Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ok, we get the message :-)

Seriously, we missed the last one for a valid reason - not because we couldn't read the notice! :)) No calls between 10 and 12 on Sunday please!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Get ready for Sunday

You know how it goes about New York, the city that never closes or sleeps? Well, Copenhagen does. It's mad scramble on Saturdays to get everything done you need to do before the shops shut. Except for the first Sunday of the month. This sends everyone into a fevered frenzy and for some really odd reason, that includes me. Even weirder still, is that I get something on the lines of excitement building when I rarely make use of the day retail-wise anyway.

On Thursday night at Føtex (the supermarket) the staff were even wearing badges saying, 'Don't forget we're open this Sunday'. As if...

European rivalry

I wasn't going to write about this because I thought it a bit too provoking but seeing the EU elections are tomorrow, I thought I may as well.

During a recent trip to Germany, I went to a party. Over the hours, I was introduced to a number of people and twice, had I been easily offended, I would have been. I was introduced as having come in from Copenhagen and talk turned to Denmark. I actually didn't get a chance to point out that while, yes, I had come from Copenhagen, I wasn't Danish. But here are the excerpts of two conversations:

German 1: I used to spend a lot of time in Denmark. I had a Danish girlfriend for a while. I even started learning Danish but it was such an ugly language, I stopped.


And half an hour later:

German 2: I go to Denmark often for work. I don't know how you all understand yourselves. Danish is such a mess! (laughs) Next time I'm there, we should have some beers.

... let me think about that for a minute. ah...Let's not. (I didn't say that)

Now, maybe I am biased but I don't think Danish is an ugly language. Sure it's a bit garbled sometimes, but it's very soft and these days, if I've been out of the country, it always feels good to hear it again, even if I don't understand most of it! So, I felt a bit protective after these conversations.

I think what was interesting was two-fold. Firstly, that someone - indeed, two different people at different times, would make such comments to people they had only just met about an aspect their nationality. (Okay, I'm not Danish, but they didn't know that). I mean would you do that?

The second interesting point is that considering they thought Danish was not the most beautiful language in the world makes me think they thought German was. Now, I like German because it sounds very precise and you do say every part of the word but I'm not sure I'd class it under 'beautiful', but that's just my opinion.

This was brought home to me the next day on a suburban train when the door wouldn't øpen at the station and a very helpful old German women pointed to the next door down and in German said, I guess, 'Run to the other door, schnell! Schnell!

Once safely on the platform, I did have a bit of a laugh. When being told to 'Schnell' - you Schnell!

I also think this situation shows how different it is when you cross borders. While Europeans live pretty close to one another, mindsets and personalities are vastly different. I've learned Danes, on the whole, will go out of their way to be polite, even if you can tell they're thinking something different to what they're saying. Whereas Germans maybe seem to say honestly, exactly what they think. I dunno which is better but each is certainly different!

You know when you freak yourself out a bit?

I woke up yesterday morning and got ready for work and left at 7:40. Immediately the world felt different outside. As you can see from the pic, the main drag where I live was virtually deserted. My neurons zapped into action. Was it Saturday? I wasn't sure. Had I already done that work I'd planned to do? I didn't think I had, but maybe I did. Or had something happened like in The Day of the Triffids? Were the few people driving and cycling like nothing was wrong just in denial?

After a quick google of dates on my iPhone I discovered it was Grundlovsdag - Constitution Day. Then I remembered my company doesn't take the day off, but obviously the rest of DK does. Phew.

In May, there's a long weekend just about every week, which is great. The down side is, now there's nothing until Christmas and getting through the transition from light to dark in Oct/Nov is made all the more difficult. The government should remedy the situation. I must write to them.

Worse still, Føtex was closed and that meant I wouldn't be trying Hansens vanilla after work.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ingen reklamer tak

There's something about me and the post office that doesn't marry. It never works out. Like the important document I posted 'express' at a ridiculous amount of money, back to Melbourne that took two weeks to get there.

Growing tired of coming home and finding much of the world's forests jammed through our front door, I decided enough was enough and headed off to Dansk Posten to remedy the situation.

In Denmark, you have to have an official sticker saying you don't want junk mail. You can't just put a sign up. So, off I traipsed and dutifully filled out the appropriate form and handed it over. I eagerly awaited the for the sticker to arrive so I am not quite sure what's gone wrong, but something has. That's because rather than a sticker arriving, I received the form I filled out - not in an envelope, just whacked through the door. No further instructions noted, no...nuffin.


My new Danish best friend

I wondered if I'd make a best friend in Denmark. I have. I just didn't think our first encounter would leave me feeling happily sickish the next day. In a few minutes, they helped me forget about the nagging back that's annoyed me this week, and while not saying a word, somehow completely won me over with a smooth, tempting manner - even the smell - and the way they made my mouth feel. Our encounter went on for over an hour. I was insatiable and couldn't get enough. I could almost do it all again this morning but I should resist...

And yes, I borrowed these photos of them

I may have to move to Jægerspris...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Who's better? Boys or girls?

