Thanks to Chris and Janice cycling in North Jutland and offering to share their adventures we have a guest blog on their trip in June 14
Wind A feature of Jutland did feel to be wind, particularly as experienced on a bike. The landscape of wind turbines was the clue to the importance of wind to this part of Denmark, but it is interesting that the website for Hvide Sande partly celebrates wind as its attraction, reminding me of the famous Skegness “It’s so bracing” slogan…perhaps ahead of its time? To our surprise, throughout our visit in June, we experienced winds from the North. Prevailing westerlies having taken a break for our visit.
This has clearly always been a dangerous coast, the shipwreck memorials being testament to that. One of the most significant was the wreck of two ships of the line, HMS George & HMS Defence in 1811 off Thorsminde.. Of 1425 men only 12 survived, victims of an horrendous storm on a lea shore. The museum at Thorsminde focuses mostly on the many artefacts from these two ships recently recovered, including many unopened bottles of wine which, according to a recent “tasting”, were foul.
Oil and Art Sculpture, often fairly abstract, seems to be an important aspect of Danish art. Whilst the famous Esbjerg “Man Meets the Sea” is defined partly by its size, there seems to be a real drive to place public art and sculpture in both urban and rural locations, not always so easy to find. We didn’t make Donna’s self confessed error of asking to be taken to the“Men” in Esbjerg, but we did visit the Henry Harrup museum in Viborg. A video of him “at home” helped to make some sense of his work, which reflected his life (I believe there is another museum in Copenhagen with a piece of work called “Life is a work of Art” which in itself is one way of putting it.) I am not sure that the lump of rock that Donna is pointing to (in the Heerup garden, Esbjerg) quite reflects life, but then who am I to judge? I deliberately included the oil rig in the background to the “Man Meets the Sea” photo because it seems to me that Denmark currently depends a lot on income from oil, despite it’s wonderful record of renewables. (Apparently an Esbjerg company has the contract to maintain the Thames Estuary turbines, I wonder how much that effects their carbon footprint?)
The biggest/smallest/highest/lowest/ longest/most beautiful………….. The guidebook (The North Sea Route by Bikeline, a ,German company) did seem to put an excessive amount of importance on these adjectives! We visited the highest dune, the biggest cliff (see picture), the district with the most churches, the tallest lighthouse. This on in the picture isn’t the biggest, but we did get an excellent coffee there. Apparently it is painted red so that ships didn’t mistake it for the nearby white church. (Maybe they should have painted the church red?) This was a good stretch of cycle path (Not psychopath. The lady in one bookshop thought I asked for a “map of psychopath’s in Denmark”! Testament to her excellent English. The paths were very varied, some were a wonderful winding switchback, for a few maybe the word psychopath would have been more suited to their varied and uncomfortable surfaces.
How many thatched summer houses do you need? It seemed at times a bit like the answer cyclists give when asked “How many bikes do you need?” The answer is always one more than I have already got). The Danes certainly like their summer houses and they fill the Dunes of Jutland with an astonishing array of individual cottages snuggled down amidst the landscape.
An unusual Airbnb
Our last nights in Esbjerg were spent in a wonderful “dome house” built by its owner, a retired oilman, Hans. On the surface it is a wonderful bit of Danish innovative architecture, but talking to Hans it seems it took him years to persuade the local planners to let him build it. Even then, it had to be behind the street frontage so that no one would be offended by its innovative design. Sounds almost like GB planners, surely not in Denmark?
Good to see however that Kitsch is still part of the Danish way with this remarkably garish “Sneglehuset” (snail house) at Thyborran. We arrived on a weekend expecting this to be a busy town. As we cycled in we began to think “ Is something happening that we don’t know about” The town seemed deserted and remained so for both days that we were there. A bit like, I imagine , it would be like arriving in Chernobyl . Maybe everyone was in the “sneglehuset” admiring the thousands of shells.