The Hive Gathering

We are still in the throes of moving house and finally getting to live in our new place on Amager. There will be more about the practicalities of buying a place and the changes of moving from an apartment to a house and of course life on Amager to come in the next few weeks.However today I thought I’d share something I am involved in in May. The Hive Gathering is a conference for digital storytellers, tastemakers and bloggers which has been going since 2012. I have attended every conference and loved each one. When I was starting out in blogging it was amazing to connect with other bloggers and to take inspiration from others. I am still in contact and, in many cases, friends with women I have met at The Hive.

The speaker line up at these conferences has always been outstanding and this year’s Hive in Berlin is shaping up to be just as great. Sara Tasker, an Instagram guru and podcaster I personally admire will be one of the speakers this year. There are a number of other exciting speakers this year. I have a role as a chair or moderator (never sure of the actual title) of a panel discussion about what it means to be an online influencer.  How are we influenced? What are brands looking for? Are you an influencer if you won’t or just can’t engage with your followers?  And how can influence be used productively and not just to sell things? It should be a lively and interesting discussion, I’m sure.

If you are a blogger, instagramer, vlogger or involved in an online space for your business or personal brand, then this is the conference for you. The location in the centre of Berlin is an even draw as you will get a chance to explore this exciting city when not in the conference. Every time I leave the Hive I am buzzing (did you see what I did there?!) with new ideas and you can be too!

Check out the website for more information about speakers, program and much more. If you are planning on coming along do drop me a message and we can connect in person there.

Learn a new skill this Spring – Brush Lettering for beginners

I had the ambitious idea of organising two brush lettering for beginners workshops on the 8th and 9th of April. This is the first weekend of the Easter holidays and the perfect opportunity for some adult time before the holiday begins.

Lucy Blair is an experienced calligrapher based in the UK and she will be coming over to teach two identical workshops over the weekend where participants will learn brush lettering for beginners. You can see her work on her instagram account @littleoldgoose

The class will cover the following: an introduction to brush lettering including beginner skills of up and down strokes. Participants will learn to create a words, layout, how to develop their own style and decorations and embellishments.
You will also receive a pack to take home including an instruction sheet, a small sketch pad and a Pentel Aquash brush pen.

The class will be taught over three hours and costs 640dkk. The cost covers teaching time, equipment you will use during the class and the take home pack, light refreshments and plenty of hygge!

This is a unique chance to learn this skill here in the city from an English speaking teacher. You will go away able to create beautiful brush calligraphy and have the skills to start to develop your own style.

The class will be taught in English, is open to adults and no experience is necessary. This is something I know a lot of people are interested in so take the chance now and book your tickets via the links below and I look forward to seeing you there!

Tickets for April 8th

Tickets for April 9th

Guide to using the post in Denmark

How to use a post office varies from country to country so I thought I’d write a quick guide to using the post office here in Denmark. This is also useful to people who have been living here a while as when PostNord took over the postal service here there were some changes to how it works. There are also very few (if any) separate post offices and they tend to be in supermarkets etc, which gives longer open hours. For that reason I have referred to them as post houses rather than post offices.Sending a letter 

You can send a letter up to 50g within Denmark for 8dkk but it can take up to five working days.

There is something called Quickbreve which is 27dkk for up to 100g within Denmark and they go everyday but you need to go to the post office i.e. in the supermarket etc to do post this.  There is more about the mobile apps below but if you want to use this on the app you need to swipe up to select it. Don’t post in a normal letter box though!

Sending parcels

It is very expensive to post parcels here. One way you can save a little is to print your own label using your home printer or to use the system at one of the Pakkeboksen (Parcel Boxes). These are red box systems located in various places such as stations and smaller supermarkets. You can sent parcels up to 20kg outside Denmark and 35kg inside the country. Link here

Other option for posting parcels are pakke.dk (you again need to print out your label) or DHL.dk

PostNord App and website

Once you have downloaded the PostNord App (Mobilporto) you can do a lot of things without having to go to the post office.

