KYST 10 – from Pissebækken to Mølledal (Hammershus), 09/03/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 10 After a very early start the day began rather innocuously. I parked the car in Vang habour and walked along the coast and back to the waterfall. There was little wind and the temperature was around 1 or 2 degrees. While some ice and snow did remain, the waterfall was a torrent compared to last week. I struggled to depict the movement of the water.


Packing up my things I walked northward along the coast to ‘Stor Rams’ a huge erractic boulder depositied by a glacier, just by the water’s edge. This part of the coast is really off the beaten track and the only footprints in the snow were those of roe deer and hares. Already the wind was picking up and as I started painting it started to sleet, also on my painting.


My path along the beach was blocked by the imposing granite cliffs of ‘Mulekleven’, so I decided to climb up the wooded slope to the clifftop path. Despite all the weeks of frost, the mixture of wet mud and slush made the going very difficult and I had to make two trips on all fours with all my gear. By the time I arrived at the top I was soaked with sweat, and I huddled under my M60 while huge snowflakes drifted down, followed by sleet, and then rain.


Eventually I packed up and walked onwards along the coastal path towards Hammershus. The thick snow had turned into dirty slush, the path in places an icy brook. Soon my feet were completely soaked and frozen, so I was happy to find a small wooden hut where I spent the next few hours trying to warm up. I painted the view from the open door.


I collected some branches with strange looking lichens and slime mould.

The sturdy hut was built long ago for the coast guard, who would patrol the rocky coast, looking for ships in distress. Inside the hut information panels described their work and some of Bornholm’s better known shipwrecks. When I had warmed up a little I packed up and carried on along the path, first through some weather-beaten birch and wild cherry trees, and later through a more open heathland. Here in the face of a strong and sleety west wind I looked back at Vang harbor. The day felt long.


Eventually the path started descending back to the coast. I came into a large and open wooded area, full of huge oaks with twisted branches. The waves crashed into the shore and the wind roared in the tree tops. There were no birds, no signs of life even, and the atmosphere felt foreboding, threatening even. (see top)

I came down to the beach under the shadow of Hammershus, the ‘Hated Castle’, perched on a granite outcrop. The wind was blowing from the sea right up the valley and I sat and made a last painting, lasting just a few minutes before having to stop. I walked along the valley up to the road, annoyed with myself for giving up before the sunset.


Just as I reached the new Hammershus Visitor Centre I noticed a change in light. Somehow, after such a grey and dreary day, the clouds and sun had conspired to create an awe inspiring sunset. I sat down and drank in the incredible colours, with the castle silhouetted against a constantly shifting backdrop of oranges, purples and reds. It seemed like an amazing reward after a hard and challenging day, and this burst of sudden positivity lifted my spirits whilst I trudged through the slush all the way back to Vang where my car waited.



Weather report = snow, sleet and rain in the morning, light sleet in the afternoon. Overcast. Temperature between minus 1 and 3 degrees. Wind between 3 and 11 m/s first from the north, then the west. Visibility: poor, then better. Hours of sunshine: 5 mins (just as it set)

Lessons learned – take it easy. Take stops, do not allow yourself to get too hot and sweaty. Do not let your inner gloves get wet. Do not ever again go for a walk on slushy paths. Frozen and wet toes do eventually get warm when you walk on them. Stay to the end, it might be worth it.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 6.53 km

Day lasted = 11 hours, 22 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 18 species (0 new ones = running total 47)

Other stuff = irony of wanting to be outside all day and ‘away from it all’, but making Facebook and Instagram updates through the day. No bird drawings again.

People talked to = 2

In my head = Annoying development: voice in head commentary ‘should I write this in the blog?’ (including this sentence). ‘… Det er så fuldt af sjov, ude i en skov..’ children’s song in my head all day…





KYST 09 – from Vang Pier to Pissebækken, 02/02/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 09 Ever since the weekend, Bornholm had been covered by a thick blanket of snow and battered by a chilling east wind. School buses stopped running and only the main roads were cleared of the constantly drifting snow. After six in the evening, all activity ceased and we were warned not to make any unnecessary journeys. But as I looked out of the window early Friday morning the wind had died down a little, so I decided to go for it. The drive to Vang, which usually takes only 20 minutes or so, took nearly an hour, and I luckily fell in behind a convoy of slow moving cars. The road down to Vang is very steep and I was glad to find somewhere to leave the car by the harbour, and walk back to the start point by Vang pier through the thick virgin snow and morning gloom.

