Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?  It may only be the start of November but today – Friday 7 November –  is the official start of Christmas in Denmark.  Tonight at 8.59pm precisely the first ‘snow’ will fall: the snow in question being wet but not exactly white, more of a pale brown…  It’s the launch of Tuborg’s Christmas beer – called julebryg (‘yule brew’) or jule øl (‘yule beer’).  And the day is therefore nicknamed J-Dag (‘J-Day’)  It all started back in 1990, when the Christmas brew was traditionally launched on the second Wednesday of November.  But, because so many students were hung over on the Thursday (hic!), Tuborg were forced in 1999 to move the launch to the first Friday of November… 😉

If you watch Danish tv, you’ll already be familiar with the iconic advert from Tuborg   Coca cola lorry go home! 😛

Skål og glædelig jul!  Or should I say, Glædelig Jul og godt tub’år!  So, who’s ready for a beer?  We make these ‘reindeers’ every year – cute, non?  And – since it’s Friday – here’s a joke…  Me: What has antlers, pulls Father Christmas’ sleigh and is made of cement?  [You: I don’t know.]  Me: A reindeer!  [You: Um, but what about the cement?]  Me: I just threw that in to make it hard. Boom, boom! 😀

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂

1 TV, 2 TV, 3 TV…

When we were in Paris last month, my daughter wanted to send a postcard to one of her schoolfriends.  She wrote the message and I wrote the address:

Danish addresses are always written with name of the street first, followed by the number of the house or building: Lykkevej 38

And then sometimes you’ll see “1 tv”, “2 tv” or “3 tv”.  What?  Mrs Dahl has three televisions, whilst Mrs Schiøtz has two and poor old Mr and Mrs Bjerg only have one? 😛 

No, silly!  TV means they have appartments on the left hand side.  T.V. means til venstre.

What about Mrs Boysen and 2, TH?  Well, that means she lives on the second floor, the appartment on the right.  T.H. means til højre.

Look at the picture again…  Quiz time!

Where does Mrs Dahl live?  3.sal, t.v.  On the third floor, appartment on the left.

And Mrs Boysen?  2, th.  On the second floor, appartment on the right.

And Mrs Schiøtz?  2, tv.  On the second floor, appartment on the right.

And Mrs Øberg?  1, th.  On the first floor, appartment on the right.

And Mr and Mrs Bjerg? 1, tv.  On the first floor, on the left.

How did we do…all correct? 🙂

But what if you live on the ground floor, appartment on the right?  Well, that’s called stuen in Danish, st.  So your address would be Lykkevej 38, st, th.

Oh, and if by chance you cross over the Sound to Sweden, remember that our neighbours – the silly (but lovable) Swedes – don’t have “ground floor” or “stuen”.  Unlike the rest of Europe, they call the ground floor the first floor – American stylee.

Have a wonderful Wednesday – the only way is up!

Diane 🙂

Halloween! And the Marsh Woman is brewing…

Woop, woop!  It’s Friday and – for the kids and the young at heart – also Halloween!  The weather in Copenhagen is perfect for a spooky night: our clocks went back on Sunday so it’s twilight by 5pm, there’s a real chill in the air and it’s not really raining but just damp. Yesterday morning we had hard frost but the most beautiful sunshine.  I went running in the park with a friend at 8am and – boom – we both exlaimed, “Mosekonen brygger!” 🙂

“Mosekonen” means “the Woman of the Marsh”.  And when there’s a ground mist like this, the Danes say that the Woman of the Marsh is brewing!  Poetic, non?

When I first moved to Copenhagen 16 years ago, Halloween wasn’t really a big deal. Very few people had lit, carved pumpkins outside their doors.  There were just two or three costumes you could choose from at Fætter BR (the Danish toyshop chain).  I always had a huge bowl of sweets ready…but no-one ever rang the bell! 😕

Nowadays it’s common for kids to go door to door asking “Gys eller Guf?” (Trick or Treat?).  And many will bake cakes or treats to take into school.  Here’s the batch my DD12 (dear daughter, aged 12) made for her Manga drawing class.

And it’s not just the kids who are getting into Halloween here.  Even the makeup ladies in our local MATAS (Danish chemist shop/drugstore chain) had ‘scary’ black and white Halloween painted faces this morning…  Hee hee, made a nice change from the ubiquitous ‘orange’ faces!  I’m being kept busy too…  My DS14 (dear son, aged 14) has his entire class (28 – count’ em – boys and girls!) coming here for a party tonight.  Yikes!  Or should that be Eeeeeek?

Let’s just hope we have enough crisps, cakes and sweets to stop them from turning into…right little monsters! 😈

Have a fabulous and frightful Friday!

Diane 🙂

Granny, your Mum's Mum and your uncle Bob!

Hello, hello  – yes, I’m still here!  I haven’t been away on holiday, honest.  I’ve actually been unable to post since the end of last week (the Denmark website was moved to a new server and some gremlins apparently went along for the ride).  But, hey ho, the editors here tell me that we’re all good, so finally I can write, write, write!

Tivoliis open for Halloween at the moment, so I took the kids in there on Sunday afternoon…

Pumpkins, spiders and limbs galore and lots of other spooky stuff.  Yes, yes, we even braved Hotel Scary.  And, yes, yes, I was the one who screamed loudest!

Anyway, after the shows and rollercoasters, we wandered around the gardens looking at the stalls.  DD12 (Dear Daughter, aged 12) spotted some personalised mugs – you know the type…

Maybe we should buy some as a Christmas present for Granny and Grandad in Scotland? Now, dear Reader, in Denmark you have a choice of three mugs for Granny. Listen up, I shall say this only once!

“Mormor” which is literally “Mum’s Mum”.  “Farmor” which is literally “Dad’s Mum”.  And “Bedstemor” which is Grandmother or Granny.

And another three for Grandad.  “Farfar” which is literally “Dad’s Dad”.   “Morfar” which is literally “Mum’s Dad”.  [On a sidenote: the Danish expression to “tage en morfar” means to take a nap! 😉 ]  And finally we have “Bedstefar” which is Grandfather or Grandad.  

So you just need to decide if the gift is for your Granny on your maternal or paternal side and…Bob’s your uncle! 😛

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂


Boo! Or ho, ho, ho?

We’re just back from efterårsferie – a.k.a. week 42 – a.k.a. the Danish schools’ half-term autumn week and we’re gearing up for Halloween.  Pumpkins galore at the greengrocers and – see – there was even a nice witch down at our local library!  Gys eller guf?  (Trick or treat?)

But – ho, ho, ho? – its also beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Denmark.  Now, to be honest, the Danes aren’t too bemused by the idea of Christmas in October.  So the shops are  v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y  adding sparkly items to their displays and waiting for Halloween to be over so that they can finally go full throttle.  Though I was at IKEA this morning and there the aisles were heavily decked with boughs of holly plastic fir.

Danish supermarkets are already pushing classic Christmas biscuits and clementines. Guilty as charged, I bought some! 😛

But, like it or not, there’s no turning back ‘cos these babies are now on sale – lying in wait in the freezer section of your supermarket, ready to make an appearance at nursery, school or your coffee table.  Æbleskiver!  Has it really been a year?!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane 🙂



You know you're (back) in Denmark when… (Copenhagen airport)

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

The Danish schools’ half-term break is over and my ‘wee’ ones (Dear Son, 14 and Dear Daughter, 12) are back behind their desks – hooray! The weather here last week was dreadful (not even a case of “the wrong clothing”) with long, dark days and rain, rain and more rain.  Yep, when my buddies and I were down winterbathing (i.e. skinny dipping in the Danish sea), I even kept my souwester on… 😉

Luckily we had booked a family trip to Paris and managed to escaped the rain in Copenhagen for a couple of days.  Why Paris?  Well, we’re francophiles.  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) and I speak fluent French (we both worked at the EC Court of Justice in Luxembourg) and DS14 and DD12 are both learning French at school (the choice here is French or German).  But, as usual, I digress!

We flew home on Friday afternoon and – much as I love to be away – it’s always nice to get back home.  As soon as we got to Baggage Reclaim the kids made a beeline for…

…the Lego blocks!  Too old for Lego?  Never!  Just don’t tell their friends… 😛

Meanwhile DDH and I “ooohed” and “aaahed” over the delicious smells coming from the pølsevogn (sausage wagon) right next to the baggage carrousel.  Home sweet home!  Must.  Resist.

