You know, in the twenty and a bit since this Christmas song came out, I just realised nothing much has changed. We're still at war, people still starve and there's still a lot of hate and greed around.
Although next year doesn't look like sunshine and lollipops (a term I borrowed from friend back home), from the heart I hope you all have a peaceful, happy and healthy year and enjoy it with everyone you love.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
You know, in the twenty and a bit since this Christmas song came out, I just realised nothing much has changed. We're still at war, people still starve and there's still a lot of hate and greed around.
Julefrokoster have been going on for weeks and there have been a LOT of very happy Danes around town.
And I know I’ve been a very absent blogger lately. I have many excuses but, I suppose none that good.
Last weekend, my work held its Christmas party. Unlike most, for our Julefrokost, the Big Boss flew all 200 of us all down and back on a charter jet to Majorca, that popular not-so-little island off Spain to celebrate the end of the year.
Not, in my opinion, that it’s one to celebrate. But, for 24 hours I forgot about a certain international crisis, crumbling shares and house prices and potential unemployment and simply lapped up about 10 hours of sunshine, temperatures of a comparatively heatwave-ish 15C, seafood and the most magnificent 5 star accommodation in an old castle perched up on top of a hill.
Yep, this was the room
The terrace - and from what I read, I sat in places Onassis, Pss Grace and Claudia Schiffer sat. I could get used to the lifestyle, I can tell you!
I had three baths - I hadn't had one for 6 months, since Stockholm
I guess I couldn’t have asked for much more
Monday, December 1, 2008
Now, I know some of you think it is becoming my 'fetish' but over the the course of the weekend, there are a lot of 'pavement pizzas' to be found around Copenhagen.
This one greeted me and my bike as I was parking it this morning.
I'm just perplexed about what made it purple. Was it the purple Slurpee from the 7/11 or a cocktail concoction? Or beetroot salad and 83 beers?
And how did they feel yesterday?? :(
NQDII thinks I'm sick, but I can't help it!!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Considering we’re so far away from one another, it’s a bit odd to me that two countries with not much history in common actually share two rather prominent bonds. Mary, of course is the latest, and tragic misfortune pushed well aside, will undoubtedly find herself consort with a few pages of world history in her name. But long before her, there was a Danish architect who entered a competition to design an opera house on Sydney’s harbour.
While other would be iconic artists furnished complete specs into the competition Jørn Utzon threw in a few sketches – and won. (I dare say much to the chagrin of lots of snooty architects around the world). Jørn, the man of that moment, and as it turned out, many difficult and contentious moments, died today in his sleep. (I think that’s an excellent way to go – I must note it down for later).
I’m not overly sad for him. He lived a long life, has a nice family and, happily, has something that will, possible terrorist attacks aside, last much longer than most of us. What a legacy he leaves – his Opera House – something his grandchildren and great grandchildren and those that follow them will always be able to sprout with pride.
I’m a bit of an architecture snob. I’m not mad on many modern constructions and the only modern building I’m proud of in Australia is the Opera House. It’s daring. It’s clean lined and it suits its site spectacularly. Sadly, it’s the only one in the great land down under that’s worth mentioning. Some talk about Parliament House in Canberra but it’s interior is really, really dismal and uninspiring. The ceilings are disgraceful. To be frank, I’m not mad on the Opera House’s interior either but it’s better than Parliament House.
But I digress. Jørn Utzon’s relationship with Australia was fraught with controversy and he ended up leaving, rightly or wrongly, rather peeved. You can read the scandal here. I still can’t work out the whole drama but I do want to thank Mr Utzen profoundly for giving us such a remarkable building.
The term, ‘Danish Design’ is these days a bit of a cliché – it’s used so often but there is something special about it. Even today, cycling around, I always look at the Opera House here and the Black Diamond. They have an appealing presence, to me at least. On a clear day with no clouds and a bright blue sky, these modern buildings on the harbour truly shine. My only concern is that Greenland ice shelf melting and they’ll all (and us) be half submerged in seawater.
From the Marble Church, looking to Amalienborg Palace and then the Opera House
If you want to see some very interesting pictures of the design and building process of the Sydney Opera House, look at these
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
You may or may not have notice I have this map widget on the blog. A dot has appeared off the east coast of the US, out in the middle of the the Atlantic, I guess. It's intrigued me because I didn't know there were any islands around there. Anyone know?
Not a high-brow post (are there ever any?) but taking Hamish for a walk yesterday, I felt a bit sorry for this freezing freezer and electrical companions. I hope they were meant for a hard rubbish collection and not part of a real-estate move with someone, probably me-like, thinking: 'I'm too tired for more. We'll move those inside in the morning.'
