Monday, 16 August 2010


I haven't been around for a while. The reason being I received a phonecall at work one day towards the end of May. It was my Dad telling me that my Mum was in hospital as she had had a stroke and was being operated on, oh and he had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Not quite the thing you want to hear at work, and of course I just broke down. Suddenly my parents didn't seem as immortal as I always thought they were.

I sat at my desk at work and couldn't talk. I was so shocked. I'd only seen them six weeks previously, and they seemed fine. Old, but fine. I couldn't get my head around it. The next day I was on a plane back home to London. And for the next 4 weeks I was commuting back and forth from Copenhagen to London, as did my brother from Beijing.

To cut what could become a long story short, my mother is doing well considering she had six mini strokes and part of her carotid artery taken out, rinsed and put back again! Pretty amazing what they can do these days. My father on the other hand, spiralled downwards and exactly 4 weeks after he originally called me, on the 30th June, he died peacefully at the North London Hospice, with me holding his hand.

I still can't believe it, and even though I had those 4 weeks, it didn't feel like enough time to say goodbye. He didn't just have cancer in his lungs, it was in his Pancreas, his liver and his spine - a very aggressive form. In some respects I am glad that he didn't have to suffer any longer than he did. On the other hand I am angry that he left us so quickly.

The next few weeks were taken up making arrangements for the funeral and we gave him a good send off, complete with a Jazz Band, which he would have loved. I met friends and relatives I haven't seen for years and strangely enough kept looking around to see where Daddy was.

I think it is actually only now, that it has hit me. I have lost my father, the one and only person who never seemed to judge me in whatever I did, and just accepted me for what and who I am. Maybe we were two of a kind after all, even though I was adopted. I'll hold that thought.

All I know is, that I'll miss him, and I know that in time the knot in my stomach will eventually dissolve away and it won't hurt when I think about him.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Spring is sprung!

Finally spring has arrived in Denmark and I had the opportunity to visit one of my favourite places, a small island called Møn, about 100km south of Copenhagen.

Ever since I have had my camera it's been in the back of my mind to capture the carpet of anemones that appear in the spring. Luckily for me this weekend was just about perfect. Such a beautiful sight.

I also want to welcome my two new nieces into the world - Meredith Olivia who was born on 3rd April to my brother Ben & his wife Amy, followed shortly after by Olivia May who was born on 18th April to my sister Kat and her husband Simon! Two lovely girls, I am so happy for everyone. Oh and I must not forget my nephew William who turned 2 years old on the 1st April - gosh those two years just flew past and now he's already singing Happy Birthday to his Auntie Kate!

I can't believe how time seems to be flying past just now, I guess that's just a sign of age!

Anyway, a spring feast, and the stars of the forest:

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Mixing business and pleasure.

Last weekend I was invited by my friend Robin and her ”swede-heart” to visit them in Gothenburg. I was a little bit worried about doing the drive as it was snowing where I live, and the thought of driving for 4 hours in snowy conditions was a bit intimidating, so I checked with a couple of people who live en route, and they convinced me that it wasn’t that bad further north!

I had a very pleasant drive, with no problems at all. In fact the only place it snowed was the first 15 minutes from my house to the motorway. I was however surprised to see when crossing the bridge from Denmark to Sweden that there was ice all the way across Øresund (the Sound). Ok it was broken up in places, but it was still there, and now I believe the stories about the Swedish Vikings invading Denmark in the winter time across the ice. The Sound at that point is approx 12 km across.

Also on the way up to Gothenburg where the motorway is close to the coast there seemed to be ice as far as the eye could see. I also noticed a large amount of birds of prey, either circling in the air or sitting on posts or in trees close to the road. At one point too there were loads of geese (not sure what type) that flew across my path in big v-formations – I’m talking hundreds of birds! I’ve never seen that many before and just wished I’d had a place to stop and get my camera out. Grrrr I hate missing photo opportunities!

I got to my hotel in Lerum, just outside Gothenburg, checked in and then went to meet Robin and Jan and had a very nice evening with them and their families – great food and great company! I managed to combine this trip with work, which saved me from having to drive four hours back the same day (and allowed me to have a glass of wine or two)! So the following morning I set off to Stenungsund which is about 50km+ north of Gothenburg. Unfortunately the TomTom navigator I had borrowed sent me up a very steep hill on a very small road that was just sheer ice! I got about three quarters of the way up and realised my tyres were spinning, so decided not to push it and let the car roll back down the hill, until I could get some grip and turn around. Sometimes I should trust my inner navigator, as I found the way back to the motorway without messing around on any more ice rinks! So much for winter tyres….!

