The kids with caps…time to make some noise!

So the other day I told you about the Invasion of the kids with caps… Once they get the cap placed on their head, it doesn’t stop there. It’s time to celebrate. Big time.

It goes like this. Each High School class gets on to a truck. Which they have decorated with flowers, banners, Danish flags, etc, etc, etc. One of the most important things is the banner on the side of the truck. Which tells you which class and high school the students graduated from. And what the students will do if you wave to them or give them a toot from your car. (And, yes, everyone takes it in good spirit and toot, toot, toooooooots!) Along the lines of “1 Toot, we drink. 2 Toots, we finish the glass. 3 Toots, we’ll give you a flash.” And these Danes keep their promises…we saw several bare bottoms last year!

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And their parents/grannies/siblings/next-door-neighbours/the neighbour’s cat are on hand to give them a good send off.  Flags?  Check!  Beer?  Check!  Air horn?  Check! Loud speakers? Check! Ready for takeoff? Check! And where are they heading? On a loooooooong journey – they’ll stop at every student’s home for drinks and snacks. And – with about 25 students per class – that means that they’ll be driving around on the truck until the wee small hours of the next morning…

Alcohol, young kids and moving vehicles can be a dangerous cocktail. But the long arm of the Danish law are on hand to make sure that everything is all present and correct before take off.

At our local High Schools, there will be several trucks. Each playing different playlists. And that they play music for the entire duration of their trip around the area, usually 12 hours. Plus any passing cars or lorries will toot their horns and join in. Boom, boom. Toot, toot. Boom, boom! So it’s a very noisy afternoon and evening around these parts… Are you beginning to get the picture? Here’s a quick video I snapped of one of the trucks leaving the school (apologies for the shaky-hand) to give you a glimpse!

If you’re here in Denmark, you might want to sleep with your windows closed tonight (despite the tropical heatwave we are currently experiencing).  Because it will be the wee small hours of the next morning that these trucks finally grind to a halt, the tooting stops, the speakers are unplugged, everything is a bit blurry, it’s actually gone quite dark (despite the long Danish summer days), and we can all finally get to sleep!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂


Invasion of the kids with caps…

First there was just one or two. You didn’t notice them really. Just random dots on the landscape. Then they started popping up in the train and bus. They began to multiply. Huddled together in groups on street corners. In school halls, department stores and on the street. And – selvfølgelig – all over my Facebook feed.

What is this invasion? It’s the kids with caps!

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School’s out for summer and – for third year High School students – school is out for ever! 😄 Hence the graduation caps. Which, once it is placed on their head, doesn’t seem to leave said head for weeks and weeks… You must also remember that, here in Denmark, there is no such thing as school uniform. So lots of kids wearing the same item is a rather special sight. There was even one down at my bathing bridge this morning…

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And let’s not forget the families you will see walking around town, carrying baskets filled with flags and champagne. On their way to celebrate the big moment with their son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, sibling, nephew or niece…

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And notice how those crazy (but lovable) Danes wait patiently for the Green Man before they cross the road. Ten out of ten for good behaviour! 😄

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The shops are filled with graduation greeting cards and lots of ‘cap’ stickers, cocktail sticks and gift ribbon. Buy, buy, buy!

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But it’s not only students who are getting in on the act. Even the horse statue in the window of a local bar was wearing a graduation cap this morning!

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Oh well, you know what they say. If the cap fits, wear it..?

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :mrgreen:


Attention! It's Ascension!

Hot on the heels of Big Prayer Day, I bring you yet another public service announcement…

This Thursday, 5 May 2016, we have yet another religious holiday where Denmark will basically be closed for business. What’s the occasion this time? Kristi Himmelfart. Literally, Christ’s Sky Flight. Or Ascension, as is the more boring name in English. Oh, yes, I may have lived in Copenhagen for 18 years but the Danish word ‘fart‘ still brings out the child in me! Don’t you just love the elevator buttons in Danish stations..? 😉

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But, as usual, I digress! Attention! Where were we? Ascension. Oh yes, Thursday is closed and Danish schools make ‘a bridge’ for this particular holiday and so schools will also be closed on Friday 6 May. But most workplaces will be open for business as usual.

