Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Danmark set fra luften


For nylig diskuterede jeg nogle gamle fotos af vores landsby med landsbyens indbyggere. Selvom jeg kun har downloadet billeder af mit eget hus, er der mange flere tilgængelige i billedarkiverne på denne webside. Hver grøn pil er et gammelt foto. Man kan klikke på billedet og forstørre det.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

2020 a unique Xmas

2020 is turning out to be a unique Xmas for many. In 2019, when we decided to emigrate, I forgot to qualify my promises of many shared holidays and visits home with 'unless an imminent global pandemic brings the world to a standstill'... How could I have been so remiss?

In summer, things had calmed down enough that I got back to Scotland once, and down to Italy once too. Charlotte moved in with us for a few months and Marcel got over to Denmark albeit without his other half, which is so much more than the majority of international families managed this year. But this resurgence of the virus meant I had my first Christmas holiday apart from my kids. Marcel and Milly live in London and somehow managed to escape by getting on the last train before the government threw London into lockdown. So they're spending Xmas with her mother but haven't a clue when they'll next be allowed home. So Marcel had a family around him, even if it was a different one. Mum got over to Derek's so had a family too, even if it was a smaller one than she's used to.

Charlotte had decided by the end of November to investigate the Covid test requirements for both Spain and Denmark before buying a ticket home for the holidays, but that was before several spokes got entangled in her wheels... Firstly, she caught Covid at an American Thanksgiving dinner thrown by one of her flatmates just for their own household, so everything was on hold for the first two weeks of December. Next, her appointment to pick up her Spanish residence permit, which was horribly complicated by Brexit, was moved from December to January, leaving her with no physical proof that she had a legit reason for needing back into Spain if the situation worsened. Finally, having no Danish health card number made it difficult to book herself the Corona test she needed to fly back home to Madrid after Xmas. She decided that the best option was to stay in Spain, despite her flatmates managing to escape home for Xmas (for the most part at least). She contacted the family she usually au pairs for to see if she could see them off and on for Xmas and was to be warmly welcomed, on condition she got herself a negative corona test before dropping round for an extended stay starting on Xmas eve as they have an elderly relative staying with them.

On Xmas eve, she received blood test results saying that although she had recently had covid, her blood was on the borderline between 'recently infected, on the verge of developing antibodies' and 'possibly still infected'. As it had been a full 24 days since she had been diagnosed Covid positive, much longer than the 14 day quarantine period, she had been back at work nearly two weeks, and all her symptoms had disappeared, she had assumed the results were a formality, but with 24 hours to go Charlotte found herself Xmasless. The family were almost as devastated as she was and drove her over all the food and presents they had prepared for her and she got to eat her feast with them on a 4 hour Xmas zoom call from her bedroom, but their girls were upset, as was Charlotte who is the most family-oriented of my kids. Their many hours on zoom, their banquet, our game of monopoly and our family Xmas evening zoom call with Leeds and Glasgow made being entirely alone for Xmas passable, or at least as passable as that ever could be for a 20 year old girl. Hopefully when she goes for another test on Monday, her bloods will have levelled off enough to let her spend New Year and her 21st birthday next week with her Madrid family, otherwise I've no idea what she'll do. One thing is for sure, Charlotte has grown and matured once again through the adversity life has thrown at her, to be a very capable young woman.

Old-fashioned shortbread

Many months ago in the local Arab market, we found these moulds. I am not sure what they use them for but they looked like a great option for making fancy shortbread so we bought a couple. We decided while we were making our usual Danish Xmas biscuits, we'd try a batch and they worked a treat. Aren't they just beautiful? 

Interestingly, we decided to use my granny's old Lofty Peak baking book. I'm not sure when it dates from, but my guess would be 1950s or 60s.

It's quaintly written, using words like amalgamate which isn't exactly the most common word in today's recipe books. And of course, it has ounces and oven temperatures are given in either Regulo or Fahrenheit, but the most interesting thing was the end result. Firstly, it was darker in colour than today's standard shortbread, which is interesting as I always thought, growing up, that I was rubbish at making shortbread. I always felt I burnt it, but maybe it just was darker back then. But the most surprising thing was the taste. It was only half as sweet as anything you can buy today. And we followed it to the letter. So it appears we have trained our palates to expect biscuits to be sweeter and sweeter, instead of realising they are actually quite pleasant with so much less sugar. Over the holidays, I have definitely enjoyed these more than many of the sweeter ones we usually make.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Corona Virus

I don't personally know anyone who's had Covid. Of course, I've heard of many friends of friends, classmates of my kids and even Léon's boss at the restaurant but not a single close friend or relative has caught it. This doesn't mean I've been reckless or similar, it just means that other than the restrictions this year has brought, it hasn't really impacted me greatly... or hadn't.

When you live in a big city you're of course at a greater risk than us out here in the countryside. And when you flatshare with students or assistant teachers you are meeting people daily who are meeting a lot of people. Charlotte has an American flatmate, Heidi. Heidi was missing home so arranged a Thanksgiving meal for the whole flat at the end of last month. Charlotte ended up sitting directly opposite Heidi at the meal and of course, Heidi woke up a few days later with Covid. Charlotte began warning me on the Monday night that the chances of her having escaped it were minimal. She phoned work and quarantined herself from the rest of the flat. She had no cough or breathing issues, but a slight temperature and sore throat meant she managed to get a test anyway and of course she'd managed to catch it. We're now two weeks down the line and she's fine, though a little tired. She's even back at work, so all's well that ends well, but having my kid diagnosed with Covid in a country I can't currently get into because of Covid restrictions, in the middle of my exams isn't my favourite pastime. Needless to say I have spent so much time on the phone over the last fortnight that I haven't even started Xmas shopping and cards are completely out the window. It was lovely to know Charlotte's Spanish mum (Sofia who she au pairs for every summer) was on standby to take care of her if she had got it bad. But Charlotte's a wee star and she managed to look after herself throughout, seemingly unfazed. As it was I think she's simply binged the entirety of Spanish Netflix in a fortnight.

