Wet and Windy Sweden. 19th June.

The trees are dancing vigorously outside my bedroom window with the branch’s hitting the glass throughout the night. Depending on which weather forecast app I look at, there is a choice of weather ranging from 100% rain to 3% rain tomorrow. Going on the accuracy of today’s forecast, which said no rain, as a tool for planning, it’s limited.

So first time in Sweden for me. Given the wind I’d anticipated the passage over from Denmark to have been a little rough, however it was surprisingly smooth. Departing Frederikshavn at 2pm we arrived to a dull and heavily overcast Gothenburg at 5.30pm. The whole trip went largely un-noticed due to being in conversation with a remarkable lady.

Several cyclists had gathered in Lane One waiting to board the Stenaline ferry, a large ship that is capable of carrying many coaches, wagons and all manner of vehicles. I fell into conversation with a solo lady cyclist. That conversation continued thought out the crossing. Yoya is a remarkable lady and after four hours of chatting we both agreed it was as though we had know each other for much longer. She horse rides, sails and cycles and has dealt with a life changing event in a way that you can only be in awe of. Her current adventure is cycling around the North Sea. This involves following the coasts of Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, across to the Orkney Isle then to Scotland and down the east coast of England.

Yoya, it was great to meet you and I do hope we will be able to have that meal in York in September. You have my number and if there are any places in the UK you are in two minds whether to visit, do contact.

As I write this the heavy rain continues. I’m about 7km out of the city and would like to have a look around the sights. Could be going to get wet.

A few of the wagons on yesterdays ferry:-

And before they arrived:-

Having returned from the city, dry, blown dry that is, I’ve had an enjoyable day. Initially I was sceptical, any ‘hop on- hop off’ bus or boat tour that includes Starbucks and Hard Rock cafe has to be dredging what they can offer the tourist. However I found some excellent places, including a cafe, ( but neither of the above mentioned).

Gothenburg has it’s own Covent Garden style building, the Saluhallen and a fish market, which certainly doesn’t look like Billings Gate.

The Feskekorka:-

Opened in 1874, the architect, Victor von Gegerfelt designed a unique roof trusses system to improve food hygiene standards. (Don’t know how).

I then found an excellent collection (fleet) of ships of all kinds moored on a quey. Included was a mine layer and other navy vessels and a lighthouse ship.

Further on there was the sailing ship Viking, which was very impressive.

As you can see from the flag the wind had been strong today. There were smaller boats too, kept out of water. An example of a Gothenburg Barge. At one time there were 1,600 of them and worked at unloading vessels until the 1960’s. The motorised life boat, Adolf Brett. This type of vessel slowly replaced the rowing lifeboat from 1935.

Other noteworthy places are, The Opera House, the gardens of The Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of the best preserved 19 century parks in Europe. Not one, but two multi functional stadiums adjacent to each other, with this bronze ( yes, more bronze) statue of Gunnar Gren, who played for IFK Gothenburg and AC Milan. He was also a coach.

To finish today’s missive. I thought it best to get these out of the way to perhaps in some inexplicable way, reduce the chances of getting any more:-

Oh, found another:-

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A day around Frederikshavn. 17th June.

Slept late then enjoyed an excellent breakfast. No man with a gun this morning. Contacted daughters, grandchildren and very supportive wife. I left the hotel late morning to visit several local sights and am now sheltering from a deluge.

The sky minutes before the rain arrived.

I had had a quick look around the botanical gardens before making a dash for shelter. The roses in the Rosenhaven were particularly impressive. The quirky were also present with a number of unusual carvings.

Weird tree man near the Byens hyggeligste restaurant.

Troglodytes emerging from the ground.

Last night, having borrowed an umbrella from the receptionist as protection against a similar down pour, I enjoyed a good meal and beer. I’m pleased I enjoyd it. The Chilli and beer cost 35 pounds, (the beer was 8 pounds). It warranted a photo, so here it is:-

Today, having sheltered with others in a park amphitheatre, the sun returned after an hour and I returned to the Bangsbo museum and botanical gardens. The sun was catching the light in the water that still fell from the Beech trees. There were surprises around each corner. Johannes Boolsen’s collection of stones, including a 1,000 carved stones from 3,000BC.

A deer park with two of the four species found in Denmark, Red and Fallow. The other two being Sika and Roe.

The museum is housed in this remarkable building.

Back in Fred. I saw the Martello Tower. Historically this building stored gunpowder, built in 1686 to 1690, the first floor is a cannon deck. Whilst the ground floor is now a museum. It was strategically important for the Danes during the war against Britain from 1807 to 14.

Having a few days off from cycling seems strange, almost alien. Once I’ve seen the sights, I am at a loss what to do. I’ll be in Sweden for about a week. Then Norway! So far, rough calculations say I’ve ridden 6,500km, with another 2,000km to complete.

