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Easter Time

26 Apr

Blossom1.jpgAh, the Easter holidays! How I longed for them! While most people make plans for all the things they’ll get done around the house and in the garden during their time off, my plan was simple: do nothing! Having now come out at the other end, I can safely say mission accomplished, pretty much.

During the holiday week, my neighbours could be seen industriously loading and unloading trailers with assorted garden-related items, passing my window on countless trips to and from the tip and, judging by the trailer contents, other gardening themed errands. I, on the other hand, observed all of this activity with my bottom planted firmly on the couch.

Here in Denmark, the holidays began with crisp blue skies, and the appearance of the sun brought with it the hope of relaxing time spent outdoors. The good weather only strengthened my vision of empty days stretching before me like a decadent mirage, but it didn’t take long before we were back to grey skies and torrential rain. My daffies were completely ruined.Daffies.jpgMy daffies at the beginning of the Easter holiday

The message was clear: get inside and stay there! Far be it from me to ignore signs from the cosmos, so I settled down and watched the entire first season of Arvingerne (The Legacy) and also mangaged to catch up on some geeky reading when noone was looking.

Although it was nice to sit and do nothing for a while, it wasn’t long before I started feeling antsy. To counteract this, I made some half-hearted attempts at keeping up my yoga practice (my midlife crisis is nothing if not a cliché), but fortunately Viggo was on hand to perform an intervention when activity levels looked to be spiking.Viggo yoga.jpgTowards the end of the holiday, I had a visit from my extremely motivated friend T, who insisted that after a walk in the pouring rain we do some yoga. Her bossiness is such that she even managed to inspire my stepson (who has never done yoga) to join us. He did well to follow the moves, particularly since he was using most of his concentration on trying not to break wind at an inopportune moment.

In honour of T’s visit, I felt inspired to bake a cake. I’m really not much of a baker, but I had been intrigued by images of the magic 3 layer custard cake that are all over Pinterest at the moment. Sadly, however, once again social media and reality were proven to be worlds apart. Never mind, a wee dash of icing sugar on top and cutting the cake into dainty slices improved its aesthetic qualities sufficiently for it to be deemed fit for consumption.Baking fail 1.jpgCake – pre-cosmetic surgery

The holiday was rounded off with our traditional family lunch at my in-laws’. I’m constantly in awe of my mother-in-law’s ability to effortlessly serve up a veritable banquet for 15 on a beautifully dressed table.Feast 2.jpgA week is not a long time, and the holiday passed in a flash. I’ve now been back at uni for more than a week, and Easter already feels like a long time ago. But the rest did me good, and I’m now raring to go, ready for the final stretch of my BA and whatever else the future may bring.Sunset1.jpg

Påsketid

Ah, påskeferie! Hvor jeg længtes efter den! Mens de fleste planlægger alle de ting, der skal ordnes i hus og have, var min plan ganske enkel: at lave ingenting! Nu, da vi er nået om på den anden side af ferien, kan jeg sige, at det for det meste er lykkedes.

I løbet af ferieugen kunne jeg se mine naboer godt i gang med at læsse og losse deres trailere med adskillige havemæssige ting, da de kørte forbi mit vindue på deres utallige ture frem og tilbage til lossepladsen. Jeg – derimod – betragtede al denne aktivitet fra sofaen.

Her i Danmark begyndte påskeferien med blå himmel, og solens fremkomst bragte med det håbet om, at det vil være muligt at slappe af udenfor. Det gode vejr støttede min vision om tomme dage, der lå foran mig som et dekadent fatamorgana. Men det varede ikke længe, før vi fik grå himmel og kraftig regn. Mine påskeliljer var helt ødelagt.

Beskeden var klar: Gå indenfor og bliv der! Det er langtfra mig at ignorere tegn fra kosmos, så jeg slog mig ned og så den komplete første sæson af Arvingerne og nåede at indhente lidt nørdet læsning, da ingen kiggede.

Selv om det var rart at sidde og lave ingenting i et stykke tid, varede det ikke længe, før jeg blev lidt rastløs. For at modvirke dette lavede jeg nogle halvhjertede forsøg på at fortsætte med min yoga (ja, min midtvejskrise er en kliché), men heldigvis greb Viggo ind og fik mig til at ‘klappe hesten’.

