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Lynette Hinings-Marshall

Author and Travel Writer

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MOUNT ELIZA. VICTORIA. AUSTRALIA

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on August 30, 2020 at 2:55 AM Comments comments (528)

With COVID shutdown I am restricted to 5 km within my village of Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula with a daily curfew at 8 p.m.


Copenhagen: A city of babies and bicycles

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on April 12, 2020 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (1)

There were about 20 baby carriages lined up outside my gym this morning.  Mondays is mothers’ day  so I have become accustomed to seeing babies gurgling in bassinets while their yummy mummies exercise beside them.

 

Danes possibly do child rearing better than most and it is probably just nit picking to add that a government that needs to increase the birth rate enables this. Generous government benefits for new mothers include one year’s paid leave with a guaranteed job when they return to work plus a lifetime of free education and free health for each child. Children in university are paid 5900 Danish kroners (about 1200 Australian dollars) each month to attend university so it will come as no surprise that many Danes have masters degrees.

 

Who wouldn’t stay at university when paid to do so, particularly when there are masters degrees offered in “Shoes and Handbags”. I kid you not. When I applied to lecture part time at the university in Copenhagen I scanned the curriculum and found that course offering. My husband is working in Denmark because there is a shortage of qualified engineers. I guess it is much easier to get a degree in bartending than engineering and certainly makes one’s university years more fun.

 

Back to the babies; why does the government encourage a high birth rate? Well there obviously has to be another generation to pay the 52+ per cent tax rate to pay for the educational and health benefits and the 25% VAT (Value Added Tax) also has to be paid. Yes, everything you buy in Denmark whether it is groceries, cosmetics, and clothes or going out to dinner, has a massive 25% tax added to your bill. A cup of coffee at most cafes costs AUD $7 and that is when you pay up front at the cash register, find your own table and a staff member delivers it to you. Hiring costs make it too expensive to hire enough staff to offer table service when you enter. If you buy a car you pay a whopping 180 per cent tax, which brings us to the bicycles.

 

The astronomical cost for a car is one reason there are so many bicycles. It is not because Danes are so health-conscious. I never tire of seeing beautiful, happy children sitting in the little open box in the front of their parent’s bicycle, but the number of Danes smoking while riding bicycles eschews the health notion. Apart from the pleasure of seeing a road filled with bicycles in the middle of the city another upside to living in a city of bicycles is the quiet. I live in the centre of the city and it is often as quiet as living in the country; all because there are so few cars, particularly at evenings and weekends.

 

Is there a downside to this bicycle culture? Well, bicycles definitely rule here and heaven help the motorist or pedestrian who gets in their way. Many bikes are abandoned on public streets for months at a time, probably because there is no fine imposed for abandoning one’s bike. This means bikes are parked at my front door, in front of cafes I am trying to enter and department store entrances become an obstacle course. As Copenhagen is a very windy city, there are days when so many bicycles are knocked over by the wind it is virtually impossible to navigate around them and I have to walk on the street dodging oncoming cars. But I actually prefer these problems to the different problems presented by the vast number of cars on the road back home in Victoria. When I am in my small village of Mount Eliza I find it necessary to walk to the grocery store whenever possible because it is virtually impossible to find a place to park my car.

 

Is there a downside to a city that encourages babies’ participation in every conceivable activity? I certainly never tire of seeing so many beautiful, contented babies but I do notice a large number of single parents out and about at weekends. Having a baby without marriage is acceptable here and IVF for single women is common. However, whether single of married, Danish men are comfortable shopping for groceries with a child on one hip and every Danish male I know cooks.

 

All babies are placed into municipal nurseries or private day care centres in private homes so that both parents can continue to work to pay those taxes. This means they learn cooperation with others from an early age and very young Danish children appear more independent than say one to three year olds back home in Australia. I do wonder though if the more individualistic child is overlooked in this conformist environment. And what do these babies become when they hit their pre-teen and adolescent years? Well, that is another story for another time.

 

HOW I LOST MY BALANCE IN A CITY FAMOUS FOR ITS WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on April 11, 2020 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (28)

Actually, I lost more than my balance; I lost the ability to walk.

But I had better start at the beginning; in April; in Copenhagen.

Check-in when you arrive my husband emailed and make yourself comfortable until I get home from the office.

Don’t be upset by the size of our hotel apartment, he warned— but I was upset. Our apartment was one small room.

Excuse my bluntness, I said to the hotel manager, but you surely can’t expect us to live for two months in a room so small I’d have to physically climb over my husband to get out of bed.

Forgive my tone, I am tired after flying today from Australia but if you can move us to an apartment with a separate living room and a proper kitchen I’ll take responsibility for the extra cost.

Good news, we’re moving to a larger apartment this evening, I announced to my husband.

Hello to you too, and how’d you manage that on your first day here?

I’m sure the company will pay.

Justifying it to them will presumably be my job then?

