It’s been a pretty busy round our place these last few weeks, mainly because we were both desperately trying to pass our Module 2 Danish language test. Thankfully we’re through that hurdle, although the reward for our triumph is just to be thrown straight into the next module.
Module 3 apparently represents a real step up in difficulty. In classically blunt Danish style our new text book is called ‘Det kommer!’, which bleakly translates to ‘It will come!’. Our teacher explained this was a direct reference to the valley of despair everyone passes through in Module 3. I can’t wait. Needless to say our class catchphrase is currently ‘Det kommer ikke…’ (‘It is not coming…’).
That’s not to say we don’t learn good and useful things in our Danish classes. I have every intention of doing a proper post on the Danish language, but for now recent highlights include:
- why say fresh as a daisy, when you can say fresh as a sea eagle (‘frisk som en havørn’), which is approximately 1 million times better/tougher/more dramatic
- if someone kept you awake all night with their snoring you can say ‘ugh, du trak torsk I land hele natten!’, which means you’re accusing them of ‘dragging cod in to land the whole night’ (I’ve already used this)
- if something is very dirty you can say it’s ‘møgbeskidte’, which my very prim and proper looking teacher hilariously translated as ‘beshitted’ (I plan on using both the Danish and English versions frequently*).
Anyway, in addition to learning to communicate that something is covered in shit, I’ve also lately returned to an old
nemesis hobby. Ah rowing, why can’t I quit you? Every time I say never again, and every time I end up back in a boat questioning my choices. Actually that’s not entirely true here – the boats they row are very forgiving, we don’t have to do any pieces and my hands transitioned though the horrific ‘blisters upon blisters’ phase surprisingly quickly, so it’s actually been pretty fun.
The rowing club is located near Svanemøllen Havn, and usually we row out of the harbour and north along the coastline past Hellerup to around Charlottelund Fort. It’s around 10-12 kms, and takes around 1.5 hrs because the pace is pretty leisurely. Because we are kind of out at sea the boats are broader and deeper than the eights I’m used to, to better cope with waves. I’m very into them, and not just because I think they’re easier to row in. They are all lovely and wooden and seafaring – almost more like a surfboat than a rowboat.
Because they are wider and more stable, the Danes like to change seats all the time while you’re out in the boat, which involves precarious balancing acts moving up and down the boat past the other rowers. This has been particularly interesting for me, because I’ve realised I have done almost all of my rowing on just one side of the boat. I’m basically capable on stroke side, but a totally uncoordinated noob on bow side – it feels like I’m trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time.
Also interesting is trying to learn all the commands in Danish, when I am struggling to recall them even in English. I’ve got a few of them down, but other times I’ll just think people are nattering away in Danish when they are in actual fact giving me a command. Shit got really real on the last outing when I had to cox and give the commands myself. I can do the basic ones like ‘ready to row, row’ (’til roning klar, ro væk’), but I totally lose my way about halfway through the Danish equivalent of ‘bow side get ready to fall in and then fall in’ (and no, I can’t translate it even now – it’s like five words too many for me to remember). It’s been very good for my general levels of exposure to Danish though… but probably less good for the poor people who have to humour my bad attempts at Dansk . They’re all very polite about it at least…
Best of all the club has a shipping container with a secret boat stash that you can use to go on a rowing tour of the harbour and canals in the city. I was invited on one of these outings two weeks ago and it was super fun, getting to see the city from a whole new perspective.
The boats are stored around Nordhavn, and you row through Nordhavn and out into the harbour just above the Little Mermaid. You don’t get a great view of her from that angle, but you do get a good view of the ridiculous Saturday crowds and tour buses. From there we rowed through the harbour, past the Opera House and into the canals of Christianshavn. This whole area is so lovely, and possibly more so from the water. You can gawk into all the houseboats from all different angles haha.
Similar to the appeal of Saturday morning cycle rides, our canal tour allowed us to pull in for what was quite possibly the best croissant and hot chocolate of my life (ok, so my judgement might have been swayed by hunger from the rowing).
It was really great rowing through all the city canals, past all the landmarks like the Black Diamond library and Christiansborg Slot parliament buildings, and also basically past our apartment. Some of the narrower bridges and canals required some tricky moves, like getting up some speed before lying flat and flipping the oars round along the side of the boat at the last minute to glide through. This move needs to be pretty carefully judged, otherwise you end up either clipping the bridge with your oars or kind of sadly stopping before you get out into space on the other side.
Unfortunately the season only runs for one more month before it gets too dark and cold to get out on the water, which I guess should be good motivation for making sure I get out over the next few weeks. I’ll end with another photo that shows our rabbit crew on the day we became proper club rowers – it’s terrible quality but it does show the nice harbour near the clubhouse…
* Family – I have the best example: ‘every time Mac escaped on an adventure, he came back thoroughly beshitted’