Think Jetsons cartoon 🎶Meet B J Jensen, his wife Heidi, their son Mads and Nikki too… 🎶
One morning many many years ago I sat down to breakfast.
As the sleepy fog cleared I realised that it wasn’t one of my four brothers sitting at the end of the table – we had a visitor.
The conversation probably went along the lines of:
L: with slight interest “Who are you?”
B: “Bjarne, from Denmark”
L: satisfied with the answer “Can you pass the milk please”
end of conversation
My brother Mark had met Bjarne (BJ) skiing in Austria and had invited him to stay. Not unusual in our household; it could be like living in a hotel at times, people coming and going, siblings moving in and out and back in again.
So here Bjarne was, sitting at the table enjoying breakfast. Mark wasn’t even living at home, but Bjarne now was.
Bjarne holds the record for the longest stay; about 18 months* and he quickly become part of the family; working for my brother Luke who had a lawn mowing business and for Paul who was in construction.
Apparently I treated him just like a brother too, often telling him to ‘shush’ and fobbing off household chores to him!
*It should be noted that Bjarne did move out for a part of this time – just across the road, close enough to pop home for family dinners.
And, like all good tourists, he spent a few months driving his Kombi van around Australia. But he always returned to 84 Kingston street eventually.
With a desire to live in Australia, Bjarne went home and lured his girlfriend out on a return trip a few years later.
Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in convincing Heidi to leave family and friends behind in Denmark.
So, here we are on Bjarne’s doorstep – he can hardly say no, can he?
Of course Bjarne and Heidi greet us warmly. They haven’t changed a bit, except they also have two strikingly tall sons, Mads 25 with his fashionable beard – very viking looking and Nikki 21, who is waiting with envy to get enough facial hair to compete with his brother!
We catch-up on family news and life in general. Bjarne shows off his bowling skills at Lalandia, the nearby holiday resort which is a popular destination for Scandinavians.
Don and Bjarne quickly bond over beer; Carlsberg and Tuborg are the local brands. Heidi introduces us to an array of Danish tastes, such as frikadeller (meat or fish balls), flaeskesteg (roast pork with crackling) and herring, along with many other local delights.
In my teens my one and only pen-pal was Bjarne’s cousin, Bitten, and after so many years it was lovely to finally meet her.
Rødby is a small town of 6,500 people. The region has struggled in the economic decline, waiting on the promised commencement of a tunnel to connect the port of Rødby with Germany.
The project will generate jobs and ongoing economic benefits. For now, many people seek work outside the area. BJ has been commuting to Copenhagen – 1.5hrs each way.
Bjarne, Heidi and Nikki are heading off to the Greek Islands for two weeks. Before leaving us the house keys, they take the time to help us organise cycling plans for the next week.