Things to do with children under three in Copenhagen {from the archives}

Living in Copenhagen with under school age children can pose a problem if you decide not to send them to daycare or if you are waiting for a place in one. I wrote about things to do with preschool age children here but I notice that there are a lot of parents with under three year olds looking of ideas to keep them entertained, especially when the weather isn’t very playground friendly. So here are my ideas of places to go (all of these are things I did with my son when he was this age).Blegdamsremisen, 681x426px

Blegdamsremisen at Trianglen, Østerbro

If you are looking for a soft play place then this is the place for you. It is housed in a huge, old tram garage and run by the Kommune. There is a large room with climbing structures suitable for babies and toddlers plus open space to run about in. Outside the main room there is a cosy area to eat snacks, warm up food and refresh yourselves (no food is provided) plus a large Lego room (which is separated so littles can’t get in), a room with a few pets such as fish and gerbils and other toys such as Brio train sets and dolls’ houses. It is open throughout the week and manned by specialist staff. Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8.30 and 12 noon it is open for only 0-3 year olds. It is always free entry. For more information visit their webpage here (in Danish).

Capella Play, Fields Shopping Centre

This is another soft play centre but this one you need to pay entry for. It is located on the top floor of the large Fields Shopping Centre and has areas for younger children. It can get busy. For more information visit their Facebook page.

Libraries

All libraries in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg offer children’s play areas, some are larger than others. The best ones are in the main Copenhagen library on Kristalgade, Frederiksberg Main Library located close to Frederiksberg Centre and the one in Ørestad Library. You can expect to find toys such as wooden forts, galleons, dolls’ houses, soft bean bags and of course access to books and other toys for loan. The libraries offer a programme for children of all ages (usually in Danish) so it’s worth looking at their websites for this and getting on mailing lists. Østerbro Main Library has a programme specifically through Copenhagen Cultural Network for English speaking children (and adults).

Music classes in churches

Many churches offer music classes for under threes where they can sing, bash instruments and socialise with other babies and toddlers. If you have a church nearby check out their notice boards for forthcoming classes. You usually need to book a place quickly and you need to commit to a block of sessions. These classes are usually relatively inexpensive and even if you don’t speak Danish they can be stimulating for babies and toddlers.

LINK playgroup

LINK ( Ladies International Network København) run a weekly English playgroup in Hellerup which is open to anyone not just LINK members and you pay for each session. It is on every Wednesday morning 9.45-11.30. They also have a Music and Movement class also open to non members every Friday 10am – 10.45am. There is no need to book, just turn up. Latest information on both these can be found here.

Rygårds Playgroup

Rygårds International School in Hellerup also run a playgroup in their canteen every Monday from 9.15 until 11.15. For more information email rygaardsplaygroup@gmail.com

Sweet Surrender, Vesterbro and Laundromat, various locations

This is probably the only cafe specifically set up to directly welcome young families. It is cosy with nice food and run by volunteers. There is a lovely little play area for babies and toddlers and the perfect place to meet up with other mums.  The Laundromat Cafe (three locations in the city) is also very gear up for younger children with a dedicated play area with big chunky toys and a child-friendly menu.

Museums

Don’t avoid museums with babies and toddlers. Many of the museums here have specific sections dedicated to small children and it is a great way to stimulate babies and toddler plus helping them get used to how to behave in different environments. You can read my thoughts on museums and kids here.

Swimming Pools

Most swimming pools have baby pools here – some you need to book slots in specific baby session and others you can just turn up. Although one of the more expensive pools in the city, DGI has a huge, shallow pool for babies and toddlers and excellent changing rooms. Here is the programme of classes to book. Full list of the city’s pools here and the one in Frederiksberg.

Cinemas

Cinemas in Copenhagen offer what is called Baby Bio where you can take your baby into the cinema with you whilst you watch a movie. The cinema is kept a little lighter and the film less loud so you can bring your baby into the theatre with you. But if your baby needs to sleep you can leave them outside in the lobby in their pram and the cinema staff will keep an eye on them and alert you if your baby starts to cry. Check your local cinema for listings.

