The Danish Gene

“Why do you want to move to Denmark?”

The question every Dane and Brit asks when I tell them our plans.

“Because I have family there and I’ve always wanted to try it out.”

“Ah so you speak Danish.”


“Ah your husband speaks Danish.”


“So what are you doing?!”


It was the same question I got asked when, at the age of 24 I had two degrees and a bursting CV but there I was, living in Sheffield with my parents, on the dole, desperately trying to break into journalism. From the age of 16 I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I knew it wasn’t an easy career but the more I found out about it and the more I did, the more I wanted it. It was a gut feeling, and despite more doors closing than opening, I felt like it was in my blood and I knew I’d be good at it. Just before turning 25, I officially became a BBC Broadcast Journalist and started winning awards.

I have the same feeling about moving to Denmark. And this is actually in my blood. I’m half Danish. Ever since I first visited the country aged eight, I have felt the Danish gene. I asked my parents to send me to a Danish school when I was 12 but they thought I was mad. I suggested it again after school for a gap year but my Mum thought I’d run off with a Danish boy and never return. I thought about moving after university but I got the travel bug and bought a round-the-world-ticket to travel independently for nine months. When I returned to England I went full pelt into my journalism career and that was it.

Now, aged 32, I’ve had a baby and my life has slowed down, giving me time to think. There’s something about creating a new life that makes you look at your own through fresh eyes and realise how precious it is. And it came back like an itch. I’ve got the Danish gene and now my daughter has too. I really want to experience what that means and for my new family to speak Danish.

You may wonder why, being half Danish, I don’t speak the language. My Dad is Danish. He was born in Ringe on Funen and spent the first six months of his life in an orphanage. He was then adopted by a Danish mother and a British, Yorkshire father. The family moved to England and aged seven, Dad was sent to full-time boarding school where no one spoke Danish. He lost the language.

After his parents died, my Dad took an enormously brave decision to find out who his blood parents were. His Danish mother and father weren’t together – they were only teenagers when Dad was born, which is why he was adopted. His father acknowledged the request but wanted to draw a line under that part of his life. His mother, unable to have children after Dad, had since adopted two daughters with her husband. She welcomed Dad and all of us into her family with open arms. I was eight years old and remember my first visit vividly. I’m the second oldest of four children and the only one with blonde hair and blue eyes. That’s when I found out why. I looked like a Dane, and I looked like my grandmother.

My grandmother, Bedstemor is now 84 and so is her husband, who has always been Bedstefar. I see them once a year for a week. I feel lucky to still have them in my life and now my daughter Lydia’s, but time is running out for me to have a conversation with them in Danish.

So this is where it stems from. It’s far more than a whim and I have a husband and one-year old daughter with me on the journey. I am incredibly lucky to be married to someone who shares my dreams so much, he’s not only willing to jump into the unknown for me, but actually lead the way.

This is on the side of a building in Rømø – where we spend our summers.


1 Comment

  1. Lisa Langston
    November 24, 2021 / 1:01 pm

    I also have the danish gene! my mom was Danish and my father was half danish and welsh. I have been back a forth every 6 month until I was 18 when I moved out. But, since than Denmark keeps pulling me HOME my family does not understand me expect my oldest son and he feels the same way. I hope you can give me some information on moving from the U.S.A to denmark

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: