Wednesday, 1 September 2021
Friday, 21 May 2021
Danish checkout operators, for the most part, are teenagers. Unlike at home where you often get bored middle-aged women who slowly check your stuff through while telling you their life story, here all supermarket checkout operators, no matter the supermarket, have a set script that is almost never deviated from, and customers also have a script they are meant to stick to, it's all very odd and quite tedious...
Translated into English it goes:
Checkout operator: Hi
They scan everything in silence.
Checkout operator: Anything else?
Customer: no, thanks.
Checkout operator: That'll be 250 Kroner (or whatever). Would you like your receipt?
Customer: No, thanks
Checkout operator: Thanks, have a good day/afternoon/weekend!
Customer: Thanks, same to you!
So, it's neither riveting nor particularly good for my Danish skills, but I guess it means every foreigner knows at least three phrases in Danish. Sometimes, I'm tempted, when they are scanning to ask if they are going anywhere nice at the weekend, just to see if they actually die of shock.
Anyway, today I nipped into Aldi to buy some chips and after scanning my stuff the boy on the checkout, to my shock, came out with 'Have a nice Whitsun!' You could have knocked me over. Who knew my afternoon could be this interesting! I don't even know what Whitsun is in English, let alone in Danish, nor do I know how to have a good one. I'm now on Facebook quizzing my Danish friends as to whether there are any special cakes connected to Whitsun, given most of these religious holidays in Denmark seem to be cake excuses, as far as I can see!
I'll keep you posted!
Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Sunday, 9 May 2021
Thursday, 6 May 2021
Monday, 3 May 2021
Sunday, 2 May 2021
Saturday, 1 May 2021
To my mind, Denmark is a crazy weird country when it comes to religion. Although on the surface it is as secular as Scotland, it seems to cling overly to lots of religious hand-me-downs, perhaps for want of something better to do.
Thomas has a theory that it stems from Denmark being a fairly insipid place when it comes to unique national culture. There is little in Danish culture that is exclusive to Denmark, not shared by its Nordic neighbours or their German cousins to the south. Their high school leaving traditions with their sailor hats and trucks full of drunken kids, that you might be familiar with from having seen the Oscar winning film 'Druk' (Another Round) are something quite unique but many of their traditions harp back to a time when people were much more religious. Their extremely alien approach to Protestant confirmation - something that a huge number of teenagers take part in every year despite never setting foot in a church before or after year 7 stands out as one of the most bizarre - Anna is currently the only child in her class not being confirmed this summer, but that is a blogpost on its own.
This theory could also explain a rather surprising attachment to the monarchy from a land where equality is so prized that gay marriage and similar was legalised long before we saw it back home.
As a Scottish person, we have obvious ways to celebrate our Scottishness and to differentiate ourselves from England or elsewhere. We have Scots and Gaelic, we have tartan and clans, we have ceilidhs and Scottish country dancing, and haggis (and veggie haggis just to make it culturally inclusive) and much more.
Anyway, whatever the reason, Denmark clings somewhat to its religious traditions and yesterday, according to my calendar, was the amusingly named 'store bededag' - 'great prayer day'. Great prayer day is so big, it is on a par with Christmas from a shopping perspective, almost nowhere is open! Thomas and the kids all had a day off, so there were no complaints there. The idea, historically, seems to be that people were taking too much time off work for religious holidays so those religious holidays got combined into one great day, where quality was meant to count over quantity. You were to spend the whole day praying to make up for taking fewer religious holidays, but that went for everyone, including the bakers, so banned from opening, they came up with wheat rolls that could be bought the night before and kept till great prayer day was over. In typical Danish style, great prayer day now, as far as I can see is no longer a religious holiday but an excuse to stay home from work all day and gorge yourself on some rather delightful warm, toasted rolls known as hveder with a hint of cardamom dripping in luxurious Danish butter. Even this atheist could get into that kind of religious celebration!
Léon has taken to eating quite a lot of marmalade since we moved here. He just loves Danish marmalade, which has even more peel in it than the UK equivalent!
Over lunch the other week, he joked we should start calling him Paddington. Thomas, then happened to mention, that when he was a child, he had read many Paddington books, translated into Danish of course, because he couldn't speak English back then. They'd been badly translated though, as many books are, and had translated marmalade simply by 'marmelade', which is just any kind of jam in Danish. I was less aware of this as the standard word for jam that I know in Danish is 'syltetøj'. He sheepishly admitted that until he'd seen the English originals, when he had had kids of his own, he'd always pictured Paddington eating strawberry jam!
