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Posts Tagged ‘Flâneur Husband’


Our holiday officially began Friday last week, but unofficially it started the weekend before when the Copenhagen Jazz Festival kicked off. A full week of live jazz – from traditional New Orleans to world fusion to experimental modern – all over the city. Some concerts were held in dedicated music venues, but the best ones – in my perception – are the free open-air concerts in little squares all over the city.

Copenhagen Jazz FestivalThis really is Copenhagen at its best; sunny and warm, with live music playing all over and people having a pint or a glass of wine while relaxing and enjoying Life.

Copenhagen Jazz FestivalAnd let’s face it: Going to this sort of festival is somewhat more civilised that going to the big rock festivals like Roskilde, where 70.000 people cam out in a field and get drunk around the clock… Now, I quite like camping, but I prefer doing so far away from everybody else, and definitely not somewhere where drunken people will fall over your tent at 4 in the morning.

The jazz festival ended this last weekend, so we had our final outing into the world of jazz on Friday evening – which knocked us out the entire Saturday. We’re not as young as we used to be, but we somehow often seem to forget this… Anyway, that meant that we were fit for fight on Sunday, the last day of the festival but more importantly also July 14th, Bastille Day.

Bastille DayFor many years, one of the French restaurants in town (L’Éducation Nationale) has held a Bastille Day celebration where the entire street is closed off. There was a petanque court, live French music and little stalls that sold French delicacies, and of course the restaurant and the other bars in the street had set up lots of tables outside. It was a wonderful day, and for a couple of francophiles like the Flâneur Husband and myself it was definitely not to be missed. (The Flâneur Husband lived in France until he was 3, though his parents are Danish, and I have just been in love with France since I lived in Paris for a year after high school.)

So there; we’ve been enjoying the best that Copenhagen has to offer, and I think it’s actually been quite nice to play tourist in Copenhagen in the sense that even though we didn’t do any sight-seeing we’ve spent a lot more time about town that we’d normally do.

Today we leave the city and head for the garden for a while. I have to go in to work on Thursday for one day only but apart from that we’ll stay in the Summer House for as long as we feel like it. On Saturday we’ll be having our annual Summer Party in the garden; around 20 people for an al fresco lunch, followed by frolicking in the garden with drinks and garden games until the late hours. Some people will go back to Copenhagen in the evening, but most will stay over, either in the house or in tents in the garden. It’s always a great party, and somehow we are lucky enough to have the sort of guests who voluntarily go around the garden the next morning, picking up bits of trash and discarded beer cans so it looks pristine when they all leave.

And now I must go wake up the Flâneur Husband… Time for breakfast, and then we’ll be off as soon as we’ve packed our bags!

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Sunny Flâneur

The picture above was taken quite a long time ago, but I just haven’t gotten around to posting about a rather significant development in the garden. Sometime ago, the Flâneur Husband voiced a desire to pull down the roof over the covered terrace in front of the house. Basically it was poorly constructed and didn’t really handle heavy snow or rain very well; heavy snow would make it sag by an inch so the terrace door from the house would be blocked, and heavy rain would run back towards the house as the incline of the roof was too shallow.

Dismantling roof

So one weekend we got started on the project, with moral support from a friend, seen perched on a ladder in the picture above. Basically it was just a matter of pulling down the roof and the roof beams and leaving the posts and top board all around the terrace to create a pergola or arbour, though with no roof.

View from the roof

Having removed the roof means several things. First of all the house is no longer structurally compromised by a poor addition to it, and obviously that’s the main benefit. However, removing the translucent roof over the terrace also means we get more light into the house – and we get a view of the sky when sitting in the sofa, rather than having the top of the view cut off. And finally we now have a much sunnier terrace, the problem corner to the North-East of the terrace is not as soggy, and generally we have a nicer transition from house to garden.

roof-less

In pictures the difference is not that visible, really; there’s still the frame of the terrace to breack up the length of the façade and make the house appear somewhat larger, and there’s still the low wooden fence around the terrace that means you won’t accidentally push your chair back a bit too far and find yourself toppling backwards into the garden.

