Tee Hee Friday – Danes at work!

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling completely shattered today, Friday.  Not sure whether it’s the after effects of the kids being back-at-school.  Or more likely the change in temperatures – it was positively wintry this morning as I biked down to the beach for my swim this morning, eek!  Don’t tell my DDH (Dear Danish Husband) but I actually switched on the heating last night…

So here’s a little joke to get the weekend going!

An Italian, a Swede and a Dane were standing in a bar.  Showing off.

The Italian said, “When I put my hands around my wife’s waist, my fingers are able to touch.  And that isn’t because I have large hands.  But because Italian women have such tiny waists!”

The Swede, not to be outdone, said, “When my wife sits on a bar stool, her feet touch the ground.  And that isn’t because we have small barstools in Stockholm.  But because Swedish women have such long legs!”

The Dane was a bit stumped.  He thought for a moment and said, “When I leave for work in the morning, I pat my wife on the behind.  And when I come home, her bottom is still wobbling.  And that’s not because Danish women have big behinds.   But because we Danes have such short working hours!”

Boom, boom!  And hooray for the Danish work-life balance?! :P

Have a fabulous (short working) Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

By Diane • August 22, 2014
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Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken…lay a little poop (on Bornholm) for me!

We did some island-hopping for our summer holidays this year.  A week in Crete, Greece.  And several days on the Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic.  And we managed to do all the things you have to do when on Bornholm.

Eat a (freshly caught) fish (and chips) lunch at one of the harbours.

Lots of swimming followed by lots of local Bornholmsk icecream.

Buy several bags of local toffee and hard-boiled sweets.

Though, if you’ve seen my previous post about liquorice — Lakrids. The Danish Root (of all evil). — you’ll appreciate that wandering onto a street and been confronted with the mother-ship of Danish liquorice, Johan Bulow, fairly stopped me in my tracks!  Blech! :P

But, as usual, I digress!

Just across from the (blech!) liquorice shop, we came across this grid.

And this rather cryptic sign.

“Hønseskidning, onsdage kl. 19, lørdage kl. 13, pris per nummer kr. 10″.  Which literally translates as “Chicken Sh*tt*ng, Wednesdays at 7pm, Saturdays at 1pm. Tickets cost kr. 10″.

Yep, you buy a ticket.  They release three chickens into the ‘arena’.  First poop gives third prize, second poop gives second prize and the final, third poop, gives you first prize…

Sadly, we weren’t in Svaneke on a Wednesday or a Saturday.  Boo!  But it certainly looks like good, clean (okay, maybe not quite so clean…) fun for all the family.  My bff has 6 dwarf chickens…perhaps she should start renting them out for school fêtes and local festivals?

Diane :)

 

By Diane • August 20, 2014
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I sent a letter to my love and on the way I…bought a virtual stamp!

When was the last time you wrote a letter?  A real one.  Perhaps a postcard?  Or a greetings card, written with a pen, safely tucked up in an envelope, address finely printed on the front?  But then comes the difficult part.  Procuring a stamp!

Although the number of Danish post offices seems to spiral ever downward (while the price of Danish stamps continues to rocket upward), you can now access Danish stamps 24 hours a day.  Straight to your mobile phone.  It’s a service called “MOBILPORTO”.  (There’s also an app if you’re in the habit of buying large numbers of stamps…)  Anyway, you send a text/SMS to 1900.  Write the weight of the letter, whether you want it sent first or second class post, then the destination country.  So, when I want to send a letter first class to the UK, I write “20g A Storbritannien”.  Or papers secondclass to Denmark would be, “50g B Danmark”.

First you’ll receive a reply, asking if you want to proceed with the transaction.  Once you reply “Ja” (after swooning at the cost these days of the cheapest first class stamp to Europe: kr 14, USD 2.50, UK£1.50…), Post Danmark sends you the virtual stamp: a code of letters and numbers, to be written in the top right hand corner of the envelope.

Quick and easy!  Then all that’s left to do is remember to post the dang thing (‘cos the code expires within 7 days.)! ;)

Still prefer the old school way and want to lick your stamps?  Never fear, you can still buy “real” stamps online from Post Danmark.  They have a webshop and will even post them out to you.  For free.  Imagine that – no pesky Danish postal charges! ;)

Diane

By Diane • August 18, 2014
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You know you’re in Denmark when… (Double beds)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

You check into a hotel, rent a summerhouse or stay with Danish family and the double bed has – not one – but two (count ‘em) duvets!

