Sunday, 31 July 2011

Friday, 29 July 2011

Apple Snail

I bet you that this lovely Roman snail (apparently also known as an Aeble (Apple) snail in Denmark)is boasting to his friends abroad about what a fantastic summer he is having weatherwise this year. Masses of rain nearly every day, perfect damp and dreary conditions, plenty of half drowned leafy plants to munch on etc. The complete polar opposite of what I would currently like to be experiencing summerwise. Yes, that is one of my plants! Just remember that you are apparently edible Mister, and I have plenty of oatmeal to fatten you up a bit!

We were obviously spoilt last summer, it was so good (for humans!). We were on the beach almost daily and ate in the garden (ignoring the mosquitos) nearly every night. Not this year. Summer, you have just over two weeks left before the children go back to school to sort yourself out. I am not asking for boiling hot uncomfortable weather, just a little sunshine for a couple of days in a row would be nice, otherwise I might just move (!)... Thank you.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Some photographs of beautiful Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark. Originating in the 8th century, its centre is a rabbit warren of beautiful medieval streets that are surprisingly narrow in parts (look out for the "bumper stones" on the corner of each street that were once used to protect the buildings from cart damage) and are filled with half-timbered houses and ornate doorways. I could have quite happily spent the whole day wandering around. How some of the
buildings remain upright at the angles they stand at is beyond me!

The historic 16th Century Inn Weis Stue is worth a visit for a good (if not a little too gargantuan) dinner in historic surroundings. My seventies style prawn cocktail was of such ridiculous proportions, every forkful led to a Jenga style collapse all over the place, which lead to questioning looks from surrounding diners as to whether I was perhaps inebriated (I wasn't - how very dare they!?)!

Also famous for it's storks that once heralded the return of spring (sadly a much rarer sight nowadays), it's easy to imagine them nesting on the top of Ribe's ancient buildings as the town is so well preserved.

If anyone can shed any light on what the purpose of these (frequently seen in DK) window adornments (as seen on the building on left hand side of the picture above - as always, double click on the pic. to enlarge!), I would be most grateful if you could fill me in, it's been bugging me for ages!

(AIP = Angles Ignored Profusely?)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


A few days ago, we took R&S to the true home of the small colourful plastic bricks that have been blessed by parents for keeping children occupied for years (and equally cursed by the parents who have had the misfortune of treading on them with bare feet)! Lego is after all a Danish invention, created by a wooden toy designer in the 40's and and named after a shortening of the words words “lege” meaning “play” and “godt”, meaning “good” or "well" in Danish, so of course (and partially thanks to being worn down by two children under the spell of the power of TV advertising, we had to pay a visit to the original Legoland while still here.

As it's at least a three hour drive to Billund on mainland Denmark (the town where Lego HQ is based), we decided to make a break of it and booked a last minute “luxus chalet” at Ribe Camping nearby. Thanks to overdosing on festivals in my youth, I don't really do tent camping nowadays, so the very smart hut with a spa bath suited me just fine. I might have gotten a little carried away at my excitement of actually having a bath (Denmark is a shower loving country!) by making the mistake of putting bubble bath in it, but through the cloud of bubbles, luckily managed to turn the spa off before the bathroom completely resembled an Ibiza foam party.

We arrived at Legoland bright and early having parked at least a mile up the road (and paying an extra 50DK for the privilege of it!), but the children enjoyed getting a sneak peak at the attractions on the walk there, and I thought that at least the queue would have gone down by the time we got to the gate. Wrong!! I will admit that we English have a penchant for queueing that is often mocked by the rest of the world, but we have good reason for this - it works. People do not often dare push in, it is usually civilised and the queue gradually disappears in an orderly fashion - simple! But not at Legoland DK. Entry was a complete Viking bun fight, which put me off going in to be honest, but we eventually made it inside.

We started off with the rides with the smallest queues for R&S who were hyperventilating with excitement at finally being there. Unfortunately S was a bit too small for quite a few of the rides, but after testing them out, his danger-mouse sister very kindly told him that he wouldn't have liked them anyway (which he actually believed!). As the Rough Guide points out, older children might well be disappointed by the rides, they are quite tame and short to say the least, but our littlies loved them - especially The Dragon, a Harry Potter inspired affair where you are taken through a castle at a leisurely pace whilst passing lots of Lego models on a similar theme, before it finally ramps up a bit and flings you around outside for a few seconds. Also worth the wait, the 4D Cinema experience, and the Pirate Splash Battle which the kids loved, but you do get soaked...

Some rides aren't worth the wait though, and we foolishly made the mistake of waiting for a ride called The Timber Ride (most of which was hidden from view I will point out), where a huge trough of Lego sat in the middle of the queuing system so that children could happily play while the parents waited. This turned out to be quite a bad idea. We were stuck half way down the queue when S stole a few bricks from the roof of R's Lego “Famous Five house”, and soon her little brother was gripped in a strangle hold, and with Lego flying everywhere there wasn't much we could do trapped inside the wooden barrier! Upon wriggling free, he made a bid for freedom, which had me panicking at the thought of him being lost in the vastness of this place. Fortunately my other half managed to climb over the barriers, and found him not far off playing peekaboo with a baby. After this we managed to reclaim our place for a ride that lasted for less than a minute and was quite frankly on a par with those little coin rides that you see in the entrance of supermarkets. Not impressive!

