Time Out

20 Jan

   Garden in snow sepiaThe above photo was taken this morning and is, I feel, a rather fitting extension of my own state of inner tranquility. My last blog post was written as I was about to embark on my educational journey and it is the tremendous challenge of that journey which has kept me from writing here. Finally, though, the first semester is over, exams completed and at last I have time to breathe.

pink flowerHaving been a musician for nearly twenty years, it has been a bit of a shock to the system to change career and immerse myself in student life again – and this time with classmates who are half my age! I won’t lie and say it has been easy, it has been challenging, but like most things that require a lot of effort it has also been incredibly rewarding. But as the first semester has drawn to a close, I finally found the groove and I reckon I’ll be on track for next semester.  Fortunately, the exam results which have come in thus far are confirmation that I am definitely doing the right thing. Thank goodness for that!

Office

I will write more in future posts about university life, but for now I am enjoying the first down time I have had since the first semester began back in September. I have two weeks before the next semester begins and I intend to spend them attending to the needs of my soul. For this purpose, I have made my office into a little corner of zen from where I shall immerse myself in books, finish knitting the jumper I started for my husband about six thousand years ago and enjoy some quality time to myself.

Viggo in snow

Of course, there must be balance in all things, and my relaxation will also incorporate plenty of outdoor activity walking my dog. Strangely enough, over the last few months my sanity has been saved by my crazy puppy! My university timetable thus far has worked out very well and fitted in with his needs, meaning that he isn’t on his own for long and I have been able to take him for his daily walks…although some of them have been at 5.30am! The chance to get out with him for fresh air and exercise has saved my brain from meltdown on many occasions.

cat n doog

Viggo is full of the joys of life and has grown into a happy albeit boisterous teenager, but in our house the kitties are definitely very much in charge! Luckily for Viggo, Knud is very tolerant and keeps his claws to himself, even when Viggo invades his personal space to a most unacceptable degree.

So, surrounded by my animals with the snow softly falling outside I will take some time out and prepare to face February with my batteries fully charged.

Tippi in the sun

The fruits of labour

1 Sep

Stubble fieldFor many nights the rumble of combine harvesters at work laid seige to our little enclave, casting up great clouds of dust that clung to the dewy evening air. The farmers worked day and night at the harvest, three weeks earlier than usual this year, but at last the rain came and broke the scorching deadlock.

Rain windowThe cooler temperatures have washed away summer’s hazy days, replacing them instead with ripening autumn.

Apple tree 2ApplesOur apple trees are groaning under a bountiful crop and I’ve been out every morning gathering up the windfall and using the apples to make æblekage (apple cake), a classic Danish treat, popular at this time of year.

Apple mushDespite what the name might suggest, æblekage is less of a cake and more like a trifle. The apples are peeled, cored then cooked down into a mush with a little water, sugar and vanilla.

MakronerThis is then layered with crushed up makroner, a sort of biscuity affair, then left to sit until the biscuits are soft. Before serving, the finishing touch is a topping of whipped cream and redcurrant jelly.

GrapesThere has also been action in the greenhouse and the vines are laden with heavy clusters of ripened grapes, soon to be made into jelly.

Johan and Viggo

Viggo is settling in well, and we’re finding our rhythm. My younger stepson has a real affinity with him, and Viggo is getting plenty of attention and play time as well as walks and training to occupy that ever-active brain of his.

Ploughed field Summer is over, but this year instead of being wistful and nostalgic I’m looking forward to autumn, full of energy for the journey that lies ahead.

Summer Sun

8 Aug

CornfieldThe sweltering Danish summer has led to some lifestyle changes for me,  not least those of an aquatic nature. I grew up in the north of Scotland, which means that the sea-related activities of my youth took place in the North Sea. Although Scotland has many beautiful beaches the water is a tad on the cold side, and my childhood memories of going to the beach have left me with little enthusiasm for that particular activity. Until this summer, that is. I’ve always been predisposed to think that immersing oneself in the sea is deeply unpleasant, and getting wet only adds to the pre-existing coldness that normally accompanies a Scottish summer, however the blistering heat of the past few weeks here in Denmark has led me in desperation to seek any kind of relief.

