Hygge. Pronounced ‘hue-gah.’ Unless you’re in our house, in which case it’s ‘hug.’ Or ‘higgy.’
It’s the Danish concept of living well, living simply and being good to yourself – and no ‘wellness’ guide can exist without it.
As far as I can tell I’ve been good to myself for several years. Too many, according to the waistband on my grey trousers…
But I’ve always been good at home. I’ve never set foot in Denmark. It’s on my bucket list: one of the countries I really want to visit. Copenhagen, and then a jaunt up the road to Aarhus (see above: pronounced ‘our house,’ obviously…)
And last week, for thirty glorious seconds, I was on the plane.
Packed, virtual boarding pass in my hand. A few hours and I’d be sitting in the Sky Bar, gazing out over the city, Sweden on the horizon. And a plate of just-caught seafood heading my way…
“We’re going to Copenhagen,” my wife had said, beaming from ear-to-ear.
“Brilliant,” I said. “Fantastic! I’ve always wanted to go to Denmark. When did you book?”
This was why I loved her. These sudden, out of-the-blue romantic moments. A weekend in Copenhagen: just the two of us. “Tell me the dates,” I said, “I’ll put them in my diary.”
“Er…” she said.
“What?” I asked, feeling the boarding pass slipping through my fingers: watching the waiter walk past my table…
“When I said ‘we’ I meant Jessica and me. She’s booked the flights for my Christmas present.”
It didn’t take me long to sober up. I hadn’t really wanted caramelised salmon with green tomato sauce anyway. Home-made schnapps? Nej tak, a beer from the corner shop will be fine.
Besides, there’s a giant tick in the ‘Good Parents’ column as compensation. When your daughter does that for your wife’s Christmas present, you have to think you got one or two decisions right along the way.
“Has she booked the tickets?”
“Yep. She says we’re flying from Luton on the 19th.”
“Yes. She’s got some time off from uni because she’s not doing exams.”
“It’ll be cold,” I said.
But not quite as cold as stirring a lonely pan of baked beans…
So there’ll be no Hygge for Dad. At least not in Copenhagen.
Never mind, there’s always the lounge…
“What are you doing?”
“I’m watching football, drinking wine and eating cheese.”
“I can see that. And in your tracksuit bottoms. And you haven’t shaved for about four days. It’s a bit of a slob-fest, darling.”
I sighed. That’s the problem with wives. They don’t understand how quickly a husband can embrace the latest world-wide phenomenon. Catch the zeitgeist. “It’s not a slob-fest,” I patiently explained. “It’s hygge. I’m not going to Denmark so I’m having hygge at home.”
My wife didn’t look convinced. Possibly because her version of hygge conjured up a chisel jawed Scandinavian: not Kurt Wallender after a night’s drinking…
“Look,” I said. “Living well – I’m drinking red wine which is good for my heart. Living simply – I only have two types of cheese. And I’m being good to myself – ”
“With an elasticated waist.”
“Which I don’t need any more thanks to all the walking I do.”
A light bulb went on. That was the answer.
“Ben and I are doing another walk next summer,” I said. “Denmark will be ideal. A little jaunt. Copenhagen to Aarhus.”
My wife sighed. “It’s 200 miles, darling. Across the sea. Other than that you’ll be fine.”
That’s the trouble with marrying someone who’s got Geography A-level. You can’t outwit her. Especially as she’ll shortly be on intimate terms with my plate of caramelised salmon…
I’m delighted to say that with a designer friend of mine I now have an app on the iPhone App Store. Children fighting, cat puking and your OH prostrate with man flu? Yep, the Stressed Out Mums Sticker Pack is now available for 79p. Need chocolate? Need cake? Ready for wine o’clock? Every sticker you’ll ever need is right there…
My thanks to Visit Copenhagen (click the link above) for permission to use the picture.