Iceland – who thought it would be this good?

Tuesday 23rd June

We’ve moved back into the B&B just because the room is a bit bigger, there are 2 fabulous power showers and because Emilea, an employee of Àsa, prepares breakfast for the guests from 8am to 10, and that’s where we have breakfast.  Àsa comes down from her house (100m) to chat to her guests whilst they have breakfast, in case they want to ask about local visits etc.  We expected Maggi to be fishing until Thursday but Sunday night Àsa had to pick him up at midnight and Monday night she had to fetch him at 3am.  She also spends most of the day running around between her various properties, checking on the B&B, dealing with guests and doing related chores such as shopping, paperwork etc.  It’s a full time job.

Today she’s off to Isafjoröur to do some shopping.  That’s a 2 hour drive each way.  Whilst she’s away we defrost the chest freezer in her cellar, tidy her cellar and do some gardening.
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Interspersed with this is the laundry chore.  Most of the B&B guests only stay one night, so there’s always a mountain of dirty laundry.  There are 2 washing machines to keep running and the bed linen has to be hung out to dry at Ása’s house, whilst the robes and towels can go in the driers.
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Daz also attaches toilet roll dispensers in the toilets.

So we keep ourselves busy and when we finish we take a walk out of the village towards the golf course.  Just on the edge of the village there’s a field, which seems a haven for more Arctic Terns.  We watch for about 10 minutes through the binos.  The Terns appear to have their own piece of territory but because we’re so close keep taking flight and then landing again.  We scour the area for chicks but can’t see any and finally armed with a stick above my head I advance into the field.  Within 5 metres of the fence I find some eggs so we conclude they’re incubating their eggs but it’s a dangerous game walking into their territory.   They fly over head and make a clacking noise; we think this is their warning call because it precedes them diving towards our heads.
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It’s actually very scary!

Daz cooks dinner for everyone using the haddock Maggi caught yesterday; breaded haddock, potatoes and onion and tomato salad yum.


Wednesday 24th June

I think we’re both suffering with the endless daylight we’re having here.  We find we don’t notice the time because it’s so light all the time and then suddenly it’s nearly midnight.  Then I’ve been waking at 3am ish and it’s like broad daylight.  So we’re off to a sluggish start but 5 cups of coffee (but they’re only little cups) and we get started.  Tyler and Chantrelle are leaving today.  Originally they were going to leave on 27th but have brought it forward.  They have about 14 days until their flight home and Ása has lent them the Vauxhall Corsa because the hire car was too expensive and they were going to hitch.  They’ll have the car and if it makes the trip they’ll leave it in Reykjavík and Ása will arrange to pick it up.   So to date Ása is by far the most generous workaway host and we’ve seen a lot of generosity.  Today’s chores – laundry and preparing the outer wooden staircase to the first floor of the B&B.  So once we’ve found all the tools and equipment we need, which is a surprisingly long process because Maggi hides tools in his truck and on his boat because he knows Ása won’t go there or they’re in one of the houses, we sand and scrape down the woodwork ready for painting.

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Then Daz goes off to make a late lunch because Ása is off to a planning meeting this afternoon and won’t be back until late.  Oh yes, nearly forgot, latest casualty of the trip our fantastic camera.  Daz said it was drop proof but yesterday he proved otherwise.  He says it still works but won’t focus – is it me or isn’t that the point of a camera!!!

In the evening we’re left in charge of Stiklur, the B&B, because Ása is at the planning meeting in Patreksfjordur, waiting for 4 guests to book in.  Whilst we’re waiting we decide to rearrange Ása’s office/laundry.  I had proposed this on Tuesday but she wasn’t keen.  By Wednesday she did mention that it might be a good idea to do it at some point.  By the time she returns 3 of the 4guests are booked in and her office looks completely different and all her bits and pieces are stored neatly in one of the cellar rooms.


