Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is spring in the air?

According to the news, Scandinavia has had an exceptionally mild winter. I can agree. Copenhagen weather to date hasn’t been much different from a grumpy Melbourne winter. On the news they said bulbs were flowering (well, I haven’t seen any apart from in pots in shops) and some trees were starting to bud.

I have to say I can’t wait.

We’re both gardeners so we’re looking forward to seeing Denmark in the spring. The only thing I’m not too sure about is just how many Danes are passionate gardeners. Hopefully someone will correct me but, at least around Frederiksberg, those lucky enough to have gardens don’t appear to do that much with them.

I think Australians must have inherited the passion from the English because gardens, even tiny ones like ours back home, are for the most part, revered to obsession. People go really kooky over gardening. My grandfather and my mother are two who fitted that eccentric type of green thumb.

My grandfather was the kind of ‘everything in its place’ type of gardener, while my mother took a more romantic view and loved Gertrude Jekyll. Our family country place is up in the Victorian Alps and the garden is often threatened by ‘vandals’, like wombats and deer.

I remember once all of us having drinks outside one early, balmy summer evening and someone spotting deer wandering through. My mother remarked how beautiful they were.

The following evening, she was patrolling the area with a shotgun.

Anyway, I can’t smell spring yet but I can’t help but get a bit excited. I think it’s going to be big.

(Attached are some pics from the farm)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The suntan conspiracy

This could be a Robert Ludlum book, were he not dead.

I work in a building that used to be, centuries ago, the royal mews (or something). It’s a group of really lovely old building is Østerbro.

The kommune or someone is building a new building right next door and there’s always a lot of crashing and banging going on.

On Thursday last week there was another crash and I put it down to another steel girder falling off. But no! This time it was a bomb!! Yes, a real bomb left by two assailants inside the foyer of a solarium directly across the road. Were it not for the acrid smell and my dismal grasp of the evening news, I would still be thinking the crane had dropped a girder.

Since then, apparently two more suntan studios have been bombed or burned. There is a veritable smorgåsbord of theories about it – like Muslim extremists, disgruntled youth and the IAAVBS – International Army Against Very Brown Skin. But Copenhagen is abuzz with theories.

What I find rather endearing, if that’s a word one can use in such a worrying circumstance, is that two masked men were seen at roughly 11am dropping a ‘bag’ off at the solarium and making a run for it.

Is it just me, or does wearing a mask in daylight seem a bit conspicuous?? Wouldn’t they have been better sauntering on like they were off to a Red Cross meeting with a rucksack and with not a care in the world just leaving the bomb and walking on their merry way?

Anyway, it’s not for me to give terrorists hints but it does seem odd.

Thankfully, no one was hurt except for a poor little doggy who was given much comfort to by a couple of the fire crew who I hope Queen Margrethe invites for lunch to thank. It was really very touching and I don’t want to think how scared by that terrible noise the little ‘man’s best friend' may have been.

It could have been much worse.

You know, apart from the unfriendly lady upstairs (who I can only think must have ‘issues’), Danes are honestly the loveliest people on Earth I’ve come across. They accept all kinds of people into their lovely land and rarely say a bad word against anyone.

As an antipodean, it makes me angry that people would do this sort of thing in this country. While there’s a part to Danes no foreigner (for-idge-ner) will never get to know, no country on Earth is accepting of ‘difference’ as this dejlig lot. I feel very protective towards them (apart from nasty lady upstairs).

NQDII, who has been using solariums of late, is having a break.

This week in Copenhagen

The back yard dog poo mine field

Well, where shall I start? Disgruntled neighbour? Work? Danish class? Bomb blast?


Firstly, we had a lovely note (in English, so it could only have been for us) from one of our neighbours above us about the doggy-doo in the back yard. I’ll preface this by saying we always pick up Hamish’s poo (in bags, of course, not with our hands) after he’s satisfied himself. But, occasionally, late at night before we go to bed we leave it till the next morning because it’s too dark to find it and you run the risk of stepping in it in the search.

Nevertheless, first thing NQDII does is go out, as if is life depends on it, fossicking around first thing in the morning for it. And, so it should be. However, one of our upstairs neighbours doesn’t think that is good enough and we had an ‘ever so nice’ letter shoved through our door asking us, more or less, to more vigilant in our endeavour. In fact, her letter suggested we never picked up after him at all.

To be honest, it didn’t really worry me but when I came home from work the mood was…tense and he pointed to the note on the bench.

The first thing I did was go out and buy a torch so we could find his precious droppings before we retired for the night. I told him to not worry about it as the note was written very nicely and we have been diligent since but that didn’t stop NQDII (who was somewhat disgruntled and upset) from writing a reply saying we would be more careful in future and putting the note under her door – or what he thought was her door…

Anyway, I never gave it another thought until this afternoon when I happened to pass said disgruntled neighbour in the street saying “Hej” to be greeted with barely eye contact. At first, I just thought ‘well, it’s your problem, X’, not mine. We’ve mended our ways and you’re the one stewing.’

Sitting here now, it’s really getting to me that people (well she) is so nasty about the whole thing. I don’ t like that because I can’t see, in the scheme of world mayhem, how much it really counts. Nevertheless, it is paramount to another Suez crisis for her.

I might add, as nicely as possible, that her dog is a scrawny, odd looking rattish thing that barks incessantly on the stairwell and not very pleasant.

I was really offended by her dismissive glance of me in the street. It’s not like we’ve ever done anything to upset her but, obviously we’ve done our dash as far as she is concerned. I am satisfying myself now by believing she must have inner…challenges she needs to work through but, to be frank, I can’t be bothered finding out what these may be.

To counteract this I’ve been madly searching on nybolig.dk for flats to buy. I’m thinking Christianshavn or around near the palace but she’s turned me off Frederiksberg today. Neither of us like throwing money away on rent but, as aliens from the Hassidic-oriented Caulfield North sector on Planet Melbourne, I’m not sure we’re allowed to buy property quite just yet, although the interest rates are very attractive and our nieces and nephews will probably thank us posthumously for the prudent move should we be able too.

I am trying to reason in my head that there are very nice people in our building. The young – exceedingly handsome couple on the ground floor with their adorable baby daughter and gorgeous White Welsh Terrier, Gustav, who Hamish adores and the people next door to us who are delightful. But the bitter, nasty lady upstairs with her funny feral, ratty dog has turned me off the place.

I am having visions of her being one of the couple of those neighbours in that US sitcom – whatever it was called, with Paul whatisname and the supposedly upherself actress with the blonde hair who, hard as they tried, these neighbours didn’t like them.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to be…well, just nice. After all, we’re all of us, just trying to survive and do our best. Grrr. I’ll be alright but she has put a damper on my weekend. I’d say I hope she gets crabs but that would be un-Christian of me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Frederiksborg eller Fredensborg?

Umm, how frequently do buses run on a Saturday...

We scrapped normal Saturday housekeeping duties yesterday, which is safe here because no one ever calls in, except the man who delivers the junk mail. He buzzes the front door quite a bit.

After an initial difference of opinion about whether to buy more KilpKort’s or just a return ticket, we began our merry way to Frederiksborg Castle at Hillerød.

Once off the train, we were meant to get, according to rejseplanen, bus number 700S to the castle. It looked a bit odd because the bus trip appeared to only take a minute travel time. So, mustering up my best Danish, I boarded the bus and asked:

“Does this bus go to Frederiksborg Slot?”

A very simple question but I must explain something. There are two castles/palaces in a distance of what must be 10km or so. Frederiksborg is uninhabited and the royal family live part of the year at Fredensborg. As we’d not rung ahead to tell Mary we may call in, we didn’t think we should be rude so settled on Frederiksborg.

The bus driver said in his best Danish.

“Nej, 701.”

So off we trotted to 701 and the bus drove off.

Twenty minutes later there appeared no castles in sight. NQDII was starting to sweat with worry, telling me I had ‘stuffed it up’.

Then we saw the sign to Fredensborg and realised or, at least I realised, my Danish wasn’t as good as I thought.

In a very bad mood by now NQDII said we should get off at the next stop (which happened to be some sort of lunatic asylum). We did and boy, was I in trouble!

It was freezing.

We waited half an hour for a bus to come back the other way. I couldn’t stop giggling and NQDII couldn’t stop being angry.

We marched onto the bus, me sniggering, NQDII festering, only to find it was the same bus driver who dropped us off on the other side of the road! He gave us a very dubious look, perhaps not undue seeing we were right outside a psychiatric facility, and off we went back to Hillerød station.

Finally, we arrived after a kilometre’s walk at Frederiksborg Castle and NQDII was much happier.

It really is a magnificent palace. These pictures probably don’t do it justice.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Okay, and they do a very camp ABBA too!

If you have kids, and it's Christmas...

...And I don't BUT one of the best things in the whole wide world (web) to do, is go to Carols by Candelight, in Melbourne, at the Myer Music Bowl in the Royal Botanic Gardens. It's amazing. I'm afraid to say, this is something Denmark can't beat us at! :)

Okay, so it's not the time to post this but I'm missing my niece and nephews a lot this week and they *loved* this song a couple of years ago.

If you're an Aussie, you're either a Wiggles or Hi-5 fan, and Hi-5 wins out for me.

For a bit of start gossip - which I'm not very good at, the girl with the short blonde hair goes out with the guy with the dark curly hair and the asian girl you see is actually the replacement of another asian girl who is (somewhat, I think) married to the taller guy out of that band...hmm... well, umm..yes! Savage Garden.

Someone help me out with some good Danish music please!

I’m not up with Danish music – someone help me! – but I have developed a taste for a Swedish singer called Jill Johnson. If you can, listen to her duet, Kommer tid, kommer vår, it’s really lovely. Her voice is so very clear and she looks extremely sexy. I’m yet to discover why she is ‘Johnson’ and not ‘Johnsson’ – perhaps a Swede or Dane will help me out?

Don't believe everything you read.

When we looked at putting some excitement into what we really thought were our very boring lives and looked at Denmark, we found a site called www.workindenmark.dk .

We read up on lots of enticing things about these wonderful Danes but, perhaps most of all, was their tendency to not work much more than the 9-5 bit. Dolly Parton – Eat. Your. Heart Out. We. Are. Made!

Well, let me put a few things into perspective. I am about to sue www.workindenmark.dk for leading me astray. It might not be getting dark until five o’clock now, but I wouldn’t know because I am usually in the office, toiling away, under the rather uncomfortable feeling that I could be retrenched if I don’t – some have already. Well, sort of. A few people have disappeared under the guise of not enough work and budgets not being met (or something like that because it’s all in Danish and I don’t understand most of it).

Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to hard work but I hate working with that hanging over my head.

I’m totally tired of economic downturns and it seems they follow me wherever I go.

On a brighter note, since starting to ride my bike just on three weeks ago, my legs are looking like Jean-Claude’s and I’m even starting to pass the slow coaches.

I have only had one accident…so far.

A girl stopped to answer her mobile telephone. The guy directly behind her swerved in the nick of time and I, of course, ploughed straight into her.

I uttered a mix of Danglish, to which she replied “Jesus Christ!” I didn’t know what to say then, so went on my not-so-merry way.

I was impressed, however, with the young chap on the street who came to her aid. It was extremely chivalrous, even if it was HER FAULT and now one came to my aid!!