Photo credit

Why is there a squeegee in the shower? – Tackling hard water {from the archives}

When arriving in a new country you are often faced with puzzling things. One of the first for us was the very posh and neatly stored squeegee in the shower cubicle in our new apartment. Our landlords explained that after every shower we needed to squeegee down the tiles to prevent the build up of calcium (or kalk as it is in Danish). At first we thought this was just an example of being over house proud but we soon realised that the serious issues of calcium build up and also the effects of using such hard water. Copenhagen has the hardest water in the whole of Denmark so it is something you need to be aware of.

bathroom

I thought I would do a quick run down today of the products you can use to both prevent the build up of calcium and also the tackle it if it becomes a problem and then you too can have a beautiful bathroom (as above).

Prevention

Most cleaning products here will boast some element of calcium removal and you will spot ‘anti kalk‘ on a lot of standard bathroom and kitchen cleaning products and this is a good place to start in keeping places calcium free with your weekly clean. As is the aforementioned squeegeeing of the tiles and glass doors around your shower area. You can pick up cheap and functional shower squeegee in Ikea.

For washing machines and dishwashers there are tablets, such Calgon, you can buy to add to the wash to prevent the build up of calcium in the machines as this can lead to premature death of very expensive white goods.

Tackling the problem

Unless you are very fastidious or lucky there will be a time when you will need to de- calcium items in your home. You can either go the chemical route or the natural one.

First the chemical way. The supermarkets sell some fairly hefty chemical products, usually from a brand called Borup), in a separate section to the regular cleaning products. These are strong and non diluted chemicals that need to be stored very safely in your home. Generically you need to look for products under the banner of ‘rens og afkalker‘. Borup do a thick calcium remover for tiles called kalkfjerner (tyktflydende), which is a thick creamy and also one for taps and sinks/toilets called rust og kalkfjerner. They also have a special one for kettles and coffee machines ‘afkalker (lugtfri).

For washing machines there are a few rinses and capsules you can use to flush out the machine – Dr Beckmann’s vaskemaskinerens is a good one and also general afkalker tablets from various brands.

The natural way uses either vinegar or citric acid. You can blitz your house in one go with cleaning vinegar. Half vinegar and half water in your coffee machine or kettle will flush them out. Run/boil one to three times and then rinse away the calcium. Keep hold of the vinegar mixture and use it to soak shower heads or clean taps.

I also use boxes of citric acid (citronsyre) to flush out my washing and dishwashing machines. This can be found either with the chemicals or the general cleaning products and you need to use on for cleaning and not cooking. This is multipurpose from tackling your dishwasher, coffee machine and you can use this to soak shower heads as well.

Hair and skin

You will notice that moving to a hard water area will play havoc on your hair, skin and nails at the start. Invest in some decent conditioner, hand cream and face cream to help prevent drying out too much.

 

Amager Strand {from the archives}

I have always loved living by the sea and my university years spent in Swansea right on the sea cemented this love. It wasn’t until I moved to Copenhagen that I was able to live so close to the sea again.
The harbour in the city is a great way to enjoy the proximity to water but in just a short Metro ride you can be breathing in the real sea air at Amager Strand. This man made beach and lagoon can be reached by a short walk from three metro stations – Øresund, Amager Strand and Femøren.

The beach is almost five kilometers long and has a Blue Flag so if you are brave enough it is a super clean place to swim. A long boardwalk runs along the length of the beach and you can stroll, run, cycle or roller blade your cares away. There are a number of toilet and cafe blocks along the beach for that all important ice cream or bag of peas. There are lots of sporting activities on offer – their website has a list of events.

There is a fantastic view of Middelgrunden Wind Farm and Sweden in the distance.

{Originally posted May 15 2013}

Three things to do for free in Copenhagen {from the archives}

Copenhagen is well known as being quite an expensive city but there is a lot out there to do for free. Of course the summer months offer more opportunities with all the wonderful parks, beaches and open spaces but there is still plenty around all year. Here are my five picks of things to do for free.

Number One Special glass houses at the Botanical Gardens

The glass houses at the Botanical Gardens are wonderful places to wander around but did you know that on selected days of the week they open some of the more specialist greenhouses home to cacti, succulents and orchids – and they are all free! For details visit here.

Number Two Magasin du Nord Museum

Last of my indoor ideas and it is a place I find quite intriguing. Now I will be honest and say at present I have not visited this museum but as a new addition to the museum scene here plus with free entry, it must be worth a visit. Magasin is one of the oldest department stores in the world and no other business of its kind has kept such a collection of archive materials. For more information click here (Danish).

Number Three Podwalks with Danish Architecture Centre

This one gets you out and about in the city. DAC have put together a series of pod walks you can download to your smart phones and help you explore areas of the city at your own speed and in your own time with a guide in your ear. A great way to discover more about Copenhagen. if its too cold for you, you can always listen on your sofa! For the pod walks click here.