And what do the Danes do for Ascension? Just like our last holiday (Big Prayer Day), it’s high season for confirmations, a spot of gardening and – if the Danish weather gods are with us – enjoying some hot and sunny weather. So far we have had a very cold spring. As regular readers will know, I’m a winterbather, and our sea temperature has been stuck on 5c/41f for weeks and weeks… Cheers with a hot cuppa!

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Have a great Kristi Himmelfart!

Diane 🙂

 


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 13 December (Lucia)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

13 DECEMBER

Okay, so there are no prizes for guessing what I’m writing about today…  13 December means one thing and one thing only.  Santa Lucia!  A candlelight, singing procession – just before the sun comes up or goes down – on St. Lucia Day, the 13th of December.  Lead by the Lucia-brud (‘Lucia bride’) – she’s the girl with the crown of candles in her hair – her followers wearing long white robes and bearing candles.  A tradition stolen from our neighbours – those silly (but lovable) Swedes.  This is what it looked like when my DD12 took part in the procession a couple of years ago.  8.15am and it was still pitch black outside…

 Making their way through the corridors and the school library…

And, no – your eyes do not deceive you…  The girls carry real, lighted candles.  And the staff – selvfølgelig – take plenty of precautions.  One of the girls got her hair just a bit too close to the flame (have you ever noticed that almost every young Danish girl has long hair?! not a smart bob in sight!) and her hair got singed ever so slightly.  With that awful telltale smell into the bargain! 😉 But the teachers were on hand immediately and nothing worse happened.  All in a day’s work for a Danish teacher!  The Lucia girls thought it was exciting and have a story to tell.  And I’m glad to live in a country where they don’t use fear mongering and ban lighted candles – but instead carry on the tradition, use their common sense and teach the kids respect for open flames.  Hooray for those crazy Danes!  But for the faint at heart, battery operated candles are available…

If you want to hear the Lucia song, and get a real feeling of what it’s like to watch the small kids go by, here’s a cute little video from a Danish school.  Not a dry Mum’s eye in the house, I’m sure! :)

And will you be eating lussekatter today (‘St Lucia’ saffron buns)?  They’re very popular in Sweden but that tradition didn’t really catch on here in Denmark.

But, hey, be careful with those candles out there.  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


X marks the spot!

On Friday my DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14) went to a birthday party/sleepover at a classmate’s house.  All the boys from his class – that would be twelve of them – were invited, as is the general rule here for birthdays.  You invite the entire class (boys plus girls).  Or all the boys.  Or all the girls.  No picking and choosing individuals, no leaving people out.  Which is a great idea!  But can be quite the logistical conundrum with around 25 kids in a class…  So often two or three kids will hold a joint party – holding it in the biggest home – and the parents split the costs. Hats off to those brave Danish parents in DS14’s class who open their hearts and their home and invite all sixteen (count ’em!) girls for an overnighter! 😛

But I digress!

DS14 packed the gift for the Birthday Boy (a ‘goodie basket’ he made himself containing sweets, soda and crisps).  Oh, yes, forgot to mention that there’s also a general rule of how much to spend on birthday presents – absolutely essential with those 25 birthdays a year.  Or make that 50, or more, if you have two or three kids.  Eek!  We, the parents, decide the amount at the beginning of term and it’s currently DKR 30-50 per gift (UK £3.10-5.25, US $5-8.50).

But back to Friday and DS14 who was champing at the bit, ready with the gift, his sleeping bag/mattress and toothbrush (ha ha, as if he was actually intending to use it!). So off we tootled in the car.

We checked the address before we left (DS14 hadn’t been to this particular house before, as it’s a completely new class), got to the street and slowed down, peering out the car window for the right house number.  But – hey ho – there was no need to worry…  Because X marks the spot!