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A Rude Awakening. 16th June.

” Hey! You in there, you need to go! Now!”. I was fast asleep, was it a dream? The aggressive demand was repeated. I unzipped the tent to face a man holding a gun with a cross face. Somehow me being in this enormous field, interfering with no body and leaving only an indentation in the grass annoyed him to the extreme. “I’ll be gone in 30 minutes”, I said. He turned and walked off. This was the first time since starting this trip two and a half months go and having wild camped 90% of that time, I’ve been challenged. The three guys in Belgium checking the field for fawns before the hay harvest, were surprised but they could not have been nicer.

Although all the signs and forecast said rain would be here today, fortunately it hasn’t arrived. Otherwise packing up would have taken longer and Mr Angry may have become very angry.

In anticipation of the rain and having been kicked off Mr Angry’s field ( I presume it was his), I’ve arrived in Frederikshavn by 7:30. Anne has booked me into a hotel for two night’s prior to getting the ferry over to Gothenburg on Monday afternoon. My right knee remains the same, so although it’s tempting to do a ride today, I think a few days off the bike would be advisable.

With my bent glasses now ‘unbent’ by a very kind optician and having booked my passage across to Gothenburg, (many thanks to the kind Stenaline girl who helped with the easy to use, complex, self help, suicide provoking ticket machine), I’m sitting on Palm Beach with an ice cream, only the third since starting out.

The palms may be viewed with good glasses to the right of the notice.

I’ve included this photo taken from the elevated walkway to Stenaline’s booking office, not because it’s any good, it’s not. These vehicles are unregistered new Volvo’s in Denmark waiting to be shipped to Sweden, mmm.

I now have nothing that smells of beer, but I am sleeping in a laundry.

The promised rain has arrived.

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Danish pastries in Jutland. 15th June.

Not to have at least one pastry a day whilst passing through Denmark would be a missed opportunity. I’m in Brondetslev, watching people come and go in a bakery. They are all so happy. Many workmen in company branded protective clothing. The sun is shining and the wind blowing hard from the west. Whilst cycling my clothes have dried from last night on me in the wind this morning.

I leave Brondetslev and go to Hjorring and onto Hirtshal, passing through Tornby Bjerg with it’s beautiful church.

I’ve mentioned before how well maintain church yards are. Even the gravel is racked into shell like patterns. I’ve also seen farmers harrowing their stone yards and drives. Not something you would see in the UK.

Now we all know the Danes have a history of being tough and use to the elements. Perhaps that’s why this structure is considered as protection against those elements.

For a small part of the ride today I rode with Amerly. He is cycling from Paris to Nordkapp and it was his first long and solo trip. He had left Paris three weeks ago, so that’s good going. He intended catching the ferry direct to Norway from Hirtshal to Kristiansand and going over the mountains to Bergen, then up the coast. We may meet up again north of Viggja, stranger things have happened.

I couldn’t help but take a photo of this cycle sign, reminiscent of days when cyclists weren’t twisted into contorted shapes and didn’t wear strange clothing.

Before looking around Hirtshal in the NW corner of Vendsyssel, I visited the lighthouse, first lit on 1st January 1863 and electrified (that was the translation) in 1939.

I had a great ride east, with the wind behind me through country lanes towards Frederikshavn. I started to look out for a place to sleep, but saw the sky rapidly turning grey. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, so best to be near Fred. It was a gamble as to how near to the town I came, strangers in tents in back gardens is pushing it a little. Then an ideal field presented itself. I rode straight through a tree archway into a hay cut field.

I think we both saw each other simultaneously. A German Shepherd dog can certainly out run an old git on a bike, especially black ones! (dog, not git, although after five days of tent washing I’m in need of a shower). As much as he would have liked to have savaged me, he was an obedient creature and responded to his owners command of ‘Leave!’. I left that field a little quicker than I entered it. The search for a place to rest continued.

I’ve found another hay cut field about a mile from town, it’s massive and have resolved the mystery that existed in Germany. Whether the rapid barking sounds heard in the evening and during the night were Racoons or deer. Three deer have just been spooked by my tent and stampede away. I got out of the tent to see them standing 200m away still making their noise. For such elegant creatures that pure aggressive sound seems alien.

I fell off my bike today. Totally my fault. I had missed the start of a cycle path and with feet still clipped in, decided that it was possible to cycle through the grass from the road onto the path. It wasn’t! There was an unseen ditch. Bent my glasses that were in my pocket, but that wasn’t the worst. I had my usual evening meal and beer on board. Not until I unpacked for the night did I see that the bottom of a pannier was a darker colour than usual. I can confirm that the panniers are very water/beer proof. Inside, my spare clothes had received an unscheduled wash. The tin had punctured, at it’s base of course. And the positive – not a single biscuit was broken and the yogurt remained in it’s pot.

