Coastal village on Funen, Denmark – hometown of JudgeBrix

The Rock

Once upon a time, while enjoying my childhood summer, I got trapped on a rock for what felt hours or even days.  It was actually rather traumatic experience, and I’ve been afraid of rocks ever since 🙂

Setting the scene

cottageMany years ago, during the amazing 70s, my parents bought a small summer house cottage on a small idyllic island called Strynø. It was like taken from one of HC Andersen’s fairy tales. Small cottages with thatched roofs, cobblestone roads, wonderful fields and small village.  The village centre had a super market, school, municipal building, and supermarket-icecream parlour-post office (all in one building).  You could only get there by ferry and it only sailed a few times a day.  If you ran out of groceries, you had to live of berries 🙂

We normally went during late spring and most of the summer.  The family Renault 16 (yellow of course) was packed to the brim with supplies and clothes.  In Denmark, you can’t be too sure you get hot weather during the summer, so had to be prepared for anything possible.

While visiting the summer house, we kids spent 98% of the day outside.  Danish parenting is somewhat different, as we (kids) are left to fend for ourselves and learn as we go.  Meals are served during the day, and my parents would open the door, tell us not to come back until dinner time.  We had time to explore, climb, play ball, eat berries and just be kids … without too much adult supervision.  IT WAS AWESOME 🙂

Anyway, during one of these wonderful hot summer days, us kids went on a stroll and ended up by a huge field at the end of a dusty dirt road.  There was a big fence with a gate around the field, but that only means kids are allowed, or it meant something was so big and scary that it had to be locked away.

… but who cares about a gate when we can crawl over it and run in the field.  And so I did!

I was the first one not over, but through the fence, and ran laughing across the field with the sun baking down on me.  I turned around to shout for my sister and friends, only to discover that they were still by the fence/gate.  They had a strange look of fear and I could vaguely hear them shout “RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN” (in Danish of course) and pointing at something.

My eyes followed their frantic pointing and suddenly I saw this beast with horns come galloping towards me.  I let out a loud yelp, turned and legged it towards a giant rock in the middle of the field.  The beast was gaining on me and I could hear it’s heavy breathing and hoofs hitting the ground hard.

ramboramI jumped the last few yards onto the rock – to safety – and turned around to stare right into the angry eyes of a ram.  He was not a happy camper.

Perhaps he thought I was trying to hook up with his lady sheep or just didn’t like intruders.

I shouted to my sister for help, only to be greeted by hysterical laughter and them pointing at me sitting on a rock, pinned down by an angry beast protecting his turf.

After what felt like hours, probably only a few minutes, my sister finally went for help. Another “hour” went by and I heard the wonderful voice of my dad.

My hero, my saviour had arrived.  My dad can beat and scare off any monstrous ram, or other vile creature of the devil.  Or so I thought.  He was muttering some elaborate escape plan with another dad who had come to help, but I wasn’t seeing any progress in getting me off the bloody rock.

Without water for several “hours” my body was getting weaker and I was not sure I would survive this.  In a panic moment, I attempted to crawl down from the rock, only to be greeted by the ram.  He had absolutely no intentions of letting me survive this.

Suddenly I saw the other dad at the other end of the field, shouting for the ram.  It worked and it started to run towards him.  A few seconds later, my dad was next to.  As he reached for me, the ram suddenly turned and starred a us.  No time to waste, my dad yanked me off the rock and started to run with me on his back.

gimliMy dad was not built for running, a bit like Gimli with short legs, but he was going so fast that his legs were a blur to me.  I could see the ram running after us, and gaining valuable ground.

As we finally reached the gate, my dad threw me over it and jumped up to climb over.  The ram hit the gate and then started to eat the grass my sister was feeding the sheep.  So much for a vicious smoke breathing beast!

So, I learned my lesson.  Never jump a gate to a fenced off field.  If you do, be sure to wear runners and large bunch of grass.

