KYST 19 – from Stammershalle to Døndalen, 11.05.18

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

 

KYST 19 As I arrived back at Stammershalle, I could still see distant flashes and rumblings in the leaden sky from the huge thunderstorm that had kept me awake a few hours previously. There was no wind and the dawn air was mild, but there were intermittent light showers and the dark sky threatened. There was a peculiar rose-orange glow where the rising sun was hidden by the thick cloud layer. The smell of the rain and the cool air felt rejuvenating and I was keen to get started. Instead of painting from the same place where I had finished the week before, I decided to break with tradition and concentrate on the sky.

Stammershalle is a huge gneiss promontory with commanding views of the eastern coastline of Bornholm between Sandvig and Gudhjem. No wonder then that the site is riddled with graves, standing stones and other archaeological artefacts all the way from Bornholm’s first Paleolithic settlers to the Iron Age. I wandered around and soaked up the atmosphere, to a constant twittering of linnets, whitethroats and yellowhammers. To the west I could see changes in the weather and I quickly set up a ‘slice painting’, recording the changes in the sky and light over a period of several hours (see top).

Looking north back towards Tejn, groups of eider ducks were hauling out in the sheltered bays between the rocks. With my telescope I admired the crisp graphic shapes of the dumpy eider drakes.

A little closer, a pair rested on the rocks, the drake preening vigorously while the duck looked on admiringly.

Eventually I packed my things and walked on through the drizzle. Heading south east I kept to the rocky shore away from the coastal path close to the road. Again, this part of the coast felt little-visited and I took it slowly, taking frequent rests and gazing at the rich and undisturbed habitat, the wild orchids and tadpole-filled rock pools. Eventually I came to a small pebbly beach where I set up my M60 and made some lunch. The weather was changing all the time and a fog rolled in, obscuring the Helligdom cliffs from view, to the south.

Completely and wonderfully alone I ambled in the sprawling woodland skirting the beach and watched a pair of sand lizards engaged in some strange courtship dance – the female’s jerking her arms in a curious way before darting suddenly off, only to be tracked down by the persistent male in his emerald finery. A group of resting eider drakes bobbed around in front of me oblivious to my presence.

The fog dissipated and the sun broke through the clouds for a few moments. I couldn’t stop myself painting more eiders, one of my favourite subjects.

I painted to the chack and rattle of the thrush nightingales that were just setting up their territories all the way around Bornholm’s coast. A more visible KYST companion are the white wagtails constantly flitting between the rocks on the shore

I was tired and had already been going for nearly eight hours – and yet the day was only half started. I couldn’t sleep and ambled onwards. The going was tough over the rocky and pebbly shore and I cursed all my equipment. I walked past the tiny harbour at Bådsted, a little-known jewel of a place, and through wild growth of nettles, to arrive at another rocky headline. Here a colony of common gulls screamed and yelped at my arrival.

With time, however, the gulls settled down and returned to their nests. I sat and drew portraits of one gull who sat not three metres from me, her button-like eye staring at me reproachfully.

Eventually I continued on to a large stony beach, hidden from the busy road by a thick and overgrown wood. Birdsong and the wonderful smell of cherry blossom and wild garlic emanated from the trees. I wandered along the woodland path and marveled at it all. The white anemone and cherry blossom had now peaked and had been replaced by the constellations of wild garlic flowers. The elm and wild cherry trees wore fresh new leaves, with the alder and ash not far behind. I partly felt the need to record this floral abundance for the KYST project, and felt almost guilty that I had concentrated so heavily on eiders. But I was tired and was content looking.

I walked on, over rocky capes and pebbly beaches, until I eventually made it to the mouth of the Døn stream. Here a valley cloaked in thick forest carries the stream in to the heart of Bornholm, so I made a detour and wandered around the woods, hoping I might spot a dipper. I didn’t and returned to the coast, where I painted a large tree in two sections. I was dead tired now and finished off just as the sun was setting behind some thin clouds, momentarily casting a golden light over the nearby Helligdom cliffs, next week’s destination.

KYST 19

Weather report = Overcast with scattered showers in the early morning and early afternoon. Foggy periods with the sun breaking periodically through. Temperature between 10 and 15 °C. Wind between 2 and 3 m/s from the northwest. Visibility: good to poor. Hours of sunshine: 2 hours .

Lessons learned – if you see something that really catches your eye (a flower for instance) don’t think, ‘I’ll stop and find another one later’, ‘cos you won’t.

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometers walked = 9.81  km

Day lasted = 15 hours, 55 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 45 species (8 new ones = osprey, hobby, black throated divers, tree creeper, whitethroat, thrush nightingale, wood warbler, garden warbler = running total 89)

Other stuff = perfect weather conditions for the whole day really…. The smell of a seabird colony is such a special odor – unlike any other I know – and one that always fills me with excitement and reminds me of Scotland, Bass Rock and the Seabird Drawing Course

People talked to = 0

In my head = …driving over to the island to Stammershalle at 4.30 in the morning, I took the ‘bumpy road’ skirting the Rø forest. Just as I crested one of the small hills a car (another car – at 4.30!) shot over the hill in the opposite direction. We were both towards the middle of the road, and possibly a little over the speed limit, and we must have missed each other by a matter of inches. It was so close and so sudden that I was completely shook up, heart pounding, and for the rest of the day I was plagued by ‘what if’ thoughts. Just one metre to the left and it would have been game over. Crazy.

