WORKING TRIPS TURN TO LOVE
IT WAS chance really, that took Sandra Gladwyn to Denmark as a 16-year-old, but it is love that holds her there ll years later, both for her Danish husband, farmer Lars Schroll Anderson and the country.
"I am so comfortable here in Denmark," says Sandra, who is so fluent in Danish now that speaking English seems more difficult.
It was Sandras mother, Farm Womens Club member Edna Gladwyn who farms with her husband Doug at Carmarthen, Dyfed, who was responsible for her first Danish visit.
"My parents were dairy farmers and in 1985 we went to a Danish Jersey show at Burford, Oxon. My mother got talking to a Danish woman who had made a speech there and she said she could find me a job. I didnt really expect to hear any more but not long after she wrote and said there was a job waiting for me," explains Sandra, who went to work on a dairy farm for three months. She made good friends and for the next five years went backwards and forwards to Denmark, always working on farms, before deciding to live there permanently in 1990.
"The wages are good here and I can earn £10-15/hour even though I have no for-mal qualifications," explains Sandra, who enjoys outdoor work and cant imagine having to be cooped up in an office all day. "There is a problem with taxes, the usual rate is 48%, but you dont have to find extras like council tax. There are no big differences here between rich and poor – things seem more even here."
Sandra met Lars when she came to his farm to pick asparagus in 1990. She returned the following year to pick asparagus and strawberries, and again in 1993 for a variety of farm jobs, but it was not exactly love at first sight.
"We didnt realise we were falling in love although everyone else claims they could see," she says. "It was only when we had a bit to drink at the harvest party in the autumn that things came out."
They married in 1995 with full prenuptial celebrations. Lars had the toes cut from his socks on his stag night, (no one could tell Farmlife why this is traditional) and Sandra was dressed in souwester and wellies for her hen party. Meanwhile friends constructed the traditional archway of greenery, flowers and fairy lights at the entrance to their home, and friends and relatives travelled from Britain and America for the ceremony.
Sandra continues to do seasonal work on the 57ha (140-acre) mixed farm, which employs one worker, plus all the other jobs a farmers wife takes on. She takes bed and breakfast guests in the modern farmhouse which is a short drive from the sea and the pretty town of Faaborg. The farm is situated in the "Fyn Alps" on the island of Fyn, but although it is considered hilly for Denmark, it does not put much strain on the legs of the many cyclists who visit the area!
The farm is popular with hikers and anglers – Sandra and Lars are keen fishermen and know the best places to find sea trout. She lets two double rooms and charges 125DKK (£14.53) a person plus breakfast, with a discount for stays of three or seven days.
In May there was a new addition to the family, a beautiful daughter, Louise. Within days of her arrival Sandra was out digging new potatoes to sell at the farm gate.
"People go crazy for new potatoes here and we had sold out before any one else had lifted theirs," explains Sandra. "The ground was frozen until the last minute for everyone else and theirs got frosted."
The secret of the early crop was a covering of horticultural fleece topped with plastic and it really paid off.
"We sold them in 0.5kg bags at 40DKK/kg (£2.32/lb) and sold 30,000DKK (£3,488) worth," she says with delight.
Sandra enjoys life in Denmark and is optimistic for the future, which she hopes will include her parents moving to the area.
"We got married last year, had the little one this year and I just wonder what will happen next year," she says happily.
Sandra with baby
daughter Louise: Her first visit to
Denmark followed a chance conversation. Now its home.
Sandra still does much seasonal farm work and loves being out of doors.