{Originally posted May 19 2015} When I first wrote this there were five things on the list but sadly since the beginning of June the National Museum and SMK have started charging admission. They are still brilliant places to visit but can’t be included on this list anymore.

ØsterGRO roof top farm {from the archives}

From an unassuming courtyard behind a former car auction house a slightly scary metal staircase on the side of the building leads five flights up to ØsterGRO, a 600m sq organic roof farm. The farm is the brainchild of three people, Kristian, Livia and Sofia, whose interest in urban farming and gardening led them to set up ØsterGRO. They took inspiration from their own experiences but also established roof farms such as Brooklyn Grange Farm, which all three have visited. Various raised beds, a green house, chicken coop and beehives make up the farm and when I visited last month the crops were already looking splendid.

The farm was set up with funding and is now looking to become self-sufficient. Kristian explained to me that whilst sustainability is important it must be economically viable to have a future. Many similar projects with terrific intentions don’t make it as they need money to sustain them not just volunteers.DSC00837There are currently 40 members who pay 3000kr for year to be able to enjoy the harvest from the farm and also an army of volunteers who help keep it going. Volunteering is still something of a new concept in Denmark but ØsterGRO has attracted a large number of volunteers from the local area.DSC00855Another way the farm is looking at being economically viable is by hosting a weekly restaurant in the greenhouse. After the success of a one off harvest meal, the greenhouse is now taken over by chef Flemming Schiøtt Hansen and his wife, Mette Helbæk, a food writer, for an informal restaurant, Stedsans på ØsterGRO. It is open Thursday to Sunday (from May until September) with two sittings (5.45pm and 8.15pm) and you can enjoy six courses of delicious simple and seasonal food served family style on the long trestle table in the greenhouse, many of the ingredients from the roof farm itself – probably some of the shortest food miles ever!DSC00832For more information about ØsterGRO and how to get involved click here and to book a place at Stedsans click here (be fast on this one as it books up quickly once new booking slots are available, it is currently fully booked for July and August so you may need to wait until next year.) This is a great review here (in Danish).DSC00853

{Originally posted July 2 2015}

Kalaset – a little Swedish corner {from the archives}

We don’t often spend a lot of time in the centre of the city unless we are a mission to do something, for example visit a museum, or go shopping but this week we’ve had guests from the States and spent a little more time in the city than usual. Cue exposure to tourists en masse but that’s another post altogether! Last week a couple of girls stopped me at the bus stop on Østerbrogade and asked me the best way to get to a cafe called Kalaset. I hadn’t heard of it but Google had so I was able to help. After a visit to the Workers’ Museum on Tuesday my husband said he had Googled local places and this place sounded good and it was Kalaset again! So fate said we had to go there.DSC01020DSC01009

It is exactly my kind of place. A bit quirky, a bit gritty, very cluttered and a lot mismatched. Plus the menu was amazing. I am getting a little tired of the generic brunch menu offered in a lot of places, even when it is well executed so the Vegan Brunch I chose was a refreshing change. Falafels, hummus, tapenade and a mouthwatering Moroccan inspired warm lentil salad were the stars on the plate. My son forsook his pancakes to share my plate of food, it was that good.DSC01014

Kalaset, Swedish for party,  has been here for around eight years and calls itself a little Swedish corner of Copenhagen.  The little touches such as all the old radios mounted on the walls, the bare brickwork, which despite seeing this a lot, I still love. The cafe was cosy and sunlit, but you still got the feeling it would be very warm and inviting in the winter too. I definitely felt this was somewhere I would be returning to, and soon.DSC01011 It is open late and becomes a lively bar in the evenings with a happy hour between 10pm and midnight (at time of writing) and I can imagine it is a noisy, hot and fun place to be.DSC01012 DSC01017

Homemade jams and Nutella – perfect!DSC01018

 

Address: Vendersgade 16, 1363 Copenhagen

Website

{Originally posted July 9 2015}

Pretty Dragør {from the archives}

Whilst my parents were visiting last week with their car, we decided to take the opportunity to show them something else other than the city. I haven’t been to Dragør, south of the airport, since I was pregnant so this pretty little fishing village seemed the perfect destination.  It is famous for its museum, pretty harbourside, lighthouse and wonderfully preserved old houses.IMG_1448 It was a windy and brisk day, perfect for a visit to the sea. Much of Dragør was as I remembered it, but over the last six years it seems that a little collection of cute, boutique style shops has sprung up on the way down towards the harbour. There is nothing cutting edge here but it makes for a nice poke around, especially as a number of places sell local beers from Amager Bryghus amongst others.IMG_1446 We stopped for lunch at the Strandhotel, which was reassuringly exactly the same as I remembered it and I doubt it will change. I loved my plate of prawns, despite the effort involved in peeling them.

