Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ticked Off

If you hadn't guessed from my previous post, we are in Norway.

There are hundreds of wild blueberry bushes in the forest behind the house we are staying in, all covered in tiny purple berries that taste much sharper than the cultivated variety, but with a much more intense flavour. They were a source of amazement to R&S, who would have quite happily eaten nothing but blueberries from the moment they were weaned.

It turns out that the forest floor is not just covered in blueberries! Our afternoon in mother nature's larder was quickly forgotten at bedtime, when S discovered that he had bought home an unwelcome guest (one that had thwarted the longsleeves and tucked in trousers too), a tic, happily embedded just below his belly button! I was somewhat grateful for being in the middle of nowhere at the noise he then created at the indignation of being a meal for something, and the horror at the thought that this thing needed removing! Unfortunately my trusty pair of Bodyshop tweezers had been left at home (please don't grow eyebrows!), but desperate times call for desperate measures, and a pair of hastily found fishing pliers proved suitable for the "operation" once the host had been pinned down (and had his eyes sheilded!)! Accompanied by the soundtrack of both children wailing (have I mentioned how dramatic his sister can be!?!), we removed the beast by gripping it as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it upwards until it eventually released its firm hold. S went to bed absolutely furious that we hadn't called him an ambulance, and his sister went to bed after repeated assurances that her brother wasn't going to die! I will keep an eye out for the tell tale rash associated with Lymes Disease over the next few weeks. You have to wonder at the point of some creatures, but then the same could be said about us I suppose!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Sunset on Sankt Hans

A beautiful evening for Sankt Hans, the Danish midsummer celebration. Good luck on your journey witches!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Water Baby...

When I was expecting S, he would particularly kick should I be in the bath or swimming, or even just at the sound of taps running, so I had somewhat hoped this would mean he would love water just like his big sister. Initially however, he turned out to be quite the opposite. Bathtime was OK (especially in his beloved tummy tub as a tiny baby), but swimming? Forget it! He would scream before we even attempted to get into a pool, but the bigger he got, the protesting diminished slightly, so when the opportunity arose for swimming lessons through his school, I grabbed it! We were invited along to watch their progress on the last session after 19 lessons, and it was fantastic to see that the lovely Danish teacher had improved his confidence to such an extent, he didn't even notice when his float-belt fell off! It was so great to see him having the best time in a pool environment. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend the Kildeskovshallen Ladies, if you are looking for kind and patient swimming teachers! Being able to swim is such a valuable skill.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Things I will Miss...

Sunday mornings at the Loppemarked, definitely! This is part of this morning's haul, an old Villeroy & Boch jug which I filled with tatty roses from the garden.

As the title might suggest, the mists in the crystal ball we were looking for a little while back are getting clearer, and we should have the news we have been waiting for confirmed in the next couple of weeks or so. Part of me will be sad about what it means, but a part of me will also be glad to get the ball rolling! A change is as good as a rest and all that...

Friday, 17 June 2011

Recipes from The Scandinavian Cookbook

It's been bothering me that I haven't done a food post in an age. It's not like we haven't been eating obviously, it's just finding time to cook Scandinavian food in keeping with the theme. We tend to eat a lot more global food on a daily basis, (strangely enough, our chilli intake has risen dramatically since moving to a country where spicy food doesn't really exist!), but it is nice to make Scandinavian food from time to time, especially when gorgeous seasonal produce is plentily available!

Here are a few recent recipes from Trine Hahnemann's beautiful book The Scandinavian Cookbook. The amazing photographs alone make this book worth possessing, the recipes are clear and concise, and it's also nice to have a cookery book where the recipes are set out on a month by month basis...

These beautifully light Salmon Burgers (recipe here) are perfect for a summer supper, with the added bonus that the children really enjoyed them too! I left it too late to make the rye focaccia on this occasion, but it worked just as well with a French loaf.

Whilst looking for something to make with a nice piece of pork foreloin, I came across this recipe for Pork with Rosemary, thyme and garlic. It actually falls under the December section, but because of the lemon in it, it works equally well as a summer Sunday lunch with seasonal veg and new potatoes...

Last but not least, and in time for strawberry season, the easiest recipe for meringues in the world...recipe here. While these were in the oven, certain members of my family actually questioned whether I had read the recipe correctly!! However, both have now said, they won't bother making meringues the long way round again!

