Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Örnanäs - the first cultural reserve in Scania

Development of cultural landscapes
Cultural reserves: Why, What, Where
Sporrakulla Farm


A frozen lake at Örnanäs cultural reserve.

Development of cultural landscapes

During the younger stone age (4800-1800 BC) humans settled down from being nomadic hunters-gatheres to a more steady going agricultural society. During the bronze age (1800-500 BC) settlements increased in number and the growing population needed nourishment. Thus farming and livestock rearing became more and more important. Villages existed already during the older iron age (500 BC - 400 AC) but it was not until the younger (400 - 1050) iron age that the larger Scanian villages where formed and modern cultivation forms started. Names of villages ending with RÖD (=clearing of land) dates back to years 1050 - 1500 - this name has puzzled Mrs. T and myself ever since we moved to Scania. The stone fences throughout Scania is a produce of the clearing.

Until the early 19th century the grounds in a village formed a mosaic of fields and meadows close to the village and again pastures for domestic animals further away. To protect the fields the cattle was taken to the pastures along special, protective passages. The animals where left out for the whole summer season. The trees along the fields and pastures where used as logs and fence material. Cultural landscapes are also formed by industrial activity. For more information see www.lansstyrelsen.se 

Örnanäs (forest)farm - children playing with sheep and their pony.

Cultural Reserves: Why, What, Where.

As an analog to Nature Reserves the Culture Reserves, in Sweden, were stipulated by law in 1999 to comprise all landscapes characterized as valuable and where all natural and cultural values can be protected and taken care of. This includes also traditions, activities and knowledge. Presently there are 41 cultural reserves in Sweden covering the whole country and Örnanäs in northeastern Scania was the first to be established (in 2006). (wikipedia).


Örnanäs cultural landscape.

Örnanäs Culture Reserve is administered by the regional authorities that wants to preserve this area, that is full of culturally and historically traces, for the future generations. The village dates back to 1584, then part of Denmark. The ruins in the above collage is an indication of farms dying out in the 19th and early 20th century. The ruins at the bottom (center) is what is left of the distillery active in late 19th century. There were two farms, The Eastern and Western farm. The Eastern farm has been owned by the same family since 1818 and the Western Farm (below) is the original Örnanäs farm dating back to 1597 until deserted in 1933.

The Western Farm (excluding Leia with her pony top right).

Örnanäs is near Sibbhult with signs guiding from route 119. Two paths with QR-codes have been marked. The red takes one through the village to a small lake and is easily accessible. The yellow path is longer and thought the forest. Maps are available at the entrance and the area is open all year.

Forest of Kulla in the vicinity of Sporrakulla Farm.

Sporrakulla Farm

Sporrakulla Farm.

Sporrakulla is close to Örnanäs, near Sibbhult in Östra Göinge, and the two places can be visited on the same day. This farm has been leased to farmers and the first one mentioned was Bendt Oredsen 1659. The last to leas it was Carl Person who left the farm in 1964. In the middle of the 19th century the lease consisted of cash money, butter, charcoal, tar and labour for Råbelöfs Manor. The farm is surrounded by ancient cultural landscapes, stone fences and trees used for fodder in the winter time (see above). It is now protected by the authorities and a great venue for visits and spending one sunny afternoon with the family or friends over a cup of picnic coffee.

Sporrakulla Farm

All that is left from a farm.

Also in this same region is a former soldiers dwelling that, according to traditions, where maintained by the neighboring farms . The soldiers were from the Northern Scanian Infantry Regimen. This well kept place is definitively worth a visit.  Five soldiers lived here since 1818.

As a friend of (cultural) history this afternoon was well spent and comparable to the Ballingstorp Farm that we visited earlier, see previous blogpost. How much and how fast hasn't life changed over the years. It is therefore of great value to preserve the cultural landscapes for the coming generations to understand that there were times when no cars, TV's or computers existed and that work was laborious where your own hands counted.

When it was time to return home the sun was very low casting only a few rays in selected places like the below bushes along the road side.

Thank you for a great day letting us understand more about cultural landscapes and the way we used to live a long time ago.

Have a nice week everyone!