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Thursday 25th June

Fun start to the day – I finally manage to get some photos of Daz sleeping.  I’d  told him that he slept in some very peculiar positions; either with both hands behind his head or with his hands cupping his face and now I can actually show him and the rest of the world by putting it on FB – LOL

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Today we go in search of more tools and equipment and then once Daz has the ladder he does more sanding of the staircase we were working on yesterday.  Meanwhile I cut the grass at Ása’s house which is on quite a slope so is quite hard work.
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 Then Daz does some strimming and then we start painting the staircase with primer.  Today is the start of the Bildudalur Green Pea festival.  Bildudalur once had a factory from 1932 to 1972 which produced tins of green peas which were very popular and then after the factory closed there was a Green Peas song and so the festival is in celebration of this; any excuse if you ask me.
During the festival there’s lots of fun stuff for kids to do, a golf competition, football tournament and music and storytelling, with a bit of drinking involved too!!  It proves later throughout the weekend to be a real community festival, with everyone getting involved putting up green bunting and balloons around their properties,holding musical events for all to enjoy in their gardens (lots of local Icelandic songs are played by the different musicians with people joining in the singing and with some good international stuff thrown in too) It’s great to see such community spirit with everyone having a thoroughly good time together. Today there is also a 5km fun run, Daz and I take part but I know his competitive streak will be at the fore so I make him run with me, he sulks for a while with his big fat bottom lip out but soon gets over it as we run together in the brilliant sunshine out of the village and into the countryside   It’s a straight run out and then turn around at the half way point,  which means we have to run past the nesting Arctic Terns twice, it’s funny watching the runners ahead of us waving their arms about in the air to deflect the swooping birds… Until it’s our turn underneath them of course!! One bad point about having Daz run with me is that it makes me run faster than I’d like but at the turn around point I am pleased that I am the first female, that is until a teenage girl whizzes past just after the turn as if she isn’t even trying! Back in the village I am pleased if a little breathless with my 2nd female place even if it is just a fun run and Daz is happy just to be out running in the sun, so all good there.

Maggi’s son is over from London so we all have dinner together, Daz has made fish curry.  Then Maggi is off to the community centre to tell the story of Joi. He was Maggi’s uncle, single all his life and a womaniser.  He was a great character in the area and so he’s been chosen to adorn the special beer bottles.
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Each year it’s someone different.  We look after the B&B until the storytelling is done.  It’s in Icelandic so we don’t understand a word anyway.  Then it’s off to bed.  We sleep for a bit and then wake at midnight.  We can hear music, it’s local musicians playing in people’s back gardens and the music and chatter goes on until 3am.


Friday 26th June

Today Maggi is leading a walk as part of the festival and we’re going too.  We drive to Halfdan Pass and then walk north over Halfdan down to Bildudalur airport.  On the way we see Iceland’s font.   It’s the hill from which a Norwegian viking called Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerđarson, looked down into the Vatnsfjörđur which was full of pack ice, and named the country Iceland.  The walk is superb.
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There are 10 of us in Maggi’s group and we walk 4.5 hours.  Daz has it as number 1 experience of our trip so far.  We find 3 nests along the way with eggs waiting to hatch, one belonging to the Grouse and the other 2, Calidris Alpina (we think) and there’s the beautiful mountain flowers and the views down into the fjords.
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A lovely but tiring walk.  Back at Bildudalur we give Àsa a hand with some chores and then take our bags to one of Ása’s cottages where we will now be living.  Once we’ve sorted our room we go back to the village to listen to music in someone’s garden.
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After the music we go to someone else’s garden down by the water where they are serving fish soup, rolls and white wine and gaze out over the fjord.
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Then we return to the village, where Ása finds us and we go to the opening ceremony where there’s more music and then a bonfire.
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Finally we finish the day at the Sea Monster museum listening to a singer who proclaims himself world famous.   He’s pretty shit so I think this is unlikely!  This has been an absolutely fantastic day and so far Iceland is proving to be the best experience to date.


Saturday 27th June

It’s a slow start for me this morning.  I’ve got a hangover from hell.  Finally Ása phones wondering where we are.  Apparently there’s shrimp down by the harbour to eat but by the time we make it they’re all gone. But there’s some lovely tender grilled lamb to try.  We potter around and sit and listen to some music whilst enjoying the sunshine.  Later we enjoy a BBQ at the B&B that Maggi cooks for their family andfriends, there are about 20 people there and we chat with his sons and nieces and nephews, a lovely evening of lamb and red wine.
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To finish of the evening we pop back tot thefestival in the village and sit listening tothe music from the live stage.  The drummer is very bizarre in his drumming mannerisms as he sems to be gurning through each set!!
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Its funny to watch and we laugh and people watch as the night continues.  Just after midnight we call it a night and walk back to our room in the midnight sunlight.  Brilliant.
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Sunday 28th June.

