January 2013


I began writing this blog just over a year ago so this is perhaps a good moment to review how it has developed.

I started keeping a journal just over 5 years ago, with a requirement that there must be an entry every day even when the entry is that there is nothing to record. The idea was to keep track of events. Our memories are unreliable, particularly with regard to time. But I also knew that I was likely to give up working and move abroad during the following year and therefore that it would be an interesting time to keep a record. One of the consequences of keeping a journal is that, knowing that I had to write something, I started to pay more attention to events as potential material.

I didn’t have this as a plan in mind when I started writing the blog, but what has happened is that many of the pieces that I was putting into the journal, such as notes about films and novels, I now post to the blog. The consequence is that the journal started to become a somewhat dry record of events: workout in the gym this morning then coffee on the plaza, meeting of the condo management committee in the afternoon, that sort of thing. I have therefore stopped keeping a journal on a daily basis, using it now only to keep track of specific events, such as when we are travelling.

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We should have been in Cuxhaven that morning, but we had missed the overnight ferry sailing from Harwich. So we had bought tickets on a boat going to Holland, the only other ferry leaving that day. Disembarking late at night at Hoek van Holland, we had found a room for the night at an Ibis hotel just off the highway. Cuxhaven to Rostock would have been a leisurely day driving along the coast, but it’s 530 kilometres from Hoek van Holland to Hamburg and a further 300 kilometres from Hamburg to Rostock, around 8 hours driving in all.

We drove east across the Netherlands, skirting Rotterdam and Utrecht and crossed the German border north of Enschede from where we picked up the autobahn to Bremen and Hamburg. We stopped briefly in Hamburg and then continued on, taking first the Berlin road and then heading north from Wittstock. Although a longer drive, at the time I don’t think there was an autobahn directly between Hamburg and Rostock. It’s often the case that you can travel faster on the restricted autoroutes in France than on the unrestricted autobahns in Germany because traffic is lighter and average speeds higher, but here the traffic quickly thinned out and we could make rapid progress, at least until it became apparent that there were few service stations on this section and we had to nurse the fuel.

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