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School Trips

Denmark

1937

The Headmaster was at Liverpool Street to see us off. After having our photographs taken we bade farewell. On board the comfortable single funnelled Parkestone we deposited our lug-gage and returned to the deck to watch operations in the har-bour. At about six o'clock our syren sounded and we set out to sea. Among the interesting people aboard was "Dick" Sheppard, whose recent death has been mourned by so many. We arrived at Esbjerg in the evening, and the first things we saw were a Ford car and some labourers smoking cigars. Here we saw our first Danish train. Immediately it had come to a standstill, charwomen rushed out of the waiting-room to the locomotive and turned on a tap at the side to fill their pails with the hot water. We were struck by the enormous number of bicycles of weird types, none racers, none with hand-brakes. Many shop-keepers have cycle-racks outside their shops for public use. Old- fashioned farm-type horse carts rattled over the cobbles past quaint buildings and modern shops. In the Youth Hostel at Esbjerg, the rooms were very large and the designs on the walls very simple and colourful. I woke up rather early the first morning, and with a few others walked to the fish-harbour. Although it was raining, it was worth while seeing the auctioneer, hammer in hand, step-ping uncertainly over the boxes of live fish he was selling. We took the ferry to the village on an island called Fano, a place of narrow lanes, boasting on its west side a very at-tractive seaside resort with excellent sands and up-to-date hotels. At Silkeborg we had our meal in a ramshackle shed, with sanded floor, windows without glass, and walls papered with newspaper. Our sleeping-quarters were even stranger: long sheds, or small huts for pairs, thatched with mosses, twigs, and leaves. Taterhutten is owned by a man over 60 years old, well -known in Arrhus. He came in 1920 when the land was entirely barren and uncultivated. He persevered with gardening, and now he has grounds excellent considering the sandy soil. He has persuaded the local inhabitants that the land can be culti-vated, and now many of' them have gardens of their own. In his grounds there is an old thatched museum. We were guests at a camp fire at which members of the hamlet were present. We marched round in a circle with tarred sticks flaming. We discovered that we were expected to sing. We were surprised when, after we had sung Pack Up Your Troubles, the Danes sang a version in Danish. We concluded our recital with the School Song. The Youth Hostel at Ry was new and very pleasant. We had a dormitory to ourselves. Various eatables could be bought on the premises, but as none of the young women at the coun-ter knew any English, we had endless fun in buying things. They were quite helpless while we were taking the goods and paying for them. The muddle became more involved when we gave too little money for an article. Aarhus is a fine city, the second largest in Denmark. We were told that it was a short walk to the Youth Hostel; but our guide's only failing was his poor judgement of distance. It was a stiff walk uphill. Among the more interesting things we saw were an automatic hedge-cutter, a tram-driver with trilby hat, and an ambulance with two discordant hooters which are sounded as loudly as possible. Outside the King's summer residence, the guard, as sluggish as most Danish soldiers, stopped for us to photograph him. Policemen smoke cigars on duty. At breakfast one morning the 23rd Psalm and the Lord's Prayer were said. An example of the Danes' hospitality was given by the wife of the Hostel Warden at Esrom, who entertained us during breakfast with songs with lute accom-paniment. We must compliment Mr. West very much for the organisa-tion of a glorious holiday for us all. All who went with him now realise what a tremendous task it is to manage thirty schoolboys in a foreign country.
D. H. BAYES (Vb)