Europe

Ozzy Osbourne concert – Drugs ARE bad


At the Ozzy Osbourne concert He stands in the middle of a hotly lit stage looking confused. Three young ‘rockers’ nearby hold their instruments and watch with anticipation, he simply stares into the crowd rocking on his feet. It seems as though his black knee length boots are the only thing keeping him upright. With mouth slightly open he blinks, two pixellated clones on large flat screens which flank the stage blink shortly after he does. It is obvious that his brain is trying to catch up with his body, he is trying to figure out how he got on this stage and what he is meant to be doing now that he is here.

A large sweaty lady with muddy boots eyes me from in front and starts to back her substantial backside uphill toward my shrinking frame. I am trapped by a group of drunken students behind but fight to avoid this coquettish bump being slowly delivered. Thankfully the large rump stops its searching when its owner hears the figure on  stage yell; “I CAN’T FUCKING HEAR YOU DENMARK” Ozzie Osborne has come to life, unwittingly saving the day when he realises that he is standing on the centre stage at the Skanderborg festival. He is being paid a large sum to visit a forest in Denmark while 60, 000 eager fans both mock and cheer him on. He has to sing. I have to get out of here.

Lotte and Peter, Jette’s sister and brother in law have kindly invited us to spend a day at the Skanderborg festival with them. Jette’s work has kindly allowed her two days off to do just that. The three usually spend a whole five days camping together and watching music in this forest festival just out of town. This year however Jette is saving holidays for our Asia trip and has only allowed one day for festival activities. Lotte and Peter however, are spending the whole five days as per tradition. They are camped just out of the festival arena in a large paddock which after days of solid rain and footsteps is now a mud bath. On top of the mud and due to the rain the whole paddock smells like piss as drunken revellers simply urinate right outside their tents. Can’t say I blame them really, but I don’t want to slip in the mud that is for sure.

Jette and I arrive in the late afternoon and relax in Lotte and Peter’s tent before we brave the weather for a walk in the forest. A forest with 60, 000 people, three stages, countless restaurants hastily set up and toilet and beer stalls filling every spare spot. For the first two hours I follow Lotte and Peter, open mouthed and clutching Jette’s hand for security. The scene is amazing. Tall trees look down patiently on the festival as if waiting patiently to have their serenity returned. The mobile infrastructure set up here is something to behold. Lotte and Peter, fully acclimatised to the spectacle after four days, spend the afternoon showing Jette and I around. “There is the Pubmarine, there is the waterfall”. A one storey high, artificial waterfall has been set up, “oh, there’s the pink trojan unicorn” Of course. We sit on some stairs between the drinks robot and the full size wind turbine planted in the ground. I drink a beer and watch people clamber with rubber boots onto the five meter tall trojan horse. This whole thing flies in the face of my previous forest experience. I once spent four days Tasmanian forest without seeing a single person and now I am in one with jacuzzis set up  where you can unwind and drink champagne. The constant hum of people wafts through trees behind us as we watch the Olsen brothers sing about love. The earthy smell of mud contrasts with the smell of spilt drinks and alcohol on passing jeans.

Once I find my feet, it takes about four hours, Lotte and Peter leave us to explore. Jette and I wander through the forest as a muffled roar comes between the dense leaf cover. Ozzie has hit the stage. We make our way to the main stage and peering over the crowd see a black lego figure bouncing around on the stage like a caffeinated toddler. Ozzie Osborne, famous singer from Black Sabbath, even more famous degenerate father from the reality series “The Osbornes”. One in four people we pass yell out “Sharon” mocking Ozzie’s famous call for help to his wife on the show. By the time we reach the relative calm of the Hippy Bar Jette and I are in stitches. Despite having an amazingly enthusiastic backup band Ozzie manages to kill his long popular hits with a confusing mumbling of lyrics. Between songs he stops to jump up and clap with a clear “I can’t fucking hear you Denmark” Seeing Ozzie enjoying himself so much while I hear the crowd jeering and laughing behind me makes me feel sorry for this fossil of rock. A lifetime of drug abuse has left him a target with a parkinsonian gait. I truly do not think he realises as he grins and murmurs his way through his set. However, I suppose it is a win/win situation. Ozzie gets paid to do what he clearly loves, we get to see a true rock legend, (the title legend is clearly forgiving of bad timing and fried grey matter), the festival organisers have a big name to add to the promotional flyers. I fight my way to the front of the very drunk crowd, of course people are polite to me as I bump my way past. This is where the large lady spots me and causes me to beat a hasty retreat.

