Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Last Days of Summer?

We are now guest-less once more. We packed quite a lot into the few days that my mum was here (and we were lucky with the weather considering what it was like prior to her arrival, and has been like since her departure!), we had a great time. We did a tour of that old faithful the Frilands Museum, complete with a guide in traditional dress . It was great to learn a bit more about the detail of the houses, how they came to be at the musuem site, and how they lived according to which era. The minuscule beds had always puzzled me, but we learned that they were not in fact Lilliputians in those days, but according to their belief that sleep was in fact dangerous, they slept sitting up. No wonder they didn't live for that long. The huge trough-like things in the kitchens were actually for making rye bread, and the enormous round copper bowl built into the wall in the corner of the kitchen was primarily for brewing beer. We galloped through centuries at high speed, exploring different houses with our guide, and ended up at Village shop from the 1930's, which was like stepping into a Matador set. Then of course we did the trip to the Karen Blixen Musuem which was lovely!

I hadn't imagined that my blog would feature seafood quite so frequently, but on Saturday, as predicted, my husband had to go and investigate the Krebs. He came back with a box full of the live little creatures that looked too cute to cook and eat, but I am sorry to say that we did, by first boiling them in water, beer, herbs and lemon juice. Thank you my little crustacean friends, how delicious you were too! We ate them with rye bread, mayonnaise and salad, all washed down with beer! Well, that is part of the tradition apparently!

That afternoon Mum and I went into town by ourselves (while those left behind were by no means neglected, they had fun at what is quite possibly the smallest circus in the world), where we explored the old town, got lost on the way to Nyhavn, and then went on a canal boat tour. This time we did the 60 minute guided tour and very informative it was too. I had to laugh as we got to the empty stone where the Little Mermaid usually sits (she is currently on holiday in Shanghai if you didn't know, please don't plan your trip to Copenhagen until at least November if that's the only reason you are coming), in her place is a plain white billboard displaying a website of an art installation by Artist Ai Wei Wei (what a great name!) which documents and articulates the movements and changes that occur during the time The Little Mermaid is away, both in Copenhagen and Shanghai. You can read about it here: Visit Copenhagen! I also learned why the Lagkagehuset (Layer Cake House) is called just that, it's because the building it's situated in looks like a layer cake (I find it extraordinary that a) I haven't noticed that before, and b) the fact I remember in most detail is something to do with cake!) I think I will always remember this tour for the mass hysteria that ensued when it started to pour with rain, then around twenty tourists clambered for over sized bin liners with hoods, and struggled to put them on in the midst of the storm. One man (I think he had been in the pub that afternoon) had a huge fight with his, and almost gave up, until his (very sober) wife (whom he had been attempting to maul like a lovesick teenager a few moments earlier) got incredibly cross with him, and got him dressed like a small child. I don't think anyone on the boat remained calm, and fits of giggles kept errupting sporadically from various sections of the boat. Mainly ours.

On Sunday we went to Sweden. We visited Ystad (which is where Wallander is set and filmed in case you watch it)for lunch, and then we drove further down the coast to Ales Stenar, which is pretty impressive as megalithic monuments go. I remember being distinctly unimpressed with the size of Stonehenge the first time I visited it, and the Standing Stones of Carnac to a 13 year old on her French exchange were just incredibly dull, but this is actually ship-shaped, plus it's on the top of some beautiful cliffs overlooking a gorgeous tiny fishing port. The cows who just wander freely in the field around the stones were quite unnerving, but this is going to the top of my list of 'groups of big stones' to date.

We bade a fond farewell to my mum yesterday evening at the airport. Our little girl was very upset, and launched into spectacular dramatic wailing (in the car thankfully!)when she caught sight of Granny waving from the security lounge. I think the combination of a new term at school and saying goodbye was a bit overwhelming for the poor thing on this occasion. However, she made a quick recovery once I found some Polo's in the bottom of my bag, and is looking forward to our next guests in a couple of weeks time!

It's 20.36 and it's starting to get dark. Autumn and Winter are around the corner and it will be dark at 14.30 pm before we know it. I know this because the shops are now full of snowsuits and hats and gloves. Although I will be sad to see the end of summer, I am looking forward to my favourite seasons. Remind me of that when we have another three months of snow wont you?

