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Feels like the beginning, feels like the beginning of the end

(Since this song is pretty unknown, I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend taking a listen to it: "Beginning of the End" by Steve Moakler. It's pretty amazing)

Since Christmas celebrations were all but done with, and New Years was still a little way off, the 27th of December was a pretty chill day. Nina told me she planned to take me to the West Coast (something I've never done, even in my own country. South East QLD for the win?) to see the what the beaches look like here, since I'm hella familiar with Aussie beaches. This time freddy decided to tag along, and he drove us the 40 or so minutes. When we arrived it was quite overcast and was raining lightly, so there was nobody else there.

The actual ocean was hidden behind some large sand dunes that we had to scale, and when we reached the top I got to see one of the flattest beaches I've ever seen.

The water is apparently hella shallow for like 30 meters and then suddenly drops off. I can neither confirm nor deny this fact as it was right around 3 degrees (outside the water), and I really couldn't be bothered dying of hypothermia for the sake of being able to say I went swimming.

We walked along the water's edge for a while, and discovered a watery horror show. Millions of starfish were washed up on the beach. Now, I've seen my fair share of washed up jellyfish (They totally had it coming, vicious stinging lumps of gelatin) but poor little star fish? It was an absolute tragedy. I was freaking out about stepping on them, but Freddy the Heartless was all like "Who cares if you step on them? They're already dead."

I ignored him and continued to avoid them, ending up walking like a dog wearing shoes.

(Exhibit A)

It was also hella windy, the kind of windy that makes you wish you had spontaneously brought a kite with you, just in case of a sudden typhoon. The wind wa slicing straight through my jacket, and that combined with the light but constant rain meant the walk was cut a tad short.

Slightly freezing, we sat in the car with the heater on and drank hot chocolates and had some more Quality Streets. Again, with my lovely invisalign I had to go brush my teeth in the wilderness, but at least I had a nice view-

(^Spontaneous lake created by lots of recent rain made a lovely backdrop to the spectacle that is me brushing my teeth in public)

The next item on the agenda was to go get proper danish hot dogs, which is actually harder than you'd think. After a decent drive and trying several different places, we ended up in this tiny diner that sold them pretty much exclusively. I was originally determined to try it exactly how they usually make it, but I failed in this mission when I saw some of the toppings. Let me explain; I'm sure you are aware of the slow creeping disease to salad that is the gradual integration of RAW red onion. This monstrosity has slowly but surely made its way into the garden salads of Australia, completely destroying what little satisfaction one can gain from eating a salad.

That said, as I watched the lovely man making Nina's hotdog, I saw something that forced me to alter the traditional way of eating them. I am a very tolerant person, but I draw the line at eating raw brown onion. That is, traditional brown onion (The kind that make you cry like you just watched your puppy get hit by a van) cut into small squares and then thrown upon a hotdog. RAW. That was a massive Hell No from me. I happily munched down my onion-free hotdog, which was quite delicious.

(I freaking love pickles ^)

I then needed to brush my teeth, so Nina suggested that since there was a lack of bathrooms nearby, I should brush my teeth in the street. For some reason, I had a slight issue with that, so we ended up driving to Uve's work for me to use the bathroom there. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but Uve works for one of the biggest pork exporters in Denmark. This much became very evident when we arrived.

This little guy greeted us at the entrance, but he was just the start.

The entire place was plastered with pigs. Pigs on the carpet, pigs on the walls, cups with pig motifs. This was the pig equivalent of Batman's BatCave.

Teeth successfully brushed, we headed home.

The next day I spent on the phone to my friends at home. Some *fabulous* family friends that live near Canberra decided that the time to visit my home was as soon as I left, so I got the opportunity to facetime them as they sat in my house. I then had a talk to friends in Victoria (You know who you are :)) for several hours. The day was super relaxed after that and I did very very little until 7 o'clock, when NSW Cameron, Markus and his family came over for dinner. Mathilde also had two friends over, so us Aussies were more outnumbered then ever. We had a lovely dinner and then we showed Cameron the farm. Not that Cameron disliked his placement by any means, but he was a little jelly that I got to be on a farm with the dogs and the horses (Sorry Bro ;) ). I also got back my power converter that I'd accidently left with him when we visited Copenhagen nearly a month ago (Hallelujah!) It's been a painful wait for that thing, since the other one I bought was so crappy that my soul died a little more with each use.

