God bedring København

Last night, I walked past the main synagogue in Copenhagen with a friend. We’d just had an evening of catching up, having dinner and enjoying a beer in a favourite local bar of mine.

At the synagogue’s gate, a burly man eyed us intently, darkly even, as we sauntered past. I remember making a passing comment about it to my friend who speculated that it was the temple’s security guard. We both agreed that it was very ‘un-Copenhagen’ – a city characterised by its easy informality – and then the conversation turned to other things.

Half an hour later, back at my hotel room, I start to receive messages from friends and family – are you okay? We’ve seen the news? Are you safe? Continue reading

Home from home

A Carlsberg billboard ad proclaiming Denmark as the world's happiest country.

The perfect welcome awaits at Copenhagen airport.

I’m back in Copenhagen for the first time since we moved to Canberra and it’s wonderful (no pun intended) to be here.

During the long flight over from Australia, I wondered how I would feel about being back in what is my favourite city in the world – would I regret leaving, would I feel that the place had moved on and lost its personal welcome, or would I realise that the time had been right for a separation and that all things, however good, have an end. Continue reading

Fireworks above a house.

Things to do on arrival in Canberra

We had some disappointing news this week. After all our meticulous planning in trying to ensure our belongings will arrive in Canberra in time for us to spend a comfortable Christmas, the shipping company told us that, yes, while the container would arrive in Australia in plenty of time, customs clearance is expected to take three-to-four weeks, meaning our belongings won’t reach us until mid-January at best. Continue reading

How a successful city succeeded in upsetting people

One of the things I’ve taken a great interest in since moving to Denmark, is the way mainstream media creates and shapes the way a place sees itself.

For a long time, I’ve taken the view that, whereas the UK media largely adopts the “we’re all going to hell in a handcart” view of things, in Denmark, there’s a far more positive national self image. Continue reading

The fears and the thrills of emigrating

It’s exactly 30 days until we board our flight to Canberra, but what was it that made us leave the UK in the first place, and why is it that we have no desire to return?

I can still remember all the significant moments in the months leading up to our departure from the UK. I’d been working for the same company for 15 years and I was in my late-30s. I had a great job, I really liked the company I was working for and there were plenty of potential ‘next steps’ on my career path. And yet I was restless.

Continue reading

The five best things about living in Denmark

Denmark has been good to us and it’s no reflection on Denmark or the Danes that we are moving to Australia. In fact, our ability to build a successful life here from scratch has almost certainly given us the confidence to think we can do it again down under.

So, with apologies to those who are only interested in the Australian aspect of our move, here are the five best things for us about living in Denmark. Continue reading

A little bit of politics

One of the most interesting conversations I ever had in Denmark went a bit like this…
Friend: “So what are your politics?”
Me: “I guess I’ve always been a bit of a socialist.”
Friend: “Well you might have been a socialist in England, but are you a socialist in Danish terms?”

It was a brilliant question because I had never really thought of politics as being relative, depending on which country you live in. But of course, my friend was correct. The beliefs that placed me left of centre in the predominantly right-leaning UK, may not have been so radical after all in full-on socialist Scandinavia. In fact, in local terms, my views may even have been right of centre. Continue reading

Preparing for the Aussie psyche

When you are first granted a residency visa for Australia, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection very kindly points you towards a couple of documents on its website, suggesting that you give them a read.

Two brochures about Australian life.

Suggested reading for all migrants to Australia.

The first, ‘Life In Australia’ gives a potted history of how the Australian nation was shaped, what its common societal values are, and what life down under is really like. The second, ‘Beginning a Life in Australia’ covers more of the essentials of settling into life there – how to get housing, employment, access medical services and so on, but it still includes a whole section on the values of Australian society. Continue reading

The moment of truth

The reality of our move is slowly creeping up on us. In a previous post, I mentioned that the first big milestone in our journey to Australia was receiving news that our visa application had been approved. Immediately afterwards, we went on a research trip down under, but after that, things pretty much returned to normal.

Things really took a leap forwards about six weeks ago, when we finally received an offer we were happy with for our house in Denmark. After accepting the offer verbally, we had to go into the office of our estate agent and sign all the legal paperwork which would make the deal binding. Continue reading