Fading Memories

Legends from our own lunchtimes

Sunday, June 16, 2024

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 MINUTES
SATURDAY 15TH JUNE - COPENHAGEN




The small ferry we rode in yesterday did a sterling job of fitting a five piece jazz band down its central corridor, and the jazz band did a sterling job of playing, even if their percussionist had to go home before the cruise began because he didn’t fit.

The Danish National Radio Symphony Ochestra and Choir would not have fitted even if there had been no passengers, but every one of the 140 performers had no problem at all fitting in the DR Koncerthuset (Danish pronunciation, I kid you not: [ˈte̝ˀˌɛɐ̯ kʰʌnˈsɛɐ̯tˌhuˀsð̩, - kʰɔnˈ-]), previously known as the Copenhagen Concert Hall, even the percussionist whose only job it seemed was to play a rain stick and a train whistle.

1700 others fitted in too, or 1696 if you don’t count us, every one of them in a place where perfect acoustics meant there were no inferior seats

This is not an architectural review, nor is it an entertainment critique, but its easy to see why the concert hall is renowned as being one of the best acoustically on the planet.  It is a seriously wonderful place to visit even if there is no performance happening, but when the quality of performance is so high that one starts to debate whether the performers were up to the standard of the concert hall or vic versa, one has to think that is a reasonable indication that a great time was had by all.

They said they’d take us on a musical journey, “Around the world in 80 minutes”, and while we didn’t have our stopwatches, it really seemed like 80 seconds.

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Saturday, June 15, 2024

DANISH ICE CREAM
FRIDAY 14TH JUNE - LISELEJE


We must have tired ourselves out yesterday, because none of us rose particularly early this morning.

Actually we did manage to clear away our breakfast things before midday, but only just, and it would appear that four days later we are still catching up on news of the last two years.

Since we had a bit of time to kill between breakfast and bedtime, and since it’s been almost a week since we had a meal which comprised only ice cream and since the sun was shining and it seemed like the perfect afternoon for a walk along the beach, Jørn and Birgit suggested that it might be time we did both.

Half a century ago, a small ice cream shop opened in Surfer’s Paradise, not far from our office.  It claimed to offer Danish Ice Cream, which looked an awful lot like any other kind of ice cream to the casual observer, but was served with a bit of panache, a dollop of  whipped cream and a splodge of jam all seated in a freshly made waffle cone.  This made them more delicious than anything we’d ever imagined, and the red and white checked napkins wrapped around them made them ever so exotic. That they cost what seemed like a year’s pay made them impossibly desirable.

Today, Hansens Flødeis with vaffel but no gammeldags lived up entirely to those lofty expectations set by the Antipodean imposter all those years ago, and even counting the cost of the airfare to get here, with substantially less impact on our net worth.

The walk along the beach was nice too.


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DANISH DESIGN
THURSDAY 13TH JUNE - COPENHAGEN

For a young architecture student in the sixties, Danish design generally was at the epitome of good taste, innovation, and practicality.  Whether as a result of cultural cringe or colonial ignorance, attaining a similar standard was thought to be pretty much well beyond the reach of mere Antipodeans, yet aspire to those dizzy heights we did.  

Achieving similarly consistent levels of quality of manufacture and design excellence is arguably still something that eludes most of the rest of the world, so a visit to the Danish Design Museum in Copenhagen could easily have been something of a pilgrimage.

Perhaps it was our inadequate preconception of what the exhibition should have been that left us slightly bemused.  The expected galleries of fabulous furniture and sensational silverware were there,  beautifully displayed, but did not quite give the coverage one might expect from a national design museum.  Where was the B&O or the Lego or Pandora we wondered?   

Temporary exhibitions, beautifully contrived and thought provoking were in what we imagined should have been their places.

Suitably provoked, we explored the Royals’ residences, which changed their guard as we passed, stumbled accidentally into (and exited purposefully) a Michelin restaurant, where the fare was a little above our lunch time expectation, took a sight-seeing cruise with a live Jazz accompaniment in lieu of the standard descriptive commentary, and managed to avoid being maimed by one of several million bicycles charging past, each in reckless pursuit of a new land speed record.  

Apparently along the way, we passed a rock with a small mermaid on it although we couldn’t see too much because it was raining and quite far off, but we we’ve been there, done that and had a jolly good time along the way.


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FRED AND CHRIS
WEDNESDAY 12TH JUNE - FREDERIKSVÆRK to FREDERIKSBORG

 

Fun fact; Since 1513, male Danish monarchs have been named either Christian or Frederik. The two names alternate, with a father named Christian generally naming his oldest son Frederik and vice versa.


Therefore if you are ever asked “who was the Danish king in 1736” you have a fifty percent chance of getting the answer correct.


It also goes a very long way towards explaining why so many places are derivatives of both of those names, and made for scintillating conversation in the cafe under the trees in the Frederiksborg Palace gardens as we munched happily on our smørrebrød and sipped on our lemon and ingefær ,or at least one of us did, while the others imbibed some pink stuff made from grapes.


Still feeling our way into our third country in as many weeks, we did not take the opportunity of discovering the vast interior of the palace, which even in Denmark, as is the case with almost every historical monument we visit, was in a state of renovation,.


Instead  we chose to spend our afternoon wandering through the vast immaculate gardens, later visiting the adjoining town where we undertook a Danish sport called “shopping”.  


