THE EARLY MORNING sun was shining over the hills surrounding our holiday cottage near Wadebridge in Cornwall, and we decided to take a stroll along the narrow country lanes nearby. The air was crystal clear, and we could see far-off grassy fields dotted with grazing sheep. Wind turbines with slowly turning blades punctuated the northern horizon. After crossing a small, fast-flowing stream, we ascended a steep hill. Every now and then, gaps in the walls bordering the roadway afforded us with splendid views. We reached the entrance to a field, I was reminded of a holiday I enjoyed in 1962 when I was ten years old.
Early in 1962, I underwent surgery to have my inflamed appendix removed. A few weeks after this, we set off for Denmark in our family Fiat 1100. It was just before Easter and the weather was cold. After traversing West Germany, we crossed into Denmark and headed for our destination, a farm near Toftlund in Jutland. The farm was owned by Lis, one of our former au-pair girls, and her husband. One thing I remember about Toftlund was something pointed out to me by Lis’s father. He showed me that each house had two different numbers: one was on a red background, and the other on blue. I cannot remember which was which, but one numbering system was that of the Danish authorities, and the other was that of the Germans, who had formerly occupied this part of Denmark.
The most memorable and enjoyable aspect of our weeklong stay on the farm was being able to mingle with the farm animals. The cattle and pigs were housed in sheds because it was too cold for them to graze outside. All day my sister and I enjoyed watching and stroking the animals. I think that the time we spent on the farm was so much fun because it was far more ‘child friendly’ than most of our other family holidays, which were centred around my parents’ fascination with artworks in Italian churches and museums.
Some of the cattle had horns. There is nothing unusual about that. However, my mother, who worried about most things and saw potential danger everywhere, was extremely concerned about these horns. What made her anxious was the possibility that one of the creatures might gore me and thereby cause my appendicectomy scar to burst open. Luckily, I survived to tell this story.
Returning to our walk in Cornwall, you will recall that we had reached an entrance to a field that sparked off my memories of Denmark more than 60 years ago. The gate to the field was the entrance to a small pen, The pen contained several cows waiting to be moved somewhere, or maybe to be milked. Seeing them staring at me staring at them reminded me of my wonderful holiday near Toftlund.