It was time to head back and regroup in the Netherlands where our daughter has settled with her Dutch partner. They very graciously welcome us into their home “between gigs” and we were looking forward to stopping still and spending some precious time with them for a while.
We headed off from the amazing Egeskov Castle on the Danish island of Funen but by the time we left it was quite late in the evening so we decided to camp about an hour and a half’s drive away on ”mainland” Denmark (Jutland)..
The campsite was situated in a wooded area behind a petrol station. Despite the location it was quite pleasant, especially as we had it to ourselves. I don’t think anyone had been there for a while as we couldn’t get any of the water taps to work. In the morning we asked if we could fill up at the garage and the proprietors were very obliging and pointed us in the direction of the tap.
We had to back in between two other vans but that was fine – well it was until we got back on board and the van refused to start. The on-board computer simply said that “service is required “. We had a full battery so that wasn’t the problem but the engine just wouldn’t turn over.
As it was a new camper van we had a warranty and “kerbside assist” but it took us quite a while to get the assistance we needed. Ford Denmark were very helpful but they needed to get the go ahead from Ford France (where we bought the van) before sending someone out. They gave us a phone number to call but there was no reply (probably because it was a Sunday).
We looked on the internet and tried to find other numbers for Ford Roadside Assist, France but we just couldn’t find a listing. Then I had a light bulb moment and looked up “Assistance Ford en France” and bingo the website flashed up with appropriate number to call. After several hours all was arranged and we just had to sit tight and wait for a pick up truck to arrive.
The truck eventually arrived around 6pm and the driver very quickly got the campervan on board and took us to a place called Kolding about half an hour north of where we had broken down. We were offloaded in the Ford dealership car park where we spent the night. Not our most picturesque camping spot but once you close all the blinds in the van you could be absolutely anywhere so it didn’t matter.
The following morning we vacated the van and the very nice mechanic told us that we should take the opportunity to look round Koldinghus Castle which was a short bike ride away. So off we went and found the Castle quite easily.
The first Castle was built in 1268 to guard the border between the kingdom of Denmark and the duchy of Schleswig but none of the original castle remains now. The oldest preserved parts were built in the reign of king Christoffer of Bayern, who reign from 1481-1513.
Unfortunately much of the castle was destroyed by fire in the Napoleonic Wars. It remained a ruin for several decades to come and over time became a popular and often painted landmark.
It was eventually decided to restore the old castle. The architects chosen put forward a radical break from traditional restoration methods which preserved the ruins so that visitors could see the different stages of its development over seven centuries. The ruins were preserved in their entirety and covered and encapsulated leaving them exposed for viewing.
As you walk up to the entrance of the castle you notice straight away that part of the exterior wall is completely different to the original stone work. It made me think of Erik’s mask in Phantom of the Opera.
Inside there were lights where columns once stood and again, the old walls were exposed which contrasted with stunning modern materials of cast iron, light timber and stunning lighting. It was probably the most interesting and honest reconstruction of an ancient building that I have ever seen.
Apart from the extraordinary renovation work, other highlights include the chapel – originally constructed by King Christian the IV – an excellent collection of Danish artworks, furniture and silverware from the last 450 years and a temporary fashion design exhibition.
We were so glad that we had discovered this amazing castle and felt that the old saying “it’s an ill wind (that blows nobody any good) i.e. even a very bad situation must have some good results, was very true in this case.
While we were enjoying the delights of Koldinghus Castle our mechanic at Ford was troubleshooting the engine’s malfunction. It turned out that the fuel injectors were quite rusty and needed replacing. Very strange considering we had only purchased the van a few months previously. New injectors had been ordered and would be installed the next morning.
The following day we hung out at the Ford garage while the van was fixed. Finally at 3pm we were free to leave and we were on our way towards the Netherlands again.
We stopped for the night in a quirky little campsite near Frorupsand just over the border from Denmark in Germany.
For nine Euros we had power, water and were even given fresh bread rolls in the morning!
Our final stop before arriving back to Pijnacker was a lovely leafy site near Gagelmaat in the Netherlands. It wasn’t until later that we found that the site was close to where there had been a Nazi transit and work camp during World War II. Over 100,000 Jews, Gypsies and resistance members were taken to Camp Westerbork from 1939 until 1945. From there they were deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor in German-occupied Poland and often killed upon arrival.
In 1971 the last barracks were torn down but the camp remains as a museum to keep the memories alive of those imprisoned in the camp. As a tribute to those inmates who had died after deportation, a memorial was completed in 1970. It consisted of 102,000 stones, representing each person who was deported from Westerbork