Danish, Danish (and only Danish) Music Day!

Tomorrow, 27 October 2016, is the last Thursday of the month of October which means that it is – selvfølgelig! – “Spil Dansk” (Play Danish Music) Day! 🙂

So don’t be suprised if the only music you hear on Danish state radio is by Danish groups (some of which also sing in English), Danish songwriters, Danish producers. Anything that has even remotely been touched by the red and white flag counts! But if you’re interested in Hit Lists and what you’d normally expect to hear around these parts – and what people actually buy and add to their collections – then take a look at Hitlisten.nu where you’ll find every official Danish list. There are the usual American artists, as you would expect, but also Danish artists like Lukas Graham, Volbeat and Rasmus Seebach are still in there. On a side note, Hitlisten’s info on the increasing number of vinyl records sold is rather interesting for an old, nostalgic lady like myself 😉

One of the more avant garde and original Danish artists right now is Bisse, who has taken the reviewers and the indie fans by storm. In Denmark, albums are given marks (or hearts) out of six. Here’s his own song, where he gives, “Seks hjerter til livet” – “Six hearts to Life”.  Check out his album “Højlandet” which got 5/6 stars across the board from Danish reviewers. Bisse sings in Danish and you can hear him on soundcloud here.

And what do I currently have on my turntable? Agnes Obel. I’ve never really been a huge fan of her, but I love, love, love her latest album, “Citizen of Glass”! Agnes sings in English – here’s the song “Familiar” from the new album. And, although she has been settled in Germany for a few years, it’s kind of cool that she was born around the corner from us and was a former pupil at my DD14’s school (dear daughter, aged 14)…

But while we’re at it…let’s not forget one of our old favourites from Marvelous Mosell (with a teeny bit of help from Chic and Sister Sledge…) which contains the immortal lyrics:

Der var både bajere og hash,

men jeg sagde: Stik mig bare en

kærnemælk i et snavset glas

med et sugerør i

og gør det i en fart, for jeg er sørme tørstig!”

“There was beer and hash

but I said: Give me some

buttermilk in a dirty glass

with a straw, and do it nifty

‘cos I’m really thirsty” 😉

What’s not to love?!

Happy ‘Spil Dansk‘ Day! Put on those dancing shoes and remember to turn it up to 11! But don’t forget to get out and hear music live… Like Johan, from my very favourite Danish band Magtens Korridorer, you’ll probably be swept off your feet! 😉

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Diane 🙂


Off to Danish church? Don't forget your smartphone!

One of the things I love  about Denmark (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…) is the mixture of new and old. On the face of it, Denmark is a liberal, modern, forward thinking country. When you scratch the surface, you discover the Danes’ deeply ingrained love of traditions. This morning I saw the new/old combo working in reverse.

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We were at church for a Harvest service…

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It was very traditional, so there were all the usual elements you’d expect. Beautiful displays at the church entrance.

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Inside the church there were candles and flower/grain decorations at the end of every pew… (Yes, there we go again with those ubiquitous candles!)

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When I went to church as a child in Scotland (on a side note, the Danish and Scottish church are very similar: they are both Lutheran), a large wooden plate would be passed around  halfway through the service at Collection time. You would put in your coins as it was handed along the pew. Ching, ching! Or a little brown envelope containing your donation. When the plate made it to the other end of the pew, it was then handed to the first person in the pew behind, and off it went again. And so on and so forth. Fast forward to 2016… Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 These days you can make a donation on the way in, or on the way out. In our church, the collection box is fixed to the end of the first pew.

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Oh, but hang on a minute, we’re in Denmark, right? Where most people don’t carry small change or banknotes. You see, we hardly ever use cash: we use our bank cards or our phones to pay for things. Remember my post from 2014? Cash ain’t King when you don’t have a Crown? Never fear! The church has thought of everything! Did you notice the little sticker above the collection box? With the ‘Mobile Pay’ or ‘Swipp’ app on your smartphone, you simply type in your donation and press send.

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And, voilà, it’s done! No more fiddling around, desperately looking for coins underneath the sofa cushions or in your Dad’s coat pockets, before heading out to church. Less risk for the church of having the collection box stolen.

