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… ūüėČ

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… ūüėõ

Meanwhile DDH and I “ooohed” and “aaahed” over the delicious smells coming from the p√łlsevogn (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! ūüôā ¬†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 ūüôā


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?!” ūüėõ

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¬†√łre¬†(about 5 UK pence or 8 American cents).¬† There is no longer a coin with a value of 5 √łre, 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 ūüôā


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! ūüėČ

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 Senget√łjslager (“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 ūüôā

You know you're in Denmark when… (Crocodiles)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

It’s 10 am. ¬†And there they are, a crocodile of Danish nursery kids. ¬†You’ll usually see them in ‘troops’ of 20 kids and 3 teachers.

Yep, they’re out and about. ¬†Whatever the season, whatever the weather (“You know when you’re in Denmark when…(No such thing as bad weather!)”)

Crocodiles of small Danish kids are a common sight. ¬†What day is it? ¬†It’s “tur dag” – ‘daytrip day’!

Most nurseries and kindergartens have set days for set activities, for example:

  • mandag, bagedag (Monday, baking)
  • tirsdag, rytmik (Tuesday, music and movement)
  • onsdag, leget√łjsdag (Wednesday, bring a toy)

“Tur dag” is the day when the kids go on a trip. ¬†Either to a museum, a nearby playground or even just a walk around the neighbourhood. ¬†You know kids – a five minute walk soon turns into a thirty minute expedition when you stop to look with awe and wonder at every single snail, conker and (red Danish) squirrel that you meet along the way! ūüôā

And what’s that at the back of the crocodile? ¬†The ubiquitous Danish wooden wagon to hold the “turtasker” (“day trip rucksacks”)…

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend – wherever you end up!

Diane ūüôā



You know you're in Denmark when… (Double beds)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

You check into a hotel, rent a summerhouse or stay with Danish family and the double bed has – not one – but two (count ’em) duvets!

Now, is it just me, or don’t two separate single duvets on one bed always look messy, no matter how you fold them or tuck them in? ¬†And do couples really need to have their own ‘private’ individual duvet? ¬†I’ve always had a theory that single duvets are a contributing factor to the (staggeringly high) Danish divorce rate. ¬†No wonder, if they insist on having everything their own way and aren’t prepared to share! ūüėõ

So in order to (hopefully) keep my marriage running smooth, I’ve always insisted that DDH (dear Danish husband) and I share a double duvet. Though we do have a large, kingsize one. As some people (who shall remain nameless) like to hog the dang thing! ūüėČ

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend between the sheets!

Diane ūüôā

You know you're in Denmark when… (Birthday cake, lady?)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

It’s my birthday today – hip, hip, hurra! ¬†And – though I ain’t no spring chicken – I do have a barnlig sj√¶l (am a child at heart). ¬† Not to mention en s√łd tand (a sweet tooth). And a seriously serious addicition to wienerbr√łd.¬† So much so that I wrote a seven part series on them.

So every year I order myself a traditional Danish kiddies birthday cake. ¬†En kagekone. A cake lady! ¬†You can read about them in a previous post Let them eat (Danish) cake (man)!¬† Here’s a very pretty one (that I managed to eat mostly by myself) from my birthday two years ago…

And here’s my cake anno 2014. ¬†Which kind of threw me a bit when I received it from the bakers this morning. ¬†Umm, I did order a cake lady, right? ¬†A friend of mine commented, “Hee hee, it looks more like a bear than a lady!” ūüėõ ¬†DD12 (dear daughter, aged 12), ever the diplomat, proclaimed that, “Well, Mum, it’s not how you look but what’s inside that counts, right?” ¬† ¬†And, six slices of delicious wienerbr√łd later, I can only agree. ¬†Now where’s that sofa – I need to lie down! ūüėȬ†

Yep, life is a beach at 47…

Diane ūüôā

You know you're in Denmark when… (Postmen)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

Have you met our Danish posties?  Always on a special cargo bike or moped.  Dressed in red like Dannebrog (the Danish flag).  And, more often than not, sporting shorts.

Whether they’re stopped in a quiet suburban backstreet or, like here, right in the very centre of Copenhagen, it always surprises me that…

…they go off to make a delivery, leaving the bike and panniers unlocked. ¬†And nothing gets pinched! ūüėČ

Yep, Postman Pat – or should I say, Postmand Per –¬†has reason to be a really happy man!

Diane ūüôā

PS: In case you’re wondering, Postmand Per’s cat is called Emil. ¬†Miav! ¬†Miaow!

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¬†koldsk√•l¬†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 ap√©ritif. ¬†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 ūüôā

I heart sm√łrrebr√łd! ¬†And after a swim in the sea or a walk along the beach nothing beats¬†sterneskud¬†(“a shooting star”), a classic sm√łrrebrod¬†of fried plaice and fresh prawns. ¬†Washed down –¬†selvf√łlgelig¬†– with a nice cold beer.¬†¬†Sk√•l!

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 ūüôā

You know you're in Denmark when… (Red Man Stop! Green Man Go!)

Have you ever crossed the road in Denmark where there are traffic lights? ¬†Back home in Scotland, I would check both ways and – if there were no cars coming – I would cross the road. ¬†Even if the ‘Red Man’ was showing. ¬†The same when I worked in Luxembourg. ¬†The same on my regular stints to Belgium, France and Germany.

When I moved to Denmark, I noticed that people stood and waited patiently for the ‘Green Man’. ¬†Even if the coast was completely clear. ¬†Not a car, bus, bike, taxi or truck in sight. ¬†Intriguing! ¬†I asked my friends why. ¬†“What’s the big rush?”, was the answer. Good point!

