Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hell-of-a-diplomatic-mission in Hellerup.

According to my dictionary: 
An embassy is an office established by one country in a host country with the host’s permission. Its purpose is generally to represent its country in, and maintain friendly relations with, the host country. The embassy also primarily helps protect the rights of the nationals of its country who are travelling or residing within the host country.

Today I needed protection form a repeated annoyance, a harasser, so I contacted the South African embassy in Denmark.

The embassy is in Gammel Vartov Vej 8 in Hellerup, a town in the commune (municipality)
 of Gentofte. This commune is where I stayed during December, neighbouring the commune of Copenhagen.

Danish activists know this address and protest outside South African Embassy in support of various cases.

And my situation? 
It is now in the office of a lieutenant-general of the SAPS.

Danes and diplomats commemorating Mandela. 9 December 2013

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oprah traveled to Copenhagen

For the past 30 years, scientific researchers and survey results have all reached the same conclusion — Danes are consistently happier than the rest of the world. On the "world map of happiness" Switzerland, Austria and Iceland rank just below Denmark on the happiness scale.

So what makes the Danes so happy? Oprah met up with Nanna Norup, a resident of Copenhagen, to find out. As they walk down the cobblestone streets, Nanna explains some of the reasons.

For instance, in Copenhagen, people are very environmentally conscious. A third of the population rides bikes around the city, many with grocery bags or small children in tow.

Homelessness, poverty and unemployment are also extremely rare in this nation of 5.5 million people. If you lose your job, Nanna says the government continues to pay up to 90 percent of your salary for four years. And not to worry . . . healthcare is free for everyone.

The Danish government also takes a special interest in mothers and their children. Women typically get six to 12 months in paid maternity leave. And, when it's time to go to college, citizens get paid to go the universities. "When you go to university, then you get paid [more than R30 000 pm for PhD students]," Nanna says. "You have free education. Then, you have healthy, well-educated people in the world. What could beat that?"

Women in Denmark also don't feel pressure to get married. Nanna is 44 years old and single, and she says she didn't grow up dreaming of a bridal gowns and weddings. "It's never been a dream of mine," she says. "I don't think my girlfriends had that dream."

Visit a typical Copenhagen home with Oprah

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hägar the Horrible & his Trelleborg

Hägar the Horrible, an American comic strip created by cartoonist Dik Browne, is distributed to more than 1900 newspapers in 58 countries
and translated into 13 languages.

The strip is a caricature and loose interpretation of Viking lifestyle.
Viking is used to identify all the people who lived in medieval Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden).

Hagar's wife, Helga: (Sigh) Being the wife of a traveling man is a trade-off…
He gets to visit the great cities of Europe for three weeks…
and I get a clean house for three weeks!

The Slavs and the Byzantines knew them as the Rus' or Rhōs (the rowing people) or Varangians (faithful men). 

The Vikings were seafaring north Germanic people who raided, traded, explored, and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries. Their lightweight longships took them as far east as Constantinople and the Volga River in Russia, as far west as Iceland and Greenland and as far south as the Kingdom of Nekor, part of modern-day Morocco.

Trelleborg is the word for a Viking Ring Fortress or a Viking Castle. 10th century Danish ring castles are one of the clearest evidence of a centralized power structure in Denmark’s late Viking Age.

There are seven Viking fortresses known, however there are most certainly more to be found. 

Trelleborgen in Skåne
A reconstructed quarter of an old Trelleborg,
with palisades, gate, and a medieval house inside the courtyard.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Harold Harefoot, Sweyn Forkbeard, Æthelred the Unready & Queen Emma

While amusing myself with the names of the Viking kings, 
I came across Viking queen Emma!

Emma (985 – 6 March 1052) was born in Normandy. Emma may have been the first woman called Emma in England, so the name's entry into English usage has been attributed to her.

Emma of Normandy with Cnut or Knut or Canute. Cnut the Great was a Viking king of England, Denmark, Norway of some of Sweden .

Through her marriages to Æthelred the Unready (1002-a1016) and Cnut the Great (1017-1035), she became the Queen Consort of England, Denmark, and Norway. A queen consort, as the wife of a reigning king usually shares her husband’s rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king’s titles.

Emma is the "first of the early medieval queens" portrayed visually and she is the central figure within the Encomium Emmae Reginae, a critical source for the history of early 11th-century English politics.

Queen Emma of Normandy receiving the Encomium Emmae Reginaefrom the author (kneeling), with her sons Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor in the background.
The illustration is found in the extant 11th-century copy of the Encomium.

