Come on in…the (iced) water is lovely!

A quick check-in from the beach, where I’ve just
been down for my morning swim! :)

Now, as you can probably see from all the white in the above picture, the
snow is still with us here in Copenhagen. The roads are pretty bad today. And
the pavements aren’t so easy to navigate either… ;)

In some places – despite the heroic efforts of the local council gritters
– the cycle paths have completely disappeared.

It’s always best to go and check out the terrain before you start undressing for your
swim because it’s a long, breezy, icy walk out to the pier in your bathrobe!

And today there was – selvfølgelig – plenty of ice on the pier and
on the steps down to the sea…

The steps to the right of the pier were looking a tad slippy…

But as they say, “hvor der er vilje, er der vej” (where there’s a
will, there’s a way)! And we found that the steps to the left were our best
choice today… ;)

And you know what? It felt so good today that we decided that one swim just
wasn’t enough. So we swam twice…

Have a wonderful (watery) Wednesday!

Diane :)


The Danish Prime Minister (almost) got a nose. A small one!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Update to my original post from Thursday
23 January:

Helle didn’t get “a nose” in the end.
Today, 24 January, it was announced that, yes, the opposition parties
wanted to give her “a nose”. But that they couldn’t agree on the size of it.
;)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
*

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, our
current (first ever female) Prime Minister
, was the top story in the Danish
news on Friday. Again. Yep, you’ll remember (or should I say, how can you
forget?!) that last month ”the flirty Dane” or “leggy blonde” got more than her
15 minutes of fame for her infamous “selfie” with Obama! ;)
Now, personally, I thought the incident was overdramatised. After all, the
Memorial was a joyous celebration of Mandela’s life, complete with music and
dancing. For pete’s sake, she didn’t take it at Mandela’s funeral…

But, as usual, I digress! Yes, on Friday Helle appeared before
Folketingets Restudvalg (the parliamentary council) to answer questions
about a sticky case, a real hot potato. I won’t bore you with the details here
but, if you are interested, you can see the background in English here.

Helle is often in the tv magazines…

At the end of the four and a half hour session, she was given en
næse
– or “a nose” – by the Committee. A small one. Don’t worry – her
face looks just the same. Though the look on her face may
selvfølgelig be a little different… Helle’s “næse” didn’t
involve any surgery. It’s just the Danish expression for giving a Minister of
Parliament a reprimand or a telling off. A political clip behind the ear. But
I have to say that it always sounds very strange to hear the tv and
radio pundits discussing it at length. “Hey, Jesper, just how big a nose is she likely to get?”
“Well, at this stage, Casper, it looks like a pretty big nose.” :P

This is Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s first ‘nose’. The record holder is Uffe
Ellemann-Jensen (the former Minister for Foreign Affairs). With no less than
80! A pretty pompous chap, he certainly likes to hit the headlines himself.
How about his one liner from 1992 – when Denmark had just voted ‘No’ to the
Maastricht Treaty and won the European Championship in football? “If you can’t
join them, beat them!”

Happy Thursday! Let’s keep our noses clean!

Diane :)


Monday Morning (School) Blues

As if Monday mornings (= returning to school after a full weekend glued to
the computer and/or his bed) aren’t tough enough on my DS14 (dear son, aged 14),
there is now even more for him to dread…

Up until last week, he had idræt (gym) once a week. But now they’ve
rejigged the timetable and, starting today, he now has gym twice! Poor wee
lamb! ;)

Oh, and please, please, please don’t anyone remind him about the Danish
school reform (negotiated after that infamous
five-week-long-Lockout of Danish teachers
), which is set to come into place
in August this year and will include:

(Mindst) Én times bevægelse om dagen.

(At least) One hour’s exercise per
day…

Eeeeeeeeeeeek!

Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane :)


What a piece of (Danish) junk! May the force be with you!