Mother o’ Mother

Dear Mother,

Thanks for putting me into this World.  I can only say that I’m a gift to my generation, but some people might just say that I’m overly selfish and arrogant.

We’ve had many years of extreme happiness, family holidays and wonderful adventures.  Some I would prefer to forget, but through it all you’ve been very supportive and always given me the freedom to make my choice.  You mightn’t agree with them, but you respected my decision.

I admit, I’ve made some dumb-ass moves while growing up, and you mostly provided the moral backing … while probably laughing at some of these stupidities.  However, I do want to remind you that you encouraged some of the childhood stunts, even if you attempt to deny it 🙂

  • not stopping me picking up gloving red piece of iron from the beach fire place
  • laughing after I feel on top a huge pile of cow poo
  • taking picture as I was pooping in a bin in the middle of Greenlandic tundra
  • as I vomited having consumed rather large quantities of wiped cream
  • defrosting me after I slept in the shed, after a party, drunk of course

It was so different and much better growing up in the 70s and 80s.  Kids were kicked outside as soon as we had done out homework, despite the season or weather forecast, and had to entertain ourselves playing sports, rummaging in the forest and biking.  You always encouraged this were quick to drag us in to do our chores.

I wish you a wonderful mother’s day, my dear mother.

The Peak of Corniness

Corny = When someone or something tries to be cool,
but is ultimately very uncool and often even extremely
embarrassing (source; Internet urban dictionary).

eurovisionThat pretty much sums up an annual event that takes place within the continent of Europe also known as Eurovision.  Not many people outside Europe knows of its existence and most people within Europe (or with strong European roots and connections) often talk about it with great embarrassment.

The competition started back in 1956 with only 7 countries participating, and each participant had to sing a homegrown song in their native language.  It was a live broadcast on TV where each song was judged at the end of the show.

Over the next few decades the amount of participants tripled and the show spread like wildfire in Western Europe; Iceland to Israel and France to Greece.  It almost became a European championship in corny songs, interesting hair, more interesting dresses and multi-hour live broadcasts.

Since the late 90’s, when Eastern Europe opened up, many of these countries joined this awesome competition and devised their own corny songs … some take this to the next level of corniness and some attempt to dress as skimpy as possible.  Everything goes!

danesI remember growing up in rural Denmark and families huddling around the only television we had to see the entire Eurovision.  We even had friends coming over for Eurovision dinner and drinks, and then festivities followed in front of the TV.

My sister and I, and the other kids there, had a blast.  We kept score on homemade charts, ate sweets, drank soda and eventually fell asleep on the floor in front of the TV, of course missing the grand finale.

Back then, each country had to sing their song in their local language, which made it even funnier, but today (since 1999) a country can decide to sing in English if they want.  And, most chose to do so.  I guess they don’t realise how funny the lyrics sounds in English, after they just do a word-by-word translation.

These days most people I know are, when we talk about Eurovision, objecting to the fact that it should even exist and some even denounce the artists that participates or represents their country.  There’s almost a sense of embarrassment in even knowing much about Eurovision.

BUT, funnily enough, everybody seems to know when the Eurovision is on, who won last year and by how many points, give out about last year’s results, slagging of Eastern Europe for voting only for eastern European countries (keeping up the old political allies), only to ignore that Western Europe have the same voting system.

On the day and eve of the grand event, secret plans are being hatched in most houses across Europe, and people gather for lavish parties – all with the same theme –> EUROVISION has arrived.

We sit happily through 3-4 hours of horrific dances, strange songs, stranger hosts and prolonged voting.  To this day, the votes are still said in both English and French.  I guess the old colonial powers of Europe still rule Eurovision.  Each country votes and the country with the most votes obviously wins – simple!

Denmark, one of the smallest countries in Europe and not necessarily known for it’s fantastic music skills on the World stage, managed to win in 1963.  We had to wait 37 years for another win and we got our third win this year (2013).