  • You can buy postage for letter up to 2kg (so this covers smaller parcels), you get a code to write on your letter in the place of a postage stamp.
  • You can buy package labels

By clicking through to Postnord (at the top righthand side of the app)

  • You can follow your package
  • Arrange Modtagerflex, which allows you to register with the post an agreed place where they can leave your parcel. It is in English.
  • You can sign up to Pakkeboksen (more later)

On the Postnord website you can

  • Find postcodes, post houses, Pakkeboksen and post boxes.
  • You can register a change of address
  • You can register Nej tak to having junk mail in your letter box i.e. brochures from the supermarkets etc.
  • And buy postage.

Pakkeboksen

I have mentioned these above. They are red boxes where parcels can be securely sent and received once you have registered in the website or app. You select the location best for you (this can be changed). There is a search section to help you with this. You then use a unique number and the address of the pakkeboksen when you are shopping online. You then receive a text or email telling you when it is ready to collect.

Collecting parcels at the post house

When you have a parcel to collect you need the slip of paper from the postman or your text/email with the parcel details. Take care to check which post house it has been taken to as sometimes they can send to a different one (there have been time when I have assumed it is the usual location and it is somewhere else). You will need some ID to collect it – usually your CPR card is enough but its a good idea to take some photo ID just in case.

You can have someone else collect it on your behalf but you must complete and sign to Engangsfuldmagt on the back of the slip. Usually I write that I have given my husband (and name him) to collect my parcel.

Tips to make your post house experience better

You will need to pay by cash or Dankort. They do not accept foreign cards.

You can pay bills at the post office if you don’t want to do it online.

Taking the correct ticket to queue can be tricky and usually they are kind if you have made a mistake and are clearly not Danish. If there is an option that says afhentning this is for collecting parcels etc, the other option (which seems to vary) is for other services. Like most places here you take you number and wait for it to come up.

March – a month of hope

March in Denmark always feels like the month of hope. After the long, dark winter months suddenly the days are getting longer. No longer are we travelling to school in the mornings in the pitch dark or coming home again as it is getting dark. It creeps up on you. We were walking to school last week and my son suddenly said, “have you noticed something? Its light!” and he said the same in the afternoon as we came home. It does take you by surprise as your mind thinks it is still much earlier than it is and we’ve had a few meals later than usual due to my blasé attitude of using daylight as my guide (somewhat like a farmer).tulipsAs I was travelling across the country to Århus last week, I noticed there was a warm glow from the sunlight bouncing off houses and trees and it made me feel hopeful and looking forward to the spring and summer, despite the fact it is still cold and wet. The erantis and snowdrops are out and crocus are not far behind.erantis

It’s funny that March in my mind is always intertwined with the memory of moving to Copenhagen that first time almost 9 years ago. That year Spring came early and by the start of April it was here. That time for me was a hopeful and exciting one and it is apt that it was also the change of season. This March we are moving to our new home, just minutes from the beach and I am looking forward to Spring and Summer afternoons spent there and the chance to see the sunrise over Amager Strand or Kalvebod without having to get up an hour before to get ready and across town. The thought of sneaking out at 3am to see the sun rise over the sea towards Sweden fills me with such joy.statue and flowersFor those readers who have moved here over the winter months, now is the time to witness Copenhagen waking up and coming into bloom. And I can’t wait!

Volunteering in Copenhagen and Århus

There are many opportunities to volunteer your time in Copenhagen, Århus and other parts of the country even if your Danish isn’t great. Plus it is a good way to improve your spoken Danish. I often have clients asking about volunteering options so I thought I’d share a few I am know of, but as usual please do get in touch if you would like me to add others you are aware of.volunteerFirst up, to help you search for your own volunteering options the Danish word for volunteer is Frivillig. Did you know that 43% of the Danish population are involved in voluntary work of some description?

The Red Cross (Røde Kors) is always looking for volunteers in various shapes and forms. Plus most organisations working with refugees are looking for volunteers such as Dansk Flygtningehjælp

The charity supermarket selling out of date (but safe food) called We Food are expanding and are often looking for volunteers in both their stores on Amager and in Nørrebro. Here is also an article about the project.

Settlementet in Vestebro is an amazing community project with many different areas of work. You can register to be a volunteer here. I have written about their work here.

One Bowl, not for profit pay as you feel community kitchen is really interesting and looks for volunteers. It is definitely an international place with volunteers and diners from all around the world. Read more about the project here.