The Encomium is divided into three books. The first deals with Sweyn Forkbeard and his conquest of England. The second deals with his son, Cnut the Great, his reconquest of England, marriage to Emma and period of rule. The third deals with events after Cnut's death; Emma's troubles during the reign of Harold Harefoot and the accession of her sons, Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor to the throne.

Queen Emma and her sons being received by Duke Richard II of Normandy.

Further reading:

Fictional representation:

Emma features in Noah Gordon's The Physician, (1986) a novel set in the early eleventh century.

Harriet O'Brien's Queen Emma and the Vikings: power, love and greed in eleventh century England is a serious historical work but she begins each chapter with a vignette to set the scene for its contents. In these sections she combines imagination with historical reconstruction.

Emma also features in the historical novel, King hereafter, (1983) by Lady Dorothy Dunnett, a reconstruction of the life of Macbeth of Scotland. In the narrative, Macbeth served as one of Emma's house-carls. Emma is depicted as a central figure in the history of her era, although more of a behind-the-scenes manipulator of others. Macbeth says to her, on one occasion, that she might be able to secure the "succession of England" (for which he thought she had William in mind) but that the real question was who would succeed "Emma of England?"

Helen Hollick's A Hollow Crown (2004) is a historical novel about Queen Emma of Normandy, explaining why she was apparently indifferent to the children of her first marriage.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Exclusive interview with Danish celeb.

Breaking News: 
DSB or Danish State Railways made an emotional public announcement:

Harry and DSB's paths diverge from the turn after 11 years of faithful companionship

Everything has an end. Even if you are a charming, purple, wool doll - with a penchant for cars - both have won the hearts of Danish and a variety of marketing awards. DSB has chosen to send Harry to retire. 

Harry on set

In an exclusive interview with Harry,

I asked Harry what he thought of his new lifestyle:

lækker mand lækker 
lekker man lekker

Driving is much more fun than the boarding a boring train

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Walking on water.

Walking on water is often a metaphor for an almost-impossible task, 
for breaking through personal limitations and achieving dramatic success. 
And today, on my way back from the deli, I saw the birds of Emdrup So walking on the water. 

However, the real extraordinary tasks they do, is swimming in the water just before it freezes up.

Every time I see a bird swimming along on the partially frozen lake or standing on ice, I wondered how its feet don’t freeze! Those feet are not thick enough to have an insulating layer of fat, nor are they covered in feathers.

So I did the research thing and googled:

Packed into those birds are physical and behavioral adaptations to keep them provisioned throughout the year.

While a few birds have feathers on their feet to help keep warm, many birds have naked feet. A counter-current blood exchange in the feet helps keep the heat loss to a minimum while preventing frostbite. A bird might also tuck one foot up under its feathers, balancing on only one leg!

In these birds, blood flow is carefully regulated to maintain the delicate balance of providing blood but maintaining core body temperature. While the core temperature of a duck or gull standing on ice may be 40 degrees C, its feet may be only slightly above freezing.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ankara; a turkish delight!

The weather is cold and wet, and I am far away from home.

During lunch time, I found myself in Krystalgade, Norrebro; hungry for comfy-food. 
Full of flavour, nice and spicy. Not hot, just homely, providing me with a much-needed feeling of well-being.

Right in front of me, on the pavement, a restaurant menu advertised a buffet for DKK59 (but only if you order a drink with it). Fair enough! DKK94 or R185 with a glass of wine.

I learned that the delectable buffets have earned the Ankara Restaurants a solid reputation among local residents and visitors alike. At Ankara, you can feast on a variety of more than 30 Turkish specialities, and prices are more than modest! Sink your teeth into that juicy leg of lamb, savour the spicy köfte, or help yourself to a second serving of chicken, cacik, squid rings... 

Fantastic buffet and wine. Wonderful atmosphere (thanks to the food, relaxed chatting and lanterns)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Railway station fit for a symphony orchestra

Copenhagen Central Station is a fitting venue for a any grandiose event. Beneath its barrel-vaulted ceilings there is a pleasurable atmosphere! Light streams through lovely stained-glass windows and onto the commuters below.

The first railway station in Copenhagen was built in 1847. It was made of wood because it was built where buildings with foundations were not allowed. This was soon necessary due to plans to extend the railway network in Denmark. A new station opened in 1864.

I took these pictures just before Christmas.

One of the first professional symphony orchestras ever, the Copenhagen Phil or Sjællands Symfoniorkester, dates back to 1843. However it's spirit is young enough to do a flash mob at this station in May 2011 playing Ravel's Bolero. Conductor is Jesper Nordin.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

As scarce as a Bible in a hippy shop?

'Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because 

Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; 
Truth isn't.'
- Mark Twain

I moved to Kobenhavn with 20kg of belongings. That’s what I was allowed. 

And that was enough.

But to bring books with, was just not weight-wise.

Therefore I came with an electronic Bible.

But handling a soft copy does not compare well with holding a hard copy.

Therefore, I start searching for an English translation of the Bible.

In Kobenhavn?

After a few weeks, I came across an English translation, a
 more than 300 years old leather-bound collector’s item for a mere R800. It was a steal, but because of if's size and weight it is not a user-friendly book. 

This Bible is living in friendly silence in Vangsgaards Antikvariat, an antique bookshop in Fiolstræde. I shamelessly indulged myself in the smell of old books and the wood of the old shelves. Upstairs and around the teak balustrade. Downstairs into the basement. Tip-tip, creek-creek on wooden floors.

Today, after another two weeks, I was in a bric-à-brac shop managed by, what would be called a few decades ago, hippies. And on my request whether they have an English translation of the Bible, one pointed me towards some books: "All the religious type books".

At first I did not noticed the familiar format of a Bible . . . but then I saw it. 
I was quite disappointed to see that it was not an English translation, but then I released that it was an Afrikaans translation: Die Nuwe Lewende Vertaling gepubliseer deur CUM. 

In the Bible was entrance ticket number 856951 to the Giza Pyramids, but no other clue that pointed to the travel that got a CUM Bible in a hippy-shop.

In Kobenhavn!

Friday, January 17, 2014

May we vote for happiness in the 2014 elections

Denmark was crowned the happiest country in the world.
The UN report ranked South Africa as the 96th happiest in the world, 

or the 60th least happy, of 156 countries.

Carl Jung lists 5 conditions for happiness:

  • Good physical and mental health,
  • Good personal and intimate relationships, such as marriage, family and friendships,
  • The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature, and
  • Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
  • A philosophical or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with vicissitudes in life.

The United Nations created the annual World Happiness Report to see which countries are happy, and why.

Happiness is also being considered as an indicator 
for the sustainable development goals, 
which will replace the millennium development goals that expire in 2015. 

The UN's 2013 happiness report said: 

"The word happiness is not to be used lightly. 
Happiness is an aspiration of every human being 
and can also be a measure of social progress."

The happiest countries have in common

  • a large GDP per capita, 
  • healthy life expectancy at birth, and 
  • a lack of corruption in leadership. 
But also essential were three things over which individual citizens have a bit more control over:
  • a sense of social support, 
  • freedom to make life choices, and 
  • a culture of generosity.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What happened in Hamlin that June in 1284?

The Aarhus University Library at Emdrupborg is a national resource center when it comes to educational theory and practice, education systems, educational psychology as well as child and youth psychology, child and youth literature and literature on children's reading.

The astonishing collection of child and youth literature has to be read. And I am just doing that!

What happened in Hamlin?

We all enjoyed the Pied Piper that rid Hamlet of the rat plague, but it seems like only knew the edited version of what really happened. 

Scientists Gloria Skurzynski researched the plagues of the Middle Ages and came across documented evidence that this character actually existed. She wrote What happened in Hamlin in 1979 to tell her theory in historical fiction format. The original legend pointed to a bizarre mystery. 

The stranger, with a pipe flute and a brightly coloured outfit, arrived in Hamlin on 5 June 1254. 
Twenty two days later 130 children followed this stranger never to been seen again. Child kidnappers or slave-traders might have been involved. 

The author pinpointed dates, names and incidents from historical records of the city of Hamlin in Germany, as well as from other sources she came across during her research of the plagues.

The oldest picture of Pied Piper copied from the glass window of Marktkirche in Goslar.
This church dates back to the Middle Ages.

The Lueneburg manuscript (c. 1440–50) gives an early German account of the event:

Anno 1284 am Tag Johannis et Pauli war der 26. juni
Dorch einen piper mit allerlei farve bekledet
gewesen CXXX kinder verledet binnen Hamelen gebo[re]n
to calvarie bi den koppen verloren

In the year of 1284, on the day of Saints John and Paul on June 26
By a piper, clothed in many kinds of colours,
130 children born in Hamelin were seduced,
and lost at the place of execution near the koppen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Speaking of glove-heaven . . .

just when you think you've seen it all . .

in our communal laundry room,

a hole in the sock, 

mended with a safety pin,

but why, oh, why?

