Has anybody else noticed how unorganised a lot of the supermarkets here in Denmark are? I’d been living here for less than four hours when I was warned at the checkout in Fakta to always “check my receipt.” The warning came from a friend, not an employee or a sign in the store, and it was priceless advice. Sure enough, we checked the receipt and there was a mistake on it. A discounted product, clearly marked in-store, had not been discounted and we’d paid the full price.

Naturally this didn’t end there. In fact, for a while my partner and I gathered all the receipts from all the supermarkets that hadn’t applied the discounts at the point of purchase and it didn’t take long to have a small handful. Nor was it just Fakta that was to blame, but more expensive brands like Irma and Super Brugsen, but the biggest offender was Netto.

The last thing Denmark needs (ever) are huge corporate supermarkets like Tesco and Wal-Mart, who have been accused in the past of running things rather unethically. For example, Tesco are No. 1 on celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s hitlist when it comes to sustainably-caught tuna. And it’s no secret that most farmers are now losing money when it comes to selling their dairy products to these particular supermarkets, who want to sell it on at insanely low prices.

Walking around Danish supermarkets you always see a healthy selection of organic products, which are of course always a little more expensive, and more and more seem to be stocking sustainably-caught fish products. But unfortunately it doesn’t excuse the poor customer service that seems to take place in most stores. Below are some of the more common problems I encounter on a day-to-day basis (especially in Netto).

1) Items are stacked together in completely random places

“Excuse me, can you tell me where I might be able to find some sauce to make a Thai Curry with?”
“Have you tried with all the other sauces?”
“Yes, you have everything there except Thai Curry sauce.”
“Then we don’t have it.”

I later found several packets and jars of the sauce, side-by-side with some chocolate brownie cake mix, some plasters, and some olives! Also, in Netto in Valby there’s a whole row dedicated to beer and soft drinks, so why can the “good” ale, such as those from smaller breweries and foreign countries, be found next to the sweets several rows away?

2) Items being located in one area one week, then moved to a completely different area the next

“Excuse me, all of the cereal was stacked here last week, and the week before that, actually. Now all I can find are the porridge oats, so where’s the rest?”
“They’ve all been moved to the opposite end of the store next to the half-price DVDs and light-bulbs”
“Thank you.”

3) Not displaying the price. At all.

Supermarket Prices, Netto, photography by matthew james, pbmj, guinness, danish supermarkets

Can anyone tell me the what the price of these cans of Guinness are?

Some stores now have barcode scanners for you to go and find out the price yourself, you lazy skank!!

4) Making you pay full price for a discounted item

OK, so I mentioned this one briefly already. But if you never check your own receipts, how many times have you seen the woman or man in front come back in to the store seconds later, pointing at something on their own receipt? Thus, the check-out guy or girl then has to get someone over to go and investigate whether the discount exists or is just an urban legend created by the lying individual in front of them.

Recently I met a guy who was an ex-employee of Netto. When I told him of my observations he nodded in total agreement. “Most of it is done to encourage impulse buying or to buy a product anyway, even if you don’t know what it costs,” he told me. Interesting.

So choose your supermarkets wisely, foreigners. And always check your receipts.

Danish Imports – a photo exhibition

If you’re new to Denmark, and even if you’re not, you might be interested in my new exhibition taking place this evening (Wednesday 13th August) at Generator Hostel.

Danish Imports aims to shine a different light on the many people who have in some way contributed to Danish society but were not born on Danish soil. From travelling entertainers and international students, to scientists, freak shows and journalists, these imports are just the tip of the iceberg.

The party starts officially at 8pm and there will be a (free) cocktail reception for the early-birds. DJ Niko Yu will also be playing some chilled out tunes to keep you going through til 10pm.

For more info, please visit

Hope to see you there…

Danish Imports, photography by matthew james, exhibition, udstilling

An Evening at Råbjerg Mile

If you once been to Skagen, you wouldn’t miss the chance to visit one of the most big moving dune in Europe.