KYST 18 – from Tejn Harbour to Stammershalle, 04.05.18

For at læse denne KYST 18 blog på Dansk, se her…

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 18 Once again I was greeted by a clear blue sky, a dead calm sea, and the miraculous sight of the blood orange sun breaking the horizon. I quickly set myself up back at the bench where I had watched the sunset only five days previously. I made an identical picture, split into three sections.

Soon after I arrived, the first groups of sailors started turning up for the ‘Trolling Master Bornholm 2018’, a five-day sports fishing race to land the largest salmon. The atmosphere of the harbor slowly became almost festival-like, as groups of people clad in matching suits unloaded their gear prepared their equipment and boats in the fresh morning light. A drone flew overhead filming and a voice on the Tannoy assembled the competitors.  Slowly the first group of boats chugged out of the harbour and positioned themselves in formation by the mouth of the harbour arm in a huge semi-cirlce. With the sounding of a klaxon there was a colossal roar of engines and the boats sped off in all directions. It was an impressive sight and it was fantastic to see the harbour heaving with activity, but I couldn’t help wondering how, in the space of a generation, a thriving fishing industry had been replaced by this.

I walked on, away from the town and along the rocky and uneven coast. Between the rocks and the gardens of the fantastic houses facing the sea, there was a coastal meadow, with sea rush, tussocks of grass and countless pools wriggling with tadpoles and newts. Every now and then I would cross a small stream. I looked around for grass snakes, but found none. A dead herring gull, beautifully lit, caught my attention (see top)

I clambered over and across rocks and gullies, capes and bays. A little further I came to Dybe Rende, a fault or crack in the bedrock, forming a narrow natural harbour.

Further along the coast, I could see with my telescope an odd couple resting together on the rocks. A shelduck and a barnacle goose, I remembered them from last week’s walk. Actually I’ve seen shelduck/barnacle goose pairings before in other places; there must be some sort of mutual attraction. Strange as they don’t resemble each other at all and are not even that closely related.

I walked on, over a larger stream and on to a deserted pebbly beach, where on a small sandy clearing I set up the M60, had some lunch and took a nap in the warm sun. On waking I walked around and explored the small unkempt woodland facing the beach. The coast between Tejn and Stammershalle is rarely visited and quite inaccessible with no coastal path, and it was all new to me. I made some studies of the leaves and flowers I found – I know next to nothing of botany and drawing is the best way I know of learning. There was succulent growth and bird song.

Eventually I packed up and trudged onwards, over the folded bedrock that hugged most of the coast. The coastal meadow was dominated by lumpy hillocks of grass and the going was no easier. With my binoculars I could see groups of eider ducks cavorting around, and further out the Trolling boats speeding back to Tejn Harbour. I looked back up towards Tejn, with Allinge visible in the distance.

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As I approached my journey’s destination a couple of friends dropped by with fortifying refreshments and we sat and chatted for a while on the rocks. I was glad for the company, but there was a chilly wind now and I braced myself for a final session on the day’s destination Stammershalle, a huge rocky outcrop jutting out into the sea. Despite the long day I was running out of time and I settled down and looked northwest at the setting sun. It had been a fantastic walk along an unspoiled and little-known part of Bornholm’s coast in wonderful weather, but there was a niggling feeling that I had not made the most of it. As I jogged all the way back to the car, I made copious mental notes of things to change for next time.

KYST 17

Weather report = Sunny for almost all of the day. Temperature between 6 and 12 °C. Wind between 2 and 5 m/s from the northwest. Visibility: good. Hours of sunshine: 13 hours .

Lessons learned – With my present palette I am unable to produce or mix a really good purple. Need to find one and add it for next time.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 10.3  km

Day lasted = 15 hours, 15 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 40 species (2 new ones = oystercatcher and raven = running total 81)

Other stuff = need to shake it up a bit. The coast and weather has been broadly similar for three weeks in a row.

People talked to = 2

In my head = glad to be feeling more healthy again…but still feeling so run down

 

KYST 17 – from Store Sandkås to Tejn Harbour, 29.04.18

For at læse denne KYST 17 blog på Dansk, se her…

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 17 Two days later than planned, thanks to a nasty and never ending cold, I finally made it back to Store Sandkås in time for the sunrise. It was mild and still but overcast.

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Before carrying on along the coast, I made a short detour to the mouth of Store Dal, one of Bornholm’s many nearby ‘sprækkedale’ (a narrow and deep valley formed by a fault line in the granite bedrock). Here I sat in the hidden wood and enjoyed a carpet of white anemones and a rather muted dawn chorus.