Now I know every single member of the Danish royal family intimately, thanks to Se og hør, which gets delivered along with similar magazines to our office every Thursday, I've come to take an interest in what they're all up to, considering some of the 50+% tax I pay is helping them live the kind of life I am glad someone does. I quite like them, well most of them, although my opinion is only made up from what I see and read. But they help Denmark work the way it does, so I am glad they are here.

This weekend is a bit of a milestone, because there's a vote, along with EU elections, as to whether first born boys should be given precendence over first born girls in the line of succession to the throne.

I thought the answer would be a done-deal but not so. For the referendum to pass, 40% of the population has to vote and according to the newspapers it's very borderline this would happen. This surprises me. Firstly, because I come from a country where it is illegal not to vote (yes, it is) and secondly I thought at least 50% of the Danish population, the women, would be would be looking at their watches every few minutes the night before.

Now, for a minute, think about Christian and Isabella (Isabell?). Some 30 years ago, across the bridge in Sweden, there was another two royal children, Victoria and Carl Philip. Victoria, the eldest. After they were both born, the law was changed removing the title of Crown Prince from Carl Philip, because he was the second child and giving the title to Victoria. I don't know whether that affected their relationship as siblings but it seems a bit rough to have it decided after they were both born. Apparently the King of Sweden wasn't, and still isn't, too impressed by the move, so I can't quite work out why, considering about 98% of Danes are in favour of the monarchy, why they're not that eager to vote.

Furthermore, I've also heard and read that a lot of people are up in arms about the government's campaign - see it for yourself here (and see the film). Apparently people think the governments shouldn't side with one sex or another, however unfair it may seem. Of course, the government have sided with the female of the species. Usually I would be the same about government interference but not in this instance. I mean in Australia/NZ/Canada/UK there hasn't been a vote, but if there was (republicanism aside)...

What's a 'bogan' in Danish?

In Australia, we call a certain type of person a 'bogan' . I think Americans say redneck. In the UK they say 'yobbo' but that get's a bit confusing because a 'yobbo' or 'yob' in Australia is someone who's very aggressive, as well as lacking culture and has no social skills and doesn't want them.

I have to admit, I haven't come across many in Denmark but I can't believe there's not a slang Danish word for them. The closest I've found is 'bisse' but someone told me that's not really right either.

So what is it?

Bornholm, bornholm, bornholm

Du, min dejlige ferieø... or something like that. That's the song they play on the ferry over to this rather special Danish island. I spent the last long weekend there. Unfortunately, because we're busy at work, I came back on Monday, while NQDII is staying for the week with Hamish.

Anyway, I digress. Everyone told me Bornholm was 'special', so I couldn't wait to see it, albeit briefly. And it really was. They weren't kidding - fantastic beaches, great food, super countryside and lots and lots to do - if you have the time, which I didn't.

Lots of artists live there so there are plenty of glass works, studios etc, not to mention some really fantastic food - from homemade chocolates, ice cream and smokehouses to some really, really good restaurants. This one for instance: Æblehaven It really was tremendous, probably the best food and wine I've had in DK so far.

The beaches, as you can see from the pictures, are fantastic.

We took the train to Sweden and then got the ferry across, both of which Hamish thoroughly enjoyed. But I flew home which cut the travel time door-to-door from 4 hours to 1.2 hours. If you come to Denmark in summer, it really is worth a visit and the air fair is dirt cheap.

I wonder what NQDII is doing now...

Excuses, excuses

Okay. Again, it's been a while. I was only thinking today, why? Well, the reason is, with this bloody crisis (thank you, certain CEOs, stockbrokers, dodgy money lenders and greedy people in general), many people have had to work longer hours than usual. That includes me. While I love what I do, it's not that much of a chore but it does cut into one's 'life' - such as it is. And, to be frank, after hours typing away at a keyboard, the last thing I want to do is come home and write more. So that's my excuse. Let's just hope the world starts turning again shortly.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The park is full of surprises

So far this year there’s not been that much to laugh about. Apart from everything else I’ve written about, I also had a DKK 7,500 bill from the tandlæge. However, I did get a good laugh yesterday.

We organised to meet a friend and her dog at Frederiksberg gardens to have a run around with Hamish. The dogs had a ball (literally) for around two hours and were absolutely exhausted by the end.

When we go to the park, we take a few of those black doggy poo bags and stuff one with treats.

NQDII asked both dogs if they’d like a treat.

Tails wagged at a million miles an hour.

‘Okay,’ said NQDII. ‘Here you go.’

And put his hand into the bag to get them.

While his hand was still in he said quizzically. ‘That’s odd, these strip things have melted or something.’

Or something.

Our friend and I looked perplexed until a mortified look settled on NQDII’s face.

‘Oh nooooooooo! I’ve got my hand in dog shit!’

Poor NQDII… What a dreadful experience. And for a virologist, even more so. I could see an encyclopaedia of pathogens running through his brain.

It was a 300m dash to the loos to clean up but he couldn’t really relax until he came home and doused himself in disinfectant.

