Saturday, 19 November 2011

Deal



7.17-7.24

We will not forget!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Don't let anyone stand in your way

A few weeks ago I was looking at a What's On in London type page hoping to find some decent music.A chap called Jens Lekman was on there and as his was the only European sounding name I thought I'd check him out on youtube,and I'm glad I did.As you probably know I'm not a massive fan of Swedish pop (Agnes excepted),but I Love Love Love (geddit?) all that the country offers in terms of indie and their singer-songwriters.

Jens is a brilliant storyteller (another example of a Scandinavian being annoyingly good at expressing themselves in a language that isn't his own) and his some of his songs have such curious titles that you just want to listen to them immediately to find out what they're about- I Don't Know If She's Worth 900 Kronor is a good one,as is When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog.

My favourite that I've heard so far though is Postcard to Nina,a song about that oh-so-common subject of pretending to be your lesbian friend's boyfriend so as not to upset her religious family.The lyrics really make me smile and the music has a rather old-fashioned sound to it whilst also being light and summery sounding,which makes a change from the bleak and atmospheric Scandinavian music that I normally listen to :)

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Copenhagen Day 1

Gatwick has always been my favourite airport having been the first ever one I went to all the way back in the early 90s when planes had a smoking section and you could take as much orange juice and 2-in-1 shampoo on board as you liked.It's even better there these days though,I get dropped off,walk up to the terminal,check-in,get some Swedish krone,go through security and am queuing in McDonalds for breakfast (it's 6am) all in a total of 15 minutes.It's brilliant.

I can't really be bothered with this trip and on the way down to the departure gate I start planning my next mini-holiday.Reykjavik next Spring.With a day trip to Greenland.Staying in Hotel Cabin which is right opposite the Shell garage they filmed Night Shift in.Hmm...Oh it's time to get on the plane.I'm flying Norwegian for the first time and it turns out to be quite nice,there's a telly and they show Scandinavian tourist board videos and a few cartoons à la Swiss Air.The flight isn't much longer than the one that takes you to Hamburg and as we fly over Øresund coming in to land we see the big bridge in the distance- something I've wanted to cross ever since I saw it on Top Gear a few years ago.

You know how when you're above the clouds everything's bright and sunny and then when you come through them and it isn't anymore? Well it basically looks like night when we land.The weather is (and has been all morning apparently) awful.Kastrup airport is only 15 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station and I'm quite excited to get on a DSB train again (I still love the fact that they provide plastic bags under all the tables,though I'm still not sure what they're for).My hotel is just down the road from the station and no sooner than I've checked in,I'm out again looking for TPMUSIK on Amagertorv.I find a corner shop first though for something to eat.I come across this stuff...



...I don't buy any though.Not after the acid reflux it gave me in the Faroes.

Of course I go completely the wrong way and nearly go over a bridge which is covered in election posters.Not sure when the election is but there really are a lot of candidates (they seem to love their coalitions in Denmark).I decide I'd vote for Annika (not sure of her surname) for the simple reason that she's got Faroese and Greenlandic flags on her poster.Suddenly the heavens open (understatement),there is the biggest crack of thunder I've ever heard and also the biggest flash of lightning I've ever seen.It's not a fork it just lights up the entire sky.I jump out of my skin whilst all the scantily-clad Danish girls (who don't even have umbrellas) find the whole thing hilarious.I quickly look for something loud to put on my iPod so I don't get caught out again.Eric Saade should do.Popular.It'll get me in the mood for tomorrow.

I find TPMUSIK and it's wonderful.CDs and DVDs are just so cheap here I can't believe it.Especially in a country where your average 100g chocolate bar costs over 2 quid.I buy Hej Matematik's two albums and Thomas Holm's Middelklassehelt (Middle Class Hero- I love that name) all for under £20.

Copenhagen has the most amazing shops.I'm sorry to say that Strøget wipes the floor with Oslo's Karl Johan's Gate.However I don't really go in any because a: there are 4 million tourists dithering about and I just haven't got the patience now my jeans are soaked up to my knees and I have blisters on my feet and b: I'm at least £2500 short if I want to go on a proper shopping spree here.I have a quick look in Illum though,which reminds me so much of Selfridges/Harrods that I get that uneasy/comforting feeling of familiarity that I get in Denmark.I've already seen a car with a Flensburg numberplate and another car with leopard print seat covers that scream Medway at me.

I take a scenic walk (read: get lost) on the way back to the hotel and pass a very cool map shop on the way that sells lovely globes and maps of everywhere you can imagine.

I plan on going back out later but when I take my shoes off my feet hurt so much that I think it's best to rest them.So I spend the rest of the evening eating Marabou and flicking between a Billy Connolly documentary on Swedish telly,Sky News and Afrika Nu on DR1.Afrika Nu is a charity fundraising thing that I assumed to be like Comic Relief but there's no comedy as far as I can make out.There is however,a piano version of New Tomorrow accompanying some of the "and here's a reminder of what tonight is all about" videos shot in Africa.I understandably get a bit excited about this and am pretty sure AFIL will make an appearance at some point this evening.Rasmus Seebach comes on,and he's much better than he sounds on my iPod.Nik & Jay are on too but I'm not too fussed about them.By 10 o clock I give up and go to sleep.