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Isak Dinesen

My mother has always been a big fan of Karen Blixen, so we paid a visit to the Museum in Rungsted Kyst. The Museum is actually based in her family home, a beautiful old former Inn by the sea with impressive gardens. The private rooms are opened on a daily basis, and are kept just as they were then. The screen Karen described to Denys in Out of Africa is by the fire in the parlour, and the rooms are filled with beautiful flowers fresh from the gardens, something she took great delight in (and if I had such fabulous gardens full of them to choose from, I imagine I would be passionate about flower arranging too!). I didn't actually know all that much about Karen Blixen beforehand, but I found it really really interesting (definitely not one to bring children to though! It was lovely to be able to wander through the exhibits without so much as a "I need the toilet" or an "I'm hungry"!). As well as being an accomplished writer, Karen Blixen was a pretty decent artist, and studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Her paintings are everywhere throughout the house, although she wasn't encouraged to paint by her family, which is a huge shame. Her life was actually quite tragic and I found the whole place moving. She is buried here, underneath a huge beech tree in the gardens. It was quite apparent that the Hollywood film Out of Africa wasn't rated that highly by the Foundation, as it wasn't considered to be true to the book. I am not sure that I will ever be able to watch it again either, if only for the reason that Meryl Streep's Danish accent is (I realise now)just plain hilarious. I wonder what the Danes thought when that first came out?

Afterwards we went for lunch at Fiskerikajen in Rungsted Havn for the most beautifully fresh Stjerneskud (freshly fried place on homemade rye bread with mayonnaise, prawns and lemon - delish when done properly!). We sat overlooking the boats in the harbour. This place makes an English seaside fish and chip shop look so basic. It has an amazing fish-mongers tacked onto the side, complete with racks of freshly hot-smoked salmon. It is still Krebs (crayfish) season at the moment here and they had buckets of them piled outside, no doubt my husband will be back here to investigate in the near future!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Betty Stick

First proper day at school for both of my children today. Yesterday was an introductory day and both enjoyed themselves. I enjoyed my trip to IKEA for lunch ON MY OWN. I am sure the novelty will soon wear off, but having a couple of hours to myself was quite nice.

When we first arrived (almost a year ago!), the nervous early morning drives to school were brightened somewhat by Betty Stick. Betty Stick is the name given to an elderly lady, who every morning usually without fail (come rain or shine or deep snow), walks through the woods that form part of our daily drive. She is called Betty because that's what my children think she is called, and Stick because she walks with two Nordic poles. If we don't see Betty Stick we have a miserable journey as the children worry about where she is, and if she's OK, and why isn't she there for them to wave to in the morning. Betty doesn't wave back, she doesn't see them, and she is too busy walking. Before we leave at some point, I am determined to write Betty a little note (in Danish) from the children, to let her know how much they have enjoyed seeing her each morning. This morning she had a dog, it caused great excitement. We haven't got a name for him yet.

We had a great week in London last week where we celebrated my sister's birthday and my birthday. It was so lovely to catch up with family and a few friends and do a lot of shopping for things we can't get here. While we were there, it was the annual Perseids Meteor shower. In my mother's village light pollution is not really a problem, and the conditions for viewing were ideal. We saw the first meteor (a huge yellow one) just as we left the pub, so we then ventured up to the top of the paddock to see a few more but the trees blocked our view (and it was too dark for my liking, plus the neighbours dogs started barking), so we crept back to the front of the house where we stood with heads tilted skyward and were lucky enough to see a further 11 in an hour. I have never seen them before, and was blown away by their different strengths and colours.

My mother arrives for a few days this evening. I hope the torrential rain we have had here recently (the cause of floods at the weekend and near floods yesterday) can hold off for a few days so we can get out and go exploring sans enfants.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Round Tower...

My youngest sister has been visiting for a few days this week. On Thursday we ventured into Copenhagen where, after a lovely lunch we decided to climb the Round Tower. You get a fantastic view from the top and the slope to climb the tower and the lack of stairs means it's a novelty for the children who loved running up and down again. Once we got to the top we stood to admire the view. It was a beautiful sunny day and it's very peaceful up there. Well, at least it was until a small child started screaming. Looking around to see what the problem was, I realised it was my small child. With his head stuck through the railings. You always hear about this happening, but I never really thought that it did! The drama lasted for all of five minutes, with me imagining how "thrilled" the Roundtower staff were going to be when the fire brigade had to slice through the antique metal bars with cutting equipment to release him. His sister also started panicking and the people around us began to crowd and stare, when suddenly, just as quickly as it had begun, I managed to manaeouvre his head back through the bars again. Do visit if you get the chance, the view is so beautiful, just don't be tempted to go for a closer look!

As it was my sisters birthday last night we went to Ruby for celebratory drinks. This place is amazing. If you could pick this bar up and put it in London, I wouldn't go as a) it would be too busy and b) it would be overpriced and overhyped, but this has to be my favourite bar in Copenhagen so far. It's in a beautiful old residential apartment overlooking the parliamentary buildings, the staff are super friendly and the cocktails are amazing. If you go, don't tell anyone else about it OK?

Off to London for a week today, can't wait to get home and see the family and stock up on teabags!

Emma xx
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