A weakness

I’m going to admit something to you. I don’t dig entertainment on TV and usually don’t watch any of it. Honestly! But when we first came over here I was forced to watch a show on TV called Britain’s got Talent. Forced! (Gotta blame it on someone, haven’t I)…

But, nobody’s forced me to watch every programme since then!

There’s something completely irresistible about it. Every time we’ve been watching the auditions we’ve been asking ourselves what it is that makes people who are absolutely devoid of talent, charm or any other asset go on TV and showcase their shortcomings to the world. Some of them are just absolutely incredibly untalented!

But then, in between all the more or less terrible acts, come these unpolished gems right out of the sticks. Out of nowhere, wih so much talent that you’re left speechless! And sometimes some more polished gems make you think where A&R (artist & repertoire) people around the country have had their eyes and ears?

Here are some of my favourites:

George Sampson – dancer

Hoop-La-La – eh, hoolahoop dancers. Didn’t go on to the finals – much to my regret!

Flava – a street dance group way above what you usually see. And one of the boys’ mum had actually done the choreography! They didn’t go on to the finals, lost to these two little cutiepies:

Cheeky Monkeys.

Another act that didn’t reach the finals, was Tracey. I would have loved to have seen him perform in front of the Prince of Wales!!!

Some of the absolute superstars of the programme are a young girl and a young boy. They both sing and they both sing classical music. And both their voices make the little hairs on your back stand up! Andrew Johnston and Faryl Smith.

The judges of this show are national heroes, it appears. I don’t particularly like any of them… Piers has been editor of some of Britain’s worse rags, which qualifies him to absolutely nothing in my eyes. Amanda is probably a fine actress, but I’ve never seen her, so… And then there’s the world famous Simon. I think he’s horrible. Not because he’s “the tough one”, but because I think he’s got poor taste. He’s one to fall for a cleavage… (and take a look at his own haircut and open-necked shirts, sooo eighties!!!). At one point we saw a pair of dancers who were very good at what they did. It was like ice dancing without the skates. Which is to say not exactly high brow or anything. But Simon went on and on about how he preferred baked beans to caviar. Which was why he didn’t like this act??? They were exactly beans!!! Good, fine, talented. But beans. To Amanda’s credit she rolled her eyes at him!

I’d love if some of my readers (I actually know you’re out there!) would like to comment now and then. It’s quite OK to disagree. But if you do so in foul language, I’m not going to publish your comment. It saddening how many people leave horrible and obscene comments on perfectly above-board blogs. Shame on you!

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A school for Dane

Ever since we got a fixed address, we’ve been busy checking schools on the Internet and phoning good schools in the area (and outside the area). We’ve based out search on the so-called Ofsted Reports and on word-of-mouth. A member of the family is a school teacher herself, which has helped an awful lot.

But – it’s difficult to get a place at any of the good schools, some of them even have long waiting lists. In the end we were lucky. It’s called Ripley Church of England Infant School, a tiny school, only ten minutes away. Until now it’s been a so-called Infant School, taking children from 4 – 7. But from next year they’ll become what’s called a Primary School and will take the children up till they are 11. Dane will be starting in year 2, so will join what is at the moment the oldest class in the school.

He’ll have a tough time to begin with, not reading or writing. But the lovely headmistress was complete untroubled by this. She’s certain he’ll have caught of with the rest of the class by the beginning of the next school year. Great comfort!

So we’ve been out buying school uniform for Dane today. He’s been wearing it ever since and can’t wait to start.

However, it’ll be another week and a half, since we’re coming to Denmark. I’m coming tomorrow, Saturday, and Dane and David will follow next week.

More pictures of Dane in uniform on Flickr.

So expect very little activity on the blog – if any. I’m not bringing my computer, but instead my new toy, my Iphone

Iphone picture plucked from MrKab.

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Sunday Lunch in Oldfield Wood

After not having had a home since September 2007 it felt a real luxury to invite some of the family over for Sunday lunch yesterday. As you non-English readers may or may not know, Sunday lunch is still an established thing over here. Not everybody does it and not every Sunday, but the butchers and supermarkets certainly cater to it, as do the pubs, so it’s not obsolete as it is in Denmark. When my great grandmother was alive we had Sunday lunch at her house almost every week, but since then the family gatherings have become less frequent and a lot more formal. That’s not something that’s particular to my family, I don’t know of any other family in Denmark who does Sunday lunches on a regular basis.

I’d cooked real food – what a nice treat! A roast leg of lamb with a glaze, diced potatoes and parsnips, sweet onions and garlic* with green beans and broccoli. And gravy, not least… Very traditional, but lovely all the same.

