It’s funny how inspiration strikes sometimes. Often at the most random times right? Back in October 2021, 10 days after we moved to Copenhagen, I started a blog post called “A Crazy Plan” and it’s been sat in my drafts since. This was all about moving to Denmark however
Was I ready to say out loud that I was here and it wasn’t for a holiday?
I wasn’t quite ready to admit that I was enjoying myself, that would be too much and in those first 10 days the culture shock (both the actual culture and the covid culture at the time) was freaking me out. I’d spent the best part of 18 months in the four walls of our house back in the UK, if I did see other people it was a select few and even then most of my human interaction was via technology.
This time last year, I was packing our suitcases to come out for 10 days ish. Rex and I would come for a holiday, Jaxon would stay with Chris and start school as soon as the system allowed him. In fact, he had his first meeting with the Kommune while we were here on holiday. I think the people were lovely but due to Covid, only one parent could go in so Chris went in, he had a better idea about life here. But how did Chris have a better idea?
Let’s go back to that draft blog post.
Jaxon was 6, Rex was about 6-8 weeks old and we took Chris to the airport. He flew to Copenhagen, moved into his apartment in Amager and we stayed in the UK. He was here to get things sorted out for us. But through the pandemic and a few other bumps, we weren’t going to be joining him as soon as expected.
There was a plan but clearly Covid didn’t get the memo. Chris was supposed to get on a plane and be back for two weeks over Christmas. Then the UK went to Tier 4 and Denmark shut down too. We knew it was all for the best to keep everyone safe (even if it would later come to light that it was one rule for them and one for us). We explained to Jaxon why Daddy wouldn’t be home for Christmas when he said he would be and talked about alternative plans. We joked about maybe he could take a train or cycle. Then we also joked about shipping him and his bike by DHL or Fedex so he could still get to us. But nope, over the next week or so, countries started banning incoming flights from the UK. Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Israel (Israel had banned flights from South Africa and Denmark too).
While this is all going on, my Mum is being the practical one, she’s got Plan A – if Chris gets home, Plan B – if he doesn’t get home, Plan C – who knows what’s going on?. In the end, Chris wasn’t coming and a new plan was formed. Mum would roast the chicken/turkey at her house in the morning then just before lunch she’d arrive at my house with all the bits and she’d do the rest of the prep. Along with this a friend of ours gets in touch, due to her shifts being cut because of covid and some other things she needed a hand with getting some bits for Christmas, I chatted to Mum and asked could we stretch the Christmas dinner to another two plates – Mum said of course and peeled some more potatoes. I raided my pantry for tins of beans and soup and other things like that, that would keep our friend and her family fed until the Food Bank opened again. We couldn’t invite them to join us due to Covid but we were going to do what we could to make sure that they had some form of Christmas even if it was a bit messed up like ours.
ChristMAY was a go. Chris would get on the plane, he’d come home and we’d have Christmas on the May Day Bank Holiday. It was going to happen. We were going to make sure of it. I attempted to find Christmas things like pudding and mince pies – some were easier than others but when my FIL heard the plan he raided his pantry and found us some bits, Mum found a Christmas pudding in her freezer and we made it work. I think I got a jar of mincemeat and made home made mince pies. I didn’t quite get the tree down but I made sure we had twinkly lights around and other things that would make it sort of Christmas-sy. We sat down and discussed what would happen next. We’d come out for a holiday in August during the School Summer Holidays, then us 3 would come back to the UK then come back out again properly at October Half Term (After my Grandparents celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary in September).
It was time for the holiday. For my first international flight as the only grown-up, I’d get myself and both boys to Copenhagen along with a variety of luggage and a buggy. No pressure right?
My parents took us to Stansted Airport and saw us off at Security. I was on my own. (Insert your chosen word here….). We made it through Security around 9:30am having left the house at 6:30am. I was wearing my FoxyWings jumper which was new and the blue fluff was malting all over my arms so I looked looked like I had a strange lurgy – it’s funny what you remember.