So I started to wait for the ‘Green Man’ too. ¬†And after 16 years in Denmark, I find myself feeling very awkward if I throw caution to the wind and ignore the (danger, danger, DANGER!) ‘Red Man’. ¬†On the very rare occasion that I decide to dice with death, I even check to make sure there are no witnesses around. ¬†Ha! ¬†How neurotic is that?

As a tourist or newbie in Denmark, you also need to be very aware of the fact that Danish motorists do not expect people to walk out in front of them. ¬†So, if you don’t wait for the ‘Green Man’, you’re literally taking your life in your hands. ¬†Or should that be feet? ¬†Well, you have been warned! ūüėČ

And Danish cyclists don’t expect pedestrians to cross when it’s red either. ¬†(Though – let’s be honest here – cyclists don’t always adhere to the traffic rules themselves…) Just last week I almost fell off my bike turning right at the traffic lights in our little village. An Italian guy – not hearing any cars – marched right across when it was red. ¬†And nearly had me – plus my bike – on top of him. ¬†Welcome to Denmark!

Um, is that a chicken crossing the road in the above photo? ¬†Why, yes, it is! ¬†[Ok, so it’s a rooster. ¬†Play along with me.] ¬†I took the photo in Trelleborg, on the south coast of Sweden, last year. ¬†Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Boom boom! ¬†Luckily for this one, the car braked just in time. ¬†“Hey, Bird Brain! ¬†Next time wait for the ‘Green Man’!”

Diane ūüôā

You know you're in Denmark when… (Baby comes too!)

You know you’re in Denmark when…¬†

Okay, so y’all know¬†that Danish babies sleep outside in their prams or¬†barnevogne, “child wagons”, as they’re called here.¬† I told you before that¬†a French friend of mine nearly fainted when she found out.¬† “It’s barbaric!”¬†¬†My Mum actually did the same with me in Scotland in the summer. ¬†But here in Denmark¬†they do it all year round.¬† In the deep mid-winter.¬† When it’s raining.¬† Snowing.¬† You name the inclement weather –¬†we have it – Danish babies sleep outside in it.¬† Just remember to dress Baby Viking accordingly.¬† Keeping in mind the Danish motto: There’s no such thing as bad weather.¬† Only the wrong clothing!¬† Though selvf√łlgelig the Danish health authorities don’t recommend that Baby Viking sleeps outside when¬†ill.¬† Or if the outside temperature drops below minus 10c/14f¬† ūüėČ

Above you can see my DS14 (dear son, 14) when he was about a year old, together with a friend from creche.¬† When our DKs (dear kids)¬†were small, they slept in a pram which I parked in our garden.¬† People who live in flats often have an old, extra pram permanently parked on their balcony, so the baby can get their daily nap. And at vuggestue (creche)¬†they’ll often have specially built, large wooden cribs for the kids. ¬†The cribs are parked in a shed when the weather is particulary nasty.¬† Our two kids were sent off every day with their favourite small duvet/comforter and pillow.¬† Hyggeligt!¬† And sleeping outside usually means that they take a l-o-v-e-l-y, ¬† l-o-n-g,¬† h-e-a-l-t-h-y¬† nap!

But, as usual,¬†I digress…¬† Now,¬†just because you have a baby¬†doesn’t mean that you can’t get around Copenhagen.¬† On the contrary.¬† Baby always comes too!¬† The buses have space for a couple of prams.¬† And prams here can be¬† r-e-a-l-l-y¬† b-i-g.¬† You get on via the middle doors of the bus.¬† And ring the “pram” bell when you get off – so that the driver knows to allow you extra time when disembarking your tank…

The Metro and S-tog (Subway) trains have specially assigned areas for parking prams and bikes. 

¬†You’ll find those carriages at the front and back ends of the train.

Want to browse the shops?¬† No problem!¬† Baby comes too!¬† Get right in there!¬† Though it can get quite cramped sometimes when there are two or three prams vying for place…¬† [It can also lead to ‘road wars’ on the pavements when you are trying to manoeuvre past those giant prams.]

Baby is in the middle of a nap, or prams aren’t allowed in¬†a particular¬†store?¬† Just point the pram towards the window of the shop and keep an eye out.¬† I had a hard time with this one in the beginning.¬† Funnily enough, I always took my *valuables* out of the pram.¬†¬†‘Cos I was more concerned about someone stealing my¬†shopping than my baby… ūüėõ

Where are the Mum and Dad of these Viking Twin Babies?  Inside the café, on the other side of the window.

Yep, those crazy Danes have it all sewn up.  Or should that be snuggly tucked in?  So you fancy living in Denmark?  Babies no obstacle!

Diane ūüôā

You know you're in Denmark when… (Sexy Danish Domesticated Dads)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

…you wonder why there are so many good looking men coming out of a building at 7.45 in the morning. ¬†Then suddenly realise¬†that those men are SDDDs! ¬†Sexy Danish Domesticated Dads…

Yep, while Danish Mums tend to do the afternoon pick-up, it’s often Danish Dads who do the morning run to vuggestue (creche) and b√łrnehave (nursery). And Danish Dads are also a dab hand when it comes to packing lunchboxes (remembering to use the special Danish lunchbox paper!) and cooking dinner.

Yep, the Danish work-life balance is pretty obvious on the home front. [Such a pity my own DDH didn’t get that particular memo! ūüėČ ]

So – ladies – next time you’re heading off on the school run, you might want to slap on some lipstick..?

Diane ūüôā