My DD11 (dear daughter, aged 11) was at a
classmate’s birthday party at the ice rink yesterday afternoon. Now, the rink
is right next to our local recycling centre so, when the time came to pick her
up, I decided to load up the car with junk and kill two birds with one stone.
Or should I say,”kill two flies with one swat”? Slå to fluer med et
smæk?
😉

Our genbrugsstation (recycling centre) reopened a few weeks ago
after an extensive makeover. It’s scarily efficient in its layout.
There are even ‘pit stop’ areas where you can clean your hands and vacuum your
car! I was ooooohing and aaaaahing over the streamlined, high-tech look of the
place when one of the recycling crew told me a funny story. The design contract
was apparently won by a French architect. A Star Wars fan. Yep, if you take a
closer look at the layout of the recycling plant, you’ll see that it’s shaped
like…the
Millennium Falcon
! The only thing missing, said my
new-best-friend-the-recycling-worker, was Chewbacca… ;)

What a
piece of junk
!” Said Luke, the first time he set eyes on the Millennium
Falcon. Hmm, you can just hear the French architect: “She may not look like
much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid. I’ve made a lot of special
modifications myself!” :P

“Now let’s blow this thing and go home!” Have a (junk free)
wookieweekend!

Diane :)


Great Dane-ish Pastries! (Part Six – Bread Rolls)

Okay, where did we get to with our wienerbrød? So far we’ve seen the spandauer, frøsnapper, kanelsnegl, tebirkesand thewienerstang. Yummy, yum, yum!

For breakfast today we have a selection of plain bread rolls. Okay, not exactly
wienerbrød. But quintessentially Danish nevertheless! Oh, and before
we go any further, you should know that Danish bread rolls should be cut in half
before serving to guests. Want to know more about that? Go read Roll up, roll up!

Breakfast time!

So let’s start with the kids’ favourite. The tebolle (‘tea roll’).
A fairly small, round roll that has a slight sheen on the outside, a soft
crust and is soft and fluffy on the inside. There is also another
version containing raisins which – selvfølgelig – is called a
rosinbolle.

Tebolle – ‘tea roll’

Then we have my own particular favourite. The rundstykke (literally
’round piece’). A slightly bigger, round roll which has a medium hard crust and
is traditionally topped with hundreds of white poppy seeds. (Though, as you can
see below, our local baker uses a mix of white and blue poppy seeds.)

Rundstykke – ’round piece’

Lastly we have my husband’s favourite morning roll. The håndværker
(literally ‘tradesman’). The shape is more square than round, it has a pretty
hard crust and is topped with blue poppy seeds. Takes a bit of chewing.

Håndværker – ‘a tradesman’

And what exactly do the Danes spread or put on top of those morning rolls,
now that they’ve been cut in half and are lying ready on the plate? Join me
next time to find out! ;)

Velbekomme!

Diane


Great Dane-ish Pastries! (Part Five – Wienerstang)

Today we have one of the ‘log’ type pastries – a “wienerstang“. One looooooong bar of
yumminess, great for sharing! And it’s cheaper than buying individual pastries
– good for crowds! [said the Canny Scot]

You’ll need a large platter to hold this
one…

There are selvfølgelig various varieties… With sugar and chopped
toasted almonds on the top. Or, this one, my own favourite, with lots and lots
of lovely chocolate and white “glasur” (icing)!

Perfect for cutting into slices and eating at
breakfast, or with a nice cuppa in the afternoon. Trouble is, though, that one
slice is never enough! ;)

WIENERSTANG – The final verdict!

Sweetness: 4 out of 5

Messiness: 3 out of 5,

Current price: approx. Dkr 46 ($8.30 or £5.20)

Join me next time for more wonderful, wonderful Dane-ish pastries!

Diane :)


Friday Fun – It’s Marvelous! Mosell!

Time for a little Friday fun! From the very
hip ‘I-only-release-my-music-on-youtube’ Danish rapper Marvelous Mosell. A
little ditty about a guy who feels a cold coming on and phones in sick – and
basically spends the whole week eating junk and watching (junky) tv: TV Shop,
Melrose Place, Married (with Children), Prince of Belair, Hallmark, Beverly
Hills, etc, etc, etc. I love how he rhymes “Pokemon and Batman” with “Baywatch,
Jake and the Fatman”! Or how about “Jeg sov oveni kanelgifler – jeg var
klæbrig som tapetklister
” which is ‘I slept on top of cinnamon buns, I was
a sticky as wallpaper paste’… ;)

Yes, he sings in Danish but – hooray, hooray – there are subtitles, so you
can listen and learn!

MARVELOUS MOSELL – “JEG VAR BLEVET SYG OG KU’LI’ DET”

Hope you have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend. And let’s be fit
for fight Monday morning…no calling in sick!

Diane :)


Great Dane-ish Pastries! (Part Four – Tebirkes)

Who’s ready for another wonderful, wonderful Dane-ish pasty?