Beach1Our local beach at Kerteminde has been measuring water temperatures of 22° and that, folks, is more than enough for me! Nothing can beat the feeling of having spent a day of heat-induced inertia, oozing sweat, to then plunge head first into the sea. Oh, the relief! The utter bliss of being cool again!

LifesaversIt’s all a bit Baywatch at Kerteminde beach…

My favoured form of summer relaxation – that of sitting under the apple tree, reading a good book – has by necessity become limited to a morning activity, because when the sun reaches a certain level it becomes unbearable to be outside. It seemed quite odd to me at first to actually go inside when the sun was out, but now I see it as the only sensible option and we’ve whole-heartedly come to embrace a more Spanish way of life.

Apple treeThe one exception to our daily pattern of sun-avoidance happened when the weather forecast mistakenly predicted grey skies and a temperature of around 20°. Taken in by the promise of cooler temperatures, I planned a cycling trip with my father-in-law and younger step-son, but it wasn’t long before it became apparent that the forecasters had got it completely wrong!

Trusty and windmillsBikesWater

Nevertheless, despite the opressive temperatures, it was a very pleasant outing in the Danish summer landscape, though the first thing the youngest member of our group did on getting home was to have a cold shower. Smart boy!

MunkeboJuly has since given way to August and there have been several changes in our household. The elder step-son has gone to efterskole, a type of boarding school which Danish children have access to in their final years of school before continuing on to other education options. I will also be embarking upon a new educational journey starting in September, after recently receiving the great news that I have a place to study English at the University of Southern Denmark. I’m hoping this will have a positive influence on my writing skills!

Undoubtedly most exciting event of this summer, however, was the arrival of our new puppy. For years I’ve dreamed of having my own dog and finally my dream has come true! Meet Viggo:

Viggo and TeddyHe’s a great wee guy and I’m looking foward to the adventures we’ll have together. At the moment routine is of paramount importance to  help him settle in, but already I can see I have a very smart dog on my hands who’s going to need a lot of activation. Luckily I have a lot of energy and am more than up for the challenge!

Viggo3

Sirens in the Garden

22 May

790987_300_1000_50_0_330_496Image from Fyens Stiftstidende

Every year on the first Wednesday in May, at 12pm across Denmark the piercing sound of wailing sirens crashes in on daily life. This is the annual test of the sirens which warn the citizens of Denmark to get inside, close all windows and doors and switch on the radio in the case of a serious incident or disaster. Even with advance warning the sound is chilling, to say the least. Check it out here!

DSC00142HedgeDenmark is a safe country, uneventful some might say to the point of perhaps being boring, and the sirens are a jarring, adrenalin-inducing reminder of the potential evils of the outside world. A world which I feel far-removed from as I go about my daily life, cycling along woodland paths and countryside roads lined with syrene (lilacs). The blossoming of the prolific syrene hedges, which both grow wild and are cultivated in every self-respecting Danish garden, are synonymous with the arrival of spring and for me are a vanguard of the summer ahead.

Syrene4BarnThe island of Funen where I live is sometimes referred to as Denmark’s garden. It puts me in mind of a romanticised English landscape captured in orchestral lushness by Ralph Vaughan Williams, or described in loving detail by Thomas Hardy in his classic works. Of course the Danes are also nostalgic for their own land, and one need look no further than the novels of Morten Korch, immortalised on the silver screen, to find a correspondingly innocent and idealized version of life in the country. The landscape is gentle, subtle, and at this time of year verdant and lush, and always accompanied by the singing of larks.

Purløg GrassAs mentioned in previous posts, I love to spend as much time as possible in my garden during the months of good weather, and with this in mind I decided to take my family on holiday to Scotland over the Easter period so as not to miss out on the summer sun.

DamIt’s kind of an upside-down feeling going back to my native land – my home has become my holiday destination and vice versa – but I relish the opportunity to play tour guide and have insider knowledge on exactly where we should go. On this trip I decided to take my family to the north-west of Scotland to show them how dramatic and varied the scenery is in my favourite part of the country. It’s about as far-removed from the gentle, well-kept landscape of Funen as you can get!

