COPENHAGEN

The weekend before Christmas, we bundled up and headed to Copenhagen, a city we had heard a lot about throughout our design studies at university and through friends who had visited. We didn’t realise quite how much we would fall in love with that city and feel so instantly comfortable. Upon arrival to our cute Airbnb in a family neighbourhood, we felt welcomed by our hosts and their new baby who were about to head off on a Christmas trip themselves.

With a love for design, architecture and crafting we had planned on exploring the city, slowly, taking in the lifestyle and seeking out the ever popular principal of ‘hygge’, commonly defined as ‘cosiness’.

With our visit being so close to Christmas, homes, streets, cafes and shops were filled with twinkling white lights, Christmas trees and the most adorable Christmas gnomes.

On our first day, we decided to take the metro into the city centre to get our first taste of Copenhagen, we walked through Christianshavn, through the art quarter and headed for the Street Food Market to warm up. We must have spent at least 40 minutes deciding what to have because the food all looked so delicious and tasty. We settled for a shredded duck burger and shared a chocolate cheese cake for desert, it was perfect. The Market hall was filled with art, lights, various smells and flavours filled the air, it was bustling with atmosphere. We wish to have a venue like this close to home. It was great. We checked out the new Opera Theatre and a few boutiques along our way, and headed over the river to the Nyhavn Christmas Market. Since we had such an early flight, we decided to get some pasta and vegetables from the local supermarket and spent the evening cosied up in our apartment watching a movie.

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On Saturday, we took the metro to the other side of the city, Kobenhavn, and meandered through the side streets towards the park surrounding the Castle in search of The Little Mermaid sculpture. Along our walk we drooled at all the homeware and antique shops, wishing we could buy loads of furnishings and dreaming of ways to get them back to the UK! It was a cold morning so we made a brief visit to the mermaid sculpture and read a little bit about its history in our favourite lonely planet pocket book. We had decided to visit just one museum on our visit and decided upon the Danish Design Museum which was next on our agenda. We arrived just in time as the doors opened and were so happy to get indoors to defrost and strip all our layers off.

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We loved the design museum, we meandered slowly around, we particularly loved the Danish chair displays they have and the tunnel setting out the history of the chair and all the different styles that have been designed over time. The museum leads you around in a loop ending in the gift shop (Michael’s favourite) and the café (my favourite). We had a delicious lunch, I had a leek and potato soup which was served in a stylish glass tumbler with roasted pancetta and mushrooms on top and Michael had a beef sandwich with a tasty relish. We didn’t want to leave so we browsed the magazines that were on display. In the afternoon we wandered the shopping district, admiring all the trendy and designer boutiques and stopped off for a mid-afternoon snack and warm drink at a popular café.

In the evening we headed for the Tivoli Gardens which was like a magical fantasy world, we happened upon another food hall so grabbed a quick oven baked pizza for dinner. The Christmas displays at Tivoli Gardens were so fun and our cheeks were aching from grinning so much. I am not a fan of theme parks but I loved watching the vintage rides and loved the Christmas spirit that filled the air.

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On our last full day, we rose early and walked through the neighbourhood of our apartment to the beach, we were surprised by how close the coast was to where we were living and loved the boardwalks over the natural marshes towards the sea. We felt like we were stepping into a Cereal or Kinfolk magazine, the tones were muted, with wooden jetties leading out to the water, reeds and grasses lining the shore – it all seemed so typically Scandinavian to us. As ever, Michael was eager to scout out a local Kastrup Sea Baths that he had noticed on the map. We passed some sort of triathlon on our walk along the coast which was fun to watch, despite the cold, men and woman of all ages were sprinting across the sand with their fancy bikes on their shoulders – brave, brave people! We loved the baths and were surprised to see a couple of ladies braving the icy cold waters! After our walk we were cold and craving breakfast so went to the recommended Holm bakery for a tasty brunch.

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In the afternoon we wandered over to the Food Hall and Market again to browse the different stalls, the Architecture museum to browse their book shop and stopped off at a lovely little boutique we had spotted on our first day to buy a Christmas decoration to remind us of our trip and checked out the Church of Our Lady from the outside as it was sadly in use for an event.

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For our final evening, we went ice skating at Frederiksberg Park, which, to our surprise, was a low key rink at the edge of the park filled with local families. For our final meal we headed to Sankt Annae (I think) for a lovely meal. Before heading back to our apartment for our final time, we wandered the eerily quiet city, over the bridge, and did a quick peak of the impressive Frederik’s Church.

