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News > Alumni News > The Hard Way to get to Ipswich in time for Lunch

The Hard Way to get to Ipswich in time for Lunch

Tells of how one attendee will get to Ipswich for the OI Summer Lunch from Scandinavia the hard way. Not recommended reading for people used to zooming around in cars and aeroplanes!
8 Jun 2022
Written by John Berry
Alumni News
A courtyard in Frederikshavn, Denmark, from my COVID prison.
A courtyard in Frederikshavn, Denmark, from my COVID prison.

For many years my wife and I would fly to Sweden every May. After visits with all her wonderful relatives, she would set off for Italy to carry on her work as a Classical Archaeologist in Tuscany or Sicily, and I would set off on my trusty folding bike to see the rest of Europe: I had seen enough of Italy long ago. My destinations were exotic places like Tbilisi, or Moscow, or Thessaloniki. Just before the Pandemic I rode across Germany and France to Corsica and Sardinia and then met my wife at the site in Sicily where she was working.

The Pandemic put paid to this, but finally this year we've resumed old habits.  She is at the Swedish Institute in Rome furiously absorbing all the literature that is not available in the United States, and next week will be doing fieldwork in Arezzo for an upcoming book, and I'm riding around Denmark on my way to the UK.

A week ago I rode out to Skagen to see the point where Denmark divides the Baltic from the North Sea. I had to see it. I'd been fascinated since the first form at Ipswich by this peculiarly-shaped feature, like the beak of an eagle pecking into the soft underbelly of the Skagerrak, with its peculiar name - The Skaw – in our school atlas.  Thank you, Spud Marsden, for making geography fascinating! There were many hundreds of people there, many of whom must have had the same fascination, from all over the world. I chatted with a couple from the Canary Islands and some fellow bicycle tourists from Switzerland.

Almost immediately on my return I collapsed. After two days huddled in my room with what I thought was a very bad head cold, I decided that this was no ordinary cold and went across the road to the Apotek to purchase a COVID test kit. Positive. Very positive! For the next five days I sat there looking down through the heavily-framed window of my room onto the cobbled courtyard surrounded by an anything-but-rectilinear jumble of old and new buildings, as shown in the accompanying sketch.

I knew exactly where I had caught the bug: in a cramped eight-bed dormitory in the Danhostel at Aarhus. I had stayed there in an attempt to shave a bit off the cost of accommodation in this incredibly expensive country. False economy for sure!  This is the first bicycle tour on which I have not carried a tent and cooking gear: I had decided when packing that at my age (80) it was silly to continue to travel like a teenager. That was my first mistake: there are many more fine campgrounds in Denmark that there are inexpensive hotels.

The time was not wasted: I had stories to write, sketches to finish, people to ask to referee a paper I have in press, two papers by others to referee. Also a lot of tedious planning to do to find a reasonably priced and logistically simple way of getting to Ipswich with the bicycle in time for the Summer OI Lunch, but with seven days' less time available than I had originally planned.

Yesterday I tested again. Negative! Hooray, now I'm back on the road, headed down the south side of Limfjord to Esbjerg. A pity there's no longer an Esbjerg-Harwich Ferry: Hook of Holland will have to do!

At the last moment I have booked my place at the lunch, noticing as I did so that there will be many people there whom I know. I shall be overjoyed to meet you all again after 62 years, even though I may have trouble meeting the dress code. We touring cyclists do not usually carry a ”smart casual” wardrobe in our panniers!

John Berry (OI 1952-60)

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