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Wrong side of the road and masturbating chimpanzees!

grey Wrong side of the road and masturbating chimpanzees!

 

 

 

I once read a science fiction book where scientists bred modified chimpanzees smart enough to fly spacecraft. Chimps do not possess human vocal cords and can’t speak, hence communication was an issue. The other problem was that the space monkeys had had their intelligence further boosted with a hefty dose of human hormones. Once in orbit, full of raging hormones and curious about themselves and the world the entire simian crew discovered masturbation and neglected to steer. Keepers watched through closed circuit television as the spacecraft burnt up on impact with the earths atmosphere, the chimps, arms a blur, did not even look up…

I will return to the chimps later on… where did I leave off last time? Sapphire blue skies, rubbish bins, rock climbing, blah, blah…A big difference which I have not yet mentioned is that being in the middle of summer it is light, all the time. The sun rises at around 5am and hangs in the sky until 11:30pm. This is fantastic news for vitamin D production, bad news for sleep patterns. The light definitely has its benefits, often Jette and I will go for a stroll before dinner along the waterfront, returning at 8pm to cook dinner in the sun. Hearing people passing below my window as I drift off to sleep I sometimes think it is grade four summertime again.  Mum made me go to bed early and I would lay in bed awake enviously listening to the cool kids still playing outside.

Speaking of cool kids. The Danish equivalent of grade 12 has just finished their exams and kids have been partying like banshees ever since. In Australia when college finishes most people find a paddock somewhere to stand around a bonfire getting drunk and fighting, or kissing. The Danes celebrate very differently. As each class is let out someone organizes a big cattle truck, army truck or similar to drive the whole class around town. With huge stereo systems blaring the trucks are decorated with banners, streamers and littered with drunken classmates before taking to the streets. It is almost a competition on which class has the loudest, most decorative truck…pimp my truck. The entire class spends what is left of the day and most of the night making surprise visits to proud parents. At their homes they receive beer and toilet breaks before returning to the road to drive around again yelling, dancing and sharing their joy with the world. I lie in bed in the sunlight and wonder if these school leavers realize that soon they will be facing either real jobs or university studies. I reckon that thought would tone the buggers down a bit.

Currently my new city is trying to build a name for itself as the cultural capital of Denmark. To this end Aarhus is currently host to an impressive sculpture by the sea display. Picture a sprawling seafront park with massive oversize sunglasses and randomly placed sculptures dotting the waterfront. Elderly art critics walk around wearing berets and pushing half glasses up their noses as kids run, yelling between adult legs climbing everything with abandon. One of the bigger pieces consists of three double length shipping containers perched on end with a small container containing a bell suspended between them. That is all, the containers just sit there quietly rusting away, the occasional passerby stops to ring the bell before losing interest and moving on. Art, there is no definition. My hairdresser told me that a group of local artists got upset about the sunglasses sculpture saying that it is not art. No one got upset about the upended containers though, being both an eyesore and completely useless they are clearly art.

Oh yeah, I got a haircut recently, two actually…

While walking around the sculptures on Saturday I got thoroughly tired of my long messed up hair blowing into my face and asked Jette if she would give me a trim. This saw us on Saturday night, me sitting in a chair laughing and heckling as Jette nervously circled, snipping at wayward locks. Jette soon found her confidence and gave me a decent shearing. As a hairdresser Jette makes a really good lawyer, it was a great first try though! Following my instructions Jette cut it really short at the front and top and left it long at the back. Business at the front, party at the back equals a home made mullet, or ‘German hair’ as it is known here. I was very excited with my new look but as my front end resembled an old frizzy microphone it needed some tidying up.

On Monday morning first thing I went out and found a hairdresser to tweak my style somewhat. Telling my second hairdresser that I trusted her judgement as long as she left it long at the back I sat down and, with her limited English, we enjoyed a stilted conversation for half an hour. As if programmed to cut all hair the same she finished, leaving me with a typical Danish, short all over, cut.  Not to worry I am determined that the mullet will return! Monday afternoon I faced a massive struggle with writing block so I decided to simply give up. I went to the climbing centre for a workout.

