Friday, November 20, 2020

First World problems

... or narrower still, Danish problems.

Now here's something I never in my wildest dreams thought would become a dilemma in my life, and no it's not global-pandemic-related. It's a flags versus fairy lights issue!

Before, when I lived in Scotland, the Xmas tree went up around Anna's birthday and came down just after Charlotte's. That was it on the Xmas-decorations front. Here in Denmark, or at least in our corner of Denmark, I've noticed Danes distinguish between Xmas decorations, such as your tree, which goes up mid-December till January 6, and winter garden decor which goes up around the end of October when the clocks change and stays up till around February. This kind of thing... 

Last year I hadn't sussed the difference so took our garden lights down with the tree, but I'm now starting to realise that the garden lights are a winter hygge and happiness thing and not fully to do with Xmas.

One thing many of our neighbours had last year was flag Pole fairy lights. They look like this, (or you get them with vertical lights too):

The kids thought they were really cool and I promised I'd get us some this year which I have now done and intend to put them up this weekend. However, now I have them, I realise you need to clip them onto the flag hoist to get them up which means we can't use our flag until they come down again. The problem is that the main time Danes fly their flags is to celebrate family birthdays and five of the 7 of us have a birthday during the winter fairy lights season. Even if we cut it short, all three of my daughters' birthdays are between December 19 & January 11.

So do I need a second flag pole? How do Danes with Xmas birthdays cope?! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Unfazed by exams, a later in life development

Yesterday I had my PD3 language exam. PD3 is the highest official Danish ministry exam set at the level you need to pass to obtain Danish citizenship and amongst other things to be able to practise as a doctor or dentist etc here as a foreigner. It's probably the first time I have sat an exam since I was 23 years old (as far as I can remember anyway). Obviously there are other requirements for citizenship too that will come with time but this is the language part anyway. Ideally, I would have preferred to sit it after being in Denmark a bit longer (which is more normal) but my passive Danish knowledge meant I was thrown in at the deep end in January and this was of course compounded by lockdown followed by two hours a day being knocked off our teaching schedule once we started back. 

As a young woman, I found exams quite stressful. I'd be nervous, I'd find it hard to sleep, I'd worry and more. This exam should be a big deal for me as it is my only way back to the EU passport I'm about to be stripped of, very much against my will, and as far as I am concerned against my rights... How exactly is it that I can have my citizenship simply removed? Anyway, that's a different blog post so let's not go there for now.

I went to bed entirely unfazed on Monday night, I slept like a baby, other than the fact that I'd had to set my alarm slightly earlier in case the car park was full. Even when I turned over the first paper and found it way harder than any past paper I had done in class, there was simply no effect on my adrenalin.

So am I just a smug git who assumes I'll pass with flying colours? I have done reasonably well in my class work this term, so it could be construed as that, but the truth couldn't be further from the mark. The reason none of it stressed me is entirely different and very personal, probably not something anyone in the class (other perhaps than my friend Slava, who I mentioned it to very briefly once in the beginning) could guess. 

The reason behind the new calm Phyllis is that two years ago, almost to the day, I was in a very different situation to the one I am in today. And that experience changed me and my outlook on what was important and what wasn't forever. It changed everything in my life. I'll put a link here as there's no point in typing the whole story up again, but the reality is that this exam doesn't matter. If I were to do badly, I could sit it again, or I could choose never to do it. Waiting to hear if I got 50% or less, 70% or more doesn't matter. Compared to the hell of waiting to hear if you are going to live long enough to see your kids grow up, how could it ever matter? Two years ago I remember sitting waiting for my phone to ring, knowing the person on the other end would be telling me if I would live or die and still I had the balls to answer that phone call and try to act casual as I awaited those results. Quite frankly, if you can do that, you can do anything. Every piece in the jigsaw puzzle that was my life fell into an entirely different place after that. Since then, life's priorities, life's goals and the way I approach things have entirely changed. 

It is probably also one of the reasons I am here today, sitting this exam. I'm not sure pre-2018 Phyllis would have had the courage to restart her life from scratch but post-2018 Phyllis knows deep down what matters and what doesn't and moreover she knows she can do anything, as long as she has her health.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

One-man tartan army

Tonight Scotland is attempting to reach an international tournament for the first time since 1998 (7 years before he was born). He's throwing everything at it, but the odds are predicting tears 🙄



Now he says he's going to school dressed like this tomorrow if we win. 😂😂😂

Update:

And he did! Here's Léon at school on Friday!