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Hallelujah! Have a super Sunday!

Diane 🙂

 

 

 

 


Welcome to Danish autumn! More candles coming right up!

Welcome to Danish autumn! We officially started a couple of days ago (1 September) but autumn has been making its presence felt for a couple of weeks. And it’s the usual story…first thing in the morning there is heavy dew on the grass outside and condensation on the windows inside. When I cycle down for my sea swim it’s so c-c-cold on the bike ride that I’m already wearing my woolly scarf. But I have managed to resist the urge (at least so far…) to break out my woolly gloves and hat 😉

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Sea temperature is beginning to fall slightly – around 15 degrees (59f).

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But then – selvfølgelig – by the time we reach the afternoon, it’s all change and full steam ahead for the thermometer. The sun is shining from a cloudless, beautiful, blue sky and you start peeling off all the layers you put on a few hours earlier, swap your socks and shoes for some strappy sandals and then head down to the coast (like everyone else it seems) in an effort to cool off. Yes, you know you’re in Denmark when it can prove difficult to find a parking space…for your bike!

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My friends and I were lamenting the end of Danish summer but trying to console ourselves with the thought off all that cosy, autumn Danish hygge that lies ahead. The apple cakes, the hot chocolate, the walks in the deer forest to gather chestnuts, the flickering candles. And then we stopped short. Because, um, well we actually light candles all year round. Even in high summer. Here I am in a restaurant with my son last week. Candles lit in the windows. Candles lit outside on the street. It was 25c (77f) that day!

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Those are my sunglasses in front of the candle on the table. Sunglasses and candles. Welcome to Denmark!

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Yes, yes, my friends and I said to ourselves. We’re looking forward to Danish autumn and lighting even more candles!

Now where did I put those matches?

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂


The old Danish post service you know… Just three times more expensive!

 

Regular readers, from my first post here back in September 2010 (which was – selvfølgelig – about farts“Mind your language!”) will know that I am in l-o-v-e with Denmark and those crazy Danes! (I’m Scottish but I felt like I had finally come home when I moved here to Copenhagen in 1998.) I love the traditions, the humour, the contrasts, the people. There is only one thing that gets my goat up (okay then, two – if we count the blatant Danish overuse of the ‘F’ word – “I swear I heart Denmark!“). And that, dear readers, is the Danish postal service! Boo! Hiss! 😉

Don’t get me wrong. I love our postmen (and especially our very nice parcel lady, with whom I always have a long chat).

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But the cost of sending a letter? Daylight robbery! I’ve growled before about price increases (“Pass the smelling salts, I’m buying Danish stamps“) but even I couldn’t foresee this new craziness. Here are the current options if you want to send a letter or a greetings card to a friend. I know I’ve said it before, but even Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask – ha!

Brev (letter) – for letters within Denmark, delivery takes up to 5 days – cost: 8 Danish crowns (roughly USD 1.20 or UK£0.91). Keep in mind that not all postboxes are emptied every day, so it may take even longer than 5 days to arrive…

Quickbrev (quick letter) – next day delivery – cost: 27 Danish crowns (roughly USD 4.07 or UK£3.06). Oh, and you can’t just pop a Quickbrev in the postbox. You have to physically hand it in to the post office! I kid you not. Honestly, it would be funny if it wasn’t true!

And if you want to send a birthday card to a friend outside of Denmark, for example, Europe? That costs 25 Danish crowns (roughly USD 3.77 or UK£2.83). You can use a postbox or hand them in to the post office… But, again, keep in mind that not all postboxes are emptied every day.

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PostDanmark is now part of nordic PostNord – a Swedish Danish conglomerate. Bringing with it a colour change from the traditional red to blue. So all post bikes, vans, uniforms, logos etc are now blue. But, they assure us, postboxes will stay red. Hmm, let’s see what happens… And the snappy marketing line they have come up with? “Post du kender. Bare blå.” “The post service you know. Just in blue.” Perhaps they should have said. “The old post service you know. Just three times more expensive!”?

Funnily enough, our neighbours the Swedes, also served by PostNord, continue to enjoy normal postal rates. How on earth did they manage that? Answers on a postcard, please! Oh, wait, don’t bother. Just send me an email instead…

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂


Gotta catch 'em all! Food waste…GO!

