Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Preparing for Winter...

These photographs were less than half an hour old at the time of posting...

Originally I didn't have anything to enter The Gallery this week (the subject is Animals), but having just been for a quick walk in the woods, I came across this little guy who quite happily posed for me for a couple of minutes.  He then lost his temper and actually screeched at me very loudly to leave him alone and let him get on with his preparations for winter!  No doubt he will over-prepare, and next year the owners of the house will spend a lot of time in the garden removing small shoots from nuts he had squirrelled away in forgotten hiding places -  just like I had to in ours...  I have felt for a while that the change in seasons is well underway, and he has just confirmed it to me! 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


In an effort to make the most of local produce (and eat more vegetarian food in our house on a more regular basis), I find myself cooking more and more from books like the beautiful Plenty by Yotam Ottelenghi...if there was ever a book that would convince the most stubborn meat eater that they might just like to try vegetarian food then this is it...

This caramelised new potato (with Danish potatoes of course - they are very good at those!), tatin with goats cheese and roasted tomatoes (that's what the slightly darker bits are around the edge, I promise you it wasn't burned!), was one of those dishes that I thought we would end up eating between ourselves with the small people complaining how much they didn't like it, but I like being proved wrong (occasionally!) - they asked for thirds!

Also looking forward to the New Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall Book - Veg Everyday, which is out in a few weeks. If anyone can recommend any other decent vegetarian cookbooks to inspire me in the meantime, with recipes that don't make you feel like you are "missing out" on meat or fish, then that would be just great, thank you :)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Experimentarium

I know I have spoken about The Experimentarium previously, but I can't stress enough that if you have young children and you are moving to Copenhagen, or you are just passing through, you must make sure you visit this place. If you are here for a while, it really makes sense to buy a season ticket, a couple of visits and it's paid for itself. Trust me, you will visit so often that it doesn't make sense not to have one, it has been a real life saver here for me at times!

We hadn't visited for a while, and I was somewhat hesitant about going as the Body Worlds exhibition is currently there (it's now there until the 4th September), albeit in a separate area away from the main part of the museum. I wasn't sure about my two viewing it as they are still so small, but it was quite hard to avoid on arrival and it intrigued them, so we decided to test the water by starting off with the tame stuff in the glass case in the foyer, and they were completely fascinated. Obviously, I didn't overly stress to them that what they were viewing had actually been real once upon a time, but they certainly weren't scared by it! It turned out that it wouldn't have mattered if we had chosen not to visit, as there was a Body World exhibit hanging in the main part of the museum anyway, but I kind of find it refreshing that they don't hide certain things from children here, and they don't stop them from doing certain things in case it upsets them (sheep's heart and lung dissection for three year olds anyone?), life is life and there's certainly no pretending about things.

It's really nice because the displays constantly change so you are not visiting the same old stuff again and again too. This time there was a huge area dedicated to animal senses. Small boy immediately took off and spent a good ten minutes being a bee pollinating flowers, cheered on by a gathering of Japanese tourists, all snapping away and exclaiming how "Kawai" (cute) he was... I think he rather enjoyed performing for the cameras somewhat!

As always the staff are on hand to help you out, give direction, or explain stuff to the children. This time my six year old was eager to take part in a real experiment.... Meet Egg.

Egg was given to us in a plastic bag containing 3 straws, a balloon, some paper, some string and some sellotape. The idea was to design a protective container for Egg, using the given materials only, so that he would survive being slung off a high balcony without being smashed. Unfortunately for them, my children had the wrong parent with them. Their engineering father would have proved to be a much more reliable science partner, but nonetheless we came up with the idea to encapsulate Egg inside the balloon first before blowing it up, and then sticking stuff around the balloon to help him survive the fall. Three times we successfully managed to get him inside the balloon, successfully inflated it, and three times, the six year old managed to burst it rather loudly with what turned out to be a jagged nail. Constantly asking for balloons from the "Scientist" was getting a bit embarrassing, and Small Boy was at this stage sitting with his hands firmly clamped over his ears, so we decided on a different tactic...The Six Year Old really enjoyed the experiment, and her brother enjoyed being picked up by his rather glamorous assistant so that he could see Egg descend rather quickly, and be smashed into smithereens on the floor below. Apparently next time I have to stay at home, and Daddy's going with them. I might sneak along anyway and take a book and sit in the cafe, because that's also nice!We will miss this place, it's pretty special.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Nature's Finest