Yep, when you see the Danish flag stuck in the ground, you know a party is never far away 🙂

Just don’t confuse the large party flags (above) with those itty, bitty, cocktail-stick-size ones (below).   Those teeny red and white pennants are – as I hope you will remember – a warning to pedestrians of upcoming dog poop!  (Join the protest…stick a (Danish) flag in it!)

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane 🙂


What did you learn at school today? Hacking, Mindfulness or Bridge?

What did you learn at school today?  If you ask any 14 to 16 year old round these parts today, you might be surprised at their answer…

Today is the start of their 10 week long elective course.  They chose the subject themself.  From a catalogue that would make your mouth water…  How about “Masterbaker”, “Pastrychef”, “Cooking for Lads” or “Food from when Granny was a Kid”.  Or perhaps you’re the creative type?  “Songwriting”, “Animation” or “Architecture and Design”.  There is even “Hacker School”!  Useful if you want to go and work with the CIA or MI5, perhaps? 8) There are plenty sports to choose from, like “American Football” and “Basketball”.  Or perhaps you prefer the great outdoors and want to try “Parkour”, “Geocaching” or “Birdwatching”?  “Training for a Triathlon”?  “Learn to Sail”? Maybe “Mindfulness” or “Psychology” are more your cup of tea?  Yep, anything and everything is possible.  Even “Bridge for Beginners”…um, hold on, isn’t that only played in Agatha Christie novels?!

The top favourites (where they had to add extra classes) are “Baking and Pastry”, “Masterbaker”, “English, for those who want more”, “Spanish”, “Photography”, “Futsal” (a type of indoor football) and “Psychology”.  So what did my DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14) choose?  Chess.  He’s hoping to learn enough to finally beat his Dad! 😉  My DDH (Dear Danish Husband) was a chess champ (and Bent Larsen fan) when he was just a nipper…

And the most surprising thing of the lot?  The kids are mixed up regardless of age and the elective classes are not necessarily taught at your own school.  So most kids will be out cycling, on their own, to a different school in the local area.  Which could be anything from 1 to 7 kilometres.   Isn’t that great?  A real change of scene and air! 😛

My DS14 will have a bike ride of about 15 minutes.  Which just happens to pass by our favourite pølsevogn (sausage stand).  Hmmm, maybe I can meet my son for lunch next Wednesday? 🙂 

Diane 🙂


To be, or not to be (confirmed). That is the question! (Part One)

As you saw in my Monday post – Back to (the new) school (reform)! – my two little darlings are back at school and life has returned to normal.  Or is this just the calm before the proverbial storm?  We may be coming up for a turbulent six months.  Should we be ringing round relatives?  Looking at venues?  Choosing outfits?  Making wishlists?

Why?  Well just look at this autumn’s school timetable for DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14)

Don’t see it?  Look closely!

Yes, besides the usual suspects of French, Maths, Christianity, Modern Studies, etc, etc, etc, there’s a new kid on the block.  “Præst” (Priest). Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons from 2 til 2.50pm.  The official name is “konfirmationsforberedelsen” (confirmation preparation).  Our DS14 has just started 8th grade and is therefore coming up to the first (should he choose to accept it) ‘milestone’ in his life. Confirmation.  To be, or not to be (confirmed).  That is the question!

My DDSIL (Dear-Danish-Sister-in-Law) was already on the phone to us last year, asking if she and DDBIL should keep any weekends in April or May 2014  free for a possible confirmation celebration.  Say what?  Well, in Jutland, children are confirmed in the 7th grade.  So she was just phoning to be on the safe side.  Anyway, here in Copenhagen, it’s 8th grade.  So the time is, um, almost now.  Yikes!  Time to find a party venue!

