`Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’
(Ratty in “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Graham)
On Saturday, once we were done tidying up after the juice making, sixteen of us went on a boating trip to Romsø, a small island off the coast of Funen. The island is just over a square kilometre, and partly a protected nature preserve with the south tip of the island being off limits during the mating season of the sea birds from April through July. It’s privately owned as part of the Hverringe estate, but it’s open to the public as long as you observe certain precautions (no feeding the animals, no fires; that sort of thing).
We went in two boats, and as you can see the skippers gave them full throttle on the way over to the island. It was a bit of a choppy ride, going at 45 kilometres/hour, but great fun. I have always loved being out on the sea, wide horizons all around and so much space.
It was one of those wonderfully warm autumn days, with temperatures up to 19 degrees Celsius and the occasional glimpse of sunshine; it almost felt like “the end of summer”, though there’s no denying that we’re in full-on autumn by now.
The island has a population of 180 fallow deer and we were fortunate enough to see quite a few of them as we went around the island. Unfortunately there was a hunt going on in the forest, so we had to stay on the coastal path, but we saw a couple of herds grazing on the edge of the forest, and we also saw the two albino deer but obviously there was no point in trying to take a photo as they were well beyond the range of my phone camera. You can see a picture of one here if you want to see what they look like.
On the Southern side the island has wide marshes and a pebble beach, but on the North side, especially to the North-East, the sea has eroded the hills and created some beautiful clay cliffs, topped with a stretch of meadows with hawthorns in a very distinct shape that clearly shows how high the fallow deer can reach, since they bite off all new shoots below one metre.
Once we had made it all the way around the island (it is only about 4 kilometres in circumference) we settled down for coffee and biscuits – and perhaps a beer or two had snuck into the hampers alongside the thermos flasks…
This island is really a small gem, especially because the Hverringe estate maintains it in such a gentle manner. The deer population is only hunted to the extent necessary to keep it at a viable level, and new stock is introduced every so often to avoid inbreeding, and the forest is more or less left to its own devices so the only trees cut down are the ones that pose a danger to visitors. It’s a prime example of responsible stewardship of an area of natural beauty. It may not be large and dramatic like the Grand Canyon, but Denmark is a small country, so our natural beauties are perhaps more subtle and gentle than in larger countries. (Remember that the highest natural point in Denmark is only 170.86 metres above sea level… Yes, we measure our highest points with two decimals, because they really are so low that every centimetre counts…)
We left Romsø in the glorious afternoon sunshine, and on our way back we had the pleasure of spotting a few porpoises playing around in the waves. (Even our whales are small in Denmark…)
I haven’t been to Romsø since I was a child, so it was a real treat to go back and be able to recognise some of the places. At one point I saw an old farm building and realised that I remembered that there used to be a great swing hanging from the branches of an old oak tree, but sadly the on-going hunt meant it would be neither safe nor sensible to go see if it was still there. Risking your life to check up on an old swing is, surely, too stupid a thing to do, even for me.
And this ends my trilogy of posts about my autumn holiday; I was away from Wednesday to Sunday, taking time to spend an extra day on either end of the juice making to visit my grandmother with just my Mum and my Mother-in-law so I could spend some time with the old woman without having lots of people and children and work all around to distract us. She turns 90 next spring, so it’s worth investing a bit of time with her while we are fortunate enough to have her with us.
I came away with a pre-emptive inheritance of two small Krenit bowls and 7 Kirsten Piil beer glasses, the latter coming from my Great-grandmother and matching the glasses The Flâneur Husband inherited after his grandmother. Basically my grandmother is getting rid of lots of stuff she doesn’t need, and she’d rather see people be happy about their inheritance while she lives than leave it for when she can no longer take pleasure in giving it. – And she doesn’t give away anything she wants to keep herself; it’s simply that her drawers and cupboards are full of heirlooms that she doesn’t need, doesn’t like or just doesn’t care about herself. The best silver is reserved for wedding presents to her grandchildren (The Flâneur Husband and I got two silver spoons that were given to my great-grandmother on her baptism and confirmation respectively, engraved with her name and the dates), and I’m sure her will is full of little sweet thoughts like that so she knows who will get what. (She has told me that I will get whatever books her children don’t want… And it’s a rather varied collection; I’ve already been given some, including her copy of American Psycho which she read when it appeared in Danish. She hated the book, but how cool is it that my grandmother has actually READ it?)
Anyway… I’m veering off topic now, so I guess that means this post is at an end. I hope you enjoyed coming with me on a family holiday with me and 37 members of my family. (On my mother’s side… My father’s side is the LARGE family!)