“Gentrification” of Valby

So back in 2016 I wrote this blog post about Valby as an alternative to central city living. In it I said (which was true at the time) “Valby is not the place for hipsters or trendsetters” and “It is not a slick and trendy part of town”.


A few weeks ago I had to meet with some parents from my son’s school at a cafe on the main street in Valby. I’d not been down to this part of Valby for some months and the change was significant and noticeable. There were a number of older businesses which had closed down and there was activity inside the shops indicating a new business would be opening soon. But mainly I was surprised to see a Wokshop, Lagkagehuset and also a Riccos coffee shop within stone’s throws of each other. All are places I like but their new presence in a previously pretty old school Danish area is a definite indicator as to the changes afoot there.


I’m not sure that the term gentrification can be applied to what is happening in central Valby but it certainly looks like gentrification-lite. These businesses start popping up where there is a demand or potential demand for them. Valby is certainly an area where more affluent people are starting to live due to the housing situation in nearby Vesterbro and Frederiksberg but it is often a chicken and egg situation. In the UK it is referred to as the *Waitrose effect’ (here is a recent article about this), whereby if a branch of this expensive supermarket opened up in your neighbourhood you knew that house prices would be on the rise and the face of the neighbourhood would begin to change. But also in seeing places like Waitrose or in the case of Valby, Wokshop, opening up prospective residents will see it as more of an exciting area than if there is a Netto, an old style bakery, pizza shop and a clothing shop for big men.

And what does this mean for rents and house prices? Undoubtedly rents will rise as will demand from people to live here, pushing current residents and businesses out of the area in time. Of course this is capitalism but it doesn’t make it any more palatable. Over the last few decades areas such as Vesterbro and some parts of Nørrebro have gone through a painful change and as long term residents found themselves priced out of living in Vesterbro, they moved out to Valby and Sydhavn and now these two areas are beginning to gentrify, where will these people end up? The issue of displacement is one which should not be ignored. The cycle keeps going until all the city areas are the same, with the same types of coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants, same types of people with the same affluence and  the city is only for well off people.

Copenhagen is a long way off becoming as homogenised as some towns and cities in the UK but the writing is on the wall. I’ve said it before but every Krone you spend is a vote for the kind of city you want to live in. Support for individual and local businesses helps them survive and also ultimately keeps a city alive and unique. When I read about businesses in Amager for example which have been there for three or four generations, I wonder how many of the current businesses du jour, such as Gorms, Cocks and Cow, Wokshop, Jagger to name a few will still be in business in ten or even five years time? With the fast Twitter generation cycle of life where things are soon discarded for something newer and shinier makes me think none of the above.

I’m not against change but when change benefits the few and not the many, I wonder how positive it is.

Although not about European cities this podcast about the gentrification of parts of Los Angeles and also Brooklyn, New York make for fascinating if not disturbing listening. The issues they explore are not unique to the US. Also this piece in the recent issue of The Murmur about Copenhagen is an interesting read

Danish {and Scandinavian} cookbooks in English

Christmas will be here before we know it and what better gift to yourself or someone else than a Danish or Scandinavian cookbook. Cookbooks are a great way to really get a handle on the cuisine of a country – with both traditional and modern foods and recipes.

I have compiled a list of books I like or would like to get my hands on for some inspiration.

First of all any book by Trine Hahnemann is a surefire winner. Trine is considered to be akin to a Danish Delia Smith. She has appeared on the Great British Bake Off a few years ago and also had a number of recipes serialised in The Telegraph. She is all about comfort food, baking and the real meaning of hygge. I have written about her before hereand I interviewed her here.

Scandinavian Comfort Food – Trine Hahnemann

Scandinavian Baking – Trine Hahnemann

The Scandinavian Cookbook – Trine Hahnemann

Bronte Aurell is another food author some people may have heard of already. She is the founder of Sacndikitchen, a a café, grocery shop, online store and wholesale business based in London. As a Danish native she know something about the food scene and her first book The Scandi Kitchen  is well worth getting. She has a number of other books worth checking out here.

Danish Food and Cooking by John Nielsen and Judith H Dern was my food bible when I first moved here. It is a super introduction to all the really traditional Danish foods.

Signe Johansen is the Norwegian author behind the Scandilicious brand of cook books. A friend of mine had the baking one and I loved looking through it when I visited her.

Secret of Scandinavian Cooking…Scandilicious – Signe Johansen

Scandilicious Baking – Signe Johansen

Claus Meyer is a household name in Denmark having been instrumental in the New Nordic food revolution – get a bite of it in his books.