Despite leaving early, due to the long drive I was 10 minutes late for the sunrise just before 7am. It was still snowing hard, so I cleared a space and set up my M60. Despite being sheltered from the wind, the snow still swirled under the brolly and onto my paper. Four whooper swans sheltered in the sea under the cliffs, flanked by a rather confused and aloof mute swan.


It was minus seven out of the wind, but I was well prepared with seven layers of clothing, a hot water bottle and a thermos flask. I had also left extra provisions and firewood in the car. I painted with nearly boiling water, with my palette resting on the hot water bottle. This way I could mix paint and apply paint to the paper, where it froze almost immediately. I made many experiments and studies of the pigments freezing, letting the snow fall on the wet paint, or even burying the painting in the snow.



Here you can actually see how the outline of some of the snowflakes have been ‘captured’ by the pigment and frozen in the millisecond before being destroyed. I don’t really understand the physics, but it was incredible to see.


I packed up and trudged through the snow back towards Vang. In the shelter of the granite cliffs I cleared a circle of snow with my shovel and set up the M60 again. Here I tried to depict the wonderful wintry scenes around me.


At one point the sun briefly came out, and with direct sunlight on the paper I was able to avoid the paints freezing.


After a wonderful pot noodle and a warming coffee, I walked back to Vang harbor. I still had not seen a soul. Every now and then the sun would break through the clouds. The old fishing hamlet of Vang looked incredibly picturesque covered in snow.


A very kind couple I know invited me back to their summerhouse for a warming coffee. By this time my toes were frozen and I was glad for the opportunity to warm up, though it did feel a little wrong. Their house, an incredible old fisherman’s cottage that at one time had housed two families, was situated just outside Vang only metres from the shore. We talked about Vang, and how hard it must have been for the families back then, in crowded uninsulated and unheated houses, with little to look forward to other than another day on the freezing sea or slaving away at the quarry face. The fishermen have gone now and the quarry is closed, though Vang somehow retains its sense of community.

Soon I was burning up in all my clothes and I got back outside. The path along the shore was hidden in the thick snow. In the small wood skirting the base of the cliffs a roe deer bounded away before pausing and looking back at me. A flurry of feathers and blood on the snow marked the point where a sparrowhawk (or goshawk?) had surprised a woodcock. I could see where the hawk’s wing tips had brushed the snow as it swooped down. I imagined the chase and kill in the snowy silence. Further on I paused by some snow and ice covered boulders. The prospect was bleak but stunning in its clarity. (See top)

I walked back and forth along the path; partly looking for inspiration, partly looking to warm up. At my journey’s destination, Pissebækken (‘Piss Stream’) I sat down in the wood and looked up to the frozen waterfall. Under the ice I could still hear a trickle of water cascading down the granite cliffs. It was so cold now that the paint almost crackled on the paper as it froze. As the sun set behind the snow clouds at 5:29pm I walked back along the path, completely exhausted, to my waiting car.



Weather report = heavy snow in the morning, light snow in the afternoon. Overcast with some brief sunny spells in the morning. Temperature between minus 7 and minus 4 all day. Wind between 1 and 6 m/s first from the north, then the east. Visibility: bad. Hours of sunshine: 30 mins?

Lessons learned – hot water bottle and hot water a good way of painting in sub-zero temps – glycerin too wet and alcohol too damaging to paints and brushes. Need new boots.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 6.16 km

Day lasted = 10 hours, 9 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 24 species (2 new ones, collared dove and whooper swan = running total 47)

Other stuff = hare in field, do more woodcocks get taken in the snow? Why are there so many blackbirds by the coast?

People talked to = 2

In my head = keeping warm… too cold for telescope, no bird drawings in two weeks… Amazing Andy Goldsworthy exhibition in Lund.












KYST 08 – from Jons Kapel to Vang Pier, 23/02/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 08 Nearly two months in – I’m already an eighth of the way around the island and an eighth of the way through the year. Each walk is logistically more challenging, as the days get longer and the start and collection points are further from home. The project’s internal rhythm is settled now – recovery, research, walk, blog, recovery – and each Friday is a fantastic revelation, an adventure.