2:30pm we met Chris outside the airport. Thankfully he had snacks and drinks because I was exhausted lol. I was glad no-one took my temperature because between carrying Rex and our stuff from the plane to the trolley then working our way through the airport to Passport Control. I was fed up lol.
Chris took Jaxon to the park that first evening and I got Rex into bed then had a shower – I felt miles more human lol. We fit in all sorts, we were tourists but also did practical things like that school meeting.
Getting back to the UK was easier but it was about to get a whole lot scarier. I was going to go back to Copenhagen next time and it would be for the foreseeable future…
We were back in Mum and Dad’s car again, heading towards Stansted. It’s time, we’re moving to Denmark. We’ve got this right? We can do it! While I’m freaking out about fairy lights and other insignifcant things that feel like important things. Chris has done useful things like, chatted to his colleague who has a car to see if he can collect us from the airport. He’s borrowed a car seat that should be okay for Rex and Jaxon doesn’t need one as he’s tall enough.
In theory, there was a plan. But at 5:53pm there was a WhatsApp outage. In the end, I ended up emailing Chris with updates to make sure we were all in the right places but we did it. We made it to Copenhagen and there were Jaxon and Chris waiting for us at the Arrivals exit.
Some thoughts… (Written in May 2021)
Two people (at least) have recently said things to me along the lines of not letting fear dictate your actions and another few said about time still passing, it’ll pass whether I’m here or there. In a work project, I got to speak to a lady who was once very high up in Greenpeace. She’s doing a massive crazy around the world trip with her husband at the moment and while we waited for someone else to arrive to the video call, she talked about the magnets on the fridge behind me. I was sat at my kitchen table and behind my head it read “happy birthday mummy” which my Dad had put there when he and Mum were at my house for my birthday tea last week. I commented how they were all English phrases now instead of Danish
I’m still not sure it’s for me and I’m sure my mind will flip between let’s go and let’s stay every day between now and leaving.
That was where I started back in May, the idea of leaving Bedford was scary and exciting and all sorts of other emotions too. This post has sat in my drafts since then. I guess I hoped there was still time that Chris would change his mind and we would stay in the UK. Well between May and August when we came to visit, Chris had got many balls rolling including somewhere to live. As it happened a family Chris knows from church here are off to America for 6 months so their apartment would be empty (or they’d be renting it out). So when Chris mentioned we were looking it all fell into place. It’s a two-bedroom and rather cosy but it does the job – or so Chris kept telling me!
In August, we got ready to come to see Chris. We were coming for 10 days, then in October, we’d come out properly to do the year as discussed over and over! Jaxon posed the question – “could he stay with Chris and not come back to the UK?” WHAT? Erm. Well, I was cross with Chris – I thought he’d planted the idea and Jaxon was following his lead or something – you know if Jaxon was going early maybe I would too. You know the Dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and how his phrase is “Why is everybody leaving me?” well that was me. Once I’d spoken to my Mum and discussed school and things like that I could understand why it might work better if he was staying – but 6ish weeks without Jaxon – what? He’s like my shadow. (The video clip might explain it a bit better – take a look here). If Jaxon was to come back to the UK with me he’d have gone back into school for like 4 weeks only to finish and then start school in Denmark, by staying with Chris he’d start school as soon as possible while everyone else was still settling in too. (He ended up starting at the beginning of September).
So October arrived and it was time to leave. Making sure everything was done and ready to go was a real challenge.
We’re 10 months down the road now and why did I decide to finish this now? Well I was watching YouTube videos while working on some things and this one popped up as a suggested one. I followed Nathaniel Drew and it turns out that his parents after many years in the USA are packing up and moving to Portugal.
So much of it was interesting and I wrote an essay of a comment then copied and pasted it back to here to form some creation of a blog post.
