferry tickets to Copenhagen. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Saturday 23 August 1969

Left Newcastle last night at 9.00, weather looked good and forecast gave winds of 5/6 knots with occasional rain. I never have considered forecasting to be too accurate - for by midnight the wind was blowing about force 8 and the sea running a very heavy swell. To add to our problems the sleeperettes, 30 in a small room, about 4 floors down and fore, on the Bergen Lines “Jupiter” were not as comfortable as we had imagined. The air conditioning had failed, causing the room temperature to rise to above “habitable” level.

The four of us who stayed finally gave up at 6.00 in the morning and went to the lounge. Most people on board were sick – ugh! I really thought the boat was just going to break up and sink. Main worry was the car and its contents. Imagination ran riot and pictures of a flat and broken VW sprang to mind. Four hundred glasses were broken in the bar during the night – Annie was sick once due to foul sleeperette air, but recovered after two lemonades – I personally found the lager more beneficial.

We were allowed to spend Saturday night, free, in a cabin on the boat so had shower and went to bed after parking car on quayside (containing 9 bottles of our “trading” scotch). Set the alarm for 7 – woke up at 8 and went ashore – without breakfast. Barman thought Anne looked like Sandy Shaw!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday to Friday 22 August 1969

We are in the last few days of our pre trip planning. This includes saying goodbye to very good friends – many of whom we will see again in New Zealand. The back seat has been removed from the VW and replaced with two sea trunks. The seat has been sent ahead by sea with the balance of our possessions. We have added a second battery with a switch which ensures both are kept charged. The sea trunks have been carefully packed with our clothes, food and toilet items which we think unlikely to be obtainable en route. Our money is hidden under the sea chests. Camera [a half frame 35mm Yashica], film, tent, sleeping bags, folding table and 2 chairs and two cookers make up the balance.

We left London and headed for Norfolk to say goodbye to my parents, more relatives in Norfolk,

 then off to Anne's Aunt and Uncle in Newcastle – our departure point.

Friday, August 17, 2012

In the beginning...........

Well. The time has arrived when I can procrastinate no longer. For nearly 40 years I have been promising myself to write about the trip my wife, Anne, and I made to New Zealand in 1969.
We decided, prompted by a book called "Europe on 5 dollars a day" to drive, as much as possible, from England to Christchurch, New Zealand. The vehicle of choice was a 1500cc VW saloon and sleeping arrangements were mainly a tent.

We kept to our budget, did not get divorced, and used the VW and camping equipment for the first few months of our time in New Zealand. We are quite proud of that.

Obviously the journey would not be possible today . I appreciate that a number of books have been written about similar journeys and that there were two enterprising companies [run by Australian and New Zealanders] regularly making the trip. However this was Anne and I and "we did it our way".

Here is the plan. During our trip, each evening that we intended to camp, we made the job a little easier by keeping to a routine. We would decide where to camp and together put up our tent. The accommodation comprised a sewn in ground sheet, inner two person sleeping tent and a fly-sheet. Anne would then prepare the evening meal and I would write the diary and do any minor vehicle maintenance. Within 30 minutes of arrival we would be eating our dinner and sampling the chosen wine or beer. We even managed that routine one night  in the car park, next to the airport terminal, at Esfahan Airport in Iran.

My idea is to post a blog, this year, on the same date as our journey in 1969. Here goes - starting 22nd August 1969.

Two very important over-riders to my diary. Firstly, after much thought, I decided not to edit what I wrote all those years ago. There are some very non PC comments - particularly about a couple of European races that I would, most certainly, not make now. Secondly I also decided not to update my grammar, spelling or money [pricing] comments. Again, I would like to think that I have, over the years, improved in all three areas. I sincerely hope that no one [if anyone does read these blogs] is offended by these decisions.

A word about the photos. They were taken on film, using a half frame [35mm] Yashica camera and developed along the way. The transparencies were showing signs of decay after a couple of years [not sure about the water quality in some of the "processing houses"]. Kodak, in Auckland, were very kind and offered to transfer the transparencies onto a couple of CDs at a very friendly price. It will rapidly become obvious that I am no professional photographer as I add shots.

I hope to see you soon - the 22nd would be good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Back in August 1969 Anne and Tony Preston decided to leave England and drive to New Zealand.

The world was a different place back then. They were able to travel across Europe, through Turkey, down to Syria, Jordan, then across through Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and after entering the Khyber, Pakistan and India. Then they flew to Christchurch, New Zealand.

This was achieved in a VW Beetle, an excellent tent and on US$5 a day. The trip was recorded on a 35mm half-frame film camera

In the evenings while Anne prepared dinner, Tony wrote a diary - every day.

So now, for fun [an perhaps some memories] our blog will be written as was the diary. Every day. An introduction will be published mid August and the first diary entry on 22nd August - the same date as it was first written.

We hope that you will follow us as we record our journey to what is now our home. New Zealand.