Monday, September 24, 2012

A small town, a new lake and a peregrine falcon

Limfjordens Hus.
Limfjordens Hus, Scandinavian style
motor boat, view from window
Limfjordens Hus
I had a birthday, which everyone of us has each year of course - it was in September and we decided to go to the northernest place of the insula Salling, where I had heard about a new restaurant on the outmost tip of land at the small town Glyngøre - a town where my father spent many hours of his childhood, sailing and fishing. His home was south of Glyngøre at Nymølle, where his father was the owner of  Nymølle Tilework.

This new restaurant was built about a year ago, in 2011, a blackpainted wood building, the architecture like the stem of a ship, there is a gourmét kitchen, and a boutique where you can buy all kinds of delicacies (especially in connection to fish) and wine. The menu contains a lot of good dishes, especially fish, mussels and oysters. I like fish, but not mussels and oysters. The gourméts can have them in peace for me. The restaurant is called Limfjordens Hus. It was a very lovely place. We had a table by the panorama window with a view to the waters of Limfjorden where sailboats, fishing boats and little old motorboats came passing by. The sun was shining, it was a perfect day and the food was delicious.


The little cosy town Glyngøre has a unique placement upon an spit of land in the Limfjorden, a land tongue which creates several beaches,  surrounded by high hills, intersected by deep slopes, and giving fine possibilities for fantastic tours, both on land and water. There are some well-developed path systems, and from Glyngøre till the neighbouring town Durup is established a planete road with "the Sun" placed at the tourist bureau in Glyngøre and the outermost planete in Durup. Another biking and hiking path is the old railway, which runs from the harbour of Glyngøre through fields, forests and villages all the way to the town Skive in the southern part of Salling.

Glyngøre harbour
Glyngøre has its roots in water, both ferry and fishing have supported the people of the district since from time immemorial  and created revenues ever since Glyngøre was mentioned for the first time in 1445. The greatest development came with the railway in the 1870s. The Salling railway opened up for a revival of business and increase of population which caused that a church was consecrated in the middle of the town in 1919. Both the industry and the placement of the town at the fjord and the forest have caused that it has developed from two windswept fishing huts into a modern settlement.

The Limfjord-Oyster.
The most wellknown business in Glyngøre is the oyster and mussel  industry. Oysters were in Stone Age an important food - this is obvious when you see the mountains of shells in the several kitchen middens from Stone Age. Oysters became later (Ostrea edulis) a luxurious food, reserved the finest circles, and king Frederik II elevated in 1587 the catch of oysters to a monopoly under the royal house - a socalled kronregalie (regalia) which ordered all oysters, which were presence in Denmark, the property of the Crown. The oyster fishing was for many years a good income for the king, and up to our days it was the Danish monarchy and later the Danish state who leased the right to fish oysters in Denmark. Limfjorden is the only place with large presence today of the oyster, which earlier was common in all Danish waters, and the Ostrea edulis, the flat European oyster, is not being fished in other places than in Denmark. Denmark's export of Limfjord-oyster is ab. 15 million piece a year. The Limfjord-oyster has now got the MSC-mark.

The Blue Mussel.
But I cannot mention the oyster-business without saying something about the blue mussel ( Mytilus edulis) , for this is also one of Glyngøre's wellknown and important exports. 100 % of the Danish mussel-export has the renowned and international MSC-mark (Marine Stewardship Council). The blue mussels in the Limfjorden are cultivated between May and September, and about a couple of thousand tons are harvested each year, the mussels are produced sustainably without or with only little impact of the environment and the other mussel-populations. The whole Danish mussel-export is about 42.500 tons each year.

The Salling Girl
Now! I really had to give you a recipe after all this talk, but I cannot deliver it without copying someone's recipe, and this is not allowed I guess!

Sallingsund Bridge in the background

 The Salling Girl.
An artist (Erik Dahl Nygaard) has created the sculptures of 8 Salling-girls, a 2 meter tall bronze figure, they all wear stilettos. When I saw the sculpture of this girl outside the restaurant I wondered why she stood like that, looking like she had a scoliosis, but  well it must be the artist's idea of a young girl, but then it was because she had to balance on stillettos. The other 7 Salling girls are placed in various towns in the Salling district.  

