Fog, Fishing and Family

Nordjylland, Danmark, Sep 2015

We went to visit Flemming’s father in Northern Jutland for a few days last year. It wasn’t my first visit, but it was the one where I got a sense of the place where Flemming Bo Jensen (who is a Nordjyde) was born and raised, as his father drove us around the region on a grand tour.

Seagrass, Trend Strand.

The day he brought us to Trend Strand (Trend beach) so I could run around in the fog and sea grass, was also the day we went to Aggersund, got the scoop on Harald Bluetooth’s Aggersborg, the largest known round Viking castle in Denmark, and how the Vikings dug a passage for their ships from Limfjord to the North Sea.

We stopped by the small fishing town of Thorup in the late afternoon, to watch the fishing boats get towed onto the beach by a big old bulldozer, a practice unique to Thorup.

The fishing boats from Thorup are hauled up to the beach by a big ol' Caterpillar
The fishing boats from Thorup are hauled up to the beach by a big ol’ Caterpillar

The man overseeing the towing operation (the figure in above image) saw us running around making pictures and came over to have a chat. The people in that area speak a dialect that didn’t sound like Danish to my ear, and I was somewhat amused to discover that Flemming had some difficulty with it. Luckily for us, his Dad is not only fluent in the dialect, but also in the art of brokering access.

After a little while, we found ourselves being beckoned onto the boat that had just been pulled ashore. Apparently, the man from Thorup was surprised that we’d never seen this operation before and was all for us getting aboard to take a closer look, along with two Fisheries officers who had turned up to inspect the catch.

Crew haul the day's catch of rødspætte from the hold.
Crew haul the day’s catch of rødspætte from the hold.

We watched crate after crate of rødspætte (the red spotted flounder that is their main catch) brought up from the hold, and passed through a sliding hatch in the hull to the tractor waiting on the other side. Flemming and I, plus the Fisheries officers, were probably more of an audience than the crew were used to, so there was a little extra muscle flexing going on, I’m sure!

Crates containing the day’s catch are hauled onto the tractor, waiting alongside the beached boat.

On the way out of town, we bought a big tub of cleaned, filleted and frozen rødspætte from a self serve kiosk by the main road, depositing 60 kr into a slotted box as we left.

Rødspætter iced in crates aboard one of the fishing boats

This city slicker was shocked by the the honesty system. “But how do they know if people will pay what they owe?!”

Those were some wonderful days, with long drives around the country, long conversations and a lot of old stories told. Flemming’s father has a head for history and could always be counted on to share insight about landscape, people or practice wherever we happened to be. He told us about the millennia-old burial mounds you can see looming over grain fields, how Vikings built their boats and defenses, the wave of immigration to the USA from the Nordic countries around the turn of the last century, geology, farming life and his own boyhood. I’m convinced he’s an undiscovered national treasure, and an archive should be made of his memories.

Orla Jensen, national treasure, driving us home through farming country
Driving home through farming country


  1. So when you say “Flemming’s father,” do you mean Vader? I’m not sure now after all the new movies who is who and who was so and so’s father or mother or brother or half sister. I’m so confused. Luke looks a bit like Yoda, so I thinking there was some relations but I just don’t know anymore.

    1. Charlene says:

      HA, you’ll have to look under the helmet yourself. I don’t have enough reinforcements.

  2. walker says:

    Lovely tale and thanks for the gory details!

    1. Charlene says:

      Cheers walker. Every tale needs gore ;)

  3. Nice photos Charlene. I’ve heard so much about you, I hope we can meet some time when you all are in Santa Fe. Deva David Goldberg

    1. Charlene says:

      Likewise, David… although I’m told that the stories I’ve heard barely scrape the tip of the iceberg :)

  4. Zane says:

    Wonderful reading!

    1. Charlene says:

      Cheers Zane!

  5. Wonderful pictures, words and memories from wonderful days last year. We used to go swimming at Trend beach when I was a kid. My mother would make food, a “madpakke”, and when my father was done in the afternoon with the work on the farm, we would drive out to Trend perhaps with a few friends and swim and eat the food there. Well, more like, walk around in the water, you have to walk out really far before it gets even remotely deep enough for swimming. Still wondering whether that old saying “you are not allowed to swim within one hour of eating” is true, we were always told that!

    1. Charlene says:

      I was told that too, that swimming right after eating would give you cramps and you’d drown. I can just imagine you all trundling to Trend with madpakker, splashing around the shallows. In my head, there’s that faded reddish/greenish tint to it all, and the glint of fine gold strands in the wind.

  6. Wonderfull series. I grew up on the Danish west coast. Your photos made me look forward to going back.

    1. Charlene says:

      I look forward to going back myself, Morten :)

  7. Erin Wilson says:

    Oh wow…

  8. Robert Killips says:

    Really nice story and photos. Enjoyed it very much.

    1. Charlene says:

      I’m glad, Robert.

  9. Håkan says:

    Another wonderful story from you! I like this fish, rødspætte, very much, but where I live (Stockholm, Sweden) they are almost always frozen. To be able to eat them fresh must be delicious.

    1. Charlene says:

      I had never eaten flounder of any sort before that day. Flemming fried it up country-style with butter and spices. It was delicious!

Comments are closed.