Little glimpse of Christmas in Tivoli

We had our first visit to Tivoli for the Christmas season on Friday and it was amazing. Tivoli promised new things this season and it didn’t disappoint. The area around the Planen has been transformed into a Polar Express inspired winter wonderland, complete with a static steam train housing food places and shops. The steam engine even produces ‘steam’ every so often.

With the increasingly short days you can see all the sparkly lights from 3.30pm onwards. I can’t wait to go again this week!

Finally for more of a lowdown on Christmas in Denmark don’t forget to sign up for my guide and also get a holiday and celebrations printable for 2018 featuring illustrations by Charlotte Rule.

Interview with Charlotte Rule, talented local artist

Many of you may have already signed up for my Christmas guide and dates printable (if you haven’t, why not do it now ūüôā – here is the link) and you will have seen the lovely cute little illustrations on the dates printable. I was delighted to work with a talented local artist, Charlotte Rule, on this project and I thought today I would share a little interview with Charlotte. Charlotte and I met with the monthly crafting get together, Craftenhagen, which I host and I love her creativity. She has shared so much with us as a group and we have learnt a lot of new skills from her.Charlotte is originally from Stevenage but grew up in a small market town in Norfolk, England and has been living in Copenhagen for the last few years. She went to the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, where she studied for a BA HONS in Visual Communication, specialising in Illustraton. She is¬†currently a part time freelance illustrator, working alongside that as a window dresser for a well known clothing brand.

So over to Charlotte…

Do you find inspiration in any favourite places in Copenhagen? Can you tell us about these places and how they inspire you.

CR: There are quite a few places in and around the city that I find inspirational. These ar places that, after I have visited them, I find I am suddenly in the mood to create something, as well as places that inspire my work in a more direct way.
I love to draw animals, so I have a year card to the zoo which is a great way to observe the animals and get ideas. As well as this I enjoy being in nature, so the botanical gardens and Dyrehaven out in Klampenborg are also great spots for me.
I also like to visit the Design Museum and SMK art museum for ideas on techniques.
 Where can people see more of your work?
CR: You can have a look at my work on my website, where I have a variety of finished projects I have worked on. I also have a Facebook and Instagram page which are a more informal way to see works in progress and doodles or ideas. I sell original pieces on my Etsy page, such as my Lino Prints and on my Society6 page you can find lots of my prints on different types of products, such as phone cases and cushion covers.
Christmas is just around the corner, what are your favourite things about Christmas in Denmark?
CR: I love the different traditions I get to experience, dancing around the Christmas tree and celebrating Christmas late into the evening of the 24th are some things that I really enjoy. I also like the preparation leading up to the big day, making konfekt and the buzzing atmosphere of the city.
You are originally from the UK, can you share a funny story about settling here in Copenhagen.

CR: When I moved to Denmark it was mid March and the daffodils were just beginning to bloom. I came with one suitcase and was ready to start the Spring! Unfortunately the Danish weather did not agree with me and my first day at work greeted me with the type of snow that would make everything stop in the UK. I think it was very obvious that I was new in the country by the clothes that I had to wear! Since then I have definitely learned to prepare for the unexpected…

 
So what does 2018 hold for you?
CR: I am looking towards bringing to life a new brand idea that I have been thinking about over the last year, and I hope to continue developing my artwork and enjoying life here in Copenhagen.
So, don’t forget to check out Charlotte’s work elsewhere on the internet for some unique Christmas gifts and cards…

“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 N√łrrebro 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

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 M√¶rsk, 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

 

Get a new look this autumn with a fab hairdresser!

I have written before about my amazing hairdresser, Sharon Hatting. Not only is Sharon a great hairdresser but she is also something of an inspiration to me.

Sharon is now renting a chair in a salon called Hair by Dunja at Enghavevej 70 in Vesterbro. It is a great location and easy to get to. In September she is offer 10% off a cut as an introduction offer to her new location. You can book an appointment via their website here.