Speaking of socks, made me think of the mysteries of sock-heaven,

And one thing lead to another, and now I am thinking of the

desperate gloves that you find everywhere

probably trying to elope to glove-heaven, 

but never seems to find their way,

because you will always find the glove right where it abandoned you

Thousands of people may have passed that way, 

but still the glove waits there for you, 

sometimes ever waving when you, 

just to sure you know that it reconsidered the eloping idea.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Besotted with fireworks!

I am still intrigued by the Danish's extreme passion for every form of light; lamps and candles as well, but especially fireworks. At 24:00 on New Years eve, Copenhagen was for more than an hour under full and extensive bombardment. And not without casualties.

Fireworks caused 73 serious injuries during the New Year celebrations according to Copenhagen's health authority, Region Hovedstaden (Region Capital-city/Streek Hoofstad), which collected the statistics from around the country.

Seven were serious eye injuries, of which one is a ten-year-old boy from Herning who is expected to lose his sight after a chrysanthemum bomb exploded in his hand.

All those suffering from serous eye injuries are men – the majority were between the ages of 18 and 29 – and none were reportedly wearing eye protection.

It is the fewest number of serious eye injuries caused by New Year celebrations since 2008 when four were recorded. In 2010 the number was 15, while in 1975 there were 42.

It's significantly more than the 275 calls from the previous year, which the Danish Emergency Management Agency, Beredskabsstyrelsen, blames on the mild weather: "There were more people on the streets because of the good weather, which means more fireworks and more fires." Beredskabsstyrelsen reported 383 fires.

In Copenhagen, a firework set alight the roof of a building in the historic port district of Nyhavn. Thirty-five firefighters successfully fought to control the fire at Nyhavn 39 and no-one was injured.

Nyhavn 39, Copenhagen

A house near Odense was almost completely destroyed by a fire while its occupants were celebrating the New Year with neighbours. Police on Funen report that a rocket went astray and exploded either inside or beside the home, causing a fire that completely destroyed the first floor of the house, and rendered the property completely uninhabitable.

Remember the Danes are decedents of the Vikings! 
Gaan groot of gaan huistoe. Gå stort eller gå hjem. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Boligstøtte in kollegium.

Since I arrived in Denmark, I stayed in three very different apartments. With 20kg of belongings, moving by foot, trolleying a suitcase down the street, is done in no time.

Since the 1st of January I am staying in a kollegium located close to the beautiful Emdrup Sø or Emdrup Lake. 

A kollegium is communal housing for students and staff of tertiary institutions. This type of housing is usually not affiliated to one specific institution.

The kollegium was built 2008 as 3 houses with each 4 floors - 111 accommodations in all. 

Apartments are fully furnished (in Scandinavian style), with kitchenettes and bathrooms. In-house gym, WiFi and heating included in the R8000 p/m.

Every floor has a commons-room with communal dinning-space, comfy couches, television, dishwasher, freezers, coffee-machines and small electrical appliances. It is also stocked with cutlery, crockery, cleaning chemicals and equipment, grounded coffee, spices, wine and whatever the inhabitants want to share with each-other. 

All the common areas are cleaned by cleaning staff, accept the commons-room. Every week the room will be cleaned once by someone living on that floor. In my 9 months stay, I will clean the commons-room probably 4 times.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Denmark are ensured by the constitution:

Anyone is entitled to in print, writing and speech to publish his or hers thoughts, yet under responsibility to the courts. Censorship and other preventive measures can never again be introduced.

The phrase under responsibility to the courts provides the main concept of the freedom: the constitution grants one the freedom to say whatever they please, but does not protect them from being punished for doing so. The courts generally set wider boundaries for what is deemed inappropriate for the press or in a political debate than for civil citizens.

The major punishable acts are child pornography, libel, blasphemy, and hate speech/racism, which are restricted by the Danish penal code.

The Muslims have a love/hate relationship with this ytringsfrihet or freedom of speech.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The troll's mirror.

A fairy tale told in seven stories. 
The first one, which concerns itself with a broken mirror 
and what happened to its fragments.

All right, we will start with the story;
when we come to the end we shall know more than we know now.

Once upon a time there was a troll, the most evil troll of them all; he was called the devil.

One day he was particularly please with himself, for he had invented a mirror which had the strange power of being able to make anything good or beautiful that it reflected appear horrid; and all that was evil and worthless seem attractive and worthwhile.

The trolls then want to carry the mirror into Heaven with the idea of making fools of the angels and God, but the higher they lift it, the more the mirror grins and shakes with delight. It shakes so much that it slips from their grasp and falls back to earth where it shatters into billions of pieces — some no larger than a grain of sand.