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I returned to the coast and my parked car where I had my breakfast and a flask of coffee waiting for me. There were no people around, and only a few birds. The day seemed different to my other walks, it really felt like a Sunday. The clouds had by now vanished and the monotonous lilting trill of the willow warblers and distant cawing from a rookery made me drowsy. I packed up my things and walked along the sandy beach for a while. To my right the hotels and summer houses of Sandkås. Eventually I stopped by a fine and well situated Alder tree. I painted the tree from the trunk upwards, as it grows, my paintbrush following the twisted branches and ending with the first shoots budding on some of the outermost twigs.

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I walked on and found a spot on the beach where I set up the M60 brolly and tried to sleep. I was still unwell and exhausted. I couldn’t sleep and was drawn in by the strong sunlight on the granite outcrops.

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I slept a little, woke and walked over to the water’s edge.  A huge mink emerged between some boulders not three metres from me. Instead of rushing off in fear, he slowly slinked off unconcernedly, with me cursing under my breath my lack of paper and pencils. A little later I spotted a stunning sand lizard basking in the sun. This time I was prepared and inched slowly closer until I was near enough to really study him.

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I continued along the shore. The granite here was veined and coloured differently. There were pools and meadows with flowers and green growth between the granite shore and the coastal path. The day was hot and tranquil. I found an exposed spot where the wind was more invigorating and watched a group of swans milling about by the shore. It was a peaceful enough scene but one cob was feeling aggressive and territorial and spent the whole time posturing and blustering.

I carried on and tried to paint the reflections in a rock pool, but the hot sun dried the paints too quickly.

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As I continued towards Tejn Harbour I could see ships and boats of all sizes entering the harbor. The shore became less sandy and more rocky, crossed with small streams and swampy marshes. In one of these I hid between stands of sea rush and drew some ridiculously yellow marsh marigolds.

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I finally made it to the harbor, cursing my heavy pack, the unwieldy M60 brolly, and the awkward camp chair. Tejn harbor is large and industrial and was busy with groups of sport fisherman returning back with huge rod-caught salmon. Together with the locals, clusters of hale and hearty Germans, Norwegians and Swedes set up barbeques and drank beer in the late afternoon sun. I was a little jealous and must have cut a somewhat forlorn figure, traipsing past with all my gear. By now my resolve was fading fast as I walked all the way to the harbor arm. Instead of looking at the harbor, the fisherman, or the fine town of Tejn, I turned my back on it all and watched the shadows move and the colours transform on a group of boulders on the pier arm in the fading light of the day.

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KYST 17

Weather report = Sunny for almost all of the day. Temperature between 10 and 14 °C. Wind between 1 and 4 m/s from the northwest. Visibility: moderate. Hours of sunshine: 13 hours 30 minutes.

Lessons learned – it is definitely worth putting up the M60 and painting in the shade rather than painting in direct sunlight.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 8.98  km

Day lasted = 14 hours, 59 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 43 species (3 new ones = barnacle goose, house martin, gadwall = running total 79)

Other stuff = an amazing aerial show by four white wagtails zipping, diving and plunging after each other. Insanely fast and maneuverable, almost beyond comprehension.

People talked to = 2

In my head = Incredible changes in the 9 days since my last trip – this really is the most dynamic time of the year. Funny how the coast is probably NOT the best place to be at the moment. Endless internal moanings about how shit I felt. Realization that I have been so lucky with three sunny days on the trot. Fear that I am owed some rain and wind. Hope that I will be healthy on Friday.

2018-04-30

 

 

KYST 16 – from Knuds Næs to Store Sandkås, 20.04.18

For at læse denne KYST 16 blog på Dansk, se her…

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 16 A little delayed, Tina and I drove north, leaving behind the thick fog that covered the southern half of the island. As we crested the hill and continued down to Allinge, with the sea to our right, we could see a crimson sun had already broken through the horizon, its reflection mirrored in the dead calm sea. I quickly unpacked my things, annoyed at arriving so late, and got to work.  The lilting trill of willow warblers, newly arrived from the south, carried across the bay to the rocky outcrop where I sat and painted. Over the bay by the smokery, I could see a group of bathers take a short dip in the water. The sun rose, the bird chorus slowly abated, some joggers ambled by and I drank it all in, blessed to be able to witness the awakening day.

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I had been checking the weather forecast all week, and I looked forward to a sunny and warm day. Already I had jettisoned my gloves, wooly hat and thermal flying suit, and still I felt overdressed and bogged down by all my bags and gear. I had been battling a cold all week and still felt a little under the weather. I found a small sandy beach between some rocks and set up my M60 brolly, under which – for the first and definitely not the last time – I took a nap. Woken quickly by a phone call, and cursing modern technology, I started a large painting of a large pinkinsh granite outcrop covered in splodges of mustard lichen. I struggled with paints drying too quickly and felt too tired to be able to concentrate for long periods.

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I started a smaller painting looking south, where fresh green shoots of grass dominated the beach. It was rubbish and I cursed myself for starting it in the first place. Returning once again to familiar ground I grabbed my telescope and watched some eiders, wonderfully lit in the deep blue sea.

