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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

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The Hills of Home

14 Sep

Struie sunny dayI would imagine that for most people returning to their childhood home is like stepping back in time, and it’s certainly the case for me. I was privileged to have spent my childhood roaming the hills and forests of the Scottish Highlands, the memories of which I carry with me to this day, and this summer I came back to my childhood home for an extended stay. It’s been the longest I’ve been here since leaving home at the age of 17, and wherever I go it’s like lifting the lid on a Pandora’s box of memories and feelings from all those years ago.

Up the roadAside from my own history, the area is flecked with leftovers from all sorts of events from throughout time. The ravages of the Ice Age are still visible, as well as traces of life lived on a smaller scale by generations past, and I think you could spend a whole lifetime here and still feel that you are only passing through.

Glacier viewView from GimmeThe Tin HouseThe air here is unbelievably pure, a testament to which is the abundance and variety of lichens, which grow indiscriminately on anything that doesn’t move for any length of time.

LichenLichen1Even the most everyday of objects gain an air of bearded ancientness and grandeur when claimed by the gnarly spread.

Bird tableLichen2LandroverPerhaps it’s the plethora of relics from other times which lie scattered around, or maybe it’s the dizzying effect of the air, but there’s something about this place that distorts your sense of time, where past blurs with present, and a whole day can disappear in a heartbeat.

HarrowsTin house sunsetForget about clocks and calendars – here time is measured by Nature.

Blossom

As summer dwindles, blossom gives way to green seed-filled pods that blacken and rattle like dry bones in the early autumn chill.Rainy green podsBlack podsRed berries are now lush and ripe on the rowan trees, heralding the impending departure of the swallows, which have wheeled and dived in the skies the whole summer.

Rowan treeSwallowBy now the broom’s black pods are snapping open in the warmth of the few sunny days that remain, and the leaves on the trees are unmistakably beginning to turn to red and gold.

Black podsYellow leaves

I’m starting to think that perhaps that’s my signal to fly back to my home in sunnier climes.Biblical sky

Blossoming

22 May

Pink RhoddyOur garden is in full bloom, and I’m talking FULL bloom! It seems that every flower-bearing plant has fully recovered from the extreme pruning I subjected it to 2 years ago. Every morning I take a walk round to see which flowers have appeared since the day before, and there is always something new. I can’t begin to describe the joy it gives me to finally have a garden that is not only fairly tidy and mostly under control but also full of colour and humming with the sound of bumble bees. Even the designated ‘wilderness area’ is looking fantastic!

Forget me notsI’ll admit that it has been a long struggle and in the beginning my work was mostly cutting back and removing things in a seemingly futile attempt at restoring order, and at times I doubted it would ever recover. Happily, the (rather late!) arrival of spring has brought with it a return to what I imagine is close to the former glory of our lovely garden, but this time with a few additions bearing my own stamp.

Sunshine tulips2The bursting into life of the garden coincides with a bit of a turn of events in my own life, and I view the garden as a rather vivid metaphor for my own state of mind since moving to Denmark.

Cherry & White RhoddyI’ve been living here for nearly 2 ½ years now, and in that time it has felt like I’ve had to fight for each step I’ve taken. At first every single thing was difficult. I felt like I had been stripped of my identity and had to start all over again in every aspect of my life. It was exhausting. Even something as simple as posting a letter seemed like an insurmountable task. In such circumstances one is forced to adopt a certain mindset, and for me it was about mental survival on a day to day basis if only to keep from having some kind of breakdown. From the beginning I was convinced that the key to really having a life here was to learn the language. Thoroughly.

White tulipBeing a hard-working sort, I’ve kept my head down and given it all I’ve got in my attempts to learn the language, and for a long time I felt that I wasn’t getting anywhere. Anyone who’s tried to learn Danish will understand how frustrating it is, when for many aspects of the language there are no rules, and many things you just have to learn. But slowly, slowly it has been filtering in, and somehow I now have no problem watching Swedish crime series with Danish subtitles or attending lectures (in Danish) about the Danish welfare system.

White blossomThe change occurred so gradually and so slowly that I hadn’t even noticed. It was only on a recent visit to Glasgow that my world was turned upside down and the realisation hit me: my home is in Denmark. Walking the streets of Glasgow city centre, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I don’t belong there any more and on an evening out with some very lovely people I knew before, I spent the whole night feeling like I was in a bubble. I faced the often asked question, “How’s it going in Denmark?” In the interests of not boring folk, I distilled the biggest and most challenging event of my life into a single sentence: “It’s going great!” While this is true, it doesn’t completely cover it.

Sunshine tulipsBut my return to Denmark really was a home-coming. After a weekend of speaking English, I slipped back into Danish like pulling on an old pair of jeans: familiar and comfortable. On making my way back to Odense from the airport I had literally just got off the train when I bumped into a friend. For me, there’s nothing like coincidentally meeting a familiar face to make me feel I have roots in a place. But the icing on the cake was when I arrived at my in-laws’ place for lunch: A Danish flag stood outside the froont door welcoming me home, and my normally slightly reserved father-in-law greeted me with a big hug.

Red tulip blurLater that evening, when I got back to my garden it had transformed into the heady display of colour and perfume that is still going strong right now.