I settled in the snow at the top of the wooden staircase. It was completely still, the sea down below mirror-like and reflecting the pinks and oranges of the clear sky. It was minus 7; so cold that my fingers froze almost as quickly as the watercolours on the palatte.


As the sun crept over the horizon I wandered on a little, out of the shadows in the forest, and to a clearing where I basked in the warming light and gazed down at the ocean below. Suddenly a yellowhammer sang its familiar song – my first of the year and my first sign of spring, of rebirth. I tried to work with the ice and the colours, whilst all around me and further along the coast, I could see and hear yellowhammers singing and flitting around.


I moved on a little, but was unable to get down to the coast below. Up on the rocky coastal path, the familiar blackthorn, juniper and wild cherry trees hugged the hillside. An incredible feeling of peace and contentment.


cofI was joined unexpectedly by a friend and we walked on for a while, then rested in the sun, enjoying a wee Bornholmian dram and a warming coffee. I ambled on alone, but still couldn’t find my way to the coast. Eventually I walked through the huge Vang granite quarry and down on to the rocky coast. Here, in the gloomy shadow of the cliffs, my aim was to walk back along the coast, to Krogeduren, a huge freestanding granite outcrop which I wanted to paint. There was no path and I jettisoned my chair and M60 brolly as the going was tough. The granite boulders were rounded and slippery by the water, but angular and unstable closer to the cliffs. Eventually I made it to Krogeduren and found a wonderful vantage point, just as the first rays of sun broke over the top of the cliffs and onto the top of the granite tower…only to realise I had left my paints and drawing board sandwiched in the chair. Much swearing. I made a quick pencil drawing, but I was cold and tired.

Back where I had left my equipment I looked towards the edge of the Vang pier, with Hammerhus visible in the far distance. I had intended to make a timed study of the passing of the sunlight and shadows over the rocks, but by now the sun was obscured by thick clouds and the wind was beginning to blow.


I boiled some water for my late lunch, a pot noodle, only to spill all of the newly boiled water over my drawing board, my bag and my tarp. Much more swearing. In the space of half an hour the day had gone from clement to inclement, and my mood with it. I walked around a bit to warm up, then made a quick and wintery study of the Vang ‘art bridge’, where the cliff between the quarry and the coast was dynamited to provide improved unloading facilities from the quarry to the pier.


On the pier itself, in the freezing wind and gloom, I was momentarily cheered up by a small group of zestful meadow pipits. The heavy grey clouds slowly pushed on southwards, gradually covering the remaining strip of light on the horizon, as it passed from yellow, to orange, and then to red, before finally disappearing altogether (see top).


Weather report: clear start to the day, later overcast, minus 7 to 0°C, wind 1 to 6 m/s from north. Visibility: not bad. Hours of sunshine: 4

Lessons learned – always put the stove on something level and stable, and take gloves off before taking the boiling water off. If you’re going to put the frozen watercolour palette in your trousers to warm it up, be prepared for defrosted paints to run down your legs.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 7.45km

Day lasted = 10 hours, 18 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 18 species (3 new = yellowhammer, robin and meadow pipit = running total 45)

Other stuff = roe deer bounding across the field in the freezing dawn

People talked to = 3

In my head = ‘alene i vildmarken’ (‘Alone’), what it would be like to NOT have anyone to talk to at the end of the day, to NOT come home to a lovely shower and a cold beer. Chess, again. Trust.





KYST 07 – from Helligpeder to Jons Kapel, 16/2/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 07 Overcast, cold and facing an onshore wind, Helligpeder presented a bleaker prospect than it had during last week’s visit. Squadrons of cormorants flew over the agitated waves. A pair of swans took shelter in the harbour, the only noise the grinding of a digger repairing one of the harbor arms. There was not a soul to be seen save the digger operator, who must have started work even earlier than me.


I walked northwards, at first on the beach and then on the road when the going was too hard. Groups of flightly mallards sheltered from the waves amongst the huge erratic boulders that skirted the shore. Soon I had reached Teglkås, another tiny fishing harbour, almost a carbon copy of Helligpeder. Here too generations of fisherman and their families had based their lives around the catching and processing of herring, cod and salmon. According to an information panel in the harbor, there was only one commercial vessel still registered at the harbor.