Friday, March 27, 2009

O..M...G.. Thanks *heaps* Telia

For those of you who don't know, Telia- Tee (hard sound at the start) - li - ah, is the equivalent of, I guess, Telstra in Australia. A really big telecommunications company.

Unfortunately for me, when I had to rush back to Australia, I had no alternative but to take my Danish mobile. I went straight from the airport to an aunt's who kindly loaned me her car so I could try and find out what had happened to the place where I come from.

As you may imagine, given the roadblocks because of fires etc, this took some logistical work and, as I had no word about my father - or brother from Singapore at that stage - it took quite a lot of telephone calls to come to grips with what was going on. I knew in the back of my mind it would be a hellish bill because of all of this BUT I wasn't quite prepare for the almost DKK7,000 bill I noticed on my bank account today!

Yes, I made the calls and yes I knew they cost money but DKK7000??

Anyway, suspecting I might get a large bill, last month I emailed them hoping they may take some mercy on me - given how much these sorts of companies CEOs are paid and the size of their Golden Handshakes/Parachutes. I certainly wasn't asking to pay nothing but I thought they might take some mercy on a rather dire situation. They didn't (obviously as my bank account will attest). In any case, I wasn't completely surprised when I got this response from www.telia.dk :

"Thank you for your email

It is very unfortunate what you've been going through. And you have our deepest sympathy.

But we can not fulfill your wish and wtrie down this bill. We have many customers that use their phone in other countries than Denmark, and if you choose to use it, you will also have to pay the bills."

Thanks Telia - that first sentence had me reaching for tissues... And, at that stage, I didn't even have the bill - which btw, has taken over a month to hit my account. But firstly, I didn't ask Telia to 'write down the bill'. I'm not a tight-arse. But knowing for how little you can call anywhere on Skype, I kinda figure they make a decent profit and, at a time of catastrophe, they might take of 10% or so, given that I wasn't in the frame of mind, nor did I have the time, to rush of somewhere and organise some sort of Australian pre-paid thing when I arrived.

Anyway, I kinda figured I'd be up for DKK3,500-4,000 but DKK7000! I guess it's my own fault but really, I didn't expect it to be that much!


Seriously, just kill me! :)

And I had to come clean about it to NQDII tonight. :(

Apart from 'Baronessen' ...

Here another example of typical Danish television. The good thing about this show is I doubt fluent Danish is needed to view it. I don't watch it, someone just sent me a link - but I just might from now on! There's apparently a US version but I seriously doubt it would be...anything like this!

Hjælp os baroness!

NQDII and I desperately need to cultivate a friendship with Baronessen – aka Caroline Fleming. If anyone can help find this aristocrat, we would be forever in their debt (literally, judging by the life her friends probably have to keep up with!) And no, we’re not social climbing but having recently watched the programme, Baronessen flytter ind (The Baroness moves in), we’ve finally found a show we can watch and understand.

I’ve no idea what sort of Danish she speaks but she says whole words and says them clearly. I did hear once that they speak the best Danish on Fyn. I don’t know whether that’s true or not because I can’t recall if the person told me was ‘Fynsk’, so it could just have been a biased opinion. But, as her family estate, which she now runs, is on that island, perhaps it is why…

Nevertheless we find ourselves glued to a programme the likes of which we normally wouldn’t watch.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring has sprung

Self explanatory (And Hamish behaved himself)

Never seen one of these before - and it only has one wheel at the front
Copenhagen really is wonderful in the spring. A few quick snaps I took on a walk yesterday

Yeah, okay, I'm a bad blogger

Metal garden furniture melts in bushfires!

My old house on the farm - or what's left of it

This was a mini rainforest on the farm - very lush with tree ferns and a stream

Thanks May for the kind inquiry. Had it not been for you, it would probably *be* May by the time I got around to posting again. Like going to the gym, it's a classic case of once you stop it's very hard to get going again.

In a nutshell, the end and the beginning of the year weren't exactly great. People at work got retrenched - luckily I missed the first round but it's just dreadful watching people you know and like leave under such circumstances.

Then came Christmas and my long-awaited visit from my brother, his wife and three kids. And wow, was I excited. Howeverrrrrr, this was more than somewhat marred by every one of us coming down with influenza at the same time, so it was not exactly the fun and wow of a time we'd all planned. In fact, more a case of 'who plays nurse today' kind of holiday.

Then, of course, in February the bushfires hit Australia and my entire town, or village I guess you could say, was wiped out. So I made an emergency trip back for a few days to be with my father and also my brother who'd flown in from Singapore. With our property completely destroyed - except for the main homestead which miraculously survived, it was an extremely surreal time. And then of course, the people I knew who fared far worse and lost their lives.

That was me from Christmas till now and I do hope everyone else had a better time!

But onwards and upwards! Spring is finally in the air - save the occasional snow flurry and it's getting light, light light! It's 18:30 right now and it's still daylight - a couple of months ago it was twilight at 14:30... I'm coming out of the den and hungry for life! :)