Sunday, 9 August 2015

Woah. Leave. Back. Ouch.

EspaƱol: ouch...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No post for almost a month. Golly, poor blog!

Dubai, London, Liverpool, Haverfordwest, London, Copenhagen, Belfast, Newry, London, Dubai.

What was that? That was your leave, mate. Welcome back 'in station'.

Looking back on the whirlwind that was, the start of it seems like months ago. Copenhagen was our annual attempt to spend some time together away from work and the hustle and bustle of the annual tour of the UK.

Funny place.

The Danes seem to make quite a deal about how free and easy and just, well, downright cool and inclusive and right on they are, but they'll stand on the margins of a totally empty road, yawning blacktop trailing endlessly into the horizon either side of them, waiting for the green light before they'll move. You can freewheel as much as you like, as long as you obey the  rules.

The hotel we finally selected (after weeks of clicking and mulling) was overpriced and packed with American tourists starting out on their Baltic cruises. Actually, all of central Copenhagen was packed with American tourists starting out on their Baltic cruises. Dinner wherever we went was inevitably taken next to Hank and Wilma yelling at each other as if they were still out on the prairie rather than in a cosy and intimate Yerpean restaurant.

We ate well, especially at funky new eatery Almanak at The Standard (a converted old ferry terminus) which we randomly discovered when sheltering from a sudden downpour. It isn't, despite the sound of the name, a Lebanese joint, but a new 'contemporary Danish' place staffed by people who've run away from working in Noma (the best restaurant in the world yadayada) and the food was grin-inducingly stunning. I laughed my way through the meal, my usual reaction to glorious food. And glorious it most certainly was.

We went back for a treat on our last night and watched in dismay as the service fell apart in a Hell's Kitchen sort of way, stacks of plates waiting on the pass, comped drinks all around as the floor staff tried to make sense of it all and failed. It was like the Keystone Cops of food. All it lacked was Gordon Ramsay screaming expletive-laden abuse at them as they tottered around getting everything horribly wrong. The food was still great, it just took three hours for them to get it all out to us. A shame, really.

We visited things. We walked a lot. We learned that cyclists are the new superpower and own both cars and pedestrians. Watching them beasting bewildered Japanese tourists who have wandered unknowingly into the cycle lane was astounding. The Danes don't talk about the Second World War very much, it's sort of missing from the historical narrative which we found generally to be patchy outside of the Christiansborg Palace, which is all very palatial.

We spent quite a lot of time trying to convince people that living in the UAE doesn't mean you have three heads, a close affinity with ISIS and a wife kept in purdah. We've never before been quite so keenly aware of how deeply ignorant people in general are about this place. Maybe it's us.

As for the rest of it, a whirlwind of nieces from both Heaven and Hell, the occasional nephew and many in-laws; friends, family, places and things. We bought a house, as you do. And then we found ourselves sitting in The Oriel at Terminal Three, waiting for the flight and wondering quite where the last three weeks had gone.

It was almost a relief to be back, except it is - as always - very strange to suddenly be plonked with a bump into our real life away from real life. Petrol's gone up, I hear. Other than that, we don't appear to have missed much. In a few days it'll feel as if we've never been away; it always does.

Hey ho...

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