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Room with a view

I love a good view. There’s something calming about being above the city, looking out over the hectic life of the big smoke. So, when I first went to view our current flat on a hill in Walthamstow, it was really a no-brainer. There really is no better way to calm down after a busy day than to open our giant loft windows and take in the sunset over London, or watch the weather change, or hear the sound of rain on the windows. It’s a new view every day.

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Reflections on a giraffe and animals and humans in general

I have lived in the U.K. for 7 years. But I am Danish. And I have, as most other people, followed the story of Marius the giraffe, and how he ended his days in Copenhagen Zoo. There are many opinions on this subject. From outrage, to understanding, to looking at Copenhagen Zoo as barbaric, twisted killers, that turn children into mass murders.

I love animals. I spend 20 years of my life being a ‘horse-girl’, I used to have tame mice in our garden that I would feed little seeds, and Frida, the dog, was my best friend. Cruelty to animals hurts me. But, at the same time I do eat meat. Not a lot, but a few times a week. And I buy this meat in the supermarket. The chicken fillets, which ones used to be a chicken, probably had a pretty short life, then got killed by a massive machine that kills thousands of other chickens every day. Whichever way we put it, it’s not exactly a fairy tale.

Us humans aren’t the nicest species out there. Far from, we’re probably the worst.  I understand that we like to see ourselves as ‘good people’, but the reality is different whether we like it or not.

When I was a child, maybe around 8-10, we had sheep. And sometimes they would get old, and would have to be put down before they would suffer. My dad let me see it, and I remember it as being very un-dramatic. Because it was not made into a big deal, but a natural end to a useful and good life. They were then made into sausages, and eaten. The wool was given away to anyone who would like it for making hats, scarfs, sweaters, etc.

I don’t agree with the killing of Marius. Maybe there could have been other options, and maybe he could have ended his days naturally. No-one likes an animal being killed, and it makes me sad to see a dead giraffe. But, when we keep animals in captivity, we are already taking on the role as mother nature. I understand how Copenhagen Zoo has taken their responsibility of ensuring a healthy giraffe population in captivity seriously. Anything about a Zoo is unnatural and the natural selection process becomes unnatural too. We decide through breeding programs when new animals come into the world, which genes they carry forward, and when they leave this world – Whether it be giraffes or cats. Once an animal is kept in captivity, it is the human’s sole responsibility, whether it be in a Zoo or a private home. And that includes taking on the role of death too. I think it’s important to somehow try and see this as an investment in the future health of giraffes in Zoos. It doesn’t make it any less sad though, and it would have been great if Marius could have been castrated (maybe not that nice for him) and had a long life somewhere good. I can’t help thinking though, that because Marius was a giraffe, and not a (in some peoples eyes) a less likeable animal like a wild bore, it’s been blown up even more.

 But I do think it’s important to see this story in context. As sad as it is that Marius had to die, what about all the other animals? What about all the animals that die when forests are being cut down every day to provide us with houses and heat? What about the mink that are bred purely for their fur? What about the poor geese, that are born to be force fed until their own legs can’t hold them up anymore, living in such a confined space that they only have minimal movement, in order for them not to loose any of the weight that is being forced on them? Many people in the world still happily eat foie gras, in fact many see it as a delicacy. Now in my mind, that is sick. Although Marius days ended, at least he had a nice life, with space to move, and other giraffes to play with, he didn’t suffer, and his dead provided some lions with dinner. His body wasn’t just discarded, as the minks after they’re skinned. And had he lived in the wild, things would of course have been different, as for any wild animal that lives in a zoo. He was eaten by lions in the end though, which quite likely would have happened if he had lived on an African savanna too.

I do however think that dissecting Marius publicly, and then feeding him to the zoo lions, is okay. I do not get squeamish at the thought of children seeing the realities of nature, in fact, maybe if all those people blaming Copenhagen Zoo for being barbaric and turning children violent had seen something like that themselves when they were small, they would understand that it’s an important education in life. Where do the bacon they eat themselves come from? It does not magically appear on a plate unfortunately. Nature is harsh, life and death is difficult subjects, but, in my opinion, very important parts of education. I have never been shielded from dead pets, and I don’t think i’ve suffered. I went to the vet with my parents when Friday, the dog that was my best friend, got cancer at 6 years old, and was in so much pain that she had to be put down. It’s not the same as Marius, as she was sick, and he was not. But the whole idea of children being exposed to death relates. It is a part of having an animal, and I was taught that responsibility early. Children are naturally curious, about death too. And is it not better discovering it in an undramatic and educational environment, rather than on questionable internet sites? Understanding that nature is not always treating everyone fairly, and that some animals (ourselves included) eat other animals, is part of the process. It’s the circle of life. But we need to show respect for other species, which I do think Copenhagen zoo did. Yes, killing him was unnecessary. But at least it was not a waste. His death was purposeful. And Lions have to eat too, right? If not a giraffe, then a horse, or a cow. Once we put animals in a zoo, the problem starts. We could of course feed carnivores cooked meat (which would still have to come from another animal, which somehow would have to be killed), but that wouldn’t be a very natural way of life for them either, would it? Why do people not get angry about all the cows the lions are fed regularly? Is that because a giraffe is a better animal than a cow? I have a feeling that many people forget that Marius was not a character out of Disney’s madagascar, but a beautiful, real giraffe, with natural instincts, and a place in the hierarchy of ‘who eats who’.  In a zoo or on the savanna.