So Denmark appears to be a land where Paddington Bear dines out on strawberry jam sandwiches... Unimaginable!
Thursday, 15 April 2021
Friday, 9 April 2021
Now here's a weird one... When you are brought up in Scotland, you are taught nothing about Greenland. You know it's a snowy place with the odd igloo, and possibly some seals, full stop. You have no idea what goes on there and you have almost certainly never met a Greelander or even someone who has been there. My old office mate, a keen climber and mountaineer, once went on a hiking tour of eastern Greenland. She came back with some of the most spectacular photos I have ever seen in my life, so I really felt I knew much more about it than your average middle-aged Scottish woman!
Greenland is currently an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, so here the topic of Greenland crops up all the time. For example, if you go on the local job page here, there are currently no fewer than 135 jobs on offer in Greenland! And the last week's evening news has been dominated by the general election and shift in power there, bet you didn't know about that!
You also meet a number of Greenlanders in your travels here. My new dentist is from Greenland - a lovely woman, married to an Irishman from Cork who runs the local Irish pub! Léon has Greenlandic classmates and a couple of years ago when we were looking to buy a house, we viewed at least one where the decor was entirely Greenlandic and all the photos dotted around the house included people in reindeer skins against snowy backdrops. It's quite fascinating!
Wednesday, 7 April 2021
After my experience with the ice lollies, I started to look out for liquorice. It is everywhere! Whereas in a UK shop maybe 3-5% of confectionery may be liquorice flavoured, here it is often more than 50% and sometimes as high as 75%. As a liquorice loather, I often wonder why they need so many types? Surely one sweet, one salty should cover all bases? These same supermarkets only stock one type of fresh chilli, when I want a choice of ten, but they have space for 47 different sweets that are all the same in my book! Supermarkets all stock tubs of liquorice ice cream, though you might struggle to find something like raspberry ripple or peach melba! And Haribo has a whole liquorice range! Who knew?! Small children are given liquorice from birth just so that they get used to that flavour from early on. Danes actively seem to try building up a liquorice tolerance in their kids in much the same way as I did with my kids with scotch bonnets! Just last week, my 7 year old (Danish) niece was munching on liquorice sweets and looked aghast when both my Danish daughters refused one. She had clearly never met a child who didn't like liquorice before, let alone two!
But the most spectacular encounter I have had so far was on a trip at the end of 2019 to the wonderful restaurant Fiskehuset in Bogense. My mother was visiting and we went for a fish buffet. Never in my life had I tasted such wonderful lobster soup and I was happily tasting my way through the fishy delicacies, when I noticed the next table were slightly further on in their meal. The kids were ordering some ice creams but the dad opted for a cheeseboard. I looked on in interest, given that cheese is probably my favourite thing in the whole world to eat... They brought out delicious-looking rustic crackers and a large selection of hard and soft cheeses, some blue, some creamy coloured. Suddenly in the centre of the board I noticed a jet black lump, cheddary in consistency but with a dark, matt sheen. As my brain questioned what it could possibly be, I heard the man's wife exclaim in glee - Oh look darling, they've got that yummy liquorice cheese, you love! Liquorice cheese? LIQUORICE CHEESE??? Seriously? What is wrong with these people?!
If I had been less in shock, I would have wandered over and asked to photograph it, but that'll need to wait till Covid is over with, I guess.
And just to prove they do make the stuff, though this isn't the same colour as the one I saw, here's a picture!
Thursday, 1 April 2021
Over the years that changed. Supermarkets mushroomed to the size of Silverburn Tesco (the Danish equivalent is probably Bilka Odense). Strangely though, the egg selection shrank till all you could get from battery, to barn, to free range were brown eggs. Occasionally Newton Mearns Waitrose had some pale duck-egg blue coloured ones if you had recently won the lotto, but otherwise all eggs were brown.
This made no difference all year round, except at Easter. If you want to colour brown eggs, you end up with shitty-coloured Easter eggs. For about five years we got round this by buying white eggs in our local Polish corner shop but that solution left with its owners when Brexit forced it into liquidation and its lovely staff onto the first plane home.