CPH Volunteers is a scheme supported by København Kommune and is a flexible way to volunteer as you sign up and offer your time when you can. The portal Frivillig Job brings together a number of volunteering options across Denmark and lets you match your skills to groups looking for volunteers. Copenhagen Kommune also has a page with a selection of places looking for volunteers (some I have mentioned here but many others). And International House also has a volunteer information page.

Århus Kommune has a whole page on their website with a variety of types of organisations and projects looking for volunteers.

This is just a snap shot of the kinds of places you can volunteer.

My Relocation Story – Copenhagen

Today I thought I’d share another chapter from my book (My Guide to a Successful Relocation) about how I came to be here in Copenhagen.

Enjoy and if you fancy reading more you can get buy a copy directly from me if you live in Denmark, 100dkk including postage and packing ( saving of almost 50dkk from purchasing via Amazon), by sending me an email hello(at)dejligedayscommunications(dot)com. You can also get hold of it via Amazon if you are outside Denmark.

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My relocation story – Copenhagen

Back in 2007 my husband and I got married after twelve years together (clearly we didn’t rush into it!) and it felt like a new life was starting. I had been working for a not-for-profit organisation as Head of Communications for a few years. Over that time I had started to take control of my personal life (I lost two stone in weight, learnt to swim and got married) but my professional life was stressing me out. I had lost team members who were not being replaced due to budget cuts, office politics were reaching ridiculous levels and I was often in tears in the evening and waking at 5am unable to get back to sleep as I worried about the day ahead. This was no way to live.

For a number of years my husband’s employers had been tempting him with exciting jobs abroad but I had always been reluctant – I was building my career. But suddenly that just seemed to not matter. I was working hard but getting very little back and I could see no real change on the horizon unless we made the change. So we did. It was late summer when he asked at work about possible places we could relocate to and was given the options of San Diego (too far from family), Germany (no – how ironic) and Copenhagen. So we settled on Copenhagen without me ever having visited. I bought some guide books and the process at my husband’s work started. big beers in tivoli 2008

I joined him just before Christmas whilst he was in Copenhagen for a week sorting out his new role. It was the first time I visited the city and I fell in love immediately: big beers, delicious real Danish pastries and sparkling Christmas lights. Apart from the superficial things I also liked the kind of lifestyle I saw around me and, chatting to various people we met along the way, it seemed to make people happy.

Once it was a sure thing, I spoke to my boss and arranged to leave my job at the end of the year (as it turned out they were generous enough to let me work almost until I left the country, extending my notice period on a monthly basis).

I finished work at the end of February 2008, having negotiated a year-long freelance contract to start in the summer so I would have some money coming in when we moved. nyhavn-copy

At the start of March we headed out to Copenhagen for our home search. We were met at our hotel by our relocation consultant who had a bag packed full of information about the city and life here. We viewed seven places in one day, a luxury that is no longer possible with the tough market now, and we had to give him a top three by the end of the day. It is funny that our initial number one was soon relegated to number three. I hadn’t yet adjusted my expectations and had felt the modern apartment was the right one for us despite it being totally wrong. My husband gently talked me round to a beautiful late 19th century first floor apartment in Frederiksberg, which was of course perfect for us when we moved in.

Things moved quickly from that day – they accepted our offer and the moving date of the 31st of March was set. We then had to get rid of about a third of our belongings, which we sold at a boot sale and a garage sale, and put more things in storage. In hindsight I wish I had been more brutal about getting rid of things but at this point we were not sure if our Copenhagen adventure would work out. We then put our house up for rental and arranged for packers to come in and pack up the remains of our belongings.

I am something of a control freak so you can imagine how I felt when I was bedridden (on the futon in the chaos of packing) with very bad tonsillitis. In fact the packing was all done efficiently without my interference. I was sad to be sick as I missed seeing my oldest friend and her newborn baby before we left.

All of a sudden we were at the new terminal 5 at Heathrow, with a suitcase and carry-on ready to start our new adventure.

At the time I was sharing my new life on a personal blog and this is what I wrote about that first day:

Handover today went well, the flat is much bigger than I remembered so everything went in fine. The removal men turned up with the truck at about 11.30am and were unpacked  by 2pm even with unscheduled stops whilst our elderly new neighbour travelled down the stairs. If she was a better time manager she could have done all her errands in one go but at least it keeps her fit!