While others around the world are trying to ‘catch ’em all, here in Denmark I’m invariably trying to catch…the best food bag! 😉

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Forget Team Mystic, I’m on Team Fight-Against-Food-Waste. There are several apps in Denmark which connect socially responsible food stores and restaurants with overstocks to hungry (and canny…) customers who enjoy getting a bargain. My favourite is TGTG (Too Good To Go) which is available for Apple and Android. The app also covers the UK and Germany.

Once you are logged in, you can search on a map, or search by offers which are nearest/cheapest/closing soon. The offers mainly fall in to two categories. Restaurants: where they provide you with a box and you fill up on sushi/whatever they have in their buffet. Bakers: where they provide you with a ‘magic bag’. Usually a mixture of bread, bread rolls, cake and Danish pastries.

As regular readers will know, I just l-o-v-e Danish bread and pastries (did you miss my 6 part run down on Danish pastries? go catch it here!) So I’ve – selvfølgelig – been trying what bakers are offering. Here you go. All fresh. All food that would, otherwise, end up in the bottom of a dumpster at the end of the day.

This entire bag, from a baker in Kongens Lyngby, cost 25 Danish crowns (roughly USD 3.75 or UK £2.85). Two loaves of bread, one ham and cheese sandwich, a couple of te birkes, a couple of kanelsnegle and about 10 assorted rolls.

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This entire bag, from a baker in Charlottenlund, cost 30 Danish crowns (roughly USD 4.50 or UK £3.40). One loaf, one loaf of ryebread, three te birkes, two kanelsnegle, 4 teboller, a pizza snail and two sausage rolls.

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There was so much food in these bags that we actually ended up putting half of it in the freezer. To give you some perspective on price, one loaf of bread at the baker costs roughly 30 Danish crowns. Our next stop will be trying out some sushi…

What can I say but yum, yum, yum – everyone on Team Fight-Against-Food-Waste wins!

GO! Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂


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:


Witches and Midsummer on Thursday!

I spotted witches in the supermarket today…which is a sure sign that we are counting down to Sankt Hans Aften! 😉

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What is it? A huge event on the Danish social calendar – the night where you go out and celebrate St John’s Eve, probably better known as…midsummer! It falls on 23 June – which this year is Thursday.  The Danes gather around bonfires, often topped with effigies of witches – the idea being to send them off to North Germany. There are bonfires everywhere. All along the coast and beaches, in parks and forests and in town centres. Normally around 9.30pm or 10pm, when it’s still light.

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But, hey, let’s backtrack a little! The evening usually starts with people gathering – perhaps with a picnic – down at the beach or in the forest. The evening officially starts with a short Sankt Hans Tale or “Bål Tale” (bonfire speech) by a local dignitary or ‘personality’. And then the singing can start. Sometimes with live music from an orchestra or band. And, if you’re very lucky, a songsheet, so you can join in the singalong! 🙂

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You’ll be singing Midsommervisen. A.k.a. Vi elsker vort land. “We love our country.” Last year we also sang I Danmark er jeg født (“In Denmark I was born”) and Der er et yndigt land (“There is a lovely land”) which you might recognise as the Danish national anthem.

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Here’s a sneak peak of what you can expect, starting with the traditional version of Midsommervisen

https://youtu.be/ojqvlQQBPE8

…and here’s the modern version by Shubidua.

https://youtu.be/LHTdo1Q6eWU

Whichever version you prefer, sing up, take care and have a great night. And watch out for those low flying witches overhead…

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Diane 🙂


What does that sign mean? Beats me! (Badum tish!)

[Today’s post is especially for my DBB (Dear Big Brother) in Scotland.]

I got into the Quiet Zone compartment of an S-train last week when this sign caught my eye…

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I had to take a closer look. No, my eyes didn’t deceive me. No drums allowed? Say what?!

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It turns out – selvfølgelig – that those crazy Danes (or should I say some rather crazy, clever people at DSB) came up with this great sign to make us look twice. And to reinforce the idea of respecting the silence. I’m sure you’ve been in that position yourself – sitting next to someone with [excuse my French] crappy earbuds when you can hear every. single. pesky. boom. boom. schack. noise that comes out of their ears? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! I’m all for loud music (I turn mine up to 11) but, please, please, people…get some decent headphones!!!

