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Family stuff


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I spent my weekend driving over to visit my grandmother and pick up my share of the contents of her house. She’s been in a nursing home since March, and she deliberately decided to hold on to the house so there’d be a place for her visiting family to spend the night for free, as many of us have a fair way to travel – but now she has decided it is time to sell, and by January 1st there will be new owners.

This is a house that I’ve loved a lot; my grandparents moved there when they handed over the farm to my uncle over 20 years ago, and somehow when I first walked into that house it seemed like walking into exactly the same home as back on the farm. It had the same “vibe”, just in a scaled-down version. As my grandmother’s room in the nursing home is an even further scaled-down version of that home.

And now the house will be a new home; the new owners want to knock down a few walls, build an extension towards the garden – and the view over the Great Belt – and breathe their own life into it. I look forward to sneaking past and peering over the hedge to see how it turns out.

My grandmother enjoys that the majority of her possessions are being divided while she is still here to learn who gets what and hear how appreciative the whole family is of her belongings. Out of an entire house full of furniture, kitchenware, knick-knacks etc., so far only 5 moving crates of “stuff” have had to be donated to charity – and a load of vintage dresses went to a company that provides costumes for theatre and film productions. Of course a lot of books will also end up being donated; I have around 3,000 books already so I restrained myself and only came away with around 100 books from her shelves.

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I also got some rather nice objects, ranging from solid silverware to an old teapot of questionable taste (but I love it and specifically asked my mother to pick it for me!), but the most amazing object is this little bronze-age cauldron. After my great-grandparents’ farm burned down in the 1930’s the courtyard cobbles were removed to be used for the foundations for the new farmhouse, and under the cobbles this was found.

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It’s not pristine, of course, but for a 3,000 old vessel I think it’s in pretty good condition. And while I have plenty of antiques if you go by the standard definition that it’s anything over 100 years old, this pre-dates the Colosseum by 1,000 years! It used to stand on a shelf next to my grandfather’s desk. (He was also the one to fashion the rather odd stand that doesn’t QUITE make it stand straight…)

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Another favourite is this sauce ladle, made from a sea shell. It was given as a present to my great-great-grandparents, though nobody knows when – but my grandmother speculates that it might have been for their wedding in 1894. It is… Well, let’s call it quirky! I’ve never seen anything like it, and to be honest I’m not sure how much I’ll end up using it – if ever. (My share also included one sauce ladle in silver-plate and one in solid silver.)

There are also two dressers for me and a wardrobe – but I couldn’t fit those into my little car, so when I go to Jutland for Christmas with my family I’ll rent a van so I can stop by my grandmother’s house on the way home and pick up the furniture.

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Ever since I was a kid I’ve said I wanted that wardrobe. It was in the upstairs guest room on the farm, and I used to hide away in it with books and a torch when I was a kid. A friend told me it looks like it could lead to Narnia – and perhaps it does. It didn’t come with any fur coats, though.

It was a nice weekend, though. Saying goodbye to a house – even if I’ll stop by there once more on Christmas Day I won’t spend another night there – and bringing some little bits of that home with me to my own home.

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THUMP!


I hit two pheasants simultaneously today on my way home from the supermarket. THUMP! THUMP!

Obviously I pulled over as soon as I could and walked the few hundred yards back to where it happened. One was… Well, it had gone under the wheel, so it was more like pâté than pheasant, really. The other had just been hit on the head and was otherwise intact.

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I brought him home in my trunk. After all, even if the killing was accidental I would feel horrible if I didn’t put him to some sort of use.

His body will become a nice winter roast one day, and his feathers will become my mother’s New Year’s head-dress. (Yes, I can skin a dead animal – AND make something pretty for my mum… That’s what being a gay country bumpkin is all about!)

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Me And My Girls


So… Last week I accepted a job near the Flâneur Garden, so basically I’ll now be a complete country bumpkin living in the sticks… Well, I celebrated the new job by buying three hens!

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Above is Nora. She’s my favourite… For one thing she’s the one who comes closest to being sociable so far – though they arrived here 48 hours ago, so I’m assuming they’ll get used to living here soon enough. But also she’s in a bit of a state, having been bullied rather badly by the cockerels at the farm, so she has some bald patches on her back and on her chest. New feathers are growing out, though, so she’ll be pretty and healthy-looking within a month or so.