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Eventually I wandered onwards, clambering over the rocky coast, between and over the endless granite outcrops streaked with basalt and splattered with lichen. Between some of these outcrops were tiny sandy beaches and in other places the granite had crumbled into crunchy pinkish gravel.  Further from the sea, there were rock pools surrounded by tussocks of tough grass and sea sedge, some of which were fed by small streams and springs – and in one of these pools, I found scores of smooth newts.

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Discovering these pools immediately lifted my spirits, as I had spent a good portion of my childhood gazing at newts. I set up my chair by the edge of the pool and in no time at all I was transported back to that wonderful state where my contemplative non-thinking gaze somehow inhabits and occupies their amphibian universe. The newts were feisty and full of the joys of spring, and they cavorted and danced and mated and nosed about, as only newts can. There were common toads as well, one female somehow tethered by her string of eggs, as if she was unable to cut herself loose. Each time she moved off she was pulled back, her movements attracting the excitable newts who surrounded her like miniature crocodiles, pausing a while, before moving on.

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I walked onwards over and around the bays and outcrops until I arrived at ‘Æggehønen’, a huge erratic boulder deposited by a retreating glacier – or thrown by an angry troll Kjestena on Chritiansø, who had apparently aimed for St. Ole’s Church but missed (see top).

By now I had completely run out of water and was feeling decidedly peaky. This section of the coast is unpopulated, save for some wonderfully situated but unoccupied summerhouses, and I was thinking I might have to walk all the way back to Allinge to get some water.  Just then, however, I bumped into a friend, who, as luck would have it had a summer house just around the corner. I stayed a while and listened to some local stories, before walking back a little and painting some common gulls, whose yelping cries were constantly in my ears as I walked around.

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I walked onwards and through a small wooded area where the first white and yellow anemones and violets could be seen poking through a carpet of new waxy wild garlic leaves. Recently arrived blackcaps and lesser whitethroats chirped and burbled while a song thrush fluted from the top of an old ash tree. A little while earlier I had seen my first swallow – it was spring and I had decided then to paint some flowers, or at least some buds or green leaves. I managed to paint a willow (goat willow?) but again, felt too tired to concentrate, and wisely left the flowers for another time.

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It was getting late, and I walked on to the day’s endpoint, Store Sandkås, a small sandy beach with a rocky outcrop. I spent a while looking for a good vantage point and eventually sat, exhausted, looking north west across the bay, as the sun set in the cloudless sky just to my left. I tried to capture the metallic pastel shades of the sky and water with the strange cat-shaped ‘ørneklippan’ in the distance, but the painting was another disaster (detail below)

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At the end I sat there waiting for the sun to go down so I could go home… Just above me a group of swarming insects danced and swirled. Suddenly feeling creative again, I quickly unpacked my paper and followed the traces left by the insects with my pencil against the deep blue sky. Guided by the erratic movements of the insects and freed from the need to think myself and the desire to make a ‘good’ picture, I enjoyed drawing and managed to finish the day on a positive note.

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KYST 16

Weather report = Sunny for all of the day. Temperature between 8 and 16 °C, perhaps up to 20°C in sheltered spots. Wind between 2 and 6 m/s from the southeast. Visibility: good in the morning, some sea fog over the sea. Hours of sunshine: 14 hours 30 minutes.

Lessons learned – painting in the hot dry sun is just as annoying as painting when it is cold/wet and so on – more comfortable, but not as exciting.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 13.5 km

Day lasted = 14 hours, 29 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 43 species (9 new ones = marsh harrier, sand marten, swallow, blackcap, lesser whitethroat, chiffchaff, willow warbler, goldfinch, song thrush = running total 76)

Other stuff = one of the disadvantages of being bird obsessed is that you miss all of the other stuff going on. The plants and flowers are a bit of a blank slate for me.

People talked to = 3 ( 2 + 1)

In my head = not much, mostly feeling ill.

2018-04-21.2

 

 

 

KYST 15 – from Kongeskær to Knuds Næs, 13/04/18

For at læse denne KYST 15 blog på Dansk, se her

See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 15 Disturbed at my arrival, a group of eiders silently abandoned the shelter of the rocky shore and launched themselves into the boiling surf. A blood-red sun began its meteoric rise through the day while the foaming sea crashed and tumbled over and into the granite outcrops. Alone and awestruck I began the day’s first painting in the teeth of the cold onshore wind.

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After a while the sun was covered by some clouds and I carried on, past the school and into a small park-like area. Here I wandered around listlessly, eventually settling down and looking southeast to the distant smoke house chimneys of Allinge.

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I walked on a little and turned and looked northeast where I had just been, with the returning sun now behind me, and tried to capture the energy of the waves rolling in.

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Frustration started creeping in and I was tired and underslept. The constant roar of the waves and the buffeting wind I found irritating rather than invigorating, so I took a detour away from the shore to Madsebakke, a nearby archeological site where Bronze Age Bornholmians had carved symbols and pictograms into the smooth granite outcrops. Despite – or perhaps because of – being painted red, the pictograms were slightly underwhelming, and it took me a while to connect to the significance of the site.