A lifetime later I find Jette who reports being stared at by a lone stalker since I left her. Jette thinks he has taken drugs, I just think he must be an excellent judge of character. I am growing tired of the crowds and of watching this walking advertisement against drug use

We meet the others and we decide to wander to the Blues tent. This is an open entry tent where up and coming bands play for free. The atmosphere is more agreeable than the crowded main stage area.

A few more beers sees Jette driving (and me drunkenly rambling) in one very muddy little Fiat Punto. We were going to camp the night but, despite having endured worse tenting weather on other missions, we decide to drive the short hop home to Aarhus.

Jette and I plan to visit this forest in the still of winter, I want to apologise for all the people intruding on her peace and to see the area in its natural state.

Legoland Denmark! The best day of my life

Legoland Denmark, Billund

Prams majestically sail through a boiling mass of humanity. With bright yellow Legoland™ bags stowed on parental masts, squawking toddlers circle these crowd-fairing vessels like seagulls. Massive billboards entice young explorers and overwhelm their developing senses. Made entirely from small, primary coloured blocks, the signs scream out; ‘Atlantis!’, ‘Pirate Splash Battle!‘ and ‘Crabzilla!‘ each exclamation mark promising a more intense sensory high than the last. Smaller signs in Danish and English dot the park with interesting facts; ‘Mount Rushmore contains 1.5 million blocks’, ‘the model German town would have taken a lone lego engineer twelve years to complete.’ They have Lego engineers…no one told me that when I was mulling over career choices as a confused youth.

Many parents believe that Lego stands for Lethally Edged Gouging Object1, or “Ouch” when you stand on a stray block in the night. However, when naming his invention Godtfred Christiansen employed a contraction of the Danish; ‘Leg Godt’, literally meaning ‘Play well’2. ‘Play well’ also serves as the company’s motto3. The Lego group were later to discover that the word Lego appears in Latin, fortunately translating to ‘I put together’4 and not sibling warfare. Christiansen first arrived at the idea of Legoland when small Lego displays in his showroom drew more attention than his factory tours. This led to the building of the original Legoland Denmark in Billund, Denmark in the 1960’s5. Since 2005 Legoland theme parks worldwide have been operated by majority shareholder Merlin Entertainment6.

grey Legoland Denmark! The best day of my lifeLegolands in Germany, the UK, Holland and Denmark each entertain over 1.4 million guests a year7. Plans are underway for new parks in Florida and Malaysia8. The original 1950’s design is used in production of standard blocks, a block from 1958 will connect to one bought yesterday9. This toy box staple has not lost its appeal to either children or parents, on average every person on earth owns fifty-nine Lego blocks.

Ice cream melts onto my wrist as I look around this pixellated world. A small gorilla sits quietly above a green ‘Safari World!’ sign. He peers at me thoughtfully through square eyes, exuding plastic contentment from his perch out of reach of sticky fingers. Small, uniformly grey badgers peer from under bushes at feet scuttling by. A Lego block roller coaster leaves a lingering scent of rail grease as it whooshes screaming passengers by. Feeling as though I have stepped into a 1980s cartoon I check my hands, they have not changed, still flesh, non-pixellated.

A group of denim clad university students walk past drinking beer and discussing their employment options. Drinking a bit too quickly and laughing a bit too loudly they seem to clutch at fading childhoods. Chased by looming responsibility they melt into the crowd, leading their respective alcohol buzzes to the next ride. A lone father leaves a pram moored to the care of his partner and frantically searches the prepubescent crowd for a wayward explorer. A background hum of adrenalised young voices is ever present, an untuned radio of feverish excitement. Tinny salsa music from an animatronic band wafts past a young costumed worker. The pirate, covered in pimples and foam, stands awkwardly, sweltering in the heat, desperately hoping to avoid detection by holidaying peers.

