Time for Spring (please!)

Yesterday this was our view as we enjoyed a warm(ish) walk on the beach near where we live. It was a sunglasses, coat open kind of day and we even saw some brave kids paddling bare-chested in the sea (this was a bit of a stretch as far as I was concerned). We have been wearing winter coats for the last six months and for the last few months it has been sub-zero and snowy. We woke up on the first day of the summer term with more snow coming down and actually settling, in April! My son summed it up this morning when he said that yesterday at the beach was the trailer for the forthcoming Spring. A ‘look what you can win’ glimpse into the future. At least I hope so.

I read somewhere that instead of jokingly asking what is up with the weather, we should actually consider what is happening to the climate and think about actions, big and small, that are impacting on the changes in our climate and those actions we can take to try to make positive change.On another note we had a lovely relaxing Easter break, although I think I indulged more over this holiday than Christmas. My husband loves to cook when he has the time and we enjoyed a homemade beef and ale pie, homemade hot cross buns (which were amazing and as they are something I really miss from the UK, very welcome) and a sous vide leg of lamb, which finally converted me to enjoy this meat. Easter holds a lot less expectation than Christmas and therefore seems much more relaxed. Unless your expectation is that the winter will be over!Anyway, we are into April and hopefully warmer days are ahead. I have been feeling a little disconnected with the city so I have a long list of places to explore and share once it warms up so watch this space. Finally I invite you to join my mailing list, I usually send out a couple of emails a month; one is a newsletter type one with lots of interesting stuff happening around the city, news etc and then the odd one through the month if there is something relevant to share. I don’t use your information for anything other than this purpose and you can, of course, unsubscribe at any time (but as I have said before, hopefully you will find it all useful stuff that you want to see in your inbox).

To subscribe click here and follow the instructions (if it seems a little onerous that is so I can make sure I protect your data), I look forward to welcoming you!

 

 

Easter in Tivoli

We spent Good Friday in Tivoli and it was the first day in a long time when it felt even remotely Springlike. The Easter displays will be in place until next week and then it will be Spring in Tivoli. You could see a number of bulbs ready to bloom so if we actually have a few days with temperatures above freezing and some sunlight, it is going to look wonderful!

Danish Easter traditions

Easter is quite a big deal in Denmark and it almost feels as if there is spring in the air finally! Most work places are closed for five days and the city empties out as people travel to visit family or spend time at summer houses for some påskehygge! Most shops close from Thursday to Monday opening for a short day on Saturday so it is best advised to stock up before Easter or check the opening times of your local supermarket.

As I have come to expect there are a lot of Danish traditions around Easter so I thought I would share some of them with you today.The Danes love to decorate for Easter and the shops start selling decorations such as eggs, natural and colourful, napkins and candles, predominantly in green and yellow a few weeks before Easter. Påskelilie or daffodils are everywhere from workplaces and homes and can be picked up either cut or in pots with the bulbs very cheaply from florists and supermarkets.The month before Easter bars and supermarkets start selling påskeøl or Easter beers. The main breweries produce popular versions but there are many to choose from produced by smaller breweries. They are delicious and light in flavour but still pack a punch alcohol wise. These beers and snaps are enjoyed with a big traditional meal on Easter Sunday. Chocolate is a big part of Easter with eggs, big and small and also Easter layer cakes in the bakeries.

My favourite Danish Easter tradition is Gækkebrev. From February people start sending elaborately decorated teasing letters or cards without a signature. Instead, the letter holds a number of dots that corresponds with the number of letters of the sender´s name. If the one receiving the letter guesses who has sent it, he or she will get an Easter chocolate egg. But if the receiver does not guess who has sent it, then he or she gives an Easter egg to the sender.

Easter is such a time of celebration and fun here in Copenhagen, most importantly as it signifies the end of the dark winter time.

