Notes from a Small Country

Notes from a Danish lockdown

“Take my internet.” Said my neighbour.

“You need to work” He continued.

My wife and I were in the unfortunate position of having to move house 2 weeks ago, right in the middle of Denmark’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Our move was organised before the pandemic hit, and we couldn’t delay as the landlord wanted their house back.

The wait on getting the internet installed at our new rental was over 2 months, mostly due to the number of people working at home and needing fibre optic connections (a super-fast pipe).

One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness; usually, it comes back to you

The next morning the doorbell rang, and there on the doorstep was a small wi-fi router.

On it was a note with the password.

My previous neighbour had left his 4G sim card router, so I could get set up for work that day. I was due my own but it was not scheduled until the following day.

“You’ll need a car, how can you move house without a car?” Said friends whose son attends the same Kindergarten as ours.

“We’ll drop it around with the keys, we have 2 of them and with the lockdown, it will just sit on the driveway anyway.”

So for the day of our move and 7 days after that, we had a car. It was amazing. We would have struggled without it and could not be more grateful.

Every single time you help somebody stand up you are helping humanity rise

COVID 19 has brought out the best in many people. Above are just 2 examples of kindness towards myself and my family. There are many more around the world involving people helping those with illness or isolating alone at home.

I hope you’ve been experiencing the best of the people around you.

Denmark certainly has it’s share of kind and good people.

Recently it’s been praised for it’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even before the official lockdown, many Danes (including myself and many of my colleagues) had decided to self-isolate.

The lockdown was a soft one compared to many other countries. There was no stay at home order and many shops remained open.

It seems the Danes didn’t need fines and policing to follow government and WHO advice on social distancing.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

The trust in government is so high it’s almost bewildering.

And the government trusts its people too.

It goes both ways.

And pays off nicely.

I’m seeing the government and its people work together, with almost perfect synergy. The type of synergy larger governments in other countries can only dream of.

Compared to those other large countries, Denmark moved early. Restrictions were announced on 11 March, by comparison, this was a full 12 days before lockdown measures were introduced in the UK.

It appears to have helped contain the spread and give time for local healthcare to prepare.

And although there were some problems with people, overall the success of the isolation in Denmark is evident from the number of people admitted to hospital along with the death rate.

As of April 15th, the daily new cases continued to show a decline, with some small spikes.

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Data from

Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders

So, much of the world is now watching Denmark’s reopening due to its successful management of the pandemic.

The decision to soften the lockdown has been popular amongst Danes in general.

The Prime Minister has said one of the government’s key priorities is getting Danes back to work.

She’s leading the way (along with other global female leaders) and the world is watching.

The culture of Denmark is very focused on people being in work, with the children in kindergarten or school. So the lockdown has been hard on the majority of the nation. It’s actually rare to find a family with only one parent working (much rarer than in the US and UK).

Add to that, the number of families living in apartments and you have a cocktail of practical problems that get worse as time goes on.

So, one of the main focuses has been sending children 11 and younger back to kindergarten or school.

This allows those parents working at home with young children to actually work at home.

For my wife and I, we’re lucky enough that she chose not to work for the first 4 years of our children’s lives. So, while I’m working at home, she is working with the kiddo’s (playing and teaching – it helps that she was a lecturer before becoming a parent).

On top of that, the isolation has been ok for myself and my family. We live simple lives, where we don’t focus on external things to drive our joy.

The best things in life aren’t things

Around 10 years ago my enthusiasm for Stoicism and Buddhism paid off, where I became consistently happy and proud of myself for the first time.

This meant I no longer relied on external situations or ‘things’ to make me happy. I choose my attitude and happiness.

It’s the type of freedom I’d dreamed of for years.

Self-isolation is a phase, one we’re coping with well. I’m proud of how my children are happy and finding joy each day, despite not having left home (except for dog walks) for over a month.

I’m grateful to be able to witness the levels of trust, kindness and self-esteem the Danes demonstrate daily.

And more so now than ever.

There are many people suffering and dying around the world, we feel very lucky to be healthy mentally and physically.

I hope where ever you are, you have the health of mind and body, as well as the kindness of others.

And just maybe…the early and gradual reopening of Denmark proves effective enough, that whatever country you’re in, you can follow the lessons learned and get your life and country back to business as usual too.


I hope you enjoyed this episode of Notes from a Small Country? I’d love feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

Notes from a Small Country

Twas the night before Christmas…

“It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.” – Bill Murray

We’re in Denmark for the holidays, where the day before Christmas is a lot more than just the day before the main event.

It’s sort of the main event itself.

In the land of bicycles and hygge, Christmas is traditionally celebrated on the evening of December 24th. Families get together for a meal of roast goose or pork, accompanied by red cabbage and boiled potatoes with gravy. After dinner, everyone goes to see the tree. A Christmas tree covered with real candles, yes real candles lit and burning!

It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters, it’s who’s around it

It’s then that Danes join hands to dance and sing around the tree (yes, the one with burning candles). They dance clockwise for one song and then counter-clockwise for the next one.

It’s only after this the presents are handed out.

So all day kids are waiting for the presents, which for some, where families are eating and drinking till late (a common occurrence), presents can be opened as late as 10 pm.

It sounds almost cruel to those brought up in a society where kids rush downstairs on Christmas day to rip open presents as soon as they’re awake.

All in good time

Imagine being a kid, knowing you can have your presents, but only when you’ve waited all day, are stuffed full of pork and have danced around the tree?

Imagine being so tired you won’t remember if it was Uncle Adrian or Uncle Ian who gave you that skateboard? Or so tired you won’t be able to play with the toys you might get as you can’t keep your eyes open…

But wait, there’s more…

After you’ve opened the presents you then eat a dessert of rice pudding, mmmm.

Sound like torture? It certainly would for many kids around the world.

Though there’s a certain charm to it all. A charm that includes patience, a focus on family time, and traditions not lost in a world of commercialism.

Yet many around the world would love the opportunity for such as wonderfully inclusive Christmas with no presents until the end of the day.

When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence

It’s estimated 14.3 million people live in poverty in the UK. That’s almost 3 times the population of Denmark.

The UK government estimate one million children aged 10 and under are set to miss out on basics such as warm clothing and fresh food over the month of December.

It’s 2019 and hard for me to comprehend this at times. Especially from the place I live with my family now.

Denmark looks after it’s people, it’s not perfect, yet the need for charities and volunteers is very light compared to a place like the UK.

In part, it’s down to culture, and as a family we’re rapidly going off the British culture of money being the currency of choice, not happiness. It’s a culture with a best before date, and sadly one many other western countries favour.

Thankfully, not so much in Denmark.

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together

So we’re doing a partly Danish Christmas this year, one where Christmas eve is about spending time with family (we have my wife’s parents staying with us) and a glorious meal.

We’ll do presents on Christmas day (we’re not quite ready to tell our kiddo’s they can have there presents, but not until the evening…)

We’re also not brave enough to have real candles burning on our real Christmas tree…

But walk past our house around 7 pm on the 24th December, and you might just see us hand in hand dancing around a tree under the dim glow of LED lights.

Christmas is, of course, the time to be home, in heart as well as body

Whatever your celebration this time of year, I hope you have a fantastic one. One with friends and family.

Ada Hendricks says it best:

“May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope; The spirit of Christmas which is peace; The heart of Christmas which is love.” – Ada V. Hendricks


I hope you enjoyed this episode of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

See you next time for Episode 14.

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