Walking to the canoe ride I am constantly checking my sneaker tread for chewing gum and small children. My girlfriend Jette, a Danish veteran of Legoland, wants to face her fear of fun park rides. We wait in a serpentine line which winds around play stops. Children break formation to toil at these lego stations without thought of parents, who hold line position in draining heat. I can practically hear young synapses connecting as I watch these civil engineers stacking their blocks higher, experimenting with novel designs. The children work together in a private world without regard for colour. Multicoloured towers reach for the sky as bricks are passed between little White, Black and Hispanic hands. I imagine Christiansen smiling and watching these children ‘playing well’ I can only hope that the adults who emerge from this innocent cocoon do not lose their admirable colourblindness.

Seven years as a pharmacist has me viewing children as carriers of illness, I try, but fail to avoid small dirty hands as we queue. I don’t want to catch anything from them. A shy child behind me patiently waits and watches her peers play, getting confused she grasps my hand. Looking up she sees a smiling bearded stranger instead of her babysitter, instantly her contented smile melts as hand and eyes dart to find safety. The mood is contagious as our line slithers toward the small gurgling river. Contracting the children’s excitement I barely resist using toddlers in front as stepping stones, to dash through this queue so I can experience this ride now. Happy babbling slowly morphs into silent nerves as the waiting ends.

Wet bench seats soak through our shorts as we clunk to a start. Behind me Jette is becoming increasingly anxious, I can sense her aura of nerves as a conveyor jerks our canoe skyward. Clunking off the conveyor our intrepid expedition begins by floating serenely through a plastic savannah. We see wolves frozen halfway through their plastic meal and small prairie dogs on poles, they poke square heads up inquisitively as our canoe drifts silently by. They seem almost curious to see who has invaded their perfect, unchanging Eden.

grey Legoland Denmark! The best day of my lifeWe enter a tunnel adorned with prehistoric Lego cave paintings. Jette does not appreciate the pixellated art as I do. Her stiff attention is focussed on the muffled booming of a waterfall, reverberating from nearby downstream. The rumbling spells impeding doom for our expedition.

Blinking in the sunlight we turn a corner and unexpectedly bump to a stop at the back of another canoe, a giggling Korean expedition to these mystic lands. Their canoe is abruptly snatched by a conveyor and rattles upwards, before snapping out of frame with a discordant scream. The conveyor grasps at our canoe as I swivel on my soggy tail to film Jette’s face.

The conveyor stops abruptly and a voice booms, seemingly from the clouds, making me jump. “Is this ancient landscape an old Indian burial ground?” I wonder. The omnipotent voice from above directs me; “In the blue shirt, please face forward…” I oblige sheepishly and we begin our climb. For a split second we falter on the crux, Jette’s silent anticipation is replaced by an ear splitting scream as we plummet. Her scream is cut short when our vessel carves a wave out of the pool at the bottom and the ride finishes without ceremony. Wet legs climb out of the canoe, a stern gaze follows my progress; “Hey, there goes that punk who risked everything by sitting backwards”.

Continuing the plastic-world theme, we drown plastic hamburgers with generous squirts of ketchup in a futile effort to reanimate our long dead theme park staple. I give up and simply sip my sweating coke, contemplatively watching nearby tables.

A disabled girl in a wheelchair being lovingly fed by a gentle sibling, an elderly couple sharing a midday beer, twins fighting over a Jedi knight. I watch a large ‘mother hen’ gathering her perfectly presented brood away from a lonely child with grubby dark skin. Under her watchful eye they can no longer share their gift shop bounty. It is sad to see this Mecca of childhood innocence tainted so.

Giving up on rehydrating our ‘food’ we follow the Statue of Liberty’s beckoning wave. 1.4 million Lego blocks form this nine meter high centrepiece10. The island which she so solemnly guards is also home to a small White House peacefully coexisting with famous Arabic and Asian buildings. I wonder if the significance of their placement is accidental. We walk amongst 2.5 million lego blocks carefully arranged to form a perfect German town11, complete with working aqueduct, tiny busses driving and ships sailing. Combined, these busses travel an annual distance of three times around the equator on their plastic wheels, the ships sail from Copenhagen to Australia12. I wonder if their labour is fruitless.

We wander to the stuffy LegotopTM and silently ascend a bright, thirty-six meter tower.