Eventually I returned to the coast, where a flock of eiders frolicking on the waves brought me back into familiar territory and brightened my mood somewhat.

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I continued to the small harbor at Møllerende, where I visited some friends and enjoyed a wonderful coffee and home-made bread in their garden. Refreshed I returned to the harbor where I spent some time observing a nearby rookery. There was a bit of nest swapping but otherwise they were quite subdued. In the shelter of the M60 I felt drowsy and warm, and – for the very first time since KYST began 15 weeks ago – I took my gloves off.

Here I also made a sketch of ‘Domen’ the new building that is the focus of ‘Folkemødet’ – Bornholm’s political festival and one of the island’s biggest events. It was difficult to imagine that this area would be heaving with thousands of tourists in just a couple of months.

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I walked on, past the harbor at Allinge, and onwards to the grassy area at Kærenæs, where I watched a huge flock of long tailed ducks and common scooters tumbling in the huge waves. Onwards I trudged to the next bay, just south of Gulehage, where I eventually managed to find shelter from the wind behind my M60 brolly on a grassy area just in front of the beach.

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I sat down for a late lunch and got talking to a friendly local gentleman who soon popped back to his house to grab a bottle of schnapps. Wonderfully fortified and refreshed, I started to draw a pair of shelducks who were resting in the distance, their rusty coppers and greens harmonizing wonderfully with the backdrop of lichen covered rocks and ultramarine rock pools. As so often happens, however, my eye through the telescope seemed to disturb them, and they soon disappeared.

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I walked onwards past the small sandy beach to my destination Knudsnæs, another rocky outcrop with fine views in all directions. I was exhausted now, but decided to walk around and explore for a while rather than sit still. The wind had abated a little, but the sun had disappeared and it was getting cold. The huge waves continued to crash into the shore and the common gulls yelped and screamed. White wagtails flitted around amongst the rock pools. Though it felt like a spring day, there was still only a little growth and the birdlife and birdsong was still rather stilted.

I found a sheltered spot and painted the rocks and the view to the north in ‘strips’ every half an hour or so, as the day slowly fell away and the sky darkened to a deep violet blue.

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KYST 15

Weather report = A little light rain in the early evening. Sunny or hazy for most of the day. Temperature between 6 and 9 °C. Wind between 9 and 13 m/s from the east. Visibility: hazy. Hours of sunshine: 10 hours.

Lessons learned – do not drink tea just before you go to bed. Get some new paintbrushes. Maybe time to ditch the thermals?

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometers walked = 11.2 km

Day lasted = 14 hours, 3 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 33 species (0 new ones = running total 67)

Other stuff = I watched a cormorant swimming in some huge waves just off shore. As the waves built up in size, one after the other, he decided it was all getting a bit much. He turned and swam into a huge 3 or 4 metre wave and, just as it was about to break, he opened his wings and the momentum of the wave tossed him up like a rocket. Amazing.

2018-04-14

 

 

 

 

KYST 14 – from Sandvig Strand to Kongeskær, 06/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 14 blog på dansk, se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 14 An orange disc perched on the horizon in a clear cobalt sky was the magnificent sight that greeted me as I arrived at Sandvig strand. The icy wind, however, put paid to any notions of an easy day, and I spent a long time trying to find a sheltered spot. Nestled between some boulders with a view of the ocean, I quickly got to work

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I watched the day unfold. I was hoping for more bird song, but the day felt wintery. Flocks of wood pigeons passed regularly overhead on their way north to Sweden. White wagtails and black redstarts flickered about between the pink granite boulders. Some red breasted mergansers cavorted in the bay, and I studied their strange courtship dance.

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Some very friendly highland cattle silently passed by, munching on the tough brown grass between the boulders. On the rocks below I watched a mink patrolling the water’s edge. Despite being an American pest escaped from a fur farm, it seemed utterly at home. The mink’s flat head reminded me somewhat of a fur seal, and at one point, instead of following the rocks it decided to swim across the bay.  I could see its little head powering through the choppy water, unconcerned with the mobbing gulls.

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I painted Sandvig town and harbor over the bay, with the sun reflected in the many hotels’ windows.

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Some clouds spoiled the morning and the day suddenly got much colder. I walked around looking for birds, partly to keep warm. Eventually I packed my things and walked across the bay and under a boardwalk, where I sheltered for a while. The sun returned and I set up my M60 on a rocky shore, looking back across the bay to where I had just been. The tussocks of dead grass had green shoots poking through.

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A solitary sandwich tern, shadowed by a freeloading common gull, dove repeatedly after fish. I marveled at its grace and energy as it battled effortlessly with the strong wind and its annoying companion.

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A large flock of cranes flew north, battling against the wind. I tried to sketch their flight formation as it bent and twisted.

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I packed up and walked around Sandvig for a while. For centuries a small and insignificant fishing hamlet, Sandvig expanded during the 19th century as granite extraction became increasingly industrialised. At one point the majority of the working men would have been employed in the quarries, many of whom would have been Swedes who migrated to Bornholm. In the last century Sandvig became a popular tourist destination, and today the town is a strange and charming mix of old stone cottages, terraced workers’ houses and hotels and guest houses. I sat in the protective arms of the tiny harbor and felt warm and drowsy in the sun.

