Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Interupted Service

Thursday is a public holiday in Denmark and J's nursery is closed on Friday so I'll be home preparing for the weekend and taking it easy with him. Consequently there will probably not be any blogging until Monday.

My Favourite Things

As I rode around the woods on my bike on Monday evening searching for my lost sunglasses, I pondered the various material objects that I own and those that I covet. There are things that we own that serve a purpose without giving us any pleasure in their use, our iron perhaps being a good example of this, whereas there are other things that make you happy every time you use them.

Having considered this for a while I have come up with a list of the thing, maybe not an exhaustive list, but a list none the less of these things that make me happy every time I use them:

Salsa mountain bike - this is the first mountain bike I have owned with gears and suspension that works well for me, it has lots of nice shiny bits on it that I chose myself and it rides beautifully.

ipod classic - makes me happy every time I look at it and I love that podcasts update each week meaning that there is almost always something new to listen to when I want. It is also a beautiful object to touch and use.

Push lawn mower - I hated mowing the lawn before I bought this, it is quiet, has sharp blades so it cutes the grass well and provides me with a little bit of exercise whenever I use it.

Swiss army knife - I have a few of these and love them all, but this one is tactile and attractive at the same time.

Specialized cycling shoes - These were a fairly outrageous extravagance, but they are the most comfortable shoes that I own and they make me happy each time I put them on. ( I can't find a picture of them)
Pilot Capless fountain pen - A generous gift that I find particularly pleasing especially when loaded with purple ink. Whilst googling this picture I found that there is a special edition orange one now available that at least one person I know would like very much.

Occasionally you buy something expecting it to join your list of things that are a joy to own only to be disappointed by them in the long run. Perhaps that is part of the charm of your favourite things, you don't really know what they are until you have them.

Before I am accused of being materialistic, I do understand that these material possessions are not important, they are just nice little things!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Race day planning

In an effort to reverse my fortunes with sunglasses I went back to the wood with my mountain bike yesterday evening to try and find the pair that I had dropped on Sunday.

Guess what?

I didn't find them. There are blue and white and I expect that they stood out somewhat like a saw thumb on the forest floor to such an extent that the next person along will have found them and picked them up. They had a lucky day I suppose, whilst I did not. On the bright side I did get to spend another couple of hours riding around the trails and honing my skills for next weekend when I plan on putting them on the line along with my questionable fitness in an effort to finish in the middle half of the Rivette SRAM H12 solo male category. I can't wait!

Before then I need to find some good race food, that is something that I can digest relatively easily possibly whilst cycling and that I won't get completely sick of (in any respect) before the end of the race.
Thankfully J and I have Friday off together (nursery is closed for the day) so we can whip up some delicious flapjacks with lots of dried fruit, some nuts and maybe a little chocolate. I am also planning some sandwiches, bananas, coke, salted almonds and copious quantities of Maxim energy drink.

After last nights failed search for my glasses I consoled myself by ordering a new pair of mountain bike shoes to relieve my squashed toes, I just hope they arrive before the weekend...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lightening strikes twice

We had a fantastic meal on Friday night at Kokkeriet, the service was really excellent and the food was very good too.

Salted Scallops browned butter, cucumber & horseradish - Nice juicy and sweet scallops

Seared Octopus celeriac, macadamia nuts & onions - Fantastic clever combination the octopus was delicious. The celeriac and nuts with some macadamia nut oil worked unbelievably well.

Baked Lemon Sole leak, skagen ham & apples - Delicious

Fried Rabbit carrot, morels & dandelion - Very good and rich, but I think it must be almost impossible to cook rabbit fillet without it being a little dry

Lamb in ash barley, jerusalem artichoke & star anis - Wonderful

White Chocolate malt, tonga & pear - Quite good, but not as good as the treats that came with the coffee

We did a bit more gardening on Saturday and i pulled out even more dandelions. I think I would have defined someone with too much spare time by the number of dandelions they pulled out of the lawn. I now find myself sneaking out in the evening to pull a few more. It is becoming obsessive...

The lightening strike was yesterday. At some point in my nearly 4 hour mountainbike ride I took off my sunglasses and put them in my pocket as they were dirty and it was not so bright in the trees. When I came to put them back on, my pocket was empty. Bummer that's two pairs of Oakleys in 6 days...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wedding Anniversary

Apparently it is 4 years since we got married on this beach so we are going out to celebrate. J is being packed off to T&B and we are going to Kokkeriet for an indulgent meal. Apparently the menu is as follows and we have to eat it all!