After being woken at 3am and 5.30am by the arrival of our drunken house mates we get a late start to breakfast at the B&B.  We were originally going to walk to Tàlknafjordur which is a little village in the next fjord over and entails a ten km walk over the hills but we are a little tired so decide to go for a simple walk up the valley to pickup a geocache (one of the very few in the area) about 3.5km out of the village.  After getting past the diving Arctic Terns we walk through the golf course and up the river course heading into the valley.  We should turn off and go towards the road here and the geocache but Daz thinks there might be some waterfalls further up and so we continue along the river.
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There’s no path and we are navigating high grass and low bushes and occasionally getting our feet wet crossing the numerous streams that join the river, but we persevere in our crocs and as we round a small bluff we see the waterfalls ahead, it turns out there are a series of them and as we go higher up the river cuts a deep gorge in places where the raging waters make it hard to hear our own voices, but it’s a stunning walk and we spend time admiring the power of the water and the sheer beauty.  Finally as we walk up to the last waterfall we come across the road and leaving the river behind we head back down the valley towards the village.  We even manage to find the geocache as an added bonus before trying to hitch a lift.
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As luck would have it Maggi drives by and stops to pick us up and drops us off back at the B&B… Result!! Although we walked much further than anticipated it was another fab day in Bildudalur.   Today is the last day of the festival and it’s back to work for us tomorrow.  Maggi is off fishing again tomorrow.  All our housemates have gone by Sunday evening – it’s just a shame they didn’t fancy cleaning up behind them! But we have the house to ourselves – result!

Monday 29th June
Oh joy, we’ve had a good night’s sleep. We’re up fairly early – 7.30am and take the dirty laundry and rubbish to Stiklur. We have breakfast, start laundry and get rid of all the rubbish from the weekend using Maggi’s truck.
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Asa is off to the puffin cliffs with her sister so we’re going to get on with the staircase – we need to finish priming and then start painting. It’s going to be a moss green – all the trim will be this colour and the building grey – so it’s like a rock with moss.

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We paint all day breaking to have lunch and then finish with a run! Then we cook dinner.  Roll on the next week!!!


Goodbye Denmark, Hello Iceland

Monday 15th June
Last week in Tolne – well it’s not even a full week because we leave late Thursday night. Interesting daily brief today – I was updating FB with the weekly blog whilst listening to points pertaining to me in the daily run down of necessary chores when Greg ‘saw his arse’ and told me to put my Notebook away ( apparently whilst I can multi task, Greg can’t!!) But of course this isn’t the first time he’s ‘lost his rag’ – certainly working for him has been the least rewarding workaway experience to date. It’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place; either (a) ensure you’ve had his express permission to carry out a job in a certain way or (b) act on common sense and initiative and previous discussions to get a job done. Understandably after our military experiences (a) is insulting and unpalatable but (b) regularly leads to a ‘Greg tantrum’ especially as something that was acceptable to him one day, isn’t the next. We’ve never been so poorly managed for so little return. Today’s chores – this’ll probably come as no surprise but more wood chopping. Our favourite chore as it keeps us busy and ‘out of the line of fire!’

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Tuesday 16th June
Our last day off and we go to Bangsbo Manor and gardens just outside Frederikshavn and go geocaching. 16 caches sought and found and a beautiful walk with fantastic weather.
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Wednesday 17th June
Today the good weather comes to an end so we return to the guest bedroom that we’ve papered and painted. We empty it of furniture and sand down the skirting board and paint it and put another coat on the ceiling.
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Tomorrow we’ll put a third coat of paint on the walls. Then we have a go throwing a clay pot with mixed results – we’ve been messing around for sometime when Janne comes in and gives us a demonstration. Of course she makes it look effortless. Daz manages to produce 3 pots but I’m not successful and my pots keep collapsing or flying off the wheel.
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Thursday 18th June
Our final day and Alejandro has a day off today. It’s a busy day for Greg and Janne today. There’s a meeting about qualifying for grants which is really important as they need to generate as much supplementary income as possible since the B&B is only busy for the summer months. And this afternoon they have been booked by Hamilton’s (Greg’s oldest son) school to come in and demonstrate how to make Japanese kites. This is surprisingly lucrative and they leave shortly after lunch taking Alejandro so he can see Hjørring. Meanwhile we paint the walls in the guest bedroom and then we need to touch up the skirting board once the masking tape is removed. Once it’s done we return the furniture.
Daz puts the final layer of chalk/sand on Greg’s pizza oven whilst I tidy and hoover downstairs. And then we’re done and packed. We take Lucy for a ‘last walk’ and come home and cook our dinner. The house is empty – Janne’s parents were there when we went out but Iben was crying uncontrollably, and now they’ve gone out. Our train from Tolne to Copenhagen Airport is at 2308hrs. We spend the time watching Brooklyn 99, Daz’s new favourite show and saying farewell to Janne, Greg and Janne’s parents. Alejandro keeps us company and walks us over to the train platform. He’s such a sweetheart – a laid back, good-looking, qualified vintner, guitar playing musician from the mountains in Mendoza, Argentina. We will miss him – he’s a very entertaining lad.


