Christina Hardyment

Author and Journalist

The Canary Coloured Cart: One Family’s Search for Storybook Europe (Heidi’s Alp)

A Camper Van journey with four children around Europe in search of the settings of such classic European children’s stories as Heidi, Babar. Pinocchio, Hans Andersen’s and the Grimms’ fairy tales. In 1984, when our four daughters were 5, 7, 9 and 11, we crossed from Harwich, toured Holland, then Denmark, then went via Lubeck to Hamelin, then crossed the Iron Curtain into East Germany to follow in the footsteps of Hans Andersen’s hunt for witches on the mighty Brocken. Then back to West Germany to follow the ‘fairy tale road’ towards Italy, where we toured Venice in a Gonola, climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa, visited the marble quarries of Carrara and found Pinocchio’s home. Then north to Switzerland, to sleep high on a grassy alp in an old cowherd’s wooden summerhouse, then to France, a tour of the Rhine valley [more wine than books here], a trip to Paris to climb the Eiffel Tower and a visit to Richard the Liohheart’s famous Chateua GAillard, the ‘saucy castle’ he built halfway up the Seine.