Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The end is nigh

Today is my last day in my current job. I had planned to avoid working from friday last week, but unfortunately was unable to avoid being in Copenhagen for 2 of the last 3 days.

So that's it, kitchen for the the next 3 weeks

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Birthday J

J is 2 today. We had a party at the weekend with all of the (Danish) family and then this morning we went to the Nursery for their "samling", MK had made bread rolls and we joined in the sing-song (as much as we could)

Birthday breakfast

After the Bolle

2 years ago today

Monday, October 29, 2007

Certainties in life...

death and taxes
I seem to have hit a nerve with the last post and sparked some kind of argument between the benefits of socialism and capitalism.
For the record you can see in the table below from OECD that the average Danish production worker gets to keep 57,7% (the lowest shown) of what they earn compared with the EU average of 72,5% and the US average of 75,7% (not the highest - Mexico is with 96,3%)

In terms of overall tax burden measured here as total tax receipts as % of gross domestic product Denmark is second to Sweden with 48,9% whilst the EU average is 40,6% and US is 26,4%. This is taking into account things like 25% VAT, house tax and the huge car taxes for example.
However, as Lars points out we get free higher education free health care (except dentists, opticians, podiatrists, chiropractors and others - the only medical help I have needed in Denmark for myself has not been free, but maybe that is bad luck)
I don't think working hours are part of the argument although they make me feel a little better about living here. I think you need to grow up with socialism to really love it, and most of the Danes I know are very proud of their "system" as the Americans are proud of theirs.
I am not saying what is right or wrong, just that an effective 150% import duty seems rather steep!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Import duty

Sometimes I love Denmark!

A couple of weeks ago I ordered 2 T shirts in a sale of a bike clothing company called Twin Six, they were a whopping $12 each and I think the postage was $10 so the total cost was $34.
They arrived this morning and in order to get them from the post office I had to pay some import duty, VAT, administrative costs and then 25% VAT on that I think.
That meant that I had to pay Denmark Inc 169 Kr or slightly more than $34.
I am glad that the customs officers have enough time on their hands that they open a package labelled as 2 T shirts - $24 value and then complete all the paperwork etc to make sure I get screwed. Heaven forbid that anything might slip through the net...

Friday, October 26, 2007


We had a visit from a local electrician yesterday to give us a quote for installing a new socket in the kitchen where the new units will be. As far as I can understand they will take a new connection from the fuse box through the basement straight through the wall to the socket as it backs onto the stairs. I guess that means a socket, 10 metres of cable and amazingly 1 days work as an estimate.
Would anyone like to guess how much that is likely to cost?

4000Kr!!!!!!!!! (approx £380 or $800 US)

Time to read up on some wiring...

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I am in Poznan in Poland today and feeling a little rough around the edges after a whopping 4 hours sleep. Hopefully I can have a nap on the plane and recover enough for spinning class tonight...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nearing the end of the decisions

We made some of the final design choices for the kitchen at the weekend and have ordered the stuff so please don't be too negative...

We are having this Hansgrohe tap which MK insisted must be in solid stainless steel rather than the normal chrome so that it cost 50% more (I don't mind really!)

And we have ordered a stainless splashback that we can glue to the wall. It will be made the right size and we don't need to make any holes in it so I don't expect any problems with this. Time will tell though...

Last week we got a great bargain on some new utensils to hang on the wall. The ones we had were a wedding present to my parents and the wooden handles were getting a distressed look!

I think we got about 75% off these saving about £150!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

South Park




Some of the more retentive amongst you may remember that we got ourselves a composting bin during the summer in an effort to reduce the number of visits we had to make to the tip/dump/genbrugsplads through the year.

This weekend represented a milestone in our composting journey as we were able, for the first time, to use our own compost (we did have to buy some as well unfortunately) when we planted the new bushes.

It was quite a relief that the smell was not too over powering and nothing jumped out at me.

So as it is planting season in the garden, what else should we put in? The idea is to make the corner with the raspberries and blueberries earn it's keep so I have suggested a gooseberry bush. Any other fruit growing suggestions are warmly welcomed...

Sunday, October 21, 2007


We have had a busy weekend putting stuff back in the garden for a change. We were more or less down to the hedge and the lawn so we decided to put something back to replace the hundreds of plants we have removed. After a relatively easy trip to the garden centre we now have 2 different plumb trees - Victoria and Bornholm (the Danish Island) and a Clara Friis pear tree.

We have also begun a small blueberry patch with 2 American and 1 New Zealand blueberry bushes.

