Nine things that are good today in my world

So I had a different post planned and written for today but this morning I decided it wasn’t positive enough. It was all arm, pain, struggle blah blah blah with a bit of positivity thrown in of course but I decided today to share 9 things that are good today or made me happy or touched me so here we go…This is life, let’s jump in!IMG_5720Number one

I had an old school friend and her husband visiting the city from Australia as part of a three month world trip last week and I spent a morning having brunch with them in Vesterbro and catching up. It was wonderful to be able to share ideas of places for them to visit and it was great that they chose to spend a week here exploring, rather than rushing in and ticking tourist sites off their list and then rushing on like so many tourists do. They have seen such a lot and really got a feel of the city – especially the fluctuations of weather! Someone questioned what they would find to do in Copenhagen beyond the first two days but they seem to have managed it. We went to my favourite flea market on Saturday, my son and I met up with them for cake yesterday and today we have a bit of a girly catch up before they head off for the next leg of their travels.

Number Two

This is still related to my friends (and I hope this won’t embarrass my friend’s husband) but I was very moved by a gift he gave my son yesterday. This man had never met him in person before but he chose my son one of the most thoughtful gifts ever. It was a book that was special to him and he told us a story about it and his childhood. It was also an important book for Australian children both then and now. My son was happy to have a book – full of words and beautiful illustrations – but I will remember the story we heard and will make sure my son remembers it.

Number ThreeIMG_5715

The sun is shining today. That’s all on this one but people living here will understand how precious this is and how it puts a spring in your step.

Number Four

People who go beyond what they have to do to help you is also a precious thing. I went for an MRI scan last night at 9pm in a private scanning clinic. After being told I didn’t need any extra paperwork but as it turned out I did but rather than officiously sending me away for another day, the doctor took time to find enough to be able to go ahead from the bits and bobs I had as long as I get the rest today.

Number Five

Again on similar vein, the radiologist at Rigshospital, who despite the fact I had been sent to the wrong place for my x ray, ‘fired up’ the x ray machine for me rather than sending me away. And then the orthopaedic trauma doctor, who despite having an hour long backlog and what looked like a long night already, took half an hour to talk to me about the way forward with my arm. He changed the medication that I am on and I can now function all day in minimal to no pain, and I am almost sleeping normally. There is also a plan going forward – not an easy one but one nevertheless.

Number six

tough-people-claret

The great product of the new medication is that I am now feeling myself and have been able to spent some great time with my son without feeling exhausted and in pain. Both he and I are visibly happier and that is a wonderful feeling. (If you love this poster above you can buy it here.)

Number seven

The number of positive and inspiring people in the world, doing what they see as little things that mean the world. My friend Jenni over in Berlin and her approach the motherhood constantly inspires me. Ruthie Lindsey (who I wish I knew IRL) but her approach to life and living with pain inspires and lifts me up. This podcast is amazing, if you want an injection of positivity into your life listen to this now!

Number eight

The final final coverstages of my book production means that it will be available at the beginning of October. Six weeks later than hoped but as it has been four years in the making, that’s not so bad. And here is a little sneak preview of the cover.

And I have been commissioned to write another book but more on that when I can share more.

 

 

 

Number Nine

Glitter trainers – that’s all!

Have a wonderful sunny day – inside and out!.

Season of mists…

I have a confession to make, I love the autumn and wish that this charade of a Danish summer would end and give us the chance to have a new season, where we know what clothes to wear. The Danes have a mini extra season between summer and autumn – sensommer – and it gives you a taste of what autumn is all about with just a little throw back to summer.IMG_5670Autumn has fast become my favourite season, it isn’t as long and miserable as winter but also it lacks the expectation and disappointment of summer. I am particularly looking forward to wrapping up in cosy jumpers, warm coats and boots. Autumn here is often sunny and chilly and gives you the chance to enjoy the season at places like the Frilands Museum and of course, Tivoli. The parks have a beautiful colour to them and the perfect way to get out and enjoy the fresh air before the winter hits us. We also get to experience beautiful sunrises and sunset.

I went to a talk at the Chart Art Festival yesterday and when I arrived at 3.30pm the weather was warm and nearly sunny, fast forward an hour and a half and I was dashing into a coffee shop to avoid the downpour. It was wet and chilly and as it is technically still summer I didn’t have a coat with me. But sitting in the warm, cosy coffee shop with candles burning and the dark gloomy skies outside, I had an almost irrational yearning for the autumn and dare I say it, winter. That’s what hygge will do for you!