Thursday, 15 January 2015

SCANIA COUNTY; Nature's Diversity & OpenSkies

From the obvious to uncertainty.
From established routines to a time of self evaluation, 
in search of new opportunities and a reorganized mindset.
Together for a changed direction and new dimensions in our lives.
Peregrinating in search of internal growth, balance and happiness.
Exploring new cultures and cultivating new skills 
we have now reached a milestone.

Our first book to be commercialized.

Spring time 2013 Mrs. T made her decision; we are going to sell everything and embark on a journey of our life with no clear plans other than the destination - Andalucia, Spain. In the past explorers from the Iberian peninsula did the same and sailed out into unknown waters understanding that the return was in the hands of higher forces. Todays modern societies with a structured existence gives us ample opportunities to rethink our situation and divert from the expected. Seems that it is our minds that set the limitations for us if we allow that to happen.

The time had come to make the decision. We said goodbye to our home, our children and relatives. Our car was fully loaded and we drove across Europe.  On offer was the opportunity to learn, to grow and establish a new daily routines in our lives. After 10-15 years it would have been too late.   

Sights along the route from Helsinki through Germany, Switzerland and France to Costa del Sol in Andalusia.

Our "home" was warehoused and bags packed with the necessary belongings as much as our car could carry. We also brought along our new hobbies like photographing that was yet to mature into a productive stage. We had some experience in photographing and designing photobooks but now, with plenty of time and interesting places to visit, we had the chance of growing our experience. As a result we set up a photographic website, started a blog about Andalucia and published our annual yearbook. 

Small whitewashed villages and the nature tempted us most.

A selection of photobooks that we have published includes the recent yearbook 2014.

In addition, our experiences from Andalucia was written down in a special photobook called "Andalucia Our Way" that, eventually also was submitted to a photobook competition organized by Ifolor Finland. Our book was nominated the best travel related book of the year in Finland. Our Andalucian blog may help anyone wanting to travel to the area; www.andaluciaourway.blogspot.com

Award winning photobook from Andalucia.

In early 2014 it was time to reconsider our situation. Mrs. T carefully looked at the alternatives and the outcome was to move back north to Scania closer to job opportunities and climate conditions that was easier for her. In Andalucia temperatures climbed well above 40 degrees centigrade summertime making physical moving tiring. Now it was also time to move our warehoused "home" from Finland to Sweden and get organized in a different way.

In February 2014 we found a new home in Östra Göinge, north-eastern Scania, settled down and started to look for job opportunities both in the neighborhood,  Medicon Valley Science Park and internationally. We very soon felt at home in Scania, travelled around the county which is square like with dimensions of 100 by 100 km's. Blog writing was similarly active as it had been in Spain. For details see www.zappyandcolourfulskane.blogspot.com    

The wonderful nature of Scania and the midsummer celebration.

By January 2015 our photographic skills had also developed considerably and an attempt was to design a high class book with quality pictures printed on high class lustre paper. Our time in Scania had produced photos from different parts of the region, anything from flack cultural landscapes to gorgeous shorelines with its sandy beaches and more remote places like Swedens southernmost wilderness area in north-eastern Scania. The end result was a book called SCANIA COUNTY - Nature's Diversity & OpenSkies. We are proud of our production and very satisfied with the quality of service from BLURB. This is the first book we now try to commercialize both through BLURB and AMAZON. The book is available but the promotional efforts are in early stages.

Selected photos from the book SCANIA COUNTY.

Having stayed abroad now for 1,5 years we feel that we have come to a milestone where our daily activities has changed from more domestic oriented to market oriented meaning that more time is spent outside of the home than before. E.g. PhotoHiking around Scania (also in Andalusia) and also the gardening duties takes us often outside for some exercize and fresh air. Physical moving at our age is important and keeps us more fit for longer. Our daily routines are now more relaxed and both of us want to care for the home as well as the leisure time, our friends, relatives and our children. We see less of our children but when we do,  the time spent is of 100% value. This teaches us to respect one and another in a different way and strengthens our ties, not the other way around as one might also think. Everyday living has become less controlled and caring more evenly shared which benefits our partnership. We both have our own valuable hobbies but there are also joint activities that enriches our lives. Days for Mrs. T has become entirely different from having been attached to the children and the household so much. We are very happy that she now can devote time for herself as she pleases knowing that we are two to care for everything. The change has been extensive, necessary and for the best for our entire family. 

