Wednesday, 7 July 2010

My first visit to mainland Europe

On Tuesday 6th July 2010 I had lunch with my Rector (Ted Copland).  He and his wife Judy Copland had just returned from their holiday in Leipzig. There they had enjoyed good times with their son and his (German) wife, together with their grandchildren.

This reminded me of my very first holiday outside of England. It was in 1970 or 1971.  I had left the Plymouth Brethren to worship with the people of God at Christ Church Clifton (Bristol) - a congregation of the Church of England.

At Christ Church I soon became a leader in a group for older teenagers known as CYFA – the Church Youth Fellowship Association.  The national CYFA group planned a trip to Germany, and I signed on.

We gathered in London and travelled by train and ferry to Belgium.  From there we took a train through Cologne and up the Rhine Valley.  I was entranced.

Leaving the Rhine Valley we took other trains, through Ulm, and to our destination in the Bavarian Alps, a small town called Oberstdorf.  Now I was not only entranced – I was enchanted.

For, many years before this trip, when I was maybe 10 years old, I had been given a very pious book as a reward for good attendance in the Plymouth Brethren Sunday School.  The book, authored by a Plymouth Brethren woman (Patricia M. St. John), was entitled “Treasures of the Snow”.  It was set in Switzerland and had to do with a fictitious lad named Lucien and his Alpine adventures.

“Treasures of the Snow” gave me a vivid imagination of Alpine scenery.

16 or so years after my reading of the book I was in Oberstdorf, in the German Alps. 

I discovered that everything which I had absorbed as a ten year old kid was real.  My first actual trip to the alps matched all that I had imagined - and more.

Thank you Patricia M. St.John, and thank you CYFA.


N.B.   “St.John” is pronounced as “Sinjin”

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