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So although you are very welcome to bring your bike on the train (as I regularly do), please leave your drumset and your crappy earbuds at home! 😉

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Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂


When it's hot in Denmark, reach for the 'cold bowl'!

Three weeks ago we had hail stones and sleet, and hard frost during the night. Last weekend that all changed and yesterday afternoon (a bog standard Tuesday) our local beach was packed and the temperature was 20c/68f. Welcome to Denmark! (Though, of course, the water is still cold – 11c/52f – so me and my fellow Winter Bathing Belles were the only ones who were actually swimming in the sea…)

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The warm weather brings Danes on to the beach, bikepaths and sidewalk cafés. And gives them a craving for that first ‘taste’ of summer – koldskål. Which means that the sales of koldskål rocket. Which in turn means that [gasp] when I tried to buy some this morning at the supermarket, the fridge section was completely wiped out! So it’s either make your own (homemade koldskål recipe is here) or make do with the (vastly inferior) longlife stuff. Boo hoo! 😉

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So what on earth is it? The Danes have been eating koldskål for over a hundred years. Personally, I love the name. Kold = Cold. Skål = Bowl. Koldskål = Cold bowl! It’s traditionally made with buttermilk, raw eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon. Today you buy it readymade from the supermarket. And the Danes buy lots of it. Millions and millions of liters of it during the summer months. When the temperatures start to rise, so do the sales of koldskål… As I found out this morning at the supermarket, there is often a problem keeping up with demand.

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And what does it taste like? Hmm, even though I’m a ‘Dairy Queen’ (pass the cream, please, and yes, I’ll have a little bread with my butter), koldskål is definitely an acquired taste. A weird mixture of sweet and sour. But a very ‘fresh’ taste. It looks like thin yoghurt and you normally serve it in a bowl and throw a handful of little crispy biscuits called kammerjunkere (available from the supermarket or bakers) over the top. Or a few sliced strawberries.

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You can eat it for lunch or dinner. Or as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. Or drop the kammerjunkere competely and just drink it straight out of a glass. Some people even eat it for breakfast. In our house we usually eat it after dinner, for dessert. My daughter aged 14 is addicted to it – so I had better find a new pusher soon!

Velbekomme! 😀

Diane 🙂


Big Prayer Day? Time for big rolls!

With Easter behind us, we are counting down to the strangest day on the Danish religious calendar. This Friday, 22 April, is Stor Bededag. ’Big Prayer Day’! Those crazy Danes decided back in 1686 that there were just too many religious holidays during the year. So they lumped the minor ones together, four weeks after Easter and – voilà – Stor Bededag was born. It’s an official holiday so Denmark will be ‘closed’ on Friday, and the kids are off school. It’s time to get out in the garden, work on a DIY project, make a trip to Tivoli Gardens or just chill at home. And eat big rolls! (More on that later in this post.) But many Danes will make a day trip to Sweden or Germany, where it’s business as usual and cash registers will be working overtime.

Big Prayer Day was traditionally a time to fast and pray.  And, though I’ve yet to meet a Dane who willingly goes to church (apart – selvfølgelig – from christenings and weddings), a lot of Danes will be attending church this Friday.  Not for regular church services but for confirmation ceremonies. Which was actually the case for us last year, when it was our son’s turn to go through this very traditional Danish rite of passage…

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Want to know more about Danish confirmation and the traditional “Blue Monday” that follows it?  Then go read my post “When Blue Monday isn’t New Order!”

But the biggest tradition associated with Stor Bededag is eating hveder on Thursday night.  What are hveder?  Large, fluffy, pale, basic white bread rolls which you halve, toast and butter.  You’ll find them on sale at the bakers but be warned that – despite their modest ingredients – they don’t come cheap!

I gave up queuing for them at the bakers years ago and just buy the ready-made ones from the supermarket.  Best enjoyed warm with a nice cuppa!

