Making time to do things slowly is part of the art of living. That is an idea we explored in hidden europe 25 when we published our manifesto for slow travel. And it’s a principle we put into practice in this issue of hidden europe as we take time to savour some particularly slow journeys. We report on an engagingly rural bus ride through mid- Wales, as we accompany Mrs Lewis and her tangerines over the hills to the Teifi Valley. And we take time to steam through the Harz Mountains in Germany. From the heart of the old market town of Quedlinburg to the windy summit of the Brocken (where Faust allegedly struck a deal with the Devil), it is merely 36 kilometres as the crow flies. The train is less direct: 101 kilometres. And the journey takes five hours. We also look at some slow journeys of yesteryear as we cast an eye back to the shipping schedules of 1971, when the Icelandic steamer Gullfoss took a fortnight for her run from Iceland to Scotland (admittedly with some leisurely layovers at four ports of call along the way).
We are particularly pleased with the mix of guest contributions in this issue of hidden europe. Poetry by Paul Hadfield and prose by Laurence Mitchell have appeared in previous issues of the magazine. Within these covers, Paul nicely evokes the spirit of a remote cove in north-east Scotland and Laurence escorts us through a deeply rural area of Ukraine. We offer an especially warm welcome to Iain Bamforth. Five years ago, we read Iain’s book The Good European. It is a splendidly provocative collection of essays inspired by Nietzsche’s exhortation to his countrymen to be ‘good Europeans’. And now Iain provokes hidden europe readers to consider some age-old questions about the nature of Paradise.
In this issue we also venture beyond the boundaries of Europe. Even Libya gets a mention. And we reflect on the moment in 1931 when Norway rather impertinently laid claim to a slice of territory in eastern Greenland. They dubbed it Eirik Raudes Land (Erik the Red’s Land), recalling the land-grabbing antics of the scoundrel who was expelled from both Norway and Iceland for his uncouth behaviour. With an article from Finland and one from the frontier between Russia and Estonia, this is an issue of hidden europe full of northern flavours. So wrap up warmly and climb aboard as we embark on another tour of unlikely communities across Europe.
Nicky Gardner & Susanne Kries