10 things you need to know about Danish Bureaucracy

Danish bureaucracy can seem confusing at times but it is a lot simpler than in some countries (Germany I’m looking at you!). Nevertheless there are many ways you can fall foul of various elements of bureaucracy when you are settling here. 

I’ve prepared an easy to understand infographic about some of the key elements which you can get hold of here  for free and you get to be on my mailing list. I promise to protect your data and you won’t get spam from me, just information you need. It goes without saying you can unsubscribe at any time but I hope you find it a useful list to be on!

I have written a useful guide to all aspects of bureaucracy with loads more details about opening a bank account, digital services such as NemID and E Boks as well as how to pay bills, the media licence (and yes you do have to pay this!), insurances and much more. The guide is concise, easy to use and has all the check lists you need. You can get the guide here.

Starting April 5th, 2018 – English Sing and Sign classes in Vesterbro

Maya will be running a third course of an English language Sing and Sign baby signing class in Vesterbro starting on April 5th 2018 for 10 weeks (term time only) at Café Sweet Surrender, Dybbølsgade 49, 1721 Copenhagen V.  The class is for babies aged 6 – 14 months old.

For more information please visit facebook.com/singandsigncopenhagen or www.singandsign.com then choose Copenhagen under Classes near you.

Below is a little about what you can expect from the class.

Learn baby signing with Sing and Sign

Both I and my children loved Sing and Sign! Because it teaches all the signs through songs and music, it makes learning them seem easy and lots of fun. Some of the songs are written especially for the course which makes it easy to include signs which relate to your everyday life with your baby, and that’s what makes it so useful; there’s a lovely song about changing your baby’s nappy, about bath time, about going to the park etc. The classes are themed, and the signs are introduced gradually. This way, by the end of the 10 week course, you have actually covered more than 100 signs without really thinking about it. However – and this really appealed to me at times – each week also focuses on just a couple of essential signs (such as ‘eat’, ‘drink’ or ‘help’) so that even frazzled parents who haven’t slept for two days feel they can walk away from class with something.

The S&S approach is that baby signing is meant to be simple, relaxed and fun, and each class always follows the same pattern so that your baby quickly feels comfortable with the format and start to anticipate what exciting thing happens next …..perhaps the instruments, the peek-a-boo box with Jessie Cat, the props bag or the picture board.After moving back to Copenhagen last year, I met several English speaking mums who said they would love to do a baby signing class if only classes were available in English. At home we were still listening to the Sing and Sign CD, and my three-year-old daughter would from time to time ask for the DVD, and as I still found myself singing along to the songs and throwing the odd sign in, I decided to look into buying the franchise. I am now the proud owner of Sing and Sign Copenhagen and will start classes in early September 2017. I’m so excited to be able to share my passion for baby signing with other parents this way, and hope to see lots of lovely mums, dads and babies in my classes!

 