Saturday, November 22, 2008
NQDII is currently in a frenzied state of creativity - again. The dining room, after what seemed a too short break, is once more covered in canvases, brushes, plastic on the floor, scraps of planning paper and lots of sounds of someone talking to themselves.
Believe it or not, commissions are starting to flow in and there are now seven or eight adorning walls over the Danish Empire.
I'm rather hoping it all takes off in the ilk of Lucian Freud, who recently sold his latest for GBP 10 million.
Most of this sloshing and slapping has a science tweak, which I guess adds something unique to the subject. The latest, done for his CEO, is entitled 'Encephalitis'. Possibly not the most romantic of subjects, I nevertheless feel it is the best so far. This picture doesn't do it justice because in real life, it has lots of depth and very good light variations and it's a very big painting.
On that note, I guess I better hit the real estate websites and start looking for a suitable, ancient rambling retreat. I'm thinking Lagio Maggiore, Lombardi or even Corsica...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
This is an actual picture of the sky in Copenhagen at 5pm. This sight greets me when I wake at 0600 and when I look out my window at work at 1600hr. Inspiring, eh? Actually, I don't mind it that much, except that my body want's to do a lot of sleeping at the moment.
I start yawning at about 3pm.
And, for instance, last Saturday, when we went to that wine tasting, it started at 7.30pm. At 5.30pm I said to NQDII, 'It's too dark to go out. Let's just go to bed." Seriously, by 8pm I am ready for bed at the moment!
Condition yourself NQD, condition yourself NQD...
Don't succumb to the darkness...
Don't succumb to the darkness!
Can't fight ittt...
Monday, November 17, 2008
To be honest, before we got Hamish I was never a doggy person. We always had dogs of the farm growing up but they were farm dogs. But, when I bought Hamish, I immediately fell in love with him. Must be old age.
Looking through The Times online early this morning, I found this pic in an article about hypo-allergenic dogs for the new Presidential family in the US. He or she is the same 'breed' as Hamish - a labradoodle. I use the term 'breed' loosely because there's a lot of hoo-ha about labradoodles and their authenticity as a breed, because they're so new. I don't worry about all that because in that respect, I'm not a snob.
Not a day goes by in København when I take Hamish for a walk and someone comments on him. Seriously. 'Hvad er han for en race?' I get. I think he's the only one in Denmark. He's hugely popular and laps up the attention. I think the Obama's could do worse.
I mean, can you not be affected by this pic or am I getting sentimental in my own age?
I wonder if the Fogh's have a dog?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Up until this week ago, the only Australian I’ve spoken to in Copenhagen is…NQDII. Seriously, I hadn’t met any. So when an American friend of NQDII invited us to an Australian wine tasting night at some fellow-American friends of hers, I was rather excited.
And then yesterday morning (before 2pm, of course!) I went to buy some new glasses at an optical shop near here.
This place sells frames that are much cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found here in KBH. I was served by a Danish woman, ordered the glasses and then the very tall man who ran the shop walked up to me with some machine and said something in Danish. He was an older guy and I had no idea what he’s asked me. He repeated it in English in what I thought was an Australian accent. It transpired he’s been here for 30 years! Imagine that. Up until then I’d met no other Aussies here I suspected there weren’t many around, let alone one who’d been here that long.
Then last night we cycled off to the mainly American expat party and were told about the wines produced by the Portet family in the Yarra Valley. The vineyard is named after the father, Dominique Portet and one of his sons sells the wine over here in Copenhagen. In another coincidence the winery is only half an hour away from my family’s farm and I’d been there a couple of times to buy wine.
The chef of the night was also Australian and amongst other Australian-themed food we tucked into crocodile (really does taste like chicken) and kangaroo, which I should add, I’m not to keen on. What was interesting was hearing the accent again after such a long time. It felt quite weird – but nice.
The interesting titbits about wine sales in Denmark are that Danes are very conservative about how a bottle is sealed and tend to hold up the crucifix to screw tops, although, I was not surprised to hear that 97% of the wine sold in Denmark is consumed on the same day! ☺
Friday, November 14, 2008
Of course, as is usual in my life, it all happened in a rush. From applying for the position here in Copenhagen to arriving was all done in four weeks.
In that time, I had to say goodbye to everyone back in Australia, pack up the house, organise visas, organise travel etc. It was like a dream but I still remember coming into land at Kastrup and when water gave way to the runway. Suddenly my thoughts were, 'WTF have I done!!' :) It must have been the twelve hours sleep I'd had on the plane after not much of it in a month.
Suddenly, I was sane again.
But, what an experience, what a thrill. Sometimes you just have to hop in and go for a ride.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I shall preface this by saying it’s my own fault, by publicly declaring I hadn’t had a cold or bug for more than a year. So from my semi-sick bed I’m writing this after leaving work early. I didn’t feel great but I was more worried about kaste op-ing in full view of my workmates.