Loch HopeStrath NaverBeachNevertheless, by the end of our holiday I was very much looking forward to getting home to my garden, and more importantly to the kitties! It was the first time we’ve put them into a cattery, and I was constantly worrying about how they were getting on. When we went to pick them up, the lady described them as having been frække (naughty) and listed their activities as including breaking into the food store (Knud has the determination of a hungry Labrador when it comes to obtaining food), knocking over pot plants and throwing the cat litter all over the place. Well, at least they hadn’t been bored!

Knud jump TippiNow, a few weeks on, life is back to normal, peace has been restored and our pot plants have been relocated to the garden, where the kitties are more interested in chasing butterfiles.

Knud butterfly

Sirener i haven

Hvert år på den første onsdag i maj kl. 12 lyder Danmarks sirener over hele landet. De testes årligt og advarer befolkningen om at komme indenfor, lukke vinduerne og dørene, og at tænde for radioen for at høre om, hvad der er sket. Skønt man i forvejen ved, at sirenene bliver testet, er lyden stadigvæk frygtelig. Se det her!

signs Danmark er et meget trygt land, så trygt at det næsten kan betragtes som kedeligt. Sirenene er derfor en chokerende påmindelse om verdens tænkelige ondskab, som jeg slipper for, når jeg kommer cyklende på skovstier og landeveje, hvor syrenerne vokser frit. Syrenerne springer ud om foråret og findes både på landet og i byen. Jeg betragter syrenernes blomster som et signal om, at sommeren er på vej.

Syrene1DSC00142Fyn kaldes for Danmarks have og minder mig om det engelske landskab, som komponisten Ralph Vaughan Williams gav udtryk for i musik, og forfatteren Thomas Hardy skrev med kærlighed om i sine værker. Selvfølgelig er danskerne også forelskede i deres eget land, og man kan læse i Morten Korchs romaner (og se i film inspireret deraf) en blåøjet fortælling om livet på landet. Danmarks landskab er blidt, underdrevet og på denne årstid grønt og frodigt med lærkernes sang i baggrunden dagen lang.

CarSom nævnt i tidligere posts elsker jeg at tilbringe så megen tid som muligt i min have i de varme måneder. Med det i tankerne besluttede jeg at tage til Skotland med familien ved påsketid, så at jeg ikke gik glip af sommersolen.

Ben HopeDet er en lidt omvendt følelse at tage tilbage til mit hjemland – mit tidligere hjem er blevet til et feriemål, og mit tidligere feriemål er blevet til mit hjem. Ikke desto mindre nyder jeg muligheden for at være rejselederen og ved lige præcis, hvor vi skal tage hen. Denne gang besluttede jeg at vise familien Skotlands nordvestlige del. Det er den del af landet, jeg bedst kan lide, der har dramatiske udsigter og bjergrige horisonter. Det er så langt fra Fyns rolige landskab, som det kan være!

Quinag Road to Ullapool WavesVed afslutningen af ferien glædede jeg mig alligevel til at komme tilbage til mit hus og min have og, vigtigst af alt, til killingerne. Det var første gang, de havde været i en kattepension, og jeg kunne ikke lade være med at bekymre mig over, hvordan det gik med dem, mens vi var væk. Da vi hentede dem, beskrev pensionsejeren dem som ‘frække’. Deres aktiviteter havde inkluderet et indbrud til fødevarekassen (Knud er målrettet som en sulten labrador, når det drejer sig om at få mad), de havde væltet potteplanterne og havde smidt grus over det hele… De havde i hvert fald ikke kedet sig!

Knud butterflyNogle få uger senere er livet nu tilbage til det normale. Freden er genoprettet, og vores potteplanter er blevet flyttet ud i haven, hvor misserne er mere interesseret i at jage sommerfuglene.

A breath of fresh air

18 Mar

TippiGive me peace and tranquility with a sprinkling of  everyday magic moments and I am a happy soul.

Heron1

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind of adventures, activities and deadlines, yet somehow through it all I’ve managed to find little pockets of zen to keep me on an even keel.