Here are a couple more photos taken on this very enjoyable day. This is the harbour at Hirtshals –

Expressions, its the same the world over. This was in Hjorring, an entrance to a public building.

The quality of air is usually excellent, however this in Denmark and apart from Vikings, pastries and a few other items, pigs prevail! Their unique odour drifts across the landscape. The above photo is of a large pig complex. These ‘Pig Towns’ cater for everything any pig could wish for, but no where is the word ‘bacon’ mentioned. Links with Boxer, the old horse in George Orwell’s Animal Farm come to mind. The irony is that Napoleon was a pig ruling over the other animals. Enjoy your bacon the next time you have bacon sandwich.

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Four pounds 50p for a small cup of coffee. 12th June.

We jest about Scotsmen being prudent with their money and Yorkshiremen being similar to Scotsmen, but with the generosity removed. I am neither, anyway I don’t believe this trait is accurate, I know many generous Yorkshiremen and one Yorkshire woman in particular and a few Scots. And the reason for mentioning this is? I have no objection to paying for anything provided it reflects the quality of the produce or service. So a small coffee, served beside a stagnent stream, in the middle of town it not worth five pounds. Rant over! A prologue- the next coffee was three pounds and twice the size. “Enough said you old git”, I hear you say.

Anyway what does it matter after such a fantastic afternoon. This mornings was another quick 35 km, this time into Aarhus, a large town, clean, modern, with fewer older buildings than others, but a fine church and very fine Town Hall.

The first part of this afternoon’s ride was alongside busy roads. Then having turned onto the quieter Ronde road after the climb up to Hotnslet, I again missed the sign for the start of a cycle way. Due partly as a consequence of conditioning and there being no forward advisory signs, so if you are going more than 20km/h it can be easy to miss the start of them and then frequently having to jump a ditch or climb a bank to gain access. I had just missed the start of the cycle path after the Ronde junction when a lady pulled into the lay-by I was using to do a ‘u’ turn. She sounded her horn and called me over. She politely told me that there was a cycle path and I should be on it as the stretch of road was dangerous. Jane, thank you for putting me right. It was good to meet you, albeit briefly. I’m sure my wife won’t mind me saying, that you reminded me of an ex-girlfriend. The cycle path you directed me onto was excellent. It was from this point that the remainder of the 70km ride became a pure joy. Beautiful sea views, classic sports cars and petit timber homes.

I was south of the National Park Mols Bjerge, heading SE to Ebeltoft. Here there is the Fregatten Jylland, an impressive three mast frigget.

Although certainly not on a northerly route, I had wanted to visit this area, which is renowned for its outstanding beauty. It is difficult to say what makes it so appealing, no one particular thing that jumps out, it just all fits together to create a quiet serenity. I cycled around the whole peninsula, past boat yards and marinas that reminded me of my uncle’s town of Goolwa in South Australia. Then there were many small perfectly kept wooden houses tucked away down grass tracks that reminded me of childhood memories of my great grandparent’s home in Bembridge on the Isle of Wright in the UK.

The ferry terminal where ferries leave for Odden was deserted, but was the location for this shot:-

The pleasure continued, finding these delightful old houses at Elsegardevej:-

After a few directional difficulties involving no through roads, I found Boeslum Strand. And what a find! Almost certainly the best camp site to date. There was an excellent shelter, however it had two sleeping bags, giving the impression it was going to be occupied.

So I pitched the tent 20m from the beach and sitting at the provided table, had an evening meal looking out to sea with the warm evening sun on my back. Having also had a swim, life was near to perfection.

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There was a smile on my face before my eyes were open. 13th June.

No one minds being awake at 4am with a sunrise like this morning’s.

What a setting. The sea rippled onto the sand, Skylarks flew above and the sun shone. After another swim, breakfast was served at the same table as dinner. This time I looked out to sea with the sun on my face.

After 40km of riding I was looking forward to a coffee and perhaps a few calories. Ryomard, a reasonably sized town was dead, apart from the school children playing in the playground, (who were far too alive) and the gentleman who told me that the pub opened at 10am and the landlord would rustle up a coffee for me. Disappointing, especially as this cafe I photographed looked good, but didn’t open until 2pm! every day of the week. We need caffeine in the morning.

Neto came to the rescue with the calories, but I was coffee starved. So onto Auning, was this to be a repeat? I walked into a bar where six men were sitting, all eyeballed me, (had they never seen an unshaven middle aged man in Licra before?). I turned and left, letting the saloon doors swinging shut as my spurs spun on the heels of my cycle shoes. Mounting my bike I rode off down the sleepy street, aware that curtains were twitching. My hand stayed close to my bicycle pump.