But this piece isn’t about me (not everything is). It’s about creativity.
I work in advertising so it’s full of creative minds. We had the creative department’s annual seminar last week in Sweden. Set in an area not dissimilar to New England or Vermont in autumn (of fall if you’re a US-er). Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of it except from the bus because the seminar was very intense apart from the place we stayed at: a ‘four star’ spa-resort that, I have to say, reminded me much of the hotel in The Shining. Pics on that later.
In the middle of two full days of presentations of what everyone had been up to for the year, about half of us had to do a five minute presentation on something creative. The theme was ‘I like this because…’. For me, it was undoubtedly the most fascinating part of the seminar because I gained insight to people I work with every day but know not much about.
What it did show me was how many creative minds are about. One had taken a photograph everyday of somewhere in Copenhagen, for a year. Another, a keen surfer and skateboarder showed an amazing film of skateboarders in action. An art director picked apart a bit of old print advertising which was hysterical, someone read some clever prose, another displayed a sporting arena they had designed. That’s just some – but they were all amazing.
One person showed this piece. A talk by Sir Ken Robinson. It was not only funny but poignant. It’s a talk at a seminar called, ‘Do School’s today kill creativity’. What he says is so true. As we age, life can really suck the creativity out of us. We push people into boxes and for so many, in the end, daily life just becomes a goal of survival, rather than following dreams and talents.
Have a look and see what you think. There are some really funny bits around the 3.49 minute mark – but the whole video is worth watching.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
We turned back the clocks on Saturday night and, while the mornings are suddenly a wee bit lighter (not for long) darkness has set in pretty quickly at night. This pic is 1630hr from my office window. And, it's decidedly chillier all of a sudden - like minus at night. Suddenly, I understand why everyone has autumn and winter coats. I'm about to ditch the autumn one soon if this keeps up! BTW. It's 6.30pm / 1830hr and it's gone from 10 to 2C :(
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Okay, I'm sure for those of you who don't speak Danish, listening to those of us who are learning it and complaining about the difficulty of it must lead you to think, 'Oh stop complaining, it can't be *that* hard!' Well, we went to friends for dinner last night and learned this gem. And yes, it does mean something:
Far, får får får?
Nej, får får ikke får, får får lam.
Dad, do sheep have sheep?
No, sheep don’t have sheep, sheep have lambs
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I received an interesting email from Australia yesterday. It was from someone talking about structure – or current restructuring – of the company they work for.
Recently, a new CEO was appointed who is based in the US. The new CEO has decided to implement what’s apparently called, ‘The American Model’, at the company. The effect of this new implementation has so far included:
• Several retrenchments
• Accepting a drop in pay or face the axe
• Accepting a drop in work hours or face the axe
• Swapping from full-time positions to consultancy or casual contracts
Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? It’s also important to keep in mind that the positions in question are pretty much all very highly skilled, as is the industry.
What it also means is that these staff members will now enjoy no real job security.
More than that, the Australian manager, who has always been regarded very favourably – indeed I thought so myself – has now become not only quite disliked for what he’s done but apparently changed markedly and embraced this ‘new regime’, espousing its merit to those who are, unfortunately for them, affected by it.
At first, I didn’t think much of him either but then I realised in this current climate, he’s a husband and a father with a family of his own to maintain. I guess he really doesn’t have a choice because he needs his job. But then from what I’ve discovered, he has used terms like, ‘now that we’re embracing “The American Model”’, which doesn’t make it sounds like he’s losing much sleep over it. Who knows? Maybe it has something to do with self-preservation.
Certainly, the American CEO couldn’t care less. He’s only interested in the bottom line, which is what life has seemed to be about up until now anyway.
What I do find remarkable is that it’s CEOs like this dickhead who, in my opinion, have helped bring the world to the state it’s in anyway. And not just American ones. They’re a global breed but you rarely see them suffering even if the company they run strikes difficulties. For some reason for which I don’t have the answer, they quite often end up resigning with enormous, actually obscene, handshakes. It’s criminal.
But that’s what our Western World is like. There’re great elements to it and there are also very ugly elements to it. We’ve become obsessed with materialism – and I’ve not been immune to this at times – and now the party’s well and truly over, especially for those who’ve over extended themselves.
I read this week where in Australia there is a glut of used Ferraris and Aston Martins for sale, selling for far under the price they were formerly worth. Suddenly, all these hotshot guys – and maybe gals – have crashed into a wall and the seams of their affluent (on paper) lives have become unstitched. It’s utterly humiliating and terrifying for them and I really do feel for them and their families if they have them.
