I started with a bang by organising a week-long, multi-activity big birthday bash for 45 friends and family in Germany, without knowing a word of the language.
This was followed by several seasons of bad hotels, gruesome B&Bs and sodden campsites that all pointed to a motorhome as the next purchase. This can feel like a home from home – but my interests in travel and the need to respond to the place I was in were beginning to need all the stuff I had left behind at home – the books, materials and research to make meaning of the journey.
In 2007 we bought a sailing cruiser from a small shipyard in Northern Germany.
We had a great boat launch party and made many friends in the charming resort of Travemunde.
As a baby boomer, it was my first real contact with Germany, previously shrouded by the historical fog of the Second World War. And now I found so much to delight me! The people, the soft Baltic landscapes – and the German way of doing things.
However, I was mortified during one of many delightful conversations, to realise that apart from the horrors of Hitler and the Blitz, I knew virtually nothing about this country. This galvanised my interest and kick started my retirement research projects – and the rest is history, geography, literature, art…