This appears to be an advanced form of hide and seek in which the females in the party magically disappear for a time, leaving their bewildered spouses to sit and chat until eventually they reappear bearing parcels that they we could swear they were not carrying at the time they disappeared.

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

THE TIES THAT BIND US
TUESDAY 11TH JUNE - COPENHAGEN TO FREDERIKSVÆRK


 



It was still yesterday when we finally tumbled out of the airport into the Danish moonlight into Jørn and Birgit’s waiting arms.  

They were all smiles of course, as though our arrival eight hours later than we had been expected was not even a minor inconvenience, and the smiles turned to laughter as we relayed our Geneva adventure which began with an instruction in Paris that our tickets would be waiting at the “transfer desk”.   That turned out to be in the secure area of the departures lounge.   With the security people determined that we could not enter the departures area without a boarding pass we were starting to think that a week in Switzerland might be on the cards.  It took just an hour, two complete circumnavigations of the terminal, and advice from nine different desks before the old Swiss Watch mechanism kicked into gear and all went swimmingly thereafter albeit with barely four hours to wait for our flight.

It was today by the time we flopped into bed, and though we woke some time after eight, even after several cups of coffee, none of us were feeling particularly energetic.

That was perfectly alright though as they’d thoughtfully planned a lay-day, one where we could have a long and cheery breakfast, catch up on a few years worth of news, walk along the shore for a bit to gain our bearings and hang around in the afternoon with nought to do but drink more coffee and eat raspberry sponge cake with lashings of cream.

As we walked along the shoreline of Roskilde Fjord, simply content to be in each other’s company once again, we couldn’t help but wonder at the mysterious ties that bind us as we live our separate lives from opposite sides of the planet, yet each time we are reunited it’s as though we’ve never been apart.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

DANCING THE DANCE
MONDAY 10TH JUNE - AJACCIO TO COPENHAGEN


You have to be kidding!

That was our reaction when, having failed to find any suitable connection on our own volition, our indefatigable Travel Agent Fiona, advised that she had found a series of flights from Ajaccio to Copenhagen but they were so expensive that Business Class was “only” a few hundred dollars more.

With great reservation we spent the extra, reasoning that with barely an hour between flights having a priority security lane in Paris CDG alone would probably be worth the extra cost and besides, we’d pretty much be there for lunch.

The day started well enough, very much the way days like this always do, with a farewell night that went far too long, not quite four hours of broken sleep before that alarm, and a very pleasant drive to the airport in the pre-dawn.  

Carrying refrigerated medication which cannot be x-rayed always increases the degree of difficulty passing security checks, but one would assume with interconnected flights one would only have to do that one armed chicken dance once, the one that goes: knees wide apart in an effort to keep ones pants up, while trying to simultaneously retrieve belt, wallet, passport, computer, coat, camera bag and somehow reassemble them in the correct order while holding a refrigerated canister in the other hand. 

It turns out that Nice Airport is not very big, yet no one has thought of having a secure transit area, so barely an hour after the first check in we got to repeat the procedure.

Paris CDG IS a very big airport, and we though we could remain in transit until the allotted boarding time, however, in exactly the time it took to say “your flight has been cancelled” we found ourselves once again on the “wrong” side of security, this time in a very long line of dispossessed passengers. 

That extra cost that made us gasp?  Well it seems that AirFrance really does look after its business class passengers at least, almost instantly sending us a text to say we’d been booked on a flight to Copenhagen via Geneva where we would have one more chance to go through security and eat nuts and drink sparkling water in one more airport lounge.

Geneva, our airport of the month, once again reached the high bar it set for itself just a week ago, but we eventually…

... no, if you can read this, it means we made it to Copenhagen this night, and the photo of Ajaccio taken just a few days ago should remind us all that there’s plenty of blue sky to go round!!

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WHAT GOES UP, MUST COME DOWN
SUNDAY 9TH JUNE - PORTIGLIOLO

 

Today was  election day for the European Parliament and while it’s difficult for us to find any connection between some of the remote mountain villages and Brussels or Strasbourg, suffice to say that many here, including our hosts were intent on ensuring that Corsica in particular, is properly represented.

This meant we had a bit of a deadline to ensure that Julie and Dumè could be in Ajaccio in time to vote, but time was not so tight that having “spectacled” us to within an inch of our lives yesterday, they couldn’t squeeze a whole slew of new visual and culinary treats into our descent from the mountains.

Julie assured us the “back way”, was somewhat easier that the way we had travelled yesterday, being almost a full two lanes wide and therefore a somewhat less technical road to drive, and it was albeit with vast views across the ravines tempered just a little by dense forests wherever the trees could find sufficient moisture to prosper.

We stopped to amble through the odd random village and drink the odd random coffee and to amble through one of those forests and down to a series of waterfalls connecting lush swimming holes in which the water temperature sat at least fifteen degrees below acceptable.

The only thing barely appealing at temperatures below that is ice cream, which not entirely coincidentally was exactly what we ended up having for lunch.  Several kilos of chocolate stuff lashed with indescribable varieties of cream and nuts for the boys, while the girls, ever watchful selected salads from the menus.  

Astonishing salads they were too with balls of beetroot and basil and avocado sorbet and mozzarella stuffed with cream (just to give it a bit of zip) and lettuce with curry dressing to reassure that this was indeed the “healthy option”.

Somehow, beyond sated, we did managed to get to the polling booths on time, we did sit chatting well into the night for far longer than sensible people with a plane to catch before sunrise should, and we did continue pinching ourselves just to be sure that the past week hasn't been some sort of dream. 

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