Sunday, 14 August 2011
Six months in Denmark...
yesterday that we were unpacking boxes, grappling with the plug adaptor situation and finding light fittings. We've faced so many changes over our time here and there have been challenges a plenty but we've also made great strides in adapting to our new surroundings. Its funny how quickly one can become accustomed to a different landscape; when we were in London recently, it seemed incredibly busy, much more so than I remembered it from my 18 years living there! I've simply become used to there being less people around, less queues and more space.
(1) Riding my bike in a skirt and heels
Everybody does it (well, mainly Danish women) and riding in style is a big part of the cycling culture. And so, I've exchanged my fluorescent waterproof cycling jacket for a very stylish red hooded waterproof poncho and on the few occasions that I have ventured out for cocktails at Rubys, I've ridden my bike in a skirt and heels.
The loppedmarked is very popular here. The word translates as 'flea market' but it is more than that and encompasses jumble sale, yard sale and car boot sale too. Selling things that you no longer want or need is a national past time and there are many bargains to be had. At the weekends, children stand on street corners selling their old toys, dealers set up stalls of antiques and nick-nacks at more organised sales and many ex pat families take a pitch to sell their purged belongings before moving on. I love stumbling upon a loppedmarked and have bought some great things (mainly second hand toys and English children's books). It would seem that I have acquired the Danish talent for rummaging!
Walking around our neighbourhood in the evening, there are always candles burning in the windows. This is all part of the Danish concept of hygge, which translates as 'cosiness' but is, as I understand it, the warm and fuzzy feeling you have when you are spending time with loved ones over a shared meal in the home. These occasions are usually candlelit and the glowing flames symbolise the warmth. Our use of candles came about in rather more practical circumstances (when we moved into our flat, there were no light fittings) but we do still have a tray of white church candles that we light from time to time for cosiness.
When we moved here we swapped our garden flat for a third floor apartment and sacrificed our private outdoor space. This was a conscious decision as we thought that living downtown would be less isolating. Rather than a private garden we have access to a shared courtyard with a common play area. This is proving to be a wonderful space to meet our Danish neighbours and their children. And the day came to pass during the recent school summer holidays when my son (who just turned 4) could hear his friends playing downstairs and asked me if he could go out to join them in the courtyard. I took a deep breath, weighed up the risks and decided that I could give him a small taste of independence. I watched from the kitchen window on the third floor as he and his friends rode around on their bikes. I can't imagine the same scenario back in London and I think this has more to do with the access to outdoor space being different. Having said that if anyone had told me that I would be letting my son play out on his own at this age, I would have struggled to believe it!
Yes, this is the way it is done here. On that first trip to the hairdressers it puzzled me and I did wonder if perhaps when I had made the appointment I had been booked for a wash and style but when every kink and curl had been obliterated, the scissors finally came out. I have been happy with the results and now I know the procedure, I know not to panic when the straighteners appear!
Now, coming from an English girl, you might think it sounds a little rich that I have had to acclimatise to the Danish weather. I don't really have an issue with it and for the most part it is what I expected but what took some getting used to was the fact that at any time on any given day it can change (sometimes quite dramatically) without much warning. One minute you might be sitting on the beach feeling pleasantly warmed by the sun and perhaps even contemplating a dip in the sea - the next minute the wind will have picked up, the clouds gathered and its a race to get home before the rain sets in. At least I've learned never to give up hope on the weather - when I wake up in the morning and the sky is grey, I always remind myself that by the end of the day the sun might be shining!
My photos in this post are from the various crafts on display at this weekend's Kunsthåndværkermarkedet. It was Scandinavia's largest collection of crafters and designers from the Danish Arts and Crafts Association. The beautiful work included textiles, jewellery, ceramics and glass. For further information on the fair visit www.craftsfair.dk