Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How Far So Far?

We seem to have covered the coast of Scandinavia rather well

Jelling and Ega (with a circle on top of the 'a')

reconstruction as it may have been painted
markers indicating the original ship shaped structure
Denmark does good megalith! We dropped in to Jelling yesterday to see the magnificent rune stones erected by King Gorn and Harald Bluetooth around the 10th century. They are located between two massive burial mounds as is the church. It was interesting to note there was once a gigantic ship shaped structure overlying the site. 
church between the mounds
The stones are now encased in large glass cabinets which I presume are to protect them from the elements.
shame it doesn't have a glass roof as it makes for rubbish shadowy pics

We had heard how lovely Aarhus was so headed off to check it out for ourselves. Well!! I'm not sure if we are missing something but it was a bit hideous and we did not stay long. There is a lot of building work going on and it was massively hot but the whole place seemed a bit rough and frantic so we had a quick whizz around and headed north to a beach.

We found Ega (with a circle on the 'a') which was absolutely gorge and only about 12 km from Aarhus. The sea was calm, there a was a jetty to swim from and people were walking out in the water for around 100 metres as the water was very shallow. A very idyllic spot so we stayed the night and started the day with a lovely swim in the still warm water. We are now at another beach, Gjerrild Nordstrand, which is another lovely spot. The clouds are gathering so there may be a storm. Graham refuses to play dominoes which is very boring but has managed to get some rather slow wee fee. He seems to have more luck with wee fee when we're in the middle of nowhere than in cities!

I am swiftly running out of wine so it may be time to start heading back. The beer is good here though. Maybe Silkeborg tomorrow.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Loving the South Danish Islands, Megalithic Monuments and Swimming in the Sea

It’s not every day you come across a megalith with a jazz concert happening next door. And cars parked virtually on top of it.
megalithic car parks R Us
The island of Mon is like a mini paradise to us – megaliths galore, lovely beaches, restaurants and all the usual motorhome services free of charge. The megaliths consist of mainly chambered burial mounds of all shapes and sizes. Some of the burials have terraces, one we found had two parallel passages and some huge (very long) long barrows.
Kong Humbles Grav
Hunting these ancient monuments down takes us off the beaten track and down narrow country lanes but sometimes we can only get a glance of the megalith from Dickie but can’t find anywhere to stop. Today we island hopped through Falster and Lolland to Langeland to visit Kong Humbles Grav another very impressive long barrow. On the way, Tommy (our very clever Sat Nav), has repeatedly told us that there are ‘Megaliths in 500 meters’ some of which we caught a glimpse of – they looked like huge chambered tombs but they were inaccessible.
There are some rather fabulous churches here as well. The frescoes are rather fun.
from Fane Fjord Kirke

Fane Fjord or Elmelunde -both have similar frescoes

We ended the day on the beach at Ristinge on the south coast of Langelande. 
the white stone is very important on this 100 mtr long barrow

trolls might like to live here

couldn't get any closer
Temperatures were up in the mid 30s so a dip in the warm waters was just what the doctor ordered. A great way to start the day before brekky too.
The milometer tells us that we have now covered over 6000 miles on this trip …..and plenty more to go.

Denmark has a lot going for it – we are enjoying the dark nights – the 24hours of daylight up north  got a little tiring after the novelty had warn off!  We also like affordable food (including Danish pastries) and cheap diesel – around £ 1.02 a litre!

p.s If you want your Tommy to tell you when you are near a megalith, Google Megaliths UK (for a modest fee) will give you access to their comprehensive, downloadable database which can be installed on most Sat Navs.  We have found this useful and fun all over Europe although listed megaliths were a little sparse in Northern Sweden. The list of Aires (parking places for motorhomes) we installed on Tommy has also proved invaluable during this trip and has often taken us to lovely, free places to stay that have not been listed in any of our ‘official’ guides. 


We are currently parked at the marina in Fredericia. Mr Fluffy is fishing (fruitlessly) and I’m recovering from the boiling hot walk into town we had earlier. It’s gorge to have wee fee as I can catch up with ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ and update my podcasts…am hooked on ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Fish’ and Helen and Ollie’s ‘Answer Me This’.
Tomorrow Arhus...I think.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Mons Burial Mounds, Churches and Beaches

As we are rather big fans of a megalith or two we decided to come to the island of Mons (with a stripe through the 'o') as it is burial mound central. It is also home to rather fabulous frescoes in its churches and some rather Dover-esque white cliffs. 
planning the 3km walk - sigh
Sprovedyssen
how romantic
Burial mound at Elmelund church
a female serpent to tempt Adam and Eve