Mod slutningen af ferien fik jeg besøg af min meget motiverede veninde T, som insisterede på, at – efter en gåtur i regnvejret – vi lavede lidt yoga. Hun er så overbevisende, at hun endda overtalte min papsøn til at deltage. Han var dygtig til at følge stillingerne, ikke mindst fordi han brugte den største del af sin koncentration på ikke at prutte i et ubelejligt øjeblik.

Til ære for T’s besøg blev jeg inspireret til at bage en kage. Jeg er ikke nogen bager, men jeg havde været fascineret af billederne af den magiske 3-lags custard-kage, der er på Pinterest lige nu. Desværre viste sociale medier og realiteten sig imidlertid at være langt fra hinanden. Pyt med det! Efter et pift med lidt flormelis på toppen og ved at skære kagen i små nydelige stykker blev kagens udseende dømt egnet til forbrug.

Baking fail 2 crop.jpgKagen – uden flormelis…

Ferien sluttede med vores traditionelle familiefrokost hos mine svigerforældre. Jeg er konstant fyldt med ærefrygt for min svigermors evne til ubesværet at varte op med en virkelig banket på et smukt dækket bord.Feast.jpgEn uge er ikke lang tid, og ferien passerede lynhurtigt. Jeg har været tilbage på uni i mere end en uge, og påsken virker allerede, som om det var for længe siden. Men jeg fik gavn af at slappe af, og jeg er nu ivrig efter at komme i gang – klar til det sidste tidsrum af min BA, og hvad ellers fremtiden kan bringe.Sunset 2.jpg

Alternative Routes

10 Apr

The good people of Odense would be forgiven for thinking that they have woken up in some kind of dystopic nightmare in which they are condemned to live out their days in an eternal hell of construction-site chaos. Due to an extensive and ongoing redevelopment project, the centre of Odense is, to put it bluntly, a mess. Adhering closely to the principles of stealth warfare it would seem, Odense’s traffic planners are busy implementing new and often surprising traffic routes on a daily basis. Bad enough that the traffic bedlam had extended to include the cyclists of Odense (of which there are many), but we have now reached a point where even pedestrians are doomed.

Overgade.jpgIn light of all this, I refuse point blank to drive in the city centre. Instead, I prefer to park well away from the mayhem in a quiet, tree-lined street and use the walk into town as a chance to practise a bit of mindfulness. Odense has a number of parks that are set out like a protective arm round the city centre, so it’s quite easy to get right into the city without having to set foot on a single pavement. Munke Mose is my favourite park at this time of year, when the spring flowers begin to bloom and transform the grass into a shimmering carpet of blue. It’s a spectacular sight, transfigured to an otherworldly vision by the late afternoon sun, and Odensians of all ages stop in their tracks to marvel at the scene.

Blue flowers 1.jpg Blossom has just started to appear on the trees here in Denmark – quite a bit later than in the UK, from what I can gather. Facebook has been sporting a number of photos and articles about the blossom in Copenhagen, but I reckon Odense can also hold its own when it comes to fairytalesque backdrops of blossom.

Blossom 1.jpg Speaking of fairytales (do you see what I did there?), the next park along from Munke Mose is called Eventyrhaven (the fairytale garden). It’s named after the king of fairytales himself, Hans Christian Andersen, who was born in Odense, and in celebration of the great man’s birthday, every year wreaths are laid at the foot of his statue.

HCA.jpgMy route into the centre through the parks follows the path of the river, and I usually don’t need to go any further than Eventyrhaven to get where I need to go. However, due to the latest pedestrian deterrent, I recently had the ‘opportunity’ to extend my walk and ended up at a part of the river I had never been to before. Luckily, I was in the company of my father-in-law at the time, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I doubt if there’s anyone alive who knows more about Odense than he does! Not only was he able to show me a very pretty smutvej (shortcut), but he also told me a little about the oldest cast iron road bridge in Odense, which we passed on the way. The man could earn a fortune as a tour guide, I tell you!

Iron bridge.jpgI’m not sure what kind of impact the construction work is going to have on tourism to Odense, but I’m looking on it as a reminder from the cosmos that my life this year is all about finding alternative routes. Yes, it seems like nuisance at the time, but being forced to rethink your journey can often lead you to experience something new that you didn’t even know was there.