And going forward, I guess she is now further down my worry list, which is nice!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Christmas trees

When we lived in Scotland, we always bought our Xmas tree from Ikea. For a £25 tree, you got a £20 voucher to spend in Ikea, and my family can easily spend £20 in Ikea so the tree became the great annual £5 bargain. And when you are married to someone who grew up in a Scandinavian pine forest, mentioning the words 'artificial tree,' as probably still is the norm in Scotland, is tantamount to asking for a divorce!😂

Last year was our first year in Scandinavia. We're surrounded by Xmas tree farms - we have at least three within walking distance, so we intended to get one there. But we're faffers and somehow we overshot the deadline and they'd run out by the time we got round to it. We ended up buying the last remaining tree in Aldi, but it cost less than a tenner and was actually the prettiest one we'd ever got!

This year, thanks to Thomas's sister, we were much better organised. She visited a couple of weeks ago, having googled a chop down your own tree farm in the vicinity and we went over as a family and tried the trees out (Scandinavians take tree buying very seriously! 😂) before committing to the perfect one for her flat. She then played lumberjack, paid by mobile (it was a self-service Xmas tree field!), then strapped it to the roof of her car and drove it all the way back to Copenhagen!

So, after two weeks of nagging from the girls, we decided to go and chop our own one down on Saturday. We found a little place just behind Léon and Anna's school where they were selling any tree you wanted for 100kr (£12). We had a look about and settled on one that looked just about the right height. 
The owner chainsawed it down for us but unfortunately didn't have a bagger as everyone here (except us) has a trailer, so Amaia had an interesting ride home. (You can just about make out her cream-coloured hat in amongst the branches to the left!)

So this year's lesson for us rookie Scandy folk appears to be - a tree that looks very small in a big field turns out to be much, MUCH bigger once you get it into your house! It's taking up a third of the turret, and we've already sawed a bit off. And then there's the issue of the star. Thomas seems to think that this is an acceptable place for it as the top of the tree is touching the roof! All I can say is, it's just as well he's not married to my mother or Charlotte, because I don't think they'd put up with this solution!😂😂

Friday, December 11, 2020

Feeling old

My first car was quite basic - this isn't a perspective thing, it really was that size! I think it is the only car I've ever owned with a roof I could actually wash without a stool or step ladder! It had no head rests and of course there were no electric windows... in fact I'm not 100% sure it even had heating. It was much loved but it definitely didn't have any mod cons. The worst bit was freezing your hands off spraying de-icer into the locks and attacking them with boiling water just to break in on numerous winter mornings. I still remember late nineties when I could finally afford a car you could beep open in the snow - bliss!

The other day I was taking Amaia to her viola lesson, she rushed to beat me to the key rack. Thereafter she bounced outside and stuck the key in the lock. When I asked why she wasn't just using the beeper, she replied that it is just so cool to be able to actually use a key to open the lock... I must be getting old.

It reminds me of giving a friend's child a lift home from a school disco a couple of years ago. It was a stunning, hot evening. I had her and Amaia in the back of my 7-seater Chuggy. It had electric windows in the front but the old-fashioned winder ones in the back. (Her mother drives an expensive top-of-the-range 7-seater jeep-shaped Audi.) So she asked if I could open her window as she was too hot. Before I could answer, Amaia, leaned over and unwound the window... Wow, she said, that is just the coolest thing I ever saw. Our car just has electric windows, yours is so much fancier! As I dropped her off, she jumped out saying she was going to try to convince her folks to get a newer, trendier model, like mine! Bet that gave them a laugh!


Who needs dignity?

Last time I owned a snowsuit I was probably a year old... In fact, it was the 60s, so I am betting I probably never owed one, other than some woolly number conjured up by my mum or my granny... Yip.
In the UK, you buy all-in-one outdoor things if you're into skiing. And if you're into skiing, you're probably fairly well-off, so they are designed by Moncler or some other luxury brand and cost a four figure sum (UK money). In Denmark however everyone can buy a snowsuit - they have them in their equivalent of Asda in all sizes from baby to adult and people buy them just for walking their dog or going for a winter stroll on the beach. Amaia's teacher even wears one to work so she can take the kids out on walks (and of course all the kids have them too). 

Last winter I looked at them but thought they were a bit silly at my age. This year when they reduced them to the equivalent of about £24, I gave in and bought one. I even bought it a size too big so I could fit my big winter jumper underneath. I might now look like a cuddly green blob, but having tried it both for gardening and for walking at the coast, I am wondering how I got through the last 51 winters without one and quite frankly I don't care how silly I look in it!😂 I am a convert to the Scandy way!

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Léon and Anna

 On last Saturday morning's radio breakfast show - DR P4 Fyn. Here's a link.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Léon's job

I should have guessed back when he was a wee baby, exactly how his career was going to pan out...

Even as a small baby he was desperate to play with the dish washer and now that he's reached 15 and got himself his first job as dish washer in the local restaurant, Mørkenborg Kro which is less than 500m from our back door! He started back in September and is really enjoying being part of the local community, especially as he is also apparently working as their human bin, eating his way through several free courses of dinner every time he has a shift. He's looking forward to Corona restrictions being relaxed a bit, so he can get more hours and more of their lovely food! I'm hoping to wander over in the summer and see what he can recommend!

Radio this time

 Thomas was on the radio this morning about Brexit😊 Listen from 1 hour 09 minutes in.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020