“Mamma Never Taught Me How To Wash Clothes By Hand….”

…. but here I was, finding out what the definition of ‘delicates’ on those silly little labels REALLY meant.  Funny thing was, there was nothing delicate about how we were wringing out our massive Technicolor quilt as we were ‘huffing and puffing’ and contorting our faces in misery all while we were in the depths of a deep dark damp basement of a 12th century Chateau in France.  A bit TOO medieval, if you ask me.  I was expecting a bit more ‘Technicolor DREAM COAT-tasticness’ with this kind of backdrop.  You know, more “Andrew Lloyd Webber” meets “Walt Disney….”  Birds chirping sweetly as they take the corners of the blankets and lightly fling them over the line to dry as Ray and I skip about the castle grounds singing our opening theme tune…..        *insert record noise scratching here*

I’ll tell you what WAS magical– The laverie (Launderette) in the next town over that took care of the next 4 loads.  Welcome to the 21t century Cinderella……

But before air all my Dirty Laundry here in France, let me back up about 860 miles…… and one ferry trip across the North Sea.

Our BEDROOM on the Ship!


Tuesday, August 23rd:  THE VOYAGE

We had only just picked Diva up on the 15th of August from her 5 week LONG voyage from the states, and here she was again, hopping directly onto another boat for the ‘2nd’ time in her 40 years of existence.  (Such a “la-tee-da” life she leads for a metal box) Ray and I weren’t taking any chances this time, we knew we needed to get to Denmark by the end of August, and after 2 months in England in limbo-land playing the ‘waiting game’ (if only we could win fabulous prizes and money being contestants- we would be bazillion-aires by now!) we weren’t going to waste any time.   So precisely $561.00 (just under 400 pounds) on SFDS Seaways later, we were on our 18 hour cushy fancy pants voyage that would shoot us directly to the port of Esbjerg, Denmark….. 

Now, one would think with that with that kind of money we should be on a 3 day/4 night Royal Caribbean Cruise…..  “Toss me a Red Stripe, Mon!”  But alas, there were no bells and whistles or Jerk Chicken on this cruise ship.  (meals aren’t even included) Just some plush duvets on our ‘bunk beds’ and pot noodles/naan bread, vacuum packed smoked sausage and a bottle of red wine (all compliments of our backpack).  But it was pretty fancy pants considering all the leg work was done for us, and Diva got to save up her energy for the journey ahead…..

Ray, Charlie and HanneSIDENOTE:  Just a little backstory…. Ray lived all over Denmark for 6 years before he came to the U.S. in ‘01, learned the language fluently and in many ways considers this country his home. In fact, much of his cooking career and talent were formed here- as well as his friendship with his best mate/Phil, Charlie (whom he met at Language school and and had us over for dinner with as soon as we arrived Denmark) and Troels (chef friend, whom was also a groomsman at our wedding).  Ray and I even got engaged in Denmark in a town called Silkeborg when I went to live with Ray and Troels in Kolding right after I graduated from college in 2001.  And the rest, they say— “is some CRAZY PANTS history.” 

Speaking of our ‘history,’ it was only fitting that that our first stop right out of port was a special little place in Denmark called Gedved.  Home to our best mate Phil and his wife Stine…. (as well as his beautiful daughter Isabelle) I will share more on our little slice of heaven there, soon.

Saturday, August 27th-31st:  The Summer House (ahem, WINTER house)

Endless Summer?  I think we may have been bamboozled…..  

Yes, I suppose that I learning that our fairy tale may be a bit more ‘Beast’ then ‘Beauty’ these days (hey, it gives it character)…… but for those birds to sing sweetly in our story, we do need some sun to shine down upon us from time to time.  You HAVE to be KIDDINGEspecially when being invited to a super charming “Summer House” on the west coast of Denmark at the end of August just minutes walk from the stunning coast.  However, the weather ended up looking a bit more like this picture… and it felt like sand pelting you in the face whilst the chill went right through to your bones.  DO YOU SEE ANY BIRDS SINGING SWEETLY IN THIS PHOTO??