Friday 19th June
We arrive at Copenhagen airport at 6am for a 1305hrs flight. We could have taken the 0430 train but this was scheduled to arrive only 2 hours before our flight, insufficient contingency for Mr Broadhurst who still gets into a ‘bit of a tizz’ on travel days. It would be sweet if it wasn’t so annoying!!! We’re not allowed to book in until 11am so we just try and nap until then.
Once we book in we find a replacement for Daz’s Kindle. We land at 1425hrs in Iceland, having gained 2 hours, and there’s problems with the baggage and everyone’s waiting for their luggage. Finally we’re out and we collect our hire car. It would have cost £70 each in bus and ferry fares to get to Bildudalur but they only run early in the day so we’d also need a hotel for the night. I’m driving because Daz has barely slept – it’s the first time I’ve driven in 5 months. It’s 440 km, much of it on dirt roads and Daz is completely breathtaken by the landscape and takes 100’s of photos.
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There’s still snow on many of the hills and we later discover that a late spring combined with unusual winter snow fall from the south, instead of the north, has left all the snowed unthawed. Usually by mid June the snow would be gone. We finally arrive at Bildudalur at 9pm and Ása and Maggi (our hosts) are up with the 2 volunteers Tyler and Chantrelle, from Ohio who have been here 6 weeks. We have dinner, fresh Halibut caught by Maggi, which is very tasty. Maggi is a fisherman and owns a boat with his son. It seems he mostly fishes for cod, haddock and halibut. Apparently he catches mackerel but it’s not a popular fish out here so he wouldn’t eat it, just use it for bait.

Saturday 20th June
It’s the summer solstice and it didn’t get dark last night. We slept so well – the bed was soo comfortable. Last night Ása put us in Stiklur, the B&B. It’s got the most amazing power shower and for breakfast a great muesli. We’re in heaven. Ása has kindly agreed that we don’t need to start work until Monday and so she gives us directions to the bird cliff. It’s Látrabjarg Cliffs, the cliffs of all cliffs. They are 14 km long and 441m high, with a vertical drop into the ocean. This Is Iceland’s westernmost point and Europe’s biggest bird cliff with a bird population counted in millions including puffins, Northern Gannets, Guillemots and Razorbills.

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Safe from foxes, the birds are fearless, and provide stunning photographic opportunities. The puffins are particularly tame and frequent the grassy, higher part of the cliffs. We spend ages getting up close and personal with many puffins and then we walk along the cliff for a couple of kms admiring the cliffs and ocean views and watching the birds fly on and off the cliffs.

