Copenhagen – Incommunicado, followed by a death

A big conference here at the beginning of February beckoned, asking John as one of the main speakers. My birthday was looming, I had hardly been to Copenhagen, so I got to come along. I say ‘hardly’ because we hitch hiked back from Stockholm in 1969 and were dropped off at a bus stop with a view of Elsinore castle. My mother loved Copenhagen porcelain and I bought her a pale blue dish with ‘the little mermaid’ sitting in the middle of it. But we didn’t stay.

This time we chose to come in from the airport on the smart metro and walk to our hotel by the water – Nyhavn 41. Interesting panorama from our window. Lots of new buildings planned.

Copenhagen – the waterfront from Hotel Nyhavn

We ventured out for a quick supper – delicious, as it turned out, at a restaurant a few steps away, called ‘Hummer’. When we came out, it was dark and steely cold but we didn’t have far to go and I took a picture of the bridge, which we walked over later in the week.

Copenhagen – bridge for cycles and pedestrians
Night moves

Looking out of the window just before I went to sleep, the light below seemed to be seeking me out across the water and I couldn’t help thinking of that quote from ‘The Great Gatsby’ – ‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’. I sleep well in cold weather.

Goodnight, Jay Gatsby

Next morning, John went to meet his colleague, Louise, at the conference centre. I thought of my mother, so many years ago, and decided to walk upriver to see the actual ‘little mermaid’ as my birthday celebration to myself. And at that moment my mobile phone fell off the bed onto the wooden floor and gave up the ghost. Nothing I did could get it started. Did I panic? Only for a moment. I left a note in the room, asked at reception to send an email to John to say I had no phone and walked out to a stiff breeze coming off the water. I was incommunicado, liberated from any intrusion by gadgets. I felt refreshingly loose, like a dog off the lead.

On my way

There weren’t many people, which was enjoyable – a change from London’s busy pavements. And a super oxygenated influx of fresh air. Phew!

Michelangelo’s David takes a trip from Florence

These old warehouses are now apartments. The wind is sheer as I focus on the way ahead. I am in my element.

I come upon a lonely giant

And a strange lady appearing out of the shrubbery.

A mysterious ‘revenante’

And, finally, the little mermaid herself.

The Little Mermaid – Copenhagen

She is beautiful and perfectly formed. On 23rd August 2013 she turned a hundred years old. A gift to the city from the Danish brewer, Carl Jacobsen, who was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. A busload of tourists were suddenly surging towards me – it was time to go.

The lonely giant had acquired some companions and the sun was trying to pierce the mist which hung over the water.

The path back was straight as a die and I strode along feeling full of the energy of youth – which I miss!

Copenhagen waterfront

There was no noise except for the ripples on the water, the occasional muted sussuration of a boat or ferry and the distant sound of construction. It made me aware of how stressful continuous noise can be. John had bought me cancelling noise headphones which I now use on the tube and bus – when I take them off, the noise factor is appalling. How could I have put up with it?! Does it contribute to deafness in later life, I wonder?

At my feet

Even the energy grids have an attractive design! Now I decided to branch off into the streetscape and explore more of the city.

Copenhagen – an old couple!

There are lots of picturesque signs offering various services as I wander wherever the mood takes me …


Cafés and small restaurants are many and varied …

A sailor’s refuge

It’s always worth looking upwards …

Comfortingly portly!

Nyhavn, where we are based, is very picturesque and must be bursting in summertime. It’s just beginning to wake up now. A great place to be by the water.

15 Nyhavn
Cornucopia of restaurants!
A place to enjoy by the water …

Meeting John back at the hotel later, he told me all had gone very well at the conference but his father had just died. We had been invited out to a special dinner. John’s father, Tim, really enjoyed his food and also cooking, so we treated ‘Veve’ as a celebration and wished he could have been with us. The dinner of many courses was phenomenal! Our hosts were full of interesting stories and delightful company.

Next day, John had time to visit the Design Centre, where old and new is well put together. I do like a lot of modern Scandinavian design with its minimalism but I also need some things to be more ornate and glamorously romantic.

Eye catching

Three bees – no explanation!

Elegant and intriguing – who sent this letter to whom?!
A ‘face’ dress, (Gandalf?), a bicycle and domestic items at the Design Museum

Exotic shop window – nose to the glass!

Sadly, this shop wasn’t open … probably for the best

Minimalism at the Design Museum
Historic design
A significant presence with its sturdy feet

I almost expected it to speak to me in old Danish!

A beautiful carpet

Exquisite glasses
All I want to do now is plunge into this chair
Eye catching environmental posters

Enmeshed in design

There is so much to take in – all of it fascinating but what I needed now was a rest, a drink and something sweet to keep my energy levels up. All was provided!

