Sunday 28 February 2010

A Sweet Weekend.

A couple of days ago, i bought a plant, here it is. I am not sure if it will survive for long in my care, but I thought it was very sweet. It's a Hoya, or a Good-Luck Heart (really, why?) Plant as it says on the label.

The zip on my trusty boots broke on Friday, they have seen me through a couple of winters, so I was understandably grumpy as I didn't own other suitable shoes to cope with this slushy muck that we are currently dealing with. My lovely husband has had a "day off" today, and has spent the day skiing in Sweden. It meant that he very graciously offered to have the children yesterday, so I could go shopping to replace them. I hate shopping. I hate shopping even more in strange surroundings. I had my shops all marked out where we lived in London so I could bypass all the others I didn't like on the rare occasions I went shopping... However, surprisingly I found that I am actually beginning to find my way around here! I recognise streets and shops and everything - almost! It could possibly be because Copenhagen is so small, but I only actually got lost once, and that was because I came out of the wrong door of Illums!. It was the first shop I headed for in my quest for these particular boots and there I found 50% off this particular brand in a promotion that day! Being in a country where the women are tall and beautiful and big feet seem to be the part of the deal, I managed to get a pair in my size straight away, not like in the UK, where my shopping despair is probably caused by the usual "sorry, we don't have any more in that size" I get at home (I do not by the way have abnormally large feet, in fact I have the most average size feet in the UK, which makes you think they might order a few more in, but no!).

After this I stumbled across a secondhand book sale in a pretty church, with a table full of English books. With book prices in DK, I made sure I got a couple, your average Penguin Classic is around £17 here!

Before returning home again, I decided to make the most of my moments of "freedom" (the very fact that my entire shopping trip had thus far taken only 40 minutes meant I wasn't going home yet!) and head for a coffee shop. In London, I survived on coffee, but then I had to give up caffeine for "health reasons", which is probably just as well, as I couldn't afford a daily coffee or three here! Still, I quite like the hot chocolates here, even if my teeth don't, but then I discovered that they serve decaff coffee in this particular Cafe... perfect!

Back at home I found a letter waiting for me from the Kommune to say that they had finally(!) received instructions from the UK Tax Office to pay child benefit here which is great news as it's needed for the children's school fees and shoes etc, and most importantly means that I no longer have to waste hours on the phone to the really helpful (yeah right!!) UK Tax Office! I definitely think my lucky plant had something to do with it being such a successful Saturday. Tomorrow I will probably slip over in the kitchen whilst wearing my new boots and squash the Hoya in the process, but it has been a really nice weekend. Thanks plant.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Dangerous Conditions

I have just returned from book club. If you had told me a year ago that I would be living in a foreign country and attending a book club once a month, I would have found the very thought of it highly amusing. I will admit to having preconceived ideas about book club ladies bringing their knitting along and having a good chin-wag about the latest Mills & Boon they have just completed. However, I have found that I do love going to book club. I look forward to my monthly evenings of having to find my way around in the dark, not only in an unfamiliar environment but also having to navigate an alien transport system, only to be rewarded with good company, wine and new friends (and not a Mills & Boon in sight!)! The wine consumption may have helped me get up the big hill on the way home... The 9 weeks of snow we have endured may be finally coming to an end, as it's currently pouring with rain. The rain has mixed with the snow to make an awful sludge, which is treacherous. I imagined myself as one of the Olympic cross-country skiers doing the uphill skiing thing which helped, and I managed to negotiate it quite successfully. Incidentally the most hazardous part was definitely our driveway, which I will put down to stupid foreign people not clearing the snow properly (us).

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Cakes and cakes....

The past few days have flown past, we have been busy with guests as my brother-in -law and his lovely partner arrived on Saturday to spend a few days with us.

Sunday was Fastelavn here in Denmark, which of course meant we had to partake in one particular aspect of this festivity, the amazing Fastelavn cakes pictured. They were sooo good, we cut them up and all tasted each one. That evening we marked Chinese New Year with lovely homemade spicy Chinese food (something I really miss in Scandinavia, they don't really do spicy), enjoyed sat in front of a roaring fire and washed down with plenty of cold beer! You can't really appreciate wine with food that spicy after all!