Now, here’s something which floored me…  “Confirmation preparation” is part of the Danish school timetable.  Imagine that! In a country where I have yet to meet someone who is a churchgoer! 😛  But even though it’s factored in to the school day, participation at the classes is entirely voluntary.  As well as church rituals and some Bible study, the preparation classes delve into life’s big questions.  Birth, death, love, sex, education, friendships, work/life balance, marriage…

DS14 is undecided about the whole Danish rite of passage.  On the one hand, there is the lure of a party in his honour, with songs and speeches by friends and family.  (Very similar to a Danish wedding!)  Not to mention the even more alluring prospect of gifts and lots of cool cash. Remember my post When Blue Monday isn’t New Order?  In 2011 the average amount of gifts raked in by ‘konfirmander’ was a staggering 17,000 kroner (US $3,200 or GB £1,980).  Give us the money! 😉

On the other hand, DS14 is very scientific (well, yes, he’s in a special Biotech class, for Pete’s sake!) and swears by The Big Bang.  (The theory and the television series.)  So feels it would be wrong to be confirmed in church as he doesn’t “believe” in God.    As parents, we’ve told him that the decision is entirely up to him.  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) was confirmed when he was a lad but today is an atheist.  I’m not confirmed (we don’t have the equivalent in the Church of Scotland) and know nothing about the Bible, but I do believe that there is a God.  Of some kind.

Funnily enough, I bumped into our old parish priest (she christened our DD12 when DD was a babe in arms) down at the sea the other week . The priest (or, minister, as we say in Scotland) asked how the kids were getting on and I mentioned DS14’s dilemma. She said, “Tell him not to take it so seriously!”  She thought that it was a real shame that so much pressure put on the kids to “believe” or “measure their faith” and she herself encouraged them to relax and enjoy the tradition.  Who doesn’t love a party?  Besides – as the Danes are always quick to point out – confirmation is not in fact the child saying “Yes” to God.  It’s God saying “Yes” to the child! 😉

But back to DS14.  To be, or not to be (confirmed)?  Well, for the moment, he’s decided to “gå til præst” and take part in the classes.  And make a reasoned decision (complete with venn diagrams?) later.

Watch this space!  There might be more between heaven and earth…

Diane 🙂


Back to (the new) school (reform)!

Hooray!  The school holidays are over!  As my winterbathing buddy, H., said to me this morning, “Skønt! Endelig hverdag igen!” (Nice!  Finally back to everyday life!)  Much as we love our little darlings, we Mums are rather glad to see the back of the six week break.  But – surprise, surprise – even my kids were looking forward to starting school this morning.  Not because they have to start packing (pesky) lunchboxes again.  But because of the new Danish school reform.  Yep, the dice are up in the air and no-one knows how they’re going to land! 🙂

If you live in Denmark, you can’t possibly have missed the (mainly doom and gloom) coverage of the school reform.  “The end of the world is nigh!”  Well, we prefer to look at the changes with optimism.

First up, “heldagsskolen”.  All-day school.  You have to take that with a pinch of salt, because Danish kids aren’t really in school for that long at all.  My DD12 (dear daughter, aged 12) used to be in school from 8am to around 1.35pm.  The rest of the afternoon is normally spent at the school’s ‘after school club’.  Now my kids will be at school a little longer: 33 hours per week for DD12, 35 hours for DS14 (dear son, aged 14).

At our school kids will be taught English from the age of 6 (as opposed to the current age of 9).  Our local council has also decided to give kids their first taste of English at nursery and kindergarten.  Amazing!  A second language (my kids could choose German or French, both chose French) from the age of 11.

In addition to their regular Physical Education class, our kids will now do 45 minutes of some form of “movement” every day.  We haven’t had any details yet but there will certainly be climbing (our school has a climbing wall and several teachers who are certified instructors) and there was talk of bringing in, e.g. yoga teachers, during the lunchbreak.

One of the most controversial changes is that there will now be a Lektiecafé/Studietid (Homework Café/Study Hour) integrated into the schoolday.  My kids think it’s a great idea.  DS14 had a similar system in his class last year and was glad to be able to do his homework during school hours, leaving his “free” time as “free” time.  Or should I say computer time? 😉  DD12 is looking forward to the café because there will be a teacher on hand to help with homework.  The Danish political party “de Konservative” disagrees with plans to make the homework café obligatory and believes that kids should be able to “choose to do homework at home with mum and dad”.  Ha ha, I literally had to laugh out loud when I heard that!  If I had 10 kroner for every time the subject of homework has come up at Parents’ Meetings…  A constant source of conflict between parent and child.  Who wants to come home from football or piano and restart school stuff?  My fellow parents would rather have their eyes gouged out with hot pokers than battle through any more maths problems! 😛

As I said, we are positive.  Bring on the changes!

