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I had to call the Danish Police

I had to call the Danish Police.

The most recent time driving through Denmark I needed to call the Danish police. Fortunately, most public service workers across Scandinavia speak exceptionally good English and there is even an option on the emergency line to ‘press 0’ for the options in English. I would like to note that to only call the emergency services in the case of a real emergency, on this occasion I was genuinely worried for the safety of others and the officer I spoke with said I had done the right thing to call them.

Google maps said 22hrs12mins (+many breaks) from eastern Germany to Norway, this time I had opted to drive through Denmark, onto a bridge to Sweden then into Norway. Sometimes (when it lines up with my timing) I’ll catch the ferry into or out of Norway but on this trip, I’d have had to wait 6hrs for the next boat and I’d rather keep moving. I will make it clear to note that I’m very experienced driving long distances, I know my limits, when I should stop and how to maintain my focus. I had been shearing the full day, had a shower at a service station in Germany (they’re brilliant and there’s showers at almost every station) so knew I’d probably need a break sooner than usual. At about 11.30pm, I’d crossed the border into Denmark and had driven for a couple of hours before feeling I should start looking for a carpark, a place to sleep for a few hours. Denmark, as well as most of Europe is great for rest stops, plenty of stations but also lots of rest places with public toilets, a big carpark, usually well-lit which makes it feel a bit safer too. I turned off the motorway into the next rest stop, parked away from the toilet block in a darker section (easier to sleep), left Jane in the van and nipped to the toilet.

*Diagram of carpark (screenshot from Google Maps)

I opened the nearest toilet I could find and it happened to be the disabled. There were 3 in a line and I took the middle one (usually the cleanest). I was sat, doing what I needed to do, mid-flow and the door handle shook, as if someone was trying to get in. I tensed – a disabled person surely wasn’t going to be trying to get into the toilet at 1am in the morning and even so – why not take the other two empty cubicles?

At this point, I was focused, I needed a game plan, I didn’t know who was behind that door (they hadn’t said a word) or even if they were still outside, if they knew I was in here were they trying to get into my van? Scenario thinking is pointless, how was I going to get out of here safe? I knew I couldn’t hesitate, staying in here would only prolong things and give whatever or whoever is out there time to think and prepare a plan themselves. I washed my hands (gross if you don’t) put my hood up and looked at myself in the mirror, wearing 3 jumpers helped – it made me look bigger. I have 3 sets of keys attached to my van keys and I stuck them through the gaps in my fingers of my right hand, hoping I don’t have to use them! I thought if I walked like a man then they would be scared of me… I opened the door, there were two men stood outside, I avoided eye contact, looked down, I could see with my peripheral that they both had hoods up too. I walked, widening my step, putting my shoulders back – talking in my head “act cool, walk like a man, you’ve got this”. At least one of the men was following me, I continued my inner pep talk “don’t run, they’ll chase you”. I took a weird route, trying to walk in the street light, avoiding the darkness of the trees. What felt like a mile, I got back to the van and opened the door straight away to let Jane out; usually if people see the dog then they won’t bother me. Looking back, I can guarantee that it probably looked like I had sh*t myself and was staggering back to my transit van.

It didn’t matter as whatever I did worked and I was back in my van with Jane, doors were locked and I was safe. At this point, I wasn’t the slightest bit tired, my adrenaline was buzzing and I started to think ‘but what if it was some other girl?’ ‘what if the men acted more quickly?’. Most other women could probably relate – it wasn’t my first time being followed. Then a car came round the crescent of the carpark, it was near empty (maybe 8 cars/campers in total) so plenty of spaces, I didn’t think much of it. Then a flash of lights appeared again, it looked like the same shape of car, an innocent mistake maybe? Then I saw the same vehicle drive around the corner a third time, it slowed right at the back of my van, I pressed ‘lock’ on the keys again, to make sure they couldn’t get in. It came around a 4th, 5th and on the 6th time, pulled in 5 places down from my van but I could only see the back number plate. I called the police. +45 112, asked for politi. When the call connected with a handler, he spoke perfect English which relieved me; my Norwegian is bad but my Danish must be even worse.

“Hi, I’m English, driving to Norway, I just went to the toilet at a rest stop and was followed, a car has now stopped next to my van and I think I’m safe. I’m in a locked vehicle but I’m worried if another girl comes here tonight”…

The operator asked for my GPS co-ordinates and the vehicles registration, I read the registration of the other car and found my coordinates on google maps. A couple of seconds later, the location must’ve loaded on his screen, he chuckled down the phone. I was shocked – this was not a time to be laughing, I could’ve been in danger, I am concerned that I might still be, why is he laughing?!

“Ah, yes, well, that is a popular car park in Denmark, for people to meet in the night who maybe want a little company”

It was a dogging site.

I had ended up in Denmark’s most popular dogging carpark.

He reassured me that it was regularly on the Danish news. As someone who can’t read Danish and is even less likely to read their local news I had never read about this carpark. The nice officer reassured me that calling 112 was the right thing to do, he was going to send a patrol car out to double check things. The vehicle reg I had read was fully insured and taxed. The policeman even checked my route and assured that the next services on the motorway were not known for any activities of this kind and that I should be fine to sleep there.

In life, I try to think that you can’t regret anything as long as you learn from it. Now I can’t regret much as I needed the toilet so went to the nearest public facilities, that was out of my control. However I’m proud that I handled a tricky situation which kept me, Jane and my van safe. These events won’t change my route (except I won’t be going back to that one again!) or effect how I travel, I’m just glad that we can laugh about it now.

Whilst researching for this blog post I looked up the carpark on Google:

Google Reviews of Carpark

Pictures from Shearing earlier that day, Eastern Germany

Shearing Suffolk Sheep In Germany
Shearing Suffolk Sheep In Germany
Guardian Dog
With German Guardian Dog, Luca
German Skuda Sheep
Shearing Skuda Sheep with Hannes


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