Salted Scallops
browned butter, cucumber & horseradish

Seared Octopus
celeriac, macadamia nuts & onions

Baked Lemon Sole
leak, skagen ham & apples

Fried Rabbit
carrot, morels & dandelion

Lamb in ash
barley, jerusalem artichoke & star anis

White Chocolate
malt, tonga & pear

Looks good to me!
Having been away for two nights and then having J last night and going out tonight I have had an exercise free week and I am getting desperate to get out on my bike. I think it is time for one of my big outings so this weekend I am going to visit some relatively far flung corner of our little island. Maybe Enø or Glænø... One thing is for sure, I need some time in the saddle to be ready for the 12 hour race the following weekend.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wardrobe Malfunction - the continuing saga

Having hung my suit back in the wardrobe until my next trip I am back in the Danish work clothes today. That means jeans and a shirt today (obviously I am also wearing sock, shoes, underpants and a jacket as well) but I think this will be the last time that these jeans get worn as they have let me down.

There is a terminal failure of the fabric in the crotch so I am going to have to sit carefully in meetings and remember to bin them when I get home. I am more than a little disappointed that these jeans are dead already as I have only had them since last autumn and not worn them too many times. The moral of the story for me is not to buy Matinique jeans from their outlet in Poland, I am just happy that I didn't pay their normal rather high prices.

Shopping list:
Sun glasses

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary so we have a night off and are going out for dinner in CPH.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Faith in Italy restored

Todays shirt and tie combination is much more rewarding than yesterdays although it is somewhat outrageous compared with the conservative Italians

My previous experiences of being in Italy have been mixed at best. A few years ago I spent some time working in Turin and found the place, dirty and expensive, the food was disappointing and the people unfriendly.

I also spent a week in Lugano and found that a little disappointing too mostly in terms of the food!

However, I am just south of Milan at the moment and am having a completely different experience. The people here have been very friendly and welcoming, we had an excellent meal of fish antipasti, fish with fresh pasta and fish primo plati with very nice wines. I am not dreading coming back again!

In other news, MK and I have decided that we will take J's little brother to Iowa for treatment all being well when he turns up. It looks like our cheap summer at home painting the outside of the house is out of the window again...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The wrong tie

I am in Italy today so decided that I should wear a suit and tie in order to fit in at least a little with the others. Having not worn a tie for a couple of years or more I am rather out of practice at matching ties to shirts and have gradually replaced most of my shirts over the intervening period.

There is a fine line between a bold but brilliant shirt and tie combination and one that is simply wrong. In the past I have been complimented on my ability to pick out a shirt and tie that others may shy away from, but I have been able to pull off

Today is not one of those days

I have been feeling self conscious about the green thing around my neck from the moment that I stepped out of my hotel room this morning and I am simply looking forward to taking it off and trying to redeem myself tomorrow with something a little better. I think this is the first time I have felt uncomfortable as a result of the colour of my tie, rather than because it is strangling me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Going wrong

I stayed home this morning because we ran out of heating oil at the weekend and I wanted to make sure the boiler started up for MK and J before I go to Italy this evening.

After my bike trip yesterday I left my wallet in the car which MK then drove to work this morning so I am inconveniencing MK to bring it to me on the way home from work. I didn't realise it was missing until I was about to leave home so I missed the train and consequently the bus and had to walk for half an hour to get to the office.

I also managed to leave my rather expensive Oakley sunglasses on the train.

All in all, today is not going well so far...

Long weekend

We were blessed with a public holiday on Friday, apparently it was "Big Prayer Day", we didn't do much praying (well I didn't anyway) but we did enjoy the day off nonetheless.

We have been busy in the garden, creating Vegetable patch 2.0 now with a path so that MK and J can grow lots of peas, fennel and maybe some potatoes. It was very exciting to be able to fork some of our own home-made compost into the new bits of the patch as well.

My contribution to the garden was to plant three gooseberry bushes and sew some lupins and foxgloves to add a little colour to the garden. So far all of our planting has been edible stuff so I decided that we need a bit of frivolity. I have also pulled hundreds of dandelions out of the lawn and the hedge.

We had the annual Anemone tour to the forest with T&B followed by a delicious and well earned meal.

