Monday, 19 September 2011

Summer is gone...

spots of colour

I love the Scandinavian way of escaping to a summer house to take a break. Being away from the city, surrounded by nature, lots of fresh air and a lake nearby or even better the sea, is my idea of relaxing.

This summer, we took some time out to drive from the East to the West coast of Denmark. This sounds farther than it actually is, but Denmark is only a small country. Including lots of breaks for our little guy, we got to the Ringkøbing Fjord in less than 6 hours.

found things

We took a lot with us, so that we wouldn't need many shopping trips once we were there and would have all the things we need to get comfy in our little hideout. Baby has a lot of stuff too. And there was a moment when I thought, oh dear, we have become one of those families now; taking forever to get ready and bringing half the house along...

Kenn and I both felt still drained after two and a half months of severe sleep deprivation and chilling out involved more procrastination of the kind that is sitting with a can of beer or a glass of wine or trying out a new recipe for delicious barbecue spare ribs or simply watching TV. We had our sketchbooks with us, but I must admit my entries were a bit poor on this holiday. However, I enjoyed taking photographs of the things I encountered on walks and on the day trips we took!

forest treasures

I captured these little gems on a walk on the heath and in the forest, where I also disturbed a beautiful wild hare! I was as startled as he was, so no time to take a photograph. He was the most gigantic, gorgeous hare I have ever seen and he will live on as this amazing memory; whenever I tell about him, he grows bigger and bigger :)


Then, there also was this amazing kids' playhouse amidst the fields not far away from where we stayed - magic!
It makes me remember how much I wanted a tree house as a child. Actually, I think, I still want one now!

a magical playhouse

We wouldn't have dreamt of it, but on this holiday, baby learned to sleep 10 hours a night.
It must have been the peaceful quiet, the pitch black nights, the abundance of fresh sea air or the combination of all of the above, that have done it, or baby just decided that he had enough of seeing his parents' panda eyes getting the size of saucers.

So, the holiday was amazing!
Lots of walks through the heath and dunes, along the beach, in the sun and rain, little day adventures to explore the Fjord and what it had to offer. Here are a few of the highlights:

Nymindegab Museum with its fantastic sperm whale skeleton

sperm whale

and other beautiful stuff inside and out.

We took a trip to...


... where we saw someone's feathery collection in a cellar window...

feathery collection

and also visited the town's annual Sand Art Festival.

built on sand

Technically, this was truly amazing, how can one make things like this out of sand?!
But pretty instantly, I found myself in deep discussion with Kenn about art in general, what is art, etc.? Gawd! This is a bottomless pit we found ourselves in, we both agreed! Well, I wouldn't call this sand art 'art' really, but what is it then? Just because I don't like it in terms of its subject matter and particular style, it doesn't make it less of an art, I suppose. But I have also to admit that in my late teens, I really admired fantasy art of this kind and would have probably been tickled pink, had I seen this exhibition then.

One of our favourite places on this holiday was Abelines Gaard Museum.
It is kind of living history. Built from 1854 to 1871, it has been run as a farm by a widow called Abeline and her 5 children for more than half a century.

Madame Blå

What an amazing place!
Packed with beautiful things of times long gone, lovingly arranged and laid out, it felt a bit like traveling time, as we walked from room to room.

the table is set...

The café was also very cosy. Once you had paid to enter the museum, you could come back again without paying on another day. I liked this and we returned to the museum to have another look around and also for the lovely coffee.
The Danes call this big blue enamel coffepot, Madame Blå. It works like a perculator and coffee is STRONG!

time for coffee

Here are some pictures of different rooms in the museum. It felt sometimes like people still lived there and just had left the room for a moment. I took a lot of inspiration from this place.

beautiful history
living history

We also went to Varde, where Mio checked out the famous miniature town. Suddenly, things were a lot smaller than he was!
He really loved it and we had to hurry up to keep up with him!