After we farewelled the Cameron and Marcus' family, Freddy took the opportunity to try the ($15!) Kangaroo Jerky I brought over. The following was his reaction-

The final verdict was that it was quite chewy and not particularly flavourful. 3 and a half out of 5 Freddies.

The next morning I happily rolled out of bed at 11am, and had just finished breakfast and was writing on my blog when I got a phone call from my parents. I got some really terrible family news and ended up having a cry for a few hours, including a rare phone call to my big brother who was equally upset.

Later Helene decided we needed to get out of the house, so she took me to the shopping center and we had comisoration nachos.

We did some shopping and found her an outfit for New Years (Which was nearly identical to the outfit she was already wearing). A sad song on the radio in a shop nearly set me off again, but I managed to keep it together.

Mathilde was planning to have a mini pre-New Years party with the two girls she had over that evening and invited me to join. I managed to win at (Danish) Disney themed trivial pursuit, but had to leave after that to have another cry while on the phone to a friend. That was the end of my very crappy Friday.

Saturday was dedicated to preparing for New Years Eve, with the first order of business being to go and buy the fireworks. That's right kiddies, bonafide explosives in the hands of the untrained and uncoordinated. I was hyped.

-I did some research, and 444 emergency calls were made about firework related injuries on New Years last year. Great odds.-

We went to this little pop up stall that had been set up in an empty lot and had a look around. The walls were covered in sets of fireworks available to purchase. Uve was given an order form, and he ticked the sets he wanted to buy before handing it back to the workers. While we waited, I saw multiple people leave with their orders, and it all looked cool, but it wasn't until we received our order that I started laughing maniacally. We had bought roughly one Metric Crap-ton; more than anyone else I'd seen.

When I got home, I helped Mathilde and her friends make some more biscuit thingies, this time baked marzipan with an uncooked berry meringue thing swirled on top and then dipped in chocolate.

That night I helped nina make dinner, which strangely turned out to be a traditional Thai banquet. Apparently the story goes that one of Uve's sister In-Law's is from Thailand and taught Nina how to make spring rolls, dipping sauce and Thai fried Prawns.

I managed to escape the deep frying with only a minor burn (it was inevitable, let's be honest) and enjoyed dinner, after which one of the girls left for the train station in order to make it home for New Years.

New Years Eve started out pretty chill, and I ended up having nearly a two hour phone call home- during which my Dad hilariously described the fireworks in Mooloolaba to me as they were happening. That absolutely made my day. The phone call was also a learning opportunity for Mathilde, as she discovered that while I'm on the phone, I like to go for, let's say a little walk. Apparently watching me pace around the kitchen, dining and lounge rooms for 2 hours was annoying, for some weird reason. After lunch, Mathilde and I got to "decorate" the lounge/ dining room. The use of parentheses is due to the fact that it was more about making a mess- confetti and streamers were thrown everywhere to really get everyone in a partying mood.

The small packages on the tree were also refilled with lollies and then the tree was covered in sparking streamers.

(If you look closely at the center of the table, you'll notice that 5 massive bags of party poppers had been poured onto the table. Those came into play later)

Helene gave me a cute dress to wear, as I only had the one that I'd been given for Christmas, and yet again we all dressed up nicely to stay in (I love the commitment to fancy stuff on special occasions- fancy plates that never get used, dining room for Christmas and New Year, suits and cocktail dresses for celebrating at home).

Before dinner, we watched the Danish Queen give a nationwide address (I think she said something about banding together and families maybe, I don't know)

Dinner started with a strange lemony savoury mousse made with fish eggs and topped with peas and micro prawns - surprising tasty. The main consisted of heavenly ham and the potato-tastic sugar potatoes. For dessert we had Lemon mousse-ish thing that was more like uncooked lemon cheesecake- hella delicious.

The main feature of this meal wasn't the food however, it was the hundreds of party poppers laying on the table, waiting for their opportunity to spark an all out war. They didn't have to wait long, as before the entree was even served, Freddy had popped one in my face- his own declaration of war. The battle continued to rage in between each course, with the rest of the family eventually being drawn into the combat like the majority of Europe during WWII. Confetti cannons scared the crap out of me, as to make them work, Freddy lit a fuse that sparked ferociously right next to me without any warning. Not going to lie, I used my desert bowl as a shield from the decorations of doom.