The trouble is we place so much value on the material things we have in life. We’re wanters by nature maybe and, like sport, it’s very often a competition to see how much of it you can grab. I don’t know whether that is right or wrong but I know that when you read about fathers committing suicide because the money is gone it’s both tragic and ridiculous. I suspect they do it for a few or reasons: the personal humiliation, the failure and the desperation of not knowing how they’ll go on – not just for themselves but for their families.
While you can argue that the effect of losing everything material is worth ‘totalling’ yourself over, the ludicrous and frightening point is this particular act suggests, directly or indirectly, that we value money over humanity.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I check Melbourne’s online newspapers regularly and apart from Mary, there’s never news about Denmark. Therefore, I was surprised to find this article, touting the virtues of Denmark’s Welfare State that has, over time, become a Welfare State with a capitalistic slant.
It’s surprising because the journalist shares some of the views about the merits of the Danish system. (Because I am linking the article, I have to say I have no affiliation with The Age or the journalist). But, I have to say, it’s one of the parts of Denmark that I’ve really come to love.
The gist for non-Danish residents is that in Denmark you pay A LOT of tax. Not only is the average tax 50% but there’re taxes on just about everything else you do or buy. You don’t come to Denmark for its tax benefits – that much is sure – unless you’re on the Postive List, which means you do get taxed on a lower rate for a few years.
But, while the benefits to me don’t really mean much – I have no children etc. etc., a look around Denmark will show you that there is very little poverty, illiteracy or wanting compared to just about any other nation on Earth.
Denmark isn’t Utopia. They have their problems. They’re having a hard time reconciling how to deal with the offspring of immigrant workers who have trouble ‘assimilating’ into Danish society and ‘multiculturalism’ isn’t a term you hear – at all. And, I feel, some of these non-WASPS probably have a very hard time.
But, at the end of the day, everyone has a chance. You don’t have to live in Hellerup or to have gone to Bernadotte (or Le Rosey or others) to do something with your life. I like that. The crime rate is extremely low compared to most other countries, even taking into account the current gang warfare going on in Copenhagen and other parts of the country. I should add, however, that child care, from what I've seen, isn't completely free - although it's still very much cheaper than other Western countries.
So, all in all, maybe there are some lessons for we of the US/British backgrounds to learn.
Monday, October 13, 2008
After a walk and throw of the ball on Saturday, I let Hamish play with it in the house for a while. I thought he was particularly quiet and went to check. I found a 20 crown sized piece of the above ball on the floor but not the rest of it. He looked very sheepish and I immediately knew he’d devoured all but that piece.
Consequently, much of yesterday was spent examining ‘exiting material’ on our trips outside, which were many. At least it’s coming out because I was wondering if he’d suffer some sort of blockage. I suspect more is to come, judging by the surprise that met me on the floor this morning - something he never does.
Iit’s not how I planned to spend my Sunday.or morning before work today.
Why do they do it?
Just about any excuse is a good enough one to call a holiday in Denmark and Kartofler Ferie is no exception. That’s what this week is all about, judging by the list of people at work who’ve taken off for their autumn break to sunnier climes.
Believe it or not, Kartofler Ferie means ‘Potato Holiday’. It comes from the days when kids were given time off school to help harvest the potato crop. Today it’s still a school holiday period but you won’t find many people pulling potatoes from the ground – unless of course they’re Majorcan or Santorinian potatoes ☺
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Actually, the aunt featured in the book is not dissimilar to my own and while I had literally aged another year by the time she arrived, NQDII and I had to work hard at keeping up with the seemingly limitless energy of a woman in her sixties. We had lots of fun but by the time I dropped her back at the airport on Thursday morning for her to take the plane back to Singapore, I felt like I had jet lag myself!
She was the first family member we’ve had come to visit, so we were pretty excited about her arrival and keen to show her the highlights of this small but ancient island. I had worded her up not to expect the grandness of London or Paris because while Copenhagen has some very lovely buildings, they’re comparatively compact compared to those of the big cities of Europe.
Okay, so twelve guards and a local bus isn't quite London...
She didn’t seem perturbed and keenly embraced every bit of information about Copenhagen and Denmark she picked up on certain tours. By the end of the five days, she considered herself an expert, although I fear the phrase, ‘a little bit of knowledge is very dangerous,’ could be appropriate, as she coined her own expression, ‘It was a Danish Tragedy’, after listening to certain aspects of Denmark’s history.
There were quite a number of ‘Danish Tragedies’ to which my aunt was privy from various tours:
“Nelson almost levelled Copenhagen in an attack to disable and capture the Danish Navy”
Aunt: “Oh how awful, how tragic.”
