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My Danish cupboard

Expats often say that repatriation to your home country is the hardest part of the adventure. Shani Bishop shares her repat journey with us.

Photographs: iStock

Text: Shani Bishop

When we decided to leave Denmark, I started stockpiling food. I collected boxes of fodselsdag boller (birthday rolls), rum kugle (rum balls), bags of rugbrød (rye bread) mix, Karlsen's chocolate-covered pebernødder (ginger nuts) from Irma and only available November and December, Wasa Frokost (a type of biscuit) and kanel (cinnamon). We have been slowly working our way through the ready made products. Everyone was gutted last week when the chocolate covered pebernødder ran out. Yes, I know you are meant to eat them at Christmas, but it seems a shame to only eat them then, so I bought five packets, and we ate them all summer. I promised my kids I would attempt to make chocolate covered pebernødder at Christmas, so we will see how that goes. Recently I made drømekage (dream cake) for a class meet up and krummer kage (Danish apple crumble) for a party. Everyone was eager to try both. Someone asked me if Danish pastries were better in Denmark than in the UK. I think they are different. The ones in Denmark look darker and bigger, almost a meal in themselves. The ones here look pale and are smaller. I think both are good in different ways, although I prefer the Danish ones. Once it gets colder, I'll start making all the Danish delights in my cupboard.

The rise of business

One thing here that has surprised me, but maybe I never noticed before. Businesses, large and small, are pretty prominent in the UK. It starts at the airport with posters encouraging trade and is quite visible in everyday life. The innovation is most visible in supermarkets and book shops. Since we last returned in 2019, the vegan and vegetarian sections in chilled, frozen and dried have grown and are now huge. Being vegan or vegetarian used to be tricky here but no longer. There is an enormous number of products to choose from, all of which come from small businesses. We have only tried some 'non-fish fingers' so far, but I'm a foodie, so we will definitely be trying more.

Another area is book shops. When you live abroad, the number and variety of books in English are limited and expensive. For children, it's usually J.K Rowling, Roald Dahl and David Walliams. When I first visited a bookshop, I was surprised by how many books there were by authors I'd never heard of or seen.

The influence of business is in schools too. In the month my eldest son has been at secondary school, he attended a business club where 20 students were selected to develop a business for profit and played a business game for the whole day. It wasn't like this at school when I was younger, but this is a good change.

"There is an enormous number of products to choose from, all of which come from small businesses."

Noise as part of the culture

Societal attitudes to noise are definitely culturally based. If I had to put Denmark, Japan, and the UK on a continuum, Denmark would be at the silent end, Japan at the noisy end, and the UK somewhere in the middle. When you enter a shop in Japan, it is part of the culture for the shop assistants to say 'Irasshaimase' loudly, which means 'welcome to the shop'. When election time came around, a man and a woman would hang out of a minivan with microphones and yell campaign messages. In the city where I lived, they played music in the streets and had a siren testing system like Denmark. In the UK you hear music in shops sometimes and a tannoy occasionally in supermarkets. I think everywhere you live becomes your normal, so it's interesting to see how others live.

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