Monday, May 25, 2020

Fashion trends

Maybe I'm just getting old, but can someone explain to me why these have suddenly become the must-have fashion item for teenagers around here?! 😂 Léon's pacing up and down because I won't drive him to ikea now!

He even sat checking current warehouse stock online and gave me a running commentary as the 60 in the Odense branch slowly went down to 3 over the course of the afternoon. Can you imagine the shame of it if he's the only one who doesn't turn up to school tomorrow wearing one? 😂

Friday, May 22, 2020

Yeast again

Denmark mostly doesn't feel like a very foreign place but just sometimes you some across a situation you would never encounter at home... I just walked into my kitchen to find Léon and his friend baking bread - the friend was discussing how much fresh yeast they needed. Fourteen year old boys in Scotland, for the most part, would struggle to pick yeast out of a police line-up, let alone know how to use it without a recipe and instructions!🤣

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A strange move from Lærdansk

I started my Lærdansk course on the 3rd of January. All foreigners who move to Denmark are eligible for a course in Danish to help them integrate in society. There seem to be many levels and you can do classes for many years as far as I am aware.

Here are the levels:

Because I had learnt a tiny bit of Swedish back in 1990, I had a fair overview of how Scandinavian grammar functioned - all those weird definite articles glued on to the ends of words yet possibly the easiest verb system on the planet... And because I had listened to my husband speaking to my kids back in Scotland for the last 14 years and had visits from Thomas's family, I was used to understanding spoken Danish. Spoken being the operative word here! I had never learnt to spell Danish (and it is about as close to the expected spelling as English😜) and having spent less than 7 weeks of my life in Denmark (as Thomas's parents had retired to Italy just after we got together), I could count the number of sentences I had actually produced orally on one hand.

Anyway, after an assessment at the end of last year and given my linguistic background, I was dropped in at the deep end on level M4 in the blue column. It was daunting. I had never written a word of Danish, had never seen inside a Danish grammar book and never spoken it and suddenly I was up to my eyeballs in hand-ins and grammar exercises. Still a bit tongue-tied as French, German and even Italian still fall more readily from my lips, I had definitely got the hang of writing things in a reasonably understandable manner when Corona hit and the school was shut down.

After less than a week our lessons went online and to my surprise, instead of learning less, I was actually learning much more. As we were now in groups of between five and eight students, the chances of being asked a question tripled and so did my attention to homework. In such small groups, I was forced to talk more, read more, write more and I really felt like I was getting somewhere. The online lessons were a godsend and though I moaned before each one, I always came away feeling that they had been incredibly worthwhile.

Then suddenly after about ten weeks online, without any consultation Lærdansk sent me a text last Thursday saying all online classes were being cancelled for the remainder of lockdown and teachers seem to have been put on garden leave. The teachers aren't happy as we found out in the one remaining lesson we had before we mothballed our grammar books, and neither are we. I expect, given there will be a max six of seven lessons between the end of lockdown and the beginning of the summer recess, this will probably kick most of us back a few months and all that hard work we put in over the first few weeks of lockdown will have been in vain. I'm lucky enough to live with a Dane but many in the class will have no contact with spoken Danish from now till July.

It is such a shame that decisions are taken on the basis of what makes best sense economically, rather than on what we were actually managing achieve.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Far gris!

Last night we went to Ikea to buy a bed for Lots, assuming the buggers on the border ever let her come home 😒

As we were walking towards the entrance, a small red-haired child coming towards us in a buggy started shaking with excitement, clapping and shrieking something I couldn't make out for the dummy in her mouth, her mother looked around puzzled but couldn't work out the source of her outburst. Thomas was a step ahead of me wearing an open jacket, so I didn't put two and two together till we were inside. Walking through the pots and pans section, another child about the same age, maybe a year older, this time on foot, broke free from her father's grip and launched herself at high speed through between the kitchen utensils shouting 'far gris, far gris' (daddy pig) and pointing at Thomas before trying her best to climb up his leg, only to be dragged off my a rather embarrassed looking daddy of her own!

We had a wee chuckle to ourselves as Thomas received this as a gift from Amaia and Anna a few years ago and had never been given the Justin Bieber style groupie treatment while out walking anywhere in Scotland. I guess Danish children feel a bit freer with their affection in public, or maybe this lockdown is making everyone a little crazy!