Klekkende Hoj - double entrance and two chambers

Off to Roskilde for Viking Ships (made in Ireland)

one of the 5 Viking boats found in the waters off Roskilde
Approximately a thousand years ago some Viking decided to overload 5 of their old ships with stones and deliberately sink them to block a shipping channel. This was part of the defence system for the port of Roskilde. The remains of these boats form the main impressive exhibit in the Viking ship museum. We were surprised to discover that the Vikings built the largest of the 5 boats in Dublin. It’s an interesting place with exhibits of ropemaking, blacksmithing, jewellery making and rides on replica Viking ships.
viking cargo ship

probably one for a royal person

Roskilde was once the capital of Denmark hence the very large brick built church stuffed with royal memorials and works of art. It felt, to us, more like a gigantic mausoleum than a cathedral. Despite the extravagant carvings, paintings and the organ music etc the church was devoid of atmosphere – it felt dead. Interestingly there is a large standing stone in front of the building so it must have been a sacred site well before it was a cathedral. There are also a couple of healing springs nearby.
cathedral with standing stone

Copenhagen

We had a couple of days in a very warm Copenhagen staying at CityCamp.co.uk. Mr Fluffy named the campsite’s manager the Fuhrer as he was very officious and precise but he was also very friendly if you towed the line and followed his rules. It was a short walk into the city and on Day One we visited Christiania the Free City. I had been here several years ago with my friend Julie Polkes and we had met one of the guys who was on the running committee and it seemed all very interesting. Maybe I am a bit older but it seemed a lot seedier and dirty this time around. Day Two we pretty much walked the whole of the city. After a lunch in Ny Havn (Graham had pickled herring and raw egg yolk – yucch) we did a canal boat tour with a fairly disinterested guide giving a mixture of Danish, German and English commentary on the city. It was a good excuse to sit down and, despite the massive heat, was a pleasant way to while away an hour.
Ny Havn from canal boat
Our visit to the modern kunst museum left Mr Fluffy cold so we continued on our walk back to Dickie hoping for a beverage by the waterside, which was absolutely packed with nubile Danish youngsters variously sunning themselves and jumping into the canal for a quick dip. After being totally ignored by the waiter at our chosen bar we wizzed back to Dickie to consume a much cheaper beverage purchased at the local supermarket. Not as glamorous, but better than getting annoyed at the inattentive waiter. And we were serenaded by a German Van playing extremely loud rock and roll music while displaying a vibrant green lighting strip on the exterior of the van, presumably to enhance the musical extravaganza playing in their Dickie.
The Little Mermaid surrounded by tourists - and my nostrils





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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Farewell Sweden

Farewell Sweden, we loved your varied scenery, swimming in your lakes, staying in your woods, walking on your beaches, not hitting your elks on the roads, and enjoying your beautiful weather.
Dickie in the Woods
But the time has come to return to Denmark and visit some of the places on the East of the country that we did not see on our outbound visit. Today we drove over the long and elegant bridge that turns into a tunnel in the middle of the sea between Sweden and Denmark. It cost around 45 SKr but was well worth it for the hassle-free trip to the outskirts of Copenhagen.click to watch short video of crossing .

We were soon parked up in City Camp a couple of kilometres from the town centre. This is the first proper campsite we have been on in a long time and the first time we have had a mains electricity supply for weeks. Dickie has performed very well ‘off grid’ thanks to the solar panel on his roof keeping his batteries topped up when we are parked but as the power is included in the campsite price we might as well us it and save a little gas.
checking out the kunst
We thought it was the stifling heat from the sun that was making us feel a little strange as we walked around the 70s ‘hippy’ commune of Christiania until it dawned on us that the cloud of cannabis smoke that looms over the place may well be having some effect. Graham’s beard blended in well with the locals and the ambience of the place took him back to his youth (a very long time ago).

the bridge
Copenhagen is enjoying the hot weather (36 deg C when we last looked) and hundreds of youngsters are lying about on the river banks showing off their bronzed bodies and jumping in the river to cool off. Mr Fluffy has even purchased a new pair of swimmers (to get his upper legs brown) so he may be joining the youth of Denmark tomorrow and diving into the harbour.
new swimmers







Viking Stone Ship

Ales Stenar (Ale’s Stones) is our first Viking Stone Ship – an amazing construction of 59 standing stones laid out in the shape a ship. It is thought that these ancient monuments were erected between 500 and 1000 CE although it is also thought that the construction incorporates stones from earlier Stone and Bronze Age monuments previously on the site. It seems that the stones are aligned on the winter and summer solstice sun rises and, rather like Stone Henge it can be used as an astrological calendar. Located high on the cliffs above the Baltic Sea it is simply beautiful in the afternoon sun - even with people climbing all over the stones.
a quartz stone at each end

port side

rather a big one

we saw a face in this one

Tonight we are in Ystad, a port town with an interesting medieval old town section. The official aire was packed, dusty and near a factory so we headed on up the road and found a beachside carpark with a few vans parked up so here we are at yet another free site.

