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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.