In the morning I see a tweet from Tim Schou: "Wow. Just sang infront of millions of people live on Danish TV for AFRICA benefit show!" Typical.

Copenhagen August 2011

Two weekends ago I made my third trip to Denmark- my favourite Eurovision nation of the last 5 years and a country that I've had an odd relationship with since I first visited in 2008.I booked the trip ages ago (a few days after we got back from Eurovision in fact) but having done so much travelling already this year and having only started my new job 5 days previously,I really wasn't in the mood to go.So it wasn't the best weekend I've ever been on,but that just adds to the weird "this place feels so much like home" feeling that I get every time in Denmark.There were some good bits though,and I'll try to remember to write about them over the next few days.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Party on til the break of dawn

I'm going to Copenhagen next weekend.It's all come around a bit fast and really,I could do without going what with the new job and moving house happening etc etc.But I've already packed my bag,got a vague itinerary sorted out,and I am very heartened indeed to see the price of CDs in Denmark.Looking at the TPMUSIK website it seems all the ones I want are at least half the price of what they are in the Faroes and (from what I remember) Norway.Anyway,all I need to do now is get some kroner from somewhere,book my train ticket to Sweden (I went to school with a Swedish-Iranian guy once,he said Malmö is shit,but hey it can't be as bad as Tønder),and listen to more stuff like this to get me in the mood.I've not heard a song this catchy since that Faroe Islands rap.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Faroe Islands Day 3: Andvekur

Forgot to mention- last night I had a kebab from Cafe Sandwich.Apart from me there were 3 guys in there all watching MTV on the massive plasma screen.The power kept going off and a bit of a comical farce ensued when the chef had to keep turning the generator on and shouting "is it back on?" Cue "Yes.No.Yes.No..." from the guys.When it did come back on,the telly went to default channel Kringvarp Føroya,which unfortunately happened to be showing a documentary about childbirth.A screaming lady's undercarriage on a 50" HD screen isn't what you want to see whilst waiting for your dinner,and all the men made disgusted noises and shouted at the chef to turn the telly off again.It's little incidents like this that make me love travelling.

This morning at breakfast I feel sad that I'll never again taste bacon the way the Faroese cook it.I don't know what they do,but anyone who can make streaky bacon taste palatable let alone amazing,deserves an award.I have 5 rashers.As well as lots of scrambled egg and toast :/

Today I decide to walk to Hoyvík to visit the National Museum.When I see the Skansin lighthouse I realise I've gone the wrong way.Back at Steinatun I've missed the bus,so I go for a walk.I briefly went to Vidarlund Park yesterday but I didn't realise it was so big.There aren't really any trees in the Faroes,so if you want to see some,Vidarlund is the place to go as most of them were planted there within the last century.There are also plenty of ducks there,pretty views of the city and the countryside,and a war memorial statue which scares the life out of me as it's massive and I'm not expecting it.


This is the first day that the sky has been blue and that there's been any real sun.I think about grabbing a sandwich or something and sitting by the duck stream but no,it's my last day- I have to at least go to Hoyvík or find the Nordic House.It turns out that the park ends about 100 metres from Steinatun so I just sit and wait for a bus.Local buses in Tórshavn are free,yet in northern European fashion they're still all clean and unvandalised.If you need to connect with another line somewhere,just tell the driver and he'll radio ahead to let the driver of the other bus know to wait til you get there.Things like this make you realise (as if you didn't know already) that Britain is crap.

Not knowing the name of the bus stop I need,I think Hoyvík School sounds logical,and work out that it's 7 stops away.It's about 7 stops when the last person gets off,so I get off too.Turns out I'm still a good 10 minutes away from Hoyvík and I'm actually in a suburb called Millum Gilja,which is actually beautiful and has gorgeous houses and lovely views of Nólsoy.I take pictures for a while then get on another bus.



The museum is good for its £4 entrance fee and there are exhibits about fishing,knitting,Faroese national dress (including an outfit worn by Eivør Pálsdóttir that's like a modern twist on the traditional),and (my favourite) three stuffed Lítla Dímun sheep- a breed that was purposefully made extinct in the 1860s.Most strange of all was a fragment of an old ceramic pot from the 13th century (I think),that came from Frechen in Germany.Why strange? Well,I'd never heard of the place until May this year when I stayed there on Eurovision weekend.*Whistles "It's a Small World..."*

Coming out of the museum I see the Atlantic Airways helicopter which serves as a form of public transport in the Faroes.The Faroese word for helicopter is "tyrlan" which makes me think of "twirly" which is appropriate considering the rotors.Yesterday I contemplated getting the twirly to Klaksvík this afternoon,but in the end decided that would be too much effort.Next time though.It does only cost around £15 after all.

Waiting for the bus on the way back,an impatient looking man comes up to me and asks me (I presume) "has the bus been yet?" I say no and he paces up and down,sighing and checking his watch.I reckon he's a driver who's never taken a bus in his life and feels put out doing so.I like this.It reminds me of home.

I stop at SMS for supplies and come across some excellent additions for my collection.A shame most of them are imports from Sweden and Denmark,but still...





...and my favourite...



Human Juice.As the Faroese speak perfect English,I wonder how well sales are doing?