Beautiful Nature

After our lovely afternoon near Tisvildeleje a couple of weeks ago, we decided to venture back again on Sunday, wringing out what is likely to be the last of the summer (whilst feeling ever so slightly cheated by the fact that there are now snow boots in the shops for crying out loud...)!

For a change of scenery, this time we walked to nearby Troldeskoven - Witch Wood - thus called as the trees look like they have come straight out a fairytale (more Brother's Grimm than HC Andersen though) having been sculpted by the wind into gnarled and twisted shapes. The kids loved it, and we sat for ages on the forest's mossy carpet whilst they built a camp and we swatted away mosquitoes.

After a while, the small people suddenly remembered the other attraction in the immediate vicinity, so being the kind and dutiful parents that we are, we left the forest and cut down through the dunes to the beach... I am only grateful that seconds earlier my eyes had been soothed by some of natures finest achievements , as they were now being tortured by completely the revolting opposite. As soon as our bottoms had touched the sand, it became glaringly obvious that we were the most over-dressed people on this particular stretch of beach. The children however, now obviously used to Swimming in Denmark, were completely oblivious thankfully, and happily paddled in the sea and built sandcastles without even a second glance. Don't get me wrong, the sight of the odd naked bod. isn't shocking at all, but the amount of parading, preening and stretching going on here by bodies less than beautiful was quite a peculiar sight to behold, and not just a little hysterical. I am just grateful that the children didn't notice one gentleman's particular adornment as we made our hasty exit from what was perhaps our swiftest beach trip ever.

I have just about recovered from our Sunday afternoon Family Outing, but let's just say, I may never be able to face a Danish hot-dog again.

Not so beautiful Nature...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011

To Fill You In....

My poor poor neglected blog. I am sorry you haven't been "fed or watered" recently, it's been madness (and fun) here this past week, with a houseful of family here to help celebrate my birthday last weekend, and ultimately to pay us one last visit in Denmark.

We packed a lot in whilst you have been ignored though, including a trip to Kronborg Slot last Thursday to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Hamlet (of course!) brilliantly. That particular evening there was indeed "something rotten in the state of Denmark" - the freezing cold temperatures and pouring rain. It is very dangerous to wear plastic bags on your heads you know, but quite obviously necessary judging by some of those around us as the evening progressed. The actors did a valiant job given the conditions, and watching it at "Elsinore" itself was quite special and very atmospheric! It's performed here every August by the way, should you be interested. The year we arrived, Hamlet was played by Jude Law!

On Friday the last of our guests arrived, and we spent the first evening manically preparing for a get together on the Saturday evening, where we subjected several guests to an evening of English food, starting off with Cheat's Pimms, followed by an amuse bouche of Yorkshire pudding stuffed with beef, horseradish and watercress, then a starter of Britain's most popular dish (no really!) - Chicken Tikka Masala, the main course of homemade Bangers and Mash with onion gravy, and then it was time for two of Britain's best pudds, Sticky Toffee pudding and Eton Mess to finish, followed by English cheeses. I forgot the pickled onions however, but our guests may well have been pleased by that... I hope we managed to help dispel the myth that all English food is bad, but if we didn't, hopefully the Cheat's Pimms will mean they don't remember much about it anyway!

Sunday was my birthday, a day for relaxing, present opening, walks in the countryside, followed by general lazing, gorging on birthday cake and gradually recovering from slightly sore heads all round (not helped by my four year old waking me up far too early by smashing me over the noggin with a hefty bag of jelly beans - his birthday present to me!)...

