Thursday, June 20, 2019

Things... #3 don't see on the school run in Newton Mearns.

A garden with a traditional windmill on the driveway up to their house!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Things... #2 don't see on the school run in Newton Mearns.

A wee 'gingerbread' cottage by a lake. (Appearances are deceptive - it may be in a village but it's 20 minutes from Odense city and 8 minutes from the main Danish east west and north south motorway!)

This one is even more interesting as it is for sale at the moment. See this link. Unlike in Scotland where we sell at 'offers over' a specific price, Danish houses around here seem to be listed at a fixed price and you are meant to bid under but close to it! This is a three bedroom with a living surface area 15% bigger than my mum's roughcast 70s house in Newton Mearns (which retails around £230K). It is on the market in a country where salaries are much higher than at home for a fixed price of about £88K! And my goodness, isn't is cute as hell?!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


In Scotland we had built up an amazing garden over the 12 years we were in that house. By that I don't mean amazing by the usual Newton Mearns standards... It wasn't the perfect and pristine garden of a show house with all the flowers in matching shades in neatly weeded beds... It was mad and wild and messy but almost everything in it was edible and there was way too much for one family to use. 

We had four different types of rhubarb and we only ever got through a quarter of it. We had strawberries all of June and early July, we had a whole late summer and autumn of raspberries, tay berries, brambles, white currants, red currants, black currants and wild strawberries. We had red love apples (last year we tried working our way through the table full of crates but didn't get close to finishing). There were two pear trees. We had so many crab apples I could have made jelly for all the local supermarkets, but contented myself with half a dozen jars and left the rest to the birds. We had one greengage, one cherry and one plum too. Like the strawberries, the kids did get through most of the blueberries we grew, though. More exotically we had two quince trees and, if you were feeling even more adventurous, a medlar!  

In the herb patch we had chives, rosemary, two types of oregano, two types of thyme, three types of sage, three types of mint (segregated for the sake of the other plants!), lovage, angelica, bay leaves and a cardoon! In the greenhouse I was knee-deep in grapes and figs but by early autumn the wasps had beaten me to them, as I was again overloaded with too many fruits. 

And those were just the plants that popped up every year with no help from us.

Round the side Thomas grew beans, peas, celery, onions, garlic, kale, lettuce and various squashes.
Interspersed with all the fruit were flowers. It was messy and wild like everything else in our lives, but it was functional, fun and yummy. The only problem was I had way more than my family and close neighbours could eat. Waitrose was selling three sticks of rhubarb for £2 and I had a spare 400 sticks rotting in my garden and no amount of jam making could keep up with it. 

Now I have been in Denmark for a couple of weeks, I've started noticing these little constructions at the bottom every fourth or fifth driveway in the town where Anna and Amaia have started school. These are barrows, a stall or even a wooden box on its side, usually with cute little Danish flags on the top. Inside are trays full of fresh strawberries, potatoes, cabbages or similar with prices hand-written on them. There is also a wee sealed money box and also a 'mobile pay' phone number. People are selling off all the surplus from their gardens! Not content with food, some even put out bunches of flowers, saplings, homemade jam or honey and similar.

Some have even taken it to a whole new level putting out their artwork or ceramics too. Here's one in the next village who paints stone chickens and hangs them on her fence for sale!

I could have made an absolute fortune in Scotland if I had been free to do something like this. It is just wonderful to think that any surplus I have in the future won't be left rotting on the trees and bushes. I'm definitely away to knock myself up a wee stall - I might even stick a Saltire on it alongside my wee Danish flag 😀

Things... #1 don't see on the school run in Newton Mearns.

I thought I'd do a wee photo from time to time of things that make me stop on the school run and simply go - woah!

The biggest poppy field I've seen outside of a Monet or Renoir painting!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Braving the liquorice

I've mentioned their liquorice fetish before, but I'm now surrounded by it.

On my first day back over here a couple of weeks ago, we arrived in the heat. We pulled into the first supermarket after we arrived - the Lidl in everyone's favourite (comic-value) town 'Middelfart'  (the kids have almost stopped chuckling about this now). We bought some caramel ice lollies to cool down and while we were looking in the freezers, I spied these:

My first reaction was to recoil in horror, but I noticed they were described as 'sweet' so figured they were probably not all that bad - I can just about stomach liquorice allsorts at home after all. For some reason (probably the pic which depicted something cream coloured in a black casing), I had it in my head that it was probably a vanilla ice cream like you find in a magnum with a mildly sweet liquorice covering... 

I decided today that I should try to fit in in my new surroundings. I think the only two things I vaguely dislike eating are horseradish sauce and wasabi, so I'm not someone who could be described as a fussy eater. I bit into it. The casing was strong and definitely not sweet liquorice. The inner ice was indeed cream coloured but was more zebra like. Salt liquorice fissures ran the full length of its innards. I tried a second bite. The warm bile-like taste was truly horrendous. Not one to give up, I tried a third bite. With each bite the taste was becoming significantly less palatable. I threw in the towel and rushed inside for something, anything, to take away the taste. I tried a fresh, juicy cherry tomato but the salt was still burning my throat. Thomas had made fresh seeded rolls for breakfast so I pulled off a chunk to see if, like with a strong chilli, bread would help - nope! I found a lump of fancy yellow watermelon in the fridge - still no luck. Finally, I opted for a black olive, a pickled chilli and a large lump of Pié d'Angloys all washed down with a strong coffee. I have almost managed to shake off the flavour though I expect it might be a recurring theme in all future nightmares.

It was truly the most offensive thing I have ever tasted, worse even than salt liquorice sweets. I'm not sure I'm going to fit in in Scandinavia. Have I actually managed to find the only thing that is harder to stomach than Brexit?! 😂

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A different take on lollipopping

This one is for my friend Stephanie!

Back at Kirkhill, we had the best lollipop lady. I won't go into the details because I already have here, but she was a real gem. Despite being cheery, caring, helpful and generally lovely, she had to put up with drivers driving at her aggressively, swearing, nastiness and all sorts of dangerous behaviour despite it supposedly being a 'nice' area and the fact that the kids she was trying to safely cross over often belonged to the shouty stressbuckets!

I've been doing the school run here for nearly a week now. As we aren't yet in catchment for where we intend to end up and therefore where the kids are already at school, I am not only passing their two schools but at least three others en route.

Denmark, or at least here on the island of Funen, has come up with a different model for lollipop people. Presumably it must work too, given they are using the system so I thought I'd note it down just because it is so different.

At each school I pass there are two kids - I'd say looking at them they range in age from about 11 to maybe 16. Each is dressed in neon yellow with a big yellow lollipop-shaped sign. They are at the crossing in front of each school, one on either side of the road on the pavement. They simply stand at the edge and when a child wants to cross they put up their lollipop. Not only are all the cars already driving really cautiously because the lollipop people are kids, but they instantly stop safely and in a friendly manner on the kids' signal because they don't see them as annoying targets but instead as helpful children who need protecting.

Wouldn't it be nice to treat our crossing patrol people like that at home?