I have lunch at the Hvonn restaurant at the hotel.Chicken club sandwich with rock salty chips and the best caramel iced coffee I will ever taste.I do a bit of shopping at Andreas i Vagsbotn (2 pairs of wonderfully soft and thick woolly socks and an incredibly itchy scarf which I'm going to use as a blanket) and a Faroese flag.When I get back to the hotel,there's very loud,very heavy metal music coming from the music school opposite.Très scandinave.This is around 4pm.

Havnar Kirkja is right opposite the hotel so I have a look around,and then one last walk around Tinganes and the shopping streets,despite the shops being shut ages ago.Back at the hotel I munch on one of those nice triangular sandwiches and some yogurt,pack,have a shower and then get the televisual surprise of my life.There's been a lot of coverage of the Tour de France on Danish telly,but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought they would show an hour-long documentary about Andy Schleck,the man who made me want to become a cycling WAG :) What do I learn? That he doesn't like going downhill,he really loves his brother,and that he needs to lose 2 kilos (!) Anyway,what a nice way to end what's been a lovely holiday.

The heavy metal finally stops at midnight.


(By the way,I just found that documentary on youtube)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Freedom


After nearly 9 months I've finally ended the second part of my retail career.I never thought the day would come but I'm glad it has.No more weird,fishy smelling,malfunctioning air conditioning units,no more answering the same dull questions 3878 times a day and no more awful black,restrictive uniform.But it hasn't all been bad- I've made plenty of good friends there (one of whom bought me these rather fab gerberas),and I have managed to squeeze a couple of great holidays out of the wages :) Next stop,working in Maidstone.But not before a week off in which I don't intend to do very much.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

It's kind of in the middle like...Sciceland

This is actually the best thing I have ever seen.EVER.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Faroe Islands Day 2: Káta Hornið

Early morning walk down to Tinganes after a breakfast of ham and cheese smørrebrød (cannot for the life of me remember how you spell it in Faroese).I find the Prime Minister's Office...(It's the one on the right.)



And the view across the harbour is pleasant enough despite the white sky.




At 9am it's all aboard the Norðlýsið schooner for a trip around the neighbouring island of Nólsoy.I'm (predictably) the only British person on the boat,along with a crew of 4 Faroese,a Norwegian couple with a baby and a Danish family with 2 teenage boys,one of whom clearly resented his parents from the minute they came home and said "right,we're going to the Faroe Islands for our holiday this year."

I speak to a couple of the crew in English- including a boy of around 15 who does that typical Scandinavian thing of putting you to shame with his perfect language skills.He makes us all coffee and one of the other guys says "we're all Scandinavians here aren't we? Good,I'll speak Danish" in Danish.At this point I'd feel a bit silly pointing out my nationality,and as I once spent a day at Schleswig-Holstein parliament pretending I could understand what all the Danish politicians were saying,I figure I can do it again.Five minutes out of Tórshavn and all the Danes/Norwegians are putting waterproof trousers,wellies,woolly hats and gloves on.I'm just wearing jeans and a thin cagoul.Alarm bells in my head "WHERE THE HELL ARE WE GOING???!!!" But I stay calm and don't question anything.That's British isn't it?

The skipper tells me to move to the other side of the boat as we're getting close to the bird cliffs and you can sometimes see puffins there.This is interrupted by another one of the crew shouting "SEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAALLLLL!" I get a brief view of said seal but he soon dives into the water,quite possibly scared off by the shouting man,who incidentally sounds so much like Georg Bjarnfreðarson from Night Shift that I can't help but chuckle.Especially when he comes out with the Georg-esque comment "he obviously doesn't like Danes," referring to the seal. Anyway,we don't see anything more exotic than sheep or seagulls for the rest of the trip,despite there being 206 species of bird in the Faroes apparently.But Nólsoy is very pretty and we see some sights that you wouldn't really expect to see in the North Atlantic...



...Far cooler than Capri's Blue Grotto :) The Norwegian guy obviously thinks so too,and gets a bit arsey with his wife for not taking enough pictures of it despite the fact she's struggling with the baby who's now getting a bit arsey herself because of the rather large waves.According to Georg these waves are nothing- he used to work on the trawlers in Iceland and it's much worse there.Still though,my camera and cup slip off the wooden seat onto the deck,covering the camera in coffee.It makes quite a loud noise,but again,I do the British thing and pretend nothing's happened.

Back in Tórshavn I have to take the obligatory picture of a flag.I like the Faroese flag,not only because of the colours and the fact that it has an interesting story behind it but also because it's used in Björk's Declare Independence video- the lyrics of which are dedicated to the people of the Faroe Islands (and Greenland).I'm frozen through (turns out those clever Danes brought extra layers with them purely for warmth after all),and on the (90 second?) walk back to the hotel,I fantasise about turning the radiator up to 4 to see what it's like.

Time for a walk around town again.Well,along Niels Finsens gøta anyway.It's the main shopping street and I haven't bought anything yet.I take a picture of Káta Hornið,which is of course what Teitur's Faroese album (and one of the best songs on it) is named after.The song goes "I always stop at Káta Hornið,have a talk with someone who likes to talk.It's not Picadilly or Piazza Navona,but a very good friend that is so much else." Káta Hornið also means "happy corner," and for me today,it's certainly that.Tutl is right next to the fountain and the board outside declares that the free show today will be by none other than Jens Marni! We've played him on Sounds of Europe a few times after discovering him through the Danish Melodi Grand Prix in 2010.I'm stupidly excited and go back home to listen to his album,doing the "I bet he'll do this one,I hope he does this one..." routine that I always do before gigs.

