I been home in Denmark for more than two
months, after three months in southern Africa. Despite it is days
from May, I am
freezing! I did NOT come home to experience 4C and snow! It is time
to go for another drive to somewhere warmer. I've never been in
England, and apparently, it is not only a bit warmer, it also offers
a lot of interesting sights, among them many botanical gardens. I
thought I could combine an exploration, search for work and ad a bit
to my professional knowledge.
Due to the climate, I restrict to the southern part along with
Wales. The plan is to connect a lot of dots,
following the southern coast west-on, then head inland and back
though the central part.
Some facts about the country.
(Jump to diary)
England is part of Great Britain, and after the Romans left
around 400, seven kingdoms slowly became one in 927. Then the Danish
Vikings had some fun when they were bored, resolving in a death
sentence to all Danes in England by Ethelred 2. Quite stupid,
because it only made the Danish king Svend 1. aware of England. He
became king in 1013. Several Danish kings ruled until 1042, where
the death of Hardeknuds left the English part to his half brother
Edvard Bekenderen, and England once again became an independent
kingdom. Several wars and civil wars cut it in parts, but it has
been pretty stabile since 1707, where it was joined with Scotland.
The population is around 56.000.000 of which
72% are Christians, 23% atheists, 3,1% Muslims and 1,1 Hindi.
It covers 130.395 km². Read more on
MONEY: The currency is Pound Sterling (BWP). 1 DKK=0,10 GBP.
It ought to be the dry time of year, but it could be warmer.
ANIMALS and PLANTS:
Coming from Denmark, England does not offer that many "new"
animals. Well, some are new to me, but only because they are so rare
in Denmark - and England. I would love to experience the otter
Botanizing will offer considerable more. Beside from many orchids,
the southern part have plants that don't appreciate frost, and I
hope to find many interesting species.
The weather is beautiful in Denmark, and it is almost a pity to leave it. At
I head south through the cosy
landscape of southern Zealand, Falster and Lolland. I
get in time for an earlier ferry to Germany, and are able to enjoy
the sun and a steeply prized cup of tea at the deck. The
first of many, it turns out.
I find it a bit cool; the ferry is the first in the
world to be a hybrid; Both fuel and
equals those of 600 cars.
This is a first for me; not flying
out to new adventures, but driving. I have rebuild my
tiny and very economic Lupo to what might be the world's
smallest camper. Despite it is 13 years old, and have
driven 291.000 kilometres, I am confidant it will do
the tour - in contrast to my mechanic's predictions...
The part of Germany I passes through,
is very much alike Zealand, although I have to admit:
The rivers are wider, the stau
more plentiful and here
are significantly more White Storks. I make a few, short
stops to awake my body, but it is the stau that
slows me down. I find it appropriate to listen to some
traditional German music: Rammstein, Scorpions,
Einstürzende Neubauten and Accept.
After 700 kilometres and ten hours, I reach the Dutch
border. I cross it with 100+ Km/h, and reach Eindhoven
and my pre-booked hotel after additional 50 kilometres
and one hour. Considering I have to pass Antwerpen and
Gent in the morning, I figure I better gas the car now,
to get an early start.
I ditch the car at the cosy hotel, and the backpack in
the room. Then I head into the sleepy and dull centre of
town, to find a vegetarian meal. I end up with a
overpriced and under tasty pizza, but it fills the hole.
The local supermarket have a surprisingly large
collection of UHT milk, which seems to be unknown in
Denmark. 1/4 and 1/1 litre cost the same, and I will see
how long I can keep it alive, without cooling facilities.
The driving I done the last few days (1200 km) have been
a good training, and I don't feel tired. I start on the
diary and the few photos. I have too good time this
evening, but I fear I will lack it in the morning due to
endless queues, Belgium and France in general, before I
reach the pre-booked Euro Tunnel.
11/5 I'm up real early,
leave the hotel a bit after five. It turns out the gas
station is closed - but what do I care? At six, I reach
Belgium, which is just like Holland: Flat, dull and with
a light drizzle. The traffic is lighter than I feared,
and even around Antwerpen, it almost floats smoothly. I
guess that will change, when all the trucks, lined-up at
the truck-stops, joins in!