And “Nora”? Well, read Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” about a woman who ends up running away from an abusive marriage and I’m sure you’ll understand why that had to be her name…

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This is Nora (to the right) and her sister. They’re both white Sussex – a breed I actually reared in our back garden when I was a kid and teenager – but the third one has a tendency to hide, and her black colour with a brown collar makes her rather more adept at hiding, hence the lack of photo-documentation for her. The third one is called Magda; she’s a Jersey giant, so I wanted to give her a name that reflected her body shape… Something with a certain level of gravitas! (Because damn, she’s heavy – and likely to reach 11-12 pounds in time…)

I wish I had a photo of Magda to share, but I’m trying not to be too intrusive while they get used to their new surroundings. Fortunately they seem to have understood that the hen house is their home, so they go there themselves around sunset and all I have to do is close the door.

(And the reason Nora’s sister hasn’t been named is that I simply haven’t thought of a name that suits her – and also that I just don’t know her personality enough.)

So there. I have chickens… More life in the Flâneur Garden! I’m rather in love with them – there’s something very comfortable about hearing the occasional clucking of the hens out in the garden.

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No, it’s not another kitten, don’t worry. I have my hands full with just the one, thank you very much!

Rather, it’s a little bit of my family history I’m buying into.

I’ve bought a small (12 litres) fruit press!

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The largest juice producer in Denmark, Rynkeby, was founded in the village of Rynkeby in the 1920’s. It had started a few years previously when a widow and her daughter started a little cottage industry in juicemaking and it became such a hit that they turned it into a real, industrial production. In the early 1930’s my great-grandfather bought the first set of industrial machinery (partly hand-powered, partly electric) from the factory, and ever since then my family has been meeting up during the autumn school break to make apple juice.

Funnily enough, when my great-grandfather’s farm was expropriated to make way for a huge housing estate of concrete blocks (Vollsmose), my grandfather ended up buying a farm in Rynkeby, and this is where we now meet up at my aunt and uncle’s place and make some 1,200 litres of apple juice every year. We still use that machinery to this day.

Well, I have a glut of apples in my garden – more than I could possibly eat – so I need to find uses for them. And why not make juice? I mean, I’ve done it since I was barely able to walk, so…

I have a while before the apples are ripe enough – which is great, since I need to work out how to preserve it. Back on the farm we bottle the juice, cap the bottles and pasteurise the juice so it literally keeps for years, so I’ve just ordered a small bottle-capper gadget (nothing like the sturdy ones we use to the larger-scale family operation, but it should do the trick) and a load of caps. I can do pasteurisation in the ovens (I have three) and recycle various bottles, so while it will take absolutely ages to get it done on my own, at least it’s feasible.

I’ll test it tomorrow with grapes (I have a glut of those, too), just because… I mean, a man and his newest toy =/= patience! Though the grape juice can only be frozen since the bottle-capper won’t arrive until next week… (And no… I’ve tasted enough attempts at making wine that turned out really bad! Not going down that road… But I know how to make juice!)

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Punto The Cat


The Flâneur Garden is in mourning these days. The little cat that car-jacked me two months ago had an accident on Monday evening while they were mowing hay down in the meadow by the lake, and around midnight he came limping into my sitting room.

One of his paws was badly injured, so I took him to the nearest 24-hour vet for an X-ray that confirmed that… Well… My little hunter was to go no more a-hunting.

He would never be as happy as a three-legged cat, so I asked the vet for a hug and then told her to go ahead. He was already sedated because of the X-ray, so he didn’t even feel the needle.

I brought Punto home with me. Around 2am we were home again, and I pulled a spare mattress into the sitting room and slept on the floor next to his little carrier box.

On Tuesday morning I took Punto for our last walk into the garden and buried him in the corner with the best view of the fields and meadows where he used to roam. Yes, I know… I’m terribly sentimental by nature.

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He came into my life by accident – but he came to matter a great deal to me. A very great deal. He was such a friendly, adorable little creature, and he completely stole my heart.

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We had two great months together. Sometimes you have to take the happiness you get and accept the grief when it is lost.

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A friend planted this white lavender in a pot in her back garden in London as a memorial to Punto. That’s really silly. Really silly, like falling for a strange cat that stows away in your car at a service station. I like it a lot. I like that my little guy managed to make ripples across the North Sea; that’s pretty well done for such a little cat.

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Orlando…


Have you ever been beaten up for leaving a specific bar? Have you ever been beaten up for holding another person’s hand in public? If not, then maybe that’s why you don’t understand how deeply this has affected me. I – and lots of my friends from all corners of the world – am still coming to terms with the Orlando shootings.