At some point between Helligpeder and Teglkås I must have crossed the ‘Tornquist Zone’, a geological boundary between the younger rocks of south of the island and the older bedrock of the north – a crustal boundary that runs from Norway all the way to the Caspian Sea. Stepping from the Jurassic sandstone of Hellipeder to the gneiss of Teglkås was effectively a journey of a thousand million years. I stopped just before Ginesminde, the last house before the cliffs really started, and previously a cafe.


At this point the coastal path turns into the woods and up over the cliffs. I thought I’d try to see if I could walk all along the shore to my destination Jons Kapel, where I knew there was a wooden staircase that would take me up the cliffs and back to my pick-up point. The shore was strewn with slippery granite boulders of all shapes and sizes and hard going. I stumbled and tripped, laden with my ridiculous unwieldy rucksack, chair, drawing panels and umbrella. I stopped for some food and marveled at the lichen diversity on the boulders. Here I really felt far from the madding crowd.


Finally I rounded a small cape and could see the strange and impressive granite formation of Jons Kapel (‘John’s Church’), framed by the vertical white cliffs of ‘Hvidkleven’ further north.


As I settled down in front of Jons Kapel the sun suddenly started to shine – surely a good omen, for here I was supposedly at the site of Bornholm’s conversion to Christianity. According to legend, Jon was a hermit who gave sermons from the cave at the bottom of the cliff, eventually climbing to the ‘pulpit’ at the top of the cliff, when space ran out. With the constant roar of the waves, the awkward boulders and the steep cliffs, it is difficult to imagine a less agreeable spot for introducing a new religion. In any case, the ‘church’ lit by the sun was a marvelous sight, clad in a rainbow of lichens and mosses (see image at top)


Soon the sun retreated behind a band of clouds and the wind increased in intensity. I retraced my steps a little and made some studies of the cormorants perching on the cliffs. Many of the birds were engaged in a rather half-hearted courtship display, arching their backs and wafting their wings provocatively, before giving up and looking around, seemingly a litte embarrassed. Still, a sign of the impeding spring, though spring itself still feels very far way.


By now it was spitting and I made my way back to the Jons Kapel and climbed up the huge wooden staircase to the top of the cliffs. Here, gazing down at the granite cliffs, I made my last painting in the gloom and the rain, and trudged off, absolutely exhausted, to my lift home. For the first time, I had not seen or spoken to a single soul all day.



Weather report: overcast with some sunny spells in the afternoon, 2 to 4 °C, wind 6 to 9 m/s from west. Visibility: bad. Hours of sunshine: 2

Lessons learned – walking on granite boulders is not fun. You need to peg the brolly down in even minimal winds (boulders are not good enough)

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 8.18km

Day lasted = 9 hours, 52 minutes

Birds seen and heard = only 17 species (1 new one, a razorbill, though not perching on the cliffs unfortunately = running total 42)

Other stuff = looked for ‘dragons gold’ moss, but couldn’t find any

People talked to = 0

In my head = chess moves constantly running in an unarticulated way in the background of my consciousness (without actually thinking, I move boulders across my vision as if playing a game of chess)





KYST 06 – from Hasle Havn to Helligpeder, 9/2/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 06 As I settled down and unpacked my bag at last week’s end-point, I looked above the silhouette of Hasle’s marina up to a deep blue and completely cloud free sky. For the first time since this project began I could look forward to some sunshine. It was bitterly cold but crystal clear, and a deep frost had covered everything in white fuzz. There was almost no wind.

I began to paint but, as my palette and water began to adjust to the ambient temperature, the paint started to freeze on the paper. It was incredible to see the crystalline shapes appear within the painted washes but soon the paint started to freeze on the palette itself, and the sludgy mess was impossible to work with.


I left the marina and headed north – not on the coastal path which deviates here from the coastline, but on the rough and barren beach itself. The gentle sandy shore of the last few weeks was now replaced with granite pebbles and rocks.  After a while I stopped and set up the brolly, and experimented a little – creating ice washes and adjusting the temperature of the water, and even adding a little gin that I had bought with me.  The ice and pigment combined to make incredible but very subtle patterns.