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We were so sad to leave early on Monday morning, we felt so instantly comfortable in Copenhagen and loved the way of live that we had experienced.

A few things I want to remember for the future:

  • The way the parents cycled with their children in a bucket trailer attached to their front wheel, the children often wrapped in blankets snuggled in together, reading books – so, so sweet.
  • The Gnome that we fell in love with and brought home as a memory of our trip and named Christianshavn – a running joke throughout our stay
  • The wooden pig that we picked up from the Food Hall and Market near Tivoli Gardens and fondly named Hans – another running joke throughout our stay
  • Being told off by the guards outside the Frederik’s Church for standing where we were and being so scared but laughing at the same time
  • Finding the recycled market and the free workshop like a little cave of all things crafty
  • Trying to remake the leek and potato soup on our return home for our Christmas Eve meal before heading out to Midnight Mass.
  • The feeling of comfort and cosiness as we walked the neighbourhood of Amager, looking at all the homes lit up under the night sky with Christmas lights and candles.
  • Admiring the houses and their wonderful roofs with green spaced surrounding all sides of their homes.
  • Locking up of bikes anywhere and everywhere using a special wheel clamp clip
  • The fashion, ooooh the fashion!
  • The Metro which was always on time to the second and so clean
  • Our attempts at pronouncing Danish words but making up our own instead and laughing about it

We would LOVE to visit Copenhagen again and venture out of the city, onto the mainland countryside. It is not often that I feel so comfortable in a new city that I imagine myself living and becoming well accustomed to the lifestyle.

A great trip with lots of special, festive memories.

Anna X

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A NOTE ON LEAVING

I did it!

Today is my last day at Arup, potentially my last day as a landscape architect. I love affair with a long coming break up.

I’m waiting for my final commuting train to Bristol, I am slower, taking snapshots with my eyes of every step I take – a journey I have been making for almost two years with a commute to Swindon for a year prior to that.

The billboards, the underground passageways and the smiles of the friendly people at the ticket booth who have become so well acquainted with my everyday ritual.

No bike today he asks? Why you so late, you on holiday? Surely you’re not going to Bristol on your day off? – It’s my final day, I reply! Oh you’re staying in Bath? They say. Yes I beam.

They thought I was on holiday, was it my casual clothing, my bright eyes and gentle smile, my slow demeanour, my steady pace?

I am breathing deeper than I have for weeks, months, could it be years?

Dramatic? Yes.

Lighter. I feel lighter and courageous and what a wonderful feeling that is!

I feel hope. Hope for my life and my being. My mind is restful in this day.

There are twinges of sadness, guilt, quickly washed away with the thought of what may be, will be.

I feel packed with knowledge and lessons. Some stemming from education, but most from experience.

I truly feel like I am on a journey today and this will be a notice on the timeline registering change and decision.

I’m getting off my phone now, my eyes are open, I am ready and I am waiting.

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(Just two little photos with a whole lot of memory – a whole lot of work took place in that seat over two years, physically and mentally, a lot of emotion – I was and still am forever grateful for those trees!)

New beginnings.

SKETCHING THE CITY: PORTO

I wanted to share some of my recent drawings from a university study trip to Porto in northern Portugal. This magnificent city is characterised by its intricate tiled facades, narrow cobbled streets and undulating terracotta roofs that spring up from the Douro Valley.

Despite the beauty, behind the scenes much of the city’s architectural fabric is slowly crumbling away and at risk of being lost forever. Due to a rental freezing strategy, implemented in Porto under the dictatorship Government, many landlords couldn’t afford to reinvest back into their properties. Consequently hundreds of homes were abandoned and left to deteriorate. Staggeringly 32% of the city centre is currently in a state of decay. The following extracts from my sketchbook attempt to capture the unique character of the city as well as document some of these abandoned buildings and structures.

Porto Sketch 1Porto Sketch 2Porto Sketch 3Porto Sketch 4Porto Sketch 5Porto Sketch 6Porto Sketch 7Porto Sketch 8Porto Sketch 9

MAKING

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I have been looking to join a craft and making group here in Bath and have found it difficult finding something that suited me in terms of time and cost, and fitted my experience. So I figured I would put a few feelers out in the aim to start a little creative group myself.

Unfortunately, the response was minimal, with only one person located in Bath. Nonetheless, despite my initial disappointment, I arranged to meet with Su, who happened to live on my road (!) and we decided a date to get together for a creative day.

On Friday 10th June, I went round to Su’s lovely home and we got situated at her garden table, ready for a day of wicker basket making and weaving – something I had never done before and was excited to try my hand at.

