Lene and Jakob Pilt found true happiness for their family in the former telephone centre in Randbøldal. They love the old-school intimacy of the village community – and they love being active, either helping out their neighbours or doing DIY projects on their property.
Parts for a remote-controlled car are scattered all over the kitchen table. Jakob, bent over the car, seems hardly to notice the doorbell. He has come to take it for granted that guests let themselves in without his involvement.
With a shake of her head, Lene looks at her husband. Absentminded hobbying has become a recurring pastime for Jakob. Smiling, she explains:
- We are really close here in Randbøldal. We help each other out, and we organise lots of social activities. We really love that aspect of life here in Randbøldal. It feels safe here - we feel confident that someone is always looking out for us.
- Although we keep our ‘door open’, it’s important to say that some residents stay more to themselves. Which is obviously respected 100%! But to our family, everyone knowing each other is one of the primary qualities of living in Randbøldal, says Lene Pilt.
The Pilt family has lived in the small town, characterised by its beautiful steep, forested slopes, for more than a decade, now. They fell in love with the place on a cold winter’s day, late 2008.
- When you see the lush and green trees at the bottom of our garden, it is easy to understand. When we first saw the house, the tree trunks were naked, and everything was covered in snow. But it was absolutely beautiful, says Lene.
- There was no doubt in our minds. We just had to live here, confirms Jakob.
Wrapped in chicken wire
It wasn’t long until the family grew. Valdemar joined them in 2010, and little brother, Kristoffer, arrived a couple of years later. The family also consists of a rabbit, two cats and an aquarium full of colourful fishes.
- It is Valdemar's responsibility to feed the rabbit, Kristoffer feeds the cats, and we adults feed the fish, explains Lene.
The garden is regularly frequented by wild visitors. That is why Lene's kitchen garden is completely wrapped in chicken wire.
Lene explains, “Wild animals will eat anything in my garden, not least all the best parts of my vegetables!”
Lene hopes that the local roe and red deer will leave her herbaceous perennials along the terrace alone.
- The deer come right up to the house. We see it all the time.
Next to the rabbit run, the garden has been equipped with a hot tub. An outdoor bathtub, heated to 35-40 degrees by means of a wood-burning stove – pure luxury on clear winter days, and one of the latest, self-built additions to the couple’s home. But this latest addition is just one of many.
- We love working on the house and the garden. In the early years, we had some really big projects in the house. But after finishing the conservatory, we've given ourselves a bit of a break. The next project is a new bathroom. We’ve already planned that. And at some point, we're going to dig out the basement, too. But that’s one of those kinds of projects that you need to build up endurance for, says Lene, looking tired just thinking about it.
- That’s a project for a later date, Jakob makes clear. He adds:
- Lately, we’ve had our work cut out for us just helping out our neighbours, paying them back for all the times they’ve pitched in on our projects. It goes without saying that we would gladly help anyone who has helped us out!
Lene and Jakob are both trained engineers and even if they do keep busy at work, they like to relax by staying active in their free time. Jakob has cleared an area of trees at the bottom of the garden, creating a shortcut for the boys to visit their playmates. He has also cut a hole in the hedge up to their elderly neighbour. Now, he can drive his garden tractor through the hedge and cut the neighbour’s lawn.
He also spends time racing his mountain bike in the local forests with a local group of guys.
- Valdemar has a mountain bike, too, and we have agreed that he can join me in the woods for the very first time this summer, Jakob says.
So far, Valdemar is just happy to be able to cycle when visiting his classmates.
- But the hill is steep, long and annoying!, says Valdemar.
Most of the time, Valdemar just enjoys having some time to himself when he gets home from school.
- It’s really nice and quiet here. There’s hardly any traffic noise. It’s not like school. It’s so noisy there! It reminds me of Vejle, says Valdemar.
Lots of hobbies
Having a bike in Randbøldal is all well and good, but it does not solve all your transportation needs. The boys take the school bus every day. In addition, both parents don their driver’s cap on a regular basis, driving both Kristoffer and Valdemar to their respective after school activities - tennis, gymnastics, boy scouts, swimming lessons and Coding Pirates.
- We were well aware that we would have to spend a bit more time driving, when we moved here. Fortunately, there are enough children here in Randbøldal to make carpooling practical, says Lene Pilt.
- Obviously, we spend quite some time driving the boys back and forth. But honestly, we just love the fact that there so many great after school activities available and all within a 10-20 minutes’ drive. Anyway, we would probably have spent just as much time, had we stayed in Odense, adds Jakob Pilt.
Outside, Kristoffer has started up his remote-controlled car in the garden. The local deer haven’t found Lene’s flower beds yet, but the garden can quickly become a warzone, anyway. That’s just the way it is when you have two, young boys with access to a huge garden. At least the chicken wire protects Lene’s kitchen garden from remote-controlled cars as well as wild animals.
Remote-controlled cars and stray deer are about as wild as it gets in Randbøldal, really.
- We just love how safe we feel in this cosy village neighbourhood. We know every inch of the village. There are always people out and about, and everyone’s willing to help you out, should you need it, says Lene Pilt.
At the kitchen table, Jakob’s car repairs are coming on.
by Carsten G. Johansen
Translated by Chris Rowley (Influentsy ApS)