On Sunday afternoon I managed to find enough time and energy for a mountainbike ride in the forest. I was very happy to find that the trails are as dry or dryer than they were last June. I am still really happy with my new bike and out in the sunshine, it was a fantastic way to end a very nice relaxing weekend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rules I can't keep

Some time ago I posted some rules that are supposed to help you to eat healthily and lose weight. I read them again this morning and I can see that whilst there are some that I can life by, there are others that are beyond my abilities

Since February I have succeeded in

  • Giving up soft drinks about 95% of the time. I can't remember the last coke, diet or normal that I drank.
  • I have not been drinking beer or any other alcohol on a regular basis
  • More or less stopping eating snacks in front of the TV after dinner
  • Avoiding putting chocolate and other sugary temptations in front of myself.
  • Cutting down on my intake of starchy food like potatoes, rice and pasta at lunchtimes

I have however failed the following:

  • Cutting out sugar altogether. I suspect that this is like stopping breathing.
  • Not eating sweets or other treats that are put in front of me by other people. I blame this on my upbringing - I think it is simply rude to say no thanks when offered a cake
  • I can't cut out all starchy food in the evenings because that's what people eat in this part of the world and I am pretty hungry when I get home from work leading to the biggest problem:
  • I keep snacking when I get home. I try to make sure that there is nothing worth eating in the cupboards, but my ingenuity and live of dry breakfast cereal seems to get the better of me on a regular basis

The results:

On the positive side I have lost about 5kg in total mass and I am sure that I have also converted a few more kilos back into muscle from fat. My legs have started to show a little muscle tone and I can easily ride my bike for a couple of hours at a pretty good pace. There is still plenty of lard to use up in the pursuit of athletic perfection and I am taking a long term view that by the end of 2014 I should look like this:

Michael "The Chicken" Rasmussen - Danish almost winner of the Tour de France.

By way of showing off a little, I cycled home from work last night in just over 1½ hours with a tail wind in the sunshine. This morning I cycled back to work into the wind with persistent rain. It was not fun at all and took 1:45.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Iowa or Manchester

Having found out about our new babies feet and coming to the conclusion that we don't want the treatment to be in Denmark, we are left with the decision as to where we DO want the work to be done. We have been presented with a few options that we have now narrowed down to 2 based on the fact that the doctor should be Ponseti certified and be somewhere that we can won't have to pay for the treatment. That leaves Iowa or Manchester

Iowa City is the home of Dr Ponseti who is recognised as the worlds leading expert in correcting club feet and who treats patients for free at the University Hospital. In terms of treatment, his are the safest hands in the world, but Iowa is a long way from home.

Iowa City and Iowa University

Manchester is home to Dr Davis who is a certified Ponseti doctor and seems to be the most recognised person in the UK for treatment. However we don't live in the UK and there may be some issues in getting treatment there and it is still some way from home although we have family nearer and the there would be fewer problems getting back for check ups...

Manchester and the Booth Hall Childrens Hospital

We are really struggling to decided what to do right now, but it is nice to know that we have the luxury of options and that we are fortunate enough to know in advance what is on the cards...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Scneic Route

This morning I did something that I thought I would never be able to make myself do. No I didn't get up early to watch X factor, I cycled to work! I principal this is not a monumental achievement, but for someone who is not at their best first thing in the morning, getting myself sufficiently awake to be out and cycling at 6:45 is quite an achievement. I took a somewhat circuitous route having gotten bored with the traffic by the time I reached Roskilde and being ahead of schedule I decided to take some lanes instead of the main road. As a result I got rather lost. I didn't have a computer attached to my bike but I guess I did around 55 km and at least 7 of those were unnecessary.

As you can see I added a bit to the journey, but still got here in under 2 hours and was sitting at my desk, showered and shaved (and dressed) before 9. Next time I will get out of bed at 6 as planned rather than 6:15 and I will take a more direct route so that I can be at my desk by 8:30 at the latest.

The conclusion from this test is that the ride is reasonably pleasant and not too strenuous and I will definitely do it again.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The busy weekend that was

The weekend flew past and seemed much too short as usual, the winter tyres are still on the car, the lawn has not been cut and the cardboard boxes are still in the basement. I did however manage to get 2 hours cycling in on Saturday in the sunshine before we went to Copenhagen for a birthday party. Unusually I was given the opportunity to feel linguistically able for one of the first times in my life as the party took place in English, French and Danish and I could understand almost all of it!

Sunday mornings bike ride was scuppered when I decided to have a look at a dripping tap in the basement. The warn washer in the tap fell apart in my hands and I was left with no washer and no open shops. Time to improvise! I successfully managed to make a washer from a piece of rubber that I found in the car park of the closed DIY shop and fix the dripping tap. I must admit to feeling a level of smug self-satisfaction, hitherto only experienced by Micheal Howard

On Sunday afternoon we piled into the van again and went to Copenhagen to visit some "new friends". I sparked a wave of controversy last week when I mentioned out plans to interview new friends, but I can now announce both the reasons and the results on the interview. Firstly they were very nice people and were watching the Paris - Roubaix bike race when we got there so I didn't have to miss yet another exciting bike race, secondly they were very helpful and informative on the subject of club feet and treatment in Denmark.

