Rainy Tønder

Got up early to pay my dues at reception for my two nights stay and to pick up coins for the laundry. They didn’t ask for my registration, just took what I said on trust. That seems to be how things work around here. After getting my wash going I had breakfast and, using their very fast broadband connection, caught up on the news.

A journalist from the Guardian is doing a Scandinavian tour and this is his second week of reporting. He writes about arriving at his hotel late at night – “I find my room key inside an envelope pinned to the front door. A bicycle is waiting for me out there too, the key securely stored – in the bike’s lock.” Trust.

It took a few hours to wash and dry as the machines were domestic but this was in time for the rain to start. It hasn’t stopped since. I write this at 22:00.

I had thought to visit the Zeppelin museum – in the First World War Tønder was German- but the website was so informative, and the rain so heavy, I passed. It was interesting to read that the bombing of the base was the first ever sortie flown from a ship. The Royal Navy had to construct a ship specifically for the mission and the planes did not have enough fuel for a round trip so landed in a neutral Denmark.

I did visit the main museum, however, a sprawling cluster of repurposed buildings that made for intriguing exploration. There was an installation by Danish artists on Nordic melancholy, which didn’t appeal to me at all, other artists’ work, local history, old furniture and silver work. Interesting but not my bag. They had installed the wooden interiors of rooms from the old jail, adorned with inmates’ carvings,

and in an old water tower had a exhibition of about 30 chairs, many still in production today, designed by a famous local.

Most were extremely comfortable and I coveted several.

At the top of the tower were panoramic views over the town and surrounding area.

The sprawling museum buildings

It was an enjoyable visit.

As I headed back through the pouring rain some sculptures caught my eye. It was the sculpture park I thought I’d seen yesterday, but the pieces around the museum were not the park.

There were over a dozen pieces in the small park, and I liked a few of them. The rain brought out the colours in the stone.

I was left wondering, again, how a place no bigger than Ramsbottom can sustain a museum with the work of national and international artists, sculpture in the park and throughout the town, a big international rock/roots festival and an extensive sports centre with six football pitches and other sports facilities? As in Belgium, towns are clean, roads are good, vandalism barely exists, facilities are extensive and well used. The UK, on paper, is far richer, yet our towns are pretty squalid in comparison. It’s not the wealth, but the will.

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