In Denmark, however, we have no such problem. Here all standard supermarket eggs are white and if we were to need a brown one for anything, our neighbour's brood often leave us little brown ones around the garden!😁
Monday, 29 March 2021
Sunday, 28 March 2021
I had a bike back home, the same one I'd bought in my late 20s and on the few occasions I used it, it suited my purpose. Before I left, given it was a worthless dinosaur, I figured selling it rather than paying to ship it to Denmark was probably a better bet. I advertised it on Facebook at £30 and a rather wacky treehugger granny dressed in tie-dyed cheesecloth turned up on my doorstep all the way from the Ayrshire coast telling me she wanted to get back in touch with nature and cycle everywhere going forward. A very chatty type, she admitted eventually she had lost her job through illness as some kind of general do-gooder and didn't even have enough for her dinner, let alone petrol going forward, so by the end of the afternoon, I'd made her a cup of tea, given her biscuits, bagged up some rhubarb and berries from my garden, waived the £30 and helped her squeeze my old bike into the back of the smallest, oldest car you've ever seen handlebars out the window. As she hugged me in tears, telling me there were still good people in the world, I knew my bike would be loved, even if I suspected she was going to spend the rest of the week dancing round a bonfire in the forest chanting my name to some pagan gods of hers!
It made me feel good, but now I am beginning to regret it! You see, since I arrived in Denmark I have realised their bikes are quite different. For starters, they have that really odd cycle-backwards-braking system you find all over the Germanic world, except in the UK! So when I am on my new Danish bike, unless I concentrate, I accidentally brake and throw myself over my handlebars. But that isn't even the biggest difference!
The problem is the sizing of bikes. For some reason when you buy or hire a bike in the UK or France (the two places I am used to cycling), they give you a bike that when you sit on the saddle, you can touch the ground on both sides with the ball of your foot. The saddle comes up to the top of your leg plus maybe 5cm. In Denmark however, when they measure you up for a bike in a proper bike shop, they offer you something that when you stand beside it, the saddle is somewhere between waist height and your boobs! You can barely reach the pedals, let alone the ground and this isn't just because I am only 1m61, it is completely standard. After buying a bike here I have been observing Danish cyclists and they are all sitting waaaaaay up in the air, by UK standards. Every day I see wee grannies perched up on bikes that look like they'd fit a 1m90 man. When on my new bike, I feel like I should be asking for permission to land rather than just pulling in to the kerb, I'm so high up. And it isn't like I could just have bought the size down. Given my height, the size down is aimed at primary kids and comes with my little Pony stickers, purple ribbons and no gears, not to mention it probably doesn't cater for my non-ten-year-old weight! Thomas claims it is less tiring to be so much further from the ground and the pedals - that's as maybe, but it is bloody scary when you are just a wee woman like me! I almost feel like I need to learn to cycle from scratch because it feels so different way up there where the air is thin! If I survive, and overcome my newly-developed fear of heights, maybe I'll adapt to it eventually.
Oh, and finally, another thing that stands out here on the roads is helmet use, or rather the lack of it. I don't think I've seen anyone cycling on the road in the UK helmet-free since the 1990s, but here the only people in helmets are primary school kids, foreigners and people in sports gear. 90% of adult Danes, in Odense centre, and there are thousands of them, are helmetless... waaaaay up there!
Thursday, 25 March 2021
Funnily enough, I expect the Danes who read this to be as appalled about Scotland as the Scots who read it are about Denmark, so here goes:
Back in Scotland my kids went to Kirkhill primary. Kirkhill is (funnily enough) on a hill! Two thirds of the plot of land the school was on was taken up with concrete playgrounds, and the school itself, but one third was known as 'the banking', a grassy area on an incline, hence banking. Here are a couple of photos and a satellite picture:
Since my piece the other day about risk aversion, I've been thinking about the differences between the Danish and Scottish (or British) parents I know, and although life in the two countries should be similar, the biggest difference I can see is not risk itself but their respective perception of it. I expect I will return to this topic time and again as it is a huge benchmark of the two societies, but today let's look specifically at sleeping babies. Often there is a difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK but in this specific case, as Scottish parents are influenced by the media, I presume the observation goes not only for the whole of the UK, but for much of the English-speaking world.
