Monday, September 15, 2014

Skagen - on an early September Morning

Early morning i Skagen. In the top of the city-houses are often holiday-apartments. Here are the quilts hung out in the sun for airing. These holiday-apartments are very attractive and smart. 

Skagen is one of the most lovely little towns in Denmark It is a special summer city visited by enthusiastic tourists, who are fascinated by both the beautiful beach and the blue sea , the town itself with cafés, restaurants and smart shops - the famous Danish Skagen artists and the museums with their works -  and of course the famous Light of Skagen.

A charming corner in the narrow roads. A Skagen-house must have that special yellow colour, called Skagen-yellow. The red roof has to be decorated with the white "lace". It all looks so decorative and cosy. And the yellow colour is warm and wonderful in the sunlight. 

September is still a busy month in Skagen. This year they are celebrating "Blue September" with exciting arrangements in town.

Here's a look into the yard of a second-hand dealer's shop. There are lots of shops like this - and they are very, very popular right now. Danish TV has shown an awful lot of tv-series about junks and  antiques  - and it seems that everyone knows about brics and bracs. The English TV- series Antiques Road Shows have brought us some good knowledge!!!


A white house and a garden with a crippled tree, green hedges and white-painted fences.

The clothes hung out to dry in the fresh air. Most people - at least the tourists coming here - have got a tumble dryer at home -  have they forgotten the delicious scent of clothes dried by the air ? And it looks nice - doesn't it? 

a restaurant waiting for customers

All these  Skagen-photos are from one of the first days in September, on an early morning  where we were on our way out to the beach north of Skagen. The streets were still almost empty, but not for long. Cafés and restaurants and museums are still open like in high summer.

An oldfashioned and fine chestnut-fence has replaced the traditional white-painted fence. .

Some facts about Skagen:
Skagen is situated in Vendsyssel. It is the northernest city in Denmark with 8.198 inhabitants in 2014. Skagen is a pronounced tourist-town, first of all known for its unique nature and for the Danish Skagen-painters like P.S.Krøyer, Anna Ancher and Michael Ancher. They found the natural light of the area so special and exciting that they settled at the top of Jutland and created a number of masterpieces. (seen at Skagens Museum and in Michael and Anna Anchers house).

Skagen is also known for its fishing harbour and for the Skagen Festival (first time in 1971).
North of Skagen is the beautiful beach and Grenen, the north top of Denmark, dividing Skagerak from Kattegat. Near Skagen is den tilsandede kirke (church half covered by sand.) 

Clara-Emilie's house.

And now I'll go sit on the Blue Bench because I'm so tired.  I have been in many streets  and seen much more than I have shown you and my legs need a little rest. "Why a blue bench I wonder! Oh, of course! That's because Skagen is celebrating Blue September this year. How stupid can I be???? "

isn't it lovely?

Goodbye Skagen for this time. See you next year!.

When winter comes the town turns into a fairly quiet place and the inhabitants can get their breath back and take it a little easy during the winter season while they are preparing for next summer..

photo Skagen September 2014: grethe bachmann

Thursday, September 11, 2014

World Alzheimer's Day - 21 September 2014

Eight Warning Signs

Sculpture by the Sea 2013, Permanent Sunrise /photo gb

World Alzheimer's Day, September 21st of each year, is a day on which Alzheimer's organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer's and dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning.

But how are the signs of beginning dementia? Are we often scared of some signs which has nothing to do with dementia and Alzheimer's ? The typical signs might be different from what we think.

Here are 8 typical warning signs of dementia .

1. Impaired Memory.
It is a normal thing to forget an appointment or a message - and it later comes to your mind.
It is not normal to forget where you are going or who you've spoken to.

2. Trouble with Familiar Tasks.
It is normal to forget to turn on the coffee machine, but it is not normal to put the thermos on the gas stove or cooktop.   

3. Problems with Language.
It is normal to have trouble finding the right word sometimes.
It is not normal completely to forget words and replace them with other words that make no sense.

4. Forgetting Time and Place.
It is normal to be wrong about a date or not being able to find your way in new places.
It is not normal to swap the hours of the days or get lost in an area you know. 

5. Bad or reduced Judgment.
It is normal to forget your raincoat - although it looks like rain's coming.
It is not normal to forget that it is winter and put on your summer-shoes outdoors.

6.Things in the wrong Place.

It is normal to forget where you've put your keys or your glasses.
It is not normal to put the iron in the freezer.