The beach was covered in pebbles with some larger erratic boulders, bordered by layers of sandstone and clay finely marked with black veins of coal. I made studies of some far off gulls and cormorants, but fought against the ice on the paper and my freezing feet. As often happens, the discomfort I experienced translated into expressive and animated brush strokes – reflecting the moment in an honest and authentic way. Again the ice created incredible textures on the paper.




I packed up and ambled onwards, slipping on the ice-covered granite pebbles and boulders, deposited by retreating glaciers. This part of the coast bears witness to the time when Bornholm was released from the grip of the Ice age, and just inland is a terrace and slope which is actually a coastal cliff from 10,000 years ago. This afforded me some protection now from the freezing south easterly wind, which was picking up a little, and I looked back towards the rising sun and Hasle, and a fanstastic ivy-covered tree.


Continuing northwards, I sat in the warming sun and spent far too long painting an old and twisted hawthorn bush. There were very few birds around and no people at all.


I could see the white chimneys of old smokehouses in the distance. Here the path rejoined the coastline, and I was glad to get off the pebbles for a while and follow the road to Hellipeder, my destination. At Hellipeder I settled down and prepared for the fantastic sunset that I knew I was imminent. The small but very picturesque harbor is no longer used for commercial fishing, but is today managed and maintained by a group of volunteers. Again my thoughts drifted back to the recent past, only 60 or 70 years ago, when this harbor would have housed and protected a close-knit community of fisherman and their families.

I painted in strips, every twenty minutes or so, and followed the sun as it disappeared behind some clouds, only to reappear momentarily blood red. I struggled with the colours and the pace of change, but just as the sun finally dipped below the horizon the paint started freezing again, creating some amazing crystal patters on the deepening blue sky (see painting at top)


Weather report = Sunny with some cloudy spells,  minus 3 to 1 °C, Wind 3 to 7 m/s from south and southeast. Visibility: Good. Hours of sunshine: 8

Lessons learned – you need to mix large quantities of gin into water to stop it freezing. Neat alchohol must be better and cheaper.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometres walked = 6.93km

Day lasted = 9 hours, 27 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 27 species (1 new one = running total 41)

Other stuff = a sparrowhawk flashed by. What an amazing bird.

People talked to = 4

In my head = whether I can escape the illness currently afflicting most of my family and half of Bornholm, the Jordan Peterson interview on transgender politics, being strong and resiliant, social change, how best to protect and help people I love





KYST 05 – from Klympen to Hasle Havn, 2/2/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 05 Unpacking in dawn’s gloom, the fresh south-westerly bit into my hands. The wind, though cold, was invigorating and I quickly huddled under the shelter of my ‘M60’ giant brolly, and carried on where I had left off the week before.


As I sat and painted the emerging day’s light, a kestrel appeared as a black cross in the distance, hanging in the onshore wind over the grass and brush that bordered the sandy shore. The wind must have been perfect for the little bird as it managed to remain completely still, as if pinned to the sky, making constant small adjustments of its tail and the angle of wings. Then it would wheel around and take up a new position, a little closer towards where I was sitting. This went on for some time. Every now and then it would make an aborted dive, or a hooded crow would mob it momentarily. Soon, it was right over my head, completely oblivious to me, as I sat and sketched and sketched.


A connection with a bird like this is my ‘endgame’. By intently looking, following and drawing I become completely lost in the moment nothing exists other than the bird in its environment and its connection to my eye and my consciousness. It blows my mind to witness such a creature, battling in the wind, struggling to survive, perfectly evolved. By looking and drawing I raise the level of my own connection to the bird. Amazing… I’ve always had ‘a thing’ for kestrels anyway – it was actually the first bird I learnt to draw over 40 years ago…

Time flew and after the kestrel moved on, and after I had talked to TV2 Bornholm who were on their own journey around the island, I packed up and headed north towards Hasle. Heading into the harbor area, I stopped in the shelter of some trees and made a couple of sketches of a Herring Gull, sitting stoically in the freezing surf.


Walking around the deserted harbor area in Hasle, I wasn’t feeling ‘it’. II walked past the chimneys of the herring smokery, and read some information panels that described Hasle’s fishing past. Just a few decades ago Bornholm’s fishing industry was lucrative and coastal towns with a good harbor like Hasle did a roaring trade. But then, in the mid 80’s it collapsed through overfishing, and has never really recovered. Hasle has since reinvented itself as a tourist destination. It lacks the charm of the prettier East coast towns, but seems somehow more honest. It certainly wasn’t charming today, as the cold wind and lack of sun presented a rather depressing prospect.


