Dress code was definitely business suits, so no palazzo pyjamas or designer-torn jeans. A specially chartered ferry-sized vessel picked us and the other "chosen" ones from the Harbour Master Steps in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art and carried us to the harbourside entry to Garden Island. Don't think you can do this in your private yacht or row-boat. There are men there to politely discourage you from doing anything so foolhardy. In fact, all participant were well known and documented.
After sampling Danish hot-dog from a specially converted kiosk, the guests were at leisure to admire the harbour views while quaffing the fluids of their choice, there was no shortage of bubbles of the alcoholic or mineral source. As the royal couple's time of arrival approached the guests began to determinedly, but slowly, move towards the road entry. No hassling, no elbows, very polite. Cameras at the ready. And then they were there. Whilst Prince Frederik and "Our Mary" met all the sponsors and important people with special name tags, we, the plebs, had time to crane and take snaps and comment on how "ordinary" and "nice" they seemed. Princess Mary was dressed becomingly in a frilly white blouse and white skirt, with a sensible neutral shoulder-bag and brown shoes. None of this silly business of matching shoes and handbag! She is tall and very slim, where have the post-baby saddlebags gone that we ordinary mortals are weighed down with? And smile...she never stopped, even when faced with a surprised and tongue-tied old biddy like me. How do you address a Danish crown princess? What do you say, particularly if you have not prepared yourself for the eventuality. Thank you Barry, for diverting her attention by asking to take a photograph.
The sun still shone, the harbour was still brilliant, the marquee was still full of people, but I, for a nanosecond, felt like a princess too. The helicopter overhead buzzed and fled as if being found with its finger in the till. Pretending to be carrying sightseers on a routine Sunday. The Navy two-man patrol-boat casually and lazily did U-turns a few metres from the area where we stood, occasionally being joined by dark grey navy duckies each of which were carrying what seemed to be two men in diving-gear and masks. The security-men were also very discreet, dressed just like Frederik, in casual-smart, neutral-toned jackets and lighter trousers. In fact they must have been chosen for their good looks and similarity to the Crown Prince. They had definitely eschewed dark sunglasses and bulging hip pockets and were only recognisable from a certain angle, when their cork-screwing hearing-aids plunged into the backs of their collars.
The food was superb, Danish of course, but with a nod to the Sydney beaches and the "toss another shrimp on the barbie" culture, a steak topped with king prawns was called Surf'n'Turf. Chicken breasts were silky soft, marinated and char-grilled. The sausages were genuine little Danish delights, all accompanied by salads featuring sour cream, potatoes, fresh greens and unusual dressings. How much can you eat in one go? Particularly on a warm, humid Sydney day, after consuming quite a few bubbly drinks? The one Australian dish - mini-pavlovas with cream and fresh berries – was appreciated by all, especially me.
It was only after the royal couple had left, that I realised how appropriately I was dressed. I had appliqued a Haapsalu shawl motif to the front of my dress. Helle-Mall Risti had put it inside the birthday card she sent me. It was only right that on such a day I should wear the eight-pointed star that is the centre of the design called the 'kroonprintsi sall'.
Having mentioned Haapsalu motifs used in unexpected ways; last Sunday, 27th November, in Eesti Maja, there were many items for sale that were creative, edgy, traditional and interesting. It was Kunsti-ja Käsitööringi annual Christmas Market – our 'Jõulu Laat'. As well as the socialising and entertainments, there were delicious Estonian foods such as 'kapsapirukas', 'kohupiimakook' and 'heeringa võileivad' to be had. The dancing and singing were uplifting and heart-stopping but, most important, there were Christmas gifts available; cards, paintings, embroideries, jewellery, ceramics, felting and 'piparkoogi tainas'. What more could you want? But, wait, there's more. We are already preparing for next year as well.
First off, there will be another kunsti ja käsitöö trip to Estonia, preferably taking in 'Jaanipäev' in an unexpected location, possibly in Hiiumaa. The options are open and anyone with a good idea can contact me and come with us to make it all exciting. Secondly, we are preparing for Eesti Päevad in Sydney at the end of the year and we welcome anyone who wishes to participate to contact us and START BEING CREATIVE.
|WE COULDN’T MEET THE MINISTER BECAUSE... Sunday, November 20th, we had a prior invitation which we just could not refuse. We had been invited by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a barbeque at Garden Island, with the hope of seeing the visiting young Danish royals.|