7. Changes in Personality 
It is normal that your attitudes and opinions may change over the years.
It is not normal if a person changes dramatically, like quickly getting confused, suspicious or angry.

8. Changes in Mood and Behaviour.

It is normal to get upset and having a real bad day.
It is not normal to have mood swings that apparently occurs without reason from one moment to the next.

Source  from Danish Magazine "Søndag" nr. 37, 08.09.14
Article by Elisabeth Wille, / Source: Alzheimerforeningen,

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Vikings - a new Viking castle found

A Sensational Discovery 

Aggersborg Viking castle,

In the fields of Vallø Stift (district) west of the town Køge archaeologists have uncovered the traces of a circular castle with earth banks. The circular castle bank is similar to the famous Trelleborgs which were built by Harald Blåtand (Bluetooth) around year 980.

The museums inspector and archaeologist connected to Danmarks Borgcenter, Nanna Holm, says that it is the first time in 60 years that a new ring castle from the Viking period is found in Denmark. Her colleague, professor in medieval archaeology at Aarhus University, Søren Sindbæk, says that the discovery of the new Viking castle is a unique opportunity to get new knowledge about the fights and the conflicts of the Viking period. There is now a new chance to examine the most famous buildings of the Vikings.

New exact laser-measurements of the landscape led to the traces of the castle which was an almost leveled castle bank in the field of Vallø district - it showed to have a clear circular area. An expert in archaeological geophysics from the University of York in England was summoned.

By measuring small disturbances in the magnetism of the earth it is possible to identify old excavations or banks without destroying anything. In this way an amazing detailled shadow picture of the castle was achieved. After this it was known precisely where to start the excavation to get as much knowledge as possible about the castle.

Fyrkat, wikipedia

Nanna Holm emphasizes that this castle was a reel military plan and there might have been a fight. There is no doubt that the castle is from the Viking period.

Castles like this are only known from the Viking period. The burnt wood in the gates make it possible to verify the age of the wood by radiocarbon-dating and dendrochronology. The result of the analysis will be ready in late September, first October ( 2014) . It is possible to find out exact when the castle was built and maybe get a better understanding of the historic events connected to these ring castles.  

The find might show to become an important factor in the understanding of the Danish history  The archaeologists are excited to confirm if the castle is from Harald Bluetooth's time or maybe from the time of an earlier king. A military fortification from the Viking period can enlighten how Sjælland's connection was to the oldest part of Denmark and to the Jelling dynasty, and at the same time bring new knowledge to the understanding of the time when Denmark became Denmark
Trelleborg, wikipedia

Until now only small parts of the ring castle are excavated, but the list of unsolved questions is long. The excavations have confirmed much more than hoped, but there is still much to be found. The next big question is if there were buildings inside the ring like in the wellknown Trelleborgs. At the same time there is another  question: Are there more ring castles like this hidden somewhere in the Danish  landscape? 

 Source: Danmarks Borgcenter, Aarhus University.
photo ring castles: wikipedia
photo Viking house: grethe bachmann 2010.

Viking house, Fyrkat, photo: gb 2010

Ring castles in Denmark:

Aggersborg, North Jutland
Fyrkat, East Jutland
Trelleborg, Sjælland
Nonnebakken, Odense; Funen

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guelder Rose/ Almindelig Kvalkved

Guelder Rose, Bjerre skov/gb

Viburnum opulus

When winter comes and most fruits have fallen from the trees, the Guelder Rose still stands with its fine red fruits and richly coloured autumn leaves. The shrub forms underwood and edges in mixed hardwood forests in wet and mineral rich soil all over Europe. It thrives both in full sun and half shadow and stands wind and frost.

Guelder Rose, Bjerre skov/gb

It has got a lot of names in English: Cramp bark / Cranberry tree / Dog rowan tree / European cranberry bush / Guelder rose / High cranberry / Highbush cranberry / King's crown / May rose / Pempina / Pimpina / Rose elder / Silver bells / Snowball Tree / Water elder / Whitsun bosses / Whitsun rose / Whitten Tree / Wild Guelder rose.