When i visited to take a walk in Råbjerg Mile, there was literally no oneelse but the living nature.

The only footprint on the sand was from the Birds!


at  Råbjerg Mile

Would you believe in that i am Sahara desert?


We have our Danish Imports!

Danish Imports, exhibition, udstilling, pbmj, photography by matthew james, expats, foreignersSeveral weeks ago I wrote a blog calling for non-Danes to step forward to be part of a new exhibition I’m hosting. The response was insane, I’m pleased to say, and after some heavy vetting, I managed to narrow it down to just a few people.

To quote the official Facebook Event Page, ‘Danish Imports’ aims to shine a different light on the many people who have in some way contributed to Danish society but were not born on Danish soil. From travelling entertainers and international students, to scientists, freak shows and journalists, these imports are just the tip of the iceberg.

The exhibition launch party takes place on Wednesday 13th August at Generator Hostel, 5-7 Adelgade, 1304 København K, and if you rock up early enough, you just might score yourself a free beverage or two.

I’ve spoken to so many expats and Danes about the theme of the exhibition, often as a result of hearing some of the obstacles that many of us have faced since moving here. The language, finding friends and networking, and facing stereotypes based on our countries of origin have all played a significant role in our lives since moving to Denmark. Speaking with these people has made me realise that we are by no means alone, and that we share a common bond.

What’s clear is that we love Denmark and the city of Copenhagen. Everyone has moved here (or briefly visited) either for a better life or to provide entertainment and excitement. Despite hearing some very sad tales, the exhibition’s subjects all share hope, freedom and optimism for the future. Meeting these people has been very inspiring indeed.

If you would like to join the party next month, head over to my Facebook page or the official Danish Imports page. And of course, you can always keep up to date via my Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Hope to see you there…

DK. Closed.

It’s taking some getting used to, this holiday malarkey. In fact, just today I urgently needed to head to the shops to get some supplies and pick up a brand new bicycle lock en route. I’d lost the other one during the CPH Marathon a few weeks back.

As I headed down Valby Langgade I couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was. Then it dawned on me for the xth time this year: it’s a public holiday, and DK is on lockdown.

This doesn’t happen where I come from. And an American man I met a few weeks back summed it up nicely. “In the States, when there’s a public holiday, businesses make the most of Capitalism and sell sell sell.” It’s the same in England, too. And with the weather like it is today here in CPH, some serious dollars are being lost in the shops and stalls whose doors are firmly shut.

To be honest, I’ve moaned about this a lot. The end result for me today was a pointless bike ride (albeit in the sunshine) with a list of chores that still need doing tomorrow morning when it speaks of rain. If I’d been called out on a photo job today, I would’ve struggled to get from A to B on my bike because I don’t want to risk leaving it unlocked, obviously. Thus I would have been in a bit of a predicament.

So I hate the whole idea of businesses closing on a public holiday. It’s a legal requirement apparently, though I’m not sure about the exact ins-and-outs of the law itself. The question is: am I wrong?

This whole thing stinks of Jantelov in my humble opinion. It’s a holiday and everyone deserves the day off, regardless of what they do (except the bar staff and waitresses, and me, of course). But isn’t that a nice thing? If a country decides to give it’s citizens a day off for whatever reason then isn’t that exactly what we should be doing? Looking out of my window today I can see families playing together in their gardens and couples sunbathing with a bbq burning away in the corner. If you already know that everywhere will be closed for the day, then surely you get everything sorted beforehand and you just accept that that’s the way it is. It’s how it used to be in the UK, too.

When I was kid, the shops were always closed on Sundays and therefore we went to get our food and school clothes the day before. It left Sundays free for cooking a roast dinner with the whole family and catching up on The Simpsons at 6pm. It was nice. It was simple. With all the department stores (but never the banks) now open on Sundays, all that has disappeared.

It seems that my biggest problem with Denmark being closed today is me. How long is it going to take me to get used to it? And what the hell am I doing still sitting here writing this? I’m off out.