The struggle with words continues. I have made several attempts to write notes on recent events – notably the strong man tactics being used by President Erdogan in Turkey to consolidate his power – but I haven’t been satisfied with the results. My arguments are either confused or banal. I don’t find it easy to get to the heart of the matter. Maybe I’m just overwhelmed – one of my favourite words – by the ugly manifestations of stupidity and prejudice that seem to characterise both economic policies and international relations. With the Brexiteers blundering in a fog of little Englishness and the USA in the hands of a mob of dangerous goofs, it is quite difficult to analyse “the way forward.” As an observer recently pointed out: what is going on when the choice (for French voters in the presidential election) is between a banker and a fascist!?
So it seems to make more sense to reflect on the beauty of nature and to indulge in the drama of exploration. Lene and I had some days doing just that when we returned to northern Jutland for a long weekend. But even in the ”stress free zone” of our hotel, the real world was hard to shut out.
We did our best in conducive surroundings. The northern town of Skagen is famous for a short-lived artistic movement at the end of 19th Century, when a group of painters got together in the remote fishing village and produced a series of pictures depicting the lives of the people and the light in the region. There’s a very good museum where many of their works can be found, ranging from fisherman’s faces to carefully drawn interiors and colourful gardens. I’m a fan of P. S. Krøyer in particular; his painting of two women walking on the beach at Skagen on a summer evening is a blue haze of beauty and dreams.
The top of Denmark – as the tourist operators call the region – has some wild and spectacular scenery, not least the endless beaches. In the course of 48 hours we managed to reach the spit of land where the Kattegat meets the Skagerrak, stroll around shifting sand dunes that have buried a church and race along the breezy beach in the chilly early morning close to our hotel. Sometimes the beaches seem a bit bleak, but the big skies and the gentle roar of the waves are fantastic.
A curious phenomenon in the region is that cars are driven on beaches. We battled with the motorways of Jutland to get to and from Skagen, realising once again that the Danish countryside, infrastructure and townscapes have been shaped by the power of the “motorist’s lobby.” The provision of space for parking cars has transformed many towns and cities. But why people have been given the right to drive on beaches is a bit beyond me…