Big fat lanes & glossy roads

Our stay in Marschacht was lovely. Very peaceful, especially after the very naughty pizza and ice cream we were ‘forced’ to have for dinner. The girls were very happy to not be put in a cage. Actually, they slept with us in a very big bed.

The bed, according to Mirinda, had a very squeaky, sloping side and a good, quiet level side. There’s no prize for guessing who had the nice side of the bed. The dogs were in the middle.

To be honest, the girls seem quite confused. This is good when it comes to walking them off lead. They lack the confidence to roam too far from us. Emma has always kept a close eye on us but at the moment this is almost permanent.

This proved very handy when we took them for a walk first thing.

Just behind the house, where we stayed, and across a bike path, there’s a high bank. On the other side of the bank flows the River Elbe. The morning was quite grey with a light rain but a walk was an excellent start to the day, regardless of the weather.

We then packed Max, settled the girls and headed for Rostock, where our ferry awaited.

I rather like the fact that Germans believe that a speed limit should only apply to what your car is capable of doing. I also like the big fat lanes (or ‘two lane comfort cruise’, as Kramer would call them) on some country roads.

Actually, the driving in Germany, once you get used to the bullets whizzing by you in the superfast lane, is very smooth. Mind you, I’m saying that from the point of view of a passenger. Mirinda may have a different opinion.

We only had one stop on the 2.5 hour drive to fill up with petrol and walk the dogs but then it was on to the ferry. The one that had pet friendly cabins. It also had special dog toilet facilities complete with sea views, wild winds and a massive cat litter tray.

Finding the ferry was a wonderful bit of luck. Originally we were going to drive through Denmark after a night in Germany. The only benefit to this was going to be driving across the bridge from the TV show The Bridge. But the problem was that Denmark had imposed some tighter pandemic rules over the last few weeks and we were worried we might be stopped.

I went into Waterstones and, Nicktor would be pleased about this, I bought a road atlas book of Europe. The reason was in case Linda misbehaved like she has regularly done in France. It’s always good to keep an eye on the overall journey by way of the old analog maps.

As I traced out the route we’d be taking I noticed a ferry route from Rostock to Trelleborg. Trelleborg is two hours from where we’d be staying for the first week in Sweden. I went online and discovered that it was not only a RORO ferry but also had dog friendly cabins. I booked one.

Mirinda then found us accommodation just over two hours from Rostock. While the ferry trip was five and a half hours, it meant saving Mirinda the same amount of driving. It was a no brainer. And, as it turned out, the ferry trip was smooth and having the cabin to lie down in was perfect. The girls definitely agreed with that.

On the way over, Mirinda asked a woman with a dog if she knew where the dogs were allowed to go on the ferry. The woman shrugged and said if it didn’t have a sign that said dogs were excluded, they were allowed. Given the famed Swedish attitude towards dogs, we decided this would be our credo from now on.

We arrived at Trelleborg at 19:15 in the pitch black. We joined the long queue of lorries and occasional cars and wound our way through the dock area before hitting the border control gate. This was the first time since Harwich that anyone had bothered with our passports.

Mirinda was worried. I was not. The girls were asleep.

The border police looked like extras from some Scandi-crime show. They were also polite and professional. The guy who looked at our passports was not qualified enough to vouch for an Australian passport (he was fine with me and the girls) so had to call over the one with the moustache who was clearly his boss. Mr Moustache waved us through, happy that Australia was on the list.

We drove through the gate and were in Sweden.

We took a moment to enjoy the fact that we had made it before heading into the inky blackness for our accommodation in Yngsjö. In fact, the night was so black that the road in front of us appeared to be a glossy, void rather than tarmac. It was quite odd.

In order to reach Yngsjö we had to get by Ystad first. We didn’t see Wallander but we did see an odd pair of cars with bright red triangles in their back windows. They were driving very slowly with an increasingly lengthening queue of cars behind them.

At a roundabout they took different exits, sped up and turned off their red triangles. It was as if a couple of pace cars had decided to slow down the pack for a bit before giving us the go ahead. All very peculiar and the only unexpected thing to happen on the drive.

We arrived at our accommodation at 21:30 and were sitting down to nibbles and a glass of special red wine I’d been saving for an occasion of this sort, by 10pm. We breathed sighs of relief. We had arrived and were very, very happy.

Today, this happened

On October 18, 1953, Vivian Maier pointed her camera at a shop window and took a self portrait. She looks very serious in the image, her face half in light and half in shadow. She was a street photographer who was unknown before her death in 2009.

Born in New York in 1926, she was the daughter of a French mother and an Austrian father. A lot of her life is a mystery. She spent time in France and the US and worked at menial jobs. She spent time in a sweatshop and also 40 years as a nanny. But, most important was her legacy of over 150,000 photographs of street life.

She even travelled around the world, taking photographs all over the place, recording various aspects of normal life.

She never married and had no children so, of course, ownership of her photographs went through various courts and made a lot of American lawyers very happy.

Her photographs are amazing and well worth looking for online. She was an extraordinary social scientist.

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