Now, is it just me, or don’t two separate single duvets on one bed always look messy, no matter how you fold them or tuck them in?  And do couples really need to have their own ‘private’ individual duvet?  I’ve always had a theory that single duvets are a contributing factor to the (staggeringly high) Danish divorce rate.  No wonder, if they insist on having everything their own way and aren’t prepared to share! :P

So in order to (hopefully) keep my marriage running smooth, I’ve always insisted that DDH (dear Danish husband) and I share a double duvet. Though we do have a large, kingsize one. As some people (who shall remain nameless) like to hog the dang thing! ;)

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend between the sheets!

Diane :)

By Diane • August 15, 2014
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To be, or not to be (confirmed). That is the question! (Part One)

As you saw in my Monday post – Back to (the new) school (reform)! – my two little darlings are back at school and life has returned to normal.  Or is this just the calm before the proverbial storm?  We may be coming up for a turbulent six months.  Should we be ringing round relatives?  Looking at venues?  Choosing outfits?  Making wishlists?

Why?  Well just look at this autumn’s school timetable for DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14)

Don’t see it?  Look closely!

Yes, besides the usual suspects of French, Maths, Christianity, Modern Studies, etc, etc, etc, there’s a new kid on the block.  ”Præst” (Priest). Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons from 2 til 2.50pm.  The official name is “konfirmationsforberedelsen” (confirmation preparation).  Our DS14 has just started 8th grade and is therefore coming up to the first (should he choose to accept it) ‘milestone’ in his life. Confirmation.  To be, or not to be (confirmed).  That is the question!

My DDSIL (Dear-Danish-Sister-in-Law) was already on the phone to us last year, asking if she and DDBIL should keep any weekends in April or May 2014  free for a possible confirmation celebration.  Say what?  Well, in Jutland, children are confirmed in the 7th grade.  So she was just phoning to be on the safe side.  Anyway, here in Copenhagen, it’s 8th grade.  So the time is, um, almost now.  Yikes!  Time to find a party venue!

Now, here’s something which floored me…  ”Confirmation preparation” is part of the Danish school timetable.  Imagine that! In a country where I have yet to meet someone who is a churchgoer! :P  But even though it’s factored in to the school day, participation at the classes is entirely voluntary.  As well as church rituals and some Bible study, the preparation classes delve into life’s big questions.  Birth, death, love, sex, education, friendships, work/life balance, marriage…

DS14 is undecided about the whole Danish rite of passage.  On the one hand, there is the lure of a party in his honour, with songs and speeches by friends and family.  (Very similar to a Danish wedding!)  Not to mention the even more alluring prospect of gifts and lots of cool cash. Remember my post When Blue Monday isn’t New Order?  In 2011 the average amount of gifts raked in by ‘konfirmander’ was a staggering 17,000 kroner (US $3,200 or GB £1,980).  Give us the money! ;)

On the other hand, DS14 is very scientific (well, yes, he’s in a special Biotech class, for Pete’s sake!) and swears by The Big Bang.  (The theory and the television series.)  So feels it would be wrong to be confirmed in church as he doesn’t “believe” in God.    As parents, we’ve told him that the decision is entirely up to him.  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) was confirmed when he was a lad but today is an atheist.  I’m not confirmed (we don’t have the equivalent in the Church of Scotland) and know nothing about the Bible, but I do believe that there is a God.  Of some kind.

Funnily enough, I bumped into our old parish priest (she christened our DD12 when DD was a babe in arms) down at the sea the other week . The priest (or, minister, as we say in Scotland) asked how the kids were getting on and I mentioned DS14′s dilemma. She said, “Tell him not to take it so seriously!”  She thought that it was a real shame that so much pressure put on the kids to “believe” or “measure their faith” and she herself encouraged them to relax and enjoy the tradition.  Who doesn’t love a party?  Besides – as the Danes are always quick to point out – confirmation is not in fact the child saying “Yes” to God.  It’s God saying “Yes” to the child! ;)

But back to DS14.  To be, or not to be (confirmed)?  Well, for the moment, he’s decided to “gå til præst” and take part in the classes.  And make a reasoned decision (complete with venn diagrams?) later.

Watch this space!  There might be more between heaven and earth…

Diane :)

By Diane • August 13, 2014
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Back to (the new) school (reform)!

Hooray!  The school holidays are over!  As my winterbathing buddy, H., said to me this morning, “Skønt! Endelig hverdag igen!” (Nice!  Finally back to everyday life!)  Much as we love our little darlings, we Mums are rather glad to see the back of the six week break.  But – surprise, surprise – even my kids were looking forward to starting school this morning.  Not because they have to start packing (pesky) lunchboxes again.  But because of the new Danish school reform.  Yep, the dice are up in the air and no-one knows how they’re going to land! :)

If you live in Denmark, you can’t possibly have missed the (mainly doom and gloom) coverage of the school reform.  ”The end of the world is nigh!”  Well, we prefer to look at the changes with optimism.