IMG_1444

DSC01187We wandered around the harbour areas, looking at the fishing boats, sharing the excitement of children crabbing and paying a visit to Dragør Smokery for a treat later in the afternoon. The view of the bridge to Sweden is perfect from here too.

IMG_1466Afterwards a leisurely stroll through the Gamle By’s (old town) mazelike streets, passing the lovely old yellow thatched houses and bobbing hollyhocks, back to the car park.DSC01191 IMG_1469If you can get there by car or have the patience to wait for the bus from the airport, Dragør is a fantastic contrast to city life.

{Originally posted 30 July 2015}

Gedigen – coffee and things {from the archives}

Last year after writing about the food scene being too noisy, I took a look around my own neighbourhood and saw that we could do with a bit more of that share of the ‘noise’ over in Østerbro. So I was delighted to hear about a new coffee shop opening up on Jagtvej close to Fælledparken (it has now been open over a year).

IMG_0804

Cosy is definitely what Bitten, the women behind Gedigen, is going for. She is defining the place as somewhere for coffee and things. Everything in the place is vintage or up cycled. There are old games to play and all the tables and chairs are different. I particularly love the table she has covered with her stamp collection and the reclaimed counter which comes from an old købmand (grocers) shop.IMG_0792

Bitten’s speciality is cheesecake and it got the thumbs up from my son. I am delighted to have a new place to have cosy afternoons in and morning work sessions in a unique environment. It only opened this week but I hope it will become a popular spot in a neighbourhood rather lacking in decent coffee shops.IMG_0793 IMG_0796 IMG_0797 IMG_0800 Bitten is also selling handmade, up cycled materials and plants from Moster Molly, a local shop that I will be posting about next week, and artwork from a local artist, Sustaina Graphics. A great combination that fits perfectly with Gedigen.IMG_0803Address:Jagtvej 193, 2100 Copenhagen

Getting hold of English books in Copenhagen {from the archives}

I am a huge reader and my son is fast taking after me with his love of books. After eight years of living out of the UK I still really miss being about to pop into a bookshop of a good browse. The good news is that books shops offering a good selection of English language books are on the increase in Copenhagen. So here is a short guide of the places I know that sell English books but please do leave me a comment if you know of others and I will add them in.


New Books

Books and Company – Sofievej 1, 2900 Hellerupbooks and coI have written about this bookshop before here and I still maintain that the selection here is outstanding and the assistance they give is amazing. Well worth the trek to Hellerup from the city.

ARK books – Møllegade 10, 2200 København NDSC00422Again this is a place I have written about here and if you are looking for more usual books or to try something new this is the place. Their motto is “Home of the best stories you’ve never heard”. Run by passionate volunteers who love literature its a great place to visit. They also run a selection of courses and events in English. There are other bookshops in this street which are also worth a visit if you can read Danish.

Palermo Hollywood – Jægersborggade 31, 2200 Copenhagen N

This is a little quirky boutique on the trendy Jægersborggade that carries an interesting selection of books by female authors. I have made some great discoveries here.

Thiemers Magasin – Tullinsgade 24, 1618 Copenhagen Vthiemers mainThis is another little independent bookshop with a small selection of English books, they also have book readings and events. Here is my post about this bookshop, located off Værnedamsvej.

Arnold Busck – Købmagergade 49, 1150 Copenhagen K

ab

This Danish bookshop chain has a huge shop on Købmagergade and carries probably the largest selection of English books, fiction and non fiction, in the city.

Magasin – Kongens Nytorv 13, 1095 Copenhagen K
The book department on the third floor at Kongens Nytorv has a selection of English adult fiction books.

Second-hand Bookshops

Rasmussen the book trader – Skindergade 23, 1159 Copenhagen K

This second-hand book shop has been around for years and if you have the patience to poke around its busy interior you may come out with a treasure.

Næste Runde at Riccos – Sluseholmen 28, 2450 CopenhagenDSC01215The Riccos coffee shop in Sluseholmen is home to a second-hand bookshop run by Næste Runde as well as selling great coffee. The books are sold by a separate business but you can pay for them at the counter. Again some interesting books here.