 Grynderup Sø.
Public Planche from

In the afternoon  we went to a new lake which was re-established recently near Glyngøre. Grynderup sø (lake) is a nature restoration project. The purpose is to reduce the outlet of nitrogen into the Limfjorden and to create a better living for birds, animals and plants -  and to give people new possibilities of experiencing nature. The project has been carried through via voluntary agreements with the landowners. The main part of the area is still privately owned, while the Miljøministeriet (environment) has taken over ab. 80 hectare of the northernest part of the area, where the public probably will come. Bike- and hiking paths have been established, areas with tables and benches, parking places and primitive overnight places. Lookout towers give possibility to see the bird life, and in the northern end of the lake is a drawing- ferry in the narrowest place of the oblong lake.



red admiral
toad, a kid!
peregrine falcon, photo: stig bachmann nielsen.

The Peregrine Falcon.
There were still some flowers by the path along the lake, like toadflax and yarrow and some yellow ones, there were dragonflies, too fast for shooting, and there was a tiny, tiny toad, who was looking at us in a very suspicious way.  The elderberry had fruits, ready to pluck for elderberry juice for winter, but there was not enough for both me and the birds, so I let them be. And then - there it came, the highlight of the day - a streak in the air like a flash of light - the peregrine falcon - it came so fast that I saw nothing but a glimpse. But my son took a shot of the noble bird in its speed. And this falcon is really extremely fast. The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on earth when it is diving.

The peregrine falcon's maximum speed:
Speed is the falcon's forte. If birds of prey were airplanes, then the eagles, the buzzards, the kites would be the gliders, and the falcons would be the jets. Estimates of the maximum speed of a falcon dive are as fast as 273 miles an hour (440 km/h) based on analysis of motion-picture footage of a falcon in full vertical dive taken by the Naval Research Laboratory in England in WWII. Most biologists, however, estimate the falcon's maximum velocity at 150 to 200 miles an hour ( 240 to 320 km/h), which is still faster than any other animal on earth.
(from my article "Falconry in the Middle Ages" from August 2010, on the Thyra-blog) 

photo September 2012: grethe bachmann nielsen; stig bachmann nielsen,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Reply to DW: Caterpillar is the Elephant-Hawkmoth

I've had a question from D.W. about the caterpillar from the post about Brande and Gudenaa.:

It is an Elephant Hawkmoth/ Dueurtsværmer) and it is common in Denmark. Latin: Deilephila elpenor. I haven't got a photo of the adult moth, but you can find some good shots on Google. Some of the photos of the caterpillar are funny  - where it's lifting its little head.

"I am dangerous", it says.
Supposedly its look scares away birds and other animals because the enemies consider it's a snake. Its food are flowers from especially the willowherb family - in this case it was the Great Willowherb, but it's also fond of the fuchsia in the garden. If it is disturbed it takes on a threatening position and looks like a little cobra ready to strike.

Please try to watch this lille video of the Elephant-Hawkmoth , it's from 1999, but it's good.

Elephant-Hawkmoth eating fuchsias

 Although the caterpillar looks like a snake it turns into a pretty butterfly with pink colours (see Google). The species is common in DK. The caterpillar is found in water holes or in ditches along forest roads with willowherb. The adult butterfly is out flying in the summer period, but mostly at night.

Kind regards and thank you for your interest

photo Brande 2012: grethe bachmann

Friday, September 14, 2012

Common Poppy/ Korn Valmue and other poppy-species.

Papaver rhoeas: Common poppy or Field-poppy (Danish: Korn-Valmue)
Papaver argemone, Prickly poppy, (Danish: Kølle-valmue)
Papaver dubium, Long-headed poppy (Danish: Gærde-valmue )

Papaver somniferum, Opium -poppy (Danish: Opium-valmue)

The name Papaver is Celtic and means porridge = papa. .

The Common poppy/ Korn-Valmue (Papaver rhoeas) is a wild growing papaver usually with scarlet petals around a black center. It is the biggest of the three wild growing papaver-species in Denmark. It was earlier known as a weed in the corn. It's blooming in June-July. The fruits are capsules with many black seeds. The plant is slightly toxic to grazing animals. The seeds are harmless, but like the rest of the plant they contain a tranquillizer which is used in herbal medicine. 
The Common poppy is connected to light-open land, and since it came with the corn cultivation it prefers the conditions, which are found in the cultivated fields. Modern methods cause that the poppy seeds seldom follow the corn seeds, and it is more and more rare to see the Common poppy in the corn, but it is often found in ruderats in full sun. Various seeds in many colours have been developed - and all grades of duality of the flowers. They are often being cultivated as summer-flowers in the gardens.