After you’ve had your hveder, you’re supposed to go for a stroll around the city ramparts at Kastellet (Copenhagen Citadel).  You don’t live near Kastellet?  Well, sit back, relax and enjoy Denmark’s finest rock band, Magtens Korridorer singing about a picnic at the Citadel…  (If the guy pretending to sing in the video looks familiar, it’s Nicholas Bro, an actor who was in the The Killing (II) and Borgen. Oh! And let’s not forget the third season of Broen/Bron/The Bridge 😉

Picnic på Kastellet” (Picnic at the Citadel).

And me? I’m praying for some warmer weather. It has been exceptionally chilly (not to mention wet and windy) so far this spring, so we’re still waiting for everything to start blooming.

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God Stor Bededag!

Diane :)


Election time – again! Left. Right. Left, left, right!

Dear Readers

Just taking a quick break from bumping off a nasty character – Col. Mustard, in the Library, with lead piping (The Mystery of the Missing Blogger…) – to let you know that this morning the Danish PM, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, announced a general election for 18 June 2015. Which meant that – selvfølgelig – by lunchtime, the scary faces were back on the streets! 😉

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Now, as any Dane will tell you, there are a myriad of Danish political parties, and choosing where to put your ‘x’ can be confusing. So, to give you the gist of things, here’s a post I wrote for the local elections back in November 2013.  Political parties seem to pop up like mushrooms here (Just don’t mention the ‘Priest’s Penis’!) and this time round is no exception. New kid on the polticial chopping block is Alternativet (Å) who are a left wing ‘green’ party.

Happy voting!

Me? I’m already dreading the valgflæsk but looking forward to a very large portion of stegtflæsk on the evening of Thursday 18 June!

Diane 🙂

[FIRST PUBLISHED 28 OCTOBER 2013]

There are Danish local and regional elections coming up on 19 November.  (KV13 – for the media savvy.)  And how do I know this?  Because our local newspaper’s debate pages are suddenly full of letters from caring, would-be politicians who are up in arms about local issues.  And overnight every lamppost in Denmark has been adorned with pensive/smiling/serious/concerned faces! 

Now, I’m Scottish and have always been a socialist at heart.  (Yes, yes, I’ve heard the old joke before.  “If you’re not a socialist at 20 you don’t have a heart.  And if you’re still a socialist at 5o then you don’t have a brain!” )  So, in theory, I should be voting for the Danish party “Venstre“.  “Venstre” in Danish meaning “left”.  Um, no!

Venstre are actually one of the centre-right parties.  But a teeny wee bit more to the left than Konservative (the Conservatives).  But still right-wing, in the grand scheme of things.  Confused?  You will be!  ;)  So perhaps I should be voting for Radikale Venstre (Radical Left)?  Um no, they’re also slightly to the right!  But a lot more left than right, if you see what I mean?  If you’re an old-school socialist, then you’ll probably want Socialdemokraterne (the Social Democrats, Labour).  That’s the party who currently has Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the helm.  Yes, that Helle.  Neil Kinnock’s daughter-in-law and Denmark’s first female Prime Minister.

Now, with so many different parties in Denmark, it can be rather confusing working out exactly where to put your ‘X’.  But I’ll try and give you a run down of the major players and a general idea of where they stand on the left-right divide.  Though, as is often said about politicians in Denmark: Man har et standpunkt til man tager et nyt.  One has a view/stance/belief until one takes a new one  ;)

Okay, take a deep breath…

  • A – Socialdemokraterne (Social Democrats, Labour)
  • B – Radikale Venstre (centrist, Radical Left – which, despite the name, are to the right of Socialdemokraterne)
  • C – Konservative (Conservatives, Republicans)
  • F – Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialist People’s Party, green party, more left-wing than Socialdemokraterne)
  • I – Liberal Alliance (Classical Liberal Party, centre-right)
  • K – Kristendemokraterne (Christian Democrats, religious conservative party)
  • O – Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party, right-wing, populist, nationalist)
  • V – Venstre (conservative-liberal, centre-right, despite their name)
  • Ø – Enhedslisten (left-wing, communist)

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The elections take place on Tuesday 19 November and – selvfølgelig – I can’t predict which parties are going to come out on top.  But I can tell you that many people will be having “valgflæsk” (“election pork”) for dinner that night!  Yep, flæsk (fried belly pork) has become a real election night tradtion.   Why so?  Because “valgflæsk” is slang for all the lofty promises that policitians make during elections…  Want to cook up some flæsk for Election Night?  I walk you through how to do it right here.

