No Man is an Island

Finding solitude amongst Denmark’s hidden gems

Words by Joe Miller, Pictures by Matthew James Harrison

It’s always hard in life to accept it when you lose friends, family or anyone close to you. People change, they move on and find pastures new. We live, we die… but we dream.

We dream that we will achieve all our goals in life and hopefully leave a lasting memory in people’s minds, but more importantly, make sure we’ve done everything possible for ourselves and just lived our lives the way that makes us feel good.

Memories almost seem forgotten with some people and you find yourself wondering what changed along the way and if things had gone differently, what would you change?

They say “No man is an island”, but it’s hard to break away from this idea when you find yourself feeling so isolated and distant from people at times. The reliance on others around to support you, confide in you and share life with is never far from your thoughts.

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Endelave, Bornholm and Aarø, three of Denmark’s islands, don’t share the same emotions as us. They are bereft of feelings, guilt or regret. Instead, they lie gracefully in their wilderness, like a purring cat, sprawled out on the rug in front of the fireplace. Like all islands, the separation from the mainland brings a sense of escapism, freedom and solitude. The cold winds of winter bring an evanescent chill to the bones, but it is short lived with the constant change of season and look of the landscape.

The Danish island of Bornholm warms the body and soul immediately. Situated off the south-east coast of Sweden, the island hibernates through the bleak months of winter until spring, when it’s magnificent billow of colour comes to prominence through its flourishing plants, flowers and trees.

 

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From its craggy granite rocks to the white sand beaches that caress the coastline, the island welcomes its visitors like a long lost friend and the community spirit is revealed once more.

Isolation is a term not used here, as for many months of the year, you are captivated by the beauty of nature the island provides and the many campsites, restaurants and activities for families and individuals to enjoy.

Endelave, positioned north of Odense and off the coast of Funen, relaxes in its own tranquil surroundings. Of the three islands discussed, Endelave centres around its wildlife. With a large seal population that descends on the surrounding reefs for resting or breeding, the island would feel best served as the backdrop to a David Attenborough documentary and less so as a holiday destination.

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However, the inhabitants of Endelave are not seeking to attract a flock of tourists. People are welcome, but as guests of the island, it would be best to take your shoes off at the door and respect the space nature has invited you into.

The land breathes life through its beach-meadow and oak forests that tower over the landscape like a marauding hawk waiting to pounce on its prey… although the prey on this occasion is our imagination.

Aarø encompasses this feeling of togetherness we all look for in life. An island with a small population, but a large sense of community spirit, the inhabitants of Aarø work together in maintaining the look of the landscape.

On the island, you will find a little town and there are a few farms still farming on the island today. Thatched houses and winding lanes reveal an added attraction to the beauty of the island.

Big things come in small sizes….or so I’ve been told! And that’s exactly what you find with Aarø. From the elegant little marina to the fire station with its fire truck you feel you could fit into your pocket, what the island lacks in size, it definitely makes up for in charm.

It’s not the size of the fire station, it’s how you use the fire truck that counts!

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I, myself, grew up in a small town in west wales, UK. I always loved the fact that when you walked into one of the local shops, went for a drink, or took a stroll around the town, you would always bump into someone you knew. These islands remind me of this and it’s hard not to find a piece of my heart attached to them.

I will always continue to dream and I will always do my best to try, safe in the knowledge that I have people around that will always be there for me and support me, whatever I do in my life.

As they say, “No man is an island”.

This blog post originally appeared on www.photographybymatthewjames.com

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