Just getting to the centre was a mission. The first time I went out Jette kindly took me in her Fiat Punto (more about this automotive masterpiece later). Once I started climbing Jette found a seat and patiently waited for me to finish, watching like a patient soccer mum. Yesterday I had to make my own way out. I took Jette’s step through ‘city-girl’ bike with a wicker basket on the front. In the basket were my new, brightly colored climbing shoes with the pointy toes. I set the hilltop hoods on my iPod and left the building. The first few intersections proved a massive challenge. When the light turned green I rode through the intersection and would instinctively turn straight into oncoming traffic, panic, then ride up onto the pavement to regroup before trying again. I made a few bad turns but soon I was making my way up the correct side of the road towards the gym. The Climbing centre is located in a ‘bad’ area of town, revved up cars raced past with music blaring and passengers staring as I pedaled along quietly listening to my music.

Notwithstanding, it was a lovely ride out to the centre on ‘city-girl’, most people smiled as I passed and I could not help grinning about bringing people joy with my ridiculousness.

Unable to communicate, with burning forearms and sweat dripping off me I spent two hours mimicking people around me in the empty dive pool retrofitted with climbing walls. Looking up at observers above I fell limbs akimbo and rubbed my burning forearms while laughing to myself. It must have been a zoo-worthy sight, the lone guy at the climbing centre falling off, laughing at private jokes and not managing to speak with anyone, but it was brilliant fun. Next time I go I will try to act normal as I need to find someone to team with for belaying. Rock climbing is incredibly hard on the forearms, my legs and, well, all over hurt when I finished dragging myself around the obstacles.

The only time I felt a big awkward about my transport was when I finished climbing and asked the duty manager Mikael to let me into the bike shed. I wheeled the city-girl out from amongst a selection of very masculine mountain bikes to catch a poorly stifled laugh from him. Mikael then watched with a bemused expression as the new guy put his pointy shoes into the basket and set off down the wrong side of the street, back erect, earphones in, with a big grin on his face.

I sat on the generous girl-seat and threw myself into a rush of oncoming traffic. As I slowly orbited the roundabout backwards I thought about my communication issues and burning forearms and could not help grinning as I remembered the story of those masturbating space-chimps.

In the Groove

grey In the GrooveDenmark, where the sun always shines above a sapphire sky. Children play in parks with under fairy floss clouds with gumdrop smiles, Elderly people hand out sweets while nearby adults stand watching and discussing issues, glowing with health. The adults don’t have many issues to talk about as the government presides over after its people without corruption or prejudice. Students excitedly ride in the sun to school, eager to learn about the world and happily chatting as they pedal.

Ok, so I may be getting a little carried away, but I have found a really nice groove in this agreeable country.  It has been ten days since my train pulled in Aarhus and, with squealing brakes, launched me upon this city. Jette leaves for work early after we have breakfast together, I am having no problem waking as my body still thinks that 8am is actually 4pm. When Jette leaves for work I make the first of many coffees before sitting at my new Ikea desk. Looking out at commanding views over the red brick buildings I happily write the day away undisturbed. I am working on a book about my travels and ‘past life’ in Devonport. This has proven to be surprisingly tiring, to put so much effort into a document with no guarantees of being read demands a certain kind of faith. Despite this lack of assurances I am thriving on the challenge as I am both learning how to write more good (yeah, sorry!) and I reckon that the worst case scenario is I will finish with a first class diary of my recent adventures.