10 ways to save money in Copenhagen

Did you see my infographic about saving money in Copenhagen? So far several thousand people have so it seems that saving money in Copenhagen is a big issue. You can see the infographic here  plus there is a chance to sign up to my mailing list to get loads more information. I value your privacy and I don’t share any email addresses and I promised not to spam you!  You can also unsubscribe at any time (but hopefully you won’t want to!)
In this longer post I have updated a list of ways to save money living here in Copenhagen. This piece was originally published on The Local Denmark but needed updating….
In 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 Worldwide Cost of Living survey found Copenhagen to be the tenth most expensive place to live in. We all know that things are more expensive here. I have long since stopped comparing how much things cost here versus other countries but instead concentrate on how I can get my kroner to work the best for me here.
Here are my top ten ways to save money:
1. Shop around
The obvious one is to take a little time to shop around and find the best deals on your everyday food and household needs. Over the last five years there has been a big rise in what can be described as budget supermarkets that sell many of the same branded products as other supermarkets but at a cheaper price. Shops such as Netto, Aldi and Lidl are the best ones to check out for good prices and deals. For household and personal care products Normal is well worth a visit.  Another tip is to shop in the small neighbourhood greengrocers where you can pick up interesting fruit and vegetables that are sold by the weight and not prepackaged, meaning that you can buy only what you need and save money at the same time. The new concept shop, Wefood, in Amager sells food that can’t be sold in the supermarkets and is at least 50 percent cheaper. Follow them on Facebookto see what they have that day.
2. Buy generic medication
Medication is pretty cheap here in general and you pay a varying cost for your prescription drugs rather than a flat fee like in the UK.  Always ask for the cheapest version (generic) of the medication you need, both across the counter and on prescription, if you want to save money. There is also a scheme for eligible medicines that can be subsidised on a sliding scale which starts after you have spent around 100 kroner. There are grants for very expensive medicines.  To find out more about this eligibility you need to speak with your doctor.
3. Brew your own coffee
The coffee shop culture in Copenhagen is huge and the prices of a cup of joe can vary wildly across the city, as can the quality. But a lot of supermarkets sell a great selection of beans and have a grinder there for you to use. One bag of my favourite coffee from Irma (Monsoon Malabar in case you are interested) costs about the same as two lattes from a reasonably priced coffee shop. Invest in a cafetiere, a milk frother, and a decent insulated travel mug and you can enjoy a decent cup without the price tag.
4. Buy secondhand
Before you spend big bucks on an electrical item, furniture or bike (just to name a few examples) check out buying secondhand options such as Den Blå Avis or one of the many online selling, giving or swapping forums. A good time to do this is around May and June when a lot of expats are on the move and selling off their worldly goods before starting again in a new country. It is obvious to say (I hope) but make sure you exercise caution on deals that seem to go to be true and take proper safety precautions when meeting with strangers to buy things.
5. Save on kids’ stuff
Flea markets start at the beginning of spring and run through autumn and as they say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The best thing for me about flea markets is the sheer amount of baby and kids’ stuff you can find, normally good quality. Get to your local flea market early for the best choice and bargains. Also don’t be put off if it is a bit wet as many stallholders will still show up and there will be less competition for the goods. Mødrehjælpen shops across the city are also great for baby clothes and toys.
6. Beers al fresco or old school
Beers can be astronomically expensive here, especially in the city centre and hipper locations. If you are not bothered by secondhand smoke, or the fact the regulars may stare at you at first, check out your local pub or kro. Drinks are definitely cheaper in these places. The other option in the sunny months is to grab a six pack from the supermarket and enjoy a drink in one of the many parks or waterside areas in the city and watch the sun go down. Unlike countries like the US, it is perfectly permissible to drink in a public place, just don’t get loud and lairy and take your cans home or pass them on to one of the many people wandering around collecting them to make a few kroner.
7. Year passes and free culture
There are a lot of opportunities in the city to be cultured Some museums will offer times free entry during certain hours, so check out the websites of the places you are interested in. Another way of saving money on culture and recreation is to buy a year pass (årskort). The best examples of great value ones are Tivoli and Copenhagen Zoo. Most places you only need to visit twice and you have made your money back and then every time after that it’s free! With these passes we find we take more advantage of places and enjoy them without feeling like you have to see everything at once to justify the entry price.
8. Buy Christmas gifts and winter clothes in August
Many shops, especially Bilka, have big discounts in the summer on children’s toys and winter clothes. Every year for the last three Bilka has run a 25 percent sale on all Lego in August. If you child is a Lego fanatic like mine then this is the time to put on your Santa’s hat and stock up. This is also the time to get the best prices on winter clothes and it pays to act! Winter clothes come in early in Danish stores and once they are gone they don’t seem to be restocked.
9. Make use of libraries
The library network in Copenhagen is huge and all you need is a CPR number to make the most of the borrowing services. Wifi and other facilities are available to anyone. You can use the central website to search for books (and there is a great selection of English language titles) and then request to have to the books delivered to your local library for collection and return. Libraries also have kids’ play areas and many organise free events and talks. Usually these are in Danish but the Copenhagen Cultural Network organises English language events for adults and children in a few locations.
10. Savvy public transport savings
Copenhagen may have the world’s most expensive single-trip tickets, but there are plenty of more costly alternatives to paying as you go. The best way to save money on transport, if you use it regularly, is to get a monthly pass with unlimited travel within your selected zones. A Rejsekort will also save you money on individual journeys if you don’t travel everyday. Another tip if you are travelling out of the city to visit a museum is to see if they are part of a DSB discount scheme which saves you money on travel and entry – Louisiana is the best example of this. Finally if you are planning to use intercity trains in Denmark there are limited cheap tickets under the DSB Orange scheme which can save you an enormous amount of money if you book well in advance. Also if you are travelling in a group of three or more passengers you can take advantage of a mini group ticket which again saves you money.