“Christiansborg Palace burnt down three times”
Aunt: “What a shame, rather a Danish Tragedy.”
“Danish soldiers were rationed on 10 litres of beer, per soldier, per day”
Aunt: “Oh, well, tragic but they must have been the happiest army in Europe.”
“King Christian and Queen Louise manage to marry off their daughters to the heirs to the British and Russian thrones.”
Aunt: “Oh that was good.”
“But they could not afford to attend the wedding.”
Aunt: “Oh, what a Danish Tragedy.”
“During the German occupation in WWII, King Christian rode out on the streets of Copenhagen to boost the people’s morale”
Aunt: “Oh, how lovely.”
“…until he was one day thrown from his horse and ended up in a wheelchair.”
Aunt: “Oh how awful. What a Danish Tragedy.”
The lake at Fredensborg
And then we had our trip to Fredensborg. We left early one morning with NQDII as he made his way to work (he takes three trains and rides the bike he leaves at that end the rest of the way!). We arrived early at the palace, about 9.15am. So early, there was no one else around.
Out of nowhere, I heard a car coming so went to stand out of the way. I looked up, and there was a Rolls Royce coming towards us.
“Look, it’s the Queen.” I said.
Sure enough, it was.
My aunt was busy talking to a rubbish bin at the time (seriously) and only just looked up to catch the Queen exiting the palace gates at great speed. She was suitably impressed.
“Although, I’ve heard you do see the royal family all the time here.”
(Umm, yes, like everyday – not!).
Then we went for a walk around the park of Fredensborg.
It really is quite beautiful, lots of space and a fantastic lake.
One of the ‘highlights’ was the pier or jetty built for Prince Henrik, the Queen’s husband for his 70th birthday or something. Unfortunately, part of it had collapsed.
Aunt: “Oh dear, another Danish tragedy.”
Poor Henrik's recent 'tragedy'
A couple of days later, we had a three hour walk around Djurehaven - an enormous old hunting ground with herds of wild dear. It was spectacular. Including walking from the station, it only took us half an hour from Frederiksberg to get there.
3 hours of walking in the wild and only 15 mins from town
Monday, October 6, 2008
Well, yesterday actually. I'm not into birthdays actually but in 40 odd years, I have only ever had four rain-free birthdays. So just as well I don't expect much. Given Saturday was a glorious day, I kind of figured Sunday would not be so much different. Wrong. The wind howled all night (and I mean *howled*) and it poured torrentially, so I was not disappointed! I'm starting to feel even if I went to Dubai for the day, it would rain.
Nevertheless we had fun. A sodden trip to Rosenborg and dinner last night. Today, we're off to Malmo and the sun is shining.
Friday, October 3, 2008
It is interesting.
In Australia, the near collapse of the US and thus global market has seen headlines in the past couple of weeks like: ‘Market Crashes!’ In Denmark, we get headlines like: ‘Unhappy morning on stock exchange.’
Hear the difference?
It is possibly just me and the fact that Australia is, these days, pretty much a new state of America, so when the US sneezes, Australia is rushed to casualty. On the other hand, I know, while things aren’t great in the big countries of Europe, they don’t historically act like there’s a coma coming on.
Today, the Prime Minister , Anders Fogh Rasmussen (born on Australia Day, oddly enough) told us all in Denmark we have to work more. I was well prepared to do this, yessir Mr FR, until I read further and he qualified this by saying, ‘to counteract the labour shortage in coming years’. This pleasantly stunned me because I was thinking more along the lines of, ‘to try and hold your jobs and not join the unemployment queue that is likely to grow, possibly in the coming few weeks’.
So if Mr FR is optimistically planning ahead like this, I think I will too ☺
I am delighted to introduce Australia's former Treasurer (facing and in ecstasy) and former Prime Minister (looking busy) - obviously pay-back for some deal
Umm. Probably X rated but, really, who did think it up??
The way I am eating lately, I'd probably have to think hard too
I usually don't take much notice of these sorts of emails but a few of these pics were pretty funny - and after my doom and gloom post, I thought I better balance it out.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
While Hamish carries on eating his dinner tonight totally unaware of the possible chaos that could befall us any moment...
And speaking of the demise of the world’s economic system, is it just me or is everyone else ‘over it’ already? For some reason, recessions seem to follow me around wherever I go and I’m totally sick of them.