The mood is that of a pilgrimage ending. I look down over 59 million Lego blocks13 comprising this joyous land and remember my first flight into Denmark. I also peered through a small window over a vast, model-perfect world. I too saw a new world full of possibility and excitement, brimming with the same twitchy excitement that has overcome the small pilgrim beside me.

Maybe the heat is affecting me but I start to wonder if all those years ago, Christiansen simply wanted to display the capabilities of his invention or, if maybe, he wanted to build a world where adults can learn from children. A world where little hands can pass building blocks without seeing imposed boundaries. Maybe the efforts of the sailing ships are not wasted, they give life to Christiansen’s world where children learn to play well.

Motivational Training

Aarhus is a lovely seaside city, strikingly similar to Hobart in size and mentality, perfect for my motivational training. It is a University town full of trendy cafes and bars where students haggle passionately over the bill and PHD student walk about thinking complicated thoughts behind their thick glasses. Aarhus is big enough to have late opening hours but not so big that people don’t randomly smile back at the strange bearded man talking to his iPod (Danish lessons). Our apartment is on the top floor, this means that we enjoy great views into a whole street full of lower apartment windows. It is a rare morning when I don’t catch the man with the beer belly having a cigarette on his balcony and scratching his ass through tight boxer shorts. This view is not free though, we pay, with seagulls. Every morning when they finishing annoying the fishermen they fly three blocks over from the harbour, land near our bedroom window and ensure we are awake. They sit there at 5:30am, gleefully squawking away, no doubt loudly bragging to eat other about the fish heads they just stole or the black Audi they crapped on.

Every-bloody-F#@N-morning at 5:30am he is back… “Squawk-bloody-squawk” Jette warned me about this bastard.

After luring me to Denmark with promises of Legoland and Prawns on toast for breakfast Jette came clean about the seagulls. She recounted a story from last summer when a particularly vocal gull would repeatedly visit early in the morning and squawk at her through the window. Even the early bird, not yet fully awake and chasing worms, was unimpressed. Mr Gull quickly claimed pole position among Jette’s list of nemeses (The American chap who sends Purchase Agreements for toilet paper and pens to check holds a close second). Totally frustrated Jette told me she would throw open the window and yell at Mr Gull, asking him to kindly leave, or similar, only for the smug bastard to stare uncaring at her and pretend not to understand with his evil, beady eyes.

He would squark as if to say, “What are you going to do about it?”, safe in the knowledge that Jette can’t fly over to the ledge and bash him. The other week I came up with an ingenious plan to fix this issue. We originally were shopping clothes for our upcoming Asia trip when we walked past a toy shop, looking into the window a light globe went on above my head. Thinking about the 90 in 100 Americans who sleep with a gun under their bed I went in and bought the biggest, most badass water pistol I could find, unfortunately they did not have real guns or slingshots. Back at home Mr Gull must have spotted my pump action ‘Super-squirt 2000’ When I hear him in the wee hours I spring out of bed, invariably stubbing my toe, grab my rifle and fling open the window yelling “Say hello to my little friend”

Before I finish my groggy war cry he is gone, only a lone white feather fluttering down betrays a hasty departure. The slippery bugger, ‘I will get you one day” I think, feeling like the Coyote watching the roadrunner’s dust settle. I’m normally something of a tree hugger but am toying with the idea of filling the gun with lemon juice or dog piss in the off-chance I can get him in the eye with a clear shot.

grey Motivational TrainingThe other thing about our location which makes slumber difficult are the churches. Now on principle I don’t have anything against Christians but I don’t see the need for the each of the three churches surrounding us to toll the hour right through the night. Midnight is a personal favorite. The church next door thankfully just gives a single hearty “dong” on the hour. The church four blocks away however chimes twelve times then stills for half a minute. I lie in bed half awake, knowing what follows. The insomniac bell ringer then goes on to display his bell ringing skills by playing a song. Last Saturday night he ambitiously attempted “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen but, thankfully, tangled the ropes on the second chorus and stopped mid; “Bismillah! We will not let…”

Nocturnal frustrations aside things are ticking alone nicely here in sunny Denmark. I am continuing to swim vast distances at the local pool to get myself in Nepal shape for an upcoming climb. The other day my lane was blocked by a particularly large woman doing the breast stroke. I was head down doing freestyle when I felt distinctive turbulence indicating someone ahead. I looked up ahead under the water and saw what bore a striking resemblance to underwater footage of a polar bear swimming, it was amazingly hypnotic, like watching a bubble of lava lamp wax doing laps. Anyway, the result was that I had a few slow laps to think about the mountain. I realized that, despite doing much physical training, I had done almost no mental training. This, I figured, is best remedied by going all to out scare myself.