The main reason we were here of course was Lego World which made the visit worthwhile. We were worried that R&S might be a bit small to appreciate it, but they were mesmerised by the miniature cities with their moving cars and boats etc. It soon became apparent that the cities represented were mostly those of the surrounding countries that the park obviously attracts the most visitors from, but they were nice to see none-the-less, and the attention to detail was incredible. Incidentally, my four year old pointed out that the bricks are all actually glued together, so there's no point in trying - just in case you are tempted!!
As theme parks go (and I am not that enthusiastic about most I hasten to add), it was a nice day out. It's great for families with small children, and although the entrance is expensive, you can cut costs by booking on-line which saves quite a bit, and bringing your own food and drinks etc. with you. Finally, don't forget to write your telephone numbers on the arms of any small people you may have with you, just in case!! Let me know what you think if you visit!

Friday, 15 July 2011

A Good Start To The Day....

Very first thing Tuesday morning, I was treated to the most spectacular aerial view of London on the first flight of the morning back to Copenhagen. It was a beautiful clear morning, and as London sprawled out beneath us, I was able to follow Old Father Thames winding his way through the city I love best.

I could have kicked myself for not having my camera to hand, but I was pleased with this picture of my 90 year old Grandfather, together with his newest Great-Grandaughter Isla. At less than 40 hours old at the time this picture was taken, they were the oldest and youngest people in the room! My Grandparents were actually the reason I had gone home for the weekend, in order to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary with a big family party. Sixty five years is quite an achievement I think you will agree! Around a hundred of us shared a great afternoon, some of us meeting for the first time, most of us reminiscing, and all of us amused by the drunken antics of the vicar's husband (who had let us say, slightly over-indulged in the wine department!)!

I also managed to catch up with some good friends, and spent some quality time with lots of my family, which made the trip all the more worthwhile. For a few days it was really nice to relax and forget about the stresses of the forthcoming move.

So with everything going swimmingly, what with the successful trip and the easiest flight in the world, the pessimist in me half expected something to go wrong. It was right...

I arrived home exhausted after my early start, so my other half very kindly offered to take the children to an appointment with him so I could have a rest. Less than two minutes later, they were back. A screaming small boy stood panicking that one of his imaginary friend's, Bulgus or Dinty, had shoved a piece of gravel up his nose, and it wouldn't come out. There was nothing for it, A&E beckoned. All the staff seemed to think his predicament highly amusing, but as he couldn't see anything, and just in case the stone was stuck much further up, the Doctor was worried enough to immediately send us to an ENT Doctor at a hospital much further north. After a 45 minute drive, we were met by a Nurse who asked us to take a seat in a waiting room with walls covered in objects recovered from peoples various orifice's, including marbles, pins, toothbrushes minus heads, shells, beads and of course stones! The doctor was a lovely chap who persuaded the Small Boy to let him investigate with an endoscope. All was going well, and I sat trying not to laugh at yet another situation caused by the our resident "friends". Then the Doctor mentioned he may well need to further investigate by putting Small Boy under a full anaesthetic. They certainly don't mess around here, and suddenly it didn't seem quite so amusing anymore! Luckily, it was decided that instead of that (rather drastic) measure, we were to keep an eye on any runny nose that he may have over the next couple of weeks. If it appears that he has any infection, it's likely there is something still stuck up there and we are to go back. I will keep you updated, but in the meantime, I am hoping that when we leave, "Bulgus and Dinty" might decide that they can't bear to part with Denmark!...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Travel According to Us

Travel is one of our great loves. In the past we have been fortunate enough to visit some amazing places, but our ability to do as much travelling as we would like has obviously diminished since having children. This lead to our eagerness to experience travel in a slightly different way - by living abroad to experience different lifestyles and cultures instead, and to endeavour to explore as much of a country and the surrounding areas as possible in the given timeframe.

This photograph was taken at Heathrow on the morning of our departure from England. We had said our goodbyes, and all of our earthly possessions had already begun their journey ahead of us! It's funny looking back at that strange morning. None of us knew what lay ahead, and whether we had done the right thing by uprooting the children and leaving our comfortable British life behind (they look really tiny and a bit non-plussed about it all, and my son's hair is hilarious!)! It's hard to believe that two years has almost passed, and we will soon be at another airport about to embark on another country and another chapter of our version of travelling. Gulp.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Dansk Design Centre

On a rainy day recently, of which we have had quite a few (incidentally, I note that the Design Centre has also had to temporarily close for a few days after the flooding), I paid a visit to the Dansk Design Centre almost by accident if I'm honest, because it's one of the few attractions open on a Monday in Copenhagen. On HC Andersens Boulevard, it sits behind Tivoli and is also in close proximity to the Glyptotek (the Design Centre is not huge, so you might be grateful of something else nearby!), so it's very easy to find. Upon arrival, I must have spent quite a lengthy part of my visit in the shop. Here you will the most beautiful art and design books possible, gorgeous designer household goods, and other curiosities such as strange miniature versions of designer chairs (that I am not sure I really understand the point of, unless they are meant for well-heeled Barbies!), and a range of travel items that you didn't know existed but absolutely need to have, such as interlocking cutlery and fabulously shaped bento boxes.