The final piƩce de resistance is the Walnut tree that MK is hoping will provide her with bounteous nuts in the future. Also note that J is sporting his new coat and boots.
J also helped us to move the raspberries from under the dining room window the the new "fruit corner" of the garden.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Advice abound

Thank you everyone for you helpful advice. MK has also started to push for professional floor fitting and I may well acquiesce to that. I will, however, do the wall tiling myself which leads to a couple more questions:

  1. What on earth is an electric tile cutter?
  2. What other tools do I need?

In other news, we had our first frost this morning so my duffel coat came out, co-incidentally on the same morning that J was lucky enough to receive a rather smart new one from M&S.

Thanks for the coat!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We aim to please

There has been a request for more family photos. Here is one that KHvG found amongst the 2500 wedding photographs that they have. We're not sure who J looks like here, but it is a little different than his normal mischievous expression.
Last night I went to a spinning class for the first time in Denmark. It was pretty good and thankfully more of a cycling emphasis than some sort of aerobics on bikes. However it was pretty much impossible for me to understand the instructor over the music and in Danish so I had to resort to trying to copy everyone else. I am going again next week.
The new gym is quite nice, but the changing rooms are about the size of our kitchen and I think our hot water system would be better suited than theirs, at least in terms of pressure.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Refilling the heating AKA The Pseidon Adventure

We have a somewhat temperamental 1960's heating system that occasionally requires attention to let out some air or add some water.

The pressure in the heating system was very low and it has been making a lot of noise since we turned it back on so I knew it was time let out the air and put in some water...

Letting out the old water was no problem, but then I have to connect a hose to the bottom of the boiler and fill it up thus increasing the water pressure to that of the mains (quite high as it happens - approximately 3 bar). Then I have to take off the hose and put on a cap.

Sounds simple?

Well it should be as there is a tap on the boiler to stop the water coming out, but this has apparently not worked for about 30 years.
The answer I found is to leave the tap to the hose on full blast whilst unscrewing the end attached to the boiler as fast as you can and then screw on the cap as fast as you can so that the pressure in the boiler doesn't drop too much.
The result:Getting soaked in cold smelly water.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Getting nervous

In the last few days I have begun to investigate the jobs that I need to do whilst I am replacing the kitchen because there area few that I have not previously tackled. It looks as though I am going to be learning a lot and hopefully not only from mistakes...
Fitting a new tap - no idea
Re-plumbing the sink and dishwasher - seems logical, but never done it before
Installing electrical outlets - never done it before and apparently illegal to do it myself. (Easy)
Laying floorboards - should be easy
Tiling - could be a disaster
Laying vinyl floor - could be an expensive disaster
So if anyone has any great advice about any of these (other than getting in a professional) then please let me know.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Going Topless

On Saturday I managed to build the 2nd of 4 units that will go into our lovely new kitchen without any problems at all. The new drill is great.
Yesterday I built the largest unit but for one important problem.
There was no work surface to put on to. ARGHHHHH
MK will have a lot of fun talking to Ikea to find out how and when we can get that enormous piece of oak...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The one we chose

We looked at the others and decided that they were a bit wild and bright in person and the green one that we have a sample of is only available in Germany. Hence our choice:

I have also started building the kitchen units which is much easier with my new drill.

Now to plan next weekend sneaking off to Copenhagen to watch the Rugby World Cup final...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Busy week

This week has been somewhat manic hence the reduced level of blogging activities. I have been handing over my work to someone else which is always a difficult task as you try to justify what you have been doing for the last year or so. I think I will be able to gradually reduce my input over the coming week or so and take it easy though. Which is nice!

The next job, looming on the horizon is the Kitchen or course. We have still not chosen the floor pattern and time is getting short. Most of the vinyl flooring on offer locally are very bland so we are searching for something more exciting and have found these:

The orange and multi-coloured we can get in Denmark, the green we would have to order from Germany although we have a sample and like it.

The problem is, what will our room look like with that wild floor covering?

What can you do if you hate it???

Perhaps we should have a vote, with the fouth option being none of the above!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Very Busy

I am very busy today running from meeting to crisis back to meeting etc so I am afraid that all you will get today is a picture of Jeremy Fisher

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Team Cycling Ringsted

I have had good intentions of joining the cycling club in Ringsted for about 2 years now. I first contacted them just before J was born, but somehow his arrival put a stop to that and the idea has just festered since then.