Alternative Ruter

Jeg ville nemt kunne forstå det, hvis odenseanerne troede, at de var vågnet op midt i et dystopisk mareridt, hvor de skulle leve til deres dages ende i et evigt helvede af bygningskaos. På grund af et omfattende og løbende saneringsprojekt er Odenses centrum, kort sagt, en rodebutik. Ved tilsyneladende at overholde principperne om stealth krigsførelse har Odenses trafik-planlæggere travlt med at gennemføre nye og tit overraskende trafikruter på daglig basis. Som om det ikke var nok, at trafik-svikmøllen var udvidet til også at omfatte Odenses mange cyklister, har vi nu nået det punkt, hvor selv fodgængerne er dødsdømt.

I betragtning af det nægter jeg at køre bil i Odenses centrum. Jeg foretrækker i stedet at parkere langt væk fra kaosset i en stille gade og bruger gåturen ind til byen som en mulighed for at øve lidt mindfulness. Odense har en række parker, der er tilrettelagt som en beskyttende arm, der omfavner byens centrum. Munke Mose er min yndlingspark på denne tid af året, når forårsblomsterne begynder at blomstre og omdanner græsset til et changerende tæppe af blåt. Det er et spektakulært syn, der bliver forvandlet til en overjordisk vision af eftermiddagssolen, og odenseanere i alle aldre stopper op for at beundre scenen.

Blue flowers 2.jpg

Blomsterne er lige begyndt at titte frem på træerne her i Danmark – ganske senere end i Storbritannien, så vidt jeg kan forstå. På Facebook er der en hel masse billeder og artikler om kirsebærblomsterne i København, men jeg synes, at Odense også kan være med, når det kommer til fabelagtige blomster-baggrunde.

Blossom 2.jpg

Når vi nu snakker om fabler, hedder den næste park efter Munke Mose Eventyrhaven. Den er opkaldt efter eventyrkongen selv, H.C. Andersen, som blev født i Odense. For at mindes hans fødselsdag lægger man hvert år kranse ved foden af hans statue.

Min vej ind i centrum gennem parkerne er langs åen, og jeg plejer ikke at have brug for at gå videre end til Eventyrhaven for at nå min destination. Imidlertid havde jeg på grund af det seneste afskrækkende middel mod fodgængere fornylig ‘muligheden’ for at forlænge min gåtur og endte på et sted, hvor jeg aldrig har været. Heldigvis var jeg sammen med min svigerfar, og jeg overdriver ikke, når jeg siger, at der ikke er nogen, der ved mere om Odense, end han gør. Ikke kun var han i stand til at vise mig en smuk smutvej, men han fortalte lidt om Odenses ældste vejbro af støbejern, som vi gik forbi på vejen. Jeg siger dig, han kunne tjene en formue som rejseleder!

Iron bridge.jpg

Jeg ved ikke, hvordan bygningsarbejdet vil påvirke turismen i Odense, men jeg ser på det som en påmindelse fra kosmos, at mit liv i år handler om alternative ruter. Ja, det virker irriterende på det tidspunkt, når det sker, men når man bliver tvunget til at genoverveje rejsen, kan det ofte føre til, at man oplever noget nyt, som man ikke i forvejen vidste var der.

Overgade 2.jpg

Small steps

30 Mar

Blue flowers.jpgStepping into my garden, I feel a little like I’ve entered paradise. There, I can find a kind of tranquility that I am really savouring at the moment, and taking the time to just go out there and be among the spring flowers is one of life’s little luxuries that I definitely can afford.

As we all know, life doesn’t always go according to plan, but I’ve come to realise that being well-stocked with inner calm goes a long way to helping me tackle those inevitable problems and look on them as adventures instead.Daffodils.jpgWithout putting myself under too much pressure by setting too many goals, I decided at New Year that a change of approach to life was needed this year. As well as making an effort to really appreciate all the things I already have and the people around me, I’ve also been implementing some small changes here and there. Small steps.

On a practical level, one of my first tasks this year was to get my passport renewed. Fortunately, everything went smoothly with the application process, and my new passport arrived in no time at all. Nevertheless, I can’t help feeling rather despondent to think it may be the last one I get with ‘European Union’ on it.Passport.jpgOn a more positive note, cutting back on my expenses has had a surprisingly refreshing effect; my financial decluttering has actually emanated into several other areas of my life, not least my wardrobe. Considerations of what I actually need instead of what I think I need have taken me down the path of creating a capsule wardrobe. In short, this means clearing out your wardrobe and keeping only the clothes that you love to wear (and that can be worn together in any number of combinations). In my case the result has been a massacre of epic proportions, and I’m not finished yet!