I visited our local Irma (a supermarket chain similar to Waitrose) several times in the day and made friends with the young manager, Peter, who was happy to help with my queries about the many types of cream they sold. He also welcomed me to the neighbourhood.

After we unpacked random boxes and the kitchen we went for a quest to find a DIY shop which took us miles only to buy the plugs in a supermarket having given up on the directions we had. On the walk back, about 2 yards from the supermarket, we spotted the shop. Sadly my current vocab doesn’t extend to DIY!

The area seems really nice with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants on Gammel Kongevej, the only street we have explored so far. It is very quiet in our apartment even though we back onto a school, they seem to do lessons in shifts as there always seems to be a teeming playground. Bizarrely the school bell rang at quarter to ten tonight. We can’t hear neighbours so I am hoping that they can’t hear us!

Other bizarre observation of the day – they leave babies outside shops and cafes unattended as ‘the fresh air is good for them’! cimg0197

From that first day onwards I felt a fizz of excitement in my tummy every morning. After a few mornings with our relocator, we were registered with resident numbers and he had taken us around our local big supermarkets, which at the time I thought was a strange excursion but it was a great thing to do to help me get acclimatised.

I decided to take a month before I started Danish lessons and took that time to explore the local area and dig into the city. We spent weekends exploring places such as Christiania (which I loved but my husband hated) and many of the touristy places. In those days there was no social media to guide us so we explored blind, and it was amazing. I felt like an explorer; every day I found new places, had new experiences and excitedly shared these with my husband every evening.

One afternoon in our local supermarket I heard a very clear English voice and I bravely walked up to a very statuesque woman and introduced myself. This was my first friend. She had also just moved to Copenhagen from the US (although she was from Ghana and had been at boarding school in the UK, hence the accent). We met for coffee later in the week and I noticed she carried a little leather bound notebook into which she wrote down recommendations and information she discovered. I liked this and her. We parted without making another date and I wasn’t sure we would meet again.

Fast forward a few weeks and guess who was in my first Danish class? We became good friends and even ended up having our sons within weeks of each other a few years later. I was glad I made the bold step of speaking to her in the supermarket.

I think I spent a lot of that first year in a constant state of excitement. I balanced my days with Danish lessons in the morning, some freelance work in the afternoons and a lot of exploring, often on a whim. I met people in class and soon realised which people I had more in common with, I got to know my neighbours and I found a feeling of peace that had been lacking for a long time in the UK. One May evening we sat eating our dinner with the windows open, birds singing outside and I turned to my husband and said how much I loved our new life, and he agreed.

I look back and wonder what made the experience so good. I think it was a combination of many things. The disillusionment with my life in the UK meant that I was open to a new experience. My parents had already moved from the UK to France so I didn’t feel I was leaving anyone behind (friends were more than happy to plan trips to visit). Our move was actually very stress-free, from the home search through to the actual move, and then the subsequent settling in period (a lot of which was helped by a brilliant relocator). I found that the Danish way of life suited me – being car-free was brilliant.

Moving in the summer so the days were long and we had great weather meant that we could explore a lot more. We did tons more things in the evenings than we ever did at home without the long car commute at the end of the day. We saw things were happening and we went along. We went to watch dragon boats racing at Island Brygge – it turned out to be a company team building event but we sat in the sunshine at 9pm and just enjoyed ourselves with no pressure. We went along to a free concert to hear Tina Dickow. We lived a lot more spontaneously than we ever did in the UK. We had more time together and life was more relaxed in general.

bump-in-tivoliAfter our first calendar year in Copenhagen we decided to start a family and we were lucky enough that I fell pregnant quickly (I always wonder how quickly this would have been if I had still been run ragged in the UK). A whole new journey started.

 

Århus Housing Launch event

As some readers may know I offer a joint package with Copenhagen Housing and they are expanding their home search services to Århus this year. As part of that I will be offering the same package with them but for Århus. This is very exciting especially as Århus has been named as the European Capital of Culture this year.arhus

To launch the new Århus department of Copenhagen Housing, a very special event will be held at Highlanders Bar on 2nd March. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet follow expats, have fun and put yourself in with a chance of finding your new home in Århus, free of charge!