Should we have stayed at home, in Finland, we would have everything that we needed and desired. Our hobbies, our friends and relatives, our life long traditions and once grandchildren appear days would have been full of joy. This is what normally could be expected in our society and is by no means a negative issue. Research in the US e.g. show that life cycle patterns change when people reach the age of 50 - 55. Market hours and home hours tend to be relatively stable early in the life cycle but once we reach the age of 50 market hours seem to drop sharply and home hours increase by the age of 55. This pattern can, in other words, be expected but this is exactly what we wanted to avoid. Instead we now build on new values to our lives, find space and more time for ourselves and each other both in a private sense and yet feel empowered to play an important role in working life, as experienced senior members, for some time onwards.  We are extremely happy that we are breaking away from "the expected" pattern because our lives will be enriched with so m uch more activities and all the memories are being recorded for our children and grand-children to read about later. I am ever so grateful to Mrs. T for her courage and for being such a clairvoyant person to want to alter course. Please accept my admiration.

Daybreak in Östra Göinge.

This blog post is forming a nucleus for an article to be written to promote our book SCANIA COUNTY and will reach out for anyone that have similar ideas as we have had, but do not know to take a decision forward. Maybe our example will convince others to invest in their valuable lives and make a difference. The book has been submitted for a photobook competition in the US and we do hope that we have a compelling story to tell.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Kristianstad Vattenriket

Kristianstad converting a risk factor to its advantage.
Vattenriket, a tourist magnet.
Following Carl von Linné.

Naturum Visitor Centre in the middle of Vattenriket and Kristianstad city centre.

The red lines marks the route for the Linné Walk.

Weather conditions challenges Kristianstad

Kristianstad originally, in 1617, served as a protective bastion on a peninsula and this location has given the city specific problems in times of heavy weather conditions with risks of becoming flooded. Draining of land areas started in the 19th century and walls were built to keep the water off the city centre. Effective pumps have also been installed. As a result the lowest point in Sweden, 2,41 metres below sea level, can be found here in Kristianstad. The present city hospital with neighboring area is situated on a former sea floor. Only in 2002 a critical situation emerged when the water level rose 2,15 metres above sea level and the protective wall at Hammarslund was close to collapsing. To save the situation 50.000 ton of rock was transported to the critical section over five days (source: www.kristianstad.se). The water flow in river Helge and the sea is now controlled with the help of Flood Watch that gives ten day prognoses to the authorities. If required a siren called "hesa Fredrik" (hoarse Frederic) will alert the citizens to any danger.

Converting a risk into an opportunity

This area so close to the sea not only carry risks but also possibilities and the option has been utilized by making an application to UNESCO in order to gain a Biosphere Reserve status for what now is called Vattenriket. The status, "designated to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and the nature", was granted only in 2006 and the present Naturum Visitor Center was opened as recently as 2010. Vattenriket has been a success from the beginning with more than 100.000 visitors in its first year. (Source: www.vattenriket.kristianstad.se)

The recent action plan has included e.g. protection of sandy grasslands, expand the knowledge of the ecosystems in river Helge and the lakes, develop ecotourism on land and sea, specific development projects also e.g. concerning the eels and forest management. The development of the Visitor Centre as the gateway into Vattenriket has produced many activities like eagle and crane watching, water safaris, exhibitions, hiking routes, bird watching, fishing and other things. As we have learned living here, typically for Sweden, many of the places are accessible for people with disabilities.

Härlovsborg from the days of Karl XI in the 17th century.

The Linné Walk

A visit into Kristianstad this day gave me an opportunity to follow the tracks of Carl von Linné where he walked some 250 years ago observing the surrounding nature. The following pictures are from the six kilometer long route starting from the Visitor Centre. The above picture of Härlövsborg shows what has been left of a stronghold for Karl XI who lay siege to Kristianstad during the Danish-Swedish war in 1675-1679.

Fields to the left of Lillövägen are clear of water.

First section of the Linné Walk towards the city where fields are partly flooded.

Kristianstad across flooded fields. The church built by Christian IV is a visible landmark.

Lillö ruins

The ruins of Lillö Castle and the "Kings Mansion" (Kungsgården).