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I continued southeast and scrambled over the impressive pink granite rock formations, sometimes sharp and angular, sometimes soft and folded, in places ground and polished smooth by glaciers. I struggled to find a good vantage point out of the blustering wind. I watched huge flocks of long tailed ducks frolicking in the distant waves, suddenly taking flight or diving in unison. There was an incredible joy and independence to their movements. Closer to shore a huge greater black backed gull brooded menacingly, while nearby a herring gull kept a watchful eye open.

It was getting late and there was still a way to go. Here there is no coastal path, so I decided to keep to the rocky shore, passing in front of hotels and private gardens. Despite having right of way, I felt almost like a trespasser as I scrambled over innumerable rocky outcrops and through patches of brambles. The houses and hotels here are exclusive and the views are incredible. Now, in the early evening I had the sun on my back for the first time, and the rich saturated colours of the mustard yellow lichen, the pinkish granite and deep blue water was intoxicating. I met a friend and we shared a sublime whiskey on the rocks, before I got to work on my last painting of the day, finishing as the sun dipped below the horizon behind me (see top).

KYST 14 

Weather report = No rain or snow. Sunny with a short cloudy period in the morning. Temperature between 2 and 5 °C . Wind between 12 and 5 m/s from the west. Visibility good. Hours of sunshine: 10 hours 30 minutes.

Lessons learned – I need to stop overthinking assessing and rating my paintings and the day itself. The day is so long, and such a physical and emotional roller coaster, that any idea of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is made redundant.

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometers walked = 6.92 km

Day lasted = 13 hours, 4 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 34 species (9 new ones = black kite, red necked grebe, pheasant, common crane, sandwich tern, black redstart, goldcrest, starling, carrion crow = running total 67)

Other stuff = for a moment, a starling in all its metallic finery, with the blue sky behind.

People talked to = 3 ( 1 + 2)

In my head = aches and pains, my shoulders and back, how can I improve my posture, my Achilles, need to start running, etc, etc… the shitstorm that is UFC 223…

2018-04-07

 

 

 

 

 

 

KYST 13 – fra Salomons Kapel to Sandvig Strand, 30/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 13 blog på dansk, se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 13 Whilst the rest of Bornholm was still blanketed in snow, I was surprised – and a little disappointed – to find out there were just remnants left on the Hammer peninsula. According to the weather forecast, the day promised sun and no wind in the afternoon, but when I finally made it to the start point at Salomons Kapel just as the day began, it was overcast and the onshore wind was howling with huge waves crashing on to the rocky shore. It was too windy to put up the M60 in the exposed spot where I had finished last week, so I hunkered down and made a quick sketch before moving on in search of shelter.

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Close by I found a spot beside a rocky outcrop where I could put up the M60 and draw an incredible series of windswept whitebeam trees. As always, my mood, the day’s weather and the environment conspired to dictate my choice of motif. No birds sang, it was hard to believe that is was Easter Friday.

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I packed up and continued northeast to a more sheltered beach, just before the lighthouse. In recent years a tradition has sprung up here – a wonderful and spontaneous collective land-art project whereby passers-by have started creating stone towers. Passing tourists add their own and by summertime the whole area can be covered in hundreds of them – only for them to quietly fall and disappear during the autumn and winter storms. There were none to be seen, so I got the season off to a good start.

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Warmed up from my exertions I sat and looked at the wonderful rock formations with the waves crashing in.

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After an early lunch in the small sheltered pine wood nearby I carried on to the lighthouse – Bornholm’s northernmost point. I sat as far out as I could and painted the waves pounding the lichen covered granite rocks. From now on, and for the next 18 weeks, I would be heading in a southeastern direction.

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I kept on the rocks below the coastal path, and clambered around trying to find shelter. The wind had abated only a little and the sun had shone for 15 minutes or so before disappearing again. The pink granite formations flecked with all sorts of lichen were incredibly complex and striking. Below the cliffs away from the shore there were several pools and springs, the whole area a universe in itself. In spring and summer the Hammer peninsula attracts botanists, but all was brown and dead and there were few signs of spring. In one pool, however, I did find rafts of frogspawn – my first of the year.

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I walked around enjoying my solitude. I studied rocks and waves. I felt far from everyone and everything, despite the steady stream of walkers on the coastal path above.

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Eventually I found a good spot looking south to Sandvig strand, where I set up my telescope and watched a distant group of eiders rocking in the surf (also see top).

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The day felt long and when I finally packed up and moved to my destination point close to where I had left the car 12 and a half hours earlier, I was exhausted. I looked across the bay. In the far distance the town of Gudhjem could be seen as a blue stripe. A small bird caught my attention – a fine male stonechat, a handsome and unusual bird in these parts. It felt like my reward for the day.

KYST 13

Weather report = No precipitation. Overcast with a short period of sunny intervals. Temperature between zero and 3 degrees. Wind between 3 and 9 m/s first from the north and later north east. Visibility: good. Hours of sunshine: maybe 30 minutes, if squeezed altogether?