On the way out of the Arrivals Hall there’s a huge lightshow/poster that says “Welcome to the world’s happiest nation.  That calls for a Carlsberg“.  Ha!  The holy Danish trinity of Lego, hotdogs and beer! 🙂  Unfortunately, I was being pushed from all angles by (crazy Danes battling) baggage trolleys and couldn’t stop to snap a pic…  So you’ll have to do with this one – one of the baggage carrousels decked out by Carlsberg back in May 2012 for Euro2012.

It’s good to be back.  Hope you have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂


Spunk?! Well, it doesn't mean vacuum cleaner…

Today’s post will make you think I have a childish sense of humour (if you’re British), or that I have an indepth knowledge of Danish sweets (rest of the world).  Here goes!  Have you seen Danish spunk?

It comes in small, cellophane wrapped packets.  Available as wine gums or [blech!] salty liquorice flavour.  You will remember that liquorice is my arch enemy! 😉  Lakrids.  The (Danish) root of all evil.

Now, to me, spunk is something other than wine gums [yes, yes, childish sense of humour]. But moving swiftly on…what does spunk mean to the Danes?  Well, spunk is a word invented by Pippi Longstocking – the Swedish girl with the red-stick-up-in-the-air-braided-hair who can lift a horse, has a pet monkey, etc.  One day she makes up a brand new word and, when her friends Tommy and Annika ask her what it means, she says “If only I knew!  But it doesn’t mean vacuum cleaner!” 😛  So off they go into town, asking the baker, ironmonger, doctor and even two genteel old ladies if they have a spunk or have seen a spunk…  In 1971 Galle & Jessen (Danish sweetie makers) needed a name for their new sweet, found inspiration in the old Pippi Longstocking book, and – lo and behold – Spunk sweets were born!  If you want to read the book for yourself, it’s “Pippi Langstrømpe i Sydhavet” (Pippi in the South Seas).

But, hey, if you open up the Spunk packets and take a closer look, there’s more.  Road safety instruction!

I love this one.  “Nr. 27 Er du sikker på, at du kan ses, er du mere sikker.”  (Number 27: If you’re certain that you can be seen, then you’ll certainly be seen.)

But back to the childish humour.  And a pub located behind Copenhagen’s central station.  “A pint of your best, please, landlord!”

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane 🙂

You know you're in Denmark when… (Where's my change?)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

Picture the scene.  You’re in a Danish shop and want to buy an item which is marked at 29,95 Danish crowns.  So you dig into your purse or wallet and hand over 30 crowns to the shopkeeper.  Who duly takes your money, gives you your purchase and bids you a ‘good day’.  And leaves you thinking, “Hey, matey!  Where’s my change?!” 😛

Yep, been there done that.  When I first came to Denmark, I thought all the shopkeepers were trying to diddle me…  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) had to explain to me that Danish prices were – let us say – ‘ficticious’ prices.  (As opposed to astronomical…like the price of Danish duvets – You know you’re in Denmark when… (Beds. Again.)  You see, the largest Danish coin is 20 Kroner and the smallest is 50 øre (about 5 UK pence or 8 American cents).  There is no longer a coin with a value of 5 øre, even if prices are marked that way.  So, if you’re paying with cash, the shopkeeper always rounds the price up.  9,95 becomes 10.  19,95 becomes 20.  29,95 becomes 30.

However, if you pay with a card – electronically – your bank account will be charged exactly 29,95, and not 30… Perhaps that’s the reason everybody in Denmark uses Dankort (a bank card: can be both debit and credit) when paying?  Even for teeny tiny amounts like 20 Kroner (about £2.20 or $3).  Yep, the shopkeeper won’t blink an eye.  And you won’t feel shortchanged.

Have a marvelous Monday!