First stop was the diving platform. I can dive off the 5 meter ledge no worries and had been thinking about trying the seven. Jette came with me to either laugh or cheer me on, the jury is still out. As I left to climb the stairs Jette told me that failure to dive off the seven would result in a whole weekend of merciless teasing, and this from the girl who is scared of roller coasters. This saw me standing on the edge of the seven meter ledge, looking down and realizing that a whole swimming class were outside doing theory while watching me, there was no backing out. Now seven is only two more than five but the difference felt huge, ripples on the pool surface seemed so much further away. I blew out my considerable nerves, bent at the waist and did a kind of My Bean tumble from my perch.

Somehow as I plummeted I managed to get my arms out in front of my face such that when I hit the water only my forehead was unprotected. I smacked into the water with a reverberating crack, all my wrist bands which have survived over twelve months of abuse were stripped from my body. I eventually found the surface, shorts blessedly intact, with a big grin, a bright red forehead and liters of chlorinated water filling my sinuses. The class were looking on with interest as the crack of flesh hitting water faded. “That wasn’t so bad, I might try the ten” I thought. When I climbed the ladder out of the pool, my legs nearly buckled under me and water flooded from my nose, so I added; “Next week”

I was going to ramble on about my lead climbing lesson at the gym last night. Lead climbing is where the rope is below you, as you climb you click the rope into anchor points on the route. However, I had better get back to my studies. I only have one and a half more weeks to finish my Uni work, as I will be on the move again. The other thing which has kept me busy is product testing. Since visiting Legoland last Saturday and buying a lifetime supply of Lego for my Niece and Nephew I have taken it upon myself to check my purchases for quality and the ‘fun factor’ This is seriously cutting into my study time, but I think my solemn duty as an Uncle.

Take your tablets


The main news to report from sunny Denmark is that it is not actually all that sunny. It is the middle of summer and we have had almost three weeks of continuous rain, this has proven to be a blessing for many reasons. One is that the rain has blessedly rinsed the air clean of pollen. Pollen which had me resembling that nerdy kid at school (you know the guy with the homemade T-shirts and glasses that everyone beat up on). Due to the rain Jette and I spent a whole Sunday cooped up in our loft apartment watching the rain. We don’t like to watch Tv and were not inspired to rent a movie so we just sat and chatted. Conversation turned to embarrassing fetishes, as it does, and we discovered that we both share a secret and closely guarded fetish. I think that sharing our buttoned up compulsion has made us stronger as a couple.

That’s right, we dusted off a jig-saw puzzle and spent a contented afternoon searching for that bit with some green-but mostly blue. A sailors foot proved elusive to the last. I know you are probably reading this at home and thinking, for F-sake! You have moved to Denmark and waste your time sitting around indoors doing jig-saws. Go outside and chat to Mary or at least stand in a field and look at windmills. Say ‘Enschool’ or ‘Vor-dan-goldi?’ to a local you ninny. In my defence after four weeks living here I am starting to acclimatize to my new surrounds. I am no longer amazed at the sight of lilliputian cars and old women riding basketed bikes around the wrong side. The steady stream of blonde Heidi’s and Hans’s speaking through perfect teeth like the Swedish chef off the muppets no longer makes me stop in my tracks and stare open mouthed.

The third blessing bought on by this deluge has been less distraction from my studies (writing rambling blog entries and stalking Tasmanian friends on Facebook does not count). True to form I have constructed a tight schedule for myself this semester. I am off to explore South East Asia in a few weeks with Jette before bolting off to the mountains of Nepal where I will raise my altitude record with a Kiwi mate. This schedule means that I have a whole semester worth of Uni work to finish in two weeks. I need to get seriously ahead with assignments.