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Not so admirable is the smell!! It reminds me of penguin watching in the Falklands.
From Látrabjarg we drive to Rauõasandur (Red Sand), a beach of endless red sand – well not endless because it’s only 10km long and it’s not red either. We walk out towards the beach, the Arctic Terns are nesting in the fields along the footpath and they become aggressive when Daz wanders towards their nests and start swooping down on his head.
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Even when he walks away they don’t relent and continue to attack him. At the end of the footpath there’s a channel about 30m wide separating us from the beach. We paddle through and it’s not too cold and then we walk into the Atlantic Ocean which is so cold that it’s agony for our feet and legs. It’s pretty rough too.
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We walk back once again braving the attacks of the Arctic Terns and admiring the red-necked Phalarope swimming on the stream with their partners. We also see a curlew. There is so much bird life here and much of it oblivious to humans. There’s a seal colony here too and we can just make it out through the binos – we could walk out at low tide but Daz thinks we might meet the same fate as the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers. There is a tractor and trailer the farmer uses to take tourists out to the seals and hopefully we’ll get a chance to do that during our visit.
We drive back to Patreksfjordur to drop off the hire car. Tyler and Chantrelle have recommended a restaurant there, End of the World, and we go and check it out. It’s not open for usual service but instead are having an all you can eat barbecue’. So that’s our plan and we’re just having a beer and checking if Ása can pick us up later (she’s 25km away) when she phones to say she’s just realised she needs our room in the B&B for guests. So we come back and move into Àsa’s house. There’s a ‘steam punk’ festival on today and Ása is taking us all to the Royal feast of roasted lamb and vegetables.
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Sunday 21st June.
Maggi has gone fishing today at 6am and we don’t expect him back until Thursday. The B&B has a complete turnover of guests so Ása is locked in the laundry room dealing with the mountain of dirty laundry. Daz and I wander through the village. Bildudalur enjoys some of the best summer weather in the Westfjords. It’s on the coast of Arnarfjörõur and is sheltered from the sea breeze. Arnarfjörõur is one of the largest and most spectacular fjords in Iceland. It’s surrounded by steep mountains and valleys and is famous for its beautiful landscape. The largest industry in Bildudalur is a sea mineral plant that processes calcified red seaweed harvested from the seabed and mainly used in animal feed and fertiliser.
From the village we walk north west along the fjord coast to a beautiful beach.
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We’re walking outwards over the sand when we spot a brown mound – we walk towards it and finally realise it’s a young chick. It’s brown with black spots and is brilliantly camouflaged against the browny/black sand.
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It doesn’t run away or take any notice of us. We look round expecting a defensive mother to come running to protect her young but don’t see anything. We walk away and find another 2 chicks. We walk along the beach and back to the chicks but they are no longer there. We later find out they’re the young of the Arctic Tern.

Monday 22nd June
Our first day of work. We go to the B&B for breakfast. Our chores today: to do the laundry, clear cellar of the B&B, put a lock on the cellar door and put the Barbecue together.
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After our chores we take the car – yes there’s a little Vauxhall Corsa at the disposal of the volunteers which we take along the shore of the fjord, to Selárdalur to view the artwork of Samúel Jónsson. As Daz put it, it’s completely underwhelming!!
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The guy was never trained in art and it shows!!!


Week 2 in Denmark

Monday 8th June

Today we finish off the guest bedroom.  Greg says it needs a third coat of paint on the walls and a second on the ceiling but instead of doing that we take off the masking tape we used, clean the skirting board, windows and door and then get the room ready for guests on Wednesday night.

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 There’s a large group coming Wednesday night – they are environmental people from all the communes of Hjorring and they are meeting about the future of nature and the best way to utilise it for the betterment of the area, things like community projects or natural tourism attractions.  They will arrive around 3pm Wednesday and will have a meeting / presentation and then dinner.  Fourteen will stay the night so that’s every guest room occupied.  On Thursday after breakfast there will be another meeting and then lunch with guests of about 23.  Because every guest room is occupied we need to move out of the room we’re in at the moment so we can get it ready for guests. We temporarily move into another guest room but we will move into the dungeon for Wednesday with Alejandro.

 We lay the carpet and then search for some beds – well actually there are plenty of beds but either the slats don’t fit or none of the mattresses fit.  Finally we find some beds and make more slats from planks on the wood pile.
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Once we’re done for the day we go and get changed and get the train to Frederikshavn.  We have a look around the shops looking for hairdressers because I’d like to get a haircut before Iceland but everything shuts at half 5 so I was hoping for late opening one evening so I could get it done.

After looking around the shops we stop at a pub called Peder Wessel, it’s small and very “local!”   There are some patrons tasting the local beer and Daz soon gets chatting to John, a ship’s engineer who’s pretty much sailed the world a couple of times over.  He works 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off.  John and his mate play a game with scratch cards where all numbers of a dice are available but if you pick the 6 you have to buy a round.  They’re drinking beer with chasers – one is a salted liquorice liquor which we try.  We end up playing the game and buying quite a few rounds.  Finally we manage to tear ourselves away and go in search of food before returning to Tolne.
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Tuesday 9th June

Today is another glorious day but disaster has struck again – we took our Kindles with us last night and something must have fallen on Daz’s Kindle and it’s broken.  So we need another Kindle.  So that’s 2 broken Kindles and a broken notepad in 5 months.  We take advantage of the good weather by working on the woodpile in the sun.  By the end of the day we have 4 stacks of wood ready for the kiln.