Crocus1Back in February we had vinterferie (winter holiday), a week which became a flurry of family activities: a trip to the Railway Museum in Odense, a visit to the natural history museum, Naturama, in Svendborg, and on the last weekend a mini-break to a summerhouse on the island of Langeland.

Railway2Railway1Natruama2Naturama1LolliesFor a family who spends most of their free time glued to a screen of one kind or another, the trip to the summer house was perhaps the most challenging.

SummerhouseI instantly embraced the plug-pulling ideal and got stuck in to the stack of magazines I’d brought with me, then got up early on the first day for a bracing walk on the beach, alone but for the birds.

Beach1Disaster was, however, not far away when on my return the wifi data allowance on my husband’s phone was quickly used up and the younger members of the household suddenly found themselves without connection.

Fortunately, there was a family edition of Trivial Pursuit to hand and much to my surprise the youngest family member became extremely enthusiastic about playing, and we were able to spend a very hyggelige couple of days connecting in a different way.

Trivial PursuitBefore our trip to the summer house, a friend of mine had told me about a herd of wild ponies living on the south end of the island. The herd wanders freely over several acres in a nature reserve and there are several marked walks where one can actually go among the ponies.

Pony2Beach2There was a biting wind and the clouds were low but we saw the ponies and took a walk along the shoreline to blow the cobwebs away. Even better then, to get back the summer house and get the fire on.

Fire1The month of March has brought with it a lot of much needed sunshine, and with the light, new life and vigour. Although still chilly in the shade, there have been glimpses of the summer ahead. After languishing in the seemingly endless darkness of winter, I feel that at last things are moving forward and I for one am more than ready.

Wine

Et pust af frisk luft

Giv mig fred og ro, der er drysset af dagligdags magiske højdepunkter, og jeg er en glad sjæl.

Kitties1I de sidste par måneder har der været en hvirvelvind af eventyr, aktiviteter og deadlines, men på en eller anden måde er det lykkedes mig at finde små lommer af zen, som holder mig på ret køl.

Crocus2Tilbage i februar fik vi vinterferie. En uge som blev til en byge af familieaktiviteter: et besøg på jernbanemuseet i Odense, Naturama i Svendborg, og i den sidste weekend et par dage i et sommerhus på Langeland.

Railway1Train signNaturama3Natruama3For en familie, som tilbringer det meste af deres fritid foran en eller anden form for skærm, var besøget i sommerhuset det mest udfordrende.

SummerhouseJeg trak straks stikket ud og gik i krig med bunken af dameblade, jeg havde med, og stod tidligt op den første dag og gik en forfriskende tur på stranden helt alene bortset fuglene.

Beach3Katastrofen var dog ikke langt væk, for efter jeg kom tilbage, blev wifi datakvoterne på min mands telefon hurtigt brugt op, og de yngste familiemedlemmer befandt sig pludselig uden forbindelse.

Trivial2Heldigvis var der en familie-udgave af Trivial Pursuit i sommerhuset, og til min store overraskelse blev den yngste meget begejstret for at spille. Vi tilbragte et par meget hyggelige dage med at være sammen på en helt anden måde.

HerdFør vi tog til sommerhuset, fik jeg at vide af en veninde, at der er en flok vilde heste, som bor på den sydlige del af øen. De går frit omkring over flere tønder land i et naturreservat, og der er flere gåture, man kan tage og gå forbi hestene.

Pony1Der var en bidende vind, og skyerne var lave, men vi så hestene og gik en tur langs kystlinjen for at blæse spindelvævene væk. Det var så endnu bedre at komme tilbage til sommerhuset og tænde for ilden i brændeovnen.

Beach4Fire1Marts måned har bragt en hel del tiltrængt solskin, og med lyset kommer nyt liv og ny handlekraft. Selv om det stadigvæk er køligt i skyggen, har der været glimt af den kommende sommer. Efter at være sygnet hen i vinterens mørke føler jeg endelig, at der begynder at ske ting, og jeg er i hvert fald klar.