HawthornLike the plants in our garden, the outer foliage of my previous life has been stripped back to a degree which, although seemingly drastic at the time, was necessary and has ultimately been a good thing. It was tough, but I’m now buzzing with renewed vigour and lust for life. If my garden is a reflection of myself, then the future is looking pretty damned fine!

Tulips etc

Blomstrende

Vores have står i fuldt flor, og jeg mener FULDT flor! Det ser ud, som om, hver plante, der har mulighed for det, har blomster på. Den er fuldstændig kommet sig efter den voldsomme beskæring, jeg udsatte den for for to år siden. Hver morgen går jeg en lille tur rundt for at se, hvilke nye blomster der er dukket op siden den foregående dag, og der er altid noget nyt. Jeg kan ikke beskrive glæden, det giver mig, endelig at have en have, som ikke kun er nogenlunde ordentlig og for det meste under kontrol, men også er fuld af farve og vrimler med lyden af humlebier. Selv det udpegede ‘vildnis-område’ ser fantastisk ud!

WildernessJeg må indrømme, at det har været en lang kamp, og i begyndelsen bestod mit arbejde mest i at skære tilbage og fjerne ting i et tilsyneladende forgæves forsøg på at skabe orden, og nogle gange tvivlede jeg på, om det nogensinde ville komme igen. Heldigvis har den (lidt forsinkede!) ankomst af foråret bragt med sig en tilbagevenden til, hvad, jeg forestiller mig, ligger tæt på vores dejlige haves tidligere pragt. Denne gang med nogle få tilføjelser, der bærer mit eget fingeraftryk.

Yellow tulips2At livet i haven genopstår, falder sammen med et lille stykke af en forandring i mit liv, og jeg betragter haven, som en ganske livagtig metafor på min egen sindsstemning, siden jeg flyttede til Danmark.

Jeg har boet her i næsten 2 1/2 år, og i løbet af den tid har det føltes, som om, jeg har været nødt til at kæmpe for hver skridt, jeg har taget. Til at begynde med var hver eneste ting svær. Jeg følte det, som om jeg havde haft krænget min identitet af og skulle begynde helt forfra igen på enhver side af mit liv. Det var besværligt. Selv noget så enkelt som at sende et brev forekom mig at være en uoverstigelig opgave. Under disse omstændigheder er man tvunget til at tilegne sig en bestemt tænkemåde, og for mig handlede det om mental overlevelse fra dag til dag, om ikke andet så for at undgå en slags sammenbrud. Fra begyndelsen var jeg overbevist om, at nøglen til virkelig at få en tilværelse her var at lære sproget – til bunds.

White rhoddiesSom en, der arbejder hårdt, gjorde jeg mig umage og gav den fuld gas i forsøget på at lære sproget, og i lang tid følte jeg, at jeg ikke kom ud af stedet. Enhver, som har prøvet at lære dansk, vil kunne forstå, hvor frustrerende det er, når der på mange områder af sproget ikke er regler, og der er mange ting, man bare skal lære. Men ganske langsomt er det sevet ind, og på en eller anden måde har jeg ingen problemer med at se svenske krimier med danske undertekster eller at følge med i foredrag (på dansk) om det danske velfærdssystem.

PosyÆndringen indtraf så gradvis og så langsomt, så jeg lagde slet ikke mærke til det. Det var blot under et besøg til Glasgow for nylig, at min verden blev vendt på hovedet, og erkendelsen slog mig: Mit hjem er i Danmark. Mens jeg gik gennem gadene i Glasgows centrum, kunne jeg ikke ryste den fornemmelse af mig, at jeg ikke hører til der længere. En aften, da jeg var i byen med nogle dejlige mennesker, som jeg kendte i forvejen, tilbragte jeg hele aftenen med en følelse af at være i en boble. Jeg blev mødt med det ofte stillede spørgsmål: “Hvordan går det i Danmark?” Da jeg ikke ville kede folk, sammentrængte jeg den største og mest udfordrende begivenhed i mit liv til en enkelt sætning: “Det går fint!” Skønt dette er sandt, dækker det det ikke rigtigt.

Pink Rhoddy bushMen at rejse tilbage til Danmark var virkelig en hjemkomst. Efter en weekend, da jeg havde talt engelsk, smuttede jeg nemt tilbage til dansk. Det var lige som at tage et par gamle jeans på: fortroligt og behageligt. Som en del af rejsen tilbage til Odense fra lufthavnen var jeg bogstavelig talt netop stået af toget, da jeg stødte ind i en veninde. For mig er der ingenting som tilfældigvis at møde et kendt ansigt, der får mig til at føle, at her har jeg rod. Men toppen af kransekagen var, da jeg ankom til mine svigerforældre til frokost: Et dansk flag stod uden for hoveddøren og bød mig velkommen hjem, og min almindeligvis lettere reserverede svigerfar hilste mig med et stort kram.

Magnolia TreeSenere samme aften, da jeg kom tilbage til min have, havde den ændret sig til en berusende opvisning af farve og duft, som er fortsat indtil nu.

Grape hyacinthLige som planterne i vores have er dækbladene fra mit tildigere liv krænget tilbage i et omfang, som, selv om det føltes drastisk på det tidspunkt, var nødvendigt og i sidste ende har været en god ting. Det var hårdt, men nu summer jeg med fornyet kraft og appetit på livet. Hvis min have er et spejlbillede af mig selv, så ser fremtiden skidegodt ud!

Apple Tree

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