One Frame – #1


For a while now I have been walking around with an idea for a new series of blog posts. As much as I intended to blog more this year it hasn’t really happened (because hey, life!) but maybe this series could help me share what I’m up to without stealing too much of my time to do other things.

Last year I stopped myself blogging about something quite a few times because I was in the middle of a project and wasn’t sure what format I would end up showing it in. I don’t have a problem with showing work-in-progress or something unfinished but I didn’t want to share anything prematurely if I wanted those projecs to be seen or engaged with in a different way. read more

Memories of a Home Town

I’ve just come back to England after a short, spontaneous holiday in Denmark. I had a few days off and there was a January sale on flights, so I grabbed the chance to go home and cuddle with the cat for a little bit.

For a few years now I have been walking around with an idea for a photo project that I planned to someday do at home. I would photograph the places I used to inhabit, the street where I grew up, the tunnel systems I used to travel through, my old school and the lake where I used to meet my friends. The project would be about photographing all the places that have now become memories, places that I only visit rather than live in. It was also the plan that these photos would sit next to photos of the streets and neighbourhoods I used to inhabit when I lived in London. A juxtaposition of those two cities that made me as a person.

But I haven’t been quick enough. I have taken too long to mull over the idea and now I’m not sure that anything will ever become of the project. You see, the problem is that those places have changed much faster than I have been able to capture them. My street at home in Denmark no longer looks like the street I left before I moved to England. Trees have been cut down and the front yards have almost all changed. The same has happened in London but at an even quicker pace. I went there just a week or two ago to do some test shoots in Bloomsbury for the project and realised that all the places I had written down on a list to photograph that hold strong memories for me, weren’t really the same places. New buildings keep popping up, destructing views that I have been fond of and new restaurants have taken the place of the ones I used to eat in. That neighbourhood that was mine simply isn’t there anymore. Not in the form that I knew it in anyway.

So I don’t know. Maybe this was never meant to be more than an idea written down in a notebook. Or maybe I will get back to it later and find a different approach to it. For now all I have are these test shots that I took with a disposable camera in the summer of 16 when I was still trying to capture my hometown.

 

 

 

 

Travel Diary from a Holiday in Denmark and Sweden

Sharing a Danish Christmas – Pt. 1

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I can’t believe Christmas and New Year is already over! Wasn’t it November just a moment ago? I had blog posts planned for November, then December but never found the time to hit the “publish” button between seeing friends, buying presents and working on my novel. Actually, I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I had my first English Christmas and wrote about it here on the blog.

This year I was back home in Denmark again but for the first time I got to share my Danish Christmas traditions with Daniel. I also got to experience what it’s like travelling with presents, not only for myself but also all the presents for Daniel and those we had bought for my family in England. Hint: It included two big suitcases, a cabin trolley, a camera bag and two handbags. It seemed like a lot for just 8 days but it was worth it to be able to give my family things they wouldn’t be able to get at home.

Christmas was really lovely but it all went so quickly! I got to show Daniel what a Danish Christmas consists of in my family:

  • Afternoon drinks and biscuits before the big Christmas Eve Dinner on the 24th, which the Danish tradition is surrounded about
  • My mum’s amazing duck roast (I’m sorry England but your turkey will never be as good as that!)
  • My aunt’s just as incredible gravy that converted my anti-gravy-liking boyfriend that gravy is the best
  • My mum’s Risalamande, that she kindly prepared as a hot version of rice porridge for me and Daniel, because we don’t like the traditional dessert served cold in Denmark
  • Silly dancing around the tree lit with real candles while singing carols, while Daniel tried not to laugh – I understand why this particular Danish tradition does not go well with the reserved sensibility of Englishmen
  • That final great moment of opening up the presents late in the evening, before collapsing exhausted in a big pile of used wrapping paper just before midnight
  • The Gift Game” on the 25th, our Boxing Day – A game played around the table with silly, little gifts, where the goal is to steal as many gifts from everyone else as possible – a tradition that Daniel would like to bring to England next year
  • Those quiet, peaceful days that follow the crazyness of Christmas, when we watch films, read and eat chocolate and leftovers. As much as I love Christmas Eve itself, these days are the ones that I look forward to the most.

