Wirral Life October 2017 - Page 22

a team of incredibly talented designers who are so passionate about what we do that we generally hit the mark. So yes, there is a balance of living a ridiculous Willy Wonka-style dream job, where I have an excuse not to ‘really’ grow up, but I also have to put my business hat on, make some tough decisions and be commercially focused too. It may surprise you to hear that I don’t actually have my own office, I’m sat in the thick of it working alongside our designers in an open plan studio. My boss tried to put me in an office once which lasted about 4 months as it drove me stir-crazy. I need to be out and about and inspired by the creative people I work with. I’m also a bit of a social butterfly, who likes to have a giggle and a goss with my colleagues too. I do try to stick to a minimal LEGO building outside of work rule. When it is your day job, it’s healthy to have other interests outside, so very little building outside of work (I can hear AFOLS (Adult Fans of LEGO) gasping in horror as they read this!) and I find other ways to have fun outside of work. It must have been interesting to move to Denmark all those years ago. How have you found living abroad? Denmark in itself is very nice, although the LEGO Group is based in Billund in rural Jutland, so it’s quite quiet. I live in a town called Vejle which is about 30 minutes away from work and has all the amenities that you need – nice shops, cinema, restaurants and coffee shops. Danes in general are really lovely and as a nation they have somehow managed to strike that very difficult balance between work and life. Their families and children are extremely important to them, and in many cases prioritized over work, so they have a really good standard of living. Working in the LEGO Design Department, we have over 200 hundred employees from all around the world. At last count, we represent 32 different nationalities, so having such a big expat group we really support each other and find ways to have our own fun. Being a creative bunch, there are the obligatory fancy-dress parties thrown for whatever occasion and usually everyone pulls out all the stops. Of course it’s not all rosy, and there are so many things I miss from home, especially family and friends, but also British telly, food and all the naughty stuff like Cadbury’s chocolate and the odd bag of Monster Munch or Salt and Vinegar Squares. We are really lucky though, as we have an international airport ten minutes from work, so I can jump on a plane and burst out of the Billund bubble and be back in the UK in just over an hour! As you know, the Wirral has a Danish heritage - It’s very fashionable to talk about the Danish “Hygge” (pronounced “HUE-gah - a Danish ritual - meaning to enjoy life’s simple pleasures) do you have any other favourite Danish rituals? Danes have some really funny traditions... if you reach 30 and you are still single, your friends will douse you head to toe in pepper, or erect a ridiculous large home made statue crafted from oil drums outside your front door, which is impossible to move or get rid of. Kids’ birthdays are celebrated with a Kagemand, (instead of a traditional birthday cake as you know it) – it’s like a giant flat sugar-coated bread thing in the shape of a man, and instead of blowing out some candles and 22 wirrallife.com making a wish, everyone has to scream while you lop his head off! They also have Fastelavn, which I guess is similar to our Halloween, where everyone dresses up and then bashes a barrel with a stick (piñata style) until it bursts and sweets fall out… luckily they have moved on from the original tradition which had something to do with bashing a barrel with a real life cat in it! They do also have some really charming Christmas traditions where a ‘Nisse’ invades the family home in the run up to Christmas - this is represented by a plush gnome (kind of like Elf on a Shelf), then while everyone is asleep the ‘Nisse’ gets up to mischief during the night. When the kids wake up, they find naughty ‘Nisse’ has dyed the milk blue (with food colouring), strewn toilet roll all over the place, or stuck kids toys to the ceiling… little kids go crazy for this and think it is the most hilarious thing ever! What’s your favourite memory of the Wirral? Oh my gosh there are too many to think of. A lot of them are quite outdoors. I loved playing in the back garden of our house on Manor Drive in Upton (my parents have now moved). We had an amazing willow tree which you could hide inside underneath the boughs, it had swings hidden inside it and my brother, sister and I used to pretend it was the Batcave. I loved school, I went to Christ Church Primary in Moreton, and then Wallasey School (now Kingsway Academy), so it’s a lot about mucking about with my school friends. But also lovely family walks with the dogs in Royden Park, Thurstaston, or a day trip to Hilbre Island or rolling down the sand hills at Harrison Drive as a kid! What style is your home in Denmark – modern minimalist? My flat is in dire need of a bit of a revamp. I moved in 10 years ago with all these grand ideas, and bought a place that would be a ‘bit of a project.’ I did a little bit of decorating, but then work and travel has gotten in the way of my masterplan a bit. I live in an apartment on the top floor of a four story building, and I guess compared to a lot of homes in the UK, the style is pretty minimal. It’s an older buildi ng with a lot of character. The inside is all white and clean with wooden floors, and it has a lovely balcony with an amazing view… it’s just such a shame that it’s only sunny 3 or 4 days a year so I don’t get to use it much. I’ll be off travelling for work for a week and get home and everyone will tell me ‘Oops, sorry, you just missed Danish summer!’ How do you relax and unwind? I enjoy the usual drinks or dinner round at a friend’s place, cinema and the odd night out. I like to have a few creative projects on the go for any spare second too. A couple of my friends are really good bakers, so I let them do the cake making and then I will shape and decorate them for people’s birthdays! I also come back to London quite a bit and stay with friends over there, and play with my godson and his brother and sister. And I love a bit of heartwarming telly – I’m ploughing through a Golden Girls box set at the moment, and am overjoyed that Will & Grace is back. When I’m in the UK I love to catch up on Bake Off and the like, and my guilty pleasure is a cheeky bit of Gogglebox! :)