The choice of music causes me problems; I can't recall a
single Dutch nor Belgium ban in my limited collection for
this tour. I get a head start on the French with Jean
The French border is crossed at seven, but the landscape
changes very little. I reach Calais and the tunnel
passed eight, after the first 305 kilometres of the day.
I can pay €13,50 extra, and get the 9;20 train, but I
rather wait one hour and use €7,50 on a huge egg panini
and a mug of tea. As no surprise, I fail to get a single
English word out of the lady selling it to me. After
all, only half her customers are English speaking, and
she is French.
The entire tunnel area is fenced in
like a jail, but here are no refugees to see. The tunnel
train is a smooth operation, and we leave on schedule. I
spend most of the 35 minutes sleeping on my car-bed,
nicely dozed by the gentle rolling of the train. We
arrival 25 minutes before we left, and I set
out for the
first site in England: Dover Castle. A mist soon turns into a heavy
fog, and I can't talk my self into paying 20 pound for
the visit. Guess the entire coast will be covered in
fog, and I skip the nearby sites. I will get back! Music
is no longer a problem; England have fostered so many
great musicians, and I got most!
I head south through huge, green hill with numerous
sheep. Many of the roads are real narrow and lined with
hedges. The speed limits are ridiculous: No chance
anyone can drive that fast on these roads! Some fine,
ancient houses are found scattered around the area. A
few small villages make some great motives - if here
were some sun. The entire day, I keep wondering; how
comes here are only ancient houses, and no new at all?
Danish villages tend to be hidden away in new villas.
The next sight is Dungeness with an
old light tower and a especially the Dungeness National
Reserve. Well, I might have expected a bit more, but
here are some nice, yellow Fabaceaes with thorns and
some "beach cabbage". The entire area is made up by
dunes of rolling stones, and I head out to the sea on a
long board-walk. Here, the mist keep everything in a
mysterious atmosphere - and rather impossible to photo.
Further inland, a few ponds are the home for some noisy
green frogs, and birds sings in the surrounding bushes.
Nightingales, finches, larks and other voices mix with
the frogs. A few orchids, the famous Bluebells Flowers; Hyacinthoides
non-scripta? and little else in combination with the
fog make it a short visit.
The next stop is in the little village of Lydd, where
the ancient church causes me to stop. The lichen covered
gravestones surrounding it seems to be several hundred
years old, but the lack of light sends me on, without
Then I get to the cosy town of Rye.
I park next to Robe Marked, but neither the food, nor
the second-hand items caught my interest. I head into
the centre, and here are so many narrow, roads, lined
with the most fantastic, small houses. Some are build in
limestone, and it have been severe corroded through
It seems like most
shops are second-hand - or rather
fifth-hand shops, and the rest cafes. I find an ATM and then a
At the canal, it is low-tide, and the boats lie on the
mud. Another loop through town offers a toasted sandwich
with cheese and tomatoes in a local's favourite place. I
guess the youngest - beside me - is way pass 70.
head a bit inland to try to avoid the fog, and here I
pass through some of the famous "blue forests", where
the entire floor is covered in Bluebells. Well, except
where the white stars have taken over. Another fine, old
church; St James The Great caught my eyes, and I do a
The the ancient Bodiam Castle appears way out in the
country side. I pay three pound, and enter the parking-lot. The castle is fare from as huge as I had expected,
and with the fog on top of that, I refuses to pay
additional ten pound to get closer to it. And it is not
that old; build in 1385.
On the way out here, I passed some real strange houses.
Due to the narrowness of the road and the hedges, I
can't get a photo, but I guess they might turn up again
- along with the sun. Here are some huge yucca/dragenblood
trees in front
of many houses, along with some palms which actually look
a lot like the frost prone we got at home.
Out at the coast again,
and Seven Sisters offers a glimpse of the highest white
cliffs. As no surprise, the path up to the top is lined
with flowers, among them; orchids. The fog is just a
light mist in some places, and there is a clear view to
the impressive walls of limestone. A short light tower
sit at the highest point. I do the walk to the top along
with a botanist, who fill me in on the local (invasive)
flora. Here are numerous Bluebells again, but I fail to
get a Latin name.