Moving to Denmark with a dog

Many expats plan to move to Copenhagen with their beloved dog but there are some things to understand about owning a dog in Denmark.

Firstly many landlords are reluctant to rent to people with dogs so it can narrow an already limited number of places to rent.

Banned breeds

There is also a list of banned breeds in Denmark. Check this link to make sure your dog is not on the list and how the legislation works.

There are basic rules for dogs in public

  • They should be on leads unless it is an area where they can run free.
  • You must have control over your dog and be able to call him to you.
  • You must pick up poo even in dog areas.

Here is a map showing dog playgrounds and also areas where your dog can run free. Blue means they can run free and grey they must be on a lead. This site is in Danish but you can use Google Chrome to translate it.

Dog walking/sitters etc

There are a number of dog sitting and dog walking companies/individuals, a quick search found these two but I am sure there are many other private individuals who offer this service too. (www.dogwalker.dk), (www.dogley.dk)

Using public transport

If you plan to travel on public transport you must pay a dog ticket (same as a child ticket) if your dog walks onto the transport, if you carry him in a dog carrying bag  (or one he is comfortable in) he travels free. The bag must not be larger than 100 x 60 x 30 cm. The bag is placed under or above your seat, on your lap or in luggage areas. Here are the guidelines for DSB (trains)and general ones for all public transport . Only dogs in bags can go on A and C bus routes.

Chipping etc

There are rules about immunisations and also chipping and insurance. This link is a good one for this information. 

This is a useful link about insurance.

Vets and kennels

This link has some useful contacts for vets (dyreklink), kennels and tons of other useful information.

 

 

Should you walk and skate on frozen lakes?

I’m not one to be a killjoy but it is important to remember that just because other people are walking and skating on the frozen lakes in and around Copenhagen, it isn’t actually safe at the moment. We’ve had a cold spell but not enough for the ice to be safe. I am horrified to see people with children and prams on the ice only metres from the non frozen section of the water. And children being encouraged to jump up and down. I walked on the frozen lakes in Frederiksberg in 2010 and I agree it is an amazing experience but the weather had been subzero for several months and not weeks and I waited until it was safe.

This is a translation of the page on the Kommune’s website which also updates a list of lakes so you can see if it is safe. This is the link to check and it is updated daily.

Look for the link Sikker is? You need to see a Ja if it is safe.

Look for the blue sign “Færdsel på isen tilladt”.
You must ONLY go to the ice if the sign “Færdsel på isen tilladt” is there. The municipality continuously measures the ice thickness.

Even when it is allowed to go on the ice, be aware of the following:

Use your common sense. The weather can suddenly change and change the thickness of the ice
The ice must be 16-18 cm thick before the municipality can give permission to go on ice. But the thickness is only suitable for skating and walking. Dangerous situations can still occur if many people get together on the ice or if you dance or jump on the ice
On many lakes it is never allowed to go on ice. Experience shows that they can not be safe enough. The ice in the harbor and the coasts will never be safe ice.