  • In 2000 I witnessed Danish Eurovision history being made from a shitty apartment in Dublin city, the capital of Eurovision winners.
  • In 2013 I witnessed Danish Eurovision history being made again, this time from a nice house in New Jersey, and a country completely unaware of this bizarre music event.

Although I might not necessarily admit it publicly, there’s something special about winning the Eurovision.  The ability to beat 39 countries to the top, even if the song is corny and perhaps not achieving U2‘s levels, is phenomenal.

Why the innocent reader might ask?

Eurovision 2013To start with, this is a multi-million Euro industry and the country that hosts this event can expect to profit immensely most of the year.  That means Denmark should see an increase in tourism in 2014, again benefiting the local economy.

I guess it’s just part of being proud of the country you are from.  I left Denmark many years ago, but that doesn’t make me less Danish.  I super proud of my heritage.  On the World map we are small and insignificant, not much bigger than a finger nail, so when we achieve something amazing, then this becomes 10 times as fantastic for me.

If my friends ask, then I don’t watch Eurovision, just like they don’t watch it either 🙂

Understanding Danes

danesThis entry has been borrowed from the Danish Tourist site, who made a great quick guide for understanding some of our at times odd behaviours, so you don’t get freaked out or worried when visiting Denmark or if you have Danish colleagues / friends who might display certain interesting trades when chatting to them.

It might also help explain a few quirks you have noticed by my sense of humour and my way of writing my posts.  Count yourself lucky you haven’t met me yet 🙂

  1. Don’t panic if people don’t respond to small talk; it doesn’t really exist in Denmark as we tend to engage in conversations about topics.  We love to talk, but the trick is to ask questions, then we’ll open up 🙂
  2. Don’t panic of the humor makes you blush a little.  To outsiders, Danes can seem quick to take a joke to the next level.  Danish humor can go from subtle to ironic to downright inappropriate within a very short conversation 🙂
  3. Don’t panic if you are invited to someone’s home.  Most social interactions happens in the private settings of the home.  That’s our way of showing you that we trust and enjoy your company, and we feel more comfortable and relaxed in our homes.  Just bring a bottle of wine of flowers for the host and it’ll be fine 🙂
  4. Don’t panic if a “How are you doing?” small talk comment triggers a paragraph-long answer; including dog’s trip to the vet, what we had for breakfast and how the day is going in general.  We Danes tend to give a full (and often long) answer to any question.  It would be rude not to 🙂

These are just some of the simple steps to understanding us Danes much better.  It all starts with a simple conversation and evolves from there.  You’ll soon find that we Danes are wonderful people.

We care deeply for our family, friends and socialising.  Don’t be shy and enjoy a lifelong friendship with a Dane.

These simple steps are just the tip of the Carlsberg.  Hug a Dane today 🙂

svendborg

Iron hand

Many many moons ago when I was just a young lad, probably around 8 years old, I learned a very valuable lesson while on a long weekend with the family in a summer house.  This so-called life lesson literally stuck with me for some time.

Winding back the clock, it was a nice warm summer in the late 70’s and no jokes related to ‘That 70’s Show’ are allowed.  I will admit that I wore cord pants and shorts, in my orange velour T-shirt.  Pretty awful sight I’m sure, but it was the latest trend.

In true 70’s spirit, my parents had been invited to a sleep-over weekend at some friend’s place, including kids and other families.  In total we were about 6 families and 12 kids – the nuclear families had joined forces.  Fun-filled family weekend with BBQ, bonfire, outdoors games and live music in the evenings in the comfort of the living-room).

To make matters more 70’s idyllic, we were on a small island with a ferry connecting us to the mothership, and that only operated a few times a day.  A small grocery store catered for all the islanders, and intruders like us, and only carried a small selection of goods.  All in all, it was like taken out of a romantic musical … with no signing or music.

Continue reading Iron hand