As a background to all this activity, I’m approaching the end of my Bachelor’s degree, and reaching milestones always makes me a bit reflective. As well as thinking back on what I have achieved, I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to what the future might hold. I say might because, you know, those well-laid plans… Anyway, I figure it doesn’t hurt to lay the foundations for a bit of stability wherever I can. So, on that front I have big plans, but I’ll reveal more about that when they are closer to fruition.

But for now, I’m going to keep moving forwards while allowing myself the time to stop along the way and smell the roses…or the hyacinths, or whatever else is blooming at the time.Hyacinths.jpg

 

Små skridt

Når jeg træder ud i min have, føles det lidt, som om jeg er gået ind i paradis. Dér finder jeg en ro, som jeg virkelig nyder lige nu. Det at brug tiden til bare at være derude blandt forårsblomsterne er en luksus, som jeg absolut har råd til.

Som vi alle sammen ved, går livet ikke altid efter planen, men jeg har indset, at hvis man er velforsynet med indre ro, hjælper det én at tackle de uundgåelige problemer og at se på dem som eventyr i stedet for. Uden at lægge for meget pres på mig selv ved at sætte for mange mål, besluttede jeg mig ved nytår for, at jeg blev nødt til at ændre min tilgang til livet. Foruden at jeg gør en indsats for at sætte pris på alle de ting, jeg i forvejen har, og de mennesker, jeg er omgivet af, har jeg hist og pist implementeret nogle små ændringer. Små skridt.

På det praktiske plan var det at få mit pas fornyet en af mine første opgaver i år. Heldigvis gik alt glat med ansøgningsforløbet, og mit nye pas kom ganske hurtigt. Ikke desto mindre kan jeg ikke lade være med at føle mig temmelig ked af det, når jeg tænker over, at det sandsynligvis er det sidste, jeg får stemplet med ‘European Union’.

I en mere positiv retning har det at skære ned på udgifterne virket overraskende forfriskende på mig. Den stramning af min økonomi har faktisk smittet af på andre områder i min tilværelse, og ikke mindst på min garderobe. Ved at overveje hvad det er, jeg faktisk har brug for, i stedet for, hvad jeg tror, jeg har brug for, har det ført til, at jeg er i gang med at skabe et ‘capsule wardrobe’. Kort sagt betyder det, at man rydder op i garderoben og kun beholder det tøj, som man elsker (og som passer sammen i alle mulige sammensætninger). I mit tilfælde har resultatet været en massakre af episke proportioner – og jeg er ikke færdig endnu!

Som baggrund for al denne aktivitet er jeg ved at blive færdig med min bachelor, og jeg plejer at reflektere lidt, når jeg når en milepæl. Samtidig med at tænke tilbage på alt det, jeg har opnået, tænker jeg på, hvad fremtiden måske indeholder. Jeg siger ‘måske’, fordi, du ved, de der godt lagt planer… Nå, men jeg regner med, at det ikke skader at lægge grundlaget til lidt stabilitet, hvor jeg kan. I den retning har jeg store planer, men jeg afslører mere om det, når de engang begynder at bære frugt.

Men netop nu bevæger jeg mig fortsat fremad, mens jeg tillader mig tid til at stoppe langs vejen og dufte til roserne… eller hyacinterne, eller hvad der ellers blomstrer på det tidspunkt.

 

Hygge is dead – long live hygge!

2 Mar

Snowdrops.jpg

Spring is here, and that means hygge season is over – if lifestyle influencers are to be believed. I’ve spent the last week being ill and firmly attached to the couch under a pile of woollen blankets and various pets, and I seem to have missed the changeover. Or have I?

Viggo hygge.jpg

Season nothwithstanding, according to diverse media sources hygge has had its day. It’s so last season, so 2016. Instead we can look to lagom (from Sweden) and kalsarikannit (from Finland) if we need inspiration for stylish living. No doubt there will be plenty of must-have, overpriced items to rush out and buy that are essential for implementing the appropriate lifestyle, and last year’s hyggelige woollen socks and blankets will be forgotten about.

I am actually glad that the hygge trend is over, not least because I’m going to have a meltdown if I have to read one more ‘helpful’ guide as to how you pronounce hygge (and no, it’s not ‘hoo-gah’). To me, the notion of ditching hygge because it doesn’t fit  with the new season only goes to show how misunderstood the concept has been.