Pine Trees and Rocky Outcrops

The campsites in the South of Sweden are packed to the gunnels with motorhomes, caravans and tents of all shapes and sizes which make them less than appealing to us but we had thought this would be the case during the summer holidays especially as the weather is so lovely. Luckily Scandinavia has a wonderful, friendly attitude to motorhoming which means that there is always somewhere nice to stay and usually at no charge. We can get water from churchyards or at the latrine emptying sites along the motorways.
excuse the shoes
Last night we stayed in a small grove of tall pine trees that is the official car park for a nature reserve called Tosteberga ängar near Langdon on the South West coast of Sweden. This is one of the many official, listed, motorhome aires in which visitors are welcome to ‘wild camp’.
cows cut off by the tide

lovely stones
There was only one other van over-nighting on the site. A marked trail from our lovely, temporary home took us over beautiful meadows and fields that were slowly being claimed by the sea. Rock boulders formed islands on which some cattle had been cut of by the spring tide. This delighted Kerriann who thinks that all farm animals are potential killers who will stalk and attack her as revenge for her carnivorous diet, but with the cattle safely contained on the island we could witness the amazing birdlife and nature’s displays of wild flowers unhindered.


This was one of our favourite motorhome stopovers and all free of charge.





Sunday, 20 July 2014

Baltic Song Contest

When the otherwise staid Swedish audience leapt from their seats to dance to Stashka's fantastic song 'Chce kochac / I Want To Love' I had a feeling she would be the winner. She cleverly enlisted the assistance of some of the local schoolboys to add their rousing marching band drums to the song - inspired! If you haven't heard it - give it a listen on this link.
Strangely, second and third place were taken by Sweden who had two entries Alien (3rd) - and Caroline Wennergren (2nd). They were both excellent but our favourites were Miss 600 from the UK who received a somewhat frosty reaction from the audience (she followed Stashka) and Lithuania's 'The Ball and Chain' who had a very upbeat dance number. It's a shame England is not massively popular in Europe as we hoped Miss 600 would be in with a chance.
Here is link if you'd like to check out the line up.
The whole thing was being televised in Poland so we're hoping we appeared on Polish television - we were just underneath the swinging camera and smiled excitedly every time it pointed in our direction so we can only hope that fame will follow.

We had a great time in Karlshamn and would recommend the Baltic Festival if you're in the area in mid July.
Bandaloca - German drummers - fantastiche!!
We're currently in the middle of a nature reserve and I'm most surprised that we can get wee fee as we are near nothing except trees and a beach. Mr Fluffy has just returned from a walk where he forgot to spray on his 'Man-So-Hard' and is covered in midge bites. I elected to stay in and do the blog....hurrah for bite-free me.

Rune stone

Rokstenen
it's quite a big one
On our way down to Jonkoping we stopped off at a rather massive rune stone in the grounds of a church. It's known as Rokstenen and has the world's longest rune inscription. It's located between Granna and Motala near Lake Vatten and for more information click on this link .
Heda church wall
in Heda church wall
Nearby was the lovely Heda Church which has a beautiful Madonna statue and two massive rune stones placed in the external walls.
bit of a dark photo but she really is lovely

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Karlshamn

hideous clown alert
After a night in Jönköping we decided it was time to head back to the coast so after stopping at a couple of pretty but boring aires at lakes we discovered Karlshamn, which just happens to be having its Baltic Festival this week. Hoorah! Whilst it's lovely being in Dickie it can get a bit samey so it's great when something excitingly out of the ordinary pops up.

jealousy of pert buttocks alert
The whole town of Karlshamn is taken over by free music, stalls and a parade (which featured my least favourite thing in the world...clowns).  Graham particularly enjoyed the Brazilian dancing girls with the pertest buttocks in the world. The highlight is the Baltic Song Contest which had some rather less-than-Baltic entrants like Spain and England but it was great fun and not quite as camp as Eurovision. Our favourites were Miss600 from England and the Lithuanianan entrant whose name escapes us, and the conductor from Poland wore a particularly lovely red crushed velvet jacket. The parade also featured a group from Uruguay, which, last time I looked, was no where near the Baltic Sea. There were line dancers, dancing monks,
slightly more modest than the Brazilians
and a group of cross dressing actors performing an English language version of a play based on Macbeth called MacBank.


We met some lovely Lithuanian ladies earlier in the day who gave us a sample of their traditional cooking...potatoes, a sour cream mixture and flax and hemp seeds. Very tasty, and we particularly loved the traditional dress they were wearing. Their potato pancakes were yummy too. We saw them boogieing to the Lithuanian songstress later in the evening. To find out more about the project the ladies in traditional dress are involved with they have a website which you can check out here .
Lithuanian ladies cooking their hearts out

Today I have subjected Mr Fluffy to the all day dog show which was a lot more fun this morning when they had the agility trials. It was most amusing watching a little King Charles Spaniel flying over the jumps. This afternoon's activities was a little akin to watching paint dry as the dogs were marched around some bowls whilst variously being asked to sit, lie down and keep still. Not quite as action packed but showed the dogs' obedience skills nicely. It wasn't all pooch central though as we went into town to watch the classic car race and mooch around the stalls.
Grasham's favourite classic car - a Saab converted to van


my favourite classic car - a Stingray


Tonight tension mounts as it's the final of the Baltic song contest. Who will win? We'll get back to you on that one.