22

Sunshine and Shooting Stars

28 Jan

SnowdropJanuary is a dreary month, with the sparkle of Christmas a distant memory and only the continuing dreariness of February to look forward to. Forgive me, but I’m suffering from seasonal lack-of-adjustment disorder: I want it to be spring! As early as the 8th of January there was some evidence of the much wished for change in season, snowdrops and erantis were well under way in our garden and the blackbirds were having some territorial disputes – a sure sign of spring, but so far it hasn’t come to much.

HouseLysthusThe month started brightly enough, with a backdrop of  blue skies and sunshine for a girls’ day out to the beautiful harbour town of Kerteminde, situated on the north east coast of Fyn, and home to the Johannes Larsen Museum.

Main hall use this one I’m beginning to get quite a taste for Danish art galleries, and the Johannes Larsen Museum is no exception. I wasn’t sure what to expect, perhaps a slightly faded, small-town collection of mildewy paintings and a  few token knick-knacks scattered around. Not so! Instead it was like some kind of religious epiphany as I entered a gleaming white, fresh, modern building with the morning light streaming in through the huge windows.

Gallery  I must confess that Larsen’s style is not really to my taste, but seeing his work displayed in surroundings such as these, I could begin to appreciate what the man was about, and his very special use of light.

Holy pictureDeer FreizeThe highlight of the Museum for me, though, was to be able to visit Larsen’s house, where he lived and particularly where he worked. I was greatly inspired by his studio: The notion of having such a space for creativity in one’s own house, in such peaceful surroundings, is deeply appealing.

StudioStudyGreenhouse2After taking care of our appetite for culture, our attention tuned to appetites of a more practical nature and settled on Tornøes Hotel for lunch. Since Kerteminde has a strong fishing tradition I felt it appropriate to order stjerneskud (shooting star), a dish which consists of a piece of white bread covered with boiled white fish, fried breaded white fish, salmon, prawns and caviar, with a bit of salad on the side. I’ve only ever had the supermarket version of stjerneskud before, which although tasty would at best come under the category of ‘light lunch’, so the mountainous heap of fish which was set down before me came as quite a surprise!

Stjerneskud1Food is actually a central theme in our household these days. My husband and I have set ourselves the challenge of eating a different meal every night, with strictly no repetition permitted! It has proved to be a very enjoyable way of  passing the dark evenings, and has given rise to the discovery of new recipes such as beetroot risotto. It may look garish, but it tastes fantastic!Beetroot risottoThe urge to stay indoors and eat nice food and watch old films has become almost primal. Being deprived of snow in our part of Denmark*, the whole landscape has a woeful air and the lack of sun is doing little to help combat the lethargy which is seeping into my bones. Being as I don’t wish to slide into a full-blown depression, I’m trying to come up with ways to be outside and active. When it’s been raining for days, sometimes you just have to say: if you can’t beat it, join it.

Johan jumpingOther than that I’m being sure to make the most of  the rare occasions when the sun does make an appearance, and hopefully it will soon be spring for real.Garden in sun

 

* This was written before this happened:Garden in snow

 

 

Solskin og stjerneskud

ErantisJanuar er en kedelig måned, når julens glimmer er et fjernt minde, og man kun har den fortsat kedelige måned februar at glæde sig til. Undskyld, men jeg lider en smule af vinterdepression, og jeg vil have, at det er forår! Så tidligt som d. 8. januar var der bevis på det meget ønskede sæsonskift: Vintergækkerne var i blomst i vores have, og solsorterne var oppe at slås – et klart tegn på forår, men indtil videre er det ikke blevet til noget.

HouseMåneden begyndte klart nok og var en pragtfuld kulisse for en tøsetur til den flotte fiskerby, som hedder Kerteminde og er hjem for Johannes Larsen Museet.

Piano hall2Jeg får en smag for danske kunstmuseer og uden undtagelse Johannes Larsen Museet. I forvejen vidste jeg ikke, hvad jeg skulle forvente: måske en trist samling af  mugne malerier, som var lidt falmede, og et par symbolske nipsting hist og pist. Tværtimod! Det var som en slags religiøs åbenbaring, idet jeg gik ind i en strålende hvid, frisk, moderne bygning med morgenlyset stømmende ind gennem de enorme vinduer.