We already have several climbers around the terrace – 6 clematis, a rampant honeysuckle and some perennial sweet peas – but we plan to continue planting more so eventually the terrace will become more private. A partial and removable fabric awning of sorts is also being considered so it will be possible to create some shade – and shelter from the dew on summer nights.

This change is really for the better; I shall miss having a covered outdoor space, but we can always add that at another point – and probably in a different location where it won’t darken the house so much or create structural issues for the house.

Sunny Flâneur

So I repeat the first photo. See how lovely it is to have the sky up there?

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Due to some recent tree-felling activities we had quite a lot of pine needles lying about on the lawn, and after we’d distributed a fair amount in the woodland area and around various acid-loving shrubs there was still a ton of it left, so when I aired the option of creating a specific compost heap from it to rot down over the next 3-4 years and create some lovely acidic compost – as an environmentally sound alternative to peat moss spaghnum – the Flâneur Husband jumped on the idea and instantly started looking around for stuff that could be turned into a compost container.

His eyes landed on the small fire wood box that used to be on the covered terrace – a three-sided contraption that used to be up against the house and held kindling dry – and to add a fourth side he re-purposed the back of an old bench where the seat had all but rotted through.

Flâneur Husband with Hammer

The design of it all obviously was a bit “make-do” in style, but it looked decent enough to be placed in the furthest corner of the garden, especially once we started loading it up with pine needles.

Compost box

I think you’ll agree that once it was filled it actually looked like quite a respectable little compost:

Compost box

Pay special attention to the way the ornamental rose carving on the bench back was intentionally displayed, ensuring that – as far at compost containers go, this is quite a pretty little thing:

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However, within 5 minutes of admiring the finished result we ended up agreeing that it was too small, so it was ripped out and replaced with this much, MUCH larger container made of old fence sections:

Large compost container

Not as pretty, but VAST! It’ll be a mixed compost heap instead, probably shared with the neighbour – whose house can be seen in the picture above – and we will probably take years to fill it. Pretty? Not so much, but practical!

-So perhaps next time will remember to think about what we need before cobbling anything together? Then again, maybe not…

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I like going on hiking holidays, ascending the odd fell and enjoying the challenge of scrambling up crags and hillsides to finally be rewarded by the view from the peak. Sadly, the Flâneur Husband doesn’t really share this slightly masochistic fetish, so it’s a good thing that I can now enjoy all the thrills of a scrambling hill-climb in the privacy of our own kitchen when I want to make my morning coffee:

Kitchen demolition

Getting to the kitchen sink this morning was quite a climb – and perhaps not very dignified to look at, had any spectators been around – and I sort of wish I could have had my coffee FIRST  and THEN climbed Mount Debris!

Indeed, we are spending the Easter week tearing out the old kitchen – though we won’t be installing a new one just yet. We have to re-plaster walls and ceiling and then change the floor boards before we can install a new kitchen, so it’s quite a project and we will get through it by the tested approach of “step by step” (“Ooh, baby”, as New Kids On The Block would have added when I was a pre-teen). The Flâneur Husband has this weird notion that the two success criteria are:

A: We get a new kitchen
B: We have fun doing it

Whereas I am much more realistic in my approach and define my criteria of success as:

A: We get a new kitchen
B: Neither of us files for a divorce

(This sort of DIY job is always going to put a strain on a relationship in my opinion, even more so than, say, going to a family reunion or a trip to IKEA.)

Anyway, I’m sure you will all be glad to know that I made it safely to the sink and back (and got only one rusty nail up my foot while climbing the daunting Mount Debris) and am now reclining in the safety and comfort of the sofa!

