Island Hopping

We arrived in Norden on market day which was handy as we needed some supplies, like potatoes, bread, mushrooms and ferry timetables for the islands of Norderney, Juist and Borkum.  And maybe Helgoland as well.

We like a good market and a foreign market is an enjoyable challenge.  Our first problem was passing the cheese man.  These guys know how to sell cheese.  You know how the little old lady on the cheese counter at the supermarket always looks bored?  Yep, nothing like that.  Little tasters were set out for the many many many different cheeses he had for sale.  We left slightly fatter with a few local cheeses in our bag before remembering we didn’t have a fridge to store them in.

We found the grocery stall and managed to buy vaguely the intended amounts of mostly the things we wanted.  This is one of the joys of shopping in foreign markets, you might not get what you want, or the amount of what you wanted, but it keeps meal times interesting.

The ferry timetables showed we could get to Norderney the next day, leaving from Norddeich just up the road.  Juist was out as the route is governed by the tides and the ferry times didn’t work for us.  We were in the wrong place to get to Borkum.  Armed with this information we went to check out Norddeich and find a nice spot for lunch by the sea.   Without much in the way of warning the sky went black and the rain came.  Oh man, did the rain come.  And the thunder and the lightening.  We watched half drowned walkers and soggy cyclists pass as we sat in the warm comfort of the van eating delicious cheese sandwiches.

The storm passed quickly so it was time for a wander along the beach, breathing in the sea air for the first time since leaving Dunkerque all those days ago.  We considered our camping options.  There was a nice looking little campsite very close to the ferry terminal, but no so close that it would be a bother.  It was a bit pricey, but we factored in the saving we’d make on parking and the fact that we’re quite lazy and made it our first choice.

We drove onto the site to discover pitches surounding a large pond, or a small lake, depending on how you wanted to look at it.  The pond/lake was guarded by a killer whale, but it was on a leash so there was no worry about it demanding fish.  Parking up out of the way we went in search of someone to pay, but had no luck.  There were a couple of motorhomes already parked up and a helpful lady from one of them explained that someone would visit us later to collect payment.  She showed us where the bathrooms were and where we could get fresh water.  We thanked her and moved the van onto the best pitch on the site.

Then we met our new best friends, Scruffy and Fatty.

Scruffy, wearing his oh-so-cute red neckerchief, barked at anything and everything.  Well mostly, sometimes he’d stop barking and attack Fatty.  To be fair, Fatty, wearing her oh-so-cute red neckerchief, gave and good as she got.  You have to wonder about people who lock themselves in their motorhomes watching TV when they could be watching the Scruffy and Fatty show in live action 3D.

It’s only a short ferry journey to Norderney.  We added our bikes to the pile and headed off to find the ferry’s cafe for some coffee.

We spotted seals lounging on a sand back during the crossing and once on the island rode out to the lighthouse and around the wild life reserve.  It’s a lovely little place, with lots of birdlife and you can climb the lighthouse to get great views over the island.  There are a few campsites around but they looked crowded and busy, we were happy with our little waterside pitch on the mainland.

As we rode back to catch the return ferry we spotted a supermarket.  It was here that we hit the biggest language problem of the trip.  With each other.   We should explain that we don’t share the same first language, often leading to interesting conversations…

“Ohh, let’s stop and get some Bratwursts.”

“Ok.  You look after the bikes, I’ll go in.”

“Cool.”

Later, on the ferry…

“Oh man I’m looking forward to those Bratwursts for dinner”

“Eh?”

“The Bratwursts”

“What are they?”

“Erm, the sausages you just bought at the supermarket, you know, the thing like a chorizo.”

“Ah.”

“What?”

“I thought you said breakfast.”

Tears flowed.  Angry words were exchanged.  “So, erm, what have we got for breakfast anyway?”

As we settled in for our second night next to the lake/pond, enjoying a decidedly non-bratwurst based meal, there was still no sign of anyone to pay.  We left early the next morning, finally finding the campsite owner as we tried to slip €30 through the letterbox of the nearest farmhouse.  We’d got up especially early as we wanted catch the ferry to Borkum.  It was a reasonable distance away and there was only one a day and we didn’t want to miss it.

We missed the ferry.

It was Monday morning around 9am.  The ferry had left on Wednesday.

Fridge Status: Don’t even think about being switched back on

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