Today we have the tebirkes.  Which, translated literally, means a ‘tea-poppy seed’. Outside of Copenhagen, it’s sometimes called a Københavnerbirkes, a ‘Copenhagen-poppy seed’.

Tebirkes

As you can see, it’s a fairly high, light puffy bread roll and, as the Danes say, it “sidder mellem to stole” – ‘sits between two chairs’.  On the one hand, it isn’t a full-on-in-your-face sweet Danish pastry.  But on the other, it’s not a plain old savoury roll.  Great for when you want something a little sweet but are pretending to be healthy…  Though I like to go the whole hog, slice it open and lather it with butter! ;)

Mmmm…lots of lovely Kærgården with my bread!

The tebirkes tastes very similar to the frøsnapper, savoury-looking but with a sticky sweet bottom.  And, yes – by jingo dash – the tebirkes is made from the very same dough and ingredients.  The frøsnapper is just shaped differently…

Frøsnapper – cousin of the tebirkes

Don’t like sweet things?  Want a healthier option?  Then you can always go for the no frills, non-sweet variant, the grovbirkes – grov meaning ‘rough’ or ‘coarse’.

But back to my favourite variety, the tebirkes

TEBIRKES – The final verdict!

Sweetness: 3 out of 5

Messiness: 4 out of 5, 

Current price: approx. Dkr 13 ($2.30 or £1.47)

Join me next time for more wonderful, wonderful Great Dane-ish pastries!

Diane :)


You know you’re in Denmark when… (Cycle attire)

While not an avid follower of fashion, I do try and take pride in my appearance.  (For example, I would never dream of leaving the house without mascara and lipgloss.  Hey, I don’t even walk around my own house without mascara or lipgloss – don’t want to scare myself in the mirror!)

But these autumn mornings, when I’m biking down to the sea for my skinny dip (vinterbadning, as it’s called in Danish – read about my passion for that right here), I find myself in a quandary.  ‘Cos it’s chilly on my way down to the sea, but warming up on the way back.  A little too soon to be wearing gloves.  But – waaaaaaaaah – my wrists get dang cold.  Yes, yes, I may be a winterbather and swim in the sea when it’s frozen at the edges.  But at all other times I’m a frossen pind (“frozen stick”). 

Winterbathing – this is the life!

What to do?  I dug out a (very old) pair of woollen legwarmers.  And popped them on my wrists.  To wear as an extra layer under my woollen cardigan and coat.  Værsgo’!  Problem solved!

No more cold wrists!

Okay, so it’s not fashion, darling.  But it works.

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful – woolly – weekend!

Diane :)


Great Dane-ish Pastries! (Part Three – Snegle)

Last time we looked at the frøsnapper – a ‘seed snapper’ – guaranteed to
leave you with black and white bits between your teeth.

Today we have en kanelsnegl (a ‘cinnamon snail’) and it comes a very close second to my all-time
fave (which you met in Part
One – en spandauer
).

It’s a good choice for eating on the hoof because a) it doesn’t contain seeds
that fall off, b) it doesn’t contain jam or creamy stuff that can fall out of it
and c) it’s more of a bread than a flaky pastry, so it doesn’t leave crumbs all
over your clothes. Though – like it’s animal namesake – it will leave behind a sticky trail, so
you’ll still need your wits about you. Here’s one I bought at the station –
which I ate in about three bites ;)

En kanelsnegl (‘cinnamon snail’) from the underground station

But if you are really hungry.
Or just feeling extravagant. Then you need to try en direktørsnegl (a
‘director’s snail’). Also goes by the name høj snegl (‘tall snail’).
Which contains all of the above, plus whatever the baker thinks is fit for a
boss. In this case some slivered almonds, chocolate and white icing…

En direktørsnegl (‘director’s snail’)

 

Yup, the direktørsnegl is not for the faint-hearted – this is a real
whopper. It’s not only larger in circumference than your regular garden
snail…it’s also very tall. The kind that requires a knife to cut it into
smaller pieces!



A tall order…

 

Whew, I need a glass of water…

SNEGLE – The final verdict!

Sweetness: 4 out of 5

Messiness: 3 out of 5,

Current price: approx. Dkr 13 ($2.30 or £1.47) – KANELSNEGL

Dkr 15 ($2.65 or
£1.69) – DIREKTØRSNEGL

Join me next time for more wonderful, wonderful Great Dane-ish pastries!