Red RoomJeg må indrømme, at Larsens stil ikke er lige til min smag, men det at se hans kunst, udstillet i omgivelser som disse gav mig en forståelse af, hvad mandens ide var, og hans meget specielle brug af lys.

FireplaceStueFireplace freizeImidlertid var det besøget i Larsens hus, der var museets højdepunkt for mig, og at få muligheden for at se, hvor han boede, og især hvor han arbejdede. Jeg blev meget inspireret af hans atelier: Idéen om det at have sådan et sted, hvor man kan være kreativ i ens eget hus omgivet af fred og ro, er særlig tiltrækkende.StudioGreenhouse1Efter at vi havde opfyldt vores appetit på kultur, drejede vores opmærksomhed til appetitten af et mere praktisk begreb, og vi blev enige om, at vi skulle spise frokost på Tornøes Hotel. Fordi Kerteminde har en stærk fiskeritradition, syntes jeg, at det var passende, at jeg bestilte stjerneskud. Hidtil havde jeg kun fået supermarkedernes udgave af stjerneskud, der, selv om det var velsmagende, kunne beskrives som ‘let frokost’. Så det var en stor overraskelse, da en kæmpe dynge af fisk blev placeret foran mig.

Stjerneskud1Maden er egentlig et centralt tema hos min mand og mig for tiden. Vi har udfordret os selv til at spise et forskelligt måltid hver aften uden gentagelse. Det har vist sig at være en meget behagelig måde at tilbringe de mørke aftner på og har givet anledning til at opleve nye opskrifter fx rødbede risotto. Det ser nok skrigende ud, men det smager vidunderligt!

Beetroot risottoTrangen til at blive inde og spise lækker mad og se gamle film er blevet næsten primal. Vores del af Danmark mangler sne, og det hele ser trist ud*. Uden nok solskin er det svært at undgå en nedtur, men jeg prøver at finde på årsager til at være udenfor og aktiv. Når det har været regnvejr i dagevis, skal man nogle gange bare sige: if you can’t beat it, join it.

Johan jumpingBortset fra det vil jeg være sikker på at nyde de sjældne lejligheder, når solen skinner, og forhåbentlig bliver foråret snart til virkelighed.

Garden in sun

 

*Dette var skrevet før dette skete:

Garden in snow

Merry and Bright

19 Dec

MoonThe temptation to hibernate until at least April has been almost irresistable these last few weeks. The weather has been frightful, but not, alas, in a Christmas-spirit-inducing kind of way. Instead of the delightfully low temperatures and mountains of snow which I have experienced in previous Danish winters, we have dismal rain, wind, grey skies and temperatures hovering around 8 degrees, and it doesn’t look set to change any time soon.

Town hall 2Fortunately the Danish sense for hygge is not so easily thwarted and the city centre of Odense is aglow with Christmas cheer.

CastleThroughout the month of December, just as darkness falls, local Scout groups are out in force lighting oil burners positioned in groups around the city’s parks. Walking by after sunset, you encounter pools of flame flickering in the darkness, and I find an earthy reassurance in the combination of fire and night, and the sound of spit and crackle as the wind whips up oily smoke.

HJ HansenParts of Odense are very olde-worlde, and this feeling is reinforced by the use of only white in the city’s Christmas lights.  Compared to the flashing, blinking, multicoloured riot of lights in Glasgow, the simplicity of Odense’s Christmas lights is very tranquil, to the point where I can almost believe that time is standing still as I wander through the streets.

Vintappestræde2The whole length of Vintapperstræde is under a canopy of light, and this is my favourite street to walk through at this time of year.

StatueAt the crossroads of Kongensgade and Vestergade the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale statue of the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep have been given a Christmassy backdrop.

WindowsillBack at home, the gleam of candlelight abounds as I attempt to fend off the December darkness. I love candles anwyay, but add some silver and a couple of poinsettias and it’s instant Christmas!

Sylte candlesWe haven’t yet got as far as sorting out the lighting in the ongoing rennovation of our house, so it’s a good excuse for me to brighten up the darker corners with some yuletide glow.