Should I be organised enough to remember to take pictures, I will report back with recipes from July and August shortly!...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

My Dad

In time for Father's Day this weekend, a portrait of my lovely Father - studying a menu! I was going to add the next picture when he is about to tuck into the biggest plate of smorrebrød ever, but I don't think he would appreciate that!

He is many things, but to me he is a strong Yorkshireman, a great Dad and a wonderful Grandad, a true humanist, and also one of the most intelligent people I know (and at times one of the most infuriating!)! A man with a great sense of humour, and a wonderful joie de vivre, and I miss him not being around the corner anymore.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Glass Blowing

Coming from a country where health and safety (especially in schools) is getting ever so slightly ridiculous, it always amuses me to see children here doing things that the UK health and safety "gurus" would have a fit about. Take these children for example, from the nearby island of Christiansø, having a great time at their first attempt at glass-blowing at Baltic Sea Glass, a really lovely hand-blown glass studio on Bornholm... It was great watching their designs take shape, and pretty soon the finishing furnace was filled with all manner of balloons, bees, vases and elephants, with no burns or other injuries to speak of!!

This was one of my favourite objects there, as they take their inspiration from what's directly outside their window, you can see why it's called Baltic Sea Glass can't you?

Saturday, 11 June 2011


We spent the week before last in Bornholm. For those of you unacquainted, it's a small island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, famous for its round churches, handblown glass, local produce, and of course smoked herring! You get to it by driving to Sweden, taking a short boat trip, and then technically arriving back in Denmark again... Along with Skagen, it's a place you should visit should you be in Denmark for an extended length of time...

I started contemplating this post on the veranda of the summer house we were staying in, whilst overlooking the sea on a warm and sunny evening. It was supposedly our last day on earth, and I remember thinking there must be worse places to spend our last remaining hours! Pleasantly surprised(!) to find ourselves still very much on earth the following morning, we set about exploring this mellow rock.

We started off with The Hammershus (apparently the largest castle ruin in Northern Europe), which is in a pretty stunning location. It has quite a gruesome history though, and I like to think that life may have been made slightly more tolerable by the amount of beer they had rationed to drink each day! If you aren't fussed about castle ruins, then I would recommend a walk around the base instead, which is spectacular (although the walk is quite demanding in parts - this may have been thanks to keeping track of two small people however!). When we visited, the ground was covered in carpets of beautiful white flowered wild garlic (or Ramsløg as it's called here). If you come across it and fancy making something with it, there's a great recipe here from the brilliant Amatar Vegetar.

Should you you be lucky enough, you might also hear Bornholm's exclusive Laughing Frogs here (see, they not only have the "happiest" people in Europe, they also have the most cheerful amphibians!!)! There are tree-frogs too, but we didn't see any of those in the wild unfortunately, only at the excellent Natur Bornholm Museum which is well worth a visit.

Smoke-houses are the main point of refreshment, and traditionally smoked herring is the order of the day. Being near Gudshejm, we had to try Sol-over-Gudshejm, a local smorrebrød of smoked herring on rugbrød, served with radish, onion and topped with a raw egg yolk, quite appetising compared to the surrounding school trip's lunch, which consisted of a whole smoked herring, accompanied by rugbrød, pork fat and salt, but they were all tucking in! Gudshejm itself reminded me very much of Cornwall, in fact a lot of Bornholm did (which isn't a bad thing obviously!). The only slight irritant were the coach loads of visiting cruise ship passengers (hailing from the Land of Pillar-Box Red Hair Dye by the looks of things), but they were only there for an hour or so before they were ferried off to their next destination...

Svaneke was probably our favourite town on Bornholm, and is also famous for it's chicken pooping contests (where a grid is drawn on the ground and bets are taken on which number the chicken will poop in first!), which we didn't see unfortunately! Its winding roads are full of beautiful half-timbered houses, that are home to interesting shops, and a couple of very decent restaurants in keeping with it's passion for local produce, not to mention excellent icecream parlours, and a very good brewery (I would highly recommend the chocolate stout, it's delicious (and according to them it's also very good served over vanilla ice-cream!)!

There are hundreds of ancient stone engravings dotted around the island. They were carved into huge granite rocks, and some of them date back thousands of years. They are definitely worth seeking out, and even the children found them intriguing (although they did want to know if the fat man's boat sank (see pic!))!. The drawings have been coloured in red, mainly to stop people from standing on them, but to be honest it would be much harder to see them otherwise. Together with the Round Churches, and the Knights Templar myths surrounding them, Bornholm is quite a mystical place at times.