It’s always a little bit scary to share your own traditions with someone else, not just because every family has their own but in my case also because the English and Danish traditions are so different from each other. If I’m being honest and I like to be honest on the blog, I had worried that Daniel wouldn’t like any of our food, that my family would struggle speaking English all the time and that Daniel would perhaps even get bored with the stuff we do in my family.

But in the end, I had nothing to worry about. Christmas was both good, lively and quiet. It was full of my favourite food, which as it turned out, Daniel liked too and the kind of Danish hygge with my family that always makes me feel home. And the best part of it? I got to share it all with Daniel.

I’m pretty sure that Daniel hasn’t been scared away and that we will be back again in two years, if nothing else for the duck, the gravy and that creamy, silky smooth rice porridge of my mum’s.

 

A Danish Christmas

I’m so excited about being home for Christmas. I am back in the house where I grew up and me and the family had begun the Christmas preparation of decorating the house, baking and wrapping up the many presents that were already lying around waiting for us to rip that glittery Christmas paper off, when I came home the 17th. Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, even though I hate the cold and the dark of this season. For me, Christmas makes up for all of that and I have longed to get a break from uni and to go home to spend a traditional Christmas with my family.

Now, in Denmark there are some things you need in order to properly celebrate in true Danish fashion. When it comes to the food, you can’t have a Danish Christmas without eating huge amounts of treats such as Pepernødder (Peppar Nuts – a spicy, peppery biscuit). This also includes baking your own treats, usually Vaniliekranse, Brunkager and Havegrynskugler (Vanilla biscuits, Ginger Biscuits and small balls of oat & chocolate).

Children tend to fancy this more than adults but I still love eating Risengrød, a traditional Danish (or Scandinavian) rice pudding or porridge which is served warm and topped with cinnamon, sugar and a knob of butter. Yum! It is also absolutely necessary to eat Flæskesteg or pork roast sometime during December. My absolutely favourite part of eating flæskesteg is to dip the crispy pork crackling into the sauce.

There are a few variations but in my family we always eat duck roast for our Christmas Dinner but sometimes we also add goose, which is my personal favourite and flæskesteg or Medister (a spicy Christmas sausage).

Besides the food there are some other things you need to have in order to celebrate a proper Danish Christmas, like writing and receiving Christmas cards. I admit that I have often neglected this duty but this year I have managed to send 4 cards, which I’m rather proud of.

Another part of Christmas that I love is that we make our own decorations in Denmark. This usually involve creating a “flower” decoration around the advent candle but we also make our own tree ornaments. Usually we make braided paper hearts and paper cones that can be filled with treats and fold golden stars that we can hang on the tree.

All through December families gather around the television to watch a daily episode of a specially made Christmas mini-series in 24 parts. These mini-series are most often made for children but grown up series have been created too. They often feature Santa, Christmas elves and some kind of magic mystery that has to be solved before it becomes Christmas Eve.

At Christmas lunches a game of presents or “Pakkeleg” is often taking place. Everyone sit around the table and take their turn rolling a dice and every time someone gets a 6 they can take a present from a pile on the table. When all the presents have gone a new round begins where you can steal presents from each other until the time is up. This is so much fun in my family as we always fight over some present that end up being pretty weird and often rather useless, such as a present this year that turned out to be a toilet tube press.

And last but not least.You can’t have a Danish Christmas without having dinner on the evening of the 24th, accompanied by walking around the Christmas tree (whose small candles have been dangerously lit while we all try to avoid catching fire) while singing Christmas carols and then finally opening the presents before you collapse in a pile of discarded wrapping paper sometime after midnight. Oh yeh, and in my family we always end the night with a piece of Ryebread topped with the butcher’s best salami before we all head to bed.

Now, that is Christmas!

I’m off to celebrate New Year in the quiet and calm forests of Sweden. *

 

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