Recently I have had a bit of extra motivation (and a challenge) to get in touch with them so I finally called last night to find out about training with the club. (I will leave out the awkward Danish/English language part.)
"Hello Peter, I'd like to start riding with your club, is it OK if I come and train with you?"
"Sorry, training has finished for the year"
Apparently they will start their spinning sessions at the club house some time in November so I have to keep an eye on the website for details.

In some ways that is a good thing because I have a chance to get a bit of fitness back before starting, but on the other hand it means that I have to overcome the inertia again to get started.

Thankfully T&B bought me 10 trips to the new gym up the road so I will can get some practice in there during October.
Then next spring I can squeeze myself into one of their Jerseys...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Selling Denmark

It is relatively unusual for me to make some positive comments about Denmark, so I thought it was time to celebrate something.

When I start my new job I will be based next to the beach, about half a mile from Copenhagen. Until a week or so ago this was a pretty awkward place to get to, but then the new Metro line opened!

Now I can take the Metro to the station just around the corner from the office and you can take the line all the way to the airport. We really pay an f'ing ridiculous amount of tax here, but just occasionally (and I mean very very rarely) something happens and you don't feel like a total chump for paying it. This is one of those happy occasions!

Working in the garden

We spent Saturday morning working in the garden, not our own garden the J's nursery. I cut the hedges in the playground and MK and J helped with tidying up and collecting apples. It was a little frustrating that nobody would take charge of the whole organisation thing but in the end I think the result was OK.
Otherwise it was a restful weekend of cleaning windows, a bit of cycling and a nice meal with T&B on Sunday evening.
I will try to think of something interesting to say before the end of the day because this is somewhat like one of the posts on another site I know...

Friday, October 05, 2007


My new ipod arrived yesterday and what a wonderful thing it is! Yeah of course you can listen to music, but to me it is the other things that make the difference. First and foremost I have subscribed to a handful of BBC radio podcasts, these are automatically downloaded to my PC from the BBC website each time they are published (in most cases weekly) and whenever I plug in the ipod, it automatically adds them. With the 4 podcasts I have chosen (Radio 4 and 5 mostly) I will get about 2 hours a week of radio programs for free.

In some of the spare space I have all of the photographs from my PC on there and the next step is to add some movies.

The movies are a bit of a pain though as I have to convert them into another format, but I think it will be fun when I get it going.

A multimedia extravaganza in my pocket!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New Year Resolutions

I know it is normal to make these at the start of the calendar year, but why not at the start of my year?

Here is the problem, what should they be?

So far I have decided that
  1. I will start keeping a journal for my own amusement and to spare my blog readers from the more tedious navel gazing that I am prone to indulge in.
  2. I will do something with J once a week be that swimming or just going to feed the ducks. I do this most weeks already, but I should make sure that I keep doing it when I have started my new job and the weather goes down hill.
  3. I want to take one evening a week where I do something for myself like spinning this winter or going cycling with the cycling club in the summer.
  4. Joining the cycling club in Ringsted is another item on the list.

Would anyone like to suggest additions to the list? (Preferbaly without being very insulting!)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Man shopping

There is some crappy saying that he who dies with the most toys wins, we ll I am throwing my name in the ring (should that be hat?)
Yesterday I went shopping for essential items for the kitchen project, namely a cordless drill/screwdriver. Anyone with office hands who has spent a few hours building flat pack stuff will be able to tell you that it leads to sore hands and takes a long time. This baby is going to solve all of my problems and better still, L&K part paid for it. Rejoice!
The other essential items were a super cheap DVD player for the basement and an ipod for my coming travels and because I want one and because it was my bonus and just because!
Bring on the Ikea units...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pizza Feast

OK, this will be the last food content for a while, but last nights pizzas deserve a mention. We ha´d a big takeaway order from Italy Italy and they were excellent as ever.

The in-laws came for dinner last night bearing more gifts. The list obviously worked somewhere along the line because I got these from T&B and the ingredients for a drill from K&L. (J and I are off to look for drills this afternoon...)

T&B also gave me a voucher for the new fitness centre in town, obviously I have not been hiding my newly enlarged love handles as well as I hoped (MK thinks that B is worried I won't be in shape to cycle with him next summer at this rate...)
I had a very nice realcing birthday this year and thankyou everyone for everything.
I have been getting back into the groove with the exercise in the last week or so and am enjoying getting out of breath again (a good job really as it happens much sooner than it used to).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Birthday Presents

So far it has been a happy birthday

I have had some lovely presents today with a certain theme:
A silver watch from Dad and M

A Swiss railway clock from MK and J

And shoe trees from G&G that were delivered a while ago

This evening the celebrations continue with pizza and maybe more pressies!

I am a lucky middle aged guy!