As one of my favourite creatures, I think I will always remember Bornholm for the thousands of hares that roam the land, I have never seen so many in my life. On one occasion I managed to get quite close to a sleeping hare, and hoped to take a really good picture without disturbing it. It was so well camouflaged it proved to be quite a hard task, so I slowly edged closer and closer, until I took one more tiny step... and fell waist deep into a rather large (and also well camouflaged) ditch. The hare woke with a start, and not surprisingly ran like the wind. This was not quite the picture I had been hoping for...

Monday, 6 June 2011

An English Summer Wedding

As I look out on to a cold and grey English day, it's hard to appreciate how gorgeous the weather was on Friday for my little sister's wedding, but gorgeous it was, and warm, with not a cloud in the sky - we were so lucky! The venue was pretty special too as they got married in Kew Gardens, which served as the most stunning backdrop. It was of course the reason behind the purchase of the vertiginous Red Shoes, and I obviously hadn't factored in the stability of such heels on grass, but I am happy to report no further broken ankles!

One incident we may choose to recount on my son's future wedding day however, is something he decided might be a good idea to try the night before the event. I awoke to find him standing by our bed, looking like he had been quite unwell in the night. His hair was plastered down, and he looked very sorry for himself. Closer inspection revealed that it wasn't actually sick, it was some sort of cream. His sister immediately denied all knowledge, as did he, so it took a little detective work to discover that he had smeared at least half the contents of a bottle of self-tanning lotion all over his head, and down one side of his face, as a deep orange tan became evident in the cold light of day. Further detective work revealed that his sister also had bright orange hands (quelle surprise!), as they had apparently wanted to try and dye his hair for the special day! After much scrubbing, and a couple of baths later, we managed to slightly tone him down. It turns out there is a reason that you must keep these types of products away from fair-hair and eyebrows, as it warns on the bottle... I am not sure my sister had envisaged green hair as part of their pink and green colour scheme, but luckily her nephew was happy to oblige!!

The bride looked gorgeous in her 1920's style dress, and the groom looked just as radiant (if not a little nervous!), and both were surprisingly composed! My father walked her "down the aisle" along with my daughter as bridesmaid, and my slightly green haired boy, and his one year old cousin as page boys. The baby crawled down the aisle ahead of his mum which was very sweet! After photographs and much Pimms and champagne on the lawn, we sat down to a wonderful meal looking out over the gardens, served to us by staff who couldn't possibly be more accommodating. One person may have slightly overindulged, was our daughter, who gave us a frightening insight into her teenage years after "inhaling" a gargantuan bowl of ice-cream, immediately followed by the entirety of her elderflower chocolate wedding favour! What followed was like watching a miniature drunk person as she staggered outside to have a "lie down" on a bench, followed by an unfortunate and swift redecoration of the famous flowerbeds (quickly remedied by a jug of water, but perhaps something we can remind her of on her special day too, depending on how those teenage years pan out)!

After the meal, we were driven around the gardens in a "train" bedecked with wedding ribbons which was a great touch! It's not often that you see places like this completely devoid of other people, and it was nice to take the weight off those heels for a little while, then it was back for a relaxed evening rounded off with bacon sandwiches!

After the intimate family affair the day before, the much larger reception took place at a nearby church hall the following evening, expertly (and rather hastily) decorated by her very talented family(!!). It's amazing how around 5,000 net curtains, bunting and Chinese lanterns can transform a place, add the all important ingredients of good friends, family, music and a hog roast, and a great night was had by all!

As young girls, we often imagined what our wedding days would be like, and I don't think I could have imagined a more perfect day for my little sister and her lovely (if not so new) husband. I am just so upset that having waited for this day for nearly 12 years, it's now all over and done with (which just means we will have to put pressure on my youngest sister and her other half not to wait quite so long)! Two down Dad, one to go!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Red Shoes

I have always had a love of shoes. In a former life, I could also walk steadily and confidently in heels...then I had children! These shoes made me buy them. I couldn't argue, they had to come home with me. They are going to be worn to a very special occasion shortly though...

I have a couple of days to learn how to walk in heels this high again, without breaking another ankle (which was actually broken whilst wearing flat shoes ironically!). Wish me luck...!
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