The Guelder Rose was earlier ascribed to the honeysuckle-family, (like snowberry and elder) but genetic studies under Angiosperm Phylogeny Group have shown that it belongs to the Adoxaceae-family. The botanical name is Viburnum opulus. It is a species of Viburnum native to Europe and Asia. The common name Guelder Rose appears to have originated because a popular cultivar, the snowball tree, supposedly first originated in the Dutch province of Guelderland.
The White flowers of Guelder rose(wikipedia )

The white flowers are pollinated by various insects; the inflorescence reminds about the hydrangea. The seeds are dispersed by birds, and the leaves are often eaten by caterpillars. The shrub is also cultivated as a component of hedgerows, coverplantings, and as part of other naturalistic plantings in its native regions. Guelder Rose is a good bush in the garden, not just because of the fruits, but it is a good hiding place for birds and their nests. Guelder rose is spread both by seeds and root-suckers. Berry-eating birds ar very fond of the berries, especially winter birds like fieldfare and Bohemian waxwing. The berries are poisonous to humans. The leaves are often eaten by caterpillars.

Kvalkved/Guelder rose, Vestamager, Sjælland/gb
From September it stands with red glistening fruits which stay at the bush until January-February. First when the fruits begin to rot, they are very much sought after by birds.

The fruit is actually considered poisonous, but however used in some countries to make jelly. It is  very mildly toxic, and may cause vomiting or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts (Plants for a Future).

 Practical use. The berries have anti-scorbutic properties. They turn black in drying and have been used for making ink. The wood was used for combs making combs in looms, tobacco pipes etc. From the straight branches were made pipe tubes and walking sticks, the strongest branches were used to make knitting needles. 

The berries were used as baits in bird traps.

Folk Medicine: The dried bark was used in a tincture, known as "Cramp Bark," to alleviate painful menstrual cramps.This herb was mainly used for treating feminine problems like menstrual cramps, postpartum discomfort, preventing miscarriages and internal hemorrhages and was used as a uterine sedative also.

The Nix ( Theodore Kittelsen, Norway 1904/wikipedia
Folklore: In Danish its common name is Kvalkved, an old name is Ulvsrøn and in folklore it is called Vand-hyld (Water-Elder). The God in the water stream, Noekken,  (the Nix) was said to lie in wait for people under the water-elder, playing enthralling music. The Nix was most dangerous to women and children.
If people had a stick of Guelder rose in their pocket, the underworld had no power over them.

Source: Brøndegaard, Etnobotanik, Folk og flora; Danmarks natur; Gyldendal, Politikens havebog, samt Wikipedia. 

photo Bjerre skov, Horsens in September : grethe bachmann
photocopy  from wikipedia

Friday, August 15, 2014

Women and Cats.....................

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

Robert A. Heinlein.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Svinkløv Badehotel, North Jutland

A Taste of Denmark.

Svinkløv Badehotel (Seaside Hotel) is one of the country's few intact relics from the fashionable seaside- and holiday life which became a must around the year 1900. The hotel is looking exactly like it was then, and the pretty main building is one of Denmark's biggest preserved wooden houses.


The position of the hotel is unique in a large preserved area and a beautiful nature far away from other habitation and less than 200 m from the North Sea.


All rooms are in light colours and Scandinavian interior  - and furthermore smokeless zones. The hotel is marked by alternative arts and crafts exhibitions. Svinkløv is famous for its excellent food, the cuisine has a very high standard with new menues and specialities every day.

photo: grethe bachmann

The Legend of the Holy Grail in a Danish Church

Viking Age
Skibet Church, Vejle

Skibet church, 'Rytterfrisen' (The Horsemen's Frieze') 1100s

(Above the Horsemen's frieze are two scenes from the New Testament, to the left Lazarus and to the right Christ and the disciples.)

During the ruling period of Valdemar Sejr and Valdemar the Great - between 1157 and 1241 - about 2000 stone churches were built inside the present borders of Denmark. (1700 old churches still exist.) The building activity was immense all over the country ; much influence and inspiration came from abroad, and some of it came from England. English master builders, stone masons and artists arrived - and they were responsible for some fine Anglo-Normannic inspired churches, especially in the north western part of Jutland.

One English artist might have travelled a little further down south - and he arrived to the location Skibet in the eastern part of Jutland, where a little stone church was built in the middle of the 1100s. Here he was possibly  the creator of some magnificent frescoes called 'Rytterfrisen' (The Horsemen's Frieze') , which is unprecedented in Denmark.

Skibet church. Two saddled horses and some horsemen riding slowly and with dignity to the north.

Skibet church. Some gallopping horsemen moving towards the jar, considered to be the key to the story. Behind is a city or a temple.

Hornslet Church, Aarhus

Hornslet church: A fully armed knight rides toward west, the crowned bedridden man recieves the Holy Communion from a cleric.

In Hornslet church north of Århus are frescoes from the first half of the 1200s, telling a similar story like in Skibet. It's a unique phenomenon that Jutland unlike the eastern part of Denmark is able to show those spectacular and dramatic scenes with horsemen.