Have a marvelous Monday – whatever you have on your plate, whatever you stand for!

Diane :)

[FIRST PUBLISHED 28 OCTOBER 2013]


Nytårsaften – get ready to jump!

We’re now recovered from Christmas (ho, ho, ho!) and I’ve just looked out my DDH’s (Dear Danish Husband’s) black tie outfit.  And safety glasses.  And several bags of explosives…  Is my DDH the Danish equivalent of James Bond? 😎  Nope, it’s because tonight we will be celebrating Nytår (New Year).  Which, in Denmark, is serious business.  While Christmas is spent with family, New Year’s Eve is normally spent with friends – usually at someone’s house.

Let’s start with the basics.  The celebrations start at 6 o’clock.  Sharp.  So make absolutely sure you are at the party venue about 15 minutes before, so you have time to change out of your ‘outside’ shoes, take off your coat, scarf and gloves, and put down your (humungous) bag of fireworks (not forgetting the all-important safety glasses for every member of your party).  And what’s so important about 6 o’clock?  Well, that’s when the Danish Queen “Daisy”‘ makes her speech, live, on the telly.  Two minutes to six – eeeeeek – everyone stand to atten-SHUN! 😀

It’s tradition to watch and listen.  Whilst standing up (only the elderly and small tots are exempt) and enjoying a cocktail or glass of bubbly.  Now, when you get tired of standing up in your party heels, and start to wonder “when will this ever end?”, just listen out for a mention of those at sea.  Or the Danish armed forces.  Or Greenland.  You are in the final straight! 😉

The Queen always finishes with “Gud bevare Danmark!”  God Bless Denmark!  At which point, the kids and big kids (= dads) are officially allowed to go outside and launch a few fireworks.  (But remember to keep those big guns for 12 o’clock!)

And it’s also the cue for the others (um, that would be the women?!) to go into the kitchen, finish prepping the yummy food, and get the starter on the table.  Then the menfolk/kids come back in, everyone eats, the menfolk/kids go out and launch a few more fireworks, the women clear up and prepare the next course and repeat, repeat, REPEAT!!!

Just make sure that – with all the crazy comings and goings, food and wine aplenty – that you don’t lose track of time.

When it’s getting near to 12 o’clock, you need to stop and find a seat.  Or a ladder.  Or a sofa.  Something that is fairly high up off the ground to stand on…

Switch on the telly or radio and turn it up LOUD.  Because the first chimes of the clock from Copenhagen’s rådhus (townhall) are your cue to literally ‘jump’ into the New Year. As you will probably take off your shoes, make sure that tonight you aren’t wearing your holy socks or your stockings! 🙂

So we jump down, hug and kiss everyone in the room and open (yet more) champagne.

Then you listen to the traditional songs… Vær Velkommen Herrens År, Det er et Yndigt Land andKong Kristian stod ved højen Mast  Not a dry eye in the house!

And then it’s time for everyone to muffle up, pile outside (safety glasses on, champagne in hand) for the Grand Finale of fireworks.  Remember, safety first!

Where we live, the fireworks usually last for over 30 minutes.  But you’ll hear fireworks going off the whole night, into the wee small hours of the morning…  And again the next day!

But back to our party!  After the fireworks, you can come back in and warm up with hot coffee and kransekagetop (yummy marcipan cake, baked in rings, layered up and decorated with sparklers, feathers and streamers) before finishing off the champers.  This year, I’ve attempted to bake and build my own kransekagetop…

And – while I’m not quite ready for Masterchef – and it was all pretty hairy sticking the dang thing together…

…I’m pretty pleased with the end result! We shall be celebrating with some Italian visitors tonight, hence the extra flags…

But what about the Day After – when we all wake up late on the first of January?  Well, that means a day of watching German ski jump on the tv, eating lots of junk food and [sigh] clearing up the aftermath of fireworks from the road and garden…  Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full!