Every now and then, I invite my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law over for lunch and a film. It’s really just an excuse for us to enjoy each other’s company with nothing else on the agenda: we don’t have to worry about the smooth running of birthdays, or anniversaries, or any other kind of family occasion. We each make something for lunch, which is usually accompanied by a glass of wine or two, and then sit back and watch a film. It’s quality girl time and always hyggeligt.

Knitting.jpgMy current hygge-knitting

Before the lurgy struck, I hosted one of these get-togethers. As usual, the conversation was lively and covered a wide range of topics, but unsurprisingly we got round to talking about knitting (we’re a family of knitters). My sister-in-law mentioned a blanket she was knitting and went on to say that the good thing about knitting blankets is that even if you make the odd mistake it doesn’t really matter, and we all agreed how hyggeligt it is to just sit and knit without worrying about the end result. As I sat there, it occurred to me that as well as the hygge generated by knitting the blanket, our talking about it brought about more feelings of hygge, and still more hygge will arise when it is finally put into use.

Hyggetæppe.jpgThis is a hygge-blanket (but not my sister-in-law’s)

Being ill may have forced me to put my new minimalist lifestyle on hold for a while, but I got through my couch-confinement with no little reliance on hygge. What these lifestyle gurus haven’t realised is that hygge regenerates season after season and adapts accordingly. Long after the trend-chasers have abandoned hygge, last season’s multi-hygge blanket will continue to stand as testimony to all the hygge that went into it, but it will also be the source of hygge yet to come.

Crocus.jpgYes, the season has changed, and the circus of media and digital influencers may have tripped off to the next Nordic destination in search of the latest lifestyle fad, but as long as there are Danes in Denmark, there will always be hygge!

 

 

 

Erantis.jpg

Hygge er død – hygge længe leve!

Foråret er kommet, og det betyder, at hygge-sæsonen er slut – hvis man tror på, hvad livsstilsbloggerne siger. Jeg har været syg i den sidste uge og klistret fast på sofaen under en stak uldtæpper og assorterede kæledyr, og det ser ud, som om jeg er gået glip af overgangen. Eller er jeg?

Uanset sæsonen ifølge diverse medie-kilder er hygge over sidste salgsdato. Det er so last season, so 2016. Vi kan i stedet for rette blikket mod lagom (fra Sverige) og kalsarikannit (fra Finland), hvis vi har brug for livsstilsinspiration. Uden tvivl vil der være rigelige must-have, for dyre genstande, man skal skynde sig at købe, som er afgørende for at gennemføre den helt rigtige livsstil – og sidste års hyggelige uldsokker og tæpper bliver glemt.

Jeg er faktisk glad for, at hygge-trenden er forbi, ikke mindst fordi jeg er ved at bryde sammen, hvis jeg skulle læse et stykke mere ‘behjælpelig’ vejledning i, hvordan man udtaler hygge (og nej, det er ikke ‘hoo-gah’). For mig er dét at droppe hygge i takt med årstidernes skiften bare et bevise på, hvor misforstået konceptet har været.

I ny og næ inviterer jeg min svigermor og svigerinder til frokost og film hos mig. Det er faktisk bare en undskyldning for at hygge os uden noget andet på dagsordenen: Vi behøver ikke tage os af, at fødselsdage, jubilæer eller nogen anden slags familiefest kører glat. Vi laver hver mad til frokost, som plejer at være ledsaget af et glas vin eller to, og så sidder vi og ser en film. Det er kvalitets-tøsetid, og det er altid hyggeligt.

Før jeg blev ramt af sygdom, var jeg vært for en af disse sammenkomster. Som det plejer, var samtalen livlig og dækkede en bred vifte af emner. Ikke overraskende endte det med, at vi talte om at strikke (vi er en strikkefamilie). Min svigerinde fortalte om et tæppe, hun var i gang med at strikke. Hun sagde, at det gode ved at strikke tæpper er, at det er ligegyldigt, hvis man laver en fejl. Vi var enige om, hvor hyggeligt det er bare at sidde at strikke uden at tænke på slutresultatet. Mens jeg sad der, gik det op for mig, at der oven på hyggen, der opstod ved selv at strikke tæppet, fremkom flere hyggefølelser ved, at vi talte om det, og endnu mere hygge vil opstå, når tæppet endelig bliver brugt.

