Saturday, 23 February 2013

A seldom seen visitor in Øresund: The arctic patrol vessel Knud Rasmussen

The Danish arctic patrol vessel Knud Rasmussen on its way northwards in Øresund

On this gray February day we had a seldom seen visitor in the Sound - The Royal Danish Navy's arctic patrol vessel Knud Rasmussen on its way northwards. The Knud Rasmussen and her sister ship normally patrol in the waters around Greenland

The ship's ordinary tasks include fisheries inspections, environment protection, search and rescue, sovereignity enforcement, icebreaker assignments, towage and salvage operations and general assistance to the Danish and Greenland governments

The Knud Rasmussen was officially commissioned into the Royal Danish Navy in February, 2008. 

Johnny E. Balsved's excellent Danish Naval History site has the following technical information about the patrol ship:

Built by:
Karstensens Ship Yacht A/S, Skagen (The hull is built at the Polish Stocznia Pólnocna (Northern Shipyard) inGdansk)
Karstensens Ship Yacht A/S in cooperation with the Danish Defense Acquisition and Logistics Organization
1,720 tons
(LOA) 71.80 m
(LWL) 61.00 m
14.60 m
4.95 m
18 men (lodging capacity for 43)
ea B&W ALPHA 8L27/28 á 2.720 kW v/800 rpm
1 ea Propeller (CP)
RENK reduction gear "Twin in/single out"
3,000 nautical miles
ea 12,7 mm Heavy Machine Guns M/01 LvSa
Additional space for:
1 ea SAR/Landing Crafts of the LCP Class
17 knots

Redwood logging in California in the early 20th century

In its 22 January 1905 issue, the Swedish weekly Hvar 8 Dag published an article on redwood logging in Humboldt County, California. The correspondent was somewhat ambivalent about what he saw in the redwood forests close to Eureka:

"Still there are vast forests left, but they are beginning to look severely damaged. Wherever the white man arrives, everything will soon be plundered. Now there are in many areas only half burned tree-stumps left, like graves in an enormous graveyard. It feels sad that the plundering to such a great degree has been done by Scandinavians. Most of the axes and saws are namely handled by Swedes and Finns."

"But the there is also a bright side. Yes, before the white man arrived, the trees were untouched, and you felt like entering a cathedral, pillars beside pillars, with organ music at the tops. The Indians were roaming, and the bears were padding without fear. But it was also wilderness everywhere. Now the land is cultivated, and the grain is standing high in the fields, and big herds of cattle are grazing. Thousands have got new homes; small towns have been built; railways have been been constructed; and then the primeval forest has again began to grow around the stumps."

"Pillars beside pillars - One felt like entering a cathedral".

"A beautiful specimen".

"The stumps are big enough to be used as a dance floor"

"How the trees are felled . This one was 23 feet in diameter."

"In cases of emergency you can use trunks as a stable."

A loading station.

A train carrying the  felled trees. 

"Planks 80 inches wide, without a crack, can be sawed."

The Swedish correspondent was right about the redwood trees beginning to grow again:

Humboldt County is a densely forested, mountainous, and rural county situated along the Pacific coast in Northern California'srugged Coast (Mountain) Ranges. With nearly 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of combined public and private forest in production, Humboldt County accounts for twenty percent of the total forest production for all of California.[4] The county contains over forty percent of all remaining old growth Coast Redwood forests,[5] the vast majority of which is protected or strictly conserved within dozens of national, state, and local forests and parks, totaling approximately 680,000 acres (over 1,000 square miles).[6]

Read more about Humboldt County here

Friday, 22 February 2013

Tanker Cotton and cargo ship Pinta among fishing boats in Øresund

This gray February day must have been good for fishing in Øresund. At least there were an unusual number of small fishing boats out when the tanker Cotton and the small cargo ship Pinta passed by at about noon, close to Hittarp:

The tanker Cotton (184 x 27 m), the cargo ship Pinta (82 x 13 m) and fishing boats meet in the Sound.
Cotton and fishing boats a moment later.
Pinta and a few more fishing vessels.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Jackdaws and ships in the Sound before sunset

Below a couple of pictures I shot just before sunset today close to the Hittarp reef:

Another day with hundreds of jackdaws flying over the reef.
More jackdaws at the Hittarp reef.
A ship approaching Helsingborg in the background.
Container ship Dettifoss on its way to the port of Helsingborg.
The small containership Norfeeder passes Kronborg castle on its way to Copenhagen.

The world's largest locomotive in 1909

This ore transport engine , built by Motala Mek. Verkstad was delivered to the Swedish railways in 1909.

In the early 20th century there was a growing international demand for Swedish iron ore. In order to facilitate ore exports, the Swedish state railways ordered this locomotive, which at the time was considered to be the largest in the world. The length of the engine, delivered in 1909, was 20 m.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Anthony Powell on his time in Finland

Emma Fielding as Lady Isobel Tolland and James Purefoy as Nick Jenkins in the television series. 

The other night, when I had finished watching the excellent 1997 eight hour television adaptation of Anthony Powell's "Dance to the Music of Time", I remembered my brief correspondence with the novelist in 1991, when I lived in London. In one of the letters Powell reminisces about his two Oxford vacations, 1925 and 1926, which he spent in Finland. (His father was in the autumn 1924 sent to Finland as staff-officer to the major-general heading a British Military Mission, requested for an advisory role by the Finnish Government):

In another letter, Powell recalled that the article about his time in Finland - of which he did not have a copy - was probably written in 1925/1926 for a magazine called "something like The New Quarterly, which "lasted, I suspect, only one number".

