The combination of spending my time working on non-fiction and educational books and having a pretty good memory for useless facts, means that I'm useful as at the annual Village Quiz Night. Working freelance on lots of diverse projects means that I hoover up information just in case it might come in useful. So when I stumbled on a piece of trivia while reading a leaflet at a museum in Denmark, I stashed the facts away in my might come in jolly useful one day cupboard tucked in the nether recesses of my brain.
Here's a pub quiz question for you . . .
What's the connection between ancient burial mounds and a church at Jelling and the circular hillfort at Fyrkat, both in Denmark; and a hands-free mobile phone?
Did you know? I'll tell you –
The answer is Bluetooth. To be exact it's Harold Bluetooth; if you have Bluetooth connectivity on whatever you're reading this on, you'll have a little logo which looks like a 'B' with an 'X' through it – that's HB in runic characters. The inventors of the clever gadgets that allow people to 'connect' wherever they may be, named their company after the 10th century Danish King who led the efforts to unite Denmark, Norway and southern Sweden.
These are the runestones at Jelling. The big one on the left was placed there by Harold Bluetooth, its inscription in runic characters reads: King Harald bade this monument to be made in memory of Gorm his father and Thyra his mother, that Harald who won for himself all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian. Consequently this stone and the images carved on it are greatly revered in Denmark - it's a national treasure. The smaller stone is older and was placed there by King Gorm in memory of Queen Thyra, the inscription reads: King Gorm made this monument to his wife Thyra, Denmark's ornament.
The church and the huge monumental mounds at Jelling are now a World Heritage Site, the nearby museum explains their significance both as symbols of the Danish nation and as part of an archaeologically complex royal burial site.
This is another landmark linked with Bluetooth's great Danish dynasty – the circular fortress at Fyrkat, near Hobro at the end of the Mariager Fjord in Jutland. It was a symbolic and strategic statement of Harold Bluetooth's power, now it's part of a Viking museum. Unfortunately we visited on 1st September, which meant autumn opening times were applied and so at one minute to 3pm when we turned up it was about to close for the day! We drove to the car park near the fortress and went for a short walk so we could see the high defensive banks even if we didn't get to see the visitor's centre.
That's enough trivia for a Monday, down to something much more practical - grapes and what to do with them . . .
Yesterday I picked just under a stone of black grapes (I left a few bunches low down for the under-gardeners, we love to see how happy hens can look when snaffling red grapes!). So if not wine, what do you do with 13+ pounds of ripe Rondo grapes? I consulted our growing library of books on preserves and also read the Cottage Smallholders excellent blog posts on the subject. In the end I turned to an English national treasure, Marguerite Patten, and her recipe for Grape Jelly – a vat of simmering purpleness is in the kitchen as I type, it's almost ready to cool slightly before I strain it through my newly stitched jelly-bag. Must go to construct something with an upturned stool and string so I can catch all the precious juices.