bornholm

Lessons in Danish:The beginning of the end

Written Exam

I’ve not written all that much about my time learning Danish, which is odd given how huge a deal it’s been for me since moving to Denmark. I was never one for languages; given the chance to jump ship from French to Latin after three years in high school I took it, getting to start over and therefore have an easier ride. Perhaps not all would agree to Latin being easier than French but I certainly found it more enjoyable given it also focused on Roman culture and we had a teacher who would happily take us out to sit beneath the trees for our lessons in the summer time. Thanks Mr Redmond!

So the idea of starting up a new language at the age of 38 was a little daunting, and when Linda suggested I take the state organised free classes for us ‘new Danish’ I was rather resistant. Perhaps I found the idea of spending time with a bunch of strange foreigners a little off putting, despite the fact that I too was just as strange and foreign. It’s a curious thing this being a minority immigrant.

It’s a curious thing
being a minority immigrant
But I’ve never shied away from admitting when I’ve been a fool and that resistance was such a time.   My years at language school have been nothing but joyful from the start. I’ve met so many people from so many different places, from the more expected Germans, French and Polish, to the more far flung Nigerians, Kenyans, Burmese and even one guy from the Cook Islands! Oh and a fair few from that curious island that lies in the North Sea funnily enough.

And then there are the teachers, four of whom I’ve had the pleasure of their teachings on a fixed basis. All have been truly fantastic, not to mention incredible patient with me! Oh and I guess you could say we’ve had some fun along the way too, the British and Danish humours are not exactly opposites. And the fact they have all been women hasn’t hurt things one bit 😉 In many ways language school has become my ‘happy place’ here in Denmark. Something to look forward to whilst I’m cleaning my umpteenth toilet during the working season, or the bright light shinning through the long dark nights of the Danish winters. I’m always counting the days.

But today things have started to enter their final phase. I’ve just come home from taking the first half of my final exam, in this case the written half also known as trial by fire! I have the oral exam next month, but that’s basically just talking to people so nowhere near the stress levels of this first half. Technically I shouldn’t be stressed at all. I didn’t start this journey to obtain a qualification as such, it’s purpose was simply to become good enough in Danish that I can communicate with people, as anyone who chooses to live in another country should. And so the grade I get isn’t important to me. Or rather it wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for the fact that I can’t help feeling it will reflect upon my teachers, and on that score I can’t stand the idea of letting them down. Sadly I fear I have little chance of excelling, but if I can just nab a middling pass that shows even an old dog like me can be taught new tricks I’ll sleep easy. We’ll just have to wait and see on that score.

Exhausting

Not my usual lookTwenty plus degrees, little wind, clear skies, humidity often upwards of eighty percent. Perfect for a holiday island, unless of course you’re not here on holiday and in fact must clean, vacuum and mop houses and apartments all over said island. Then what you have is way too much warmth. I’ve spent most of the past few weeks pretty much soaked, so much so that I’ve had to purchase some bandannas just to keep the sweat from out of my eyes. I’m really not sure I’m the sort of guy that can pull off wearing one, but given the option of that or a head band I think it’s the saner choice! It’s also not a bad ploy to ensure people become used to me wearing one, so, should I ever go bald I can hide it whilst I lose enough to move onto the fully shaven head look 😉

There seems to be a lot more work this year than last. I guess people are starting to feel more confident about spending their savings on holidays again, but playing a little safe and sticking to local countries.

If ever we needed to hear
Winter is coming
it’s now

Thus we’ve been working seven days a week pretty much straight throughout the summer so far, and from what we can tell it will follow through right into September. Frankly we’re both starting to become rather exhausted. That slow creeping exhaustion that comes from working that little bit harder than you body is fit enough for, whilst lacking the sleep due to warm muggy nights. Even with a little help from the heat pump running on cool.

If ever we needed to hear ‘Winter is coming’ it’s about now.

On the plus side, we now get fortnightly visits from Hjem-Is (Home-IceCreams) and he’s making a pretty penny off of us! But damn are they worth it, even their Ben and Jerry’s knock off Cookie Dough is rather nice.