Lillöhus was a medieval stronghold owned by the Tott family (see picture below) attacked and destroyed by Swedish troups in 1658 and rediscovered only in the 1940's. Today it carries an exhibition of the medieval life in Lillöhus.

Lillöhus in its original medieval fit.

The Linné Walk is very well designed and easy to walk on. There are resting places along the route to stop at, take a sip of picnic coffee maybe, and enjoy the surrounding nature.

Freshly made paths for easy access.

Towards the end of the Walk the route follows river Helge and reaches a small museum, Kanalhuset.

Final section of the Linné Walk with the visitor centre in the background.

We then enter the city centre by the Tivoli park, cross the pedestrian walkway to the Visitors Centre and this circular tour has ended where it started.

Tivoli park and river Helge opposite the Naturum Visitor Centre.

I am looking forward to the next visit in spring time and certainly also the water safaris. Spring time will also bring large amount of cranes to the area (mainly to Pulken). The regional news reported more than 2000 cranes landing in 2013 that were offered special feeding to protect the surrounding fields. So if you decide to visit Kristianstad then Vattenriket is just 300 meters from the railway station and offer many things for the entire family.

Hope you have enjoyed this tour. Have a very good working week.


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Long Traditions at Bäckaskog Castle

Bäckaskog - The Castle of Many Tales

1. A monastery during the 13th century.
2. Danish from 1537.
3. Families Ulfstand, Brahe, Bille, Parsberg.
4. From 1584 Henrik Ramel (from Pomerania).
5. From 1819 residence for cavalry colonels.
6. Colonel J.C.Toll 1782-1817.
7. From 1819 a Royal Estate (Swedish and Danish).
8. From 1956 hotel and restaurant (G. Ferlenius).
9. Nowadays publicly owned and leased out.

Ref: www.algonet.se

Bäckaskog Castle by lake Oppmanna. Lake Ivö is on the other side of the isthmus.

With a keen interest in history, may I this time place my pictures in the context of some of the many (historical) tales about Bäckaskog (courtesy: www.algonet.se). 

The castle itself is situated northeast of Kristianstad on an isthmus between two lakes; the Oppmanna and Ivö. When the monastery in Vä was destroyed in a fire 1213 the monks wanted to build a new monastery on this isthmus that had a nice climate and lakes full of fish (the only animal food allowed for the monks). The monastery was built over a brook between the lakes so that the monks could open a hatch and this way easily catch fresh fish all year around.

Bäckaskog Castle

The first of the tales relates to the "well-fed and flourishing" abbot Niels Hindriksen that managed to fool the mighty landlord Jens Holgersen Ulfstand from Glimmingehus and Ljungby over some allotments. Ulfstand therefor invited the abbot to his estate offering a cure for his overweight. The abbot was not aware of the fact that the cure was becoming chained and put to work in the smithy for ten days on only bread and water. When the king and the bishop became aware of the situation the situation was resolved. The abbot was released and offered 100 marks for his unfortunate state - a price that Ulfstand could afford to pay for a good laugh. When the end is well, all is well although it is not mentioned whether the abbot lost some weight or not.

During the reformation the monastery became property of the Danish crown in 1537 and leased to Gert Jensen Ulfstand and soon thereafter to other families like Brahe, Bille and Parsberg. In 1584 the Danish king Fredrik II handed over Bäckaskog to a nobleman from Pomerania, Henrik Ramel, who's family kept the estate for almost 100 years.

Towering Bäckaskog.

History tells that Henrik Ramel had a solid upbringing and had travelled extensively in the orient. Having served the king of Hungary and the sultan of Constantinople he received an public office in Pomerania and finally, in 1581, took up his duties in the Danish court becoming among other things the teacher of Christian IV. The royal graces and the fact that he was German gave Ramel many enemies. When his German wife died he remarried with Swedish Elsa Brahe and critics against him reduced and he worked in public offices until his death in 1610. During his time large construction works where started at Bäckaskog Castle. His son, with the same name, is said to have initiated the construction of the church at Bäckaskog.

Bäckaskog by the other lake, Lake Ivö.