One of the first things that shocks you as a Scot in Denmark are the prams. Outside houses and flats all over Denmark you see prams abandoned, no matter the outside temperature and no matter how rural or urban the setting. Inside babies are asleep in the fresh air. Whether it is mid-summer or sub-zero makes no difference. I'm not sure what Danes believe will happen to their offspring if they don't have their afternoon nap outside, but I am yet to meet a Dane who would feel that sleeping outside is something their baby should be protected against.
And this is by no means a village thing, I first noticed the phenomenon in central Copenhagen and where my sister-in-law lives in Valby - an area with tenement-type flats by the thousand - this is completely the norm. Danes have a high level of trust in each other, surveys find trust levels up at around 80%, unlike the woeful 30% you'd score on a UK trust test. I suspect many people back home would be afraid to leave their pram outside, even minus the infant, in case the pram was stolen, but here even the precious bundle inside is assumed to be safe without a close watchful eye. As mothers and fathers sit in their 4th storey flat, junior sleeps outside, downstairs with the babies of friends, neighbours and strangers. We've all heard the story of the Dane in New York who was arrested basically for being Danish, in the States. And I certainly feel Brits have developed a heightened sense of fear over my lifetime. As a child in the 70s, I can clearly remember babies being left outside supermarkets in my home town while their mums popped in for some groceries. And if they were taken in from the gardens and tenement back closes for their afternoon naps, I suspect it was more out of fear of the Scottish climate than fear of a baby-snatching bogeyman.
I imagine now, as in the States, a baby left to sleep outside a café in Scotland would cause surprise, fear or hysteria, in a way that over here I can see is wholly unnecessary. I'm now into my second year here and am yet to hear about a single case of anything happening to a sleeping tot on the evening news! As with the many other areas of risk aversion back home, I suspect the fear is much stronger than the actual risk, and it is a shame that attitudes are so hard to change.
Friday, 19 March 2021
Thursday, 18 March 2021
I used to drink my coffee black - when I was a kid that was. It was probably because my mum drank it black so didn't think to put any milk in mine when she first introduced me to instant coffee in the 80s. All through uni my entire friend group were all '237's on the vending machine - well except for one weirdo who didn't (and still doesn't) drink coffee of any colour (we love you all the same Gillian 😁).
By our mid-thirties, we'd all moved on to white - maybe our old intestines just couldn't keep up with the straight paint-stripper caffeine.
This year on my birthday, I woke up and wondered if my aging insides might not feel better with no caffeine at all. I was only ever a two cups a day girl, but still, I thought it couldn't hurt to try decaff for a week. I had an old jar lying around that I used to use for my decaff friends back home so I tried that. For two days I had a blinder of a headache. I thought the reaction was completely over the top given I really didn't drink much coffee, but it worried me all the same, so once I'd come through the other side of the cold turkey, I decided to stick with it.
And what a pain that is turning out to be. Decaff is everywhere in the UK, has been for decades, Italy was the same when we were down there in the summer. Like me it is the taste they are after, not the drugs, but Denmark is a complete pain in the backside. Danish supermarkets are notoriously poorly stocked. It might be different in central Copenhagen, but where I live there are only two supermarkets that stock it (out of more than ten within 15 minutes drive) and each of those has a choice of one (over-priced) brand, when it is (occasionally) in stock. Worse still, cafés think you're insane if you even suggest it. I tried three different ones in Copenhagen airport on Wednesday and they just looked at me as if I'd asked if they happened to stock green and purple stripy hairless cats for human consumption.
I'm not missing that lull in the afternoon when I need a coffee, I'm no longer in need of a caffeine fix but I hope at some point Denmark will catch up with the notion that coffee without caffeine can be a nice addition to the menu too, and not some weird health food item you need to buy off the Internet for home consumption only.
Originally published on Phylsblog on 18/10/20
I moaned about it last year after my stay in Alkmaar, so there's no point in my ranting again... I just feel that it always hits me worse when I have just come back from somewhere else, and of course I am just back from Italy, so it's been pissing me off again. Why is it that Danes put up with their supermarkets having a selection that is equivalent to about 30% of what you would find in any of their neighbouring countries? Being in Italy was so refreshing - you could choose from many different types of tomato, lettuce, mushrooms or whatever fruit and veg tickled your fancy. The selection in your average supermarket there was much closer to what you would find in the local immigrant markets here than the shitty little mini-supermarkets, of which there are sooooo many. They had whole aisles dedicated to something that would take up 50cm on a Danish supermarket shelf. Every single supermarket had at least two aisles dedicated to breakfast items - croissants - at least five different flavours, petits pains aux chocolat, a dozen different types of cereal-based biscuits for dipping in your morning coffee, normal cereals, cakes, rolls - endless choice.
