The 24th Adventure Club Podcast: Esens, Canals & Submarines

Finally, on October 24, with only two days to go in the book, we get to discuss the actual riddle of ‘The Riddle of the Sands’.

Lloyd notDavies uses his train timetables to get us to Esens. Minus a moustache, Tim notCarruthers points out the cultural highlights of this ancient Frisian town. And then both men argue at length about the proper use of canals. Finally, the talk turns to the significance of submarines.

First – our usual plug for our Unbound project – just £25 will get you a beautiful ROTS Handbook, an ebook, an audiobook and access to the month-long online adventure in September. (02:00)

We begin the podcast proper, as we often do, by referring to train timetables (05:19). We discover it isn’t as easy to get to Esens by rail as it was one hundred years ago. We find the humblest guesthouse in Esens where we can eat wurst and drink beer (10:29); Tim notCarruthers tells tales of the Frisian pirate Junkers Balthasar (16:35) and, friend of Wagner, Theodore Thomas (17:29).

A long conversation about canals ensues (20:35) including: memories of the newsreader Peter Sissons (21:32); the geological history of Frisia (23:20); a canoeing trip down the Bensertief (27:30); German enthusiasm for navigable canal-building (29:15); the plan to ‘kill’ Rotterdam (30:42); how to get from Bensersiel to Aurich by barge (the long way round) (32:43).

The *clearly navigable* Bensertief

We return to last podcast’s subject – the villainous engineer Böhme (38:12). If he hails from Bremen and is a submarine engineer, he can only have worked at one place. Tim notCarruthers follows this clue back to West Norwood (41:58), and ends up talking about an American-Irish engineer who Childers must have known (43:03).

American-Irish submarine engineer John Philip Holland.

Club Business: Brian offers us a chance to row in the North Sea (45:18); Pat also talks rowing and his brief time as a hero (47:33); Jeff gives us a chance to tell you about the mysterious annotated 1920s edition of ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ which has inspired this whole project (49:07).

Missions for next week – members assistance required.

‘further potations elsewhere’: Carruthers goes on a pub crawl in Dornum with an ill-looking rascal. We need to plan a modern-day version of this. Can you help?

‘I took a fourth-class ticket to Wittmund’: what the hell is ‘fourth-class’? Is there still such a thing anywhere in the world?

‘for a minute or two we were all in a group’: Carruthers’s disguise at this point has to be so good that von Brüning doesn’t recognise him, even when he’s standing right next to him. Any advice about what get-up we might need is very much welcome from any masters or mistresses of disguise out there.

‘multitudes of sea-going lighters, carrying full loads of soldiers’: – about bloody time! – we finally get to discuss what this book is actually about. What we need, though, is some real-life examples of invasion by unpowered barge. Also, will it be safe for us to try this out? Anyone got a tug and a lighter they want to lend us?

One thought on “The 24th Adventure Club Podcast: Esens, Canals & Submarines

  1. These just get better and better. Surprise revelation of the week that despite appearances not-carruthers is evidently also not-TS Eliot, otherwise he’d surely would be familiar with Baedeker.


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