When we had the second scan done on our unborn child at about 20 weeks into the pregnancy, the doctors could see that it has 2 club feet and will need to have some treatment to correct that in the first years of his life. We of course went home and began researching how this correction is done and it turns out that there are several methods that can be sued. The most popular these days being a non surgical method know as the Ponseti method. Using this method, Dr Ponseti has a 98% success rate in correcting club feet and because he doesn't perform surgery, the long term results are very good. This is because the scar tissue resulting from surgery causes problems in later life. The Ponseti method uses a series of plaster casts over a couple of months from shortly after birth and continues with wearing braces for a couple of years, latterly only when asleep.

This is where things get complicated. The doctors in Denmark don't see many babies with clubfoot as it only affects 1 in1000 births. The Ponseti method is used, but apparently not well and the success rate is 60% so we have been researching our options. The people we met on Sunday have just come home from the US having gone there when the Danish doctors couldn't fix their babies foot and decided that they couldn't do any more to help without surgery. Doctor Ponseti (who is now 93) offers free treatment to anyone with club foot who goes to Iowa and has already told us that "To my knowledge there are no doctors successfully using the Ponseti technique in Denmark". We are investigating other options in Europe, but at the moment it looks like we will be spending a month or so in Iowa this summer...

Friday, April 11, 2008

The other cold

I have finally given in to the family's viral visitor and accepted that I have a cold. As a man that means that I am likely to have a near death experience over the next few days, but with a little sympathy I guess I'll pull through.

That is not actually true, Tuesday and Wednesday I felt really rough but yesterday I started to feel a bit better and less tired so I rode my bike for an hour on the trainer before bed and my only problem today is the cold related congestion.

The plan for the rest of today is that I should fetch J and we'll hit the pool for some splashing around and maybe a trip on the slide or too. Last week saw a first from J when he asked to have arm bands on and then had a good float around in the pool without me holding him. Hopefully that spirit of adventure will continue as i find it a little dull sitting in the baby pool watching him throwing plastic dinosaurs around...

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The winter seems to have returned to Denmark in some way as we have woken to hard frosts and fog the last couple of days. MK is still suffering with a cold and I can feel that my body is still trying to fight it off for me. I have slept a lot the last couple of nights, but still feel tired and I decided that I would be better off missing out on riding my bike last night despite the dry roads and MK & J being of at mothers group. I decided to hit the sofa instead and watch House. I had a good rest but couldn't help feeling that I should be doing something more productive. Maybe I need to classify recuperation and avoiding illness as productive in the future...
I'll definitely have a little spin tonight and hopefully the threat of a cold will have lifted before the weekend so that I can get some saddle time in.
This weekend we are going to Copenhagen both days to visit people, Saturday is a friends birthday party and Sunday is an investigatory trip to visit some potential new friends...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Weigh in

I have been tied up so far this week, but on Tuesday morning I hopped on the scales and am happy to report that I was exactly 105kg so a small step in the right direction.
MK and J both have colds and I was shattered yesterday so I decided to take a night off riding in an attempt to avoid getting the cold. I have a feeling that I have failed as I am starting to feel under the weather already but we'll have to wait and see.

This morning also saw the driving of another nail into the coffin of our car. The wipers apparently failed to work so MK has taken it to the garage to be fixed. As the warranty is finished I expect that they'll charge us a fortune for fixing it and there is probably not much wrong. I am never buying another Peugeot.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A day of contrasts

Having spent the day in an introductory seminar, I was seriously ready to get some fresh air this evening. Mu initial plan had been to get straight out on the road bike before eating, but that doesn't really fit with our normal routine. I was then struck with a brainwave: A dusk mountainbike ride in the forest.

So after I cooked the 25kr ($5) per bite lamb chops ( that was 3 chops for 150kr or $30!) and we scoffed them with some mash, cabbage and sauted spring onions I shucked the Mamasita in the car and hit the road.

What a fantastic idea that was. It was a lovely evening and I finally got to test out the hand me down lights that WRM gave me. They work really well although I was completely terrified of getting lost. I don't know the woods that well and when you shine a light around in the trees, it all looks the same.

Thankfully I got back to the car without too much difficulty and got nearly 2 hours of lovely fragrant forest riding it. I think I am more happy with this new bike than any other I have had so far.

