Time to fill in a few of the more recent gaps.
The Ulsan job came to an abrupt end in 2015. The giant we had spent three years constructing left the quayside on its journey to the Barents Sea and nearly all of us were sent home the next day. As the slump in the oil and gas industry had pretty much bottomed out around that time there were very few other projects available to move on to and home meant home.
After two years of mixed fortunes in England, the ‘phone rang with a call from an agent who had found a small reference in my CV matching a client requirement in a job description. Three tests, two interviews and a set of return flights later I found myself hired with a start date set on a project based in Esbjerg, Denmark.
The project is in its relatively early stages so the contract is short. On that basis it makes more sense for me to commute to Denmark rather than move the family abroad with me. If/when the project gets full confirmation and I get invited to stay longer we will reassess accordingly.
In the meantime I am getting quite familiar with the flight permutations between London and Billund plus the connection possibilities outwards from those airports to home and office respectively. Danish bus services are certainly punctual!
Rankings appear to be popular in Denmark and when I hear (frequently) that Esbjerg is the nation’s fifth largest city I do not doubt the claim. I do wonder how it is measured though.
This city covers plenty of acres and does so with long, wide roads in a grid layout. There are some grand buildings of various vintages in the centre, attractive residential streets, a large port, beaches and even an Esbjerg Airport. Clearly this is a settlement built accommodate on a fair scale. The one thing I can’t see much evidence of is people.
In mitigation, I do spend the working/shopping hours of the day tucked away in the office so I miss the possible throngs on “Denmark’s longest pedestrianised shopping street”; I have paid but one visit to the recently opened mall at the end of said street: I do not spend my weekends here. This is Scandinavia.
However, speaking as boy of London’s outer suburbs, it feels unavoidably odd when I can frequently walk the fifteen minutes from the city centre out to my flat of an evening passing only three fellow pedestrians and barely more moving cars during the journey. Where is everybody?
No doubt there is plenty to be observed in the rise and fall of Esbjerg as a fishing port and latterly as an oil and gas centre (see above) but this is hardly a languishing, abandoned city. Several building projects (like the aforementioned mall) are testament to the forward-looking nature of the administration here. Let us hope it is not comparable to the “build it and they will come” philosophy used to mixed effect elsewhere in the world.
Putting a Londoner’s population concerns aside, Esbjerg is a good place to be. There is plenty of fresh air with a strong wind nearly every day and the weather is so variable, the locals are on a par with the English when it comes to discussing the subject. So far so good.