Det at være syg har måske tvunget mig til at sætte min nye minimalistiske livsstil på pause i et stykke tid, men jeg er kommet igennem min indespærring ved hjælp af hygge. Det, som livsstilsguruerne ikke har indset, er, at hygge regenererer årstid efter årstid og tilpasser sig. Længe efter trend-chaserne har forladt hyggen, bliver sidste sæsons tæppe ved at stå som et vidnesbyrd om al den hygge, der blev lagt ind i det, men det er også kilden til, den hygge, som endnu ikke er kommet.

Ja, årstiden er skiftet, og cirkusset af medier og ‘digital influencers’ har måske skyndt sig videre til det næste nordiske rejsemål på jagt efter den nyeste livsstilsdille, men så længe der i Danmark findes danskere, vil der altid findes hygge!

 

Behind the Scenes

17 Feb

Living in Denmark is great, but I’m not going to lie to you – it’s flipping expensive! Being a student means living on a pretty limited budget, so an extravagant social life with matching wardrobe is on standby until my academic endeavours pay off in the form of a highly paid and very glamorous job.

To add to my financial woes, I started 2017 with a succession of unexpected and rather hefty bills. Added to the usual expense of Christmas, it means that for the foreseeable future I have put my bank card on lockdown, and I’m definitely NOT allowed to buy any more shoes…

Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 16.39.16.pngHowever, I am a creative person who enjoys a challenge, so I’m viewing my current financial situation as an opportunity to have a bit of a lifestyle clearout and potentially enter a new dimension of minimalist zen. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

Zen.jpg

So far, it’s been going pretty well. A lot of my hobbies are already free, and of course my studies keep me pretty busy. Nevertheless, from time to time I do need some kind of cultural stimulation and a little sparkle, which only a trip to the city can bring.

Brandts tree.jpgBrandts by night (sorry, wrong lens!)

Luckily for me, there is plenty going on in Odense, and, even better, some things are free of charge. Obviously, there are also a lot of exciting things to do that cost a fortune, but if you venture off the beaten track, it’s actually quite easy to satisfy any cultural cravings you might have.

Kunstbygningen Filosoffen.jpgArt Gallery Filosoffen

Last week, I took some time to visit a free exhibition at the Art Gallery Filosoffen. I suspect that the exhibition’s subject matter may be a little too much ‘making the private public’ for sensitive souls (for Sex and the City fans, think Charlotte in Season 1, Episode 5), but the Danes seem to be quite laid back about these things. There were even quite a few pensioner types in when I was there, and they didn’t appear to be in the least bit fazed, even if they had inadvertently wandered in from the knitting exhibition next door.

Brandts.jpgBrandts

The highlight of the week for me, though, was a behind the scenes guided tour of Brandts museum. Brandts is housed in a converted cloth factory building. The Brandts area has always been my favourite place in Odense, and although I am a regular visitor to the museum, I simply couldn’t resist the chance to see what lies behind all those ‘staff only’ doors.

As it turned out, a reporter and a photographer from the local newspaper were also on the tour, and as something of a grand finale to my week I ended up making it into the Saturday edition of Fyens Stiftstidende. I’m taking it as a sign; although the path I’m on right now might not exactly be the one I chose, it is already starting to open some very interesting doors.

FS.jpgNot trying to draw attention to myself or anything…

 

Bag kulisserne

Danmark er et fantastisk land at bo i, men jeg lyver ikke over for jer – det er møghamrende dyrt! Fordi jeg er studerende, skal jeg forholde mig til et stramt budget, og et ekstravagant socialt liv med den tilhørende garderobe er på pause, indtil mine akademiske bestræbelser betaler sig i form af et højtlønnet og glamourøst job.

Tilsat mine finansielle vanskeligheder startede jeg i 2017 med en række uventede og heftige regninger. Oven på de sædvanlige udgifter fra jul betyder det, at jeg i den nærmeste fremtid har sat mit dankort på lockdown. Og jeg må absolut IKKE købe flere sko…

Imidlertid er jeg et kreativt menneske, som nyder en udfordring, så jeg ser på min nuværende finansielle situation som muligheden for at rydde lidt op i min livsstil og skabe en ny dimension af minimalistisk zen. Det er altså planen.

Odense Å.jpg

Indtil videre går det ganske godt. De fleste af mine hobbyer er i forvejen gratis, og selvfølgelig holder mine studier mig travlt beskæftiget. Alligevel får jeg fra tid til anden brug for en eller anden form for kulturel stimulering og lidt glimmer, hvilket kun en rejse til byen kan bevirke.