So, there was a smile on my face as gave my kids a hug and waved them off on their bikes at 7.30am this morning.  Birds tweeting, the sun shining – you get the picture.  Only to hear the garden gate opening a couple of hours later, at 11.30am.  “You’re back already?”, I cried.  “Yep, we were let off early.”  Hmmm, so much for all-day school! 😉

Diane

 

 


School's. Out. For. Ever. Toot, tooooot!

The holidays are here.  The holidays are here!  The holidays ARE HERE!  Can you guess that we are excited? 😛  Yep, Friday was the last day of school for my kids.  It was a beautiful warm, sunny summer morning and we cycled over to school with a song in our heads, not a care in our hearts, bike baskets full of teacher gifts.  Now, please, indulge me here, because I couldn’t resist stopping at the aptly-named Sommervej (‘Summer Street’) to take a pic!  Oh, and the little red dot above the letter ‘j’ on the street sign isn’t a dot – it’s actually a ♥…  Remember my post, “I ‘heart’ Danish street signs!”? 

 

But, as usual, I digress!  Anyway, later that morning, just before noon, I was making my way back from the (fantastic Danish) library.  Yep, tootling along in my car, full of the joys of summer.  And then – wham – I drove right into a cortege of Danish high school students, waiting to be waved off.  I’ve told you about the students before (Danish) High School Musical (Trucks).  But this was amazing…  The road was literally blocked with the trucks, the students, their parents/grannies/siblings/next-door-neighbours/the neighbour’s cat.

So, naturally, I had to ditch my car and go take a closer look…

It was – selvfølgelig – a few minutes to noon and the trucks were just about to depart on their loooooooong journey.  (They will stop at every student’s home for drinks and snacks.  And – with about 25 students per class – that means that they’ll be driving around on the truck until the wee small hours of the next morning…)

Even though there was actually a Danish policeman (Oh dear – am I showing my age?  Should I be saying the more politically correct ‘police officer’?) on hand, inspecting the trucks, it was total mayhem.  Fantastic! 🙂

Are we ready to rock’n’roll?

Flags?  Check!  Beer?  Check!  Air horn?  Check!

Even I – the girl at the party who always turns up the speakers to 11 – thought it was extra loud this year!  Remember that *every* truck has speakers and is playing different playlists. And that they play music for the entire duration of their trip around the area, usually 12 hours.  Plus any passing cars or lorries will toot their horns and join in.  Boom, boom. Toot, toot.  Boom, boom!  So it’s a very noisy afternoon and evening around these parts…  Are you beginning to get the picture?  Here’s a quick video I snapped of one of the trucks leaving the school (apologies for the shaky-hand) to give you a glimpse!

All aboard and ready for the summer holidays?  Toot, tooooot!

Diane 🙂


Flødeboller! What's not to love? Um, even more!

No sooner than I had wiped the last chocolate from the corners of my mouth and hit ‘publish’ on my flødeboller blogpost (Flødeboller! What’s not to love?), than I remembered that there was even more to go round of those dainty Danish domes of delight!

What about a tongue twister?  Fem flade flødeboller på et fladt flødebollefad!  (Five flat flødeboller on a flat flødebolle tray.)  Yep, try saying that one five times fast.  With or without aforementioned flødebolle in your mouth 😉

And no self-respecting school fête or børnehavefest (nursery party) is complete without Flødebollemaskinen.  The “flødebolle catapult machine”!  Always a hit.  But sometimes a miss (boom, boom)!  You very carefully balance a flødebolle (make sure to use the cheap ones for this!) on the back of the machine…

 …and throw a ball at the “clown”.  If you hit him right on the nose – baboom – the flødebolle flies up and you try and catch it!

