Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags
I’ve come to know that memories
Were the best things you ever had
The summer shone, beat down on bony backs
So far from home, where the ocean stood
Down dust and pine cone tracks
Oh, we slept like dogs down by the fire side
Awoke to the fog where all around us
The boom of summertime, yeah
Steady as the stars in the woods
And the warmth rang true inside these bones
As the old pine fell we sang
Just to bless the morning
Oh, hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bagsBen Howard, Old Pine
I’ve come to know the friends around you
Are all you’ll always have
Smoke in my lungs, or the echoed stone
Careless and young, free as the birds that fly
With weightless souls now
Sitting long-abandoned, adjacent to our lovely vinterferie destination, the farmhouse tells the story of its slow decline. Still bearing the adornments of domesticity, time ticks forward as nature takes custody of man’s creation.
Lucy and I sat down this evening to relax together and rather than turning to Netflix or our books, decided to challenge ourselves to 20 minutes of creative writing. We took a prompt from a quick search and set a timer. Here’s what we came up with – raw and unedited, but posted here to make it real. We can’t wait to do it again!(more…)
Sometimes, under the immense pressure of daily life, we come up with an idea which we see through, which just happens to be exactly what is needed to get everything back in its right place. Our weekend away last week was just such an idea. We had been discussing a summerhouse trip for some time, but our attempts to find the perfect location had come up short. Luckily Dan’s colleague happened to not be using his summerhouse and we went for it.(more…)
Since moving to Denmark I have aspired to visit this garden in deepest Fyn. In the early 2000s, Peter Dalsgård fulfilled a dream to recreate the serenity and beauty of a traditional Japanese garden here in the countryside of Denmark, 9000km west of the mountainous islands of Japan.
6 years on and I finally managed to visit! The gardens are an exceptionally faithful reproduction of the gardens you will find in every corner of Japan. From the dynamic terrain and vistas of the outlook garden to the meditative minimalism of the temple and meditation gardens, many aspects of traditional garden design have been studiously explored and reproduced on the gentle slopes of the garden.(more…)
The past weekend was an opportunity for us to slow down and recharge after the busy Christmas period. We started out slow, with pancakes and family time at home before setting out to discover a little nature in the local marshes en route to our favourite bookshop, “Books and Company” in Hellerup. I bought a new recipe book – Scandinavian Green by Trine Hahnemann, which I highly recommend to anybody looking for a beautiful, no-nonsense collection of wholesome, non-pretentious meals. Whilst in Hellerup we paid a quick visit to the sea to have a chilly winter dip in the ocean before heading home.(more…)
Many years ago I, for a couple of seasons, tended to a compact vegetable garden in the back yard of our rental property in Brixton. For a couple of months we periodically ate carrots, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and more from the neat little plants sprouting from a range of containers in the garden. Fast forward nearly 12 years and I find myself with even less space to work with, but I’m enjoying watching a range of veggie plants grow on our balcony here in sunny Copenhagen.
When asked, Lucy, myself or Magnus would probably choose our day trip to Minna Island as the best day of our trip to Japan. We got off to a bad start. Tired from yet another tough night of wakeful kids we didn’t have much more than a loose idea that we might take a proper day trip, and spent breakfast researching whilst trying to get some food into Magnus to avoid a day of hunger-induced rioting. Our research turned up Minna Island, and we committed to the endeavour, packed up our bags, and piled in to the car. On the road we double checked the ferry times and realised we had 15 minutes until the final morning departure, with a 15 minute drive on roads with strict 40 mph speed limits ahead of us. Panic and disappointment set in, a toxic combination, but lack of sleep somehow inspired a delirious surge of optimism which carried us to the terminal in just enough time to swoop onto the boat before it set off.
The boat was delightful, cruising at speed over the small body of ocean between mainland Okinawa and Minna Island, a tiny crescent-shaped mass just west of Motobu. We docked and began exploring, Lucy south and Magnus & I north while Maya slept. The sun beat blissfully down on coral sands and turquoise seas lapped gently at the shoreline as we searched for shells and paddled, on the look out for bright tropical fish.
The island in the summer is a tourist trap. According to the gentle-mannered engineer on the ferry, the boat is on the move non-stop in the summer season, dumping hundreds upon hundreds of souls on the island whereupon they collapse on the beach in droves, destroying the picturesque vista over the bright white sands and talking over the quiet peace. But just weeks later, the weather still gorgeous, the season is over and the tourists are back at their desks pouring over keyboards. The Minna Island we experienced was more or less abandoned, a tropical oasis with only a handful of locals. We found paradise by accident, and enjoyed 7 perfect hours exploring on foot, chatting with local craftspeople, snorkling above coral outcrops rich with luminous fish, and playing together on the deserted beach.
Go to Minna Island. But wait until summer is “over”.
After several months back in dark, damp Copenhagen, I find myself more and more frequently reflecting on our time in Japan. As we hypothesised may happen at the time, the memories of the challenging moments are fading and the good memories are beginning to glow warmly in our minds, and none so brightly as wonderful Hakone.
Lake Asti, with its beautiful vista towards Fuji-san, was as pure and peaceful a place as I have ever experienced. I can close my eyes and retrace my footsteps as I strolled along the lakeside from our room at the Prince Hakone hotel to the beautiful onsen which overlooked a sparse woodland and on to the lake. Dipping into the hot water of the onsen, the surface shimmering in the late afternoon sun, with steam rising like morning mist forming on the foothills of Mount Fuji, I felt more at peace than I can recall ever feeling before or after. The brief solitude in the presence of such natural beauty has had a profound and lasting effect on my attitudes towards life. I guess these experiences are why we travel.