Su had kindly soaked the willow prior to my arrival and so we were ready to get started straight away. Choosing the initial shape and size of the pre-bent willow rings allowed me to imagine what I wanted my basket to look like in terms of its form and structure. Without knowing the technical terms, I had what is called a ‘buttocks basket’ in mind – I wanted my basket to sit flat on a surface as I knew I wanted it on display in my house.

Next I was shown how to make the ‘God’s eye’ which connects the handle to the upper lip of the basket. We used cane for this element as it is much easier to work with for the intricate nature of the God’s eye and for first time weavers, like myself.

Once that was complete, I began choosing which willow I wanted to work with and was shown the process of weaving. In, out, in and out..I was surprised by how quickly the basket took shape and soon began playing with the different willow Su had provided for colour variations, texture and pattern.

After a delicious lunch, prepared by Su and her husband, I managed to finish my basket with great determination, despite the sore thumbs!

I am so happy with what I created and left for home at half 5, having completely lost track of time, feeling proud of my work and warmed by the company of the day.

Now it is my turn to plan a day of making for Su, and I hope to invite some other lovely ladies too.

Good food, chat and creating, what more could a girl ask for!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Our Christmas was spent in Bath with family followed by a relaxing week at home in South Wales. Whilst Michael spent a few days between Christmas and New Years in Bath studying, I had a wonderful few days with my mum and niece. I ‘unplugged’ over the festive period with limited access to the internet and surrounding myself with loved ones, I wanted to focus on the present. It felt so good and needed!

In celebration of the New Year we decided to have a dinner and dance party at home so we had a delicious and fun meal of fajitas, nachos and nibbles. At 11:30 we wrapped up warm and headed out for sparklers and fireworks in the garden. Michael and I agreed that it was the best New Years Eve to date.

We are not usually the type to set ourselves New Years resolutions. However, we thought that ‘kindness’ would be our word for this year. I think we all need a bit more kindness in our lives, not only in the direction of others but for ourselves. We so often beat ourselves up with the fear of failure, comparison and self-judgment so we are going to try and loosen up a little and care more for our bodies, hearts and minds this year.

With this in mind, here are a few things I plan to do for myself. I’m the type of girl who craves dates in the diary and something to look forward to!

  • Apply for my first solo market stall at Frome Independent Market
  • Sign up to a sponsored charity bicycle ride
  • Look for a creative evening course/group, or, better yet, try and set one up!
  • Have friends round for more dinner parties in our home

So here is to a brand New Year.

I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable break. May your year be filled with kindness!

May you have your spirits lifted today in some way.  May you be able to be full of the divine power that you already have within you to let go of whatever it is that you don’t have, and embrace whatever it is that you do have.  This will bring you PEACE and serenity in your life, even if things never, ever turn out the way you want.  May you believe that this life has a purpose…and it’s these very experiences that will refine us, more than anything else.

Source Unkown

PORTO PART 2

With a love for colour and pattern, we absolutely loved the vast amount of patterned tiles throughout the city. We felt compelled to photograph and stop to admire them on nearly every street. Tiles are present on most buildings, on the ground and tesselated patterns have also been used as a slogan around Porto, present on many buses, billboards and advertisements. Each pattern seems unique. We wondered whether the pattern historically connected with the heritage of families, just like the tartan patterns of Scottish kilts.

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We longed to find a piece of tile to bring home and dreamed to one day have the chance to design or purchase tiles as beautiful as some of the ones we saw to display in our home. I was lucky enough to find a pair of ear rings that remind me of the many blue patterned tiles we saw in Porto, and when wearing them, it will always remind me of this wonderful trip.

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LONDON

As I previously mentioned, I treated myself to a fancy camera with the money that I was kindly gifted by my previous work place.

After much consideration and deliberation, I chose the camera of my dreams.. OK that sounds dramatic but whatever.

I knew I wanted a bridge camera, something not too large but with a better zoom and manual function than an ordinary point-and-shoot camera. I knew I wanted a camera with good film settings and also with a swivel LCD screen. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 with a Leika lens seemed like the camera for me.

Whilst in London for my new job induction week, I managed to do some experimenting with my new camera in the evenings and at the weekend. I am really happy with my purchase and my camera feels so comfortable in my hands. For me, it is a case of gaining more confidence with the manual settings, getting to know my camera more and just having a bit of fun!