Shopping here bores me to tears. I often go out with an idea of what I want to cook, but unless I can be bothered dragging myself to the immigrant markets on the other side of the city, I soon end up throwing in the towel. Though on my way home tonight, ranting my head off to Thomas as usual, my spirits were lifted by this roadside stall, erected by a local farmer. Now that's what I call a reasonable selection! So reasonable in fact, I'm now home with four different types and I'm off to trawl my cookbooks for inspiration 😊
Originally published on Phylsblog on 27/08/20
How can it be that this trip (350km/217 miles each way using a train, a coach and a ferry) and a week's stay in an outdoor centre can cost 400DKK (£48.30) for a 12 year old.
Originally published on Phylsblog on 15/06/20
Sunday, 14 March 2021
I am hearing however from people who live in the cities that the people there are losing the plot this morning. A few shots from the big 24 hour type supermarket in the city are telling a rather different story to up here! Are these people even aware that just 15km up the road there are freshly baked loaves?
People up here have loads of space and aren't hamstering, but down there, their little flats must be bursting at the seams! It'll be interesting to see how this develops.
Originally published on Phylsblog on 12/03/20
At home, I found petrol prices would hover around a figure, shifting very little until there was some spurt or other, then they'd jump a couple of pence and stick again. Almost all garages in the one area are within a penny of each other, rural places are more expensive and motorway service stations are best avoided price-wise. That is how things have been since I first got behind a wheel in '85.
I'm starting to notice Denmark just isn't like that. At first, before I had a real handle on the currency, I didn't notice much so I decided to try to work out the cheapest garage between Bogense, where I was living at first, and Morud, where the school was (a 21km stretch). The first thing I noticed was that as I got closer to the big city - Odense - it often got dearer, not cheaper - odd. The next thing I noticed was that it was not overly predictable which would be cheapest on any given day and finally the price would fluctuate more than I was expecting.
So, over the last month I decided to observe it much more closely. There are three main garages near me - two supermarkets and one Shell. Not only does the price fluctuate wildly between around 10.19 and 11.39 a litre (approx £1.15 & £1.29), it can go from one to the other and back within the space of 24 hours. I'd go as far as to say the price changes every single day, sometimes twice a day. I have concluded that whenever the price goes above 11 Kroner, I simply should wait till the following day when it'll be back down nearer 10. It's really odd to watch. (I've also now worked out that the Netto supermarket is definitely always the cheapest near me, if anyone happens to be in my neighbourhood.)
Back in Scotland, a big thing in primary schools is the 'wet weather activity book', mine often shortened it: 'Mum, did you put my wet weather in my bag?' - the mind boggles - what is that? A bag full of slush and rain water? Anyway, at my school when I was a child and at my children's primary school, you were meant to provide your child with something to do when they were kept in on rainy or snowy breaks and lunch times. We tried colouring books when they were wee, moving on to packs of cards and novels as they advanced through the years.
But here's an idea. In Denmark, there are no 'wet weathers'. There are just snowsuits for big kids! These aren't your expensive Val d'Isère numbers, these are standard issue, available in all supermarkets and expected to be owned by all primary-aged kids suits, that they wear/take to school so they can play outside all the time. And they are for real use - they aren't meant to look pristine, they often come home caked in mud or whatever. It isn't that the weather is different here. The summer was a wee bit better but so far the autumn and winter have been bog-standard Scottish, both in temperature and in volume of rain.
It's sweet, because Amaia associates these suits with babies, she's taken to calling it her 'cute suit' rather than 'flying suit' as the Danes refer to it, but I have to say since she bought it there's been no turning back - she's content to be out in all weather and I've even found her happy to walk the 3km home from school on occasion, if I've been busy!
They release old ones on DVD so our kids have always followed at least one every December as it was traditional and good for their Danish. But this is the first time we've spent December in Denmark so we're following the current year's one in real time. Now I can see how big it actually is - apparently it was the only topic of conversation today in Amaia's class, after last night's opening episode. Everyone has watched it - male, female, immigrant, ethnic Dane - doesn't matter - there's no get-out clause if you're in that age bracket and understand Danish.