Heldigvis for mig sker der meget i Odense, og – endnu bedre – er der nogle ting, der er gratis. Der er ganske vist mange spændende ting at lave, der koster en formue, men hvis man går lidt væk fra alfarvej, er det faktisk ret nemt at få tilfredsstillet sin kulturelle trang.

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Sidste uge tilbragte jeg lidt tid på en gratis udstilling i Kunstbygningen Filosoffen. Jeg tror, at udstillingens emne måske er lidt for vovet for sarte sjæle (for jer, der ser Sex and the City, tænk på Charlotte i Sæson 1, Afsnit 5), men danskerne ser ud til at være ret afslappede ved disse ting. Der var endda nogle pensionist-agtige mennesker til udstillingen, mens jeg var der, og de så ikke ud til at være fornærmede – selv hvis de ved et uheld havde kom ind fra strikke-udstillingen ved siden af.

Ugens højdepunkt var dog for mig en rundvisning bag kulisserne på Brandts museet. Brandts har til huse i en ombygget klædefabrik. Museet og området deromkring har altid været mit absolutte yndlingssted i Odense, og selv om jeg kommer på faste besøg på Brandts, kunne jeg ikke stå for muligheden for at se, hvad der ligger bag ved alle de ‘kun personale’-døre.

Det viste sig, at der også var en journalist og en fotograf fra den lokale avis med på rundvisningen, og lige som en slags grand finale på min uge endte jeg med at komme i lørdagens udgave af Fyens Stiftstidende. Jeg tager det som et tegn på, at selv om vejen, jeg er på lige nu, måske ikke er lige den, jeg havde valgt, begynder der allerede nu at åbne sig nogle meget interessante døre.

 

New Look

9 Feb

The other day, I walked into a new class, ready to start my sixth and final semseter as a Bachelor student of English Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. As I entered the classroom, one of the students who had already arrived asked if I were the professor. Now, to my mind this could mean two things: vanity would have me believe that it’s because I look very intelligent and professorly, but in reality I think it’s because I have a good twenty years on most of my fellow students.

My age is not something I normally give much thought to. Granted, being a student on the wrong side of forty is perhaps not a run-of-the-mill occurrence, but the Danes have a pretty open attitude when it comes to midlife career changes (thanks, guys!). So, generally I go about feeling OK about myself: nothing has travelled too far south just yet, and my accumulated years don’t seem to have put off my fellow students from including me in their conversations.

Reconstruction.jpg(Reconstruction of how the classroom looked before new glasses)

However, I have recently been having problems seeing the blackboard – or smartboard, or whatever these modern contraptions are called. Aha! Time for glasses, you might say. Well, I actually do have a pair of glasses already, but I have been a wee bit remiss about staying on top of regular sight tests of late… OK, I confess: it’s been a good few years since I last had a checkup. So, a couple of weeks ago, off I trotted to the optician.

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I would describe my optician’s as being something resembling the product of an imaginary collaboration between Marks & Spencer and Carlsberg: Not just any optician…probably the best optician in the world. I mean, just look at it!

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I’m a sucker for style, and this place has me smitten. The outside of the shop boasts that Danish aesthetic where traditional seamlessly melts into modern. Once you get inside, the interior is a labyrinth of archways and secret rooms, all white and minimalist. They even have a Ray Ban room, for Pete’s sake! An entire room dedicated to Ray Ban – imagine! To me, it is a place of wonder, and I like to go there sometimes just to look at the Aviators.

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Anyway, the helpful and professional staff very quickly managed to refocus my attention, and I was able to find just the right pair of glasses to accompany my new prescription (with no tutting about the length of time that had elapsed since my last one). The assistant also told me that my new frames make me look very intelligent. This opinion was further backed up when I got home, when my stepson said: “They make you look intelligent, like an architect.”

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Having pondered these observations for a bit, I must admit to feeling a little put out: do I need to be wearing glasses in order to look intelligent? And do you need to be an architect before you’re considered intelligent? But since I have reached that stage in life where I no longer have any choice about wearing glasses on a regular basis, I have decided that I’ll take looking intelligent over old, architect or not!

Nyt Udseende

Forleden dag gik jeg ind i et nyt undervisningslokale, klar til at starte på mit sjette og sidste semester som bachelorstuderende på engelskstudier på Syddansk Universitet. Da jeg trådte ind i lokalet, blev jeg spurgt af en af mine medstuderende, om jeg var professoren. Nå! Efter min mening er der to muligheder for, hvad det kunne betyde: Hvis jeg var forfængelig, ville jeg sige, at det er fordi, jeg ser meget klog og professor-agtig ud, men i virkeligheden tror jeg, det er fordi, jeg er knap 20 år ældre end mine medstuderende.