The Long-headed poppy or Blindeyes /Gærde-valmue. (Papaver dubium) is a very undemanding species which prefers sandy soils without lime. It is widespread throughout Europe and America. It has four red petals with a dark central base. The two sepals fall off when the flower opens. The fruit is a long, soft and hairless capsule, often 2-3 times as long as it is broad. The Long-headed poppy grows in cornfields,  harbours, sometimes in dumps, edges of roads. It is also a feral. The flowers are blooming in June-July. The Long-headed poppy is an endangered annual plant, connected to cultivated plants, especially rye. Like many other weeds it has been declining because of changes in the agriculture. Many weeds have disappeared from the fields as a result of modern technology, effective herbicides and inspections of the corn seeds. The Papaver dubium and its doppelganger, the Papaver rhoeas grow in the same habitats, but the species can be differed in the shape of the capsules. The Common poppy has a round capsule, the Long-headed poppy an oblong capsule.

The Prickly poppy / Kølle-valmue (Papaver argemone) grows to 50 cm height, but is often lower, and usually it is a little branched in the top. The stem and the flower-stalks are hairy and the sections of the leaves are without a sting. The capsule is almost club formed, which gave the plant its Danish name Kølle-valmue. The capsule is hairy with stiff, often few thick hairs. The seeds are small, kidney-shaped and contain plant oil. They are used for "birkes" , (poppy seeds in bread) Confusion:  the Long-headed poppy has shorter and smooth capsules and a clear sting on the section of the leaves. The Prickly poppy is annual - and it is often a winter-annual: it sprouts in the autumn and develops next spring. The flowers are without nectare, but they've got lots of pollen and they are pollinated by insects, which go for the pollen. The Latin name argemone is an ancient Greek plant name. The species grows in farmland, in railway terrain and other ruderats, in the edge of roads, in gravel pits and alike. The Prickly poppy/Kølle-valmue is common in most of Denmark.

Opium-poppy/ Opium-valmue (Papaver somniferum) is an annual herbal plant with a stiff upright growth. The solitary flowers sit in the top of the stem, they might be white or purple, but there are mixed forms too. The flowers are blooming in June-July. The flowers loses the two sepals when the flower arrives. Inside the flower are many stamens and one single stigma. The petals fall off after pollination and the fruit capsules swell while they gradually ripen. The capsule contains many seeds. The plants contains various opiates (morphine up till 20 %) which made it interesting in medicine of earlier times ( laudanum was an extract from the plant juice) - and later interesting for drug addicts of today.
Illegally the plant is cultivated for production of opium.

Cultural history
Papaver somniferum has been cultivated for such a long time that it is impossible to point out its original habitat, but since it has followed the other crops, which were cultivated from neolitic times it is assumed that its origin is the eastern Turkey, northern Iraque and northwest Iran. The plant still grows in eastern Turkey together with fx barley, fennel, flax, rye, persian wheat etc. The dried juice is used for making opium, from where the opiates can be produced. The seeds (birkes) are important food and contain vegetable oils, which are used in bread and salads all over the world. 


The basic form of the cultivated Opium poppy is unknown, but it is probably close to the under-species which is found in the western section of the Mediterranean, like the Papaver somniferum ssp. setigerum. The Opium-poppy is one of our oldest cultural plants, and it was mentioned for the first time upon a tablet with cuneiform writing from ab. 4.000 BC. Here were descriptions of how to produce medicine from the plant.The Sumerians described the  Opium-poppy as the Plant of Joy, and in ancient Greece the capsule of the plant was a symbol of Morpheus, God of Dreams, Thanatos, God of Death and Nyx, Goddess of Night. This collected symbol-power of dreams, sleep and death are repeated in several pictures from the Antiquity. In Egypt it is often possible to follow Opium mixtures back to the time around 1800 BC, and in the Roman Empire the Opium-poppy was regarded as a medicine of the rich. The early Christianity regarded sickness as a punishment from God, and from the 4th century it was forbidden to use opium as a pain-killer. Charlemagne renewed this prohibition in year 810, since the poppy-juice was considered to be the work of the Devil. But opium came back to Europe together with the Arab medicine.
Blood in the fields and poppies at the moon. 

