I’ll try and keep it brief tonight, for my sake just as much as yours. I’ve said that before however and always find a few tangents…
First up (after two muffins for breakfast) was the ferry. Actually (first tangent already!), it was blinking cold this morning when I appeared from the warmth of the tent. I had slept well however. Could these two things be related? Or was it the cans of beer I drank to celebrate my birthday yesterday (You didn’t know? You should have read to the end…). The sky was also a dirty grey. Was that it for the current hot spell?
So, the ferry. It allowed me fifty minutes of planning – I have the same pleasure tomorrow morning as well – which I did appreciate, until the final hour on the final island. More of that in a moment. I’ve cycled on five islands today; the big one where I slept, then the bigger one where the ferry went to (sorry, I don’t have my map within arm’s reach), then over a long bridge to Tåsinge, another long bridge to a small island without a name (but which saved significant bridge building costs in almost linking the two islands either side of it together) and a final long and high bridge to Langeland where I’m camping tonight. The ferry – a roll-on roll-off job – docked with the bow door open. Should I have been worried? That was the issue with the Herald of Free Enterprise, no? [Stick to cycling Andrew rather than health and safety issues in the shipping industry.]
Island 2 was less hilly than island 1 had been yesterday (fear not, I’ll look up the names when I write the book) and even prettier. Much time was spent stopping, finding my iPhone and taking pictures, hence the large number of photographs below. I continued to follow the route 8 signs which, in fairness, were good 90% of the time. It does strike me that someone in the Danish ministry of transport needs to get on their bike and cycle route 8 with a screwdriver as several of the signs are simply pointing in the wrong direction. I swore more than once. Route signs appear to be abandoned on one side of an urban area only to reappear on the other side. I actually don’t have a problem with this but it would be nice to be told formally:
“You won’t find another sign for this route until you get to the other side of [insert name of town] as we urban planners think you’ll just ignore them anyway in your quest to buy a £5 salmon sandwich.”
That kind of thing. Note to self: check prices of salmon sandwiches prior to asking for one. At least my lunchtime water was free, courtesy of a politician called Frede Skaaning – see his own brand bottle below – whose supporters were giving them out liberally, even to those who can’t vote for him. Bribery seems to be an accepted practice over here by politicians canvassing for elections. Yesterday I was offered a pen.
More pretty countryside between Faabord and Svendborg (see pictures below rather than me describe them…). Then the bridge. It was a bit of a trial managing to find access to the cycling path. Roadworks on the bridge made cycling in the direction I wanted to travel impossible. It it wasn’t for a friendly local who translated the sign for me, I’d probably still be there trying to work out the conundrum for myself.
I was tempted to abandon route 8 on the island of Tåsinge. I could see it went off in a non-direct direction to the north of the island whereas I wanted to get to my final bridge in the south. Could I be bothered? OK… If you insist. It turned out to be a good decision. Not only was Troense packed with more quaint thatched cottages than you could fit on a box of (Danish) biscuits, but a little further down the road I stumbled upon the Valdermars Slot. “What’s that?” I hear you cry…
“What is this?” I conveniently asked the only person I could see, a woman who was sitting outside a canoe hire shop which was (rather incongruously) part of the Valdermars Slot complex of stately home and assorted outbuildings.
“It belonged to the wife of the son of the man who wrote the Sherlock Holmes books” she explained.
“Conan Doyle?” I suggested.
“Arthur Conan Doyle?”
“No, he’s not the author, he’s the son of the author.”
This was getting comical. Then she had a brainwave;
“Yes, James Bond, not Sherlock Holmes!”
I’d forgotten my original question by this point so let her continue.
“It was owned by the wife of Ralph Fleming, the son of Ian Fleming.”
Thank goodness we had that sorted. It turns out that the person who does owned the ‘slot’ – castle in English – is an aristocrat who gave the place to his daughter when she married the lucky Ralph. Alas when they got divorce he promptly bought it back from her and she now lives in divorced bliss in London. The ‘baron’ as the canoe shop woman described him is still alive and lives somewhere close to the ‘slot’ which is now a museum. More research needed for the book I feel.
So to the final island, Langeland. I was nearly finished. Cross bridge, follow route 8 signs, get to a point where only cars are allowed to continue, follow route 8 signs, climb over roadworks with fully laden bicycle (despite sign saying no entry to bikes), follow route 8 signs, see bridge, think “haven’t I seen that bridge before?”, realise that I am back where I started, try again this time ignoring route 8 signs, nearly run over man who insists on standing next to his car in the cycle lane, shout abuse at man, hope man doesn’t speak English, pedal a bit faster just in case, consult Google Maps, swear once more because I am not travelling in the direction of where I want to go, follow directions suggested by Google, be barked at by a vicious looking dog not attached to anything, end up on farm tracks with dead ends, retrace steps, give Google Maps another chance (there were no alternatives), somehow end up inadvertently following route 8 signs again, arrive at destination. What a palaver!