I guess the favourite programme amongst female Danish preschoolers must be Peppa Pig, or Gurli Gris as she is known here...

Monday, May 18, 2020

Schools back!

After a month at school alone, Amaia was finally joined this morning on the school bus by her older siblings. Léon is so excited he's going to explode, and I expect he might be sent home by school for being unable to contain himself from hugging all his friends who he's been missing so dreadfully! Anna didn't say an awful lot but she's usually an unwakeable sloth in the mornings and today she was dressed and ready to go, so that speaks for itself. Léon's class is to meet at the playing fields opposite the school for instruction on outdoor schooling, Anna has been told she's doing an all-day lesson in the local woods. It is funny because back home, the schools just couldn't begin to organise such a return as they'd need safety assessments and pre-signed consent forms galore. Here they are simply told that is on the agenda and the teachers (and parents) are ready and willing to go with it. Hats off to pragmatism!

The only downside, which I have been too scared to broach as yet, is informing Léon (who would happily have taken a sleeping bag and moved into school, he's missed it so much) that Thursday and Friday this week are actually scheduled school holidays. He's going to gammon so much when he finds out!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What an exciting week

It has been an exciting week in lockdown world. First on Wednesday I went to IKEA for the first time since it reopened and there were people in it! Hadn't seen any of them in a while, and I hadn't been down to the city more than three times in three months. Thursday we were having our electric fuse box rewired so got to spend the day in Thomas's office, which was empty of course but still... a real change of scenery. Amaia came up after school and played 'teachers' on the whiteboards which she loved. Thomas even bumped into one colleague so we bought pizza together - carry out and other humans - imagine! And on Sunday, we decided to go to visit the town where Thomas grew up so we actually left Funen, the little island where we live, for the first time since I came back from Scotland on Feb 17 and drove 130km into Jutland! We didn't see any humans that day, mind you!

It's funny how your horizons change during something like this. Before, even flying to Scotland most months seemed samey and fairly mundane!

Poor wee hands

One thing we have noticed here, now the under 11s have been back at school for three and a bit weeks, is the toll it's taking on their skin. Trying to be very careful and sensible, they are washing hands on arrival, at the end of every period, sanitising their laptops before and after use and washing every time they eat anything, blow their noses and when they leave in the afternoon etc. Amaia's are now red enough that you can see a line where her long sleeves usually stop and her hands start, and her skin is dry and rough. She's now taking her own bar of milder soap to school in a box and has that super-strength Norwegian hand cream in her bag and still this is the result, but many of the kids whose skin is more sensitive are having even more problems than she is. So, there are downsides too to being super-sensible. It's something to bear in mind when other countries start opening their schools. Buy the hand cream now and beat the stampede!

Tuesday, May 05, 2020


My orchard has burst into life in the last few weeks - we are going to have so many apples, pears, plums and cherries this year😋 and the bees are very happy!

Thomas's car

I'm never fully sure whether I love or hate Thomas's car - nicknamed 'the boge' (short for bogey) by the kids. It is true that finding it in a car park is never an issue, and it is unlikely to be the first one anyone would steal either - it stands out just a little too much. On a summer day it can look really nice and cheery but in the depths of a Scandinavian winter, it has a most definite snotty hue.

But when it looks good, it looks really good, such as today, as I drove up to school past a rapeseed field.

And it really lends itself to colorization too, so the jury is still out for now.


An unexpected consequence

I'm beginning to notice an unexpected consequence of the new way Denmark is schooling its under-11s. Amaia has been back at school for nearly three weeks now. They are in six hours a day but they are spending every second hour outside, so three hours a day they have outdoors classes, excursions, sport or walks...

So my wee Amaia is out soaking up more vitamin D than she's seen since her nursery days pre-2015 with the result that she's becoming a complete freckle monster! She is even beginning to rival her older sister's usual freckle count, and that's quite a feat!

Friday, May 01, 2020

What a find!

Like a tiny ray of sunshine in all this chaos, I went shopping in Aldi yesterday and discovered that this week's special in the 'exotic' aisle was nothing less than cans of irn bru! Imagine the kids' faces when we returned home! I did have to laugh though... Given it is not known here it was described as 'Scottish soda', but if you look closely at the small print underneath, it warns that it is not suitable for children! 😂 Try telling that to Scottish children! Anyway, we broke the rules - thought it might brighten up their day!