The many seeeds from the capsules keep the germination capacity for a long time in favorable conditions. A field can unexpectedly become blood red from thousands of poppies. In some places those scarlet poppies are explained as being the blood from soldiers in a battle which happened in Denmark, especially in places where there have been battles with the Swedes in the 1600s. In a certain field at the castle Clausholm near Randers are unusually many large, scarlet poppies. Here lies a Spanish soldier who was executed for insubordination. A Catholic legend says that poppies grew up from the blood of Christ under Golgatha, and since then the flower was a symbol:" the healing, sin-forgiving life's herb."

Those people who live on the moon have bats as cows and poppies as corn, and from the moon came both the bat and the poppy down to the earth. At the island of Tåsinge south of Funen the children are warned by their parents against plucking the poppies, called the Devil's herb. If you smell three times to a poppy you'll get a cramp!! The poppies start blooming after the first thunder-rain. If the flowers close their heads the weather will be bad. The capsule of the poppy was often placed upon old gravestones as a symbol of death, who is the sister of Sleep. The sculpture of the angel called Night (by Thorvaldsen) has poppy capsules in her hair.

The poppies were cultivated for their beauty, magic and application as medical plants through centuries. The Egyptians considered the poppy as an important plant in funerals where it was the symbol of eternal life. Dried flowers from poppies were found in excavations of burials more than 3000 years old. In the ancient Rome the juice from the poppy was used against witchcraft. The Romans also considered the poppy juice as the best means to ease the pain of love. The ancient Greeks regarded the poppies as symbols of fertility and gave the goddes of fertility garlands of poppies. The Romans consecrated the herb to the corn goddess Ceres, who taught man how to sow and harvest. Poppy seeds were said to be good to use in food in order to secure the love between two people, and the seeds were sprinkled upon bread before baking, which tradition is still alive. The poppy seeds were by the Greeks meant to be strengthening - therefore they mixed the seeds with wine and honey and gave them to the Olympic athletes.

Folk Medicine:

medicine jar from 1573, Viborg Museum
Harpestræng ab. 1300:
The best poppy for medicine has white flowers - when you scratch the unripe capsule, juice comes out, this has to be gathered - others use the juice from crushed capsules. The seed oil gives a good taste, it works soporific as a decoction smeared in the face. The juice from the wild poppy, mixed with wine, stops diarrhea, gives sleep and relieves a cough. Crushed leaves with wine helps a closed throat and "the evil fire" = a skin disease. The capsules cooked with honey gives sleep, drives away coughs and is good against diarrhea and hoarseness; mixed with rose oil and rubbed upon the head all pains go away; it works soporific;  placed with saffron in the ear it relieves ear ache.  With saffron and woman's milk upon the feet against scabies, placed in anus it gives sleep. 

if you cannot sleep the juice is rubbed upon the temples. The Opium-poppy crushed and mixed with milk and oat meal in a gruel which has to be eaten in the morning three days in a row if you suffer from insomnia;  crushed with wine and seeds from henbane as a patch upon the head against dizziness. He/she who drinks the milk from the plant while fasting does not have "the lust of the flesh" for three days - also if the milk juice is mixed with the juice from the Euphrasia (Eyebright).   

Christiern Pedersen 1533: 
Seeds from the Opium-poppy and henbane mixed with egg-white and woman's milk work soporific, also if the head is rubbed with water decoction; the seeds were part of a patch for an internal abscess; seeds and leaves crushed with rose oil in a patch upon a sick liver; poppy crushed with millet and cooked in goat- or cow milk and mixed with buck's tallow to use in case of a diarrhea; the crushed leaves baked in a cake and eaten against blood sot = dysentery; beer or wine decoction from Opium-poppy seeds, valerian and fennel to drink against lower back pain; seeds crushed in woman's milk cooked with wax in a patch upon gout, which is also a part of a cover upon the artery of the arm in case of malaria; the leaves crushed with vinegar for a cover upon the shingles.  