I also interviewed Sharon for a My Danish Career piece in The Local Denmark and it is getting a cracking response. You can read it here and find out more about Sharon’s business journey.

Fields of wild flowers all for the taking

As we are seeing out a rubbish summer weatherwise and autumn begins on the 1st September, we had one last sunny Saturday of summer this weekend. It was the perfect time to drive out to Selinevej on Amager to visit the much Instagrammed wild flower field.Copenhagen Kommune is preparing the area for the creation of a city forest (Byskov) and they have planted acres of wild flowers which help prepare the soil for the forest. The very pleasant by-product of this is the wonderful wildflowers which you can pick as many as you can carry.Many of the flowers had been picked but there were still a lot to pick and they will continue flowering for a while longer. You can find the meadow at the end of Selinevej, up a gravel slope or follow the other people walking and cycling down here as there is very few other reasons to be there. This article can help you pin point the spot and also read more about the project (it is in Danish).

Back to ‘school’

So here is the post I planned for last week. The summer holidays are over and this year the Danish ‘summer’ has been something of a very confused season. Some days have felt almost autumnal and there have been a handful of proper summer days. In fact the DMI said that July was the the first one for decades with no real summer days (defined as a day with temperatures over 25 degrees c). August is shaping up to be more of the same. What’s the betting we get a hot September and October? I read somewhere that instead of moaning about the weather we should be looking at why it is like it is these days and thinking about what we can do about it. DMI have said that this summer’s weather has been the hardest to predict for a long time. But we should be thankful for longer hours of daylight and more exposure to the precious Vitamin D the sun gives our bodies before we head into the darker winter days.With a sense of optimism the end of the school holidays always has the clean sheet vibe to it. New stationary, new bag, new experiences and a sense of excitement are what I recall from my youth of going back to school. I usually feel a little of this even as a adult and also living through it with my son now he is settled at school. But this year I have found myself sluggish and less motivated to get back to things. We had a very relaxed summer, which was just what we needed, but the change of gear is taking some time. I need a metaphorical kick up the backside.

I had pages of notes for the blog and some other projects (I am still a bit old school with paper and pen at times) and these were also taken with my laptop so I need to do all that thinking again and that is adding to the bottleneck in energy flow.

I have also let negativity get the better of me recently – my nerve pain is increasing and yet more tests are on the horizon. Sadly I have found myself fixated with worse case scenarios rather than best case ones. (In case you missed it I wrote this about my experience with medicinal cannabis.)

World events also feel like that are pushing down on us all, no matter where we live in the world, the Internet makes sure we are constantly aware. I have shut off all my news alerts so I have to actively read and watch the news but like a car crash it seems hard to look away and I want to be informed but with this comes a burden of anger and frustration.

So here I am getting some words down and giving myself the first kick up the backside. Sorry this is a bit more real world and less fluffy unicorns but hopefully there will be a little more unicorn sparkle on the horizon.

Now off to plan (again).

Dealing with theft

I had planned a little inspirational back-after-the-holidays post but yesterday I had my laptop stolen literally from right under me and I thought I’d talk about that instead.

If you are on any of the expat Facebook forums here you will regularly read about people who have had wallets taken from their bags in busy Metro stations and bank accounts cleared out before they have a chance to notice the missing wallet, and phones and laptops lifted in seconds. These people have worked hard for what they have and to have it casually taken is truly horrible.

So my story. I was eating lunch in Lele Street Kitchen on Vesterbrogade. I had tucked my rucksack with my laptop in under the table and was sitting eating my noodles and reading a book. I never once left my table. A small squat man in a loud checked shirt walked in and passed me to the toilet and then presumably left as he wasn’t eating in the place. I finished my lunch a few minutes later and reached down to pick up my bag. I noticed it was a few feet behind me and I thought ‘how did it get there?’ and in the next split second my stomach fell as I realised what had probably happened. Sure enough the bag was light and missing my Macbook. He had taken it to the toilet and taken what he wanted, zipped it up and put it back, looking exactly as before but in a slightly different place. All in the matter of minutes. As one guy said, these people are professionals.

