Tuesday, January 3, 2012

For real?

Just watched the evening news here in Denmark and they were reporting on the latest in the US Republican presidential candidacy race in Iowa, the big story being that someone called Rick Santorum is the front runner. DR (the Danish public broadcaster) had even sent a man with a microphone there who poked it in Mr Santorum's face as he finished a talking event, managing to ask him what he would do if he were president.

The slightly annoyed looking politician sputtered "I would make America great again, free enterprise and free markets, and restore Christian values."

In the following to-camera segment there followed the kind of Danish exchange only discernible to those who have lived here long enough to recognise it - that is, a kind of Victor Borge ironically raised eyebrow - as the reporter explained Mr Santorum's platform to the anchor. "Ban gay marriage. Block all abortion. Restore Christian values," and finally "Rick Santorum doesn't believe in global warming."

I half expected the two men to break out into loud guwaffs - as if they were talking about not believing the tooth fairy or Father Christmas. Luckily they cut away to an audience member just in time, a women, who said: "I'd vote for him because, y'know, marriage is between a man and a women, like it says in the Bible."

It's good to see those Republicans are debating the important issues of the day!

Interestingly enough, the following item was about the storm (real, not political) which is currently battering Denmark. Dozens of summer houses - i.e. wooden houses that Danes own but are not allowed to live in other than for holidays - are, as I type, at threat of being washed into the North Sea by surging tides and violent winds. Some have already succumbed and will be driftwood in the morning. "When I bought a house on the beach, I never expected this," explained one owner as he stood next to the wreckage.


Finally, the last thing to report from this little corner of Europe is that money has apparently been pouring into the country over the last few days as scared investors look for a safe haven. The Danish treasury is not particularly in need of the cash (compared to others) and has started selling bonds with zero yields i.e. investors will just be happy to see their money back again.

They have been flooded with offers.


  1. Hi Jason, I followed you from the Archdruid. I've read your thoughtful contributions there over the last few months and its good to hear a perspective there from a fellow European, or even Brit! I live just across the north sea on the Lincolnshire coast and have a house at 1m above sea level so share your interest in sea level rise. We've had some good surge tides too in the last month but nothing as spectacular as your photos. I down shifted from a rat race career 3 years ago so and have enjoyed it immensely. I saw you comment that you were looking for woodland, no doubt you have good reasons for returning to England but I just wondered if you'd thought about Sweden where land seems to be reasonably priced,if you have done and decided against I'd be interested to hear why.

    Cheers, Phil

  2. Hi Phil - greetings from the other side of the North Sea! Good to hear that you have dropped out of the rat race. I myself did that some ten years ago only to find myself somewhat back in it at the moment due to a couple of black ducks (like black swans but smaller ...)

    Anyway - yes, I have considered moving to Sweden. It has an awful lot of good land and not many people, plus, my family is Danish so the language barrier wouldn't be all that great. But ...

    I've lived in Scandinavia long enough now to know that there are some cultural differences which, on a bad day, can seem positively scary. I miss the good old English acceptance of non-conformity - and the kind of thinking and initiatives (e.g. transition) going on in Britain is light years ahead of Scandinavia. I think this, and the sense of community (which I find lacking here) are more important factors in the long run than the ever shifting price of land.

    After six years in Denmark I am still daily reminded that I am an 'alien' - I can't imagine it would be much different in Sweden - but I'd willing to hear otherwise.

    Saying that I do sometimes fantasise about living in Norway. On the couple of visits there I've been highly attracted to the mountains and wide open spaces, plus the continuing 'old ways' of many of the people. I don't think the Norwegians are too worried about the future - they are taking the sensible precaution of using their current oil revenues to make the country more resilient to shocks in the future. Good luck to 'em, I say.


  3. Hi Jason, Like you I've thought about buying woodland but there is very little in Lincs and not much comes up for sale. Sweden has plenty of trees but the climate is not much good for growing a forest garden. Your comments about Scandinavian culture resonate with others I've read from people who've lived in Sweden.

    Sorry it didn't work out for you in Spain. I visited the Alpujarras back in 1982 on a birding trip during the cherry harvest. Never forgot the generosity of the locals, everywhere we stopped they gave us cherries, delicious ones too.

    I'm born and bred in Lincs and will probably never leave but I've travelled quite a bit and like to check places out. Its my version of window shopping I guess.

    I've been reading Dimitry Orlov's blog a long time, in fact it was he who inspired some of the reasons for me to downshift and stop fuelling the system. I saw on his latest post you commented about moving to Cornwall. Its a great place, I've done a lot of birding there over the years, especially the Penwith Peninsula, Lizard and Scilly.

    Just in case its of interest, a couple of years ago the BBC published a mass of data on resilience of english local authority areas to recession. I extracted some of the data to make my own collapse resistance index. East Lindsey where I live doesn't come out to bad, about on a par with Cornwall but one of the best places in the country turns out to be West Devon and not far behind Torridge both of which might be worth a look. Neither too great for cyclists though. I've been out on my bike on the Lincolnshire Wolds today and managed to climb about 1300 feet, (runkeeper is a great app, sadly the iphone and this laptop are addictions plus the Focus and tv!) its hard work and the South West is a lot worse! Sadly I didn't find the Great Grey Shrike I was looking for but thats just a good excuse to go out and try again later in the week.

    Anyway good luck with your plans and keep up the blog posts. If you are as sad as me and interested in that index I could send you the spreadsheet.

  4. Hi Phil - Southern Sweden, which is the bit I am familiar with, would be an excellent place for a forest garden. The countryside is similar to England, but with far fewer people living there. Further north, of course, it is mostly pine trees and the climate is harsher.
    Glad to hear you enjoyed visiting the Alpujarras! Yes, the cherries taste pretty good there – but I was saddened to see that the council in the village of Bubion has just cut down all the trees in the car park as some kind of redevelopment. I used to call it ‘the most beautiful car park in the world’ – and half the cars there had dented roofs from people standing on them so they could reach the big red juicy cherries. No longer …
    That’s amazing that you say west Devon is the most resilient place in England. We’re looking at east Cornwall … which ecologically and geographically speaking is practically west Devon. I was just going on a hunch though. It seems to tick all the boxes: engaged community, access to sea, rivers and rail, mix of small businesses, fertile land, warm climate and cheap (by English standards) housing. Plus there are all sorts of resilience/transition initiatives there. I’m sure we’d fit right in.
    Yes – I’d love to see the dtata in any case. Good luck spotting that great grey shrike!
    (and yes, Dmity Orlov is a great inspiration – who said peak oil couldn’t be funny?)

  5. Hi Jason, good point about Southern Sweden, is the same true of any part of southern Norway too.

    I agree there can't be that much difference between east cornwall and west devon. I based my index on 5 factors pulled out of the main data set which I felt were important in a collapse: resilient jobs, % self employment, social cohesion, crime and green space. Cornwall does alot worse on crime, social cohesion and surprisingly green space. How do I get it to you as I can't find a way to attach it here or an email address.


I'll try to reply to comments as time permits.