Ove Ramel, son of Henrik Ramel (younger), was one of the first Scanian noblemen that swore fidelity to the Swedish king. However, during the Danish-Swedish war he again sided with the Danish and was later sentenced to death in his absence. He, nevertheless, was given back Bäckaskog after the war but decided to have his residence in Denmark instead. Soon Bäckaskog became a royal estate and served as residence for cavalry colonels of the regiments of Southern Sweden. The last of them was the colorful Johan Christopher Toll, 1782-1817, that made several improvements and introduced the park area at Bäckaskog. He had little luck in finding a spouse - planted a tree everytime he was rejected and tales tell that the trees grew in number. He supported Gustav III in his coup d'état bringing in forces before the promised Finnish groups had arrived. He then also served Gustav IV Adolf, lost his offices for a while but was later reinstated and joined the aristocracy as baron only to serve as diplomat and field marshall during the Napoleonic wars. After a defeat in Pomerania Gustav IV Adolf returned to Bäckaskog and Toll managed to strike a deal with the French that allowed Swedish troops to return with their stores. 

Bäckaskog park area.

From the early 19th century Bäckaskog became a royal estate for Crown Princes Oscar (I) and Karl (XV)  that used it as his summer and out-of-town residence, made many improvements and held numerous festivities there. He was very much a public figure and liked by the locals - a favor that he returned especially in the case of ladies. According to my source he may still have relatives in the area. The Danish Crown Prince Fredrik (III) married Karl XV's daughter Lovisa in 1868 and moved into Bäckaskog. The small-leaved lime tree, where the couple was engaged to be married, still stands and has become a popular site for others to do the same, right under this tree.

In 1956 Bäckaskog Castle was leased to Gustaf Ferlenius who turned the site into a popular tourist attraction - "The Castle of Roses and the Newly-Weds" a it was nicknamed. It attracted some half a million visitors yearly. The business was closed down after Ferlenius, turned into public ownership and leased out to different entrepreneurs running it today.

Bäckaskog park area.

Bäckaskog is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kristianstad with some 150.000 visitors annually using its accommodation, restaurant and conference services. For details see www.backaskogslott.se The Castle has a magnificent history having been a centre for different political turmoil and also a royal (summer) residence. Hope the story has been of interest and possibly prompts the odd reader to look for further details.

Enjoy your week-end!


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Kristianstad by Night

How does Kristianstad come out in the evenings?

Kristianstad theatre building in Tivoli Park.

Kristianstad is a lively city daytime with its shopping streets, the lovely Tivoli Park and with an immediate access to Naturum Vattenriket Visitor Centre. Thoughts have been expressed about photographing Kristianstad in the evening with its lights. The idea became reality in January after the holiday season was over and there also was a need for some exercise and fresh air. Our tour starts at the Naturum Visitor Centre by river Helge. This biosphere reserve is open all year around. It carries exhibitions and offers guided tours in the surrounding nature. It is also possible to take a promenade along marked paths on your own.

Naturum Vattenriket Visitor Centre top left.

Opposite the visitor centre on the other side of the river is the Tivoli Park with its bird lakes, plantations, playing areas and the city theatre. Hälsoträdgården with its garden, plantations and natural beauty is designed to work as an anti-stress factor for any visitors there. The orangery with its meeting facilities has recently been opened concluding this wonderful project (below).

The orangerie with christmas decorations.

We can then enter the open park area that originally was a meadow outside the city walls. When trees where planted in the 19th century and the pavilion opened the Tivoli was named according to the Tivoli in Copenhagen (www.lansstyrelsen.se). The city theatre, in the middle of the park, was opened in 1906 and is nowadays one of the oldest theatres still in use in Sweden. It offers a wide repertoire of plays, musicals, concerts, dance and lectures (www.kristianstad.se). 

Tree areas are also nicely lit in the evenings.

Two blocks away is the city centre with its pedestrian shopping centre and restaurants. The city centre was voted the city center of the year 2014 in Sweden. The shopping streets where still nicely decorated with christmas lights but streets almost empty after closing hours.

Boutiques in the city centre.

On my way home: more lights in the downtown area.

Removal of shadows revelas the branches of this tree and fills the entire picture area.

This concludes our evening city tour in Kristianstad - voted the city centre of the year 2014.
Hope you like it as we do. Have a very good end of the week.