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Day trip to Roskilde

Over the holidays we had a little day trip to Roskilde. It was somewhere I had wanted to visit for a while but had felt put off by what I thought would be a long train journey. It was not long and we had just got settled in our top deck (its a double decker train, much to my son’s excitement) seats when we were pulling into Roskilde.IMG_5427

It is a short walk into the town centre from the train station and you will find all the usually Danish chain shops and some small independents. We didn’t chose well for our lunch so I won’t share where we ate. After that we explored a few hidden courtyards and headed to the cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We did pay to go in and I would say it is worth doing as the interior is pretty special and there is a small museum about the construction of the cathedral. If you are on a budget the exterior is still worth spending time wandering around and looking at, both close up and from a distance.IMG_5429 IMG_5434 IMG_5441 IMG_5444 IMG_5445

We then walked down the hill through Byparken (City Park) to the fjord and the Viking Ship Museum. As I was visiting with a child I would say the museum is worth the money as there were a lot of hands on activities for children (some you had to pay extra for) but I would say that just for the elements that are aimed at both adults and children, it was quite expensive unless you are very into Viking ships. A big draw is sailing out into the fjord on a Viking ship, which runs daily until the next of September and you need to pay extra on top of your entrance ticket.

I personally would recommend travelling around the fjord to Frederikssund and visiting the Viking Boplads instead but it is another separate day trip (and one on our list for next summer as they are now closed until next year).

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There is tons more to explore in Roskilde and we will definitely be back to see more.

End of the summer at the Frilands Museum

We spent the last day of the school holidays at the Frilands Museum, one of our favourite museums, and made sure we made the most of the newly introduced entry charge. We usually go in the autumn half term and this was the first time we had been in the summer and it was well worth the visit. I thought I’d share some picture from our visit to inspire you to visit despite the new charge. They are open until the 23rd October so there is plenty of time to plan a visit. I was fascinated to hear from one of my son’s classmates’ dads that his family’s house from Jutland has been reconstructed on the site, I must make sure we find out which one before next time we visit as this a lovely connection between the past and now.IMG_5506 IMG_5508 IMG_5513 IMG_5517 IMG_5520 IMG_5522 IMG_5532

Djuus – slow juices and healthy food in Østerbro

Last week I had massive cravings for the spicy eggs here but as they were closed until 10am I decided to try a new cafe, Djuus on Blegsdamsvej, close by. I was intrigued when I went passed this place on the bus before the summer holidays and the clever play on how Danes pronounce Juice (something that amused me when I was learning Danish). It also saw it getting noticed on Instagram which is always a good thing to me as this is real people endorsing something.IMG_5588

Djuus is run by Rikki and was opened a few months ago. They offer a mix and match breakfast plate (which is becoming a refreshing antidote to the standard Danish cafe brunch offerings), decent coffee (with a selection of milks including cashew milk), slow juices (of course) which were delicious. I had the matcha bowl as part of my breakfast plate and I think I need to try it a few more times to really get my taste buds around it.IMG_5589

It is a cosy place offering a healthy breakfast (and lunch) alternatives and is something that is really needed in this area close to Rigshospital. I am sure patients would enjoy a fresh juice from this cafe brought into them by their visitors (I know I would!)

Do pop in if you are in this area and enjoy a healthy start to the day (note they are not open at the weekends). IMG_5590

Address: Blegdamsvej 78, 2100 CPH Ø

Website

New Carlsberg Station – just the tip of the iceberg

It felt like there was a lot of change around the city over the summer months. Enghave Station closed at the beginning of July and a new station opened at Carlsberg, a 200m walk away (and only served by one close bus stop which apparently hasn’t gone down well with the local elderly population). The logic is that the new Carlsberg Byen is going to need a new station to service the new residents, students and people working on the site and a direct access into the area will add to this convenience. Enghave Station, built in 1911, was intended for approximately 7,000 passengers daily, while in the future approximately 24,000 daily passengers are expected at the new Carlsberg Station.IMG_5573I have some reservations about how this whole new area is going to impact on the wider Vesterbro area in the future with that many more people coming into the area plus the creation of 4,000 parking spaces, which implies a huge number of cars on the road coming and going from the area. There will be an integrated new cycle system created but no mention of the number of cycle parking spots (do let me know if you are aware of this figure).IMG_5570 It had been touted as a new area for all when the plans were first put into place but with apartments in the new tower block, Bohrs Tårn (pictured above) starting at over 5 million krone and which in its promo material says there “something for all tastes and needs”, I do wonder. Reading around the issue I can see mention of student housing (12% of the area is designated at ‘public housing’) but nothing specific mentioned for low income or affordable housing. There is also plans for retail spaces which sound pretty upscale. I fear this area is creating a self contained bubble very close to areas of relative deprivation in Vesterbro and Sydhavn which don’t need any more fancy food markets or restaurants. This is an interesting presentation about the area which differs very much from the initial ideas floated in 2008 (which I wish I had kept copies of).IMG_5572 A bit of old Enghave. Are this car workshop (and the soul of this area)’s days numbered? What are your thoughts about this new area?