A stairway tower leads down to the rolling stone-covered
beach, and I do a walk underneath the cliffs. It is a
tough walk, and I got it all to my self. The cliffs are
either too tall, or the beach too narrow: I can't get a
proper photo of the tallest part.
The huge, green hills continues along
the coast. Some are tall enough to have tunnels dug
through them for the road. Besides from the numerous cheep, I see
some rabbits and a few cows. 19 kilometres before Arundel, I spot what
look like Hogwarts, and I guess it is the castle I'm
going to see. Right now, it is getting late, and I'm
more interested in a campsite.
I find one five kilometres
out of Arundel, and expect some luxury for the eleven
pound. And I get disappointed. The "kitchen" turns out
to be a sink within the toilet, and dinner is going to
be at the nearby restaurant. The fried vegetables turns
out to be enchiladas, and real tasty. The lack of any
common facilities at the camp is made up by the
hospitality of the restaurant. I get to sit and work at
a table, next to the bar.
I get rite of half the photos quite fast, but then
everything take time. It turns dark a bit passed nine,
but I work on, gambling on; I can assemble my "camper" in
I decide I'm done at ten, except I haven't read up on
tomorrows adventures. It ought to be the Southwest
England with more cosy towns, castles and some botanical
gardens. But first Arundel and the awesome castle I
glimpsed in the mist.
The car is rebuild in minutes with blinds in the windows
and a full sized madras.
12/5 It is a perfect campsite
for sleeping; not a single sound during the
Well, except from a single shower, which make me close
the window. I have sleeps so much better than in the
Dutch hotel, but the morning shower is a challenge. It is hot,
real hot. If not, it is cold, real cold. Despite my
efforts, it seems to be either on or off - like so many
of these "geysers". The car is slightly moist inside,
but despite the misty morning, it dries out fast.
Besides from me, only the numerous birds and a few
rabbits are awake on the site.
The huge Arundel Castle is just around the
corner, but unfortunately, I have to wait three hours
for it to open. I make several loops around the real
cosy Arundel town, and enjoy a cup of tea at an early opened
cafe. Once again, it seems like most shops
either cafes or second-fifth hand "antiques and good
junk". And again, here are no new buildings at all. Does all
Englishmen rely on used stuff and houses? No wonder the
have immigrated that much in the past!
I find the ancient post office, the raging river and a
lot of vintage houses. Many are covered in Wisteria and
other flowering plants, their walls made by bricks,
flint or limestone. Many houses in the area have tiles
on the upper half of the walls. Again, I find some real
tall yucca/dragenblood trees, but nothing else special botanical vice.
The cathedral is not big, only room for 500, but because
of the architecture, it look real huge. Despite a few
glimpses of the sun, it remains rather cold due to the
wind. After an hour and a half, I decide I have seen
enough, and won't bother to wait additional an hour and a
half for the castle to open.
first photos can be found in
The road leads through an area
dominated by huge Copper Beech and enormous
hills. Most are grassland, but also rape and other crops
are farmed here. Dairy cattle and a few others are
found in smaller numbers, than the cheep. I try
desperately to capture the huge, green hills, but fails.
Next stop is the cosy town of Winchester. Again, here
are old shops and other houses, a castle and a
cathedral. I see one house is from 1450, but here might be
even older ones. The latter is real impressive! I ditch
the car in a parking house, and loos sight of the
cathedral. Figuring I'll catch up with it, I head into
the pedestrian-street area. Loads of cafes, but less
second-hand shops. I try a couple of the Mark & Spencer
and alike shops, but strangely enough, it seems like
trousers is 30" - too big for me.
A bursting river runs through town, making the garden
even more lovely. Here are several old churches, and
eventually, I find Winchester Cathedral. It seems even
larger close up. Actually, it is too large for my
I see the basement of the ancient King's Palace, the
Great Hall with the 1300 edition of the round table and the
Queen's Garden. All from around 1250. Next to it is the
large Kings House and other massive buildings. I do
another loop through the centre of town, and find a cafe
for a sandwich and a cup of tea. Something must have
gone wrong in translation: I get the tea, but instead of
a veggie-sandwich, I get a yummy chocolate-biscuit cake
with thick caramel topping. The sun have finally broken
through, and it is a true pleasure to sit outside.