Sadly, many hundreds of yummy flødeboller are harmed each summer in the process. And end up as a big sticky mess on the playground… 😉

But – hey – onwards and upwards!  Summer is well and truly here in Denmark right now and my DD12 and DS14 are eating icecream round the clock.  If you’re out and about and find a good icecream shop, then go the whole hog and ask for syltetøj (jam), flødeskum (whipped cream) and a flødebolle, for a real traditional Danish treat.   They’ll stick the flødebolle (okay, more like kind of squash it…) upside down on the top of your icecream cone.  Difficult to eat and you may need to wash your face afterwards but, hey, it’s a unique Danish summer experience!  🙂

Okay, time to go – my cup of coffee and flødebolle await!  Really, what’s not to love?

Diane 🙂

 

 


Pumped and ready to ride!

Are you ready?  Tyres pumped, lights checked, cycle helmet strapped firmly on? Tomorrow, Friday, is Cyklistdag (Cyclist Day) for my DD12 (dear daughter, aged 12) who’s in the 5th grade.  It’s a campaign, organised by the police and schools in our area, to improve road safety.  Many kids bike to school – either accompanied by their parents or alone, from the age of about 10.  Yep, it can be hard to find a bike parking space at school in the morning – come early if you want a good spot… 😉

So what does Cyklistdag involve?  Well, the class will be divided up into small groups of 5/6 kids and they’ll cycle round the commune with volunteer parents.

There are a couple of stops with ‘challenges’ along the way.  This year I’m helping out with the Manøvrebane, where the kids will have to manoeuvre round cones, ride over a ramp and complete a slalom track.  Another ‘challenge’ is to name all the things that, by law, must be on a bike.  Which reminded me that, um, I badly needed to go check our bike lights and change some batteries.  Job done!

My favourite ‘challenge’ is Lastbilens blindevinkel (the truck’s blind spot).  A huge lorry is parked outside our local library and the kids are given a traffic cone which represents their bike.  They’re told to place the cone alongside the lorry, at a spot where they think it is ‘safe’ and where they think the lorry driver will be able to ‘see’ them, if he turns right.  (Even if most Danish lorries now have special cameras fitted, there are still – unfortunately – several fatal accidents each year involving cyclists and right-turning-trucks, so it’s vital information for the kids.)

After they’ve placed their cones, the kids are then invited up, up, up into the drivers seat.  So they can see exactly what the driver can see.

And – ta da – suddenly realise just how important it is to keep their distance…  A real eye opener!

Next year, in 6th grade, the kids will take their cyklistprøve (cycling proficiency test) where they’ll cycle the route on their own.

Will you be out in the traffic tomorrow?  Give us a wave!  Or, at least, give way!

Diane 🙂

 

 

 


Flødeboller! What's not to love?

Whenever my DSBB (Dear Scottish Big Brother) comes to visit, he [cough] very kindly provides us with a list of things he’ll “need” when he’s here.  Beer, beer and (more) beer – ha!  But, okay, aside from lots of Danish øl, number one on the list is always flødeboller.  Now, to be honest, I’m not sure what he enjoys most: eating the dang things or misprouncing them… 😉 Closest in English would probably be ‘flew-the-ball-r’.

But, as usual, I digress!  What are flødeboller?  Small or large, (normally) dark chocolate domes, filled with a marshmallowy cream and a wafer base.  If you’re very, very lucky, they’ll have a marcipan base.  Yummity yum!