My first writing assignment is a compare and contrast essay on two travels books. One is written by the peerless Bill Bryson, the other by lesser known Sarah Darmody. Bill wanders through Europe happily teasing beret wearers and drunken Germans, Sarah rides a Greyhound bus through America missing her boyfriend. There is plenty to compare, I started with the similarities. Both books are written on paper, both have a barcode and an ISBN number printed on the inside of the front page. Both are in English which is nice. Bill’s novel however arrived promptly from Amazon, dog eared and scribbled in, Sarah’s arrived three weeks late, after three increasingly stern emails, crinkling new and expensive. I am yet to tackle the difference bought about by the writers different gender, age, humour used, writing style, location, experience, use of dialogue, metaphors, similes….yah, yah, yah.

I am pretty sure that, travel writing being a course offered through the arts department, if I sneak the words ‘Neophyte‘ and the phrase ‘Pose colonial discourse‘ or ‘orientalism plays a significant role in this work‘ I will get a distinction. I will let you know how this theory works out.

grey Take your tabletsBecause it has rained non stop for so long my training for Nepal has involved climbing with friends at the gym (very exciting) and swimming laps at the local pool (not very exciting). Some of the serious swimmers have waterproof music players which seems like a great idea. I find that my mind wanders as I gasp through my 40 laps and I constantly lose count. I am either finishing on 38 or 56 laps, my legs feel totally boneless when I beach myself gasping on the tiles so I sincerely hope it is 56. On Monday when I was swimming laps I sneezed and a little bit of snot floated off into the neighboring lane. This started my mind wandering, it is hay fever season and I notice plenty of people walking around and covering their nose with handkerchiefs. Each sneeze would release about, let’s say, a plug of mucous weighing half a gram. There are ten lanes with approximately six people in each lane. Assume they all swim thirty laps and sneeze once in ten, the low lying haze of chlorine over the water really irritates the nose. That is 1.5 grams of snot per person, per swim. That is a total of forty-five grams of snot jettisoned into the water. Furthermore, being very conservative, it takes on average one hour to complete thirty laps, the pool is open for eight hours, that is seven-hundred and twenty grams of snot, almost a carton of milk, going into the pool every day. I swam and pondered this disturbing daydream and lost count of my laps, somewhere around thirty-seven, or one-hundred.

When I turned and realized that you sweat when exercising, even in the water, I finished my lap in record time and ran to the showers away from the snot soup. My next challenge was the naked showers which I have grown to dread. Some time ago Jette explained to me that the numerous Danish signs around the shower state specifically that swimmers must shower naked, none of this hiding in your shorts business. I told her that I intend to maintain my stance on my desire to keep ‘Mr decision maker’ purely for exclusive viewing, they cannot force me to wave in the breeze, surely. As I shower I imagine a lonely, be-speckled librarian type in the office upstairs. She is surrounded by CCTV monitors frantically printing these compulsory nudity posters as fast as they are pulled down.

Anyway, enough of the shower, no doubt you are starting to get the impression that all I do is scurry around Danish change rooms covered by my towel and dream about jig-saws. Sorry, no I have not finished. In the spirit of cultural integration I found a lovely quiet corner where I can shower naked and change without feeling like a contestant in ‘check-mine-out-guys’. My corner is next to a large dark wall, to me they looked like tiles on the wall. For the last three weeks I have been enjoying my private changing area, that is until I recently spotted a door in the wall. On Monday I made the unnerving discovery that this door leads through to a sauna. The whole wall which I have been changing near is tinted glass, behind which is a wooden grandstand facing this one way mirror. People enjoy their saunas (naked of course) and look out into the change rooms. I did not have the nerve to look inside the sauna for fear of being greeted by a crowd of be-speckled librarians cheering me on. Anyway, now I have finished rambling about my change room phobia….