I tried out my new phone camera as it was in my pocket anyway and the result are not bad considering that the lens is about 3m across although it is 2 mega pixels apparently

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Weekend wrap up

Not everything on the list got done, but some extras did...
The haircut is good I think, nice and short and none of that Swedish hockey hair thing going on any more. I also managed to cut J's hair without too much trauma.
I only rode my bike once and only for an hour although it was pretty intense.
I cut the lawn which was HARD work with the push mower. Several kind people walking past were kind enough to point out that it was hard work because I had let it get too long. What would we do without the advice of passing gardeners?
Oh yes, enjoy gardening just a little more.
On Saturday night I cooked rather a nice meal, steak with fresh herb butter followed by my new invention PBJB&BP (peanut butter and jam (or jelly to some) bread and butter pudding). First reactions were mixed, but I think it was actually pretty good for a change. I still need to work on my savoury versions.
Sunday was spent at T's birthday party in Sorø, there was lots of food and a lot of songs. J was well behaved and as someone may have once said: I think they all enjoyed themselves.
I'm in an introductory course all day Monday, hence the Sunday evening post

Friday, April 04, 2008

TFI Friday

This week has been something of a shock to the system for me as I have had to work every day and for more than 8 hours on some of them! I am not sure I will ever get used to this "having a job" and certainly find it an inconvenient intrusion on my free time.

This weekend should provide ample opportunities for interesting diversion ans so far I have planned the following


  • Haircut (at the unpleasantly early time of 08:00 on Saturday)
  • A trip to the tip with some cardboard
  • A trip to the supermarket so that I can fall out with J in public
  • Mow the lawn for the first time (a big job no doubt)
  • A bike ride to try and return myself to a human state

  • Another bike ride in preparation for the big event of the day
  • Big family birthday party
  • Missing the Tour of Flanders

Admittedly this last point is more of a non-event than an event, but it is the first of the Belgian Classic bike races and I am looking forward to it having ridden the course last year (you can read about that here). This year I have a feeling that Tom Boonen will be able to pull something out of the bag, but it is a great race and for me really gets the cycling season into full swing. The evenings are lighter in theory it is getting warmer and soon I can even think about wearing shorts for the first time since 2006.

One good thing about working hard during the week is that you appreciate the weekend all the more...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Chicken lasagna

In a continuation of my dietary diatribe, I have just been confronted by one of the worlds most misguided culinary concoctions: Chicken lasagna

I couldn't find a picture of anything as unappetising as the dish I am describing - sorry!

Two things sprang immediately to mind as I helped myself to a splat of the orange gunge that constituted lunch today: The first was that this would not be a memorable meal for any good reasons and the second was to be thankful that the visiting Italians had gone home before they were subjected to this affront to their cuisine.

If I were forced to guess as to how this dish had been made, then it would be

  1. Put a layer of lasagna in a dish
  2. Place cheap watery chicken breasts over the lasagna
  3. Pour over several tins of cheap cream of tomato soup
  4. Cover with another layer of lasagna
  5. Top with packet white sauce and some grated cheese
  6. Cook for too long in a medium hot oven
  7. Serve

This is fusion cuisine gone wrong on every level

When looking for a picture of disgusting chicken, this little chap turned up. I feel a bit sorry for him really and he must be cold most of the time. He deserves better than to be turned into lasagna, at least he could be deep fried or made into a nice curry...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


The meal last night was actually pretty good, fois gras with mango sorbet on it was great and the peanut ice cream in thick dark chocolate was good too.
I got to bed at 01:00 and wake up again at 6 to get to the office at 08:00. 11 hours later I am still here having sat in a meeting for the whole day.

Bleary eyes all round

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So far, so errrrr good...

Firstly Happy Birthday George, have a good day and don't forget to buy cakes for everyone at work!

My journey to work this morning took 2 hours because of a suspicious package left at one of the stations in Copenhagen (Glostrup if you care) which meant that all the trains terminated where I normally get off and there were big delays everywhere. That mean that I arrived at my stop about half and hour later than normal and 20 minutes after my bus stopped running for the day. The station was completely chaotic with buses and taxis everywhere so I decided to take the opportunity to test out walking to the office. It took a little over half an hour and I don't think I'll do it again unless I really have to.

At the weekend we decided to have a look for some new shoes for J as the weather is warming up and he'll need to get out of the wool and goretex boots before we go to England in May where we plan to buy him some summer shoes. After the customary screaming blue murder, crying and filling his nappy with some unholy smelling materials, we finally settled on these.

They were in the sale so we saved 25% making them only moderately ridiculously expensive. What came as something of a surprise to us was that fact that they are the same size as the winter boots we bought in November. How much too big must they have been that they are the right size for new shoes now - 5 months later? I suppose the Danish way is that kids get 2 pairs of shoes a year so they need plenty of space, but I can't believe that it is the best for their little feet. In the future we'll be a bit more aware that we're not being sold shoes at least 2 sizes too big.