Paying for culture at the SMK and National Museum

Since June 1st 2016 the National Museum of Denmark (including the Frilands Museum) and the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) have started charging an entrance fee. The museums have been free for the last ten years but this year they have both asked the Government for permission to start charging again. This is in part due to budget cuts they face coupled with the wish to still be able to offer the same level of high services to their visitors. Some politicians were against this move to charge as it undermines the rights of people to have free access to culture.

This is what the SMK say on their website about the changes:

The SMK has provided free admission to its permanent displays since 2006. We have been very happy with this arrangement, but the museum is now facing such dire financial straits that free admission is no longer feasible. In the years to come, the SMK’s state funding will be cut by eight per cent – corresponding to some 16 million kroner (2.1 million EUR).  The SMK wishes to maintain the high level of quality visitors expect from the National Gallery of Denmark, and this will not be possible in the long term without finding new sources of revenue. Hence, we reintroduced admission fees as of 1 June 2016.

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However the museums have introduced a pricing structure that does offer savings for people especially if you are visiting with children. They are all offering free entry for children but a discounted adult entry if you are visiting with a child, thus making it more affordable for families. The year passes are also priced at a level to make them worthwhile if you plan to come more than three times in a year (it is worth noting the year pass in the SMK runs for twelve months not a calendar year). There are also discounts for under 30 year olds but none for seniors. If you check out their website (SMK) there are a number of options depending on your personal circumstances.

Likewise the National Museum of Denmark including a number of its other museums including the Frilands Museum are also charging now for the same reason and have ticket combinations worth looking at, especially the year pass for all sites (the two mentioned above and Tøjhusmuseet, Kommandørgården, Musikmuseet, Brede Værk, Frøslevlejrens Museum and Hangar 46) . For more information here.

Whilst it is a shame that national cultural institutions need to start charging they have, at least, given a lot of thought as to how to keep their core and loyal visitors coming, whilst maintaining their services.

 

Mario Testino at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND

Over the summer I took an hour or so to myself and went to see the Mario Testino exhibition at  Kunstforeningen GL STRAND in the centre of Copenhagen. I have always been an admirer of Testino’s work. How could forget the amazing images he captured of Princess Diana shortly before her death? There were many images in the exhibition I was familiar with, especially those of Kate Moss with whom he has had a long history of photographing over the years but also many new ones. I particularly love the royal shots of both the British and Danish royal families – giving them a real human face.IMG_5468IMG_5460

The selection of images in the exhibition vary from location to location and I loved the selection here. Testino had a real talent in making his subjects look beautiful in an unconventional way. The image of Sienna Miller below is a far cry from her usual boho chic look and is completely captivating.IMG_5463

As is this one of Reece Witherspoon (who must have been standing on a box under that fabulous dress!). The little girl inside me yearns for a dress like this.

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I have so many favourites from this exhibition and I would love to go again before it finishes on 18 September.

How was your summer?

Over here in Denmark technically it feels as if the summer is over. The schools went back today and since the first of August the weather has had a distinct autumnal feel to it. August is usually defined by rain and a little cooler weather as we head into the autumn.IMG_5360

Our summer holidays went both very fast and very slowly. We had an enjoyable two weeks in the US (and managed to avoid any discussions about the forthcoming Presidential elections), and then a visit from my parents. We managed a few day trips in and around Copenhagen which I shall share in the coming weeks. It was relaxing.

We were delighted to sell our apartment (pending paperwork) and are now seriously looking for our new home. We need to be out of our current place by the first of December so a move in November seems likely if we can find the right place.

I am in the final stages of production of my book – A guide to a successful relocation – which I hope will be available at the end of August. The manuscript of completed and proofread and now its time to hand it over to be formatted ready for production. I also need to decide on a cover design. It is scary that it is finally real and not just a collection of files on my computer. I will be having a low-key launch at the end of August or beginning of September and then it will be available for purchase.

On a less happy note I am looking at further surgery on my arm – sadly the saga continues. After a scan at the start of the holiday which shocked my doctors, it seems I have some free-floating fragments of bone with inflamed fluid around then, significant damage to my soft tissue and it seems that scar tissue is surrounding my nerve in my arm so they can’t tell what kind of damage the nerve has but it seems certain there is some. I have an appointment with orthopaedic trauma specialists at Rigshospitalet at the start of September and in the meantime I am managing my pain as best I can.

But for now it is business as usual here. I hope you all had (and perhaps are still having) a great summer!

 

 

What to do with preschoolers in Copenhagen {from the archives}

I was asked a few weeks ago by a reader for some recommendations of some good places to visit and things to do with a four year old in Copenhagen. I thought that this might be information that would be interesting to many people so here they are. These recommendations are based on the things we have enjoyed doing since my son was three and we still love them. This is in no way a definitive guide and I am sure other people have other recommendations so please do leave a comment below if you do.