I struggled with the straight lines and concrete of the harbor. Once again I cowered under the M60 and looked for birds again. Some cormorants were resting on the harbor arms, throwing some amazing shapes.



Time was running out and I walked back along the harbor arm and then onward to the marina, where rows of new smart terraced summerhouses sit overlooking rows of small sailboats. I looked around for inspiration, never a good idea, and wrestled with the familiar question of what and why. I want my paintings to reflect my day’s experience, but I also want them rooted in the place where they are created. But I’m not making a bloody guidebook. I finished off with a wide angled view of the darkening clouds, tinged with orange, and behind which the invisible sun set. Hasle’s strange hodgepodge of a silhouette, with grain silos, diving platforms and boats of all types, glowered silently below.



Weather report = overcast. 1 – 3 °C. Wind 5 – 8 m/s from Southwest. Visibility: Good. Hours of sunshine: nada

Lessons learned – need to enjoy being in the towns more

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometres walked = 5.70km

Day lasted = 9 hours, 03 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 22 species (2 new ones = running total 40)

Other stuff = a possible rock pipit amongst the rocks. Could have been a meadow pipit. I love wrens, had no idea there were so many of them on the coast.

People talked to = 2

In my head = Chess moves. Human evolution. Should I go out and get drunk on Friday night? My foot black and blue and sore because I fell during Floorball on Monday. 10km race on sunday, can I run it?


KYST 04 – from Levka to Klympen 26/01/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 04 Driving to the coast through thick fog, I was nevertheless excited and eager to see what the day would bring. Incredibly, the sea was calm yet again, and there was very little wind. Bands of thick fog rolled in with visibility sometimes down to a few hundred metres, while at some moments the horizon could be suddenly be seen.


I trudged north. This part of the coast seems quite deserted and there were very few people about. A fisherman, a couple of kayakers and not much else. The sandy shore of the previous two weeks was starting to give way to boulders, pebbles and shingle.


Eventually I reached ‘Kultippan’, an incredible lunar landscape of mud and clay, jutting out from the coastline. The mud and clay had been deposited here during the 1940s, as a waste product from a nearby open coal mine that is now a small lake. This short-lived enterprise at one time employed 60 people but closed after just a few years as it was not economically viable.


The resulting landscape is like nothing else on Bornholm. The thick fog together with the lack of vegetation created an apocalyptic mood. Perhaps this in turn influenced my own mood, but I struggled with the landscape, the fog coming and going, and the thick clay getting everywhere.

cof cof

Some passers-by explained how, when they were children, the mud mountain had still been flat and they had even skied and tobogganed here in the winter. Now, the mud was carved with innumerable valleys, rivers and rivulets, decades of rain water having left their tracks. Exasperated, I decided to forget about observing in the literal sense and tried something else. I played with the paint, trying to recreate the journey of water through the clay and mud, with the paints on the paper.

cof  img_20180127_111208.jpg

I watched some birds on the calm sea from my high vantage point. A solitary velvet scooter (the black one) was seemingly trying to ‘fit in’ with some long tailed ducks, near a group of great created grebes. They all shunned him.


Eventually I carried on northwards to my destination ‘Klympen. I sat on the beach as dusk fell. There was no wind and there were no people. Though obscured by the fog, I could hear the ducks calling to each other far out at sea. Just as I packed up, thousands of chacking and chawing rooks and jackdaws suddenly wheeled and swirled over me, before disappearing into the murky blue emptiness, on their way to roost in the nearby forest.


Weather report = thick fog sometimes clearing but otherwise overcast. 3 – 5 °C. Wind 0 – 3 m/s from South and East. Visibility: Poor. Hours of sunshine: nada.

