Friday, 20 August 2010


(We have just reached Copenhagen, and able at last to post yesterday's blog....)

We had a great time with Bente's sister, and left after breakfast, with instructions about where to go and what to see. This kind of lead has always proved to be of first class value. We went up the coast to Nymindegab, a nothing-looking place with grassy dunes and small houses, a bit like the back of Camber, or Leysdown on Sheppey. But a strange black near-pyramid building invited us to stop and there we found a marvellous little local museum, home of the local carpenter Larsen and his family between the wars, and stuffed with all kinds of treasures. There is art, 19th century and later, depicting local people, and with some slightly squirm-making commentary about blond giants and racial types. There is a whole sperm whale, in skeleton, with detailed explanations about this marvellous creature and its life (only 500,000 left btw). There is a terrific reconstruction of an Iron Age burial, showing a woman clothed in brilliant blue robes (woad). Her male companion had a similar grave but it was robbed out. The archeologists wring their hands over modern deep ploughing preparatory to forestry work... in a few seconds, a machine can crunch through the fragile burials, which for a long time were both cremation urns and inhumations. A 17th century pastor was executed as a witch. Outside we can see the sunken vegetable garden of the Larsen family, and see Iron Age cookery in progress... a soup cooked in a pot on a hearth, with barley and apples smelling delicious. Children use large stones to grind corn and love it. In the shop you can buy amber, and see how the last Ice Age scultped Denmarks' coast and gentle hills.

Then within half a mile we leave the village and enter a fabulous ancient landscape of the fjord with its dunes, absolutely beautiful, with space for the civil guard to practice warfare, cyclists to whizz along in safety away from the road, little houses mostly with thatched roofs, and the entire area managed for calm, and a completely natural unspoiled feel. This alone is worth coming to see. It is wonderful.

Then we turned back to cross Jutland, most of which is like the countryside around Thetford. We pickn icked by a stream with cattle grazing nearby, and herons flying in the nearby trees. I was stung by a wasp which I felt was bad luck as I was at that moment absolutely revelling and worshipping the beauty of nature, so I thought I didn't deserve it.

We went on, to Jelling, called the baptismal place of Denmark because here Harold Bluetooth dug up the corpse of his father Gorm the Old and had him reburied in a church which was dedicated to Gorm and Gorm's wife Thyra. All this is recorded on two huge granite stones, in runes (are these boulders left over from the Ice Age? probably). The church is plain outside and stunningly modern inside, and sits between two huge pagan burial mounds, and is surrounded by a lovely churchyard where all the plots have box hedging and topiary to make it friendly.

It is worth noting that the farms in central Jutland have a definitely French look to them, with a courtyard arrangement, and I suppose that dates from the time of Bernadotte, when Napoleon really had conquered all of Europe apart from England. The rationalising ideas he instigated, to make things the same, including the layout of farms, the timing of meals, etc. can be detected everywhere on the continent, but not in England, where we still worship the haphazard, the local, the eccentric.

Our next call was Kolding, pronounced more like Cooling.... where an enormous brick castle towers over the town and port, but during the Napoleonic period (1808) someone just let it catch on fire, and of course the night watchman had gone off home early, and the man in charge of the firewatch had gone home ill, and the local guys were all snug at home ,and the moat had ice on it so they couldn't get to the water..... so, it just more or less burned down. The huge tower was partly held up with timber props in the ceiling of the great hall, and when those burned through, the tower crashed down and smashed the hall, the chapel, the apartments..... what a mess. Recently the Danes came up with a whizz method of restoration, (not re-creation), with laminated columns supporting a new roof and inserted floors, and all the outer walls exposed and left as they were. It is a museum for silver and porcelain (Danish culture), and is a really exciting place to walk round, with circular staircases, towers, modern steel walkways, stunning exhibits, etc etc.

We did not have time to get to our other recommended place today, the chair museum (Arne Jacobsen), so we have booked into the excellent youth hostel for the night, and will see that tomorrow. Youth Hostels are excellent value if you are ok with very basic facilities. We have our own 'family' room with two sets of bunks and a lovely big shower room. We will cook our supper int eh communal kitchen, and have the breakfast provided in the morning. All for about 65 quid (can't find the pound sign, sorry).

No comments:

Post a Comment