Compare it to hunting in Africa, killing for trophies on the wall, which lot’s of well educated western people, royalty even, have no problem doing. Or, eggs from caged hen. It’s very easy to distance ourselves from all this cruelty happening, when it’s all neatly packaged on supermarket shelves.

It’s a difficult subject. Animals are our friends, and they should be treated as such. But maybe children need to see something like this sometimes, in order for them to fully understand themselves, how life works, be fascinated with the process, and through all of this gain that respect for animals.

I do sometimes consider going vegetarian. I think I quite easily could, considering the small amounts of meat I actually eat. There are many things around eating meat that I don’t like, but I do understand that it’s natural, and it’s my responsibility to research where the meat I might eat come from, and how that animal lived. Perspective is important before we start judging. Especially looking at ourselves, and our own habits, where the food we eat come from, and how the leather shoes and jackets we buy are made. I have read comment on articles from people, that claim  they will boycott everything Danish. Everyone deals with things differently, and thats absolutely fine. But how will they go about boycotting themselves? Can anyone of us really account for how EVERYTHING we do or buy affects animals? If you can, that’s amazing. But I’m sure it’s less than 1% of the population.

Maybe the real discussion here is whether or not us humans should be having this power over animals in the first place, but I’m not gonna go into that here, because I’ll never be done writing :)

From a PR and human point of view, I do think it’s refreshing how open the zoo is about the whole thing, and striving to stay professional and factual. I don’t even dare imagine how many useless animal killings around the world are covered up every day. It has at least provided us all with a chance to think and discuss, while having all the facts available.

Watch the director of Copenhagen Zoo being interviewed by a (in my opinion) rather embarrassing journalist on channel 4 news.

And see this Facebook post for some good arguments and reflections for and against the whole thing.


I’m not dead!

Well, I guess that might depend on your definition of dead. Ever since we moved in on the 26th of October, we have been without broadband. Now you’re probably thinking – are there really people out there with no internet? And yup, there are. I’ve been one of those people for the past month. Well, we have had a ‘dongle’ which has been helpful but mostly just frustrating.

But in 4 days things will be different. We’ll be back in the group of people who has broadband, and it will be amazing.


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Indian Summer

Indian Summer

As the summer comes to an end, I must say, despite the weather it’s been an awesome one. Not much travel this time around (yay to being a poor student) but lots of quality time spend with the best of people.
The last weekend with real hot summer weather was spend in a little village just outside of London, with the last barbeque of the year, and late summer evenings in front of a fire. In just 3 days I’m back to uni, which also means that Autumn is here, and soon winter. Thankfully, being a dane I guess, I am actually looking forward to cosy evening inside and the fresh, cold mornings.


26 years and counting

Birthday celebrations

I have, right now, been 26 for 6 days, 9 hours and 23 minutes. In that time, I’ve shared a bottle of champagne with my love, been to a delicious Indian restaurant, had cakes with my housemates, spend an evening in Victoria Park with friends, chilled out on a terrace outside London, enjoyed the silence, slept a lot, worked a bit, been to 2 gigs, and generally just been a happy bunny. If this is what 26 looks like, I’m in!

But with birthdays comes questions. Panicky questions mostly, and rather existential, almost going as far as ‘what is the meaning of life’ sort of questions. When ever I tell people my age, the reaction I’ve had most times is ‘Ah, you’re just a baby!’, which, although nice, is also a bit worrying, as it must mean I still don’t have a clue as to what is going on. I’ve learned that it’s better not to moan about age, as there is always someone older who will shame you for it, or, someone will reply with the standard comment ‘Well, it’s better than being dead!’.

You can do a lot of things in 26 years. This guy for example, spend 26 years solving the Rubik’s cube.  Although that’s quite an achievement, I’m quite happy I didn’t spend my last 26 years doing that. Looking back, I’m actually not quite sure what I have done. I guess I’ve spend most of the time growing up and doing things that everybody does. But every single thing, every small choice, every conversation, and every person who has been in my life in those years have shaped me into what I am today.

So what will my 26 year be like? It’s hard to say really. I do have a few objectives though;

-Finish my degree. This time next year I’ll be close to my graduation ceremony, hopefully with a result I’ll be happy with.

-Find out which master to do, and if I want to do one straight away, or if I want to do one at all. This is quite a big one.  