Diane :)


You know you’re in Denmark when… (Parking)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

You decide to leave the car at home and bike down to the S-tog
station (Danish underground train station), as vacant car parking spaces are few
and very far between. Then
spend five minutes wandering around the station, wondering where on earth to
park your bike, as – fiddlesticks! – there’s no more room at the inn!

Bike parking…room for one more?

 

Diane :)


Dear Gym Teacher…Love Mum

On Thursday morning my son had yet another
(is-this-toothy-traintracks-saga-ever-going-to-end?) appointment with the school
orthodontist, and this particular one would take a whole hour in the Dreaded
Dentist’s Chair.   Which meant he would miss at least one, if not two, classes.  
My son started school six years ago and, in the past, he would simply inform the
Maths/Danish/Woodwork teacher and head off to the (this being Denmark, land of
high taxes, very swanky) school dentist.  But on Thursday morning, he said,
“Mum, I need a note from you, and it has to be handwritten!”   A handwritten
note?   In 2013?   Has the boy gone mad?

Handwritten note – anno 2013

Now, you see, correspondence with our local Danish school is always done electronically.
Timetables, changes of schedule, notice of Parents Meetings, information about
school parties, homework assignments, reading logbooks, etc, etc, etc.   It’s all
on the school intra.   If it’s not on intra, it doesn’t exist…   Your child is
sick and can’t come to school today?  Don’t phone.  E-mail the teacher.   You’re
taking the family on a trip, outside of the official school holidays?  Apply
online. Have a question for the school nurse?   Send her a mail.   Permission
slips for a trip?   Oops, wait, those don’t even exist here!   No, those crazy but
terribly sensible Danes have – thankfully – not yet caved in to
hysterical Health & Safety rules.   When my daughter was around 8, she went
on an overnight camping trip with her class – no access to water or flushing
toilets.   In the higher grades, the entire class cycles into town/to the nature
centre/to camp.   A couple of years ago our school even cancelled classes because of snow and instead took the kids out
sledging
…cool!

But back to that handwritten note.   My son is now in 7th grade and – as his
class teacher informed us at the first Parents’ Meeting – something strange
happens to these newly-hatched teenagers when they move away from the
‘our-every-move-is-being-watched!’ confines of middle school and over to the
‘way-hay-we-can-do-whatever-we-want-and-even-leave-the-school-at-lunchtime-to-go-and-buy-Coke-and-sticky-buns-’cos-heck-we’re-fed-up-with-all-that-healthy-ryebread-nonsense’ more
laidback form of high school.   Apparently our sweet little darlings turn
into Jekyll and Hyde when they walk through the school door.  (I was going
to write “though the school gates”, but, hey, we don’t have those either here,
as the school isn’t fenced in…)

Our kids will apparently do whatever they can in order to get out of class.  
Especially gym.  Yep, the teachers have heard all the excuses.   They’ve also
been presented with texts on smartphones apparently sent from Mor
(“Mum”).  Hmm, why does Mum have several different telephone numbers?  They’ve
also received ‘please excuse my child from class’ notes, typed on computers,
unsigned.

So from 7th grade their rule is that, if you can’t attend gymclass, you have
to have a handwritten letter.   On real paper.  Signed.   With a real pen.
From Mor (“Mum”).

Though, this being Denmark – where real men also make packed lunches, cycle
their offspring to school, do the grocery shopping and turn up en masse at
Parents’ meetings – a handwritten note from Far (“Dad”) is –
selvfølgelig – also acceptable. ;)

Have a marvellous Monday – school or no school!

Diane :)


Great Dane-ish Pastries! (Part Two – Frøsnapper)

Last time I introduced
you to my all-time favourite Danish pastry, the Spandauer. Not to be confused with my other
favourite Spandauer…Martin Kemp, hee hee! And swoon! ;)

Today we have….en frøsnapper – a ‘seed snapper’!

En frøsnapper – a frog snapper!

Frø is the Danish word for ‘seed’ and – as you can see from the
above – this Danish pastry certainly lives up to its name, catching all the
sesame and poppy seeds that cross its path. [The name did confuse me at first
though, because frø is also the Danish word for ‘frog’…] As you can
also see from the above, it’s a bit of a whopper – a long, low log – and doesn’t
fit onto a normal sideplate.

Now, you might think – selvfølgelig – that it doesn’t look
particularly sweet. There isn’t any icing, jam or obvious custardy cream type
stuff. But don’t been fooled because it has a very sweet and sticky bottom! And
you’ll also need to watch out (or at least come prepared) if you’re planning to
eat one of these at a café or wandering around town. Because all those little
seeds are going to get stuck right into your teeth. So bring a
toothbrush, avoid completely or enjoy behind closed doors! ;)

Seeds galore!