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Wednesday 10th June

Today we have another day off so we get the train to Skagen which is a big tourist attraction. It’s the most northern point of Denmark and from there everyone visits Grenen where the North Sea meets the Baltic.  We have a look round Skagen then hire bikes and cycle to Grenen and then walk along the beach to the point the 2 seas meet.


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It’s a beautiful day and the walk along the beach is lovely.  I’ve got my amazing shades on (which incidentally cost a fortune) but it’s like having x-ray vision and I can see so clearly into the sea, which is fantastic when there are loads of jelly fish to spot.
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After our walk to the End Of Denmark we cycle back to town and find a lovely restaurant for lunch looking out over the Marina.  P1070119

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When we get back dinner is just finishing for the 13 guests so we help clear away and tidy up.  We’re sleeping in the dungeon tonight so that should be an experience!


Thursday 11th June

Today we’re all up early to help with the guests.  The night in the dungeon was indeed interesting.  Daz’s bed made so much noise every time he turned over that I couldn’t sleep.
Once the guests are done with breakfast we prepare a room for them so they can hold their meeting and we all work together to prepare lunch for them.  This is a collection of open sandwiches – a Danish dish apparently. Smørrebrød (Danish pronunciation: [ˈsmɶɐ̯ɐˌb̥ʁœðˀ] ha ha good luck with that!!! I nearly choked… originally smør og brød, “butter and bread”) usually consists of a piece of buttered rye bread (rugbrød), a dense, dark brown bread. Pålæg (literally “on-lay”), the topping, then among others can refer to commercial or homemade cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese or spreads. This daily practice is the base on which the art of the famous Danish open sandwich, smørrebrød is created: A slice or two of pålæg is placed on the buttered bread, and then pyntet (decorated) with the right accompaniments, to create a tasty and visually appealing food item.  It takes 5 of us working from 10am to 12 (10 man hours)  to make approximately 180 smørrebrød,  30 of each of the following: fried fish, potato mayo and chive, pork and crackling with orange, cheese and hot sauce, Danish potato and meat salami and finally egg prawn and mayo with caviar.  Each on different breads, all buttered and with garnish, but they look good when we finish.
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We then serve this up and it is a little disappointing after all our hard work that only about half are eaten… Maybe Greg’s  quantities were out!!! But then his appetite is bigger than most others we have seen!!  But the guests have a great meeting and food was appreciated, now for the clean up!!!! After all our hard work we’re allowed to finish at 2pm but we all end up going for a nap.  In the early evening we take Lucy for a walk to another stone circle because it’s the site of a geocache.
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Lucy has a great time chasing rabbits and deer or perhaps just the scent of them but she must be covering at least 5 times the distance we do and at least 10 times our pace.  She’s like a steeplechaser where nothing is big enough to slow her down.  We spend 45 minutes searching for the cache and fortunately manage to avoid disaster by spotting all the club cyclists out before Lucy does – we’re really not sure if she’d give chase!  Back at the ranch Greg has taken Kieron and Hamilton out to the cinema to see Jurassic World so we have a relaxing evening with Janne, Iben and Masterchef.

Daz has also managed to get us flights with Wow Airlines to Iceland – the only wow element of this airway is ‘Wow what a fxxking shit website’  – it’s taken hours trying to book a seat only to have each booking rejected and phoning results in sitting in a queue for ages.  Nightmare but it’s finally done!


Friday 12th June

Today we wake to a quiet house and soon spot Janne’s message that they’ve gone out.  We get on with walking Lucy, cleaning the kitchen, stripping all the beds and remaking them, hoovering, dusting and putting all the furniture back that we moved for yesterday’s meeting.
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We’ve just started on the woodpile when Greg returns and of course everything is wrong.  The wood we’ve just cut is the wrong length even though this is what Greg showed Daz the other day and the woodpiles which were OK Tuesday afternoon are today in the wrong place.  It’s an interesting problem – in Sweden we were given a task and often worked on it for days even weeks with no intervention and often no comment.  Here the task requirement seems to change by the day!!  In the evening we go to the pub next door (it only opens at the weekend) and we sit in the sun whilst Ali plays his guitar and chat to Tonny, Frederick, Trina and Pieter, and others.  We have a lovely time and then return home for pizza night and Greg’s pizzas are absolutely fantastic!!