Jumping back to my last blog, one extra difference that I noticed about Aarhus is that the rubbish bins are different. We live in a very dense residential area which, considering the very few tiny rubbish bins outside each building, is incredibly clean. Yesterday when I was outside stretching my back I heard a rubbish truck pull up. The driver jumped out and attached a hook to the big metal loop on the top of the tiny bin. He raised the crane, lifted the smaller bin to reveal a huge rubbish skip attached at the bottom which lives buried under the pavement. This is how the streets are so tidy despite such small bins. This ingenuity impressed me more than I would like to admit, I will try to catch a photo next Thursday when the truck visits next.

Almost every night since I arrived Jette returns from work (writing non-disclosure statements and other tricky agreements for Vestas) and we go out. We don’t go out to drink or eat rich foods, no, we have become exercise nerds. Both of us are highly motivated for different reasons, Jette wants to get fitter to maybe climb Mount Kinabalu in Borneo with me this August, I need to loose the beer tumour so as not to die in Nepal. We either go across the street to the big public pool, with naked change room men, or two blocks away to run through the birch forest. grey In the Groove

On Wednesday night I also added another type of exercise to my regimen, rock climbing. Aarhus has an extremely well set up rock climbing centre located in an empty dive pool. The local council could not justify the expensive of fixing a recurring leak so they handed a free lease to a bloke called Dieter. Dieter is a grey bearded Aussie, quietly spoken he defies his age by racing up the walls with all the energy of someone half his age. The night I signed up for the club Dieter had to test my belaying skills, that is where you stand on the ground and hold the rope for a climber to break a fall. I have not done much belaying, only once in Thailand for a very experienced climber with no risk of falling and once in Huaraz, Peru under similar circumstances. Unsure exactly how to belay safely I studied a few youtube videos and practiced the motions. When Dieter asked if was experienced with belaying I just said; “Yeah I have done it a few times” not exactly a lie!

Dieter found a climber for me to belay and I nervously watched her quickly gain height. Copying the motions from youtube I drew in rope as she ascended then slowly lowered her down once she reached the top. Dieter was suitably impressed and reverently placed a small red sticker on my membership card allowing me access to the roped area. Next it was time for Dieter to check my climbing form. I had just swum over a kilometer in the pool and, thinking he only needed to check my belaying, was wearing jeans. I grabbed a pair of sticky ballet shoes from the rack, tied in to the rope and looked up.

The hugely daunting wall stared back at me with its tiny hold holds mocking. Taking a deep breath I climbed. The holds were quite easy to grab and despite being tired from swimming I was soon three quarters of the way up, and stuck. I spotted a good hold to my right and just about lunged for it but looked down first. The woman responsible for my survival of a fall was casually talking to Dieter and not watching me, the rope was loosely held in her hand. I waited for a few moments before she looked up, took in some slack, I lunged. Mine was a very uncommitted lunge my arms flopped against the wall with all the grace of a thrown rag doll. I slipped and fell back onto the rope. I was lowered, sweating and a little shaky but addicted.

Jette and I returned to the penthouse to prepare dinner. Even feeding yourself is easy in Denmark, where Jette works there is a service where the kitchen provides terribly healthy meals much more cheaply than they can be prepared at home. This means that all we have to do at dinner time is to prick the seal, pop whatever tasty treat is on the menu and leave it in the oven for 20 minutes. It really could not get any easier, after all that training I doubt we could be bothered cooking anyway.

So, pretty much, I spend my days talking to my computer and feeling disgustingly healthy, my university texts look at my while I write away. Someday, soon I am going to have to take the plunge and tackle my unit readings. The title “The Rhetoric of Empire; Colonial Discourse in Journalism and Travel writing” fails to inspire me. No, that is a lie, it does inspire me, it inspires me to make another coffee and continue working on my book, keeping my fingers crossed that some silly bugger somewhere will want to convert my ramblings from a word document into print…

The little differences

grey The little differencesWhen Vincent was describing his trip to Paris to Jules in Pulp Fiction (just before they shot the black drug dealers with the tasty burgers) he was saying how it is the little differences that he noticed. Since expatriating myself to Denmark I have been noticing the same thing, some things are so very different as to be noticeable, some so very similar as to stand out.