We filled the rest of our guests few days with final trips into town, shopping trips for Danish things they have become partial to, final walks around the lake and visits to favourite restaurants.

The last of the guests, my sister and my baby nephew left last night. It feels very quiet today! The house is a tip, and even though both the larder and fridge are empty, and my jeans are now far too tight, but my heart is full (and if that doesn't sound like one of those revoltingly saccharine Hallmark greetings cards, I don't know what does!)...

Situation normal returns. For now....

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Thursday, 11 August 2011


There comes a time when change prevails. All of a sudden, something slaps you in the face, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Today is one of those days. A bitter-sweet one for any parent who has watched their child grow from the moment he calmly arrived into the world to the tinny strains of Simon and Garfunkel on Hospital FM! From (not so) tiny newborn, to a crawling spinach-loving grub of a baby. From tearaway toddler (whose favourite pastime was climbing), to an inquisitive nursery schooler who loved his first real friends and teachers (and still misses his first ever best friend Eric - another of the hazards of a transient expat life), to this particular day - when my not so Small Boy starts "Big" School!

We bade a fond farewell to preschool in the middle of July. His first introduction to International School life in Denmark was thankfully a success. For months when we first arrived, I tried to get him into a Danish school, with the reasoning that any exposure to another language is good, but some of the schools I saw were not the best (to put it mildly), and the few I loved then of course didn't have space. I even toyed with the idea of a forest school which would have seen him outside all day everyday, learning in a forest environment (which appealed to the hippy in me), but then the snow set in for almost 4 months, and I just couldn't do that to my poor English baby.

I visited a lovely Steiner School where I sat by candlelight to discuss my child with a kind and motherly lady who offered him a place (but was horrified that my older child was in an academic school, so felt she should have a place too!). I decided against it in the end, partially because we didn't know where we would end up next, and a more academic start might stand him in good stead for the next school in another country. Plus with no English speakers amongst the staff or the pupils, explaining the calm and quiet Steiner ethics to a non-Danish speaking toddler may have proved ineffectual!

I perservered until eventually I found this friendly little school that welcomed him with open arms. For just over a year, he had a great introduction to his school life! The teachers are so lovely, patient and kind, and at the end of it all it was very sad to say goodbye.

I know we aren't here for much longer and they will both be at new schools in a new country very soon, but despite this, today is still a milestone for him, and one for me too. Time flies and all that...

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Final Flea (& a Timely Plea)....

I can't believe what is happening in London right now. A group of kids attacking and destroying their own communities for what? A stolen TV or a pair of trainers? I try very hard not to make any political or negative comments in this blog, it's not really what I wanted to use it for, but to say I am sickened at what has been going is an understatement.

Anyway, whilst talking of rubbish (and on a much lighter note), having been to many a loppemarked during our time here ("no, really?" I hear you say!), at the weekend I had a brain wave to to have a stall myself at one of these things to get rid of a load of stuff pre-move, a good move in an internet-auction free land! Such a good idea, especially when you don't speak much of the language either (I am full of them!)!!... Needless to say, it proved to be interesting to say the least... From the man who spent at least half an hour inspecting a Dora doll, to the elderly lady who knocked over and broke lots of china on a neighbouring table. Being a stall holder instead of perusing is so incredibly boring , I will never be tempted to do one again. I did find this little blue jug though which was bought with a small amount of the proceeds! I have now given the rest to Kids Company London, a charity run entirely through fundraising and donations. It helps give vulnerable inner city children support and direction, and hopefully a much better outlook and future... Please have a look if you haven't heard of them, they do such an incredible job.

Ps. Denmark, you really need to get Ebay...!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

At Lære At Cykle I Danmark!

(To Learn To Cycle in Denmark!)

I was drooling over a copy of Cyklernes By/Copenhagen City of Bikes the other day, it's a lovely book by Cecilia Vanman, with fantastic photographs by British Photographer Robin Maddock. It captures Copenhagen and its attachment to two-wheeled transport perfectly, and my bookshelf needs a copy before we leave!

