Tuesday, 27 May 2014

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..? :P

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 :)

Friday, 23 May 2014

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! :P


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. :P


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 :)

 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Vote, vote? Yes, yes!

The election posters are back in town!  And so is the circus...  Co-incidence?  I think not! ;)




And this time - if you're a fellow European - you've no doubt been caught up in the election 'hoo-ha' too.  I've seen people out canvassing on the streets in Sweden and posters on the streets of Paris.


So just who - or what - are we voting for this time?  The European Parliamentary Elections on Sunday 25 May.  Plus a Yes or No to the europæisk Patentdomstol (European Unified Patent Court).

I decided to go and vote yesterday by 'postal vote' at our town hall.  (When we had local elections in November, I voted at our local library.  And got some new library books at the same time! Read it here...Vote! Get books!)  Why did I vote yesterday instead of waiting until Sunday?  'Cos a) I'd rather be out having fun in the sun on Sunday and b) I have no doubts and am ready.  Yep, having worked for nearly 10 years as PA to the British Judge at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, you can guess where I put my cross!


Postal voting at our (majestic) town hall was quick and simple.


Just turn up during opening hours and provide some ID.  Receive your two envelopes and step into the booth. 


The first envelope contains a blue card where you write either the party 'letter', name of the party in full, or name of the candidate you want to vote for.  So, for example, you could write "A" (if it was the Social Democrats), or "Socialdemokraterne" in full, or could write "Jeppe Kofod" if you wanted to give a personal vote to a specific candidate.


There's a list of party letters/names/candidates right there in the booth.  Confused by the plethora of Danish political parties?  I tried to simplify them here for you in...Election time. Left. Right. Left, left, right!


The second envelope contains a red card where you simply tick Yes or No.



Make your choices, close the envelopes, leave the booth and hand the envelopes to the council employee.  You then sign a form and they 'post' the votes for you.   And - should you change your mind - you can simply go and vote again and again...  Or wait until Sunday for your final chance.

I've voted.  Done my duty.  Time to enjoy the fabulous summer weather we're having in Copenhagen and go do what I love most...daily swimming in the Danish sea, all year round!  Here I am, yesterday morning, after a lovely dip on the sensational south coast of sunny, sunny, sunny Sweden.  Yep, gotta love being a true European... ;)


Diane :)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Tea and hot rolls Thursday = Big Prayer Day Friday

With the excitement of Eurovision behind us, my kids are now eagerly counting down to the strangest day on the Danish religious calendar.  Okay - let's be honest - they're really just counting down to yet another day off school! ;)  On Friday they'll be able to have a lie in because it's Stor Bededag.  ’Big Prayer Day’!  Yep, 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 - voilàStor Bededag was born.  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.



Want to know more about Danish confirmation and 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






Personally, I'm praying for dry skies. We've had torrential rain here in Copenhagen for the past three or four days. Enough already!


God Stor Bededag!

Diane :)

Friday, 9 May 2014

Eurovision is here! And I was there! #JoinUs

If you saw Tuesday's post, you'll know that I was gearing up to watch the first Semi-Final of Eurovision live in Copenhagen.  Oh, what a night!


We sailed from the harbour, Nyhavn...


...by specially chartered canal boats over to Refshaleøen.

 


Everybody on the boat was in high spirits and enjoyed the views of, amongst other things, the Royal Yacht - Dannebrog, which just happens to be moored right in front of the Eurovision hall.


But, disembarking, I have to admit that Refshaleøen - dubbed Eurovision Island - looks a bit of a dump.  Especially as the fans couldn't wait to start taking photos.  Couldn't someone at least have cut the grass and removed the weeds?! ;)


Once through security (a quick pat down, bag check and metal detector)...


...we were into the open air bar area.


Everyone was in fine fettle and we chatted to fans from all over Europe...


Even a chap who hailed from Venezuela! :)


We were interviewed by Danish tv.  And Dutch tv were interviewing the Swedes...


A few bottles of bubbly later (hic!), it was time to wee-wee at the porta loos before entering the old B&W building (an old shipyard).  It was then that we started to feel the "wow" factor. This place is immense!


Found our seats whilst DJ Henrik Milling blasted out Eurovision hits to get us all warmed up and ready to party.  And then we were 'briefed' by Jacob Riising (my favourite Danish tv presenter), about 15 minutes before we went live to millions of viewers around the world.


I have to say that - when it was showtime and the Eurovision intro anthem was played - I got goosebumps!  And then we were off - with a bang!  And partied, partied, partied for the next couple of hours...


View of the 'open' green room which is in the middle of the hall.


A fabulous night was had by all.  Even if we didn't agree with the songs that were chosen to go through to Saturday's final! ;)

So who do you think will win?  I think Austria, Sweden and Armenia will be fighting it out for the top 3.  Or perhaps Denmark?

Will you be watching?  Come and #JoinUs! 


Diane :)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Eurovision is here! #JoinUs?

Good evening morning, Europe!  As you may remember from Eurovision is coming!#JoinUs? waaaay back in November, Copenhagen is the host of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.  And, yep, it's finally here and the madness has started!  I have my tickets and a few flags at the ready... :)


The centre of Copenhagen has been turned into "Eurovision Village" with street kitchens, live entertainment and plenty of kitsch hits.  The shows will be held on "Eurovision Island" - an old shipyard which has been completely transformed.  A controversial choice of venue: lots of money involved, has gone way (way) over budget and 10,000 of us will be trying to get to the (very) isolated island by waterbus, bike and a few taxis.  Chaos ahead? Time will tell! :P



Even if you aren't going to any of the shows, you can walk the "Eurovision Fan Mile" from Central Station, via Strøget (the main pedestrian shopping street) along the "Eurovision Fan Mile" down to Nyhavn (the harbour).  Just follow the banners - each bearing the title of a Eurovision winner.


If you have the time, the partner and the inclination - hey - you can even have yourself a "Wonderful Wedding" cruising round the harbour or being serenaded at the Royal Opera by the Maltese Eurovision entry!    And if you're in a same sex relationship, then what could be more apt than getting hitched on Friday 9 May?  It's the 25th anniversary of same sex civil partnerships in Denmark and there'll be weddings, speeches and Eurovision partying by Ved Stranden (the canal).  What's not to love about Copenhagen?  "Love of freedom. Freedom to love." :)

.

But, as usual, I digress!  Right now, I'm painting my nails and looking out my glad rags. Because tonight - Tuesday - I'm off to see the First Semi-Final with a group of friends.  Who's going to win this year?  My money is on (yet another...) Scandinavian victory.  La Suède?  12 points!  Yep, matey, you might want to change that flag for a blue and yellow one!



May the best song win!

Diane :)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

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! ;)

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 :)