Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vale Jørn

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

Poor India

I guess everyone is upset about the events in India.

It makes me angry.

Then I read a headline in a newspaper today where these ridiculous fantatics claimed:

'Stop hating us!'

- I couldn't help but think:

'Well, stop killing us!'

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I wonder where this is?

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?

Snow casualties

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

Science in art

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...

First snow

It started yesterday, melting as soon as it hit the ground but by last night it had got better at it. Needless to say, the air is decidedly chilled at the moment. I wonder whether we'll have a white Christmas? That would be good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome to my world

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

Okay Barack and Michelle, I dare ya!

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

Wine, the consummate diplomat

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

Nu har vi vært et år i danmark!

Yep, this week mark's a year. Hard to believe, it really does seem to have gone very quickly.

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.