It consists of everchanging exhibition areas, the ground floor is currently home to two exhibitions, Challenge Society, and Challenge Innovation. One exhibition explores how design innovation is helping change ideas in the Public welfare system, and the other explores how design can help contribute answers to some of the World's problems. There were a few interesting ideas here on how design can help change things for the better, especially in a medical environment, but a few of the message boards expressed such obvious messages that I couldn't help but imagine a class of bored design students brainstorming ideas and thinking, "yep, that'll do, let's go to the pub"...Maybe that's quite cyncial of me, perhaps it's a good idea to spell things out to some people?...

More thought provoking stuff was to be found upstairs in Challenge Waste, an exhibition on how design can solve many of today's waste challenges, and what we can do collectively as a society, and individually. As a country that produces vast amounts of waste compared to other EU countries (as also clearly stated on the exhibition website), it's good to see someone here taking note of this. There were some interesting ideas here, such as furniture made out of recycled bottles, but I felt the entire thing could have have been expanded upon much more. I found the final part of the exhibition, encouraging people not to chuck waste from their cars entirely depressing, and the fact that they need to explain this to people means that it obviously still happens... Are we still in the seventies here or something?

Last but not least I paid a visit to the Design Centre's long-term exhibition Denmark by Design, which follows Danish Design from 1945 onwards. Of course Arne Jacobsen's beautiful Egg chair takes pride of place (padlocked of course, although I would love to see someone trying to smuggle that out unnoticed!), alongside other Danish design icons such as Lego and Bodum, and Normann of Copenhagen. This is the stuff I had expected to see, and wasn't disappointed by.

If you are interested in design, then it's definitely worth a visit and you should gain something from it. If not, then it has a great shop, with a nice cafe serving good cake.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Big Reveal

So, that song I was talking about, the one that I can't stop singing???

We move to San Jose, California at the beginning of October (so although I don't currently know the way, I guess we will be experts on that soon enough!). A bit of a change from Scandinavia I guess! As much as we are going to miss it here, we are all looking forward to a new challenge, my husband as he starts a brand new job, and myself as we start a brand new country! It will hopefully be a great experience for another year or three, and if I start a new blog, I hope you will follow me on the next chapter!?

In the meantime we are looking forward to spending the summer here, and packing as much in as we possibly can...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Norwegian Would

I haven't stopped singing Norwegian Wood all week, one of the few Beatles songs I actually like. I get earworms like this wherever we visit in the world, in Key West it was the awful Phil Collins version of Acapulco (because of Key Largo in it), Berlin was Lou Reed, New York was obviously Frank Sinatra, and South Africa was that song by Toto, you get the picture (you will laugh when you hear where we are moving too. I haven't stopped singing that for ages!)! Anyway, as earworms go, Norwegian Wood's not that bad I suppose, and Norway as a country was definitely not that bad, it's an exceptionally beautiful place. Yes, it's expensive (extortionately so at times), but the people are friendly and are all armed with ready smiles, plus their English is perfect and they don't expect you to speak Norwegian (both things I am not perhaps that used to in this part of Scandinavia!)! The outdoor life is unbelievable, and at the risk of repeating myself, some of the countryside is absolutely breathtaking.

We stayed near the little fishing town of Risør, famous for its white wooden buildings, where we had a fantastic week exploring beautiful little towns such as the gorgeous Tvedestrand and the strangely named Grimstad. The time was spent swimming in the fjords, exploring the forests, sailing, fishing, crabbing and generally lazing about. All of us loved it there, and for someone who spent most of the week outside, and who for the first time in years had time to indulge in a spot of fly-fishing, my other half was seduced enough to even say we should consider living there one day... All I can say is I definitely (Norwegian) would! I will leave you with a few pics of our week. My only complaint was that the Elk (elg!) were hiding!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Friday, 1 July 2011


We have found out why we've never caught any crabs in Denmark..., because quite obviously they are all in Norway! Armed with the mighty crabbing rods (complete with their highly intricate snaring system - a peg), a pot of sild (not actually seal after all - it works like a dream by the way), we got a bite almost immediately, and our buckets were soon overflowing!

No crabs were harmed in the making of this post (apart from lunch, but we didn't catch him!). They were all gently placed back in the water after close inspection, and a free herring dinner (except for this one, a rather plucky individual who made a run for it by itself, just in case!)!...

Not actually one we caught earlier!

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