FRØSNAPPER – The final verdict!

Sweetness: 3 out of 5

Messiness: 5 out of 5,

Current price: approx. Dkr 9 ($1.61 or £1.04)

Join me next time for more wonderful. wonderful Dane-ish pastries!

Velbekomme! (Bon appétit!)

Diane :)


Great Dane-ish Pastries! (Part One)

I biked down to the bakers this morning to get some Danish pastries for
breakfast. Now, please note, I don’t normally shell out exorbitant amounts
of money buying fresh pastries on bog-standard Wednesday mornings – it was a
special mid-week treat because we’ve friends visiting from London. Anyway, the
bakers shelves were jam-packed with sticky/crumbly/crunchy delights in all
shapes and sizes and it struck me that – gadzooks – it’s high time that I give
you a run-down on the myriad of wonderful, wonderful Great Dane-ish pastries!
:)

Great Dane-ish Pastries!

Now, basics first. As you may know, the Danes don’t actually call
their pastries “Danish pastries” or “Danish”. They call them
wienerbrød” (literally “Vienna bread”). So who invented them, the
Danes or the Austrians? Who knows and, to be honest, who cares?

En spandauer

Today I’m starting off – selvfølgelig – with my own, personal
favourite, en spandauer. (Yep, you guessed right, the name comes from
Spandau, Berlin. I have no idea why.) Spandauer are individual
pastries, as opposed to the long, log ones where you cut off a slice. The shape
is basically circular, it’s fairly low in height, with a space in the middle
that contains either a yellow custard/cream or (the one I always go for) a dollop of raspberry
jam, topped with chopped nuts and drizzled with lots of white icing.
Mmmmmmm!

Make mine with jam, please!

SPANDAUER – The final verdict!

Sweetness: 5 out of 5, a full-on sugar rush

Messiness: 3 out of 5, spandauers aren’t too crumbly but they’re pretty
sticky.

Current price: approx. Dkr 12 ($2.15 or £1.37)

Join me next time for more wonderful. wonderful Dane-ish pastries!

Velbekomme! (Bon appétit!)

Diane :)


Back to the books!

If you haven’t already heard or seen the jubilation of parents partying
in the street, the LockOut of Danish teachersis finally over and my kids cycled
off to school this morning at 7.30am – hooray! They were, of course, a tad sad
to be going back after an unexpected hiatus of 5 weeks – not to mention very
grumpy when they were dragged out of bed selvfølgelig – but resigned
and looking forward to seeing their friends and getting back in to their
groove.

On a side note: I had to laugh on Saturday night when we were watching Danish
kids’ tv. At the top of the screen was a countdown: 1 day, 12 hours, 38 minutes
and 35 seconds until…school starts! Yep, gotta love those crazy Danes and their
warped sense of humour… ;)

Anyway, now that the kids are back to their textbooks, how about some other
books? (Y’all know how much I love Danish libraries– I promise not to mentionthem again!) Free books. From our
local alfresco book trading posts!

Yep, Gentofte council has set up specially designed book trading posts– book ‘sculptures’ – around the commune. You can come and take books around
the clock. 24 hours a day. But, um, if I want to borrow a book in the wee,
small hours, won’t it be too dark, I hear you say. Why, no, because inside
there are LED lamps which are powered by solar panels on the top! Okay, I’m
interested, so where do I get the key, I hear you ask. No need – they aren’t
locked – just help yourself! :)

You’re free to keep the books once you’ve finished reading them. Or return
them – along with any others you have lying around at home, collecting dust and
clogging your feng shui. But won’t it just turn into a giant junk heap of
books, I hear your ask? No, because a team of volunteers ensures that there is
a good varied selection and rotates the stock.

And what can you expect to find? An eclectic mix. The occasional DVD,
foreign languages books, plenty of crime and Agatha Christies, kids books and
non-fiction. From Dan Brown to Tolkien and everything in between.

It’s a ‘green’, self-sustaining project – which is absolutely dependent on
trust. (Indeed, part of the thinking behind the project is that it will
actually help to promote trust in public spaces.) Six-months down the road, it
looks like a success. No vandalism and lots of happy customers!

Happy Monday – whether you have your nose in an ebook or a free book!

Diane :)