About 45 minutes later I arrived at Stenungsund. This is a lovely area with lots of nice Swedish summer houses around the coastline and lots of rock everywhere. It is pretty picturesque, but I think it’s weird to think that there is a rather large petrochemical refinery hidden in one of the bays which I guess is the largest employer for the town. The company I was visiting took me out for lunch and offered to take me to a view point to get a photo of the famous Tjörnbron (bridge). It is famous because there was another bridge in its place in 1980 which was hit by rather a large ship in bad weather and fog causing the original bridge to collapse, and the authorities were unable to close the bridge quick enough before 7 people in cars plunged to their deaths. Tjörnbron was built within a year of the disaster, which is a pretty amazing feat! And with the snow around, has made for quite a nice picture.

I had one more meeting after lunch in Gothenburg and finally headed home at around 15:45. By this time it was beginning to snow slightly, but fortunately didn’t settle. I made good time as I decided to take the ferry back between Helsingborg and Helsingør and was lucky as I drove straight on to the ship and after me they shut the doors and it sailed the 20 minutes back across Øresund. So I made it home in 3½ hours.
I’ve got to say I am beginning to be very sceptical about global warming, I think we’re actually in the beginnings of a new ice age. We have had snow in Denmark now for 2 months, and up in Gothenburg everyone was saying it is the worst winter for 20 years. I hear the same thing coming from friends and family in England…hmmmmm….time to invest in some new ski clothes maybe?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Music for my soul...

I love music. For the most part I listen to whatever is playing on the radio in my car or at work. At home I have an i-pod with about 500 songs otherwise I still seem to be in the dark ages and have to play my cd’s on a cd player! And yes, I still own about 50 albums and a couple of tapes, although I have nothing to play these on anymore.

I play music for my moods. As I said, I am usually quite content to listen to the radio until I hear the same current song played for the umpteenth time that day, and then I get fed up. If I’m feeling a bit down I usually listen to Nina Simone or maybe some Jazz or I’ll try and remind myself of somewhere I’ve been travelling and for example, stick on a CD with Argentinian Tangos or Spanish guitar music.

One band I can never get enough of is the Beatles. I wish I’d been a teenager in the late sixties and could have seen them live, I bet that must have been an experience. For me their music is like a history of life. There are love songs, songs about everyday things and songs about loneliness, finding your way, and human nature. I really don’t believe there will ever be another group whose songs are played and used so constantly over thirty years after they broke up.

In the last couple of years I have seen a brilliant film that used Beatles songs in the storyline. It’s called "Across the Universe" and I think it’s well worth a watch. The film really captures the feel of the UK and USA at the beginning of the 70’s with the Vietnam war and the various civil rights/civil unrest going on at the time. I now get a lump in my throat every time I hear Let it Be because of the images from the film. Also in Dec 2009 I saw a theatre production here in Copenhagen called “Come Together” which again was based totally on Beatles songs and made for a wonderful musical and visual two hours of entertainment, but I found it strange there was no real story to it.

Two of my favourite songs from the Beatles are Blackbird and the Long and Winding Road. Both are really simple melodies with poignant lyrics. There are dozens of others that I could mention as well, and what they mean to me, but we’d be here all day!

As for new music, well I like all sorts, rock, pop, soul, r&b, house, garage, techno, you name it. The only thing I really don’t like is most Heavy Metal, and actually, even some of that, is ok. I think though if you look at my cd collection the most things I buy are towards the poppy/rock end. In the last year I have seen Moby, Cold Play and James Morrison live, and they were all great. My current favourite is by a Danish band called "The Rumour Said Fire" and the song is called The Balcony. It is the most sublime, almost folk music, with the weirdest lyrics! But I like it, and it's the first time in a long time that I have gone out and bought the record right after hearing it (or rather I paid and downloaded it to my i-pod)!
Shakespeare said music is the food of love. And I say, play on….!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The big white wonderland.

It is 2 years and 1 month since I visited the most amazing place I am ever likely to go to. I still get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes whenever I get asked about Antarctica. I think the reason I loved it so much is because 99.99999% of it is pristine. Humans cannot exist there except possibly on the Antarctic peninsular for a period of time. Indeed Shackleton and his crew proved that it was possible to survive with very few provisions for approximately 17 months, but I think, although the whole crew survived the ordeal, most were pretty glad to get home again. I like Shackletons statement:

”No person who has not spent a period of his life in those 'stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole will understand fully what trees and flowers, sun-flecked turf and running streams mean to the soul of a man."