These splinters are blown around and get into people’s hearts and eyes, making their hearts frozen like blocks of ice and their eyes like the troll-mirror itself, only seeing the bad and ugly in people and things.

This is the first part of Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen (1845).


This tale of Hans Christian Anderson made me wonder how many of us,
look at ourselves with troll mirror splinters  in our eyes.

This link will take you to videos of the Dove New Beauty project.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

About that chimney, mr Prezz, try the LEGO architects.

It took three security agencies, an army of contractors and at least R71-mil 
to secure Prezz JZ's homestead in Nkandla, 
according to a government fact-finding exercise. 

Fire protection alone saw the construction of both a reservoir and a "fire pool", which has a remarkable resemblance to a swimming pool. 
But all of that missed what may be the biggest 
and most glaring threat to the safety of the president, 
a complaint lodged with the public protector this week says: 
a chimney that is far too short.

The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, 
a carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932.
In 1934, his company came to be called "Lego", 
from the Danish phrase "leg godt", which means "play well". 
It expanded to producing plastic toys in 1947.
Around 560 billion Lego parts had been produced.

Official website

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cycle Culture

Unfortunately, I cannot declare that I took up the art of cycling in Denmark. Not yet. However, I am impressed with what I see around me every day.

Take your bike with you on the train.

Copenhagen is world famous for its biking culture and now officially the first Bike City in the World. The world’s first free bicycle scheme was launched in Copenhagen in 1995.

Cargo bike - for children, pets or groceries.
Last year, it was also voted the ‘Best city for cyclists’ 
and the ‘World’s most liveable city’. 
The Danes are well known for their love of cycling and cities all around the world are now looking at ways to copy this phenomenon. 

It really is biking heaven for the cyclist in Copenhagen
 with over 390 km of designated bike lanes. 
In Denmark there are over 10 000 km of cycle routes. 

Today, 37% of Copenhageners cycle to work and the target is 50% by 2015.

Copenhagen even has a Bicycle Strategy (2011 - 2025) with new initiatives and plans which lay down guidelines for the long term and overriding priorities within the bicycle area.

Free gloves and cloth
Statoil Bike Care site nextto the Emdrup-campus residence. 
Statoil gas-stations provide free bike care sites, where bikes could be lift up into a comfortable working height so that it can be washed and adjusted. 
Compressed air to both ordinary valves and racing valves are available, as well as free care kits (including disposable gloves).

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy 140th birthday, Marie

Looking for something sweet on the bakery shelves, 
I came across dear old Marie! 
She turns 140 this year, 
but does not look a day older since I met her a few decades ago.

DKK 9,50 or R18,50

According to Wikipedia Marie is a type of sweet biscuit that is most popular in most other countries, particularly Venezuela, Denmark, Norway, Brazil, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Mexico, Australia, Costa Rica, Pakistan, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Spain and Egypt.

The Maria biscuit was created by the London bakery Peek Freans in 1874 to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh. It became popular throughout Europe.

The Ubiquitous Marie


On looking back I find I’ve known
The MARIE biscuit all my life.
It has not changed, while I have grown
Through childhood days to plain housewife.

Like the daisy, modest and shy
It none-the-less has held its place
Almost unseen by passersby,
It’s sales must top the biscuit race.

Through all the years it has retained
It’s simple flavour, mildly sweet, 
While it’s texture has remained
To make a biscuit good to eat.

Bakers win the MARIE award
South Africa’s “Top of the Pops”
Voted “The Best” by general accord
May it always be found in our shops.

MARIE has earned its accolade
For, like the cup that always cheers,
Its simple purity has made
It rank so high amongst its peers.

For babies and toothless old men,
MARIES will do equally well
Given one, two or even ten,
Their smiles seem to say “Gee that’s swell”.

So, dear delectable MARIE
Please continue to refresh us
While at home or on safari,
MARIE snacks are quite delicious

As biscuits come and cookies go,
The MARIE stays on each one’s list
When served as snacks salivas flow,
And Junior holds one in his fist.

What makes MARIE so appealing?
Is its crisp and mild, sweet taste
Which creates that more-ish feeling
So, with MARIE there’s just no waste.

Sorry Marie, but I could not resist the rich almond temptation . . .

Sunday, January 5, 2014


The Danish love to flag.

It’s a tradition that comes to life any chance it gets. 

Whether it’s New Years Eve, the queens birthday,
someone returning from a trip abroad,
or our own Christmas tree!

If you don’t believe me check out this ad Coca-Cola made with people flagging at Copenhagen Airport