What else has been happening? Jette and I have managed to survive despite the kitchen at her work, who provide healthy meals ridiculously cheaply, being closed for holidays. We have been living on a diet of quiece and hastily thrown together salad. Thank god for the farmers market which is held across the road every Wednesday and Saturday. Umm…I went to the pharmacy and bought some drugs. The rules here are really strict, you need a prescription from a doctor to buy Telfast 180mg, but not the 120mg strength, the pharmacist told me this while looking sternly at me over his glasses. Apparently pharmacists worldwide have a habit of taking themselves far to seriously. I have had ten years experience as a Pharmacist and I do not know of anything exciting which can be cooked out of this hay fever remedy. I tried to persuade him to sell me some 180mg’s under the counter but met a roadblock

Deciding to simply take 2x120mg tablets I bought up big and left. On my way back to the apartment I passed the pub with all the zimmer frames parked outside, it piqued my curiosity. It was after midday, why shouldn’t I pop in for a beer? Aarhus is dotted with pocket-sized pubs that sweep lost, lonely souls off the street like a river eddy gathers leaves. Inside through a dense cloud of smoke I was greeted by three aged pokie machines and four equally tattered faces. All the contents of the pub seemed surprised to see a person enter without walking aids, or emphysema. I managed to order a beer despite the large, short haired lady’s lack of interest in foreign language. Feeling my lungs start to protest the local lack of oxygen I sculled my beer and burst outside through the door. I was chased through the entrance by a tsunami of cigarette smoke also trying to escape the den. I returned to the apartment, took two Telfast and got back to my assignment.

On way my to climbing on Wednesday I took a detour. There is a lovely string of leafy parks which follow lakes around to the climbing centre, I thought that this would be a much more enjoyable ride to enjoy on the girl bike than the traffic laden main road. I was right. Crossing the road to the park entrance a man in a car slowed, beeped his horn and holding my gaze made angry walking motions with his pointer and middle finger. Apparently I had enraged his sensibility by riding across a pedestrian crossing, the highest form of sin. Danish drivers are so robotically law abiding that even a slight transgression such as this is viewed with indignation, I would love to see them driving in Bolivia. The ride to the gym through the park was enchanted, green fields, hippie houses with hothouses (guess why) and willow shrouded ponds, I felt like I was inside a poster promoting Denmark. I saw a brown slug the size of a T-bone steak crossing the path, he was big enough to crash your motorbike on. Stopping to take a photo the slug bunched up into a fist sized ball and started oozing slime with excitement. Danish slugs have not been covered by my education in any great depth to date, being unsure if his next step was to fire out a jet of acid or sharp darts at me I left him alone.

At the climbing centre our little group grew by one. Felix, a most agreeable German PHD student joined us on the walls. Felix is studying nano-technology ( small stuff) and is a much more advanced climber than I. Watching him climb inspired me to climb the red route without using easily reached foot holds on the lower section. The four of us were completely worn out after ninety minutes so I packed up my ballet shoes and rode back through the parks. Being careful to avoid those dart throwing massive slugs I returned home to find Jette using my laptop.

She was not making joke Facebook updates while I was gone (I can be silly enough on social networking sites without her help) she was feeding another of her fetishes. A second fetish of Jette’s, and one that I shamelessly exploit, is proofreading. Jette loves to flex her formidable English muscle by proofing what I write, searching for capitalization and grammatical errors she does not have to dig very deeply. Without her help much of my rambling would read like a drunken dyslexic has found his mums old mechanical ‘Underwood Five’ in the attic, dusted it off, found an ink ribbon and started pecking away.

Like a blinking koala Jette tore her gaze from the sea of blue change tracking on the screen and said that we may have a small weather window on Saturday to visit Lego-land. This had me running around in small circles instantly. Clapping open fingered I said how much I wanted the Star Wars Death Star and the Dragster mechanic kit as a kid. For both my sake and my nephew’s (he will get presents) I hope that the Danish meteorology service is right this time.

Grøn Koncert


Jette has somehow persuaded me to go to my first live ‘pop’ music concert in fourteen years! Normally I approach large crowds with a sense of impending doom. Surprisingly I am looking forward to this concert after Jette painted for me a picture of lounging on rugs in the sun, drinking beer and watching Danish bands, she assures me that Danish crowds normally act relatively civilised.

On Friday night Peter and Lotte arrive, dump their gear and leave Jette and I to our bolognese and wine (they went to explore Aarhus and Peter returned with arms full of Wolfmother merchandise after I introduced him to this band).

Saturday morning we enjoy the first break in the rain for seven days. It comes out clear and hot. We lounge on the balcony, listen to music and swill a few lazy beers (the first opened at 11:30am) before walking to the bus. The local bus company has rostered busses to leave every five minutes for the concert venue, which is about twenty minutes away from the town centre.