Museumssmk

First of all a big category for us is museums. Copenhagen is very well served with amazing museums that actively welcome children and families. The Workers’ Museum and the National Museum have dedicated children’s sections, which can offer hours of entertainment and repeated visits. The rest of these museums are also welcoming to children and presented in the right way, fascinating. They both offer a varied events calendar which is worth keeping an eye on. The plus point for the National Museum is that its free. The Workers’ Museum offers a Friends scheme, which after paying an annual fee, a named adult can get in for free (children are always free).

The Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) is also very welcoming to families and also free to get in. They usually have an exhibition aimed at children and at the weekend and during school holidays they have a children’s workshop, where for 45kr per child, your child can built a creation from recycled materials, paint a picture on an easel or some other creation.

The Danish Architecture Centre also offers children’s activities in some of the school holidays so this is worth keeping an eye on.

Parks and playgroundsdad in parkI love the parks here in the city and there are many with great play areas such as Kongens Have and Ørsteds Parken, which are favourites of ours. Fælledparken raises the bar with the Traffic Playground, an enclosed area of small-sized roads with real traffic lights and street signs for children to practice safe cycling and also the Towers Playground, close to Rigshospital. Frederiksberg Have has the added bonus of spotting the elephants in the zoo from a public viewing spot.

A number of playgrounds are manned during the week by kommune employees and, at these times, offer more activities and things to play with, you can get the list here or from the personnel at one of the manned ones. In the summer months check out the playground Skydebanen in Vesterbro and the water playground in Fælledparken for large water play and paddling areas (known as soppesøer) very suitable for young children (there are others on the list linked above for playgrounds).

Swimming Pools

Again many of the pools here have facilities suitable for preschoolers, our favourite, although a little on the pricey side, is DGI Byen, where they have a great children’ pool for non swimmers with varying depths of areas and warm, clean changing rooms. For a full list of swimming pools check this out.

Botanical Gardens (Botanisk Have)CIMG7558

This place is the perfect place to explore and get lost in. My son loves running up and down the hills in the garden with twisty turny pathways and also exploring the hot houses. Some of the smaller glasshouses are open on holidays and special days in the week and are a great way to see some unusual and enormous plants. It is also a great place to observe the changes of seasons.

The Lego Store

I am sure that every parent has visited this place on Strøget many times but did you know that from 4pm – 6pm on the first Thursday of the month they offer a free mini build at the back of the store? You need to build it there but it is free to take home on completion.

Eating out

I find that despite the fact there are very few specifically family friendly restaurants in the city most are. However our favourites are Hache Burger for lunch as they do a great lunch special and offer two sliders for the kids at a very reasonable price; The Laundromat Cafe; Sticks and Sushi, who also offer great children’s meals; and also Copenhagen Street Food (next to the Experimentarium) as there is something for everyone.

Out of townCIMG7323

Finally heading out-of-town is a great way to have a day out with kids and explore something new. We regularly go to Louisiana and have since my son was three. The children’s wing is outstanding and the activities there are truly integrated with the current exhibitions. The buffet lunch price for children is affordable but the food is perhaps a little adult for some tastes. A good tip is to buy an integrated travel and entrance ticket from DSB (at the 7-11 at the stations but be prepared for the staff to not know about it straight away) it is 200Kr for an adult as children travel and get into Louisiana for free, saves you up to 50%. You can buy it on the day of travel.

The Frilands Museum  is another amazing free day out (once you get there) and takes a short train ride from the city centre to immerse yourself in the Denmark of old and wander around a beautiful countryside area.

Saving Money

As mentioned above in some of the points, it is definitely worth exploring season passes for places you think you are likely to visit more than three times in a year as you will be saving a significant amount compared to paying each time. Also buying blocks of swimming tickets saves money.

All the bigger libraries (and some smaller) offer great free indoor play areas for children and can eat up a morning of activity for young preschools.

Also why not jump on one of the yellow harbour buses and enjoy an amazing view of the harbour for the usual price of your travel ticket or pass? It takes about an hour to go from the stop at Toldboden to Sluseholmen.


 

So they are my recommendations of places we enjoy, I am sure I have forgotten many other places. I haven’t mentioned some of the more obvious choices such as Tivoli (which we love), the Zoo and beaches such as Svanemollen and Amager. Or places we haven’t been but I hear great things about such as Byoasen (a small city farm in Nørrebro) and also the Nature Centre at Vestamager. I also love spending time in the quieter parts of Christiania.

Do add your recommendations below too!

Other resources

Top ten kid friendly restaurants in Copenhagen (Visit Copenhagen)

Top ten attractions for kids in Copenhagen

Playgrounds in Copenhagen

Børn i byen (in Danish) for events etc

Mini CPH city guide

Meet a museum family (some repetition here but still interesting, I hope)

Six reasons why it’s great to be a mum/parent in Copenhagen