You can buy cheap and cheerful flødeboller at the supermarket. They come in packs of 6 or 12.  Usually half are ‘plain’ and half are topped with dessicated coconut.  (A word of warning: the coconut ends up everywhere and makes a right mess…)

The cheap and cheerful packs are very handy.  Especially because it’s a Danish tradition to hand them out at school when it’s your fødselsdag (birthday). And, with perhaps 27 classmates, it can be pretty expensive [typed the Canny Scot].  My son’s old Maths teacher was often late and – if he turned up late for class three times in a row – he gave flødeboller to the kids as compensation.  Another tradition at the school is – if the teacher calls a pupil by the wrong name three times in a row – he has to give the pupil a pack of flødeboller.  Nice one! 🙂

At the other end of the scale, you have the luxury (ergo, expensive) handmade flødeboller.  Using the finest dark chocolate and exotic flavourings.  Yep, flødeboller are very much in fashion.  A few years ago everybody was on a cupcake decorating course.  Now everyone is learning how to make their own flødeboller…  I bought some jordbær (strawberry) flavoured ones at the supermarked this morning and will be doing a taste test tonight with the family 🙂

But, for Pete’s sake, did they have to start adding the dreaded lakrids (liquorice) – the (Danish) Root of All Evil– to our flødeboller?  Is nothing sacred? 😛

Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful long weekend.  Yep, Denmark is closed again on Monday because of Pinse (Whitsun Pentecost) – and the weather forecast is hot and sunny!  What’s not to love?

Diane 🙂

 

 


You know you're in Denmark when… (Here comes the Summer!)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

In the words of the iconic Undertones, “Here comes the summer!”  In fact, Danish summer officially kicked off yesterday, Sunday 1 June.  (Spring starts 1 March, summer 1 June, autumn 1 September and winter 1 December.)

How I love late spring/early summer!  My absolute favourite time of year, when Denmark shows itself from its very best side…  It looks, smells and sounds good!  So here’s a – completely subjective – list of things that sum up summer in Denmark for me:

Have you tried koldskål topped with little kammerjunker biscuits yet?  The Danes (and my daughter…) plough their way through the stuff. Over 10 million litres a year!  One of my husband’s colleagues loves this strangely addictive, sour, white stuff so much that she eats nothing else between the months of May and September…

Sankt Hans Aften (midsummer), 23 June, is truly a magical evening,  That is, if Danish weather gods don’t stop play!  As the light begins to fade, bonfires are lit up and down the coast.  A local dignitary or personality makes a speech and then comes a singalong – which always starts with the midsummer hymn, Vi elsker vort land (“We love our country”).  Not a dry eye in the house – remember your hankies!

There’s no getting past it.   Homemade or shop-bought.  Still or sparkling.  Diluted with cold water or added to a glass of bubbly for a sparkling apéritif.  Hyldeblomst (elderflower) is the quintessential Danish summer drink.  Or how about going one step further – and making your own elderflower champagne?  Super easy – the recipe is here.

When you’re out and about this summer, you might,  if you’re lucky, see some beautiful Mums and Babies out for a swim.  Knopsvanen – the mute swan – was named the national bird of Denmark after a public vote in 1986.  Not really a big surprise there, as swans often feature in the fairy tales of  Hans Christian Andersen…

Do you hear the sound of car horns, blaring music, singing and cheering outside? Yep, it’s graduation time! A truly spectacular sight when decorated trucks full of Danish high school kids pass by you on the street.  And they keep driving past.  All day and all night.  Don’t forget to toot and wave at them 🙂

I heart smørrebrød!  And after a swim in the sea or a walk along the beach nothing beats sterneskud (“a shooting star”), a classic smørrebrod of fried plaice and fresh prawns.  Washed down – selvfølgelig – with a nice cold beer.  Skål!

Will you have visitors over the summer?  Then head downtown to Nyhavn, the “New Harbour”.  It’s central, picturesque and always, always buzzing with activity.  And the best part?  Simply jump on one of the canal boats for a spot of sightseeing.  Lean back, relax and enjoy the sounds of your friends “oohing” and “aaaahing” over how pretty Copenhagen looks from the water!

But, for me, the best part of early summer in Denmark is the smell of the air at 6am. The chirping of the birds – as annoying as that may be, on the mornings when I’m trying to have a lie in!  Whizzing along on a bike instead of sitting in a stuffy car with the aircondition going at full blast. Enjoying every single minute and hour of sunshine and warmth that comes our way.  Sitting out in the garden with a book after dinner.  The long, long, loooooooong nights.  Coming home from a party in the early hours of the morning and discovering that it’s already light – eek!