Even though 99.99999% of Antarctica is snow and ice, huge mountains and glaciers there is colour down there. The skies in the summer can be the bluest of blue which break into a myriad of colours as the sun sets. The icebergs that float around are not just white, they can be blue or green and sometimes can have a pink tinge to them.

And of course there is the wildlife. Great big elephant seals, where it can get a little intimidating when the young ones, weighing close to half a ton, come humping closer to you while you’re trying to take a photo! They are just as curious of us as we are of them. Then there are the penguins who are just so funny and entertaining (if a little smelly)! Just a joy to watch while they go about their business, fishing, eating, seeing to the young ones, resting, belly surfing on the snow, and generally doing their thang! And whales. I’ve never seen whales before and we saw plenty of Humpback and Minke whales while we there.

There are days, like today when I wish I was down there again. At least my mobile would be out of range!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Gadget freak?

I have NEVER been a gadget freak until now….

I think I am one in a million because I absolutely detest mobile phones and I probably wouldn’t have one if I didn’t have to have one for work. I’ve certainly never bought a mobile phone! I do take my mobile wherever I go, and yes it is useful sometimes to have it with me on the odd occasion. The thing that really bugs me though, is the last few times I’ve been on holiday, I’ve received calls from people connected to work. One was admittedly a friend who works for our office in Connecticut, who managed to get hold of me at 11pm when I was on the Transsiberian railway in the middle of darkest Siberia, and the other was 3 a.m. when I was in New Zealand from some guy who did not understand English and that I was on holiday and 12 hours ahead of him, and “NO I don’t know where my ship is going next because I haven’t been at work for the last two weeks! Please call my office, have a nice day and goodbye!!!” Or words to that effect!

The thought that my company is thinking of buying us all blackberries just makes me cringe. Yes, I like the internet, and email and the web is the best thing since sliced bread for information. But I don’t need it 24 hours a day. Why do I need to know the minute some unknown person sends me an email offering cheap Viagra, it’s really not something I use!

I did a bit of photography at school (25 years ago) and even though I enjoyed taking the pictures, I didn't enjoy developing. I found it too long and laborious and I got totally put off developing my own when my photography teacher managed to mix up the chemicals so that the two reels of film I took on my last ever school day were lost forever. Basically I am impatient and lazy and I prefer quick results! I waited and waited with buying a digital camera until about 6 years ago when I bought an Olympus point & shoot C-765 UZ which was great to start with until I started realising I was missing a lot of shots because of the time delay.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I bought a DSLR, an Olympus E-520 + 2 kit lens combo about 1½ years ago which I am still happy with. But since then I've now bought an additional 4 lenses and various bits and pieces. I am looking at the new Olympus EPL1 and thinking this would be a great 2nd camera and I am also sitting here wondering when Olympus will bring out a new Pro body. I am also kicking myself that I still haven’t got a decent monitor to view my pictures on, nor have I mastered Lightroom yet, for editing and neither do I have any decent lighting equipment. Yet! The only thing stopping me buying all the stuff I “need” is lack of funds due to my various travels during the last 5 years.

I think I'm becoming a specialised photo gadget freak….I can’t wait to get my hands on the new EPL1, which incidentally was only released today!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


So time to start a blog.....

A blank page is pretty scary! What to write? Aaaaaagh I don't know....

The word BLANK

As an adjective..... a blank piece of paper, a blank check, a blank expression on my face!
As a noun.....a blank (as in piece of metal), fill in the blank

As a verb.....she completely blanked him

As an idiom..... she drew a complete blank!

Blankety blank cheque book and pen. God who remembers that cultish tv show!!!??

I wonder if Terry Wogan is still narrating over the European Song contest? I seem to remember watching it one year with a bunch of danes who were very peeved at the flippant remark made by Mr. Wogan about the Danish entry that year. In fact I think it was the very same year the danes won, with the song Fly on the Wings of Love, by the Olsen brothers. To be honest although the Olsen brothers aren't quite as pretty as the Olsen sisters (Ashley and Mary-Kate) the danish version of the song still remains a favourite at parties in Denmark.

In fact, although I'm british, having lived in Denmark for almost 13 years I still feel the pride of the Danes when that song is played. The Melodi Grand Prix as it is called over here is rather a big deal. That and the Danish National Anthem " Der er et yndigt land" roughly translated "There is a lovely country" is one, if not the best national anthem in the world. It brings a tear to the eye when 30,000 vikings sing this unaccompanied (and more or less in tune) at a football match.

I think I'm becoming viking'ish.....