And they're not missing out on the commercial opportunities either. Amaia saw the cardboard Tinka calendar in Coop over the weekend, so is opening windows to see what the current evening's episode is going to be about. She discovered today's was a picture of lanterns this morning but had to wait till 8pm to find out their significance. She also picked up the panini-style Tinka album over the weekend and now they are all taking in cards of the main characters to swap doubles with classmates. It's all very exciting apparently. I'm quite surprised the English-speaking world hasn't jumped on this money-spinning bandwagon. I guess that's what happens when you only have one language on your radar.
Now I'm mainly driving in Denmark, but have nipped back to Scotland two or three times for a week. I have now noticed one colossal difference between the two sets of drivers and that is undertaking on motorways. Unless traffic is more or less at a standstill, usually because of roadworks, because the roads are definitely less busy here, no one ever undertakes you here. Although I would obviously not recommend it, you could, to all intents and purposes, move from the middle lane of a motorway into the slow lane without looking. So, back in Glasgow last weekend I tested my theory that Scots were much more a breed of undertakers than Danes - my god - even between Crookfur and Glasgow centre (a less than 10km stretch) I lost count of the number of cars that shot up my left hand side (no I wasn't going under the speed limit like an annoying snail) - they were simply being chancers who could not be bothered popping out two lanes and back two. So, all in all driving in Scotland is harder and more stressful than here - you certainly need to be more alert.
It's actually interesting to look at national differences. I have many years of experience of driving in France, Italy, Germany and a bit in Spain, Switzerland and Luxembourg, but had very little experience of Scandinavia till this year. I've always found France and Italy similar to home so they have never fazed me. Nothing much stood out in Spain, Switzerland or Luxembourg either. The main German difference is that outer motorway lane when the speed limit goes altogether and the Audis and BMWs shoot past at 150kmph+ - you just stay out of that unless you've hired something much more powerful than I tend to be able to afford to own!
Over the October week, I took my car to the Netherlands for the first time. I've only ever used public transport there before. It is altogether different. It is such a small country but with a huge amount of traffic on the motorways, and once you get into the cities, bikes and trams are thrown into the mix. The roundabouts really should be taught to foreigners before they attempt them. I think more Dutch would be run over by the annual tourists if it wasn't for the sheer number of bikes that pass you like an impenetrable wall. I think I'd call it a high-concentration drive. The distances between cars is less than half what we're used to in Scotland, they drive at 130kmph (81mph) even when it is highly congested, jumping in and out smoothly in a hair-raising fashion. It almost looks like they are knitting some elaborate pattern with their cars in a fast and well-choreographed manner. It definitely isn't somewhere I would like to drive if I was overly tired or had less driving experience.
Finally, as I've mentioned before, living somewhere where there are very few potholes is nice. I feel like I can pay attention to driving rather than scanning the road surface, but the thing I miss most from home is cat's eyes. Living beyond where the Glasgow lampposts light the motorway, these wonderful little reflectors made driving clear and easy. Here, I often drive to Copenhagen, Billund or the German border at night in the dark and their absence is painful. In driving rain and mist it is significantly harder to see the boundary between lanes. They really don't know what they are missing. It is as different as driving a country lane in the dark and driving down an airport runway. Come on, Europe, order in some cat's eyes, please!
At first, just after the clocks changed, I thought Danes were all a wee bit over-eager with Xmas. Almost immediately people started filling their gardens with strings of fairy lights wrapped around bushes and up their flag poles. Brightly-lit shapes appeared too - stars, triangles and similar, but there were no Santas, reindeer or snowmen. Their houses on the inside, however, were the same as ever. My next door neighbour, who owns a Xmas tree plantation at the end of our field, had only just started cutting and bagging the bigger ones, and they are still lying awaiting collection or distribution.
There was no obvious Xmas decorating going on on that front. Curious! Danes, on the whole, use real Xmas trees and their houses are warmer and better insulated than Scottish ones, so the real tree doesn't go up till a week to ten days before Xmas (which is Dec 24 here), otherwise it would dry out. Then I realised, it was some sort of informal Scandinavian 'festival of lights' they use from the onset of winter to alleviate the darkness of the short Nordic days. I guess that might be why we have three sockets on the outer walls of our house - so it would be rude to not join in, wouldn't it? So, Thomas has been tasked with hunting down a fairy-light covering for the flag pole while I'm away this weekend 😁
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