Public Libraries

The library system in Copenhagen has a central website where you can search for specific titles and either reserve them (if they are out on loan) or order them to be delivered to your closest library (if you have a CPR number). You can also return them there. The main library at Krystalgade 15 has a large English language section if you want to browse including a number of books for children and young adults.


Kindle books

If you are looking for Kindle books then you may not be able to buy them from the UK Amazon store but you can from the German one.


And thanks for my readers for the following suggestions:

Academic Books – online and at various University locations in the city.

Owl Books – this is a book rental scheme that you need to sign up to.

Book Swap in a Pub monthly meet up – details here.

Facebook group – Free your books

Cinnabar close to the round tower – The shop presents a handpicked selection of international, visually inspiring books on graphic design, illustration, architecture, street art, fashion and industrial design.

St Albans Church summer fete – check their website for details but it seems it takes place in June.

 

Six places to buy gluten free food in Copenhagen {from the archives}

Six places to buy gluten free food in CopenhagenA while back I wrote about cafes and bakeries offering gluten-free food in Copenhagen  but I realise that people who need gluten-free food also need it to cook with it on an everyday basis and finding that food can feel like a challenge. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 people in Denmark suffer from a sensitivity to gluten and for a small country that seems a lot.

I asked a friend who needs to eats gluten-free about the kind of foods she buys regularly and also the foods that are the holy grail of gluten-free eating and below are the places in Copenhagen that meet these needs. For reference there is no specific logo to look out for but most suitable products are marked Gluten Free (in English) or Glutenfri (in Danish).

All of these places offer crackers, baking mixes, flour, porridge oats and breakfast cereals, pasta, biscuits and bread so I have mentioned other items.

1 Astrid Och Aporna – this is a new shop opened on Christians Winthers Vej, Frederiksberg that sells organic, vegan and gluten-free foods. There is a wide selection of the usual foods but also a big selection of dressings and mayonnaise. They will soon be stocking gluten-free breadcrumbs and other products If you are looking for lactose free, vegan, organic or other specialist foods including ready-made salads, this is the place for you.  Astrid Och Aporna is a Swedish brand and you can see more of their own brand products here.astrid och aporna

2 Urtehuset – there are three physical shops (Østerbro, Frederiksberg and Lyngby) and an online shop offering a selection of gluten-free foods. They sell gluten-free remoulade and baking powder as well as the products above. They also have a cafe, Raw and Rustic, in the Fredriksberg one, which serves lovely gluten free food.

3 Meny (formerly Superbest) – this supermarket offers the best selection of gluten-free foods I have seen in a supermarket here. You can read (with a translator tool if you can’t read Danish) about their approach to gluten-free foods here.

4 Other supermarkets – including Irma, Kvickly, Føtex – most of the other supermarkets offer a small selection of the usual gluten-free items above. But particular mention to Føtex that sells pizza base mixes, soy sauce and one gluten-free beer. Kvickly has a couple of gluten-free pizzas in their freezer section. You will normally find all the gluten-free food in a dedicated section. Schär seems to be the main brand carried in supermarkets here.

5 On line grocers – Nemlig.com and Irma.dk – on-line groceries are quite a new concept to Copenhagen. One of the biggest is Nemlig.com sells a basic range of gluten-free food but interestingly have a number of gluten-free recipes in their recipe section including a cauliflower pizza. Irma.dk is the best online grocers for gluten-free food with all the usual suspects but also sausages/hot dogs, a couple of frozen ready meals, fish frikadeller, and leverpostej (Liver pate). You can also (for a higher delivery cost) order some gluten-free foods from The British Corner Shop online shop.

6 Health food shops – there are a number of health food shops dotted around the city that sell small selections of gluten-free foods and you may find a place that sells a hard to find product amongst them. But again this is where the internet is your friend. Naturoghelse.dk offers a massive selection of gluten-free foods and some I hadn’t seen elsewhere or infrequently including baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, vitamin tablets, tinned soups, curry pastes, falafel mix, stock and sweet chilli sauce.

I was pleased to find all the products my friend mentioned available somewhere in Copenhagen or online but sadly one thing my friend mentioned she wished she could get gluten-free was tortilla wraps and they still seem to be elusive here.

Do you eat gluten-free and have any recommendations in Copenhagen to add?  Please leave a comment below.