To cheer myself up in bed last night, and after many complex monetary calculations, I came to the following conclusions:
• If I lose my job, we will have to rush to see NQDII’s visa is changed to the main visa holder
• If NQDII loses his job and I don’t, we will not eat much because my (almost equal salary) doesn’t seem to last as long for some odd reason
• If NQDII loses his job as well as me, we will have to leave pretty quickly
• This will be a headache because…
• It will cost us a fortune to go back to Australia
• Hamish is pretty much the cost of a first class ticket
• Our house is rented out and we will have to live in a government run shelter for the homeless (read St Vincent de Paul bin)
• Apply for refugee status but I am at a loss as to what we could apply as refugees from…
• Ask Mary if she needs a gardener or two
I dunno what it is but this week everyone seems rather grumpy, especially at work and including me and NQDII. Maybe it's the change in the weather - because the cold and dark has hit pretty quickly or maybe it's the seeming demise of the world economic system - I dunno, but I hope it ends soon. It doesn't inspire me to get up every day, that much is certain.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
...maybe this makes you think of 'home' - and who better, than Shu-bi-dua! :)
Note that we changed they lyrics - Rio to Rome, because Qantas don't fly to Rio but anyway... This is a good ad. For me, there are three songs that make me feel 'Australian'. This one, from Peter Allen, who barely lived in Australia, Waltzing Matilda - I dunno why but it does and We are Australian.
I don't know what song/s make Danes homesick...
I’m starting to feel Danish because:
1. Australia really does seem a very long way away now
2. I feel good about paying 50% tax and see the sense in it (Well, it really does have its merits!)
3. It’s important to learn Danish because so many people in the world don’t speak it
4. I can now (if I sprinkle methamphetamine on my rye bread and chocolate flakes) get every bit of household shopping done on a Saturday before the shops close at 2.30pm o’clock
5. I finally know who every member of the royal family is, including cousins
6. I loved summer and the almost constant light but am looking forward to candles and darkness
7. If the train stops, I just sit there and don’t complain – even if it’s for an hour
8. I think it is a shame Denmark lost Southern Sweden to the Swedes 300 years ago
9. I now believe Hygge is untranslatable and I don’t screw up my face when someone says so
10. What’s wrong with spending DKK800 (AU$200) on drinks on a Friday night? Really??!
11. I take pride in my once-every-nine-week duty to clean the stair well and basement. (Why would you pay someone to do that?) ☹
12. Social smoking is good. It makes you happy
13. Smoking full time makes you even happier
14. Drinking till you throw up, on a Friday and/or Saturday night, is an excellent idea and I wonder why I’d never thought of it before. (Although preferably not a Sunday, from personal experience)
15. People who have a couple of glasses of wine every night of the week are alcoholics. Those who drink until they are comatose on the weekend, are not
16. Flats having no numbers but only ‘to the left’ or ‘to the right’ makes perfect sense
17. It’s not a funny question if someone asks you do you go ‘to the left’ or to the right’
18. If it’s 1st June, you wear shorts, even if it’s -1C
19. Ærter doesn’t mean artichoke
20. I can’t understand why AustraliaPost men/women don’t deliver mail right to your door
21. Pharmacies should always have queue numbers
22. Leaving your baby snuggled up in a pram to sleep in the back yard in mid-winter does them the world of good
23. It’s better if you live ‘North of Copenhagen’ – even if I don’t
24. Even if nothing is organised, it will be okay
25. A CPR number is essential, it’s not in any way a Big Brother thingy
26. Five or six weeks holiday time a year is bordering on unreasonable
27. People who say ‘hello’ or ‘undskyld’ on a bus are probably deranged
28. Crown Princess Mary is Danish, not Australian
We’re lucky in Copenhagen that just about every street has a bike path on both sides of the road. These make travel around the city a breeze and you can easily get from one side of Copenhagen to the other in half an hour or less. (Yes, it’s a giant metropolis) But if you are coming to live here, or even just to cycle around on your holiday, here are the rules of the road I have picked up over almost a year’s cycling. It’s vital you follow them:
The Copenhagen Cycling Rules
1. Always wear your iPod. You get fined if you don’t. You also get discount bike servicing at bike retailers if you wear big earphones.
2. When entering from a side street, look hard to see if there are any other cyclists coming. If there are, look them in the eye and merge out anyway – let them work out the rest.
3. Cycle slowly and let everyone pass you but once you catch up at the red traffic lights, swerve around them all so you are in front again for when the lights turn green. Other cyclists love it when you do this.
4. Unless it is a major intersection – and sometimes even then – amber means pedal for your life to get across, even if you haven’t quite made it onto the crossing yet.
5. A red light at an intersection only means stop if there’re so many cars coming there’s no way you could get across and live.
6. Talk as much as you want on your mobile telephone and meander from one side of the path to the other – especially in peak hour. The politi encourage it.
7. Pedestrians are trash. If they inadvertently step onto the bike path (usually a tourist) take your week’s frustration out on them verbally. That way, they learn who’s boss.
8. If you see a friend walking on the footpath, stop immediately and talk to them. Don’t bother lifting your bike up 10cms onto the footpath. You won’t cause any crashes.
