Tag Archives: Denmark

No Rain in Spain

14 Aug

photo (13)The Danes and the British have in common the innate compunction to complain about the weather. When I first moved to Denmark, I was quite surprised to hear how negatively the Danes spoke about the Danish summer because I found it to be far superior to what I was used to in Scotland. I still think that overall the Danish summer is better than the Scottish summer, but over the years I’ve started to grumble along with the best of them.

Clouds

There are summer days in Denmark that are the stuff of dreams. Fantasies about brown legs and sandals, spending entire days outside and losing track of time really do come true, and I even had (yes, past tense!) a tan to prove it. On the other hand there are considerably more days where the sun goes into hiding, and leaden skies descend over little Denmark, disgorging sheets of driving rain that threaten to extinguish even the most resilient spark of summer optimism.

photo (12)

Then again, there are the days in-between that are neither one thing nor the other – days that the Danes would describe as being leverpostej (leverpostej corresponds roughly to the English ‘blah’). Despite the temperature lurking around the mid to high teens, it’s usually cloudy with recurrent rain showers and enough of a breeze to irritate even the most stoic of garden-dwellers.

Harvesting

The farmers, however, seem to have known all along that this summer would be rubbish and have been busy harvesting since July. Unfortunately, since the farmers tend to work when conditions are dry, their operations regularly collide with my own sorties into the garden. The stoor thrown up by their combines is fanned by the wind into towering clouds of dust and then transported directly into my rosé.

photo (10)

In short, the Danish summer weather is predictable only by its unpredictabliity. This, I think, explains the mass exodous of Danes to Spain or Greece, or anywhere, really, that has guaranteed sun for an extended period of time. For the rest of us who have either by chance or design remained in Denmark, this summer has been something of a damp squib and the early arrival of autumn is serving only to compound our despondency.

Thistles

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The good news is that according to Danes autumn is the optimal season for hygge, and we staycationers are getting a good head start with the cocoa and slippers. So if you happen to be one of the lucky ones who managed to get away for a bit of sun this summer, don’t be surprised to find that IKEA has sold out of candles and blankets by the time you return.

 

Brune ben og brok

Danskerne og briterne har det tilfælles, at de begge er født med, at de føler sig nødsaget til at beklage sig over vejret. Da jeg flyttede til Danmark, var jeg overrasket over, hvor negativt danskerne udtrykte sig om det danske sommervejr, fordi jeg syntes, det var overlegent i forhold til det, jeg var vant til i Skotland. Jeg synes stadigvæk, at det danske sommervejr i det hele taget er bedre end det skotske, men i årenes løb er jeg begyndt at brokke mig så godt som nogen.

Fishing nets

I Danmark findes der sommerdage, som drømme skabes af. Fantasierne om brune ben, bare fødder og det at tilbringe hele dagen udenfor bliver til virkelighed, og jeg havde endda en solbrændthed til at bevise det! På den anden side er der markant flere dage, når solen gemmer sig, og der sænker sig en grå himmel over lille Danmark. Hertil kommer så meget regn, at selve den mest modstandsdygtige gnist af sommer-optimismen bliver slukket.

photo (11)

Men igen er der de dage, der ligger imellem, som hverken er den ene eller den anden ting: Danskerne beskriver dem som ‘leverpostej’, og briterne kalder dem for blah. På trods af at temperaturen lurer omkring de 18 grader, plejer det at være gråvejr med tilbagevendende regnbyger og tilstrækkeligt blæsevejr til at genere selv den mest stoiske have-entusiast.

Det ser dog ud til, at landmændene hele tiden har vidst, at denne sommer ville være noget værre møg, og de har været i gang med at høste siden juli. Fordi de plejer at arbejde, når det er tørvejr, falder landmændenes aktiviteter desværre jævnligt sammen med min egne togter ud i haven, og en del af støvet fra mejetærskerne ender – til min forargelse – tit i min rosevin.

Crop

Kort sagt kan det danske sommervejr kun forudses til at være uforudseeligt. Den gode nyhed er dog, at ifølge danskerne er efteråret den hyggeligeste årstid, og det betyder, at vi ‘staycationers’ er langt foran, når det kommer til at drikke varm kakao og tage sutskoene på. Så hvis du er en af de heldige, der nåede at tage sydpå til solen denne sommer, så vær ikke overrasket over at finde ud af, at IKEA har solgt ud af stearinlys og tæpper på det tidspunkt, I kommer hjem.

Berries

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

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!

 

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.

Shop.jpg

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!

Ray Ban Room.jpg

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.

Archways.jpg

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.”

Glasses.jpg

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!

Counter.jpg

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!

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.

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