Shouting and swearing started and the other diners gasped and looked shocked (at the theft not my swearing). I called the police to get a crime number and report the theft. Without CCTV there was little they could do and to be fair my excellent ¬†description of the man wasn’t really a lot to go on. The police call centre bloke was very helpful and seemed relieved that I had a CPR number to the process for him was simpler. Humac helped me lock the laptop, which was passworded anyway, to render it pretty useless in the short term for the thief and my insurance will hopefully pay out. No one is dead but the thought that he looked at me, a real life human being, and casually robbed me is what gets me. But as my mum said, these people don’t have any rspect for anyone, even themselves.

So in the spirit of learning and sharing, here are my tips on avoiding and dealing with theft.

Number One – Keep your wits about you

I was reading a book, other people are studying, dealing with kids and push chairs, looking at Twitter on smartphones,  just normal day to day life which distracts us but this is when we are the most vulnerable. I always carry my phone and wallet in a little bag on my front and can see it at all times but larger items such as tablets and laptops will be in bags. Keep your eyes on your bags, on public transport have them on your lap or wrap the strap around your foot. The latter also in a restaurant or coffee shop. And never leave it unattended.

Number Two РTiny acts of security 

I joked last night that I shall carry a bear trap around in my bag from now on or at least a mouse trap! But in seriousness, although it may not always help, a little padlock on the zips of your bag will deter would-be pickpockets who are looking for a fast theft. In my instance it may of caused him to abandon my bag in the toilet as it would have taken crucial seconds to bust the zip during which time I may have noticed it missing. Of course this is only a tiny and probably pointless thing to do in many cases but it may make them miss you off their spree.

Number Three – Tech security

Set up your computer or tablet with passwords which need to be entered at all times to open it. Seems obvious but not everyone does this. Also you can set up Find my Mac on the iCloud if you are a Mac user. I don’t know if PCs have the same but I guess it must. Store everything in the Cloud so you can restore your data etc. Also in iCloud you can lock the stolen device remotely and even have the chance to leave a little message to the thief. I went to the Humac shop where they helped me with this but you can log onto the Cloud on any device. I am sure there are loads more security things you can do, so make sure you investigate them.

Number Four – Calling the police

For this kind of theft you need to call 114 (unless you are sitting on the thief in which case 112 is probably more appropriate !) and select 1 on the menu choices (which are in Danish). Within 24 hours of reporting the crime you should get a crime report letter in your Eboks, which you need for insurance purposed. I found them very helpful but I was in no doubt that it was one of hundreds of calls they get in the month, that they are well aware of the kinds of gangs operating in the city but there is little chance of getting the stolen item back.

Number Five – Insurance

Today before anything gets stolen from you please ring your insurance company or check your papers to make sure that you are covered for theft outside your home. Even if you are not a freelancer who prances about town with a laptop, many of us have an expensive phone or tablet in our bags. Tryg, who are my insurers, will cover me for theft outside the home but I have to pay a deductible (or excess), which in the wider scheme of the laptop cost is OK but check this also. My insurer asked for a copy of my receipt for the laptop and the police crime report. They did mention a serial number but didn’t ask for it in the end. So make sure you know where receipts for expensive items are and also make a note of the serial numbers (if you are the kind of person who doesn’t keep boxes, which I do).

Number Six РStay positive but a word in the ear of thieves 

Whilst there is an increasing number of thefts in the city, they are done by a minority of, albeit very prolific and professional, criminal gangs and not everyone is out to rob you. Everyone yesterday from the girl working in Lele’s, the other customers, the police, Humac, people who I don’t even know in the expat Facebook group were super kind and helpful. Taking care of ourselves, our things and those around us is the way to beat these people.

And to any thieves out there (who are no doubt regular readers of this blog :-)) Denmark is a country built on trust – of each other and those in charge – don’t wreck that, we value it and it needs to stand strong. And if I ever see that bloke again, whose appearance is burnt onto my retinas, let me just say in the words of William Shakespeare – though she be but little, she is fierce.