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Saturday 13th June

Another day off and we’re off to Lønstrup, a beautiful ancient fishing village.  First we get a train to Hjørring and look at some sights.  There’s Nørregarde the oldest Street in Hjørring and streets with some fabulous sculptures.
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From Hjørring we get the bus to Lønstrup and once we’ve walked around the village which has retained its old world charm,  we take a walk south along the beach path to see Rubjerg Knude Fyr – a migrating dune that has almost buried Rubjerg Lighthouse and ancillary buildings within a period of just 10 years.  This dramatic fate could not have been predicted when the lighthouse was built in 1900 on the highest point, approximately 60 metres above sea level.

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On the way to the lighthouse there’s Mårup church ruin, which is perched precariously on the cliff edge and likely to fall into the sea in years to come.  When the church was built in the 13th century, there was about 2 kilometres to the coast.  Since that time erosion has eaten away at the cliff, and now there’s just 6m between the church and its doom.  The outer part of the cemetery has already disappeared and part of the church has been taken down.  It is said that the graveyard contains a mass grave with 226 sailors that were lost when the English frigate “The Crescent” went down off the coast in 1808.

Having enjoyed the sites and witnessed the precarious cliff edge, we return to the village on ‘city bikes’  – they’re like Tesco trolleys – you insert the coin and release the bike and get the coin back when you return the bike to a recognised bike park.
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I think Daz would’ve felt safer in a Tesco’s trolley than he did on his bike.  Back in the village we catch the bus and train, returning home to Tolne for a quiet night in with Masterchef.

Sunday 14th June

Alejandro has a day off today so Daz and I get on with clearing kitchen and dining room.  Then Greg wants to clear the area at the side of the house and Janne and I go off for a tip run.  Once that’s done it’s back to the wood pile and a laundry frenzy to wash the mountain of laundry left after all the guests we had Thursday night.

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Denmark – welcome to Tolne

Monday 1st June
So today is our first day at work in Tolne, Denmark. We’re at a ceramic workshop/ B&B/ cafe – We arrived last night having got the ferry from Gothenburg to Frederikshavn (3.5 hours) and then the train to Tolne (15 mins).
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So it’s certainly a bit different here. Our workday starts with a morning briefing at 0930hrs – well really it’s just a chat about what was achieved yesterday and what needs to be done today. The place belongs to Greg (an American from Wisconsin) and his wife, Janne (German). They also have 3 children, 2 cats and a very shy dog, Lucy.
The ceramic studio is for Janne and Greg to work together and collaborate with other artists from around the world, making ceramics by hand, using local materials, and firing techniques involving wood, salt, and soda. There are also 2 other volunteers here Momoko (Japanese) and Alejandro (Argentina).
So back to the programme – there’s a chat about work that needs to be done and meals for the next few days and who’s taking time off and when. Greg likes to make sure volunteers get time off and make the most of it by getting away – apparently it makes for a happier/well balanced volunteer. The work ongoing at the moment is fixing up the bathrooms and fixing up some of the guest rooms. So Momoko and Alejandro are going to continue grouting the bathrooms and Daz and I are going to hang lining paper in one of the rooms. Daz ( the dark horse) has had wall papering experience – but I haven’t. So Daz takes charge and we paper the room.
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It takes all day with lunch and tea breaks but we get it finished and Greg and Janne are pleased with the result. Once finished we take Lucy for a walk through the Beech woods that surround this area – and it really is beautiful and fun especially when Lucy decides she needs to chase the Lily leaves on the lake and jumps in for a swim.
Dinner is a collaborative affair – we’re all in the kitchen making meatballs and cooking them on the stove. Of course it is a huge kitchen and there’s plenty of room for everyone to muck in and we’re cooking for 9 – and not a vegetarian in sight!
So Day 1 done and it’s been great and best of all there’s hot water all the time. Of course now Daz can have a hot shower daily (like he craved at the farm) he’s bound to revert to his old form of one a week to match his undies change!