Monday was a very special and quite an emotional day for me. My little girl turned five. It snowed on Monday, as it has done for most of this week which made me even more nostalgic as it had snowed the day she was born. I remember being in my hospital bed, clutching this tiny perfect bundle and watching the snow fall lightly over a grey London. I was a bit shell-shocked as I couldn't believe she had actually arrived and that I wasn't just hugely fat after all, I had been pregnant and now I really was a mother. It was a wonderful and slightly overwhelming feeling. So here we are, and those five years have flown by. I am still overwhelmed by my beautiful, funny, creative, and very dramatic little girl. She lights up our lives every day and I am so grateful for her. For her special day she decided she would like to go The Bear Factory. She shares a birthday with her Aunty so we all went to Copenhagen together. The Bear Factory was hilarious and both children thoroughly enjoyed it. Whoever thought of that concept is both very clever and incredibly rich by now for sure! Bizarrely she also chose Sushi for her birthday lunch, which was more than fine with all of the adults and as the snow seemed to have put a lot of customers off, we had the whole place to ourselves. It was wonderful and my little girl looked and felt very grown up! Aunty N enjoyed it too, she had a glass of champagne with hers. Then it was back to watch the Olympics in front of the fire and a big slice of birthday cake. Time to get sorted before more guests arrive on Friday for the next weekend...

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Comfort Zones & Quiet Zones...

Living in a foreign country can mean that sometimes you feel isolated and lonely. It can mean missing home very much and wishing that you spoke the lingo of your temporary homeland perfectly just to understand, and perhaps please those around you,(and to sometimes shut them up). It can mean many things that might not seem that positive... But, it also forces you to do, try and say things that you wouldn't have in a previous life, which could be seen as a positive thing right? Things like food for example... not understanding written or spoken Danish can mean that you often end up with something you weren't quite expecting. This can make for an interesting experience, or if you are lucky, an interesting and pleasant experience! The children love our weekly visit to the bakers on a Sunday morning, you just never know what we are going to end up with! Likewise with smorrebrod, it's mostly fabulous, but honestly who thought of some of those combinations? Today because I apparently asked for everything (when I infact wanted the opposite) on a (very rare) lunchtime hotdog, I ended up with something that looked like my two year old had invented and put together, and surprisingly nice (and very bad for me) it was too!

That wasn't the highlight of the day however... the library took that position! Most (obviously I haven't been to all of them) libraries in the UK try to be child friendly. They may try to cater to younger children with a jigsaw or two, or weekly storytimes etc. They are usually places where children have a small area of books to sit quietly to look at and choose to take home. Recently my daughter had a playdate after school with a classmate. The classmate's mother informed me that as her husband was ill, she would be taking the girls to the library after school. Not that exciting I thought, thinking of our local library at home, but a nice experience none-the-less. On picking her up I was surprised to see the girls having the best time in the most amazing children's library I have ever seen. Huge beanbags littered the floor for them to lounge about or even (shock-horror) jump about on, beautiful wooden toys and row upon row upon row of fantastic games and puzzles to play with, not to mention of course the most amazing selection of books. This can only be a good thing. If children associate a place where books "live" as being fun, surely they are going to see books as fun aren't they? Anyway, we had two hours there today and I even tried to read a Danish (child's) book whilst my son fought various battles between knights, pirates and a giant octopus, just because I wanted to.

Monday 8 February 2010

My first post...

Well, where to start... This is something I told myself I would do to record our experiences of our new lives in our temporary homeland... Four and a bit months in and I thought I had better make a start!

We arrived from the UK in September, to a gloriously warm and sunny Denmark with clean, beautiful air and stunning scenery... That warm sun seems like years ago now that we are in the depths of winter, with snow still falling as I speak! All of our boxes have been unpacked (almost!) and our new life here has well and truly begun! So far, I love it here though... the people are very similar to the English, we share the same sense of humour, the food's great, the beer is good, the pastries are amazing and the quality of life for our two children is incredible! It has taken a while for my daughter (almost 5) to get settled in, but (thank goodness!) she is happy at school now and has made a lot of friends. My son (2) loved it here straight away, unlike our concrete square in London, he has a huge garden to play in and he is out there in all weather... There is no such thing as bad weather according to the Danes, only bad clothing!

I am enjoying a reversal of commuting positions with my husband - I have the car, he get's the train, although I still think he has a good deal, the trains are at least a lot cleaner and more reliable than in London! I do miss home though, I miss my friends, my sisters who I am so close to, and of course my parents and my dear grandparents. I miss not being a native, not being able to speak the strange and unprounouncable language that is Danish, does have its drawbacks obviously, but this is an amazing, interesting opportunity, a chance for us as a family to broaden our horizons, explore a new land, new cultures, and other new countries...and see where this adventure ultimately leads...

I hope to keep this updated as often as I can with the new stuff we do and find out....
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