WRIGHT THINKING: A birthday party with the happiest people in Europe

Alan with the Magellan in Aalborg.
Alan with the Magellan in Aalborg.

I bring you greetings today from the lovely town of Aalborg in north east Denmark and we are enjoying a birthday party in the sunshine.

I know that maritime matters always bring responses to the column, so regular readers will be pleased to know that the celebrations are for the lovely CMV cruise ship Magellan, which was built here 30 years ago.

The last leg from the sea into the town is fabulous as it involves going about 25 miles up the Limfjord from the sea, and it’s an odd feeling to see farmland and pretty houses close to either side of us.

The town has come out in force to welcome us, and it’s great that we dock right on the quayside with the town centre just in front of us.

The ship is towering over the town –just imagine Seaton Carew seafront with a huge cruise ship and you’ll get the picture.

I was honoured to be invited to be guest speaker on this special trip and it’s been a pleasure from the start.

After departure from London Tilbury, we called at Amsterdam, Hamburg, Helsingborg and Copenhagen before our final stop here.

For shipbuilding historians, you may like to know that the ship was built in the yard of Aalborg Vaerft, and it was fitting that some of the people who worked on its construction have come aboard to enjoy lunch and take a look around.

She’s had an interesting 30 years of life, and made the news back in 2005 when she served as emergency accommodation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

One odd fact that was new to me came out of a recent European Commission survey, which showed that the citizens of Aalborg are top of the league for European people who are happy with where they live.

I’m not surprised – it’s a lovely spot with so much going for it.

We’ve just done a spot of shopping in the town and bought some vital supplies of Danish Aquavit which is made here.

In case it’s new to you, it’s a kind of schnapps and has quite a kick.

It’s usually kept in the freezer and is drunk very cold and in one go.

Around the dinner table, the tradition is for the lady of the house to say “skaal” (cheers) and down it in one.

The rest of the table does the same and it is very bad manners not to join in apparently.

Another surprise came when I popped in to a shop to buy a couple of shirts and the proprietor saw through my average Danish to spot my north east England accent.

Would you believe that his next door neighbour is Colin Todd of football fame!

As you will remember, Colin had a very successful playing career with England and several league clubs including Sunderland.

As a manager, he did a great job with Middlesbrough and saved them from a drop into the old Third Division.

These days, he’s manager of Danish club Randers FC and is obviously enjoying life here very well.

It’s nearly time to set off for home and our Danish hosts are dispensing the perfect gift – local hot dogs.

These are nothing like the abject English version – they are full of flavour on soft bread with a mix of remoulade sauce and onions.

Ah well, a couple of those and extra running next week. Possibly.