-Stop living in a houseshare. This will be the end of an era, and I honestly cannot wait to share a flat with my love. 

-Do more exercise. It just has to be said…. and done, hopefully.

-Possibly get a proper job. This depends on the master-thing though. I can’t wait to find a job that I actually like (Well, fingers crossed).

-Paint a lot more, which has already been initiated, and it feels awesome. 

But really, anything is possible. Bring it on 26!


Holiday in Denmark

After having finished exams, all you really want is to kick back and forget all about them for a while. A trip to Denmark was therefore much welcomed, even if I have seen it all several times before. I took an English-man with me, and it was great fun showing him around and seeing his reactions to “disgusting fish” (herring, which for the record, I can understand that non-danish people find really weird), Danish style bbq’s, tivoli, and loads of new people. 

Despite a rocky start and a 3am wake-up call to catch a coach to Stansted, we made it to Vejle, where my dad met us in the airport. Quick drive to my dad’s little farm in the middle of nowhere (apart from fields and forests) and a quick danish breakfast (meaning rolls with cheese, jam, butter, etc.) followed by a much needed nap. 

The next few days were spend taking the dog Buster for walks, visiting Vejle and the surrounding areas, some driving (yay!), going to the seaside, seeing my mothers newly bought boat (which she still can’t sail), avoiding awkward questions (my parents are pros), and eating lots of great food, cake, and drinking Tuborg. Not bad, hey? 

Saturday we spend the day at my uncles 60th, with bbq, loads (!!) of cake, red wine and beer non-stop, and of course the Denmark – Netherlands match. What is it with people, who normally have no interest what so ever in football, suddenly becoming experts as soon as the national team is playing? Can’t imagine how it must be to be a non-danish speaking person at a danish birthday party, but as the day progressed and bottles of wine emptied one by one, more and more questionable English was spoken. We went home feeling absolutely stuffed to the max, and probably quite a bit heavier. 

The day after the Danish adventure moved to Copenhagen for a few days in the capital. It was a great time and the weather decided to treat us with some sunshine. I might be biased, but I find Copenhagen pretty amazing. I have never lived there myself, but if I was ever to move back to Denmark at some point, this would probably be the place I would go. Although being quite a big city (1.5 million) it is pretty relaxed. People sipping beers or coffee outside cafes, loads of bicycles and fewer cars, broad streets and fresh air, lots of canals and the sea nearby. What’s not to love? We spend the days seeing a few of my danish friends, touristing around, saying hi to the Mermaid, laying in a park watching the skies float by, walking around the streets, eating ice creams, and of course tivoli. Could easily have spend a few more days, but we’ll just have to return again sometime. 

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By the fjord close to Vejle.

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The fjord again, looking out towards the sea.

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An english man on a danish bridge

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Countryside and horsey in Vejle

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Feeding the friedly deers in a forest in Vejle (they love some raw, ecological pasta ;))

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Lovely colours in Nyhavn (“newhaven”) in Copenhagen.

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Cafe-life and Tuborg Classic in Copenhagen

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The Little Mermaid. Build in 1909. Small, unnoticeable statue, if it wasn’t for the hordes of tourists looking at her. Poor thing have had paint poured over her, her head cut off, pushed of the stone, etc. she’s a tough lady!

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:)


Facebook babies and crazy mothers

I have them.

You have them. 

We all have them. 

Those Facebook friends who can talk about nothing but their babies. What they have just done, what they’ve said, pictures of them with their little faces covered in some unidentified food, etc. If you are anything like me, you are probably often asking yourself the question, while scrolling down your Facebook timeline, “Why, oh why do these mothers (Why is it always the mothers?) feel this need to share every little detail about their babies?!”

Obviously it is because they love them, and think they are the most incredible little creatures in the world, and that everybody else will obviously feel exactly the same way. Understandable. I don’t mind the occasional picture, or occasional baby-quote. But I do mind previously sensible women posting updates every hour about what their baby has been up to. Because, lets face it, babies don’t get up to much, really. 

In my (Face)book it is a very valid de-friending reason if it continues for more than a week. 

And in a sense, is it not a little bit wrong to post questionable photos etc. of a, although little, human being, without their consent? They are clearly too small to have an opinion or a say, but if you think about it, the pictures of children uploaded to Facebook are technically owned by Facebook. There are of course privacy settings, but as Facebook is a million dollar company, and not just a social network, they have the right to change their privacy settings whenever they want to. And I am guessing that many of their users might be slightly confused at times, and might not do the necessary research to only share things with the people they wish to share them with. 

With the amount of Ultra scan images I’ve seen on Facebook lately, I reckon a large amount of children in this day and age have been tagged in a photo on Facebook, long before they were even born. 

Fingers crossed I’ll never be one of them. And if I fall in, I sincerely hope than someone will hit me in the head and tell me to stop it. 

 


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