I watch the Tour de France on Danish telly- it's going to be a sprint finish which I always love watching,but with about 6km to go,I have to leave.I can't be late to Tutl today! Jens is already there,setting up,and it's the most awkward gig atmosphere ever,as it's just me and a teenage boy who was there yesterday too.Jens looks different to what he does on the album cover so I'm not convinced it's him.When he plays about 4 Faroese songs in a row I think "he must have cancelled,I have no idea who this is." But the songs are pleasant.Then suddenly he starts playing Heroes Will Fall and I get a massive smile on my face.To go to a foreign country and happen upon a completely unexpected show by a singer you really like in a very intimate setting is an amazing experience.The poor guy has a really bad cold,you can practically feel how sore his throat is when he hits the big notes and he keeps coughing during the instrumental bits,but he plays for nearly an hour and chats a lot to the audience (sometimes in English too,weirdly).He does a very intense cover of Billie Jean,a few more Faroese songs and most excitingly,this...



Back in June,I was in a foyer in London basically on my own with Tim Schou,but I was so starstruck I couldn't even look at him.I didn't want this to be the case this time,and I planned everything I was going to say to Mr Marni,but when it comes to it,I'm too embarassed again.So I just buy both of Høgni Reistrup's albums and Brandur's album and leave.With Jens' album on my iPod as I walk up to SMS.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Travelling hearts fill the sky and the ocean

Got Brandur's album on this evening (I'm not quite out of the Faroese mood just yet),and there are no words for how much I love this song and what it's about.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Packing

Only the essentials remain...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Faroe Islands Day 1: Havnin er ein lítil bygd

After turning up stupidly early at Stansted on Monday I queue up at the Atlantic Airways check-in desk to find a Faroese family,a Faroese girl of about my age (it was comforting to see her legs were as pale as mine- there aren't many people around like that),and a group of elderly English ramblers.I notice that Faroese passports have the same cover as Danish ones.I wonder how the Faroese feel about their relationship with Denmark.

At the boarding gate,an elderly Faroese lady turns up with a massive Primark quilt.I can't escape the place.I write this observation on Facebook and my colleagues all "like" it immediately.

The flight is great,it reminds me of the good old days of flying,as the cockpit door is open on more than one occasion for quite a while.Sadly I can't see inside from where I'm sitting.We get a chicken and mayonnaise triangular sandwich and a chocolate chip muffin for lunch.I read before that you get a lot of opportunities for drinks on Atlantic Airways flights,but I wasn't expecting seven.The guy on the other side of the aisle takes full advantage and has a can of lager,a (double at least) shot of whisky,and a vodka.In front of me are three members of a youth gymnastics team all wearing blue tracksuits with "Føroyar" on the back.One of the boys looks a bit like Brandur Enni from a few years back.They're all wearing medals.

Coming in to land in Vágar is nothing short of exhilirating.It's overwhelmingly green everywhere.When we land the stewardess does the "we've arrived in the Faroe Islands,local time is..." speech in English.In Faroese,she simply says "welcome home."On the ground,the guy driving the steps towards us parks about 10 metres from the plane (engines still running) and sits with his hands over his ears with a grimace on his face.I wish someone would get him some ear muffs.

Technically this is a package holiday (not been on one of those for years),so for a change,I've already got transfers to the hotel.The other two people who were meant to be sharing the taxi have somehow got lost in the crowd in baggage reclaim,and so I get to enjoy the ride all by myself.Vágar is 40 minutes from Tórshavn which is on the island of Streymoy.The drive is lovely,winding roads around lakes and fjords,sheep all over the place,and tunnels through mountains where you hardly ever see another car.We drive through Hoyvík,the suburb of Tórshavn where Teitur comes from.It's exciting to think that I'm in the country that has provided so much inspiration for him,and actually,it's one of the main reasons I wanted to come here.My friend at work didn't understand this.Yet she went to Graceland because she's a massive Elvis fan.

There are 4 sets of traffic lights in the Faroes,and I've now experienced three quarters of them.I'm staying at Hotel Tórshavn which is right in the centre of town overlooking the harbour.This is the view from my room.



Actually taken at 11pm one night.That building is the town hall.I do hope the mayor didn't see me in my pants.

I rush out to find the Tutl shop because Leadberry are playing there at 4.There are concerts at 4pm every afternoon in summer from various Faroese bands,singers,musicians.No news on who's there tomorrow but I've heard Leadberry before and they're OK.Tutl is actually literally 2 minutes from my hotel,and Tórshavn is the world's smallest capital city,but I go the wrong way and end up at SMS shopping centre.I buy some food at Miklagardur and try to ring my mum from one of the payphones.It's seemingly impossible to ring the UK from the Faroes (you can't do it from the hotel either),so I give up and go home.I go a different way and find Tutl.Leadberry have nearly finished their set.From what I hear they're actually loads better live than on CD.I imagine this is what Ruben Cossani would sound like if they sang in English.



You know those typical Scandinavian jumpers with the loud patterns? Well loads of people wear them in the Faroes,from babies to old men.My favourite one so far was worn by a guy about my age- it was grey with lines of black snowflakes and black puffins.Amazing.