Last time I visited here the main thing I took home was that some Danish people, I will not name names, eat prawns in mayonnaise for breakfast. The most obvious example is that the roofs are very steep here. They sit at an angle of about 60 degrees as opposed to the 30 degrees at home. I think this is because when it snows in winter the builders like to encourage the snow to fall off rather than crush a building. Jette and I went swimming on Friday night, we have a big public pool right across the road. Obviously the sign outside the male change room was different, it said ‘herreomklædning’, once inside the differences continued. I was greeted by the sight of three men standing around chatting, completely nude, not a thread. Now, thankfully back home in Australia I did not have any reason to spend any time in change rooms not being a football player but I do not think that Aussies would be comfortable standing around penises in the breeze chatting like that, maybe they are, I will never know. I found a corner to change in, hastily threw on my swim shorts and went swimming.

The public toilets here are really clean and fresh looking, you have to pay which is not a huge impost considering a fee of three kroner saves one from having to stand in ankle deep urine reading about some poor bloke who wants to meet his soulmate. The bread here is amazing, two nights ago Jette introduced me to Danish Rye bread, not the soft fluffy stuff we get in Tassie. This Rye is solid and almost black, full of grain one iPhone sized slice had me needing an afternoon nap, great with Vegemite, which by the way you cannot buy here as it is enhanced with Vitamin B. The Danish food authorities are trying to decide if it is a food or a vitamin supplement, judging by Jette’s reaction when I fed it to her there would not be much of a demand for this black gold in Denmark.

Pushbikes and cars. The most common method of transport is pushbikes, it is not uncommon to see a grandma pedaling furiously around with her shopping or a father with his entire family perched on handlebar seats and tucked into little trailers attached to the seat post. Every road has a one quarter width lane purely for pushbike use. When crossing the road it is important to look carefully as the bikes are quiet and can really sneak up on you. Speaking of crossing the road, they drive on the wrong side here, sometimes I find myself forgetting and more than once I have taken my first step only to have a bus or a grandma on a pushbike go whizzing past my nose.

Because they drive on the wrong side of the road it is natural for Danish people to walk on the wrong side of the footpath. I find myself constantly bumping into other pedestrians while out walking and doing the weird walking-more-slowly-from-left-to-right dance when approaching random strangers in the street…while I am on random strangers, Aarhus has passed the stranger smile test. Today on my way to the supermarket I did a little test that I sometimes do in a new city, I simply smile openly at strangers to gauge responses, Aarhus had a nearly 100% strike rate with the return smile. I may have been a bit ambitious with the skinny jeans wearing teenager with spiked up hair.

The cars are tiny and most drivers have an uncanny ability to fit them into postage stamp sized parks. Cars names are along the lines of the Chevrolet ‘Sprite’ the Peugeot ‘Happy little fun car‘ and the Renault ‘I don’t care if you think I am gay sedan‘ It is rare to see a car that will comfortably seat more than two adults, or four midgets. Last Thursday Jette took me to a work function to meet her colleagues. One similarity that stuck out is everyone enjoyed a good laugh and the blokes were interested in cars. Bernt, one of Jette’s colleagues arrived in a Chevrolet Eldorado, the boys, including me, were soon outside kicking tyres, listening to the big V8 engine and drinking beers, not dissimilar to what would happen in Australia except that Bernt had been spared the expense of a right hand conversion.

I am relieved to report that the most commonly used greeting is ‘hi’, their formal greeting when meeting someone in a position of authority or who you want to show respect to is ‘G’day‘ this did result in a few funny looks when I said “G’day” to the supermarket boy packing my groceries this afternoon.