old pharmacy, Viborg Museum
Henrik Smid 1546:
The Opium-poppy seeds to take against dizziness; they work soporific and calming - " it is allowed to give children these seeds in porridge or milk when they are restless and won't sleep." (!) The juice works the same but it was stronger and more expensive, and "if it is used internally it migh harm more than it helps" says Henrik Smid. The seeds and the juice to drink with wine stops a bad cough and a diarrhea. the poppies "are all good and useful for wild and restless people who cannot sleep, put them as a patch upon the forehead and the temples;" a tampon moistened with the juice and put into the nose works soporific; a water decoction from the capsules is healing as well, it might also be used as a cover and relieve "the wild fire" = skin disease.  The decoction or the juice (Opium) mixed with almond oil to drip into a painful and whizzing  ear. 

Simon Paulli 1648
 The Opium-poppy seeds were used according to "the Art of the Pharmacist" against rage and the folly of the head; emulsions used against hefty fever and to make the patient fall asleep. (Here comes a warning to the nurses who give the babies Opium in order to make them fall asleep  - " for the child might fall deeply asleep and never wake up again ... and this will make their good and dear parents very sad". The capsules could be used for a soporific foot bath, and if dill was added it worked even better. It was also said that Opium was not meant to be used by the common man, for "it is a medicament which cannot be used by someone who don't understand the art of medicine." For a long period a syrup - which was also known among laymen - was used by the doctors against pleurisy. 

Both the Opium-poppy and the other poppy-species were used by laymen, and they treated almost every disease, tumors, viper bites, inflammations, embryonics, toothache, rejuvenating etc. -  and if you washed your hair with a strong decoction, blonde hair would be pretty red and darker hair would get a reddish glow. 
Children were playing with the poppy flowers, they turned the flower and bent it backwards so it was like the body and head of a little doll. A petal could be placed across thumb- and forefinger upon a clenched fist and  then beaten with a little crack. 
The juice of the petals dye red.

Source: V. J. Brøndegaard, Dansk Etnobotanik, folk og flora, bd. 2, Rosenkilde og Bagger 1979; Anemette Olesen, Danske klosterurter, Aschehoug 2001; Danmarks fugle og natur, 2012, Felthåndbogen 2012. 

photo Djursland, Nordjylland og Viborg Museum 2009/2011/ 2012:grethe bachmann

photocopy Bertel Thorvaldsen, skulptur-medaillon: Natten.  



Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Huge Dog - and Two Attentive Horses.......

I saw a huge dog lately. It was so muscular that it was moving like in slow-motion as if its muscles were too heavy. The photos are taken from inside the car. I dared not go outside although I was on a good distance. I was a sissy. But I felt it like I had to beware a lion in the lion park at Billund.
The horses are attentive. ....
This slow and maybe lazy dog might be able to move fast - like a heavy bear. Have you seen a polar bear when it's moving fast ? I didn't want to be noticed outside the car by that dog.

What kind of dog is it? I googled the Mastiff, and it looks like the English Mastiff, doesn't it? The owner looks so thin and little next to it. If you had just seen this dog and the way it was moving. Like a predator on guard. Maybe it's a nice dog. Like the Great Dane. It's a nice dog, but it doesn't move like this one.

they are  whinnying and shaking the mane.

 Notice the horses. They are very attentive from the first beginning. They stand in a defensive attitude - and one horse shakes its head so the mane is flying! (if you enlarge you can see it)

Maybe it's a nice dog, but I wouldn't depend on that.


He is so little isn't he? The owner I mean............

photo Viborg August 2012: grethe bachmann

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Lake at Brande Power Station and the Skjern Aa-River

Canoeing the Skjern Aa- river.
North of the Jutland town Brande lies a lake, which is a damming of the large Skjern Aa-river - this is a valuable recreative area with a rich bird life and a nature path around the lake. Each summer is a busy traffic of canoes with young people or families, passing the lake and lifting the boats back down to the river by the old power station, which still delivers some power to a section of the town.