Go back to the hotel and the news is on Kringvarp Føroya.The programme is called Dagur & Vika and it's not on every day because they don't have the staff.The first thing I see is that Brandur Enni lookalike from the plane and all the others.Turns out they came third at the Inter-Island Gymnastics behind the Isle of Man and Jersey.

I have a takeaway pizza for dinner from Cafe Sandwich.65 kroner for a margherita.It tastes alright.

Check emails and things at reception.They're playing All I Remember From Last Night Is You,one of my favourite songs from Teitur's latest album.Definitely the best hotel I've stayed in :)

I hardly sleep,as is customary for my first night anywhere abroad.For most of the night I'm in that funny state of half-sleeping,half-awake,which leads me to drink (without being fully aware of it) a whole 1,5 litre bottle of this before I give up and get out of bed at 5.30am.



It's a joy to see silly brand names in the Faroes that I can add to my collection.But it gave me awful acid reflux all the next day.

Miscellaneous post #15

From an interview with Charlie Connelly,author of Attention All Shipping.

Who is your ideal travelling companion?

If I’m working I much prefer travelling alone...It gives me the freedom to change plans on a whim and the freedom to go back to the hotel room at 7pm if I like and spend the evening sprawled on the bed wearing just my pants, watching the news in a language I don’t understand while eating crisps from a family-sized bag balanced on my chest.


Amen to that.

Speaking of which,I'm going to write about my Faroes trip soon.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

:(

I'm back from the class and tranquility of Tórshavn,where women can safely leave their babies in prams outside of a shop for 5 minutes,to Gillingham where I've just seen a man piss up a tree next to my car.Without a doubt the highlight of my trip was the free,unexpected mini-gig by Jens Marni at Tutl on Tuesday.I think the title of this song is quite appropriate for the moment...

Monday, 11 July 2011

Bei bei!

Leaving for the airport in a minute.I'll be incognito until Thursday.That's the wrong word,but it sounds cool.Basically my phone doesn't work in the Faroes and I don't know if there's free internet anywhere.But anyway,I'll leave you with this song by Mark No Limits- the band that Teitur was in when he was 17.This song is a cover of an old Faroese kids' song that's been translated into other Scandinavian language and sung by the likes of Friðrik Ómar.It's called Singing the Same Song.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

All I need is within my reach

I hope you like PVE's temporary makeover in honour of my upcoming trip to the Faroes.As I said last time,I've been researching a bit of Faroese music in the last few days,and a lot of it has come from the brilliant programme MÚS on Sjónvarp Føroya.It's sort of like The Chart Show I suppose (remember that?!) but with presenters (Eyðun Müller Thomsen who is rather fit,and Vanja Vukotich who reminds me of Sarah Millican) in a grungy studio,and lots of vox pops from people saying what music they like.Anyway I've watched 3 episodes so far and although there's been no mention of Teitur (scandalous),they have showed Brandur's new (few months old) song,which is at number 2 in the Faroese charts.I think you'll know what I mean when I say that although I love Brandur,he has seemed like a bit of a Paradise Oskar type in the past.But now he's all grown up and cool and has gone a slightly electro.Oh,and he's obviously been watching Black Swan...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Miscellaneous post #14

I've been on another Faroese musical odyssey today,more about that later.Anyway,during it,I came across this video.I thought it was so bizarre I just had to post it.It's Faroese Westlife,though it's also rather reminiscent of Father Ted's My Lovely Horse video...

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

27 days...

@raquelita411:
- Had such a nice dream about the Faroe Islands last night.If it's even 10% as good in real life as it was in my dream,I'll be very pleased.
9 Jun

@FaroePodcast: I once had such dreams. When I got to the Faroes, it was much, much better. Truly a magical experience.
9 Jun

Monday, 13 June 2011

It was just a small misunderstanding



A few weeks ago I wrote about the best programme to be shown on British telly for a long time.The day after I wrote that post,the series finished,with a final episode that made me laugh,cry and cringe in equal measure.But despite the cult following,the final two episodes were (apparently) watched by 96,000 and 56,000 people respectively and so I think it's quite clear that the BBC aren't going to pick up the next 2 series.Well I was certainly not going to be satisfied with leaving the story there,so off I went to eBay to buy the Day Shift and Prison Shift DVDs.

Day Shift (Dagvaktin) sees the trio reunited and working at a hotel in the Westfjords.I was rather excited about this as I worked with the Westfjords regional authorities once so I was intrigued to see what the place looked like.Turns out it's a bit bleak with no mobile reception and it's certainly no place for city boy Ólafur,who is only attracted to the job because of the promise of free food and accomodation.Of course,all is not as it seems,and after a long and arduous drive northwards with Georg (constantly recording notes on his dictaphone for his Masters thesis),it doesn't take long for Ólafur to get into the same kind of sticky situations that he got into in Night Shift.We also meet his dad Hannes,as well as plenty of other new,regular characters such as Gugga the hotel manager (pictured above),Óðinn (Georg's new friend) and the local WI group.Oh,and there are also more cameo appearances,notably from Stefan Hilmarsson (Eurovision 1991) and Bjork (who Georg refers to as a "retarded schoolgirl on her way to a costume party.")