The west end of Auning town was totally different, modern shops, like …. Neto, (every town has one!), clothes and art shops and just the best cafe I’ve been in for ages. Excellent coffee, top quality food, great music, great atmosphere. I stayed for over two hours!

The objective for today was to try and get back to the sea to repeat last night’s enjoyment. I cycled to Hevring it wasn’t suitable. The firing range is next door and they were spending a lot of tax payers money, given the rapid fire that could be heard and the vigilants the officer in the corner tower was exercising.

I saw this sign in ….

Best place really.

And this little lorry. Perhaps if he drinks up all his diesel he’ll grow into an sixteen wheeler wagon.

So onto the ferry at Hadsund:-

A calculated guess had me heading down a long and rough road to the sea at Havno. However the whole area had small timber houses dotted throughout the woodland with a high wired fence at the end. So retraced my ‘tyre’ prints and continued to find a suitable camp location. I’ve cycled 98km today. The last 25 in search of a site. I’m back in a wood which is miraculously free or mozzies.

Bike and bloke got a bit blown this afternoon heading uphill into a stiff head wind. The whole ride was exhilarating, but hard work. The wind was strong enough to create a nazel vortex. ‘Outdoorsy’ people know about this phenomena. Whether you are a hiker, runner, mountaineer, cyclist or anyone who has experience strong winds in your face, the wind negates the need for a hanky or tissue. This was the strength of the wind this afternoon. Weirdly it was quite enjoyable, the wind not the vortex effect.

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Great Expectations. 11th June.

Kolding has it’s attributes. There is Modavi, a vineyard that prides itself on producting modern Danish wines. Although it looks a newer town, it has existed for 750 years and there is also a sizable port. First records mention Kolding in 1231 in King Valdemar’s book of land taxation. With a castle being built in the 13th century came status and trading power. The castle, Koldinghus castle was a favourite with the Danish royalty for centuries.

In more recent history the royals moved to the capital and in 1807 a fire destroyed most of the building whilst soldiers who were normally billeted there during the war against England and Sweden were absent. Having been restored, today it is a museum which also hosts fine arts exhibitions.

Other buildings worthy of note are:-

The City Hall built 1873-75

Borch’s House built 1595 and is one of the grandest examples of renaissance town houses in Denmark.

Helligkorsgade 18 built 1589.

I’ve decided that although the tyres on the bike are not too worn, (I replaced the rear one not so long ago), it would reduce the chances of getting further punctures. So it was a late get away from Kolding. Breakfast was an excellent coffee in Greg Steen’s cafe and bakery. Had I known the coffee came with biscuitS! I wouldn’t have had the pastry- honestly.

There hasn’t been too much cycling today. This morning 35 km to Vejle, finishing with an exhilarating down hill ride into town, before the climb up to Jelling, where I spent the best part of the day, before my usual evening meal shop, this time in Horsens and then into this field of Rapeseed where I’m camped.

The second ride of the day was around 65km and was particularly enjoyable because on occasions a strong wind was behind me. 42km/h on the flat has a certain feel good factor. Although caution is needed as drivers don’t realise they need more distance to overtake you and those oncoming drivers rightfully get a little upset when they have to break. I should have explained that today there were very few cycle lanes.

The main event of the day has to be Jilling. As one of only about a thousand UNESCO World Heritage sites, this is a very special place. I spent several hours both going around the site and the incredible hi-tech museum. I was fascinated by a piece of history I was ignorant about. There is so much to say, but I’m aware it would be easy to write reams and perhaps such things don’t float everyone’s boat. So here is a taster. The site centres around two enormous burial mounds, two rune stones and a stone ship. All this was contained within a one and a half kilometer palisade made of Oak to a height of three metres to keep out invaders. The monuments are around 1,000 years old. King Harald Bluetooth built the palisade in the 960’s. The south mound is the biggest ever found from the Viking age, although curiously no burial chamber was placed in it. Unlike the north mound, where precious artifacts were found in 1820 and where probably the body of King Gorm the Old was laid before being moved to under the wooden church that preceded the existing stone church build in the 1,000’s.

Lastly, the stone ship was massive, 350m long. Norse mythology said that the dead could sail in the ship to the gods in Valhalla.

Contrary to popular belief the Vikings were not just into plunder, rape and pillaging. They were explorers, farmers, inventors, living in a complex structured society where worship of their gods was paramount. Belief in their gods demanded that human sacrifice was necessary, with the most precious to their community being seen as those best to sacrifice to and appease the gods. Enough, I hear you say. However if you are interested, I thoroughly recommend a visit.

Here are some photos of Jelling:-

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