Kind of. I have to find a doctor in the morning for my bronchitis.

Lucky you’re a European Union (EU) citizen, you can be registered on the spot to see a doctor.

May I ask if you could make an appointment for me, I asked after she handed me details of my doctor on a scrap of paper.

Not necessary you can walk down there now and see if she can fit you in today.

On arrival I requested the antibiotic I take regularly for bronchitis but my doctor insisted I have an x-ray before she would give me the script, even though I protested I was too ill to wait for an x-ray.

Perhaps you can help me make an appointment for an x-ray as I don’t speak Danish, I asked the receptionist on my way out.

Quietly and icily she responded, we do not do that, take a taxi to the clinic.

Rasping and hacking at the door to the x-ray clinic I rattled the doorknob, until I noticed the small sign saying, ‘Lukket I en uge,’ and my phrasebook in my handbag helped with only the first word, ‘Closed.’

Struggling to hold back tears, I swivelled from side to side searching for somebody, anybody, to help me, as fear flooded through me, and then I started to cough uncontrollably, but that was nothing compared to how I felt when I returned the following week after they reopened, and they refused to see me without an appointment, so that I had to come back two days later, which meant that it was eleven days before I could take any antibiotics, by which time I was incredibly ill and had damaged my back from coughing harder every day and all night.

The vertebrae is pinching a nerve, my doctor announced after I hobbled into her surgery on a stick my husband had fashioned for me.

Unkempt and swaying from exhaustion I debated telling her that I had coughed so hard while waiting for the antibiotics I couldn’t stand, sit, or lie down without excruciating pain, and spent my nights kneeling on all fours, crying with alternating pain and frustration; but decided she wasn’t interested.

Visibly upset by my ordeal a new friend said you have a right to be angry, and I’m so sorry this has happened to you, but I’m not surprised. I’ve lived here for 38 years and when I speak Danish to a Dane they respond in English to remind me that I am not, and never will be one of them.

Why would you refuse me anti-biotics when you saw how sick I was and then not feel responsible for my back injury, I accused my doctor on my next visit, to which she replied, you Americans are so spoilt and think you don’t have to follow our rules.

Xanex and oxycodone provided only marginal relief along with twice-weekly private chiropractic treatments costing US$6000 for the next six months. It was almost a year before I could walk —balanced, and upright again.

You would’ve been better staying in Australia, my husband said on our first Danish Christmas. No I replied. I fell in love with this gentle country babies lie snuggled and safe inside carriages outside cafes while inside mothers socialize with friends.

Zealots Danes may be about government regulations, but I think they may be onto something. Their distinctive meaning for the mood of cosiness, conviviality and contentment with friends and family; or as they call it—hygge.

 

 

A week in Bangkok

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on March 22, 2015 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Spent a leisurely week in Bangkok enroute from home in Australia to home in Copenhagen. Would recommend the Siri Sathorn hotel because of its downtown location and spacious layout with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, efficient Internet and personal chef service for breakfast each morning. It was surprisingly difficult to find tailors specializing in women's clothing but found by chance a good dressmaker hidden behind some shop fronts just minutes from my hotel. 
Best day was spent riding a golf cart around The Ancient City and most surprising were the huge monitor lizards that roamed the park near our hotel. Asiantique was certainly not as well priced as the Chatuchak weekend market but more pleasant to walk around when catching the breezes off the river. Used the river bus for major sites such as the Grand Palace and Buddha sites and with summer heat and humidity looming this was definitely the more comfortable choice. 


French Riviera

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on January 24, 2015 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (3)

Joined the Unity Demonstration for Charlie in Cannes. 

Copenhagen Neo Nazi Rally

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on October 5, 2014 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (27)

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LATVIA

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on October 4, 2014 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (393)

Spent a few days in Latvia to celebrate my birthday. Started with a drive in the countryside outside Riga to Malpils Manor for dinner. Jamie Oliver recommended it and we were not disappointed. Fillet of venison, followed by milk fed lamb and a couple of gorgeous desserts with champagne. Stayed in the Old Town which is UNESCO listed and did sightseeing around the city then to the Opera house for "Il Trovotore" with an outstanding performance by the mezzo. Lovely small house and very civilised with quick service and spacious dining areas for the intermissions. Next day up the coast which was wild and ordinary and to a forest area and back to Copenhagen after some excellent shopping. Pics are in order of the above.

France in August 2011

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on July 18, 2011 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Spending August in Volvic ( yes the same as the water which is produced where we are staying) plus 5 days in Paris then 5 days driving via the Alsace back to Paris for our flight to Boston.

Volvic is a village outside Clermont Ferrand and I chose it because I am hoping it will be cooler than the rest of France in August. It is an area popular for hiking and hang gliding so we are expecting to leave fitter. It is accessible to several wine areas and we will also spend a couple of days in Lyon picking up friends flying in to that airport.

Will post impressions and highlights of all destinations in France throughout the month.



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