This is going to sound familiar…
Once upon a time, a kind and beautiful princess lived in a handsome castle in Germany. Her mother died when she was still a girl, and her father remarried shortly afterwards. But the stepmother was a vain and manipulative woman, favouring her own children over her adopted stepdaughter. Inevitably, the relationship snapped; the princess fled away from her family, over great hills and through deep forests. Eventually she settled and lived in exile in a community of dwarfs working in the local mines.
The princess (well, Baroness, technically…) was Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? But you have almost certainly recognised her already as “Schneewittchen” from the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale: or, in English…
Continue reading “Lohr am Main – The Snow White town”
A home exchange in south-west Norway gives us the local knowledge required to fully explore a fascinating and historically-rich island.
The generous living room windows of our home exchange look out over a narrow channel towards the island of Karmøy. From our cosy vantage point, we watch the weather fronts rolling in from the wild North Sea and the rain-battered ships taking refuge in the calm waters. The vessels may be new, but boats have been making their way through this passage for thousands of years already. For as long as time itself, this route has been known as the safe way north, the “Northern Way”…
Merely a kilometre across the channel – but just obscured from our view by a neighbouring house – lies the ancient church of Olav in the village of Asvaldsnes. There – right there – is the birthplace of Norway, the main stronghold of King Harald Fairhair who controlled this “Northern Way” and first unified this nation.
All in all, it feels like a rather apt place to start exploring.
Continue reading “Karmøy – the birthplace of Norway”
Contemporary art and water sports are not exactly two subjects which immediately spring to mind as being mutually complementary. However, in the wonderful setting of Vejle harbour in Jutland (Denmark), large-scale works of art have been thoughtfully placed out in the fjord… and the only way to appreciate them fully is by kayak or canoe.
Continue reading “Floating Art in Vejle”
A spontaneous camping trip to a quiet corner of Haute-Marne, Champagne allowed us to discover castles, gardens, a magnificent church… and a ridiculously quirky museum.
Have you ever jumped back in time? We have. At the Ulster American Folk Park – an open-air museum near Omagh, Northern Ireland – we were immersed in the sights and sounds of a typical Ulster market day in spring 1917.
In the mid- 1950s, an entire photo exhibition went “viral”. And it is still going strong today, permanently displayed in a handsome castle in Luxembourg. So what did my kids make of it?
Knitting, ice-skating, miniature pancakes, vintage trams and many, many games of “Sjoelbak” – all in one day out at a seriously impressive open-air museum in the Netherlands.