The foot traffic increases as we near the people filled paddock, the first thing I see is a large crane ceaselessly raising and lowering a small ledge for bungy jumping over the concert. I jump up and down like a kid in a lolly shop but, despite my constant almost whiney asking, Jette refuses to entertain the idea of joining me. She wants to do the skydiving thing first. The Asian ‘can woman’ who wanders town gathering recyclable rubbish is enjoying an early Christmas behind the entrance queue, almost everyone has jettisoned a can or two before entering the holding pen. In the holding pen a man pats me down and checks my bags before trading my ticket for a green (drinking) wrist band and waving me through. The crowd is oppressive. Young kids, grey haired seniors and young things showing off their flesh all compete for a good viewing post. Lotte, Jette, Peter and I find a great spot halfway between the beer stall and the toilets, set out our rugs and soak up sun and beer.

The people watching is first class. Grøn Koncert is a charity event, all proceeds go to Cerebral Palsy. Nearby a circle of dirt smeared electric wheelchairs contain Cerebral Palsy sufferers. They are sitting in the sun and thoroughly enjoying the attention, music and bustle around them. Every now and then the master of ceremonies will call a name, prompting a wheelchair to buzz onto stage as the man continues saying something in rapid Danish, maybe a sufferer has a birthday or maybe he’s just introducing the people this show benefits. I watch as a wheelchair breaks free of the nearby circle and bounces off over the grass, destination unknown, wheels clawing for grip through muddier sections. A helper is clearing a path for him through prostrate concert goers, the silhouetted figure of the wheelchair makes me think of a Darlek from Dr Who navigating dead bodies in a war zone

Bands play all afternoon as the beer flows. Eventually an older performer takes the stage, looking completely at home with 30,000 pairs of eyes on him. Jette explains that he is the Danish equivalent of John Farnham and a much loved public figure in this country. That would explain the king tide of middle aged flesh threatening to overwhelm the stage. I am happy to stay where I am, snuggling with my girl on the rug. As the afternoon progresses, so to does the drunkenness of people picking their way past our camp. Peter takes my camera for a walk and returns with some great closeup stage shots. I take my camera out and watch people scaring themselves by jumping off that crane before I return to the snug rug.

As the day turns to night the music becomes more electronic and the collective pupil size of the crowd grows. We decide to pack up and move back to town for a quiet drink. We suffer a bus trip surrounded by drunk teens and find a quiet cafe which serves high grade Baileys Coffee. We make it to bed before midnight, I fall asleep with rosy cheeks wishing I had been as diligent as Jette was with the sunscreen.

On Monday night I am riding the ‘girl bike’ through belting rain to the rock climbing gym. Federico is in Italy but Arthur is still keen to have a climb with me. We rope up and quickly demolish the routes we struggled up last time we climbed. I want to fully trust the rope so asking Arthur to lock me off I climb a way to make some slack in the rope and fall. When the rope goes taught it lifts Arthur’s feet of the ground and forces him to run into the wall but he easily holds my fall. For some reason I cannot get into fully trusting the rope and my climbing suffers. When you don’t trust the rope fully you tend to grip the holds desperately and fatigue much more quickly. While chatting to Arthur I discover that he speaks Spanish as well as Danish and English. The poor guy will regret admitting this latent talent as I intend to maintain my Spanish with him as well as trying out new Danish phrases as we progress through the different colored routes.

We spend two full hours wearing ourselves out on various routes. Arthur finishes with a very convincing ascent of the red route. A route used to test if you are ready to lead climb, I finish by getting two-thirds of the way up the red route and loosing my sweaty grip on a weird potato shaped hold. I remove my harness to reveal two lines of sweat which resemble a failed bladder, get changed and leave Arthur to continue his training on the bouldering wall, the man is dedicated.

Today I have spent the whole day proofreading and writing, mainly proofreading. Why the hell do I continue to mess up capital letters? This is getting annoying. I don’t mind too much though, I know that any capitals I miss will be picked up by my trusty (and very good looking) second proofreader.

This is the same person who would tease me sometimes about my Random Usage of Capitals and weird sentence structure. It is lucky that I like her so much.

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This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

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