In late June, 1925, Finland's minister of defense organized a reception in honour of a British naval visit to Helsinki. The youngish British officer in middle of the picture (immediate left from the door) could be Anthony Powell's father. 

In his memoirs, Powell gives some interesting glimpses of his time in Helsinki, and also mentions that his second novel Venusberg (1932) "recalls some of these Finnish interludes, though much of the novel's background, especially the political circumstances, are altogether imaginary, with no bearing on what happened in Finland at the time, nor for that matter in the neighbouring Baltic States, not yet overrun by the U.S.S. R." "The town described in Venusberg is a mixture of Helsinki and Reval (as Tallin was still apt to be called), the Estonian capital across the Gulf of Finland, where I spent a weekend."

A photograph of the Northern Esplanade in Helsingfors (Helsinki) in the mid 1920s.

There are two interesting descriptions of social life in Finland in Powell's memoirs:

During his stay in Finland, Powell also visited Viborg, Finland's then second largest city (which Finland had to cede to the Soviet Union after the Winter and Continuation Wars):

Powell also touched upon his time in Finland in an interesting reply to a question by Michael Barber (who later wrote a Powell biography), which was part of an interview, published in the Paris Review in 1978:

Coincidence plays a large part in determining the pattern of the Dance—too large a part, according to some critics.
Well, I think in human life it happens a thousand times more than I would ever dare bring it in, and I could mention the most extraordinary coincidences that have actually taken place in my own life. But yes, I think one does have to be careful about not using it too much simply because people do think it is unconvincing.
Can you give an example of coincidence in your own life?
Well, yes, this is a perfectly straightforward one: When my father was sent in 1924-5 on a military mission to Finland, I went out there for two Oxford vacs. And there was a family we knew there whose daughter I used to dance with occasionally. Well, about ten years ago, when our younger son wanted to go to Spain and learn Spanish, the Spanish wife of a friend of ours recommended a place which we wrote to, and they wrote back and said No, they couldn't take him, but they could recommend somebody else. Well, when he went there it turned out that the head of the family was married to this girl I used to dance with in Finland. It's not a bad one, is it really? But if you put that in a book it would be considered absolutely absurd. I mean, there's no particular tie-up in it: You can't say, Oh well, naturally everybody was interested in books or paintings or something . . . It was just sheer, extraordinary coincidence  . . . I mean there was no earthly reason why she should have married a Spaniard.

In his book "Finland in the New Europe" (1998) the Finnish diplomat, writer and journalist Max Jakobson makes a reference to Anthony Powell:

"In the major capitals of Europe, the entry of the sovereign republic of Finland into the international community was received with a degree of skepticism. A Finnish diplomat who complained to the editor of London Economist that the paper persisted in printing out-of-date maps showing Finland as part of Russia was told that the Economist took a long view of international affairs without letting transient phenomena lead it astray. To people used to a world ruled by the great dynasties, the new states that emerged from the ruins of World War I seemed artificial creations, not to be taken seriously."

"This attitude was caught by Anthony Powell, the British author, in his novel Venusberg (1932) in which a lady representing a fictional newly independent small country - presumably Finland - tells a British diplomat: "We are only a little country. A little new country. You must not be surprised if sometimes we do not seem to do things so well as you big countries who have been big countries for so long. You big countries do not know what it is like to be a little country ...."

While in Helsinki, Powell must have visited the Academic bookstore, already then the largest bookshop in the Nordic countries. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Tahiti a hundred years ago: "The queen of emerald islands"

"Oh, Tahiti! Queen among emerald islands!"
Papeete seen from the sea. (1909)

In its August 8 issue, the Swedish weekly Hvar 8 Dag published an account of a visit to Tahiti by the writer, actor and adventurer William A:son Grebst. If one is to believe the writer, Tahiti was a place close to paradise a hundred years ago:

"And the women!
Yes, the women in the beauty of their light brown young bodies!"
When crowned by timid white tiaras or radiant warm pauauas they cross the road.
With the fire of glowing eyes."

"More than anything else they love flowers. Even more than love itself."
Otea dance.

"Tall men with perfect, strong bodies."

"The land of Cockaigne. Nobody works. Nobody squabbles about what is mine and what is yours."
A Tahitian Faré.

A white man's house.

Lake Waihiria.

"The lagoon is full of fish. The woods abound in fruits."

William A:son Grebst in Tahiti.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

An imperial visit: Czar Nicholas II in Stockholm in 1909

On June 26 1909, Stockholm was ready to give a splendid welcome to the Czar of Russia, Nicholas II and empress Alexandra, who arrived for a brief visit on board the imperial yacht Standart.

King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria took the Royal barge Vasaorden to the Imperial yacht Standart in order to greet the guests:

Csar Nicholas and empress Alexandra arrive together with their Swedish hosts on board the Vasaorden for the official welcoming ceremony.
Moments later. Large crowds of people had gathered in front of the Grand Hotel in order to watch the arrival ceremony.
The imperial guests are introduced to the receiving dignitaries.
Czar Nicholas and empress Alexandra at the decorative pavilion erected for the welcoming ceremony. 
Czar Nicholas and King Gustaf on their way to the Royal palace.
The Imperial yacht Standart in Stockholm.

The official state visit was marred by the assassination of Major General Beckman, Chief of Sweden's Coast Artillery. General Beckman was shot twice outside of the Grand Hotel by an assassin who then killed himself. King Gustaf V hosted a state banquet for the visiting Csar at the royal palace that evening.