The Nordic Kitchen – Claus Meyer

Meyer’s Bakery – Claus Meyer

Finally a book I’ve not read or look through but one I love the sound of. Nordic Light by Simon Bajada

Help in understanding customs duties

Many of us have been stung with a bill for VAT and customs charges for gifts or purchases from outside the EU. It is frustrating (and costly) if you are not expecting this and also there is a carrier charge applied in addition to the costs from SKAT (the tax office) which can exceed the cost of the VAT and duty charges. You need to pay the entire bill to get your parcel released from customs.I don’t want to repeat the information from SKAT as I want it to be as accurate as possible for you so this is the link to look at so you understand the implications of buying from outside the EU and also receiving gifts. Here is the link to the SKAT webpage in English.

It is important to note that if you buy from a website based inside the EU these charges do not apply and you will be subject to appropriate VAT when you make your purchase – whether that is with Amazon or any other business in the EU which will deliver here.

When you receive the notice from the mail carrier i.e. PostNord or DHL, you can pay via a website and then the parcel will be released for collection at a local post office drop off for you to collect.

It is important to take these costs in to considering, especially around Christmas when people do a lot of online shopping. One particular place to be aware of these charges is Etsy, as many of the small producers on this website are based outside the EU so make sure you check where the item will be sent from before you order.

You may also find this post about using postal services useful.

How to clean your floors

Moving from a house with carpets to a rental with wooden floors is a daunting prospect. You want to keep it clean, make sure you don’t damage the floors. There are a number of floor cleaning products you need to know about and honestly its not as stressful as it seems at first.

Universal Rengøring (universal cleaner) is exactly what it says however there are special ones for different uses i.e. bathroom, kitchen, windows etc but the picture on the front helps with this. Some need to be diluted and others can be used straight from the spray bottle.

Floor cleaners are something that can cause some angst especially if you have no experience of looking after a wood floor and like many people renting apartments here will be all you will have.

Brun Sæbe – literally this means brown soap. It can be used on tiles, slate, marble, untreated and lacquered wood.

Probat Hvid – this is a brand name white soap but you can find other makes. It can be used on tiles and wood. It creates a protective soap layer which repells dirt.

Træsæbe and Træsæbe hvid – there are a basic soap and a white soap to be used on wood floors.

Natursæbe – this can be used on tiles, bricks, marble and lino floors.

All the above should be used regularly to clean your floor with a mop and bucket after you have hoovered or swept the floor.

From DIY shops such as Silvan, Bauhaus and Harald Nyborg you can buy special fast drying oils to treat your floors to keep them protected. It might be worth checking with your landlord about what they prefer you use.

Gulvolie (below) is an oil treatment for wooden floors and is fast drying. It comes in white, clear, matt and gloss.

Oliefrisker is an alternative to the natursæbe mentioned above, and adds a protective coat on the floor and into the wood. It is to be used on oiled and wax treated floors.

All the above is general guidance to cleaning products but do check with your landlord if you are still concerned about the correct ones to use.

Halloween at Tivoli

We had a quick visit into Tivoli on Friday on its first official day of its Halloween opening. As usual the park looked fabulous and we’ll be back for more later in the week. Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite.

There are few things happening in the park which you might be interested in. There is a children’s craft workshop, which costs 95kr, aimed at kids up to the age of 8 accompanied by an adult. It looks great fun and lasts about 45 minutes. This is the link to the event

There will also be a trick or treat event on October the 30th and you can find more information here

Innovative way to make the city safer

Following a number of attacks by terrorists using vehicles as a weapon, more and more cities are placing solid concrete blocks in popular city centre areas to prevent further attacks of these kinds. After the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin last year, the authorities in Copenhagen were rightly quick to place protective blocks in the city in places which may be considered targets. Whilst these blocks serve as very practical purpose, the look of them is not very pleasing and can create a feeling of fear. Cities still need to be functional and useful for everyone especially those people on foot or using bikes.

TagTomat, an organisation behind a number of urban gardening projects which has been in operation since 2011, has worked with Sharing Copenhagen to develop a prototype concept to make the barriers more attractive and useful in everyday life. The idea is to take a wooden framework which is placed over the functional concrete blocks. The framework can then have benches, bike racks and planters added to it. The idea also offers value for money as the barriers then become multi use and it makes spaces greener and more friendly but also safe.