Yep, get out there and enjoy it while it lasts!

God sommer!

Diane 🙂


It's that time of year again…flying toffees! Karameldag!

Tomorrow – Wednesday 28 May 2014 – is Karameldag.  Or “Toffee Day”!

It’s the last schoolday of May (schools are closed for Kristi Himmelfart – Ascension – Thursday and Friday) and therefore the very last day of school for the 9th graders. And they’ll be celebrating – selvfølgelig!  Most of them will be attired in fancy dress.  Most will probably return home, soaked to the skin and covered in shaving foam.   The lower grades tend to get roped in to that part, so my son’s teacher has told the 7th graders to bring a change of clothing, so they won’t “sidde som en våd mus” – sit like a drowned mouse – for the last three classes after lunch!  But as we are currently still enjoying a mini heatwave, who wouldn’t mind a nice cool down..? 😛

What else will the 9th graders get up to?  Some make breakfast for their teachers.  There will be singing and dancing.  But – most importantly of all – they will roam around the school, throwing humungous amounts of toffees – to be caught by the kids in the lower grades.

So remember to give your little ‘uns a plastic bag tomorrow morning.  They’re going to need it to hold their booty.  Or, at least, to hold the empty toffee wrappers so they can keep score.  “Hey, I caught 72 toffees this year!”  In Kindergarten class, the toffees are usually put into a collective jar and then divided up equally.  Stops any arguments/tears and provides an impromtu maths exercise! 😉

God Karameldag!

Diane :)


When Friday night is school night!

As I said in Wednesday’s post, Vote, vote? Yes, yes!, we’re having a heatwave here in Copenhagen at the moment.  25 degrees yesterday…phew!  My DS14 (dear son, aged 14) took the plunge and finally joined me for a swim – even though the Danish sea water is still very much dragging its late spring/early summer feet temperature wise! 😛

Tonight DS14 and I are off partying!  Where is it all happening?  At school!  Yep, as I’ve mentioned before, socialising is a big part of Danish school culture, especially in the lower grades.  Big or small events, free or paid, basically everything and anything goes…

Family sledging in the snow, Sunday picnics in the park, once-a-month-dinner club (kids take it in turns to host), Olympic Games, breakfast in the classroom and selvfølgelig we mustn’t forget our infamous parent parties that last until 3 am in the morning!  One of the most hyggelig (cosy) events is when we book the Home Economics classroom and the kids set the tables/run a bar/prepare dinner for parents and siblings.  Great teamwork! 🙂

Yep, we are actively encouraged by the school to socialise.  But why?  A strong bond – not least between the parents – gives a safe and healthy network.  Cuts down on bullying.  Eliminates trivial problems.  Stops small issues from escalating into full blown dramas.  Much easier to pick up the phone and call another parent when you’ve enjoyed a gin and tonic together in the wee small hours of the morning.  Or shaked your booty together to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”! 😉

So what are we in for tonight?  It’s a child/parent party.  In one room there’s a professional DJ for the kids.  In the next, music and welcome drinks for the parents. The Party Committee is stocking up on extra gin, given the (copious) amount we went through last time. 😛

At ‘half time’ there will be pizza, pizza, pizza – and more pizza – followed by dessert for all…

And on the turntable?   Hmm, what about a bit of Julias Moon?  A young band – complete with video featuring a roller disco!  Ha ha – takes me back to my own days of youth club discos…

No teenage party is complete without the song D.A.U.D.A. by Silvas.  Really (really) annoying at first, but gets right in to your head.  It has become, what they call in Danish, en landeplage…the ‘scourge of the country’!

And, of course, on the dancefloor we’ll all be battling to be The Greatest Dancer.  I leave you with the Danish Grand Master – my fave, fave, fave Marvelous Mosell! 

Time to look out those roller skates.  Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