It is a very popular sport to rent a canoe and sail down the river-system of Skjern Aa. The tour starts at Vester Mølle ab. 5 km south of Nørre Snede. Even the unexperienced will quickly learn to steer the light boat, made of aluminum. People get safety vests and paddles and a description of the tour at the start, and if it's a family with children, they can get a children's chair, which is being placed in the canoe. The whole tour is about 80 km, but it is up to each one, how long they want it to be. The canoes can be rented for a day or a few days or a week, and the river can be followed all the way to Skjern harbour. It is a popular holiday trip for a family.

A tour along the Skjern Aa-river gives the best conditions of getting acquainted with a nature, which is not seen in other ways. The tour is filled with both crooked courses and surprises. Canoeing along the river is like a holiday in a scout style and a nature experience to the whole family. It is a very varied route which passes many hairpin turns and beautiful lakes and offers special furnished overnight places. 

The river of Skjern Aa has its source in Tinnet Krat at the Jutland Ridge only a few hundred meters from the other big river, Gudenaa. Skjern Aa is Denmark's water richest river, which often transports up till 50.000 m3 water a minute. The river is passing close to the city Skjern (named after the river), and it has its outlet in Ringkøbing Fjord at the Skjern Aa delta, which is Denmark's only river-delta. Large areas here are pointed out for a National Park.

At the Brande lake and the Skjern Aa-river on a day in August.  
Flowering Rush in the lake
"I am dangerous", it says.

From the parking place is a path through a small forest down to the lake, and in the forest we saw a very large caterpillar. I don't know which butterfly, but possibly one of the moths. It was so large and you could almost hear it chewing the small leaves of a flower!

Before reaching the lake I enjoyed a fine look through the trees to the dark green water and some delicate pink flowers, looking like little chandeliers. The English name is flowering rush or grass rush, in Danish it is called Brudelys, meaning "The Light for a Bride". And this must be the chandelier for the wedding of the elf princess, don't you think?

Monk's Hood
We came out from the path and thereby out into the sun and the pretty view across the lake - we could hear the canoeing families by the power station. They seemed to have a lovely time. The language was Dutch. They know all about channels!

I saw suddenly a blue flower in the middle of the grass at the edge of the lake. It was the Monk's Hood, a very fitting name for this pretty blue flower, but also with warning names like women's bane, leopard's bane, wolf's bane or Devil's helmet. Deadly poisonous, but often used as an ornamental plant in old gardens. It must have strayed from a garden nearby.


view from the nature path.

Policeman's Helmet
We saw no birds that day, maybe it was too hot. It was just after midday, and they were probably sleeping.  Well, there were many plants anyway. There is a special place by the river Skjern Aa, where we have been before, it's a good resting place for a little coffee break! In a corner of the river.

Now when we're in August there were the lots of what is mostly known as willowherbs, Danish name Dueurt (the Dove's Herb) with the pretty dark pink flowers, lots and lots of flowers. Everything is so vigorous now, also large groups of the policeman's helmet ( Indian balsamin), which is on the Danish list of potential invasive species.

Another plant with the name of the Devil like the before mentioned Devil's Helmet is Devil's Bite, except that it is not poisonous. Bees and butterflies love it. It is an ancient medicinal plant, which was known since the 4th century. A old legend says that the devil used the plant for his evil deeds, until virgin Mary stopped him. As a revenge the devil bit off the root of the plant. The plant is easy to draw up, if you want to see the bitten root.
Devil's Bite  -  lying down.

The sneezeweed ( nyserøllike)  often grows together with Devil's bite. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The essential oil of the plant is used in herbal medicine and the leaves are used as an insect repellent. The plant is poisonous to cattle, sheep and horses. 

The last is a big group of the goldenrod which is found in many variations and in many countries. At that point I was so tormented by the heat that I had to find shadow on the other side of the road in the forest. And I was replacing the coffee with water.  See you later!

photo august 2012: grethe bachmann


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Those Lovely Horses............

 It was on a very hot day in Mols Bjerge. The air humidity was high and the horses looked like they were suffering a little from the heat, one looked as if it couldn't keep its eyes open.  They were all staying in the same spot under the trees. So it's not only us humans who are plagued by the heat!! It was one of those days with thunder on its way. 

They are so lovely those Icelandic horses.

photo Mols Bjerge August 2012: grethe bachmann.

The daughter who won't lift a finger in the house is the same child who cycles madly off in the pouring rain to spend all morning mucking out a stable.  ~Samantha Armstrong