All that’s left for me to do, dear readers, is thank you for reading what I write and wish you Godt Nytår!  Happy New Year!

See you on the other side, in 2015!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 24 December (The Big Day)

Welcome to the final instalment of My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!

24 DECEMBER

The Big Day is finally here! Let’s start with our lunch, which was fairly light – sild (marinated herring) and æggesalat (egg mayo)…

and varmt leverpostej med bacon og champignon (hot liver pâté with bacon and mushrooms).  Washed down with julebryg!

After lunch we went to church.  Or at least we tried to.  Because when we got there, about 15 minutes before the third service of the day was to start – you guessed it! – there was no room left at the inn! 😉  The church had brought in extra seats but, alas, by that time it was standing room only…  Which wasn’t really an option for my DSM79 (Dear Scottish Mum, aged 79).  Yep, that old chestnut about those crazy Danes never going to church except for the 24 December is truly alive and well! 🙂

So we came home and watched a church service on the telly.  And then, after changing into our gladrags, it was suddenly 6pm and time to start dinner – consisting of duck with prunes and apple, red cabbage, caramelised potatoes and boiled potatoes, gravy and hot salted crisps.

And who won this year’s mandelgave?

Ah, ’twas a ris à l’amandenovice!  Beginner’s luck?

After dinner we danced round the Christmas tree.  Very carefully.  Lots of pressies under there, you see!

And then the kids started picking out gifts for us to open, one by one…

It took us – with short breaks for drinks and konfekt (homemade sweets) – about 2 hours!  And then it was off to bed after a lovely long day…to wake up to a beautiful white blanket of snow on the morning of 25 December!

Terrific weather for vinterbadning (winterbathing/skinnydipping) in the Danish sea to celebrate…merry Christmas and God Jul!

Diane 🙂


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 21 December (Ris à l'amande)

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!

21 DECEMBER

Okay, you’ve already seen that we have our mandelgave (marcipan pig) wrapped and ready – the prize at Christmas dinner on 24 December for finding the whole almond in the pudding.  Ris à l’amande! 🙂

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Here comes the recipe!  In my DDH’s family (Dear Danish Husband), they always cook the basic rice pudding on 23 December and finish it off on the 24 December.  Gives it a good taste and – more importantly – it’s nice to get half of the prep done early…  This recipe feeds 8 people – enough for us.  If you only want a small portion, half the quantities…

DAY ONE (23 DECEMBER)

Put 2½dl (250mls) of water and 2½ dl (250mls or 200g) of rice (short-grain, pudding, grødris) in a very large pot, bring to the boil and let it cook for 2 minutes.

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Slowly add 1 litre of milk (sødmælk, wholemilk is best) and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  When it boils, turn the heat right down, pop a lid on it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  Check on it every 10 minutes or so, giving it a good stir.  If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, you can take it off the heat after about 15 minutes and let it continue to cook, wrapped in a duvet on your bed 8)

Leave it to cool in a cool place – preferably overnight.

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DAY TWO (24 DECEMBER)

Give the cold rice pudding a good stir.  Add two large tablespoons of sugar (melis/sukker) and about 4 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (vanilje sukker).  Give it a taste, and check to see that it is sweet enough for you.  Then add 100g of chopped almonds (hakkede mandler).  Give it another good stir.  Beat 4dls (400ml) of whipping cream (piskefløde) until you get soft peaks and stir into the rice pudding.  At this point you’ll want to transfer it into a nice bowl, cover and keep cool until serving time.

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HERE COMES THE SCIENCE BIT!

Just before serving, add one whole, blanched almond (mandel).  Easiest way to remove the skin is to put the almond in a bowl of boiled water, let it sit for a minute, then the skin should squish right off.  A word of warning, sometimes the almonds break up when you remove the skin.  Make sure you have three or four almonds, so you end up with at least one whole one… 😉  Add to the pudding, give it a good mix and take it to table.  Everyone gets a portion of the cold rice pudding, along with some hot, cherry sauce (kirsebærsauce).  Yum!  And now?  Let the hunt for the whole almond begin!

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Who’s going to win this year?  May the best man win (the marcipan pig)!

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Three sleeps to go – get to bed early tonight and get your beauty sleep!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)