A Very Special Day…

for Denmark, for Copenhagen, for Christiania and for me!

A short history of Christiania : to quote Wikipedia “Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania (Danish: Fristaden Christiania) is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (85 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune, but the area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989 which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen to the state. It was closed by residents in April 2011, whilst discussions continue with the Danish government as to its future, but is now open again. ”

Christiania began 40 years ago today when some of the homeless in Denmark moved into an abandoned barracks and took over some of the buildings for homes and also built some homes in the grounds. It’s development over the years has been a chequered history with a mixture of beautiful peaceful areas, progressive living and parenting, vegetarianism, bicycles and arts and crafts side by side with the sale of and acceptance of soft drugs, a ban on hard drugs, some violence and a murder (drug related) and battles with the police and government.

My first visit to Christiania was in 1973, two years into the experiment, and I loved it. The people were warm and welcoming, the cafes sold delicious food at reasonable prices and the culture was fascinating. I have spent a lot of time in Copenhagen over the years and every visit has included a trip to Christiania. I bought a Christiania bike there. I even spent my 50th birthday there. The Danish Government has at times tried to regulate the drug market and in doing so caused many other problems to arise, impose rent and rates on the residents and latterly to close it down. But Christiania has survived and today it celebrated its 40th birthday in a very special way.

Quote from the Christiania website

“After 40 years of struggle and 10 years worth of exhausting negotiations, Christiania has managed to negotiate an agreement with the Danish state. A new Christiania
fund will purchase the majority of the buildings in the area for the sum of 76 mil. DKK. and rent the surrounding green areas for 6 mil. DKK per year.
Christiania has fought to maintain the Freetown as the property of everyone and no one. The agreement ensures that the housing in Christiania remains free of
speculation, the way it should be. Christiania is public heritage.
Regardless of the loan that now needs to be paid, Christiania must continue to contribute to Denmark and Copenhagen. Christiania must continually be able
to embrace the millions of guests from home and abroad, be a self-managing experiment and an unruly urban park. We must include those who are not accepted
anywhere else, create quirky culture and build beautiful houses that even the underprivileged can afford to live in.
The Freetown needs help shouldering this task, and that is why Christiania has issued the Christiania shares with the goal of raising 76 mil. DKK (roughly 10 mil.
Euro) to support the buyout through the Fund for the Freetown of Christiania.”

The shares do not offer the buyers ownership of any part of Christiania and cannot be traded like normal shares but are a kind of donation to fund its continuation and support its goals and as such I was proud to be able to buy some this afternoon.


Autumn Fruits

It’s been a chilly day today, the first day I’ve put gloves on when walking the dogs so it seemed a good day to make warm autumnal food for tea. Potatoes, broccoli and cheese baked slowly in the Everhot and while that was cooking I made a crumble version of Foragers’ pie. I had a couple of windfall apples, some damson pulp left from making damson jelly, a few elderberries and brambles picked on the lane near school this afternoon and some blackcurrant juice in place of sugar to sweeten the fruit, topped with crumble mixture and baked for 20 minutes. It was delicious. The apple cores and peels went into the pot with the remaining windfall apples to make some clear apple jelly tomorrow. Making jelly means that I will have some apple pulp to freeze for apple sauce … I do like how the fruit just keeps on providing new possibilities.

On the drive home from school I had to wait behind a police car while the driver was supervising the removal of a fallen tree from the road, I think I may have become slightly obsessed by jam making though as my first thought was to wonder if it was one of the plum trees (it wasn’t) and if so would there be plums all over the road too!

Talking of school, I was working with the youngest children today, the four year olds who only started school last week. They were drawing their favourite animals on the computer and I was typing their descriptions of the animals to be displayed with their pictures. After a few fairly predictable pictures of dogs, cats and rabbits etc doing fairly predictable things I began working with a small boy who told me he was drawing a lion digging up the road with a drill. When he finished his drawing I asked if that was what he wanted me to write and he replied “Oh no, he’s finished that now…he’s doing nothing, he’s having a rest.” He thought for a minute and then said “I wish I could have a rest now, I’ve been working all day.” Some of the children are so small, they still look like toddlers and by mid afternoon they do look tired. When I first started school I remember that we used to have a sleep after lunch, there were little pull-out beds in the first class and we would have to lie quietly for half an hour then we listened to a story before starting the afternoon activities. I suppose the pressure to teach children more is much greater now but I do think these little ones would benefit from an afternoon rest in their first year at school.

Sunny Sunday

After a rainy summer a sunny Sunday is a treat to enjoy and enjoy it we did. In the morning I took both of the big dogs to Lytham to Lowther Gardens, a lovely park where the dogs can run free.

Getting from the car into the park was no picnic, two strong excitable german shepherds both determined to be the leader of the husky trail and barking with the sheer joy of being near one of their favourite parks are no joke to walk! Once in the park and off lead they were so happy and played so well together chasing each other round the trees and up and down the paths. Their recall was excellent despite the distractions of other dogs and small children. Our only minor hiccup was a small boy riding a bike who decided it was fun to throw pine cones at the dogs and whose grandfather didn’t seem to think it was a problem. Skye and Tilly were very good and although slightly confused by this unwanted attention behaved well. It could have turned out so differently though, I do worry about people who allow their small children to taunt dogs.

In the afternoon I took advantage of the sunshine to begin painting the back fence. Due to my three willing helpers (Nino, Skye and Tilly were all keen to be involved) I only managed to paint the top half as I didn’t want to end up with three forest green dogs! The remaining bits of wood and roofing felt that didn’t fit into the skips are a bit too tempting for Skye so I spent a bit of time removing unsuitable objects from her grasp before I thought to give her one of the wobbly toys full of little biscuits to roll around on the grass. Tilly was quite happy to run around in the garden once she realised she wasn’t going to get anywhere near the paint and Nino wandered down to the back gate to watch the world go by.

I’ve a busy week ahead and I’m hoping for some more sunshine as I’m teaching the Cycle Safety course at school to our year 6 children (10-11 year olds). The children completed their written assessments for the first part of the course last week and I marked them over the weekend….most were very good but the main error was interesting.Eight of the eleven children thought that the above sign meant “beware of bicycles”, I hope this is not a warning of what their cycling will be like this week!


Progress of sorts…

Our old wooden garage was demolished this week, the walls were rotting and the roof had a distinct dip where the joists were failing so it had to go. It took my son and one of his friends a couple of hours to completely demolish it and we filled two skips to go to the recycling plant. The garden looks huge without the garage, it’s as well that the new garage is already ordered as I’d be very tempted to plant a few fruit trees to supply the fruit for future jam making. The garage will be delivered a little later than originally planned as the bad weather has meant that garages due to be built last week had to be delayed but it gives us time to paint the back fence and prune the old lilac tree. I’d hoped to do some painting today but the rain put a stop to that.I ended up doing some replacement baking, I’d made coffee buns yesterday but in the few moments it took for me to answer the door this morning Skye managed to open the cake box and eat the lot. Not surprisingly the combination of sugar and coffee (Camp Coffee fortunately which doesn’t contain as much caffeine) resulted in one very active puppy this afternoon until the inevitable slump!

One minute she was sitting on the sofa wide awake, the next her feet slipped over the edge and she was fast asleep with her head on the table.

The fresh baking is now carefully stored in the dining room out of reach of hungry puppies and we spent a happy time this evening watching the sheepdog trials on TV, both Skye and Tilly were very interested in the sheep and all the whistling.