Chris has started a new job this week and like so many other times we meet new people the same few questions come up: Why did you leave the UK? Why Denmark? Why now? Was it for work? Mine are then accompanied by…. What are you doing while Chris works and the boys are at school/vuggestue? What do you see yourself doing in the long run? (Right now I have some crazy plan to try and get a part time job in a yarn shop because – why not?)
So my comment on the YouTube video went like this…
We have been married for about 15 years. When the UK started discussing Brexit, we hoped that they’d say no and we’d remain in the EU but that didn’t happen. We’ve always discussed about living elsewhere in the world but for me (the girl who has always lived within a 8-10km circle from my childhood home) the idea of moving anywhere else was absolutely terrifying. I love watching travel videos and dreaming about travelling but I’d always have a home to come back to. At the beginning of 2020, when the transition period started, we decided that it would get very complicated if we didn’t go now. So the ball started rolling and in October, my husband left me, our 6yo and our newborn (2-month-old) in the UK and came to Copenhagen to find get settled, find a job and then find an apartment big enough for 4 people and in our budget. Through covid and other things, we didn’t see him again in person until May 2021 and that was just for two weeks. Forward to this time last year, our friends were heading to America for 6 months, so their apartment was up for subletting. They had a newborn of their own and so my almost 1-year-old could sleep in their cot, my now 7-year-old could sleep in their eldest daughter’s room and we’d be in with the baby. We packed up our things and set about coming to Copenhagen for 6 months. That was it, 6 months, the date was unofficially circled in my diary as the “now I can go home” date. About a week ago I crossed the 10-month line, are we going home? Nope. Did the UK’s “not so good” things get worse while we were away? Yes. Does Denmark have its issues? Yes but oh my days it has its benefits too! (For instance buses how does every bus run late in the town that I lived in and yet in a bigger city like Copenhagen they are on time, to the minute….). I also missed my cargo bike when we were back in my hometown for a week. I borrowed my parents’ car but it’s like driving a tank it feels so big and I missed the fresh air and adventure that comes with my cargo bike.
So rewind, maybe 5 years, would I have moved then? Nope, what about 10? Nope still nope! Would I go on a holiday? Maybe an extended one – give me a few weeks to explore a place properly Yep maybe. But 6 months, a Year somewhere not down the road from my parents and grandparents – ARE YOU NUTS? lol.
It was different it feels crazy but now having been here for 10 months, I’m thinking if I can get a job and save up enough money, taking my mum to Italy for a weekend isn’t so scary. If I can get myself on the plane back to the UK without losing my mind then getting a plane to Italy isn’t scary at all! My Mum loves travelling so she’s not against flying here then onto Italy or meeting me in Italy. Let’s have that adventure while we can. Someone said to me recently that we keep putting things off until tomorrow but what if today is the last tomorrow? (ooooh that’s a bit deep!). So I will save that money and I will take my Mum, I want it to be soon and I want it to happen. I want to take her to see the Colosseum in person and to eat more pasta and gelato than we can imagine lol. I want to take her to see the Sistine Chapel and we can stand in St Peter’s Square and I can try to use my High School Italian lessons to translate for my Mum while the Pope speaks (We did this before, All I could manage was. “Brothers and Sisters” but it’s a start right?)
So yeah, 10 months down, who knows how many more to go. I look at the news from the UK and it breaks my heart that more people are reliant on Food Banks and other charities because the Government are screwing everyone over. It makes me so angry that while families are chosing food or energy, the energy companies are reporting millions if not billions in profit. They are putting the prices up and then benefitting from it while people could be freezing this winter because they don’t have the money. A question I get on every trip back so far is when are you coming back to the UK? Right now as scary as big as it sounds, I don’t know and I don’t think I want to. Yes I miss my family and yes I wish I could see them more but life just isn’t that good there. We were back for a week’s holiday and the best times we had were with our families but the heartbreaking thing was walking through town and so many empty units dominating the town. What happened to my hometown?