The Frank-Jessen's philosophy about New Year's Eve is that the cleaning should be left to the next day, so make as much mess as possible that night and deal with the consequences later. I took advantage of this policy happily.

After we'd finished eating, we played a rather infuriating game, that was like the unfortunate offspring of The Chocolate Game and Pass The Passel. Essentially we had to unwrap a gift that had also been tied with a ribbon, using only a knife and fork. The gift (prepared earlier by moi) had about 20 layers to it (again, each layer had a ribbon), with lollies within each layer and a main gift in the center. Essentially, each player took turns opening as many layers as they could, while another player rolled the dice frantically until they got a 6. As soon as that player gets a 6, the unwrappers turn is over and the passal is passed to the next player. Any layer opened by a player is theres to keep. This continues until somebody opens the center prize, in this case Freddy. And what was the prize, you ask? Giant Novelty playing cards and a set of finger puppets (I got the best family to stay with, I swear. These guys are the best)

With the game completed, Freddy decreed that it was fireworks time. I'd been hearing the distant echo of fireworks for the last couple hours, and now it was finally time to join the party of pyrotechnic maniacs. First though, we had to suit up.

This was a rather strange experience, as I had to put on a winter jumpsuit over the top of my dress. Freddy looked a tad strange as well, chucking on a beany, jumpsuit and thick gloves over the top of his swish suit.

(Well would you look at that. It's another *Candid Freddy*!

I would like to take this opportunity to reassure my mother, since after talking to her I discovered that she gets anxiety when reading my posts about misfortunes I've had (such as the great bus debacle of 2017), even though the fact that I was able to write the recount of this even means that I didn't die and managed to make it home safely. So, with that said, here is a very reassuring photo of me in my "safety first" gear-

(No injuries for me, no Sir. Look at that bullet-proof protective eye gear!)

When we made our way outside, the neighbours were already firing off fireworks, which actually looked surprisingly professional despite it being a home job.

Uve had set up behind the barn, with some large metal containers filled with sand placed there to serve as the launch pad for the fireworks, stopping them from tipping over and hitting someone. (See Mum, SAFETY)

We started out small, with some little cherry-bombs, flashbangs and chinese firecrackers. They were small, but I'll admit I was quite tentative at first, shrieking a few more times than I'd care to admit.

So it turns out my phone doesn't take particularly good night photos-

After playing around for a bit, and firing off few quite impressive large fireworks, we headed back inside; saving the biggest and best for Midnight. Inside, we watched a Danish comedian (I actually watched Hamish and Andy since there wasn't an option for English Subtitles), then a old movie in black and white called "Dinner for One" that is apparently played every New Years. I could only find it in colour on Youtube I'm afraid-

Freddy and I also played a (slightly adapted) game of "Speed" with his Novelty cards, in which I ABSOLUTELY DESTROYED HIM. (I say that because it was only his second time playing it and I'm pretty sure I'll never beat him again)

As the countdown to midnight started, I was given a glass of ice tea as everyone else had a champagne.

(Looks pretty much the same)

I also watched the firework show in Copenhagen, which should make you happy Mum.

(^So Majestic)

I was enthusiastic to get back outside to let off more fireworks, so I suited back up and headed out into one of the most surreal settings I've ever been in. The noise was tremendous, earth rumbling booming that had me questioning whether I was near a battlefield in the middle of the Second World War. Around me in every direction, fireworks were lighting up the night sky. Apparently everyone in town lets off their own, so for about half an hour after midnight, the sky was turned to day.

It was amazing, and has re-inspired me to go to RiverFire in Brisbane sometime.

Uve and Freddy let off our own impressive display, which joined the cacophony of beautiful explosions going on above my head. (Videos on my facebook)

All this, without injury- Go us!!!

That was pretty much the end of the night, and I headed to bead at the relatively early 2 in the morning.

As I reflected on the thought of it being a New Year, I couldn't help but get a bit upset at the thought that I was 6 days out from leaving this place. As excited as I am for the London Chapter of this adventure, I'm loving it here, and really don't want to have to say goodbye to my amazing family that have let me be a part of their lives.

So while it was A happy New Year, It was a bit sad as well.

Stay kind this year, guys.

Katie x

#FunkyNewYear #TheEndIsNear #MidnightMemories