Mio's around town

On another day we drove to these hunter cabins in Værneengene.
On first sight they seemed deserted and although it was in the middle of the afternoon, it was a tiny bit spooky there.
Each cabin looked different and their owners most likely had built them themselves. Nobody was there, probably out hunting.
I imagined how in the evening the game hunters would return and sit together and drink beer and puff a pipe and tell their tales. If a foreigner would happen to pass by, it would get very, very quiet.


hunter cabins

This image of a Fisherman is kind of iconic in Denmark. I have seen paintings of it again and again and wasn't surprised to find it on this hunter's cabin, however, this time as a relief!

that fisherman again

Most days though, we would try to head to the beach, if the weather wasn't to rough.
The North Sea coast is breezy and we had to wrap up warm. Strolling along we saw quite a lot of jelly fish, but luckily we only encountered them on land. They had the most beautiful intense blue and turquoise colouration. Apparently the red ones are the ones to watch in the water, as they can sting.

beach treasures

Of course a secret club had to have its own little beach museum at Bjerregård Stranden!
We had scavenged the beach for interesting bits and pieces washed up by the seashore. It was a lot of fun, although sometimes things were a bit smelly. Anything found made from plastic had this really amazing washed out quality and caught my eye, as I searched for potential museum material.

en hemmelig klub

Beach Museum
Beach Museum

It felt good making something while we were there, especially as we used found materials. The museum was only small, but things are still out there for people to see and also eventually to be claimed back by the elements!

To happy summer holiday memories! So long!

Kenn and I

Friday, 9 September 2011

Meet the forest spirits...

This summer a secret club prepared for a very special project indeed:
"Skovens Ånder", which is Danish for forest spirits.

Skovens Ånder

For a long time we had wanted to do a kids' event in a forest that had a sense of magic about it. Forests are connected to some of my most treasured childhood memories. Forests can be places for adventures and many of my most loved stories begin with a forest as a place of magic and wonder.

So aiming to create a playful and imaginative reality, a secret club set about planning an activity for children and adults to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon in July in a forest near Aarhus.

Skovens Ånder - on track 1

Skovens Ånder - on track 3

There were many things to plan and prepare and Kenn and I kept busy, e.g. there were the beautiful forest spirit masks Kenn designed...

Skovens Ånder - masks

... and the prizes we created for the kids to find.

Skovens Ånder - prizes

And finally in the two weeks running up to the event, two of our indispensable helpers, Jane and Line, joined me to make some costumes to wear on the day, involving lots of feathers and pine cones, Kenn and I had collected for weeks in anticipation. It was amazing how much the girls and I got done with some hard graft in a couple of days and in the end we had an outfit for each of us to transform us into proper forest spirits.

Skovens Ånder - on track 5

So then one fine Saturday in July a secret club met with a group of children and their parents in a forest.

Skovens Ånder - en hemmelig klub

Customizing their masks, they transformed themselves into amazing forest spirits who wandered the woods and picked up rubbish left behind by humans.
Along the way they were introduced to us, a number of other extraordinary forest spirits; some to listen to, some to talk to, some to play with, and some to discover.

Skovens Ånder - making masks

Skovens Ånder - on track 6

Skovens Ånder - collecting trash

As they made their way through the woods, the young forest spirits found themselves playing a game where they would win prizes simply by finding them.

Skovens Ånder - on track 2

Skovens Ånder - on track 4

Skovens Ånder - forest spirits

On the rainy Sunday following that fine Saturday, Kenn and I met the forest spirits again (this time also with Mio) at the cinema "Øst for Paradis" where we watched "Spirited Away" - a wonderful Japanese animation about a whole world of other spirits, after having drawn beautiful pictures of some forest spirits friends.
These drawings will be later made into a short film.

Skovens Ånder - at the cinema 2

Skovens Ånder - at the cinema 1

Skovens Ånder

was realised with help and support from Øst for Paradis, Camera Film, Børnekulturpuljen and The Danish Film Institute.

Thanks to the many friendly participants who signed up and joined us on Saturday and Sunday and of course big thanks to our fantastic helpers, Jane, Line and Sabrina, this event turned out rather magical!

Skovens Ånder

And of course as always there was bunting too...
Until next time!