Lessons learned – Don’t have to throw toys out of the pram when things go wrong, have all day to do stuff. Take a break from looking every now and then.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometres walked = 4.47km

Day lasted = 8 hours, 35 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 23 species (3 new ones = running total 38)

Other stuff = disturbed heron flying into fog over sea, panicked and turn back. Funny

People talked to = 6

In my head = same old, same old


KYST 03 – from Blykobbe Å (Skovly) to Levka 19/01/18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 03 After a brief walk through the murky woods at Skovly, I arrived at the coast and found the patch of grass where I had concluded KYST 02 the week before. The sun was not yet risen, but already it was apparent that the weather was mild and the snow and ice that covered most of the rest of the island was nowhere to be seen. Even better, there was no wind, and looking up I could see patches of cloudless sky. I sat still as a pair of buzzards drifted just over me, calling plaintively, one settling on the twisted branches of a nearby birch. A jay shrieked just as an energetic flock of siskin bounced past. No one else about. A good start to the day.


I headed north, facing the ragged collection of fishermens’ huts at ‘Sorthat Odde’. The sun had broken the horizon now, and the fine colours together with the contour-like lines of shingle and seaweed left by the waves caught my eye. I made an unsuccessful study of some mosses, lichen and a small dead fish which I found on the water’s edge (a sea trout, a smolt?), and then a charcoal drawing of an incredible root system of a pine tree, perched on the edge of the dune between the beach and the forest. The black centre surrounded by twisted roots looked like a portal to the underworld.

Eventually I continued north, past the huts and the rather feeble but lovingly restored gun emplacements, and up to the edge of ‘Pyritesø’ (Pyrite Lake) an old clay pit now filled with fresh water and separated from the sea by a thin wall of mud, clay and sandstone. It is here, specifically in the Jurassic ironstone deposited as a by-product of the clay extraction, that Bornholm’s dinosaurs have been found (well, their teeth and the odd footprint). I had a quick look for any fossils, but, no luck. Instead I settled on the wall and made some studies of the tufted ducks and Goosanders resting in the calm waters of the lake. Before my lunch I made by a study of the reflections on the far side of the lake. The waves will eventually break through the wall and then the lake’s present shoreline will become part of Bornholm’s coast.


Incredible to think that just a few hundred meters away, deep in the woods, lies the derelict remains of the ‘Hasle Klinker og Charmottesten Fabrik’ a factory extracting first coal, then clay and kaolin, and producing tiles and refractory mateirals. Closed only in 1980, it was the island’s biggest employer, at one point providing the livelihood for over 600 families.

But now, just the odd dog-walker, a few joggers, some canoeists paddling by, and a birdwatcher friend. Looking to the sea I could see bands of rain passing slowly northwards. The edge of one cloud must have just clipped the island, and for a pair of minutes it sleeted a little, followed by a ten minute burst of bright sunlight. Packing up the M60 I trudged northwards again. Here the coast is rather straight and at one point I could see the distant chimneys of Rønne to the South and Hasle to the North, both about 5km distant. Over-heating in all my gear I sat on the beach and watched a male Long-Tailed Duck feeding not far from the shore. It is a fantastic privilege to share time, to really observe a wild creature going about its business. To watch it struggle for survival, a perfectly evolved amalgamation of form and function. The Long Tailed Duck is an tough little bird, and it was extraordinary to imagine it swimming underwater looking for food on the sea bed, as it periodically disappeared from my view with a rather flamboyant dive.


Reaching my destination, Levka, I was tired now and the wind had picked up. The sky and sea were huge and almost absurdly dramatic. I made a painting in ‘strips’, trying in vain to capture, tame or follow the ever changing movement of tone and colour as the sun set behind the clouds. Each time I looked I became aware of new colours and new movement and the overwhelming hugeness of it all together with my tiredness resulted in a complete and thorough exhaustion. This time I was, thankfully, picked up.



Weather report = overcast, but some very brief sunny spells in the afternoon. 0 – 3 °C. Wind 0 – 3 m/s from West. Visibility: Good. Hours of sunshine: 15 minutes.

Lessons learned – Walk slowly. Before you pack up completely, walk ahead a little just to check that something good is not just around the corner.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometres walked = 5.51km (again!)

Day lasted = 8 hours, 16 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 29 species (12 new ones = running total 35)

Other stuff = A flock of 7 Whooper Swans flew right over my head.