Saturday night was a big party night, Jette’s father Jens Peter and his partner Majbrit held a combined 110th birthday party, Jens Peter recently turned 60 and Majbrit 50. The night started out like any party in Australia with people lining the walls clutching their drinks and suffering halting conversation. My conversation was even more stilted by my non-existent Danish, basically I hung off Jette and tried to find some English speakers. When we sat down to dinner however I learnt two things about parties in Denmark. One was that instead of making speeches it is completely acceptable to write a song and have everyone in the room sing along (quite a sight, especially when you cannot understand a word) and Two that anytime the conversation falters at the table it is completely acceptable to say “Skol” at which point everyone at the table has to take an enthusiastic swig of their drink or risk looking rude and uninterested. I had finally learnt a useful Danish word and was enjoying a chat with the English speaking lady that Jens Peter had kindly sat next to Jette and I. Leaving the table after dinner thoroughly skol’d I had a lovely chat with Jens Peter about Australian bushwalking and the like (surprised?) before retiring to a corner with Jette’s sisters and brother in law. As the night grew old the party morphed back into what you would commonly see in Australia, some people drinking, the obligatory way too drunk guy trying to make friends, more people dancing, they love ACDC here, which along with my lengthening hair, makes dancing, or standing there banging my head, easy.

The following day back at Jette’s apartment I managed to assemble my Ikea desk bought on Saturday and set up something of an office from which to study and work on my book. The view out the window over Aarhus serves as both inspiration and a reminder that I am no longer living in Tasmania, not that I can forget, every time I open the fridge those prawns are staring back out at me.

How to speak Danish

So after weeks of intensive linguistic research I have prepared a short lesson for the native English speaker on how to speak Danish without the burden of actual lessons or knowledge (this also works for German, Swiss or any Scandinavian language). My English to Danish rules are as follows:

Step 1)     Add in random K’s and S’s through out the sentence you want to say

Step2)     Drop any ‘e’ at the end of words

Step 3)     Put a line running from lower left to upper right through a few O’s

Step4)    Throw a few non-sensical words in throughout the phrase

Step 5)    Replace ‘C’ with ‘K’

Step 6)    add ‘en’ or ‘ern’ to the end of a few words

Step 7)    Combine ‘a’ and ‘e’ to form ‘æ’, replace a with it

Step 8)    replace ‘er’ with ‘ern’

Step 9)    ‘and’ becomes ‘und’

Step 10)    Lower your chin to your chest and speak upwards towards your palate two         octaves lower than your normal speaking voice

Step 11)    This is the most crucial, drink half a bottle of cheap brandy..

Using these eight simple rules anyone can speak Danish without much effort.

For example using my rules the sentence below:

“Today I walked to the bank to withdraw some money. The weather was cool and temperate becomes:

“Todask I walken tø th bansk tø withdræwen søm savnede monesk. Th wøthern wøs tiden også cøølern und temperæsk”

Sounds good hey? try this one:

“I am from Australia. Where I live everyone has a pet kangaroo, all we eat is prawns cooked on the barbeque. Beer comes from the tap and everyone says ‘bugger‘ or ‘mate’ at the start or end of every conversation”  becomes:

I æm frømsk Australiern. Wheern I livern everyønsk hasern a petsk kangarø und all we eatsk is prawns køøkern on the barbekuesk. Beersk kømes frøm the kommer tap und everyøn trætte says ‘bugger‘ ør ‘mate’ at the startern or end of every kønverskatiønsk, vindmølleparker!

It is also possible to use the rules in reverse to translate back to English, try this one:

‘Aarhus isk a beautikfulern tøwnsk stændsede. I lik it her, ælthøugh the spændt men weærsk their pantsk faren tø highsk for cømførtern.’

How did you go?