9. If a bus stops to pick up passengers, slow down a tad but DO NOT stop completely, even if old ladies and women with prams are disembarking. It’s your path, not theirs.
10. Ring your bell frequently to let others know you have one. After all, you paid for it.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It had to happen eventually I guess but I now officially need a coat when cycling to work. The mornings are darker (read pitch black) when I wake up and my enthusiasm for early morning gym sessions have thumped to a dismal end. Similarly, taking Hamish out for his final toilet expedition of the day now requires a torch and usually a long-winded game of find the turd - not really something you feel like doing at 2200hr at night, I can tell you.
The leaves are starting to change everywhere but at least we have been blessed with some beautiful autumnal days with clear blue skies.
I better start buying candles and wait for everyone to start getting grumpy. :)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Danes love booze. Seriously. I thought Aussies were good guzzlers until I came here. It’s not uncommon to see people wandering the streets drinking beer first thing in the morning and you can buy liquor from any supermarket, although you have next to no hope of finding Aspirin or Panodil.
Anyway, I digress. In Melbourne at the moment, quickly rivalling Johannesburg in terms of street violence, there’s pandemonium about binge drinking youths picking fights and bashing each other to death at nightclubs.
I’m sure there’re booze-inspired punch ups here in Denmark too (I’ve been told Aalborg is good for a fight, if that’s what you’re looking for) but what I’ve noticed here is that groups of merry young-ins also seem to sing – at the top of their voices – late at night while they meander home. I used to will them to shut up but I’ve become quite used to it and, when you think about it, it’s far more preferable than beating each other up.
Last night was almost a concert performance. A boisterous group made their way along our street singing a song from that Whoopi Goldberg film, Sister Act, where she finds herself in a down-and-out school and miraculously transforms a class of dead-beats into and American equivalent of the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
So there I was, sitting watching a British crime show when they started up. ‘La, la, la, laaa!’ a few of them belted out, while they took turns doing shouting the next ‘La’ bit in the lead up to ‘Oh Happy Day’. They were really very good, especially considering they were pretty drunk.
Now that would never happen in Melbourne on a Saturday night, unfortunately.
The downside to the concert is I will have to dodge the usual selection of Sunday morning ‘pavement pizzas’ when I walk the dog. Hamish loves them and thinks they’re there just for him and can’t quite understand why I don’t let him eat them.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I really like Denmark, it’s very quirky, so this post is really not disparaging. Denmark has its faults but where doesn’t? One thing other expat friends and I laugh about is the supermarket. Especially ones like Netto. Sometimes the shelves are stocked, sometimes they’re not. But what makes you realise you really do live somewhere different is the pharmacy or apotek.
In Australia, we have *very* strict rules about Rx drugs and OTC drugs. At least I thought so, until I came here. In Denmark, a visit to the pharmacy is like a trip through Australian customs. It takes hours of negations to get anywhere. There are just so many drugs you can buy OTC in Australia that you can't buy here and browsing, is most definitely not allowed. Everything is situated *behind* the counter.
You have to be 16 to drink and 18 to smoke (or is it the other way around?) but you certainly can’t buy eye drops if you think you’re getting conjunctivitis as NQDII (who is too much of a medico for his own good) suspected he was.
Nope, you definitely can’t buy slightly antibiotic eye drops OTC. You need to go to the doctor and get a script. Of course, he didn’t have conjunctivitis but he may have and a few drops would have helped fixed it up. But here, regulations rule.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Wow. It's been a long while since I've read a thriller that really distracted my from life. This one did. It's the first of a trilogy written by a Swedish chap, Stieg Larsson, (Steeg Lar-shon) who, poor bloke, wrote the books and then died of a heart attack before they were published. He was only 49, not much older than I am. (Well, okay, I give in. Quite a bit older - years even)
This one went on to become a best seller and his family are apparently squabbling over the incoming fortunes, as we tend to do as humans.
Nevertheless, this book was completely wonderful - if you are into thrillers.
I heard a lot about it, ordered it and started reading. For about twenty pages, I was almost asleep, wondering if this was yet another book millions had thought magical, except me. But a couple of pages later, I was enthralled.
Quickly, bedtime got earlier and earlier and it was one of those books I didn't want to end. The language is superb and the character developments are beautifully done. The suspense is fingernail stuff and the plot really engages you and compels you to read on and on.
I really loved every character - and there are quite a number of them, each described beautifully. Of course, you can't help but fall in love with Salander.
I just keep thinking what a shame he died. And, once the next two books are published and I read them, what will I do?
I regret two things about reading it. First that it ended and secondly that I didn't read it during Hygge season.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
NQD went to Berlin yesterday for work and is staying today as well.