After lunch the sun came out (more or less for the first time in weeks) and we scuttered outside. Dane quickly convinced David, Chris and Colette to play a game of tennis – it’s tempting now that his uncle Chris has donated several rackets, a dozen or so balls and a rather ingenious contraption that picks up the balls without you having to bend down.

When everybody were sweaty and tired (not me and Granddad, we’d just been watching and picking up the odd stray ball), we returned to the flat for tea, coffee and Canasta.

What a truly ordinary yet lovely way to spend a Sunday!

* Here’s a little tip I found in Sainsbury’s Magazine: For a roast in the oven (in this case leg of lamb) when you want to have onions and garlic in the bottom of the pan to enrich the gravy: Peel and halve the onions and separate the cloves, then boil them for app. 10 minutes before you put them in the pan with the roast – they become much sweeter that way. For six people use 8-10 smallish onions and 1-2 heads of garlic.

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I always cry at the opera

Amidst our below mentioned circumstances, we went to the opera in our new local theatre in Woking. Most of the repertoire doesn’t really appeal to us that much, but I find La Traviata quite irresistible. The quintessence of opera, really! I was not quite sure what to expect from the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Company (from Siberia) performing on a Saturday afternoon in Woking, but I guess I was pleasantly surprised. Particularly by the soprano playing the part of Violetta – she was very good. Her counterpart Alfredo wasn’t as good, using much too much of that Russian vibrato. And then there was his hair. We just couldn’t keep our eyes away from it. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a picture of him – oh, how I would like to have shared that laugh with you… (but close your eyes and picture a very large man with a curly mane, cut short at the front and long in the back)

Another of the singers however is very prominently represented online – a qualified guess is that most of the posts are made by the (apparently very vain) man himself. If this has your interest, check him out yourself. He played Alfredo’s father, a baritone, a very prominent part in this opera and he did sing wonderfully, I have to admit. After a not so fantastic bit in the first act, he came back with a vengeance for the 3rd and 4th. His name is

Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

The accompanying orchestra – whether local or Russian I don’t know – was not up to scratch, I’m afraid, causing some wincing on my – and I’m certain of many on my fellow opera-goers – part.

However, it was quite lovely to hear and see this wonderful opera once more. And as I always do, I cried towards the sad, sad ending, as if I hadn’t known what would happen. But – after all, it’s opera, it’s supposed to be sad! And – hats off to the old guys, Verdi, Puccini, Mozart et al, it works – at least on yours truly.

PS: If you think you know nothing of opera and never want to, you’ll be surprised to hear the lead theme of La Traviata. Because you know it – although probably not in this version (with my favourite tenor).

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Oh no!

Up early, all eager and happy. Arrive at new flat in excellent mood and lovely sunshine with son and helpful sister-in-law. Get call from movers that they can’t get through gate. Look like big questionmark – gate is very wide, removals lorries, delivery vans etc. drive in and out every day. Appears they‘ve used a 17 meter long giant-lorry to transport our stuff…

Must be the one at the back…

Bottom line – they drive back to depot, reload our stuff into a smaller vehicle (See, it’s possible, it fits!!!) and come back. On Monday.

I don’t cry about things like that, but I do feel very, very disappointed!

So tonight we’re back with our hospitable and patient family for another weekend with nothing much to do.

While sitting in the almost-empty flat waiting for a delivery (new vaccuum cleaner), I found that one of the undoubtedly nice neighbours has left his/her router without protection, so I’ve been perusing the Internet most profusely in my echoing and almost-empty kitchen.

Here’s some of the interesting things I’ve read today:

The Independent tells about research that has now proved that some colour additives bring on or enhance ADHD or “just” generally unruly behaviour in children. If this subject interests you, be sure to check out the other articles in the series, found at the bottom of the story.

My heart fluttered a little when I saw this headline:

The Email Habits That Make People Hate You

because I use e-mail a lot and often wonder why some some people don’t reply. Maybe they just don’t care about me and think I’m a general nuisance (just let it lie there, will you…), or maybe I’m just breaking lots of e-mail rules and annoy people that way? I was relieved to learn that I only really break a couple of the rules (4 & 5) and only some times.

On my friend Gabriela’s blog I found this wonderful speach to the American people, which made me laugh out loud. I thought of John Cleese only yesterday when I overheard two Englishmen doing their traditional good bye routine, where both parties try to pile as many compliments and niceties on top of the other person as possible within a couple of minutes. Cleese & Co. had a lovely sketch about that once upon a time. Maybe one day I’ll try to locate it on Youtube. If you’re one of those people with sticky brains and long memories, please tell me the name of the sketch and where to find it.

The Chief Happiness Officer had a look at office pranks and this is his favourite. It’s mine too. But I couldn’t help wondering when these people work and what they do?