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 🙂

Read all about it! No more tomato, tomahto…

Several moons back, I told you that I have a tiny niggle about Danish libraries.  Now, to be honest, it was really only an incy wincy niggle – because, oh my word, how I love our Danish libraries!  You see, I thought it was reallyconfusing to have English language books split up into two different sections (British English or American English).  So you would often have to look in both sections before you could find the book you were looking for…    Danish Libraries (Part Three) – You say tomato, I say tomahto…

Anyway.  I was perusing the (beautiful) shelves of our local library on Thursday and it suddenly hit me…

Bam!  They’ve now put the whole lot together! “English and American” 🙂

Much better!  And a lot easier to browse…

And who did I need to thank for this marvelous – and no doubt very time consuming – reshuffle?  A librarian called Maria. “Tak, Maria!” 😀

On the other hand, I’m really pleased that they’ve still retained a sub-section of English and American novels…  My favourite genre, Crime!

There are shelves and shelves of English crime novels and it’s nice to be able peruse at leisure and find new authors to try.  Though I’m definitely the cosy crime type (like “Death under the Dryer” by Simon Brett, “August Heat” by Andrea Camilleri and “Bellfield Hall” by Anna Dean).  None of the heavy stuff, thank you very much.  Let’s keep it (u)hyggelig!

Have a marvelous (marvellous…) Monday!

Diane 🙂


Six sizzling sausages…

I’ll never forget my first visit to Denmark.  November 1992, I was working in Luxembourg at the time and my Danish friend, Lena, invited a group of us to go visit her parents in Lemvig (Jutland) for a long weekend.  So five girls jumped into a little car and off we drove…

As soon as we crossed the German border, Lena told us that we had to stop at the very first motorway services.  Not because we had to get petrol, but because she desperately needed a fix.  A “pølse” – a Danish hot dog.

So we duly stopped.  And we were duly hooked.  Can you believe we stopped at six different “pølsevogne” (sausage wagons) that weekend?!

 Twice on Friday, twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday… 😉

Now you may think that we only ate ‘fast food’ that dark, cold weekend in November. But no.  Lena’s parents were over-the-top-hospitable. And sweetie Mrs Jensen had prepared all of Lone’s favourite meals!  So we also tucked in to lunches of fantastic smørrebrød, dinner the first night was Forloren Hare (recipe is here – I heart Danish Comfort Food, Part Two), and the next a classic Danish Christmas dinner of roast duck followed by ris à l’amande…

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in one weekend.  And my love for Danish food was born.  (By the way, Lena’s Mum even prepared “leverpostejsmadder” (liver pâté open sandwhiches) – complete with “rødbeder” (beetroot) on the top – as a snack for our return drive to Luxembourg.  A godsend because we – selvfølgelig – got caught up in 5 hours of “stau” in Deutschland.)

And those hotdogs?  Well, I still occasionally have one (usually at the airport, when we come back from a long trip).  But these days my favourite fastfood of choice (as you may have seen in Wednesday’s post) from our local pølsepusher is a roast pork sandwich – “en flæskestegssandwich”.  DDH drinks a Jolly cola with his, I prefer a Cocio (cold chocolate milk).  Just a regular Cocio,not a F**king Kakao, thanks!  But heavy on the pork crackling, please!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend – whatever’s on your plate!

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 🙂

Jensen vs Jensen. No sh*t!

This weekend’s news headlines hit me right between the eyes.  Not to mention my pixie ears.  Kapow! 8)

But first – a bit of background!  Jensen’s Bøfhus (a Danish steakhouse chain with branches in Norway, Sweden and Germany, let’s call them The Giant) brought a case against Jensens Fiskerestaurant (a man, Jacob Jensen, who owns three fish restaurants, let’s call him The Little Man).  The Giant didn’t like The Little Man using the name Jensen for his chain of restaurants.  Even if Jensen is the most common surname in Denmark.  The Giant loses the case in Commercial Court, but goes on to win the case on appeal in High Court.  And, along with the right to use the name Jensen in the food business, is awarded damages of DKR 200.000.

No prizes for guessing what happens next.  “What? Goliath has beaten David?!”  A Facebook group, angry at The Giant treading on The Little Man, is born and thousands (and thousands and thousands… um, 110,000 when I checked this morning) of Danes sign up and swear that they’ll boycott The Giant’s restaurants.