Talking of two-wheeled transport, when she grows up, my 6 year old will now be able to tell her friends that she learned to ride a bike in one of the world's bike-riding capitals, thanks to her father's amazing teaching technique using a "balance implement" (a rolled up towel!), and lots of perseverance! It finally paid off, and she rode alone without stabilisers for the first time last weekend. Six is quite late to learn here, riding a bike is probably the next thing Danish children learn after walking, but we only have grass and gravel in our garden, so it's taken a while longer to get it sorted! She can now ride it quite confidently, and her little brother is champing at the bit to get started, just not on a pink bike!

Here are a few tips to get your child independently pedalling!: -
  1. Ideally the bike should be a little too small for them, this gives them more confidence as they are not too far from the ground;
  2. Get rid of the stabilisers as soon as possible. As soon as they have learned how to pedal and steer, the stabilisers have basically done their job;
  3. Use a rolled up towel and place it under both arms (as demonstrated!!), you can use this to guide your child and help give them confidence until they don't realise that you aren't holding them up with it any more;
  4. Book a chiropractor, you are going to need it;
  5. Stand back, and bathe in one of those special parenting milestones. Have tissues to hand!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Observations of a Fashion Dummy

It was the first day of Copenhagen Fashion Week yesterday. We had wondered why it was heaving with even more beautiful people than usual! I have never been a fashionista. For a start, I wasn't blessed with a stick-like physique, and have quite honestly never really had the desire to wear something like this possibly octopus inspired piece even if I had been!: -

Neither would I feel comfortable enough to wear something like the fabulous "winged" ensemble below, apart from at a fancy dress party anyway! I do envy this girl's confidence though!...

I guess I can take solace in the fact that one day my photo albums will be grateful that I didn't have much courage when it came to outlandish fashion! If you are in CPH, and are wondering what on earth is happening with the gathering of the beau monde en masse over the next few days, you know now! At least the restaurants will be empty!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

El Floridita - A Taste of Cuba in Copenhagen

I paid a visit to Salon 39 recently. For the summer, they have transformed this small restaurant and cocktail bar into a shrine to the famous El Floridita bar in Havana (with their permission!). The talented barman shook us up a wickedly delicious Papa Doble, a cocktail named in honour of that certain patron that made El Floridita famous - Ernest Hemingway. It was gorgeous, if not a little strong (of course it would be - it's a double!). Having once visited the real El Floridita for a Daquiri or two, I thought the guys at Salon 39 had done a pretty good job in replicating all sorts of aspects of the original! So eager are they to set the right mood, one of the bar men has actually even officially changed one of his names to Miguel...

Thanks to the smell (and taste) of fresh limes and the vague smell of cigar smoke, the music, and of course the rum, the atmosphere instantly transported me back - but then again that could have been thanks to the Daquiris! A great place, tucked away in a residential area, but equidistant between Forum and Vesterport Stations. Visit before the end of August when it will transform back into Salon 39 once more...

Monday, 1 August 2011

Catch of the Day...

We went to a beach we hadn't been to before near Hundested yesterday afternoon, there are plenty choose from here after all! The sun appears to have been listening to my previous plea, and having given in, blessed us with a fabulous afternoon of warm and sunny weather, and where best to spend it?

Within minutes The Six Year Old had presented me with this tiny starfish (I appear to be encountering another "unintentional theme" at the moment - this time it's obviously "Small Creatures"!), which as it happened to be her favourite colour, made it all the more intriguing! We inspected it carefully and placed it back in the rock pool where it was found...

Small boy, armed with a bucket and net (and having forgiven me for making him wear his pants on the beach as I had forgotten his trunks!), happily spent a couple of hours fishing in the same shrimp filled pools!

Thank you sun, it was so nice to see you! If you can manage a bit more I would be so grateful? Just until school starts again and then you can do what you like!

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