KalenderlysThere are of course, some traditions in the Danish home associated with Christmas and light. I’m particularly taken with the kalenderlys, which is basically an advent calender in candle form. The trick is to burn the candle down each day to the number corresponding to the date, although I find this quite challenging as it requires close monitoring and I am very easily distracted…

Adventskrans2Requiring slightly less intense scrutiny is the adventskrans (advent crown) of four candles,  which are lit successively on each Sunday in advent, and on Christmas day itself. We also have this tradition in Scotland, although my experience was limited to seeing the Blue Peter presenters make one out of coat hangers and tinsel every year. In my Danish home however, my husband and I like to make our own adventskrans, although this year we had to make sure it was portable in order to be removed from the reach of small paws in between uses.

Aside from the very hyggelig atmosphere my lavish use of candlelight is creating, my husband is rejoicing in the extra degrees of warmth resulting from all this naked flame. Well, Scrooge is a part of Christmas too, you know!

Hvor de gyldne stjerner blinke

Vestergade1I de sidste få uger har det været næsten umuligt for mig at modstå fristelsen til at gå i dvale indtil mindste i april. Vejret har været forfærdeligt, men desværre ikke på en julestemningsagtig måde. I stedet for de dejlige lave temperaturer og masser af sne, som vi fik i tidligere vintre, har vi kedeligt regnvejr, blæsevejr, grå himmel og temperaturer, der ligger omkring 8 grader. Ifølge DMI ændrer det sig ikke foreløbig.

Town hallHeldigvis har vejret ingen indflydelse på danskernes sans for hygge, og Odense centrum gløder af julestemning.

Scout lights with treeI løbet af december måned, lige mens mørket falder på, går spejderne ud og tænder olielamperne, som er opstillet i nogle af byens parker. Hvis man går gennem parkerne efter solnedgang, møder man flammer, som flimrer i mørket, og for mig er der en jordisk tryghed i kombinationen af ild og nat og den knitrende lyd af vinden, der pisker fedtet røg op.

HJ HansenDele af Odense er meget gammeldags, og det er en fornemmelse, som er øget af, at man kun bruger hvidt i byens julelys. Sammenlignet med Glasgows blinkende, flerfarvede udstyrsstykker er Odenses enkle lys meget beroligende, og det er næsten, som om tiden går i stå, mens jeg vandrer gennem gaderne.

VintappestrædeLangs Vintapperstræde er der en baldakin af lys, og det er min yndlingsgade at gå i på denne årstid.

StatueVed krydset mellem  Kongensgade og Vestergade har statuen af H.C. Andersens Hyrdinden og Skorstensfejeren fået en juleagtig kulisse.

WindowsillHerhjemme er der en glimten af stearinlys til overflod, når jeg prøver at afværge decembers mørke. I forvejen elsker jeg stearinlys, men når man tilføjer sølv og julestjerner, er det ren jul.

Sylte candlesI den igangværende renovering af vores hus har vi endnu ikke nået at ordne lys, så jeg bruger julen som undskyldning for at oplyse de mørke hjørner.

KalenderlysSelvfølgelig er der nogle danske traditioner med lys i hjemmet. Jeg er især tiltrukket af kalenderlyset, hvor man brænder stearinlyset ned hver dag til det nummer, der står ud for den tilsvarende dato. For mig er det lidt af en udfordring, fordi det kræver nøje overvågning, og jeg bliver meget nemt distraheret…

Adventskrans 1Adventskransen er noget, der ikke kræver så megen opmærksomhed, og det er nemmere at tænde et lys hver søndag i advent og naturligvis selve juleaften. Vi har den tradition i Skotland, men min erfaring var begrænset til at se værterne på et børneprogram, der hedder Blue Peter, lave en adventskrans af bøjler og lametta. I mit danske hjem kan min mand og jeg imidlertid godt lide at lave vores egen adventskrans, men i år skulle den være af den bærbare slags, så den ikke kan nås af små poter, når den ikke er i brug.

Bortset fra den hyggelige atmosfære, som er skabt af min overdådige brug af stearinlys, jubler min mand over de få ekstra graders varme, der kommer fra al den åbne ild… Scrooge er jo også en del af jul, ved du!

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