I can appreciate both sides of the story.  Fair enough, go ahead and protect your corporate brand, bring a case.  But go after the principle, not the damages.  Will I be boycotting The Giant?  No need to – I’ve had ‘the pleasure’ of eating there a couple of times before and have absolutely no desire to return! 😛  But my kids remember the ‘eat all you can’ icecream with fondness…

But I digress!  It wasn’t the case that made me sit up and almost spill my morning coffee.  It was the English urban slang which had divebombed into Danish radio and newspaper headlines. (And we’re not talking taboloids here.)

—  Sh*tstorm —

—  Information: “Jensen’s Bøfhus: Vi sælger normalt under shitstormen”
—  DR “Ekspert: ‘Shitstorm’ kan blive alvorlig for Jensen’s Bøfhus
—  Politiken “Shitstormen rammer Jensen’s Bøfhus efter navnestrid”

Can’t the Danish media, please, pretty please, find another term?  Like “public outrage on social media”?  You all know how I feel about swearing!  (See my post “I swear I heart Denmark!“)

Sh*tstorm?”  For Pete’s sake – I’m trying to eat here! 😉

Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂


So you're Scottish?

Unless you’ve been hiding underneath a(n exceedingly) large rock for the last week, you won’t have escaped the worldwide media coverage of the Scottish referendum on Independence.  And if you’re a regular reader, it won’t have escaped your notice that I’m from Scotland 🙂

“Oh, you’re Scottish?!”, exclaim the Danes.  Before launching into, “I studied there!/We’ve toured around the highlands!”  Or, “It looks so beautiful!/We would so love to go there!”  (On a sidenote: when I worked in Luxembourg in the 1990s, the first comment I always got from Frenchmen was, “Oh là là – the film – Braveheart!”)

Males Danes will then often make a joke about kilts.

Then straight after that comes the classic, “Well, hey, you must drink a lot of whisky!”  To be honest with you, I can’t stand the stuff…  Give me a g+t!

And then there’s the really weird stuff.  Like when people start serenading me with that “classic” (and I used that in the loosest sense of the word…) Shubidua song “McArine” about the mean canny Scots who brews his own whisky…  Cover your ears and run for the hills! 😛

But back to the referendum.  Scotland said No (or “Naw”) to Independence.  Why? Well, you know, some things are just better together.  Like skinny dipping (vinterbadning) in the Danish sea.  Here’s a selfie from this morning with my two bffs – my tartan scarf kept us nice and cosy!  (Sea temperature was actually quite warm today, 16c/60f.)

And what did we have along with our cuppa (in addition to the usual cheeky banter) after our skinny dip?  Scottie dog shortbread biscuits.  Yep, got to love Scotland.  Land o’ (yummy) Cakes!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend.  Together!

Diane 🙂


You know you're in Denmark when… (Beds. Again!)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

Last month, I wrote about the strange Danish phenomenon of putting two single duvets on one double bed.

Today I was out shopping with my Danish BFF, who was looking for a new duvet for her daughter.  Now, Denmark has been my home for 16 years.  So I know – and have learned to accept – that the cost of living here is pretty high.  But can anyone tell me why, oh why, Danish feather duvets are so dang expensive?  Something to do with a special tax on duckdown?  Answers on a postcard, please! 😉

As we perused the racks in the shop, I could tell right off that this particular one was going to be pricey…  I mean, just look – it comes in a shiny gold bag!  One single duvet, Ma’am?  That’ll be DKR 2.500!  (Roughly £265 or USD $ 430.)

“The more you buy, the more you save!” What’s not to love?!  Two single duvets for [gulp] only kr. 4.499 (about £479 or USD $780).

But wait just a minute.  Here’s the bargain of the day.  One single duvet, normal price DKR 2.999 (roughly £319, USD $521), now a mere DKR 1.250 (roughly £133, USD $217).  Cheap at half the price!

And, no, before you even think it, we weren’t shopping in a fancy, schmancy top end department store.  We were in Jysk Sengetøjslager (“Jutlandish Bedlinen Stockist”) which – and let’s be frank here – is a pretty cheap n’ cheerful furniture and bedding store.

And my BFF?  Well, she wasn’t tempted by today’s bargains.  So back to (reasonably priced) IKEA it is, then!

Sleep tight!

Diane 🙂