The interpretation is open in both cases. Some have suggested that the story is from the colourful tale about the prophets - but both before and now it is believed that the frescoes are about the legend of the Holy Grail, which was known in Denmark already in the Viking period.

Hornslet church: A little angel in a medaillon above the window might represent the Grail with the blood of Christ, and the crowned man in the previous shown picture is the deadly sick king who can only survive in the virtue of the Holy Communion, and the knight to the left of the king is Percival riding out in search of the Grail. The war scene belov is one of the famous battle scenes from the legend's compulsory material.

Hornslet church. A dramatic battle scene in front of a town wall or a castle. In one of the castle towers an archer is shooting an arrow with great power.

Hornslet church. A part of the battle scene.

What the fine English artist supposedly painted in a little newbuilt church in Jutland in the middle of the 1100s is now one of very few medieval representations of the Holy Grail on Danish ground.

photo Skibet church + Hornslet church 2003/2007: grethe bachmann 
Trap Danmark: Vejle amt
Gyldendal og Politikens Danmarkshistorie, bind 4
Gyldendals bog om Danmarks kirker.
Gyldendals bog om Danske kalkmalerier.

The Ravning Bridge, Vejle River Valley

Viking Period
The Ravning Bridge

The Ravning Bridge is a bridge from the Viking period, built in oak in ab 979 at the same time as Trelleborg, Fyrkat, Aggersborg and Nonnebakken, all being counted to Harald Bluetooth's ruling period. Seemingly they lost their military significance and fell into decay after ab. 5 years of use. The Ravning bridge was discovered in 1953; it is situated 10 km south of Jelling in Vejle River Valley and has a natural connection to the longitude road of Middle Jutland, called Hærvejen (The Army Road) and to the old roads southwards. The bridge is 760 metres long and 5 metres broad, and the building was characterized by an impressing accuracy. The sequences of the bridge only differed up to 5 cm from a straight line.

photo 240307: grethe bachmann

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Dark Variety of Silver-washed Fritillary in Bjerge skov south of Horsens.

Argynnis paphia: Silver-washed Fritillary/ Kejserkåbe; 
dark variety :  Argynnis paphia f. valesina
an orange male meets the valesina

In the month of  July the Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)  is easy to observe in Bjerge/Bjerre skov, a forest south of Horsens. On this day in mid July there were numbers of the pretty orange male flying around among the brambles. The Danish name is Emperor's Robe, and the beautiful deep orange colour with the spots and stripes would fit an emperor very well.
But suddenly came a dark variety, which we had never seen before.There was even a date between an orange male and a dark silver-washed female upon the road. 

This dark variety was named by a famous English lepidopterist Frederick William Frohawk, who named it after his daughter Valezina and called it Argynnis paphia f. valesina.  This spectacular form occurs in a small percentage of females. It is quite distinctive in flight looking like an overgrown ringlet and has the common name of the Greenish Silver-washed Fritillary.

Argynnis paphia f. valesina
Frohawk was the author of Natural History of British Butterflies (1914), The Complete Book of British Butterflies (1934) and Varieties of British Butterflies (1938).  At seven he spotted and caught a rare Pale Clouded Yellow butterfly.  In ab. 1880 Frohawk concentrated on illustration and obtained his first commission for illustrating The Field. Frohawk was encouraged in his work by Lord Walter Rotschild, who later bought his water-colours of butterflies His butterfly collections are now part of the Rothschild collection in the Natural History Museum at London.

Argynnis paphia f. valesina

Silver-washed Fritillary/Kejserkåbe

The Silver-washed fritillary /Kejserkåbe in Denmark:
The spread of the Silver-washed fritillary is somewhat dispersed in Denmark. It has disappeared from large parts of Jutland and Funen. It was earlier widespread in hardwoods in all parts of Denmark.

Problems: The silver-washed fritillary is found in forest glades - and such glades should not be either drained, fertilized or sprayed with pesticides - but hay harvesting and extensive grazing during period would be beneficial. Livestock in the forest is also beneficial,since it brings light and warmth and improved conditions for the violet, which is the host plant of the Silver-washed fritillary.

In the last time of their flight period the Silver-washed fritillary flies often to other habitats, sometimes to residential areas.

The Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia)  is on the Danish red list, but it is neither protected or listed in Denmark.

Source: Fugle og Natur, Michael Stoltze; British wikipedia, 
photo: Bjerge/Bjerre skov July 2014: grethe bachmann