While I reflect over how many, how massive and
impressive building England have, I also figures:
If someone have been that rich (church, king, lord), a
lot of people must not only have been poor, they must
also have suffered a lot. Back side of the medal, I
On the way to Salisbury, I pass a
huge plant mall, and give it a try. The outdoor plants
are in general familiar, but also a lot which most likely
won't stand frost. The inside plants, on the other hand,
is a disappointment.
Salisbury is smaller, but just as lovely. The
Cathedral even more impressive. Here should be an ancient, working
clock, and I do find a clock tower and some clocks on
old buildings. Exactly which one is the old
a mystery, as I left my memory and guidebook in the car
- which I only have a flimsy recollection on where I
parked. It seems like the only way to park in these
towns are a parking house.
Within the Cathedral, four original copies of the Magna Carta is displayed. I get a breath look, and they look
As I rather optimistic try to walk back to the car, I
passes even more marvellous houses. Just the walls
surrounding them is a work of art. Different materials
mixed, and covered in flowering plants. Just as I'm
about asking for directions for the parking house, I
find my self right in front of it.
Here, like everywhere else I been in England, most
crosses are turned into round-abounds. Many just by
painting a white circle in the middle.
But it work
smoothly, and so much better than the 4-way stops of
Nearby, a collection of stones form
several circles within each other, and the perfect weather make me go there,
right away. Stonehenge receive a million guests a year,
and the visitor centre is impressive. After buying a
ticket, a shuttlebus bring you to the actual site. It is
not as crowded as I feared, but of cause, you won't get
real close to the tall stones. Some light clouds passes
in front of the sun, and I try to capture the scenery.
Despite they only are about one third of the size I
expected, they are impressive. The entire area is
scatted with human constructions, although they only are
faint markings in the surface. The oldest one is
believed to be 10.000 years old. Some are just the holes
from huge poles, some are walkways, some
mounts, but all
thought to have some religious purpose. Or a UFO landing
site. Or a calendar. Maybe the ancient people just had a
wicked sense of humour?
Back at the visitor centre, I find a symbolic metal
casting, resembling one of the arches of the circle, and
it is going to be my England souvenir - I think.
Then the sun make me slowly sip a mug of tea before I
see the small, but real interesting and well made museum.
Next on the list is Longleat which is
both a safari park and a castle. I guess it will be too
late, but I'm only interested in the castle and the
gardens anyway. The large African animals ought to be
observed on the African savannah anyway - which I just
did some months ago. It seems like it is one ticket for
it all, and I don't feel like paying 33 pound.
At the entrance, I saw a sign pointing to the Caravan
Club's site. It is a long and narrow road, leading way
out in the lovely countryside. Cows, willows, ponds and
huge hills make up a great mosaic. When I finally make
it to the Caravan Club, I am bounced: Despite I actually
sleep in the car, I lack a kitchen. And they are strict
about their rules. But a private, nearby campsite might
be more tolerant,
I'm told. I get their calling card, but my GPS won't
negotiate. I have to gas anyway, and get some
directions. A road worker give some more, and I find
this little place, just as it start raining cats & dogs.
No reason to get out in that; I just start on the diary.
Twelve pound for a parking lot and a hot shower. The
owner directs me to the local pub, and despite I still
have fresh? vegetables from home, I try it out. 20
minutes to opening, but I still have several experiences
from the day to write about.
When they open, I get a fantastic meal: Three different
"fake minced meat steaks", vegetables and fries with
several dips. I bring the computer, and work till after
dark, hoping I find back to the campsite. I had a plan
about making this diary breath - I still have to work on
13/5 I sleep fantastic; in a
mater of fact, I sleep eleven hours
undisturbed. I guess; I have made the blinds a bit too
good, and the sun is up before me. The first site of the
day is The Stourhead Garden and House. It is all created by
a banking family, the garden by the "second Henry",
known as the Magnificent.