TagTomat has chosen a variety of robust plants with long flowering times. The project was covered by DR’s P4 programme and the presenter, Kamilla Mærsk, summed the barriers up perfectly:

“If I just walked past them I would not think of terrorism immediately but rather a new initiative from the City of Copenhagen to make the city a little nicer.”

There are two locations currently in the city where the prototypes can be seen: the Rådhuspladsen and Nyhavn.

You can read more (in Danish) about the project and watch some videos here

This is an interesting news piece about the project

Photo credit: Tag Tomat

 

Skolernes Motionsdag – Denmark wide school sports day

Those of you who have children in Danish schools will no doubt have been told that next Friday (13th Oct) is the Skolernes Motionsdag. For those without kids you may be surprised to see hordes of children running around parks, the lakes and other open spaces on the day. But what is it all about?

The day start with a mass warm up session before the entire school goes and runs circuits around a local open space.

98 percent of Denmark’s primary schools participate in the Schools’ Day of Activity with about 355,000 active students. It is estimated that 700,000 children are participating annually. Together they run what corresponds to around the earth around 35 times.

The School’s Day of Activity is part of the Sunde Children Movement School program , which is a collaboration between TrygFonden and Dansk Skoleidræt. The overall goal of the program is that more children and young people move more and establish healthy habits early in life.

The School’s Day of Motivation was first held in 1982. The idea was fostered by a group of sports teachers who wanted to create a joint exercise event in Funen. Initially, the students only ran , but over the years the event developed to include other activities.

This year schools have been given frisbees a couple of weeks before and there is an associated leaflet encouraging healthy habits in children around eating, exercise and screen time.

It seems odd to have the day when its is a bit cold but all the kids seem to love it. You can watch 2015’s warm up video here – still a big hit in our house!

Read more about the day here

Photo credit

Autumn holiday activities

With the efterårsferie (autumn school holiday) starting at end of school on Friday 13th (spooky) there is plenty to keep the kids entertained over the break. Tivoli opens for Halloween that day and the park will no doubt be festooned with spookiness and pumpkins. 

Culture Night  kicks of the autumn school holiday and shouldn’t be missed.

Lego building at the Danish Architecture Centre (remember to book yourself a place if you want to come in with your child).

Louisiana has events for children in the Children’s Wing

Frilands Museum is a great autumn trip and they have stuff going on during the week

Renaissance Fair is taking place at Kronborg Castle in Helsingør if you fancy a trip further afield

Viking for a day at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde sounds like fun Workers’ Museum http://www.arbejdermuseet.dk/arrangement/efteraarsferie-skaeg-stauning/

Climate Planet is the huge planet installation in the Rådhuspladsen and sounds amazing.

Looking for a pumpkin patch then this post from another local blogger helps. Anya also mentions places for apple picking, which is more of an Autumn tradition in Denmark.

Enjoy the holiday!

Should adverts always be in Danish in Denmark?

First up I’d like to say that I think the actual content on the Oatly marketing campaign popping up all over Copenhagen (and other European cities) is inspired, eye-catching and disruptive. However my beef is that the adverts are all written in English regardless of which country they are in.Every time I see them (and it is every day at the moment) I feel slightly irritated by the in your face nature of the English language in a country where it is not the first language. I asked on Instagram what people thought about this and the comments were interesting. One person agreed that the blanket use of English in the adverts was lazy but as someone who doesn’t speak a lot of Danish she appreciated being able to understand an advert. It is comforting to see something you understand in a sea of things you don’t but surely the target audience isn’t a minority of people who can’t speak the local language. Others weren’t that bothered and others felt it was incongruous.

I suppose I am playing devil’s advocate somewhat as I’m not Danish. However as someone who moved here almost ten years ago when there was hardly anything written in English  (for example now many websites have the choice of English or Danish this simply didn’t happen then) it forced me (although I was a willing participant) to learn Danish to be able to understand most things. With the move towards more English language materials and also the spoken word, the perceived need to understand Danish as a foreigner is diminishing.

There is a question mark about what this means in the long-term for the Danish language. With freedom of movement in Europe, more and more companies are operating in English to attract talent, which economically is understandable. But at the same time when the choice comes between a Danish speaker (but not necessarily a Dane) and a non Danish speaker the former often gets the job in some companies.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this especially if you are from Germany or France where these adverts also appear in English. Is it a worrying precedence or doesn’t it matter? Should it be considered inevitable that the languages of smaller countries will become second to a more widely spoken language such as English? Tell me what you think.