So, not much gardening in this blog entry – but then there’s still snow on the ground and nothing to do in the garden anyway. However, the solitary cobea scandens seedling that I posted previously has now been joined by one other seedling – and a third seems to be craning its neck in preparation for emergence, so that will have to do for “spring” right now.

On Saturday, though, I’m heading up to the garden anyway to spend some time chopping up the trees that the Flâneur Husband and his friend took down last weekend. I haven’t been up there since the first weekend in March, so it’s about time I went and gave the weather a good talking-to and told it to spring-up and be done with snow and freezing temperatures day and night!

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I woke up this morning to this view:

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Snow falling heavily outside, covering the cemetery in a blanket of soft, white flakes. Very pretty, but hardly spring – will you agree?

However:

Outside it might be snowing
But inside I hope it’s growing!

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I’ve sown a batch of cobea scandens / Cup and Saucer flowers that The Flâneur Husband gave me – along with other seed packets – as a “congratulations on your first day at work” bouquet. All right, so the convention is that when you buy your partner flowers you generally don’t ask them to grow them themselves, but… Will you agree that four packets of seeds is the perfect flower present for a gardener? Especially seeds that should be sown 4-6 weeks before the last frost…

It means we have a little piece of spring – with promise of summer – in our window in the apartment, and I really look forward to seeing something emerge from the soil!

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Tonight the Flâneur Husband will be having his card club over for a Christmas party. Just the four of them (they play whist), and I will soon be leaving for the holiday house – and the garden.

I’m not involved in the card club since it was created before I ever entered the picture, but for tonight I will definitely claim the role as “facilitator”, since I have done some of the preparations. (Well, I’m sure my husband will accept it if I say “most”…)

They will be having a simple dinner before the card games, so yesterday I bought some ripened pickled herring for the starter, and I’ve also made som duck confit that just needs to be heated up and served with potatoes as the mains. The dessert will be more or less traditional marzipan chocolates. Some with an orange liqueur, some with a nougatine filling.

And, well… The garden will be present!

Christmas

I cut these twigs from the garden on Wednesday and brought them back so there would be some sort of Christmas feel to the dining room. Tax, pine, dogwood, berberis and a few twigs of dog rose. You might have spotted that the baubles are not naturally occurring on these plants, and that is very true; I added these because the red hips and berries are difficult to see by candle light, so something slightly more sparkly was required.

There will be one of these bouquets in each of the two windows in the dining room windows, but to add a bit of sparkle to the table itself I took our remaining baubles and piled them up randomly in two dishes.

Christmas

Some are old, some are new. The oldest are probably more than 60 years old, the newest are from this year. Very few were bought, very few were presents and by far the most are heirlooms. And somehow they all go together because they are all so different. Some are family, some are gifts from friends and some were just bought to embellish the Christmases I will be spending with the  Flâneur Husband.

I hope they will have a lovely evening. If they don’t, well… It will be their own fault, because the food will be good and the room will look pretty – and they will be in great company with each other.

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Tomorrow morning The Flâneur Husband and I will be heading off to Vienna for an overnight get-away for absolutely no particular reason at all, other than that my Mother-in-law wanted to give us a treat to celebrate our second anniversary on September 4th. She’s footing the bill, and we just have to enjoy ourselves – and send her a post card… Gotta love that!

Vienna 1902

We have booked tables for lunch and dinner, as well as a hotel room for Saturday night, but other than that there are absolutely no plans. Neither of us has been to Vienna before, so I guess the best plan is just to say that we stroll around the city and take in the place slowly and leisurely.

Obviously we HAVE to stop by the Cathedral, Stephansdom, and I’d rather like at least a short stroll around the boulevards since I once wrote a university paper on Viennese town planning in the late 19th century, but it’s all subject to change.

The weather forecast looks nice, the hotel looks nice, the restaurants look nice and I need to get a haircut today so I, too, will look nice.

Vienna weather forecast 3-4 November 2012

Good times ahead…

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