Having a rest …
At restaurant Els
Not usually a beer drinker but this was quite special
… and a little sweetness
An ice cream thief patrols the streets …

On the way back I looked at some Danish boutiques. I did manage to squeeze in some shopping on my own and bought a simple, stylish. wrap around summer dress – silky material, bon marché, dark navy with tiny white spots – the equivalent of £40 sterling. I have worn it a lot which always adds to the pleasure of a bargain – and it hardly needs ironing. Win win! The name is ‘boii’ – I recommend this shop!

Copenhagen upmarket fashion boutique

Just a note to say this is not ‘boii’ which I didn’t get a photo of, so much was my excitement in finding a dress I liked at a good price – this shop above would be more expensive – but nonetheless alluring!

Back at the hotel, I was looking out at the view across the water. It’s interesting that I’m taking two photos of roughly the same view – one is expanded, showing all the construction going on across the water, the other could be an impressionist/Netherlandish painting of a rowing boat in a bygone age.

The old and the new side by side

See below …

Copenhagen – the rowers

Look at the older buildings in the middle of the top photo – the same buildings are here, close up, shown at eventide. Expand the photo of the rowers and you would see the modern construction going on. For the most part, Copenhagen is succeeding in mixing the old and the new today.

The Opera House – modern can look beautiful too!

My birthday was celebrated with Danish friends at Krogs – one of the oldest restaurants in Copenhagen. I do feel my Scandinavian genes coming out – except I don’t speak Danish – and they are so good at English.

Dessert at Krogs

Given that we’re just coming into February, I was charmed by the amount of Christmas roses (hellebores) I saw everywhere, welcoming in a new year.

Christmas roses (hellebores)

Giant grape hyacinths
Colour coordinated flowers

and an appealing poster

Next day – and the sky was overcast. We made our way, raindrops falling on our heads, towards the new Architectural Museum next to the modern Library, overlooking the water. Both buildings inside and out are very impressive.

On our way …

Rain soaked

I love frogs and frogs love rain

New Architecture building

This is close by the new Library, called ‘The Black Diamond’, which also overlooks the water and incorporates part of the original library. It is where I found my birthday present, which I love!

My birthday present

This is the most fragile and beautiful mobile which sparkles both in the light and in the dark and is now hanging in our kitchen.

A reviving cup of tea

That evening we ate very well and simply at Koefoed – recommended but took a long time to track down. Worth the effort. Another place we should try next time is called ‘Geist’ – I like its logo – but I don’t know what it’s like.

Please hand me a glassful …

Champagne is always welcome …

In the evening when it became dark, we strolled across the bridge near the hotel and I sort of fell in love with Copenhagen. I love lots of other places and cities but my genes for the most part are rooted in Scandinavia. And I like the thought that Danes are rated high on the ‘happiness’ list!

Copenhagen – the bridge at night
Goodnight Copenhagen

We were recommended to see The David Collection. C. I. David was a lawyer and entrepreneur, coming from a wealthy family. He was interested in all forms of art and was finally able to open his collection to the general public. It’s eclectically impressive.

Open sesame!

David Collection – three fish plate
Sunflowers in silk – exquisite
Sea horses – now an endangered species
It must have been a beautiful bowl …
A few things from the David Collection

Coming out of the building which houses The David Collection, the view is of the Rosenborg castle and park on the other side of the road. There are also some small pavilions, containing design and art works.

Copenhagen – Rosenborg castle and park
Copenhagen – flying high, looking glam …
Smash and grab
Another unexpectedly high flyer

Feeling pretty exhausted – the David Collection is massive – we suddenly realised that within one of these small pavilions which decorate the edge of the park was a restaurant – the ‘Orangeriet’. What joy. They were busy but a table was found and we immediately felt cosseted and warm. The back of the restaurant is like a greenhouse with olive trees growing inside.

Copenhagen – restaurant ‘Orangeriet’
Old forks recycled as drawer handles – great idea – this place is laid back and lovely
Wrapping up a delicious day …

This was our last morning. We went to look for a copy of ‘the Times’ which had an obituary of John’s father. The sun was bright, illuminating the pristine layer of frost which stretched before us.

Copenhagen – frosty morning
Searching – without success – for a copy of ‘The Times’

John has three siblings. A brother and a sister who live in the village and another sister who is a nurse. John had been there a few days before we left for Copenhagen. His father was being well looked after at home in bed but had lost consciousness. A final stroke left him in peace. He was 98 years old and will be honoured as a Battle of Britain pilot. It was time for us to go home. Oddly, my phone came back to life this morning. It must have had concussion.

Morning constitutional

A perfect winter’s day

Packed and ready to leave. I never like this crossover time and airports seem to drag it out, sapping your energy with endless queueing, crushed on all sides by a world gone mad with consumer goods, automatic ticketing and baggage to contend with, automatic passports manned by robots. Aaargh! ‘They also serve who only stand and wait’ (thanks, John Milton, for this well used phrase) – that’s me! We wait, we hope. There were no aeroplanes in John Milton’s time. He was ahead of the game. In fact, the poem was written ‘On his Blindness’. I can see but am somewhat blinded by technology. Maybe I should grow wings!


Copenhagen has been a joy and I want to come back.

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