Lessons learned – While Danes generally ‘keep back’, Germans are more like English people in that they have no qualms approaching you when you are painting. Twice I got huge shocks from some sweet German tourists whilst I was away with the fairies.

Stops with the M60 = 3

Kilometers walked = 7.14 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 47 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 28 species (1 new ones = stonechat = running total 58)

Other stuff = I am sort of sad to leave Bornholm’s west coast – driving back I noticed the remnants of a fantastic sunset, which I had completely missed where I was.

People talked to = 7 ( 1 + 2 + 3)

In my head = ’God’s Plan’ awful Drake song that my girls listen to. The video is horrific. Need to move up to studio and sleep there Thursday nights. Underslept, noisy teenagers coming home from parties.

 

2018-03-31

 

 

KYST 12 – from Hammerhavn to Salomons Kapel, 23/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 12 blog på dansk, se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 12 Arriving at Hammerhavn harbour just before 6 am, I was still tired and groggy after an unsettled night’s sleep. For perhaps the first time, I was not really ‘up’ for the day ahead.  It was cold, but just above zero, so freezing paint would not be an issue. The sky was completely overcast and there was little or no wind. Compared to the gusty energy of KYST 11, the day seemed a little flat. I settled down and got stuck into the view of the castle and the cliffs beyond.

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Some gulls and jackdaws were hanging around, the jackdaws perching on roofs of the smart new wooden cottages. Some yellowhammers sang, but otherwise there was little birdlife and spring felt far away.

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I walked onwards, north and up on to Hammerknuden – the granite peninsula that is almost separated from the rest of the island. Just before in one of the cottages in the harbor, I had read about and seen photographs of the huge granite quarries which had dominated the social and economic life of the area until very recently. Now, however, they were closed; either filled with water or clad with vegetation, and once again I was reminded how dynamic and ever-changing the landscape is.

I passed through a low wood of twisted oak, birch and juniper, up over the cliffs and on to wind-blown slopes of juniper and sloe. Here I could look down at the groups of razorbills and guillemots cavorting on the waves far below. There was a manic energy in their movements which I tried to capture – first strung out in a line, then bunched together, sometimes in unison, sometimes in disarray.

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I walked onwards along the eroded path, testament to the popularity of this walk in the summer. Today, however, I was alone, apart from the highland cattle and hardy-looking sheep that grazed on the slopes.

Whenever possible I tried to clamber down the cliffs on the shore. The geology was incredible. Slabs of pink granite, covered in all colours of lichen and moss, in some places hard and sharp, in others rubbed smooth and flat by glaciers. I found a fantastic spot, looking down over some interesting rocks. I tried to really follow the visual planes of the rocks, but the light was changing and uneven, as the overcast sky opened out and the sun shone in sporadic bursts. Unable to deal with the conditions – too hot, too cold, paints drying too quickly, too slowly – I gave up.

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I clambered around on the huge granite boulders at the base of the cliffs before looking back one more time southwards at the distant blue shape of Slotslygen, Mulekleven and Vang, before heading Northeast, for the first time.

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The coastline around the Hammer peninsula is wonderfully picturesque, but I was disorientated, cold and tired and struggled to find my groove. I decided to concentrate and faced a slab of lichen-flecked granite.

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Just as I was about to set off again I almost trod on a water rail, which must have been there the whole time watching me as I drew. It flew weakly off. I tried to find it again, but could not. What an earth was a water rail doing on the coast – a bird whose pig-like squeal I was familiar with from the reed beds in the middle of Bornholm? Perhaps it was on its way north, to Sweden (see top).

A little later and I had reached my destination, Salomons Kapel, a ruined chapel from the 12th century that was once surrounded by a thriving herring market – now long since disappeared. My feet were wet and freezing and I struggled to even think about painting. Instead I walked around and looked for birds, and I was rewarded in no time by my first eider ducks of the year – a sure sign of spring – and a pair of black guillemots, my first ever on Bornholm.

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The day was long and I huddled under my M60 umbrella. A beautiful chocolate brown mink passed just metres in front of me trotting along the shore. I made a squeaky cat noise – it looked up at me for a second or two, then carried on neither interested nor alarmed. As the end of the day approached, a sea fog came rolling in from the east, over the granite outcrop and on to the spot where I sat and brooded.

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KYST 12

Weather report = Cloudy with regular sunny periods around lunchtime. Sea fog in the late afternoon. Temperature between 1 and 3 degrees. Wind between 1 and 3 m/s first from the east and later north-east. Visibility: medium. Hours of sunshine: maybe one and a half hours, if squeezed altogether?

Lessons learned – it doesn’t have to be amazing every time. It’s ok to just put the brushes down and have some time walking around, looking at birds and so on.

Stops with the M60 = 1

Kilometers walked = 7.2 km

Day lasted = 12 hours, 25 minutes (have now passed equinox)

Birds seen and heard = 32 species (no less than 7 new ones = woodcock (overflying), guillemot, black guillemot, skylark, rock pipit, eider duck, water rail = running total 57)

People talked to = 3 ( 1 + 2)

Other stuff = bigger paper next time?