I am currently working on a translation of ‘War and Peace‘ while waiting for my university course materials to arrive, should be lucrative…grey How to speak Danish

Meeting Gran and Naked Danes

So…middle of a Danish summer. For those of you in Tassie wiping your noses whilst huddled under a blanket sipping hot chocolate I repeat, Danish, summer, hot. I will unashamedly rub this little fact in because later in the year when you are all shedding the beanies to run gleefully into the sea and eating ice cream at the new Devonport Surf club I will be clawing my way up a scary, cold, muscular mountain somewhere in the Annapurna range. I will not be wiping my nose rather, chipping icicles off the end. Anyway so Friday night, way fun.

Jette and I had our first real date, with real Danish people. We decided it was high time to leave our little loved up cocoon and to venture into the city as a couple. The first people we met were Mette and Kenneth. Mette is one of Jette’s best mates, not only did they      lawyer-ize together for some time but their names are freakishly similar (especially after three Mojitos). We went to a Mackeys in town, a spot which not only serves great pizza but whose interior design somewhat resembles a confused pizza. The walls, ceilings and every free surface is crammed with music, sporting and random memorabilia. We were shown to a table presided over by a genuine replica of the very same guitar which was on display in a shop window when Elvis Presley’s cousin once walked past, sat and ordered. Mette and Jette, the two ette’s, immediately launched into a gleeful office news sharing epic leaving Kenneth and I to chat. Kenneth is a great guy, we both like walking around hills and taking photos of them, Kenneth likes American football, I like walking around hills and photographing them. The night flowed on and swept us into a very quiet bar where we worked on filling every spare centimeter of the table with empty, lime smeared Mojito glasses. Jette and I somewhat controlled our thirst as the next day I had another very important meeting, grandma.

Bravely pulling over Jette handed me the keys before getting into the passenger side. We spent the next hour dawdling along the highway being passed by caravans and pushbikes, the whole time my knuckles were white on the wheel and my bum clenched. It is incredibly unnerving to drive on the other side of the road, being a passenger no longer freaks me out, except when Jette removes both hands from the wheel to emphasize a point, but driving is a whole new game. My natural tendency is to forget that there is a whole rest of the car to my right and bump over gutters, scraping the right hand hubcaps and scaring pedestrians. We got there, not without me nearly introducing Jette to a car which had rudely been parked on the right hand side of the road. We left the car shakily and caught up with the family. We have discussed this moment and decided that Peter (Lotte’s boyfriend) and I should leave the girls to visit gran and say a quick hello when we pick them up. This is not to say I was uninterested in gran but we share no common language and Peter wanted to show me where he works, one of the biggest army barracks in Denmark, sorry Gran, you know, guns and tanks!

At the barracks Peter first showed me the mess hall which he manages. I cannot describe my glee that the two tables furthest from the bar had beer taps held up by large mortar shells in the middle. You pay at the bar and the bar man flicks a switch which delivers a set amount of beer to the tap of your choice, like a pre-paid petrol pump. Our next stop was a brief look at, not try of, the obstacle course, officers use this area to tenderize fresh recruits before they run off to blow up foreign lands. Peter then took me to his office where he let me try on his field kit. Despite being in the engineering squad Peter stills has to be able to hold his own in a shooting match. The kit composed of Kevlar shields front and back, a heavy kevlar helmet, radio, camo backpack and a utility belt that would make batman jealous. Standing in the office all kitted up I felt bullet proof, I don’t know if the tough feeling would translate to the field where similarly kitted people throw real bombs at each other, someone could get hurt. I will stick to the more mundane pursuit of walking around hills and photographing them. Speaking of, Peter gave me a ration pack to take to Nepal with me, it felt like christmas. I will have to thank the Danish military for the specialty tea and farmhouse pate when I get to the top. After showing me some tanks with thirty meter long bridges attached to their roofs it was time to meet gran.

Like most of our parent’s parents Gran is a short, wrinkly smiling woman who wanted to feed me and give me mustached kisses. At least that is what I think she was asking, I couldn’t understand a word. I had teased Jette before this visit, saying that I would say all kinds of inappropriate things and force her to think of a civilized translation. I wimped out. Gran checked my teeth and pinched my cheeks before releasing me back into the wild with a slap on the bum and a barely discernible nod. No, really she was lovely, I think, she could have been saying anything about me, I left promising to learn more Danish before my next visit  and we went out for tea.

