Wednesday 12 September 2012

An Island Swept Away

In the Middle Ages the island of Strand, off Denmark's west coast, encompassed approximately 210 square miles. I used this island as the setting for my latest release, Wild Viking Princess.

A disastrous storm tide in the year 1634 tore the island apart, long after my hero (Reider) and heroine (Ragna) lived there in 1124 AD. 

I visualized my hero striding along this beach
6000 people drowned in the disaster, and one island became three, Nordstrand, Pellworm and Hallegin.

Nordstrand today is a peninsula, linked to the mainland by the Beltringerharder, a polder of land reclaimed from the sea. 

Pellworm Lighthouse
Pellworm today
Nordstrand beach today
All three islands now belong to Germany, but my hero, Reider Torfinnsen, is Danish. In fact he is the Prince of Strand. The history of this part of Europe, known as Schleswig Holstein, is complex. I will attempt to clarify it in a future article.

Nordstrand is the origin of a locally famous alcoholic beverage, the Pharisäer ("Pharisee"), which the islanders developed in 1872 to be able to drink alcohol in the presence of local pastor Georg Bleyer, who preached abstinence. It is made from strong hot coffee, sugar, dark rum and whipped cream (to prevent the alcohol from evaporating, so that it could not be smelled). The pastor usually got the only cup without rum, but one day the cups got mixed up. When he discovered the deceit he exclaimed "Ihr Pharisäer!" ("You Pharisees!"). Hence the name.

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