People talked to = 1

In my head = the difference between recording the coastline in a sort of objective and didactic way, and recording my own subjective experiences. The two possible extremes, and the balance between the two. Relationship between observation and perception. Francis Ngannou vs Stipe Miocic. Glad for some birds. Feeling that I’m ‘owed’ some bad weather…

For the full updated map see here

KYST 02 – from Hvideodde to Blykobbe Å, 12/01/18

se denne side på DANSK her

(see here for introduction to the Kyst project)

KYST 02 From the moment I sat down on the grassy knoll where I had finished KYST 01 the previous week, I was aware of the peculiar weather conditions. There was no wind at all and the sea was glassy and mirror-like. A thick layer of low cloud meant that the rising sun was completely hidden. Instead the day started with a slow and almost imperceptible brightening. I could just about make out some feint orange edges on some of the lower clouds, but otherwise it was an almost apologetic start to the day.

I started right where I left off, looking south to the chimneys and church spires of Rønne. My first painting out of the way, I headed north, around the ‘corner’ of Hvidodde and left the town behind me. Now I found myself on ‘Antoinette Beach’, a narrow and gently sloping sandy stretch of coastline stretching north for 10km all the way to Hasle and bordered by a forest of mostly pine, birch and spruce, planted in the 19th century to halt the spread of the migrating sand dunes which threatened the coastal farms at that time. The forest bordering the beach is criss-crossed with innumerable paths for dog walkers, joggers and mountain bikers and, in the summer at least, is Bornholm’s unofficial nudist beach. No luck today though as the beach was almost empty, and I trudged on northwards.

The complete lack of wind meant that it was easy to keep warm, and I didn’t even need to put up the ‘M60’. Stopping by one of the huge granite erratic boulders (‘vandreblokker’) that dot the shore – deposited by retreating glaciers in the last ice age – I struggled to depict the huge sky and sea in all its subtle glory. At first glance, the mirror-like sea seemed to blend almost imperceptibly into the cloud covered sky, but over time I became aware of the incredible and delicate variation in tone and colour. Even more challenging, the everything was changing over time – but so slowly you hardly noticed it. At one point the sea at the horizon would be bronze and darker than the deep violet blue of the clouds it bisected, a moment later, it would be lighter than the clouds and silvery grey. But everything happened so slowly, it was incredible to just sit there at watch it all unfold right in front of me. Amazing.

I had my telescope with me, and the tranquil sea meant I was able to see much further than usual – for miles and miles in all directions. Groups of graceful Great Crested Grebes (store lappedykker) were preening and resting on the undulating waves, and further out a large and active flock of Long Tailed Ducks milled around. A solitary Common Scooter rested close by some Goldeneye. The huge vista, the glass-like sea and the gentle lapping of the wavelets at the water’s edge, together with mournful calls of the Long Tailed Ducks created for a calming, almost soporific spectacle.

The traces of mica and patterns left by retreating waves is definitely something I want to return to.

In the afternoon the sun tried to break thorough, but to no avail. Eventually I reached the mouth of the Blykobbe river, my destination, but the day had passed too quickly again and I had little time to really explore the area. This is one of the places where a kingfisher might turn up in the winter, but no such luck today. I wandered around, tried to get something down but with no great success. But I’ll be back next week, and that is a wonderful thought.

No pick up today, so I had a retrace my steps in the dusk, all the way back to Hvidodde and my waiting car. Thankfully, compared to KYST 01, I had lightened my load a little and the going was not too difficult. The walk back gave me time to reflect on the challenges and encounters of the day. A strange day, a dreamy day, and a real contrast to the frenetic and soggy KYST 01. As before, the question of what and why and how dominated my thoughts. Little or no progress was made in any of those regards, but find solace in the fact that there are still 50 weeks to go…


Weather report = overcast, thick layer of cloud. 1 – 3 °C. Wind 0 – 3 m/s from East. Visibility: Good. Hours of sunshine: none.

Lessons learned – not sure… get there earlier

Stops with the M60 = 0

Kilometres walked = 5.51km (not including walk back)

Day lasted = 7 hours, 17 minutes (ditto)

Birds seen and heard = 17 species (8 new ones = running total 23)

Other stuff = mica lines left by waves

People talked to = 2

In my head = why am I doing this? what am I (supposed to be) looking at/for? relationship between seeing and remembering, poker, trip to Brussels, NaturBornholm commission, dinosaurs, etc, etc,