It is a waste romantic garden with all it takes, in huge
amounts. Here are several lakes and ponds, a large cave, a
pantheon, a gothic cottage, a temple of Apollo, a
cascade, a temple of Flora, an obelisk and a Palladian
bridge. All scattered over a large, hilly area, filled
with flowering bushes and trees. And many like the
Rhododendron are flowering right now. I almost have it
all to my self, along with the warm sun. The wind, on
the other hand, is real crisp in the mornings.
It is an amassing experience, and all the trees and
plants in general
are as pretty as they get. Now I kind
of understand what the intentions with the other gardens
around the world I have seen was. It is a bit strange to
see the "real thing" here. Both the buildings, the
gardens and more, which I only have experienced in the
On the way out, the old church offers some great
After having seen the garden in the
recommended anti-clockwise direction, I head back to the
entrance to have look at their plant sale and get
a cup of tea along with a coffee-walnut cake. Then the
huge house has opened, and I give it a go. It is
completely original with all the furniture and
especially the paintings. Some are from the dark Dutch
period, and one need the light from a torch to reveal
the actual motive.
The furniture is exclusive too. One piece was made for a
pope in 1500, and contain 150 secret draws. The exterior
is made by leaf gold and semi-precious stones. That pope
really knew how to be humble...
The library contains over 6500 books, and most is first
edition. The oldest are stored in a safe, but Doway's
Bible from 1582 are displayed.
try to find Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species, but
Completely overloaded with
impressions, I head on to Shaftebury, just to see a
steep street; Gold Hill. As so often, it is not the end
of the trail, but the way there, which give the thrill. At
one place, I have to cross a ford, where the river
crosses the road. The huge green hills along the road
are teaming with sheep and dairy cattle, although hard
to spot through the everywhere present hedges. Some
roads will be way to narrow for even a small lorry, and
one even have grass in the middle.
One town look slightly more cosy than the other villages
I've been driving through, and I make a stop. It turns
out to actually be Shaftebury, and besides from the Gold
Hill, I find other interesting sights. One is the
Shaftebury Abbey from 888, build by King Alfred the
Great. They have a herb garden in the ruins with over
100 different species.
The Gold Hill it truly steep, and the houses gorgeous.
The nearby museum display a bit from the area, from the
ice age to 1900.
It is almost four, and I recon
will be too late for the next site. I just head that way, looking for a camp site.
I try to follow the smallest roads, and passes so many
wonderful sights. One is a garage for old cars, and two
chaps are working on a old sport car.
I do a stop in a small village, and see their church,
water mill and cosy houses. I feel just like being part
of a Barnarby crime. Then I find a campsite, and as I paid 11
pound at the first, 12 at the next, I kind of expect 13
here. But it is 14,50. The lawns are beautiful, being
the remains of a castle's park. I head back to the town
to buy some dinner. Cabbage, humus and a buffalo
mozzarella should form a meal with the vegetables I
brought from home.
Back at camp, I park at my spot, and walk the 200 metres
to the common room and kitchen. I bring both computer
and food the long way. Well, except for the computer not
being in the bag. And then I have to return for my
reading glasses. And then for a jacket. The room is less
than 15C in big contrast to the warm sun outside. It
have internet, and I download the British map for my smartphone. It might be better at finding places by
I get frozen to the bone, and head for the kitchen. I
would have expected an electric kettle, but here are
only washing machines and an iron, all with coin slots.
And the draft make the room even colder. I chop up my
food, and return to a bench in the low sun. Not much of
a help, due to the cold wind. I retire to the car, and
start working on the pictures. In the future, I will
prefer the warm pub and bar-meal to this!
Some large, grey squirrels inhabits the big trees, and
some moron have a peacock nearby.
Somehow, I get to work to after ten, but it does, of
cause help; I get to delete the entire Stourhead
slideshow. Pressing Ctrl+z does turn time back - also
where you are NOT looking. Prepping and tagging the
photos a second time is an hour of no fun.
have now dropped even more. I'm glad I'm heading south by
now, but will Wales warm up till I get there?
A bit a against my wishes, I have to head back to the
cold room to upload and exchange emails. Have I, after
all, brought too little of my winter robe? The photos
from the second part can be found in
From here, I head even further
down the coastline towards the southwest. All about that
in Diary 2.