In my head = Det er så fuldt af sjov, ude i en skov..’ children’s song STILL in my head all day… Thinking of impending trip to Billund. School shootings. Plastic pollution. The end of the world.

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KYST 11 – from Mølledal (Hammershus) to Hammerhavn, 16/03/18

For at læse denne KYST 11 blog på DANSK se her

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See here for an introduction to the KYST project

KYST 11 Swaddled in umpteen layers of clothing, I hunkered down and looked up at the imposing ruins of Hammershus castle, just as the sun crept over the horizon behind me. Once again, the temperature was sub-zero, and my watercolours froze and crystalized within seconds on the paper. The wind was strong and bitterly cold but thankfully blew from the east, giving me at least the opportunity to find shelter on this, my last KYST on Bornholm’s west coast.

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As I walked down Mølledal valley towards the coast some yellowhammer, greenfinch and a chaffinch sang rather weakly in the woods beside me. Hardly a dawn chorus, but nevertheless a sign of things to come. Last week’s slush had frozen back to ice, but a small stream accompanied me down to the rocky coast.  Spring felt very far way. A jay mimicked a buzzard’s call expertly, and settled in a tree close by, before flapping off with a prehistoric screech. Reaching the rocky coast, and partly sheltered from the wind, I felt inspired with sympathy for a wind-sculpted hawthorn (see top).

I climbed around the rocks for a while, partly to keep warm, and then walked up the massive granite outcrop, upon which Hammershus castle sits. The historic seat of power on Bornholm, the castle has been deserted since the early 18th century, but it still retains an imposing physical presence. I walked around the ruins, happy to have the castle to myself, but the wind up here was finger-numbingly and eyeball-freezingly cold. I tried to travel back in time and imagine the scores, hundreds even, of people who must have worked and lived here, at any one time – over many hundreds of years. I tried to imagine them on a day like today, when all was frozen hard and the wind bit through everything. I lasted but a few minutes, before retreating back in the lee of the cliffs.

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Looking out I could see how the sea was calmer in the shelter of the island. Every now and then huge gusts would be visible on the water, as if an invisible helicopter was landing. Further out, far from the shelter of the island, huge white crested waves attested to the power of the wind. I followed with my binoculars the red pilot boat, as it raced out from Hammerhavn harbor to help or guide tankers. My paints froze very quickly.

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I walked on, past the castle, and found a fantastic sheltered spot where I could put up my M60 and enjoy some food and a fine sea view. The sun at last struggled to break through, only to disappear again, as wave after wave of snowstorms came passing through. There was an incredible energy in the day.

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I walked back a little, and struggled to find shelter from the gusty wind. I clambered down a gully right down below the cliffs to find shelter, and here painted some rocks – about all I could manage as I battled with the cold.

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Back at my sheltered spot – and partly because I was aware that it had been so long since I’d attempted any bird studies – I got my telescope out and followed a distant flock of common gulls bobbing on the surface.

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Eventually I walked on, around the cliffs and down through a sheltered wood of cherry and birch, back to the shore and the arms of Hammerhavn harbor. There were few people about or signs of activity save the aforementioned Pilot boat. I walked around for a while looking for a sheltered spot to put up my brolly, but I struggled with the gusting wind and regular snowy squalls. I finally managed to peg it down but the snow kept coming in and at one point the wind lifted the whole thing up. I swore a lot.

Looking back towards the castle I decided to make a timed ‘slice’ painting, trying to record the day’s energy. A snowstorm came suddenly and the castle almost disappeared, the snowflakes freezing onto the paper, to be replaced by sun and a bright blue sky – before the next flurry. It was incredibly intense, trying to work with the weather and record and reflect my perception of it. This was exactly the sort of experience and painting I had hoped for when starting this project – it felt like a collaboration between me and the day.

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(Detail)

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I finished off, completely exhausted, by making a four-part study of the wonderful setting sun, with the paints sometimes crystallizing, sometimes turning into a sludgy mess – before the lonely trudge back to Hammershus and my waiting car.

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KYST 11

Weather report = snow flurries throughout the day, cloudy with regular sunny periods. Temperature between minus 3 and minus 1 degrees. Wind between 10 and 18 m/s first from the east and later north-east. Visibility: very good, when not obscured by snow clouds. Hours of sunshine: maybe four hours, if squeezed altogether?

Lessons learned – peg the M60 down in one or two places before putting up in strong wind. The original Pot Noodle tastes much better than recent imposters.

Stops with the M60 = 2

Kilometers walked = 9.04 km

Day lasted = 11 hours, 44 minutes

Birds seen and heard = 28 species (3 new ones = mistle thrush, fieldfare and greenfinch = running total 50)

Other stuff = starting to get the handle of the freezing paint thing, and how to work with it. Winters from now on will be fun…

People talked to = 6 ( 1 + 5)

In my head = Det er så fuldt af sjov, ude i en skov..’ children’s song STILL in my head all day… Thinking of an old friend who passed away last week.

2018-03-17