Finally, I learned that videos can now be uploaded to Flickr. So I tried it – and it worked. Next step is to learn how to embed videos here on the blog. I just haven’t had sufficient time online to look into these matters, but mark my words, I will SOON! After all, on my old and much simpler Danish blog, I embedded videos succesfully.

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We’ve got a home

now all that’s missing is the furniture, which should supposedly arrive Thursday or Friday this week (cross your fingers, would you?). We just can’t wait – having vivid dreams of sleeping in our own bed again with our own duvets etc. Oh, what luxury!

Our flat (rented) is in a converted convent. On the pictures you see the whole convent and the part we’re going to live in and the fireplace in what used to be the convent library, but will now be our livingroom! Woah!

We’ve been windowshopping for a variety of necessities, both online and IRL. It has been both fun and exhausting! Except for a bed and a chest of drawers for Dane, we haven’t actually bought anything yet, since it’s probably best to be on the actual premises before you start acquiring stuff. Oh, but that’s not quite true; yesterday we ordered cable-TV, phoneline and (most important!!!) broadband to be installed. It should all be in place by the middle of the following week, so by then we’ll really have moved in…

In the meantime we’ve been enjoying the company of the family, the boys playing endlessly, the grown-ups chatting, cooking, eating, teasing each other and playing cards. Several members of the family play a neat hand of Canasta. I’m still a total novice, having to be reminded of one rule or the other every 10 minutes. But it’s still fun – we were never card players in my family, so I only know how to play a few games.

The second week we were here, we had a much missed visitor: Dane’s best friend Adam came to visit over Easter and it was the happiest of reunions. We were glad to see his parents too, but that was quite overshadowed by the happiness of the two boys.

On a lovely day with the promise of spring in the air, we visited the Brooklands museum, with a vast collection of old and not-so-old airplanes and cars. It was just down Dane’s and David’s alleys, but I have to admit that I got a bit bored after the first 2-3 hours…

Such an impressive and beautiful aircraft – what a pity we’ll never get the chance to fly in it!

Check the flag on the tail of the aircraft!

Today we woke up to what was an expected change in the weather. All the same it was quite a shock to look out of the window and see this:

Sure, it’s pretty, but honestly, it’s April 6th and this is Surrey, England, not Denmark!

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England

I know I’ve been a bit secretive as to what’s going to happen now. A reason for that could be that we weren’t entirely sure ourselves…

But – now we’ve decided, we’re going to settle down here in England, my husbands home country, which he’s been away from for almost thirty years. We have our eyes fixed on a lovely flat in Woking, Surrey. That’s south-west of London, a 20 minutes journey by train to Waterloo. Almost all the family is in Surrey, so we’ll be close to baby-sitting opportunities ;-) The deal is not done yet, so cross your fingers, please.

We’ve got ourselves a bank account – sounds easy-peasy doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t! You have to produce evidence of residence – e.g. an electricity bill with your name on it. That’s not easy when you’ve just arrived in the country! AND you have to be on the electoral register, which is only updated every three months… Well, I wont go into details about how we got all of this fixed, but we did and now have a joint account with Natwest. The bank manager was all apologies over these new rules – you can try a wild guess as to why they’ve been implemented…

We’ve also bought a car – that was a lot easier than getting a bank account. You just go to the car dealer, choose a car, pay with your credit card and sign on the dotted line and Yippeee, you’ve got a car! Ours is a slightly battered eleven year old Audi A6 stationcar. It’s a lovely car, although a bit of a hassle to park. And it was dirt cheap, compared to Danish prices.

Until we’ve cleared it with the flat we’re staying with David’s sister and her family. Dane is having a fantastic time with his cousins Avi, 11 and Simmie, 9 and all their friends. He has really been missing other children on our trip, so this is just great. The family is most gracious, letting us stay, lending us all sorts of things that we need, giving us advice on schools (that’s a BIG deal over here!), public transport, parking, shopping etc. etc. Families can be really useful, you know!

We’ve been driving around the southern English countryside and – oh, it’s just so beautiful! It’s so much more hilly and wooded than the Danish countryside and villages seem to live on, in spite of the spreading suburbia and the huge supermarkets everywhere. We’ve heard from a number of sources that the preservation of villages is a cause that has captured many Englishmen’s hearts, besides the ones owning the ailing village shops. I’ve borrowed the picture from this page.

Oh, and on another note – my travel blog, still this one, just being transmogriffed into a different kind of blog (with some kind of purpose, don’t know which yet), has been nominated to an award. I’m very honoured, but can’t quite do what I’m supposed to do yet, since I haven’t had time to look at many blogs lately. Hope it’s ok for me to get back to my duties later. Thank you to Capac for thinking of me and promoting me this way!

If you only stumbled over my blog today, just click the travel category and you’ll get all the posts from our travels. There are quite a few, we travelled for six months and have only been home for about two weeks.

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