Georg is on great form as always in this series coming out with one-liners such as "what infernal method of driving is this?!" and boring everyone with his views on socialism and what Iceland can learn from the Soviets.He's as manipulative as ever,worming his way into a management position that isn't his to take,and (most importantly) getting Daníel into big trouble after a night out goes horribly wrong.Daníel is working at the hotel before Georg and Ólafur arrive,having gone to the Westfjords to "find himself".Of course,any happiness that any character in these three series experiences is fleeting,and it's not long before he's a nervous wreck again.Just in time for a surprise visit from Ylfa at the end of the series...

Though Day Shift has some brilliant comedy moments (Ólafur trapped in a mobile sauna and having a conversation with himself is the funniest thing I'd seen in a while),the overall tone of the series is very dark indeed,and it takes a while to get used to after Night Shift.Even Flemming Geir has gone all emo and sweary- although I suppose that's to be expected if you have a dad like Georg :) But there are some very touching scenes,and we get to find out some of the reasons why the characters behave like they do.Again,the final episode is sad,funny and cringeworthy- Ólafur crying to Daníel that he feels like a failure made my eyes rather damp.Although they are all good,Pétur Jóhann Sigfússon is,in my opinion,a brilliant actor who makes Ólafur so much more than a one-dimensional idiot that we've seen in many other programmes before.

Of the three series,Day Shift is probably my least favourite,although that statement is completely redundant,as to ask that question would be like asking me to choose my favourite member of A Friend in London- it's just not possible,as they're all perfect :) It just takes a while longer to get into this series than it did with Night Shift,but if you grew to love the characters as much as I did during Monday nights at the Shell garage on Laugarvegur,then it's a must-see.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Miscellaneous post #13?


This is Curly Wurly Snake.He lives on Ruben's dashboard.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

What's happened since I last blogged properly part 2

Shock news all around as I ended my 3 year love affair with the man who inspired this post on Work Your Magic. Aleksei,you're still beautiful,you're still funny,and by God you're still a better performer than Eric Saade,but like Craig David once said- I just don't love you no more ;)

Now.I feel awful for Aleksei after all his hard work at Eurovision.In the back of my mind I can't help but be slightly pleased that the Eurovision Conspiracy Theorists' idea that "Russia will always do well whatever they send" has just been disproved,but he didn't deserve to come 15th,and he certainly didn't deserve the headline of this Russian newspaper article. But God,that performance was cheesy wasn't it?! That,combined with the promo-people building Lyosha up as an amazing macho man just put me off of him a bit.

But don't worry.The Russian-shaped void in my life has already been well and truly filled by four Danish guys.Hmm,I wonder who they could be...?



I'd be happy to take them all on to be honest,although I do have a particular liking for Ash (the bassist in the very Scandinavian jumper).Contrary to my original thought that Tim was the one from the bustling metropolis that is Tønder (a town so exciting I once spent 2 whole hours there),it's actually Ash.He doesn't have much to say,he's beautiful and he just seems to be an all-round sweetie.But as I say,the others are all just as lovely really :)

Anyway,more about their music another time (on WYM probably).I'll leave you with a link to Afil TV,which is just brilliant,and this song What a Way,the video to which actually stars Thure Lindhardt,looking so different to how he does in Angels and Demons that I didn't recognise him at all.

Personnel on the forecourt

Without doubt the best thing on telly these days is (rather dark) Icelandic comedy Næturvaktin (Night Shift).


BBC Four are showing it as part of their Iceland season,and it seems to have acquired a bit of a cult following online (particularly on Digital Spy).You might not think that a comedy revolving around 3 characters working nights at a petrol station would be all that funny,and indeed,it probably is funnier if (like me) you have worked nights at a petrol station.But the attitude of communist boss Georg (played by the actual mayor of Reykjavik- seen here slagging off Denmark) is hilarious and often outrageous.He also comes out with some classic one-liners ("there are many things in here a diseased mind would covet").His flowery language and stern tone of voice are even more humorous considering that he has 5 degrees (psychology, sociology, pedagogy, political science and a teaching qualification) yet works as a lowly shift supervisor at a garage.Basically if you've ever worked in retail,chances are you've had a boss like Georg.

The other main characters are Daníel and Ólafur.Daníel starts working at the garage in the first episode and is a university dropout prone to anxiety attacks and depression at work- particularly when confronted by a member of his family or old university friend.Well we've all been there...He's the only one with a brain and sense of rationality and is generally in a bemused state.

Ólafur ("a doer,not a thinker") is a loveable idiot who gets taken advantage of by pretty much everyone.He's full of big dreams but doesn't get anywhere.He's the agent of a band called Sólin who have "a very good chance" of their latest song being played on the radio soon,but he also has ambitions of becoming a singer himself.This leads to a hilarious scene in episode 4 where he sings to Einar Bárðarson (Iceland's Simon Cowell) in the petrol station toilet hoping for a chance to appear on X Factor.

Speaking of Bárðarson,there are a few cameos made by Icelandic celebrities throughout the series,most excitingly (also in episode 4) by Birgitta Haukdal,with whom Ólafur gets into another awkward situation.