You've got to laugh

Over dinner Léon and I are discussing a reality TV programme he's meant to analyse for his Danish class... He's having a good old moan as it really isn't his thing; he thinks there's nothing more mind-numbing on TV. I try to find out a little more about his remit.

Me: So do you have to analyse it from a linguistic perspective, or are we talking something more socio-anthropological? 
Anna: Omg, mum who even decided that is a word? It sounds more like the sound someone makes when they're drowning.

Hahaha, kids can be witty at times.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

DR Brexit special


Our family's Brexit relationship with the press began when I first blogged back in March of 2018 that our family had decided to brexit from brexit. Thomas and I blogged our imminent departure and somehow it was picked up first by the National newspaper in Scotland and thereafter by Denmark's Jyllandsposten. Following on from that, Thomas was invited onto several radio and TV programmes on his arrival in Denmark.

We haven't heard much for about a year now, until last month when DR (that's sort of Danish BBC, or how BBC was a decade ago at least) rang us up again to ask if they could interview our whole family now we've been here a year. They are planning a Brexit special if and when the flip flop Tories ever get round to opting for a deal or no deal, or at the very least on January 1, should they simply run out of time while scratching the heads (and their arses). We decided to ask the kids if they were up for it before committing. Both Anna and Léon sounded super enthusiastic. Léon took it as chance to schmooze the whole of Denmark simultaneously, whereas Anna saw it more as a stepping stone to Hollywood, Amaia on the other hand looked a bit uncomfortable but agreed to tell her story. I was unfazed at the thought of being interviewed in Danish on national TV... I'm definitely less stressed out these days!!

After a couple of cancellations over the past few weeks in favour of more current news stories, they suddenly popped up on Monday again asking to see us on Wednesday. They decided they wanted two whole hours of footage! Moreover, they wanted to film us all around the house and garden so we had to have a bigger than usual tidy-up. They even wanted to film in the kids' rooms! This was incentive gold! For the first time in months both Anna and Léon found their bedroom floors under the usual debris! I wonder if I can book them to interview them once a month going forward...樂

So the plan was - interview the whole family together, then Thomas alone, then me, then each of the kids. Thomas wandered around everywhere outside and I'm sure I heard him reciting Ode to a haggis, though I'm not 100% how that relates to Brexit! After they did me inside. They talked to me for over 15 minutes in Danish and then did a shorter chunk in English because they weren't sure which language the channel wanted me in. I guess it is good practice for my PD3 oral exam next month, if nothing else! Then it was the kids' turn. When they were interviewing all of us, Amaia said almost nothing. I thought she was just too shy but once they went in with just her, there was no shutting her up! She was suddenly in her element. I stood outside her door in case I thought she was in any way unhappy but she definitely wasn't. She was showing them her computer games and happily chatting away. I had to laugh at some parts of the conversation that I overheard... For me, this was the highlight  "What was the best part about your move?" asked the interviewer in Danish "I got my own room without Anna," she quickly replied. He followed up, of course with "and what was worst?"  So I was expecting something about missing her home, her old school, her family, all the things she usually mentions. But suddenly she came out with "I can't have haggis for dinner any more!" Don't you just love kids?!

Five minutes later I could hear Léon playing Flower of Scotland on his violin, so I'm not sure what that was about either, but I guess it'll all be obvious, if and when the programme finally airs. My only worry is if they happen to cut out any one of the kids, we could have civil war in the house. Maybe we should watch it first before letting on it's been broadcast? 

In any case, if it turns up, I'll put a video link on here.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Chestnut soup

I'd never heard of chestnut soup until I happened to mention in my language class last month that I had a chestnut tree and suddenly the Hungarian and Bulgarian girls were raving about it. So I came home,  researched it and gave it a go. Strangely, it tastes almost like a really exotic cream of mushroom or similar - it definitely has that interesting foresty flavour. So I'm uploading my (extremely simple) recipe here so that next autumn, when I inevitably can't find the recipe online again, this will jog my memory. And for anyone that happens upon this - give it a try, it's lovely!


Ingredients 

500g fresh chestnuts
2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes 2 potatoes (about 200g), peeled and grated 
A bunch of thyme

To Serve : 
60g approx of cream
Freshly ground black pepper or nutmeg

Method 
Boil the chestnuts in unsalted water for half an hour. 
Skin them once they are cool enough to handle. 
Add 1.25 litres stock, chestnuts, grated potato and herbs.
Simmer for about 25 mins, until chestnuts are softened.  
Blend.