I forgot to mention, the underlying reason for our little road trip was that Jette’s mum, Jytte was celebrating a birthday. Before I go on I would like to pose the question, why, when they have three extra letters in their alphabet, are all Danish names the same. Jette’s two sisters Gitte and Lotte, best friend Mette and mum Jytte. If I forget someones name all I have to do is mumble “glmj…tte” and they understand me. You can get away with a lot with a dumb Australian grin painted on your face over here. So, we gorged on steak, went for a walk along the waterfront to shake it all down and bid Jette’s family farewell. We hit the road for home but not before topping up on an impressive strawberry sponge cake at Jytte’s place. Did I mention it is summer here? The fresh strawberries are incredible!

I drive all the way home and through with city of Aarhus which, with a similar population to Hobart, is quite a decent sized city. I couldn’t manage to park the car though, that extra piece of car hanging to me right proved too confusing. On Sunday we passed up on legoland being too tired to scrape ourselves off the couch. Monday arrived too soon after our snackey, lazy Sunday. I could not get started. I would poke out a few sentences, proof them, delete them and start again. I spent some time on the Deakin University website panicking about Uni, did nothing useful about it and went climbing.

I originally joined the climbing gym for two reasons, to get fit and in the hope of meeting some like minded people. Despite being in a foul mood after a wasted day I plastered a smile on my face and started climbing. I just started having some fun and could feel my forearms dying a slow death when a group of rock-jocks came in. One of them climbed right towards where I was trying to work out a new move. He didn’t slow, so, not knowing the road rules I jumped off to let him pass. When he was done I said; “Wow, good job there mate” he looked at me like one does a used condom on the footpath and kept walking. The rest of my time there was spent in a very quiet corner avoiding these types and crossing my fingers that one day, maybe, someone will come in who does not have an allergy to people learning around their excellence. Arms totally dead I jumped on the city-girl and pedaled off. Something about riding this bike never fails to erupt a smile on my face, it might be the excellent posture afforded by the bent bell adorned handlebars. Looking to my right I crossed the intersection and heard an angry car horn and screeching brakes. A car passed at speed just behind my rear wheel with antilock brakes shuddering. I smiled the awkward I-just-farted-in -public-smile, waved and rode on. Carefully.

Tuesday started with a coma of strawberries with yoghurt, did I mention it is summer, and simply improved from there. I banged away at the keyboard gleefully filling pages with, I hope, readable chapters. Jette came home and we went directly to the outdoor pool, summer time. Currently I am swimming with Jette twice a week, besides other exercise, in a desperate bid to get fit enough to tackle Manaslu this post monsoon. I normally swim 1-2 kilometers but only managed a few laps this time. I was not tired or unmotivated but distracted. You see the outdoor pool has a diving facility and as I swum back and forth I saw kids bombing and diving from the blocks and having a great time. I could feel myself reverting twenty years or so.

I told Jette I was going to have a jump. She said go for it, I’ll watch, so I pulled my dripping self out of the pool and ran briskly clapping open handed to the blocks. There is something about running on wet tiles which makes a person look like an excited and slightly slow child.

Before climbing the stairs with anticipation I took off my goggles, sat them carefully on the tiles and said a happy Hi to the kids playing in the pool. They stopped talking and looked at me blankly as if I were from Mars.

I stood on the five meter block, waved at Jette and dived, then dived again, and again. That was it for my training I was having way too much fun. Even when Jette finished swimming I squeezed in a couple more dives before walking to the showers, promising myself that next time I go to the pool I will make more of an effort to control my childish impulses, maybe.

I walked in and, as always, was uncomfortable to find yet more casually naked Danish men comparing penis’s and chatting amiably in the change room.

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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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