IceCreamTruck

Back in the saddle

Screenshot 2014-05-22 14.56.23-smallYesterday was my first real riding day of the year. I haven’t been out since August 2013, I’m not sure why I stopped so early on. I think maybe I used the cycling as relaxation from the seven days a week work, and once that slackened off it lost the draw. But is certainly felt good to get out again and test the legs, which thankfully held out and haven’t caused me too much discomfort the day after.

One of the very best things of being on Bornholm is this ability to just go out, cycle, and be surrounded by great scenery the entire time. It helps you to forget the effort you are putting in and just enjoy the rolls of hill and valley, the fresh sea air, or sometimes the more ‘vitamin rich’ freshly fertilized fields 😉

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The fields of rape seed are still in full bloom right now, covering the land in it’s golden shine, though I assume they are soon to be harvested and replaced with another crop. I believe much of the second crop is usually corn, which is used in animal feed for the great many pigs that also live here.

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Along the coast between Bølshavn and Listed, the waves crash into rocky outcrops rather than the soft sands of the south. I’m always amazed at the drastic change in terrain from place to place on Bornholm, often feeling like a zone from an MMO were so much variety has been crammed in to so little space.

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I did take a bit of a rest stop down on Balka beach. The sand was soft and warm, but sadly right now the water is closed due to reasons yet unknown but something to do with waste 🙁

Still, plenty of time for getting my feet wet this year yet!

Good Moves

Nope, not those sort of moves. Not the ones related to well timed button presses or deft flicks of a stick or mouse. Moves in the real world, those related to house and home.

I’ve lived in the UK all my life, all neigh on 38 years. Linda however has never spent more than 13 years in any country having moved from Denmark to Norway to the UK. And this year would have been her fourteenth here, thus fate has decreed that we should move on, and it is a return to Denmark that is on the cards. Though not as one might expect to return to where her family are from, that being northern Sealand (Sjælland) but to a rather remote island by the name of Bornholm. It’s an island of some 40,000 people, quite similar in size to the Isle of Mann for our UK based readers, and in many ways it could easily be a location in World of Warcraft so diverse is the terrain.  From near white sand beaches in the south, through to the forested midlands and on to the craggy rock faces of the northern shores, we quite fell in love with the place during last years holiday. We had reason to be there though, a part of Linda’s family are already living there now and so we will be creating a bit of a clan on the island as not only ourselves but Linda’s parents will also be moving there.

This may seem an odd choice to many, particularly as we will be sharing the house with Linda’s parents. I realise not everyone has a positive relationship with their in-laws. Thankfully though I do, and the house will be split in floors, allowing us a retreat when required to our own space, sharing only the kitchen. There was also the draw of value for money, property on the island is very cheap compared to anything in the mainland of the UK, at least that we have seen. For little more than we will be getting for our three bedroom semi near Liverpool we have been able to buy an old farm house consisting of four adjoined buildings and a good bit of land. Something we could never dream of owning in England these days. Of course there is a price to pay for this, there a not a huge number of jobs to be had locally so I will be relying on my computing skills to find work I can do remotely and we have ideas for some web based business opportunities also. So money will not be something as readily available as it is right now, but then that isn’t really what this move is about. It’s about obtaining a better quality of life, of living in a place were we can feel safe, were we can step outside out door and go for a walk or a cycle without worrying about dealing with excessive traffic and indeed in many cases being able to use cycle paths separate to the main road system. A chance to get fitter and eat better by being closer to local sources of good quality foods an ample amounts of fresh air. To become people whose lives will become more outside bound.

Not that we will be giving up on our gadgets, the plans we have for our own space in the house are heavily geek influenced. There will still be his and hers computers in an office space. Games consoles will litter the shelves of our own living room, and the house will obtain a substantial network setup to keep everyone there online 24/7. There are even long term plans for a cinema area.

But whatever will happen it will certainly be a catalyst for change in us, at least that is what we plan and hope for.