Belgium, Germany, Denmark and France (July and August 2017)

Munster Trodelmarkt
Munster Trodelmarkt

We no longer tolerate very hot weather and tend to visit northerly climes in July and August. Many of the designers of quality items from the 1950s and 1960s came from Scandinavia so we headed for Denmark.

Once again we used The Channel Tunnel. Franc relationship with ferries remains an issue, which is not helped by watching the film The Perfect Storm!

Belgium

We found a central motorhome stop in Antwerp run by volunteers opposite the exhibition centre. The roadworks were dreadful and we spent 2 hours trying to negotiate a tunnel. We used a tram to find the centre and it was all a bit fraught. The weather was dreadful and there were few pickings. Whereas hospitality and great service in restaurants are instinctive in France, the difference just a few miles over the border was immediately apparent.

Germany

The German equivalent of a car boot sale is a ‘trodelmarkt’, literally a junk market. Our first trodel was on a farm near the outskirts of Munster. This was a bit of a hybrid with fixed antique stalls in the barns and regular trodlers in the yard. Great value food on site was provided by a local charity. Haggling was a little more challenging as our German is extremely limited!

Schneverdingen a little place in Lower Saxony, South of Hamburg had a tiny charity shop. The ladies were lovely and explained the history of our purchases, in particular, a 1950s beer flagon.

We drove through Hamburg, which was surprisingly straightforward to navigate. The G8 summit was on so we didn’t stop – we’ve saved that for another day because it looked beautiful.

Hamburg
Hamburg

Flensburg was our last overnight stop in Germany. Located on a fjord on the Baltic, it was a beautiful place for a wander.

Flensburg
Flensburg
Flensburg2
Flensburg – Inside

Denmark

We found an antique dealer with lots of inside information about buying in Denmark. He provided us with dates of Danish Loppemarkeds (flea markets). I regret not buying a 1930s ships lantern as there were quite a few in this area. Oh well – another day, another dollar.

Eating out in Denmark was an interesting affair. Our first experience was at a hotel in Sonderburg next to our campsite in the marina. We were offered a buffet with an array of fish and meat including herring, salmon and caviar. Danish open sandwiches using smørrebrød, a dark rye bread were delicious. This was served at a single time and sitting which was around 7pm. I think if you turned up at 8pm you probably wouldn’t be served.

Karen in Sonderborg
Karen in Sonderburg

Sonderburg Loppebazar was a fairly new experiment in Denmark. This vintage emporium gave us a flavour of what might be available. I already had it in mind to look for Danish silver and Baltic amber and made my first purchases here. We were also on the lookout for Danish designer teak products from the 1950s but these were few and expensive.

The owner of the campsite told us there was a loppemarked on every street – a slight exaggeration but tat-mongering is definitely a bigger pastime in Denmark than at home. BBC Bargain Hunt is our greatest export and the reason why the Danes speak such great English. We followed one sign and found Slovaj Antiques. It was closed, as all antique shops are but we bravely took a look around. An elderly gentleman came from a bungalow at the back who telephoned his daughter to open up for us. This was another Aladdin’s cave. We have still to list many of our purchases which included a fragile ancient tapestry which needs some research.

We spent a bit too much on those early Danish purchases – Kroner, Euros and Pound Sterling in one holiday can be confusing.

Denmark is a joy to drive in. The population of Jutland is sparse and the roads are in excellent condition. Next time we will take the bikes, the cycle lanes are parallel to the roads but safely separated from them. You must remember to take a picnic. There are picnic sites everywhere but very few cafes and no pubs or bars.

Each buying opportunity gave a lead for another. Holstead in the agricultural centre was one of these. We stopped overnight on a local golf course. I think we were the first to stay for some time – we definitely parked in the rough. Holstead was a combination of indoor and outdoor stalls. On this occasion, the best bargains were inside. Art Deco is not valued here and we purchased some great lampshades. The blue and red mid-century enamel was also a good buy.

Holstead
Holstead

Romo an island off West Jutland is the flattest place I have ever been. It makes the Fens look positively mountainous. Motorhomes drove for about a mile onto the flat sand before parking up for the day. Apparently, it was perfectly safe. We declined to participate – discretion is the better part of valour.

On our travels so far we had purchased some beautiful beadwork pieces. It wasn’t until we met a couple on Romo that their origin became apparent. The couple had a garage loppemarked and had many such pieces. The couple had lived in Greenland, a territory of Denmark and collected Inuit or Eskimo items. After we had amassed a number of purchases we were invited into the house to look at items as yet not offered for sale – heaven.

Georg Jensen a famous Danish designer of silver was not a name we expected to find. In a tiny ‘Antik’ in Romo we found some enamel items and some pewter made by his son Jorgen Jensen.

Denmark is bit like a huge sand dune. It is said that it is getting bigger as sand is deposited from the sea. On the very north-east tip is a huge dune and we spotted a long line of people walking along the edge of the sea. Like lemmings we followed the line. It is a pilgrimage – not much to see in good weather but where the Skagerrak and the Kattegat meet creating weird effects in the sea.

Lemmings
Lemmings

Germany (Again)

On our way back through Germany we visited the town of Celle, which was a real gem of a place. We were eating out once again for kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake), and breakfasts to die for. Most of the antique shops were very pricey but one shop in Celle was worth a visit. We found some beautiful tiny glass vases made for single blooms. We were told that these were from Eastern Germany – we must visit there next time.

A French Finale

We finished our European adventure with a drive back through France. We had a final meal in Ballieul and stopped by a vide grenier in St Omer. These convinced us that France has the best offer of food and brocante, our two loves. I am sure that we will be back there soon.