Tuesday 2nd June
This morning Greg has gone out on his bike so in his absence we do some puddling and/or wedging. Greg and Janne are building pizza ovens for their friends and the clay needed for a traditional woodfired clay pizza oven is a clay sand mix. To mix the 2 we first throw down a layer of sand then cover this with blocks of clay, then another layer of sand and so on until we have a tower. Then we tread it together in a circular fashion in our bare feet until the 2 are thoroughly mixed, adding more clay and sand until there’s sufficient material for the oven. So Daz and I have mixed enough for one oven.
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We’ve just finished and we’re having a coffee break when Greg gets back. They have 6 Norwegian cyclists arriving today and there’s 2 Polish contractors staying so we need to prepare for their arrival. So we spend the remainder of the day cleaning and tidying and fixing up the bathrooms. Then the Norwegians arrive soaked to the skin and it’s all hands to the pump to greet them, make them comfortable, hide all the workgear upstairs and then make dinner for them – a double cheese and tomato lasagne. After dinner there’s a considerable clean up operation in the kitchen and dining room.
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Wednesday 3rd June
The plan today is a quick blitz in the kitchen, finish the bathrooms, paint the bedroom we prepared on Monday and make more clay for the pizza ovens because at the moment there’s only enough for one. However the plan doesn’t survive first contact with Greg. It takes all of us all morning to sort out the kitchen and then the guest house assessor cancels her 2pm appointment. Having found paint for the bedroom it transpires that there aren’t any rollers etc so that job is postponed until Janne buys us some. The bathrooms are also stalled when the universal hoses etc are found to be not that universal and are unfit for purpose. The fall back position – Ali is left to clean the bathroom tiles with vinegar and Daz and I are sent to the studio for more wedging. We need to add more sand to the mix we have from Tuesday and wedge it. So we add 7 buckets of sand but the sand is so wet that the clay becomes mud like and will never hold the form required for the pizza oven. So then we add powdered clay to dry out the mix. We add nearly half a sack of powdered clay which is like adding icing sugar to a mix – the dust goes everywhere but with clay it’s not so pleasant to inhale. Finally we have a pile of clay of reasonable consistency that will need to be put out in the sun tomorrow to dry further.
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We finish at 4 but then we take Lucy for a walk and then there’s dinner preparation, laying the table and then cleaning up afterwards.
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Thursday 4th June
Greg is out today so it’s just Janne running the show. We paint the bedroom we lined on Monday. It seems awfully patchy so it’ll probably need another coat.
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Then we move a sink and shelf to make more room in the kitchen and then do some weeding in the vegetable garden.
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We finish at 4 and take advantage of the gorgeous weather and take Lucy for a walk to the stone circle just outside the village.
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At about half 6 it’s dinner preparation and then clean up.

Friday 5th June
Busy day today. First thing there’s a cleanup after the Norwegians, breakfast and then doing their rooms and cleaning and hoovering throughout the house. Then at 10.30 with the car loaded with material we’re off to Tversted to build pizza ovens. We manage to build 2 but it takes 5 of us most of the day to do it. First Greg prepares the door arch, then behind that we make a sand mound – this will be the oven space. Over that Greg moulds on clay blocks. This is covered with a layer of insulation made of blown clay, mixed with clay powder and water. Finally we put on a layer of chalk mortar. Each stage is given time to ‘go off’ so we alternate between each oven. Finally we empty out the sand that formed the original mould.
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Finally we’re done and Nils takes us to the beach and treats us all to ice cream from the famous “Blue Hut”, which are fab! After a quick paddle in the cold sea it’s home for dinner.
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Saturday 6th June
Today is our day off and since Greg has arranged to have an end of course dayout with his Japanese students at Faarupsommerland, an amusement park, we go along for the ride. Momoko comes along too to add authentic Japanese flavour. Once we’re there we leave Greg and Momoko to the students and we go off to enjoy the rides. Fortunately the day has started wet so the park isn’t too crowded and we don’t have to queue too much so we go on the good rides over and over. The day soon clears into a gorgeous sunny day and we mess around on the trampolines, the rifle alley and a buried bouncy balloon and on the teacups which Daz has got spinning so fast I can’t focus on anything and struggle to hold my head up. What a great day!
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Sunday 7th June
Today we paint the ceiling of the guestroom and put a second coat on the walls. That’s all done soon after lunch so hopefully if it’s up to standard we’ll be able to clean up, lay the carpet and use the room for guests.
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Then we start on the wood pile that’s at the top of the garden. It needs to be cut down to useable lengths either for the wood burning stove or for the kiln.
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Once we’re done for the day we take Lucy for a walk and Iben decides to come along so we take her to the swings.
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