I’ve taken my beatings. I’ve goddamn earned the right to be deeply impacted by such a hate crime as this. I’ve held my arms in front of my face so they could only hit my body. I’ve taken my bruises and I have grown to accept this as normal. Yes, accepted it as “normal” that if I hold someone’s hand or go as far as kissing them, the consequences might be very concrete and unpleasant.

And so I continue to feel the impact of the Orlando shootings. I continue to mourn, grieve, rage… And yes, I will continue to be wary of holding someone’s hand unless I have scanned the area and feel sure there are no threatening people around. And yes, I will still check myself when out in public to make sure I don’t come off as “too gay”. And no, I will probably never grow out of that fear.

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There was a weird thumping noise coming from the attic, so I went up to investigate and found nothing. Then when I went outside to check I saw the above sight.

No, that’s not an owl on my roof.

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Yes, that was the cat on my roof this morning. No worries; the cat is just on the roof. Nothing to stress about or anything. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen. Oh… Hrm… Here, kitty-kitty! Come down, please?

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Eventually he did come down, though. Or, well; he made it down to the gutter and then sat there confused as I tried to lure him over to the garage roof so he could jump down onto the old pig pen and down to the ground. After that adventure he wisely took refuge in the greenhouse – one of his favourite hang-outs on chilly mornings.

It was 7C / 45F when I woke up this morning, and though it is now (6pm) only just under 20c / 70F the sun is out in full force, so it has been hot enough for me to bask on the lawn in my underwear while the cat has been wise enough to hide in the shade of a shrub. And yes, I did fall asleep, but fortunately not for long enough to get burnt – and I have now retreated into the shade.

This summer living? I can get used to it… Fresh strawberries with breakfast, lunch and dinner, days where “mowing the lawn” is the only item on the to-do list…

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Okay, So Cat…


The cat wasn’t chipped, doesn’t have an ear tattoo, and none of the major animal societies in Denmark have a report of a similar cat missing in that region, so…

I’ve gotten the motorway service station where he jumped in my car to put up a poster with his picture, and I’ve posted him on the major Danish “lost animals” websites, so I’ll give it a fortnight before I close the deal and take him to the vet to get him chipped and registered.

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I promise, he doesn’t normally look as evil as in this photo, but whenever I kneel down to take a photo of him he runs to me and starts rubbing his head against my hands, so it’s very hard to get a decent shot of him…

If nothing else, this picture proves that not all Scandinavian homes are furnished entirely by IKEA.

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Sorry about the title of this entry. It will be explained…

So, I was sitting in my car on the motorway, doing 120 km/h and generally being a bit bored, when suddenly my car made a strange noise. Well, I say “noise”; it was more of a “meow”. Very confusing, but then the car meowed again. Now, I don’t know much about cars, but they’re surely not supposed to meow!

Suddenly a cat jumps up from behind the passenger seat, across me and decides to sit on the dashboard. In front of me. On the motorway. Not, as you can imagine, an ideal situation. Especially as I’m pretty sure I don’t own a cat – or at least I was. I tried shooing it away, but the result was that it chose to lie down – which meant I could look over it so that seemed a workable compromise.

It must have jumped in the car when I was taking a break at a motorway service station. But what do I do with it? As far as I can see it has no ear tattoo, so today I’ll have to find out how to get checked if it’s chipped; it’s clearly a domestic cat, because it won’t leave me alone for a second – hence the title of this entry that was finished off by a cat walking across my keyboard!

Actually it’s kind of adorable… Kind of too adorable, really, because its behaviour indicates that it’s been used to a lot of human contact before it ended up jumping in my car at a petrol station – so clearly there must be an owner somewhere missing the cat. Hopefully they can be reunited soon, because god help me… SO ADORABLE!

Anyway, there we are. Me and a strange cat that car-jacked me. Or did I inadvertently cat-nap it? Who knows. For now it’s sitting on my desk, purring away merrily, when not walking across my keyboard or, indeed, myself.

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To Absent Hens…


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So, that nesting pheasant I discovered in my rose border last weekend? Well, she must have been sitting there for quite some time, considering that it takes 23-25 days to hatch a pheasant egg – and she has now abandoned the nest with a 100% hatching rate!

She probably took her chicks down to the lake or somewhere, because she’s nowhere to be found in the garden. (Pheasant chicks are great runners from the get-go more or less, so they can easily follow their mother for quite a stretch.)

But… She made her nest in my garden! Awr… Isn’t that just wonderful? Also, those egg shells… I just love that olive-green shade of a pheasant egg.

I do hope this repeats next year!

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