Næturvaktin is followed by two other series Dagvaktin (Day Shift) and Fangavaktin (Prison Shift),and then by a film,Bjarnfreðarson.Because of the unique setting of the petrol station,I wasn't sure in the beginning whether I would like the other series.But as time's gone on,I know I'd be gutted to miss out on them (seeing as it's very unlikely that the BBC will show them),and so last week I bought the DVD of Dagvaktin.Not sure about the state of the Icelandic postal system given recent events but I hope it will be here soon.The series finishes tomorrow and Monday nights won't be the same without Nordic comedy.

You can catch up on iPlayer until 6th June. As each episode is only around 25 minutes long,you'll have plenty of time to watch the whole series.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

What's happened since I last blogged properly part 1

In March I went back to the (grand)mother land after 9 years and had a rather nice,chilled-out time.Ate lots of nice food- if you're ever in Sorrento,you need to go to Bar Rita on Corso Italia,and also Bar Sottocoperta on Via degli Aranci for the best breakfast in the world...



...they also do caffè alla nocciola,which is a yummy speciality from the neighbouring Salerno province.It's basically an espresso with hazelnut cream in it but you just can't find hazelnut cream over here and have to use syrup instead,which isn't quite the same.

I also heard lots of good music on the music channels at my hotel and on the radio- most notably this...(I love the video too)



I got hooked on quiz shows L' Eredità and Affari Tuoi (Italian version of Deal or No Deal that is in fact referenced in Tranne Te).

I witnessed the (lack of) 150 anni dell'Unità d'Italia celebrations.It's Italy's 150th birthday this year,but apparantly only Rai Uno are interested in this fact,dedicating A WHOLE EVENING/NIGHT of programming to an immensely dull show about how great Italy is and major events in history.I love the Italian national anthem but I did get a bit bored of it...Anyway,when I asked some people in Sorrento what was happening in town to mark the occasion,I just got puzzled looks.

I met lots of lovely people- some Italian some not.As is widely-known,football is a pretty big deal in Italy,which works to my advantage when I'm in the south.Pretty much everybody down there supports Napoli (apart from my cousins,who in true glory-hunting fashion support Inter and AC Milan).So when you're related to this man,people get quite excited...



Giuseppe Taglialatela (otherwise known as Pino or Batman) was Napoli's goalkeeper on and off between 1986 and 1999.Despite never playing for Italy,Napoli fans loved him,and apparently still do (he's a commentator and appears on Napoli TV these days).Of course I had to drop his name into a few conversations,even though I've never met him (it's OK,my nan says she does it too when she's there),to instantly make me a more interesting person in the eyes of restaurant owners and various other people :) On the Sunday night,after having a lovely calzone at the restaurant round the corner from my hotel,the owner invited me back in the evening to watch the Napoli game with his family.I sat next to his very elderly father who spoke only Neapolitan,so I didn't understand a word,but it was still fun.

I actually made the trip to Naples on the bank holiday Thursday and was ripped off to the tune of €5 for the return train ticket (it's around €2 on normal days).Everyone should experience Italian train travel once in their lifetime.It's horrendously grubby,uncomfortable and packed full of people who have no qualms about snogging eachothers face off within your personal space,but it's so cheap and such a good opportunity for people-watching.Anyway,my mum always told me not to go to Naples because it's a dangerous,dirty place.Immediately after leaving the train station,I felt scared so went back in and stayed there.Thankfully there's some rather good shops there (CD shops for a start- these do not exist in Sorrento) and very nice,very cheap pizza.

I went to Capri on one of the only days that the weather was nice.Having not been on a jetfoil for many years,I forgot that sitting at the front is not good for the stomach,even when the water is calm.Anyway,my favourite book is I Love Capri by Belinda Jones,and I'd taken it with me to read for the second time.So I was rather pleased when by complete accident I came across Caesar's gardens which are mentioned in the book.The gardens overlook the Faraglioni rocks...



...and are a lovely relaxing place to spend an hour reading :) Other than that,well,I found Capri to be rather overrated.Ischia is much nicer,although I didn't get there this time on account of jetfoils not running from Sorrento in "winter",bad weather,extortionate prices etc etc.

I went to Herculaneum,which is quite a rough town actually.I wasn't even tempted by the €2 fresh pizza,so I went straight to the ruins,where this decoration was my favourite thing of all...



...apart from this dog who kept popping up everywhere like he was on a mission...



On the way back I stopped at Vico Equense but it was boring so I didn't stay long.

Back in Sorrento I accidentally wandered into I Giardini di Cataldo where a nice lady gave me samples of limoncello,orange liqueur,mandarin liqueur and other drinks made of basil and fennel.



I went back to the restaurant round the corner from the hotel and was greeted with "eh,Taglialatela!" by the owner.And then I only got charged €10 for my dinner.Which was a result.

On the last day I went to Amalfi on the bus.It's one thing "doing the Amalfi drive" in summer when the weather is lovely and you can see across the bay,quite another in thick fog and rain.On a normal day,the view (coming back into Sorrento) in the following picture is of Mount Vesuvius.Not that day though...



...Naturally,hairpin bends on steep mountains were all a bit much for the driver,and when we got to Massa Lubrense,he stopped,got out and had a fag before taking us back into Sorrento.

But despite the rain,Amalfi is still lovely.I've been once before but don't remember any of it,so I was pleasantly surprised by the cathedral.Especially its "Cloister of Paradise" which is Moorish in style and contains pretty mosaics like this one...