So we decided to laugh in the FACE of this season and have fun our own way.  Or perhaps, the ‘Danish Way.’  They don’t hold the “Happiest Country in the World” title for nothin’….. they know how to LIVE.

Ray making pizza at the Summer House!Our friend Troels had graciously invited us months ago to his parents Summer House (think beach cottage with built in pool and hot tub- AND washer/dryer) in Ringkobing with a few other couples for the weekend….. it sounded like a great goal to shoot for- we just never thought we would be cutting it so close.  But it was worth every SFDS Seaway ferry cent to get there in time for this weekend retreat with Troels, his girlfriend Pernille, Morten and his girlfriend Malene.  It was a perfect mix of fabulous people, their uplifting energy and passion for food—(did I mention that Troels also was a chef?) as we ate and drank with fury throughout that weekend….. regardless of weather, we hardly noticed, we were just happy to be together and living LARGE and experiencing eachother.  Morten introduced us to hours of entertainment of ‘YouTube,’ Troels to the movie KLOVN (The Hangover meets Curb your Enthusiasm)….Pernille’s quirkiness was infectious and Malene was just one big “Ta-DAAA!”

Ray, Me and Pernille, Troels, Morten, MaleneSIDENOTE:  Quite silly really, but when I was in Denmark in 01’ I was around so many Danes that wanted to speak English to me/with me, that I was spoiled (and quite lazy) and never forced myself to learn more Danish then I needed to just get by.   (Danish is a particularly difficult language to learn)  However, just 4 days with Danes—and you’re the ‘only English speaking person’- and there is really no reason for them to speak English all the time JUST for you.  Right?  So on this particular trip to Denmark, it was amazing how much more Danish I learned…. In just the 2 weeks we were there!  Imagine if I would have put that much energy into in the 3+ months the first time?  But I must admit.  It was difficult at time, even frustrating to communicate what you wanted to say to the others around you, or them to you.  Especially when you are such a ‘vocal’ and emotional person!  Truly a challenge that I have not experienced ever before…. And you feel far removed for reasons that you cannot control.  Even Ray would even slip into speaking Danish to me, forgetting that I understood not ‘a lick.’ 

Wednesday morning, August 31st:   Ray and I had to ‘waddle’ outta there after the gobs of Danish goodies that felt like stones in our bellies…..(and perhaps a few American pancakes we snuck in there, too) But not before we got one snapshot of us all…. Its funny how you walk into a situation as strangers, and walk out like you have known each other for a lifetime.

Where Ray proposed in Silkeborg!I am not sure if it was Diva that decided on our slight detour before we headed back to see Phil (our next stop), or perhaps the knowledge that we were so close to to such a special place…. But the van veered towards direction of Silkeborg, to the town where Ray proposed over 10 years ago.  Sweet really, seeing our 9 anniversary was really so very near.  So ‘we splurged’ (big bucks, we are talkin’ 380…. kroner, that is.  65 American dollars) and went all out on a Bed and Breakfast just outside of the town…. set in the middle of forests and close to the intersecting lakes and rivers where Ray had proposed to me. 

Memories came rushing back just stepping foot into that town!  “Look! There’s the place we rented the boat when I had no idea you were about to propose…. there is the hotel we stayed at that I raced back to call my parents to tell them the news that afternoon…. there is the store you bought the Champagne to celebrate….”   They all came flooding back.  It felt pretty surreal to be able to relive some of those places, almost frozen in time. 

Funny how ‘detours’ like that happen…. But then, I just saw a really incredible quote the other day in a book and it read: “You think you are making a trip, but soon it is making you….”   

P9180013……Stay tuned, kick up your shoes and pour yourself a glass of vino—because we still have  a long way to go…..

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