I, on the other hand, had my own little adventure. I walked about 800m down the road to this place, to have my first experience (well, second if you include the consultation) with the Danish health care system for which some of my 50% tax pays to run. I was also about to become a movie star of sorts.
I wasn’t going to write about this but I figure its probably the sort of thing no one likes to discuss or do and really can’t compare to a weekend in a swish hotel in Berlin, drinking beer and eating delicious German stodge and strolling Unter den Linden. Only that it might save your life.
My mother died of bowel cancer at 61, which isn’t very old, as did a very dear friend and she was far too young, with a 12 year-old son. As my mother’s side of the family also has several cancer genes as family members, I thought it was probably time I should be checked-up.
There’s a system to this procedure. It involves drinking a litre of the most revolting drink you can imagine and spending most of the night on the toilet. Just when it’s over, at around six in the morning, you drink another litre and the fun begins again.
Still, at least now I now know how many tiles there are on the walls in our bathroom.
All that finally over, I marched off to Frederiksberg Hospital, feeling like I was washed out (I guess I was) and suffering jet lag from tiredness.
In my best (don’t get excited) Danish, I announced who I was and what I was there for – a colonoscopy – or ‘Koloskopi’ på dansk. A very sweet nurse told me I was expected, which was all well and good, except ‘to be expected’ wasn’t something I’ve covered in Danish, so I stood looking at her wondering what she’d just told me about myself.
Next I was whisked off, told to change into some very unfashionable hospital clothes and plonk myself down on my bed – which happened to be down the end of a hall, actually in the hall! I was too tired to care and the nurses were so lovely I couldn’t bring myself to question anything and I figured this was the simple part of a day of saying goodbye to my dignity! I couldn’t have been too concerned because I fell into a deep sleep, apparently snoring.
An hour or so later I was pushed on said bed up to the procedure room to be met by another nurse. She had a gravelly voice and joked and laughed away in Danish most of which I didn’t understand. Slightly sedated, before I knew it the doctor was in and with a rub and a push, a very long looking hose venture into a part of me I’d never seen before.
Certainly looking at the inside of your bowel on a TV screen isn’t quite as exciting as watching a foetus in an ultrasound but it did feel like that 70’s movie where they went inside that scientists body.
You can feel the camera work it’s way around, which feels weird but not painful and then it’s all over – in about ten minutes. Really, it’s that quick. I’d expected to be in there for hours.
And that was it – all over. So really, it’s so easy today to get checked, it well worth the effort and the sacrifice of a little dignity as others gaze up your nether region, because if you happen to become symptomatic from one of these cancers, you might have a bigger struggle ahead.
Yeah, okay, your dignity flies out the window for ten minutes!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I might be in Denmark and I might be Australian but for me 9/11 (or 11/9 as it should correctly be referred to!) is ingrained in me forever.
For me, it was the very day, in my eyes, the world really and truly lost its innocence. It was the day when anyone who really and truly believed in good, was shocked and devastated and you knew, or at least I felt, that the world would never be the same again.
Two rather prominent but unassuming buildings changed our lives forever. And it realised some of our (or at least my) greatest fears: to be stuck on a aeroplane where you had no control and were at the mercy of the pilot.
It changed our view of humanism. It changed the way most of us look at Moslems. And I feel really sorry for that.
I don't know many Moslems. I know three. I know the one who runs the Turkish restaurant across the road from where I used to live and a girl I used to work with - and one of my best friends, a Persian, who lives in the US.
None think like these people.
But, whatever we may think, 9/11 changed us. We will all remember where we were that day/night. I remember my brother ringing me, very early one morning, saying nothing but, 'Turn on the TV, turn on the TV'.
And I remember feeling numb. I remember almost crying when I answered a call from my father whom I was talking to as I drove to Melbourne from our farm. He was upset that I was upset that I had just listed to - I think his name was Mark? - his mother talking about the conversation as his plane was about to plough into an unremarkable field somewhere in the US. I remember the girl from Prahran - a groovy suburb in Melbourne -who had only started working for some company in the towers that week.
Wherever we were at that moment.
We will never forget.
Lest we forget.
I always remember what the Queen - of the UK (and Australia) said after the attack:
'Grief is the price we pay for love.'
- Isn't that true?
Yayyyyy! The poor un-sung, humble herring.
I have no idea why. The Copenhagen Post just said so - but I'm getting a 'Rose from The Golden Girls' feeling about it.
Personally, in Denmark, you can't ever have enough herring -or 'sild' (silth) as it is called here (don't question the 'th' for 'd' - just do it...) Herring just about goes with anything - hors d'oevres, frokost, brylluper, æblekager og Lambourghini-er.