St Andrew (yes,the Scottish one) is the patron saint of Amalfi,and as such,the whole cathedral is named after him.Some of his bones (and head) are kept in the Duomo- in this area...



...who said Catholic churches were chintzy?!

And then it was time to go home.But not before purchasing some of the famous local inlaid wood,the world's most comfortable hoody,lemon soap,a Napoli flag for my car and Carthusia perfume for my dad.Oh,and a leather handbag of course.For me,not my dad.

It was a brilliant week,and the first "proper" holiday I've had for a long time.Even though I didn't get to see any of the family,there was more than enough to do,and as I said,even complete strangers are very welcoming and friendly.I was a bit worried before I went,as I've never been to southern Europe on my own before,but I felt just as at home there as I do in Germany,Denmark or Norway,and I got on fine linguistically.There's so much more to say,and so many more pictures,I could fill up a whole website.I'm just trying to convince my dad to take us there for Christmas this year.My nan told me today that the decorations in Piazza Tasso in Sorrento are beautiful,so I have to see them now!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Da da dam da da dam...

"Tommy went to school and learnt about the ozone layer.Then he came home and said "dammit Mum,we've got to start recycling."

- The lyrics of Finland's Eurovision song according to Keira.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

12 hours in Switzerland

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know about my little adventure to Switzerland on Friday.Well it went very well indeed,it was a lovely day,despite the fact that I was in the office for nearly all of it.

Even getting up at 3am wasn't a problem,and I didn't feel tired at all throughout the whole day.That said,I did sleep *rather* well when I got home :) The flight to Zürich was great.I requested a window seat so I could take pictures of the sunrise,but it turned out to be an over-the-wing seat so I didn't bother in the end.But it was very pretty.And as well as being entertained by a ridiculous Belgian slapstick show on the telly, we also got a chocolate muffin and a mini Lindt chocolate bar.That's my kind of breakfast.

The train to Winterthur was no problem,although understanding the Swiss accent really is.It's a bit deflating when you've spent more than half your life speaking German only to find you can't understand a word of what they say in a country where it's a main language.Thankfully in the office,I think they realise this.Anyway,we spent most of the day speaking English,which was nice.All of my colleagues are lovely and friendly,as are the other interns,who came in from Paris and northern Italy for the day.We were all taken out for a rather posh lunch of salad,sweet and sour linguine with prawns,and a mass of chocolate mousse.Of course,this being Switzerland,there's a lot of code-switching going on in public,and so no sooner had someone finished a sentence in German,they were being answered in French,and someone was making a comment in Italian.It's quite mind-bending and makes you realise that this country really has a lot to answer for when it comes to teaching languages.

Most exciting part of the day was finding out that the web designer guy knows what Primark is.It was quite a surreal conversation really,especially as he also knew that their reputation isn't so good :) The other highlight was telling my (very condensed) version of the story of what happened/didn't happen between me and a certain person from northern Germany,and then being told that I shouldn't bother with German men.That I need to find myself a Swiss,because they're nicer and would treat me better.Ha! Watch this space then I suppose.

I asked if there was any Swiss music that I should listen to,as my current collection is a bit short (1 Michael von der Heide album and a few Lovebugs songs),and was told to check out Blick.But I haven't done yet.

My job offer was less of an offer than an assumption that I already knew about it and had accepted it.I will of course.I become a freelance translator when my contract is up in July and will be given some real-life clients who will apparently be a source of very regular work,and give me "enough money to live on."I liked that,that's something you wouldn't see on a Reed job description.

Shopping at Zürich airport was rather disappointing.Although I did manage to find the perfect present for James- a little tin in the shape of a Swiss bank vault filled with chocolate coins and gold bars.It's probably the best present I've ever got anyone,I just hope I don't feel tempted to open it before I see him next weekend.

But before leaving Winterthur,there was something I just had to find.Luckily,it was just round the corner from the office.



I think that beats every other amusing foreign sign I've ever seen.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Paris

Things have got better since the last post.It's all been constant work since Christmas so I've not had time to notice anything else.I'm going to Switzerland for the day on Friday,going to see James in Wrexham next week,then Italy in 4 weeks time.But 2 weekends ago,I went to Paris with only my new semi-professional camera for company.



A window of the Notre Dame.




Seagulls on a wall.



The Pont de l'Archevêché in the 4th/5th,where you can see...



...Love locks.Where two people basically write their names on a padlock and lock it somewhere.Apparently they do this in Italy too.My mum saw them in Rome.Anyway,this one was on its own in a little garden,but they are actually...



...all over the bridge!

When you find yourself in Levallois on a Sunday morning,you must go to the market in the sports hall.Everyone is cheerful and friendly despite the freezing cold and the smells of various types of cheese,fruits,fresh fish and crêpes all mingle together,creating an experience you'll never find in this country.Breakfast should be followed by a visit to l'Île de la Grande Jatte- a favourite spot for the impressionists and the place I spent most of my free time when I lived in France despite realising that's what it was.



Under the Pont de Levallois.



A panorama of wintry trees.

Of course no trip abroad is complete without...



...a bad translation.

And no trip to Paris is complete without a trip to Les Enfants de la Cuisine on the Boulevard de Sébastopol for one of their legendary white chocolate tarts.



C'est beau la vie :)