First up, “heldagsskolen”.  All-day school.  You have to take that with a pinch of salt, because Danish kids aren’t really in school for that long at all.  My DD12 (dear daughter, aged 12) used to be in school from 8am to around 1.35pm.  The rest of the afternoon is normally spent at the school’s ‘after school club’.  Now my kids will be at school a little longer: 33 hours per week for DD12, 35 hours for DS14 (dear son, aged 14).

At our school kids will be taught English from the age of 6 (as opposed to the current age of 9).  Our local council has also decided to give kids their first taste of English at nursery and kindergarten.  Amazing!  A second language (my kids could choose German or French, both chose French) from the age of 11.

In addition to their regular Physical Education class, our kids will now do 45 minutes of some form of “movement” every day.  We haven’t had any details yet but there will certainly be climbing (our school has a climbing wall and several teachers who are certified instructors) and there was talk of bringing in, e.g. yoga teachers, during the lunchbreak.

One of the most controversial changes is that there will now be a Lektiecafé/Studietid (Homework Café/Study Hour) integrated into the schoolday.  My kids think it’s a great idea.  DS14 had a similar system in his class last year and was glad to be able to do his homework during school hours, leaving his “free” time as “free” time.  Or should I say computer time? ;)  DD12 is looking forward to the café because there will be a teacher on hand to help with homework.  The Danish political party “de Konservative” disagrees with plans to make the homework café obligatory and believes that kids should be able to “choose to do homework at home with mum and dad”.  Ha ha, I literally had to laugh out loud when I heard that!  If I had 10 kroner for every time the subject of homework has come up at Parents’ Meetings…  A constant source of conflict between parent and child.  Who wants to come home from football or piano and restart school stuff?  My fellow parents would rather have their eyes gouged out with hot pokers than battle through any more maths problems! :P

As I said, we are positive.  Bring on the changes!

So, there was a smile on my face as gave my kids a hug and waved them off on their bikes at 7.30am this morning.  Birds tweeting, the sun shining – you get the picture.  Only to hear the garden gate opening a couple of hours later, at 11.30am.  ”You’re back already?”, I cried.  ”Yep, we were let off early.”  Hmmm, so much for all-day school! ;)

Diane

 

 

By Diane • August 11, 2014
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See you on the other side!

As you’ll have seen from my recent posts, my kids are on their summer break from school (six whole weeks, woop, woop!) and the weather in Denmark is fan-flippin-fantastic (upwards of 25 degrees and sunny most days).  Which means that it’s time for me to clear off my blog desk and take a (well deserved) break!  So you’ll just have to do without me for a couple of weeks… :P

I leave you with a (terrible) joke that my DDDFIL (dearly departed Danish father-in-law) always told whenever there were radishes on the lunch table.  And – as DDFIL loved radishes – that was extremely often! :)

What can the Danes do that the Swedes can’t do?  Grow radishes in the national colours!  [In case you didn't get it...the red and white of Dannebrog, the Danish flag).]

See you on the other side of the summer holidays!

Diane :)

By Diane • July 11, 2014
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A slice of Danish teatime (Great Dane-ish Bakes, Part One – Hindbærsnitter)

Okay, so you all must have guessed by now that I love Danish food.  I’ve got a series of posts on Danish comfort foods, plus another on Danish pastries/wienerbrød.  And now I’m starting a new one.  Great Dane-ish baked treats!  Woop, woop! :)

Today we start with…hindbærsnitter!  Literally “raspberry slices”.  We have a similar thing in Scotland called German (or Empire) biscuits.  Basically it’s two slices of shortbread, sandwiched with raspberry jam, then lots of lovely, lovely white icing on the top.  Here are some hindbærsnitter that we made ourselves.  Exhibit A.

And this is one we bought from the bakers.  Exhibit B.

They’re easy, peasy, lemon squeezy to make.  Ready to make them?  You’ll need:

  • 350g plain flour (12 oz)
  • 200g butter (7 oz) (be warned – margarine will NOT work!)
  • 150 g sugar (5 oz)
  • 1 egg
  • raspberry jam
  • icing sugar
  • sprinkles or, as I used, freeze-dried raspberries 
First of all, tip the flour and butter into a bowl.  Mash it together with a knife or a fork.
It should start to look like breadcrumbs.
Then add your sugar and egg, and work them in – the mixture will change colour slightly.
Use your hands to bring it into a ball.
Put the ball of dough into a plastic bag and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes (because we don’t want the dough to be too soft).
When it’s firmed up, roll it out between two sheets of baking paper – that way, it won’t stick to your rolling pin ;)  You’re aiming for a long log of dough.  Make sure it’s rolled out fairly thin.
Let the spreading begin!  Spread raspberry jam over the bottom half of your log.
Flip the top half over the bottom half, so you can’t see the jam.  Use the baking paper to help you, as it will be very floppy at this stage!
Use a fork or knife to squish down the top half to the bottom half.  We need to seal in the jam, so that it doesn’t leak out while cooking.  (Been there, done that…)
Bake in the oven at 175C (350f) for about 20 minutes.  Keep an eye on it!  You want it just turning a pale golden colour, not dark.  And then let it cool off…  Before thoroughly smothering it with white icing and your choice of topping.
Who wants to lick the bowl?  Me, me, me! :P
Then it’s time to put the kettle on, cut some nice slices, round up your friends or family and dig in. Velbekomme!  Bon appétit!
Diane :)

By Diane • July 3, 2014
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School’s. Out. For. Ever. Toot, tooooot!

The holidays are here.  The holidays are here!  The holidays ARE HERE!  Can you guess that we are excited? :P  Yep, Friday was the last day of school for my kids.  It was a beautiful warm, sunny summer morning and we cycled over to school with a song in our heads, not a care in our hearts, bike baskets full of teacher gifts.  Now, please, indulge me here, because I couldn’t resist stopping at the aptly-named Sommervej (‘Summer Street’) to take a pic!  Oh, and the little red dot above the letter ‘j’ on the street sign isn’t a dot – it’s actually a ♥…  Remember my post, “I ‘heart’ Danish street signs!”? 

 

But, as usual, I digress!  Anyway, later that morning, just before noon, I was making my way back from the (fantastic Danish) library.  Yep, tootling along in my car, full of the joys of summer.  And then – wham – I drove right into a cortege of Danish high school students, waiting to be waved off.  I’ve told you about the students before (Danish) High School Musical (Trucks).  But this was amazing…  The road was literally blocked with the trucks, the students, their parents/grannies/siblings/next-door-neighbours/the neighbour’s cat.

So, naturally, I had to ditch my car and go take a closer look…

It was – selvfølgelig – a few minutes to noon and the trucks were just about to depart on their loooooooong journey.  (They will stop at every student’s home for drinks and snacks.  And – with about 25 students per class – that means that they’ll be driving around on the truck until the wee small hours of the next morning…)

Even though there was actually a Danish policeman (Oh dear – am I showing my age?  Should I be saying the more politically correct ‘police officer’?) on hand, inspecting the trucks, it was total mayhem.  Fantastic! :)

Are we ready to rock’n'roll?

Flags?  Check!  Beer?  Check!  Air horn?  Check!

Even I – the girl at the party who always turns up the speakers to 11 – thought it was extra loud this year!  Remember that *every* truck has speakers and is playing different playlists. And that they play music for the entire duration of their trip around the area, usually 12 hours.  Plus any passing cars or lorries will toot their horns and join in.  Boom, boom. Toot, toot.  Boom, boom!  So it’s a very noisy afternoon and evening around these parts…  Are you beginning to get the picture?  Here’s a quick video I snapped of one of the trucks leaving the school (apologies for the shaky-hand) to give you a glimpse!

All aboard and ready for the summer holidays?  Toot, tooooot!

Diane :)

By Diane • July 1, 2014
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You know you’re in Denmark when… (Birthday cake, lady?)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

It’s my birthday today – hip, hip, hurra!  And – though I ain’t no spring chicken – I do have a barnlig sjæl (am a child at heart).   Not to mention en sød tand (a sweet tooth). And a seriously serious addicition to wienerbrød.  So much so that I wrote a seven part series on them.

So every year I order myself a traditional Danish kiddies birthday cake.  En kagekone. A cake lady!  You can read about them in a previous post Let them eat (Danish) cake (man)!  Here’s a very pretty one (that I managed to eat mostly by myself) from my birthday two years ago…

And here’s my cake anno 2014.  Which kind of threw me a bit when I received it from the bakers this morning.  Umm, I did order a cake lady, right?  A friend of mine commented, “Hee hee, it looks more like a bear than a lady!” :P  DD12 (dear daughter, aged 12), ever the diplomat, proclaimed that, “Well, Mum, it’s not how you look but what’s inside that counts, right?”    And, six slices of delicious wienerbrød later, I can only agree.  Now where’s that sofa – I need to lie down! ;)  

Yep, life is a beach at 47…

Diane :)

By Diane • June 25, 2014
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Diane's Daily Denmark

Diane

Daily Denmark...living with those crazy Danes! Never serious, always informative. A Scot who fell in love with a Dane while working in Luxembourg. Permanently settled in Copenhagen and Mum to two little Vikings. I ♥ Denmark!