Min alder plejer ikke at være noget, jeg tænker meget over. Det skal indrømmes, at dét at være studerende på den forkerte side af 40 ikke lige er helt almindeligt, men danskerne er temmelig frisindede, når det kommer til, at man skifter karriere i en moden alder (tak, gutter!). Så i det hele taget går jeg rundt og har det ganske OK med mig selv. Der er ikke nogen kropsdele, der har rejst for langt sydpå, og mine akkumulerede år til trods har ikke skræmt mine medstuderende fra at tale med mig.

Dog for nylig har jeg haft lidt svært ved at se tavlen – eller smartboard, eller hvad det nu hedder. Aha! Tid til nye briller, siger du måske. Ja, men jeg har faktisk et par briller i forvejen. Det er bare det, at jeg har været lidt forsømmelig med at være på forkant med regelmæssige synsprøver på det sidste… OK, jeg tilstår: Det har været nogle år siden, jeg sidst fik øjnene tjekket. Så for et par uger siden tog jeg endelig til optikeren.

Jeg vil beskrive min optikers butik som noget, der ligner et resultat, man kunne forestille sig fra et samarbejde mellem Marks and Spencer og Carlsberg: not just any optician…probably the best optician in the world. Jamen, bare kig på det!

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Jeg kan ikke stå for stilen, og det her sted har betaget mig. På forsiden af butikken smelter det traditionelle sammen med det moderne på den danske måde, jeg er vild med. Indenfor er det en labyrint med buegange og hemmelige rum – hvide og minimalistiske. De har endda et Ray Ban rum – forestil dig det! For mig er det et vidunderligt sted, og jeg kan godt lide at tage derind fra tid til anden bare for at se på Aviatorerne.

Nå, men de meget behjælpelige og professionelle medarbejdere formåede ganske hurtigt at få mig tilbage på sporet, og jeg fandt lige nøjagtig det rigtige par briller (uden at de skældte mig ud over, hvor lang tid det havde varet siden sidst). Assistenten syntes også, at mine nye briller fik mig til at se meget klog ud. Denne betragtning blev støttet af min papsøn, da jeg kom hjem. Han sagde: “De får dig til at se klog ud – som en arkitekt.”

Efter at jeg havde funderet over disse betragtninger i et stykke tid, må jeg indrømme, at jeg følte mig lidt fornærmet: Skal jeg have briller på, før jeg ser klog ud? Skal man være arkitekt for at blive betragtet som intelligent? Men fordi jeg nu har nået det tidspunkt i mit liv, da jeg ikke længere selv kan vælge at tage briller på regelmæssigt, har jeg truffet beslutningen om, at det er bedre at se klog ud end gammel – hvad enten man er arkitekt eller ej!

Seasonal Adjustment

9 Feb

Foyer sduMy second semester at the University of Southern Denmark is underway, and its beginning happened to coincide with the arrival and subsequent hasty departure of the Danish winter.

Frost treeAs something of a contrast to the otherwise idyllic lifestyle I enjoy in Denmark, my timetable begins on a Monday morning at 8am with six straight hours of lectures followed by a one hour cycle home. Most of my lectures take place in dingy classrooms with no windows, so I always feel a little bit mole-like when I emerge blinking into the daylight afterwards.

Grammar Although the long days leave me mentally drained, the cycle home always re-invigorates me, regardless of the weather. My journey home last Monday was particularly invigorating, as heavily falling snow lashed by a relentless north wind resulted in treacherous conditions, blotting out the frozen muddy ruts of the path underneath. It was anyone’s guess where the path actually was…Path4Fortunately, parts of the cycle path are on paved roads which, thanks to Danish tax-payers, are cleared regularly and efficiently.

Path2 My trusty bicycle and I are quite robust, though, and up to to coping with most types of terrain, although I did need to de-ice the old girl once I got home.

BikeHappily, the wintry conditions departed almost as soon as they had arrived, and over the weekend all the snow melted and today’s journey home was a different story altogether.

Path1 meltedHints of spring are suddenly in the air and the days somehow seem at once to be longer. It’s almost as if winter didn’t exist and I’m already counting down to summer…

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