The program of the evening will consist of a reading by me from my book “My Guide to a Successful Relocation”, an opportunity to learn more about Aarhus Housing and how they can help you with your housing search, and ……… a fun quiz!

The lucky winner will get a free housing search in Århus worth 4500 kroner.

Refreshments will be provided.

Sign up for the event by mailing your details to charlotte@copenhagenhousing.dk, please write “Aarhushousing launch” as the subject.

I really hope to see some of you there.

Getting hold of ‘food from home’ in Copenhagen

It is important to accept that food in a new country will be different to your own and that adaptation is essential to really settle in however it would be silly to deny that we all sometimes miss food from our home countries. When I was pregnant I suddenly really wanted certain British food that were impossible to get here so my lovely husband slaved away in the kitchen and produce things such as Cornish Pasties for me. You may also have loads of cook books which require ingredients that are impossible to find easily, for example self-raising flour. I can tell you that the version here produced by Amo is really not up to much!

As time goes on you miss things less but in the early days the comfort of finding your favourite food can really help in adjustment. I thought today I would pull together a list of places where you can find ‘food from home’.english foodFor the Brits and Americans it is a little easier. Meny has a reasonable selection of produce although some of the choices they make baffle me but I guess they know their customers. There is also online places such as Abigails (which used to have a bricks and mortar shop but is now online) and The British Corner Shop (which I personally use).

If you happen to be heading over the Bridge, The English Shop in Malmo stocks English, Australian and South African food and they also offer mail order.

If you are looking for Kosher food then Copenhagen Kosher in Østerbro is the place for you.polish foodPolish food can be found in a couple of places I know of. Den Polske Købmand in Christianshavn and Delikatesy Polskie at  Aboulevarden 32. For online shopping there is also Polski Koszyk which I think delivers here. Eurodeli  also has food from Bulgaria. Russia, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, Hungary, Ukraine and Poland.

Indian groceries can be found in a few places but I hear the best are Golden Foods (also known as Double Diamond) in Valby (although from their website it is a little confusing as to the location) and Spice Mart on Vesterbrogade.

Asian fresh food can be found in the small selection of grocers behind the main station, mainly on Colbjørnsensgade, as well as in other shops on Istedgade. There is a small Asian supermarket in Østerbro called Asien Supermarket.italianFor Italian food then the huge supermarket, Supermarco is the place to go. And for French food with a price tag then Ma Poule in Torvehallerne is a great place to go.

I think I have covered all the place I know but do leave a comment if you can recommend another international grocers you would like me to add.

Copenhagen Main Library

I was in the city centre and as I needed to find somewhere warm to wait for the Round Tower to open, I decided to have a little wander around the Main Library on Krystalgade. I used to spend a fair bit of time here when my son was a toddler and I thought it was great then. It is even better now. img_7600

In the main area on the ground floor, I was delighted to see some tables with handpicked books on them, just like a bookshop. The choice of books in both libraries and bookshops can sometime be overwhelming so these tables are perfect to guide you to a decent read.img_7601 As you come to expect in Denmark, the design of the library has been taken very much into consideration from the lounge chairs dotted around to the casual and cosy seating at the front of the library – this is really a place that makes you want to stay. There are also tons of study or work tables around the place too.img_7602

The English language section of books for children is also amazing with a number of early reader books available. Although you can order any book from the library’s vast catalogue, it is wonderful to be able to browse, especially with your children. I have many happy memories choosing library books with my mum and this can’t be replaced with a search bar.img_7603

The children’s section is different from when I spent time here five years ago but is still excellent with a wooden castle, toys and also a puppet theatre. I was sad to see that the filthy naked doll my son was obsessed all those years ago with has gone to the big doll’s house in the sky.img_7604 img_7605 img_7608

I wrote previously about libraries here in Copenhagen but I do feel this place deserves a post of its own.

Snow day from the Round Tower

We had proper snow in Copenhagen last week for the first time in years. I decided to enjoy the view from the top of the Round Tower and was lucky enough to have it myself for a while. I was also delighted that the Observatory was open too.img_7616 img_7617 img_7621 img_7623 img_7624 img_7627 img_7629 img_7634

It’s the winter break so I’ll be back next week – enjoy the week if you are off work and school.