After a day spent in side the London Office, learning about the new company I have joined, I was so desperate to get out and walk around, taking in the city that I called home for 20 years. I feel very attached to those 20 years and the memories I have of my childhood, it seems like a life that noone knew about. You could say that I am so scared to lose those memories and when I go back to my old, teenage haunts, those memories come flooding back and they are just so special to me now.

I took the time to visit Little Venice, went to Camden with Ashley for dinner and laughed at all those Friday nights spent dancing at the Ballroom and Bar One. I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, got lost in the streets of Chelsea and strolled the South bank.

I am glad I had my new camera to capture those peaceful and thought-provoking walks, alone in a busy city.

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London 5

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Little-Venice

 

HAHA ^ I just taught myself how to create a .gif. So fun!

BARCELONA PART I

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Over the past few years, it has become a tradition of ours to celebrate our birthdays whilst travelling together and exploring a new place. For Michaels 23rd birthday last week, we decided to take a trip to Barcelona!

We had a wonderful time, filled with good food, great weather, interesting architecture and lots of wandering through bustling streets and markets. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon at our Air BnB and headed straight out to grab a picnic and chill out at the Olympic Parc and Magic Fountain in Montjuic, which just so happened to be at the end of our road! It was a perfect but HOT afternoon settling into our new surroundings. We checked out the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catulunya too and loved the roof top view of the whole city.

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The next day was Michaels birthday and so of course we had to spend the day doing what he loves most; admiring lots of different types of architecture! We spent the day having our own little Gaudi tour of the city, first stop was the La Sagrada Familia where we grabbed some breakfast and sat in the near by park admiring and learning about the history of the building from our guide book. We decided that we preferred viewing it from a distance due to the sheer amount of people and construction work in progress. We were so silly and did not buy entrance tickets in advance and did not want to spend 2-3 hours of the day queuing in the heat, definitely something we will do in the future!!

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Next we headed to Gaudi’s La Pedrera and Casa Batllo and came across the street lamps and seats that Gaudi designed on our way! We loved those beauties.

We made the trek to Parc Guell for the afternoon, walking around the park and came across a spiralling sculpture with great views on the city, we loved the cool breeze blowing here and I could have stayed in that spot for hours! We wandered down the beautiful streets surrounding the park and had some delicious tapas at La Panxa del Bisbe. Oh my gosh, the tuna steak and shredded lamb was to die for, we are STILL talking about it, it was the melt-in-your-mouth sort of goodness!

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We took a stroll in Barcelonetta and along the beach in the evening and had some more delicious, traditional food at a little restaurant, loved by locals, called Cherrif. Known for its fresh sea food, with lobsters swimming in large tanks by the entrance, we knew we had to go for the Cherrif sea food paella!

Michaels birthday was finished off with two huge scoops of chocolate and Ferrero Rocher ice cream, over looking the port and people watching! Despite the four toe blisters I acquired on this day, it was a great day exploring with so much good food.

After such a busy day on Wednesday, we spent the majority of Thursday relaxing, reading and swimming at Bogatell, a quieter beach, a bus ride away from the city centre. We took an evening stroll watching the street entertainment around Moll d’Espanya and Placa de l’Ictineo. On Friday we hit up Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, Catedral de Barcelona and the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona. We really enjoyed wandering the the narrow streets in the Gothic Quarter and managed to enter the Cathedral after a swift change of clothes for me (shoulders and thighs must be covered to enter!).

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That evening, we took a very relaxing boat ride from the port down to Forum and back, admiring the city from a new prospective and enjoying being on the sparkling, clear Mediterranean water, spotting jellyfish and sail boats.

Part 2 coming soon!

AUGUST

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So often I suffer from the Instragram and Blog blues. For me, this is a case of comparing my life with what I see people posting on social media. Dreamy homes, beautiful clothes, days out, healthy food, perfectly happy families. I constantly have to remind myself that what you see through your little computer or mobile screen is not real life. It doesn’t show bills that have to be paid, messes that need cleaning, quick unhealthy meals, the ‘i’ve-got-nothing-to-wear’ days, or the days where nothing seems to go to plan.

When I came across The August Break 2014 through the Do What You Love website, I jumped at the idea of doing a fun, creative project which encourages me to pause, photograph and admire the day to day happenings that we all, so often, take for granted.

Susannah Conway has kindly provided daily photo prompts to help you focus on something new every day. I am so excited to get started with this and hope that I will be able to stick to the goal of having one photograph for every day of August 2014.

I will be sharing my photos on our blog and via Instragram using the hashtag ‘#augustbreak2014’

Can’t wait to see what other people have to share!

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*For full details of The August Break 2014, head over to Susannah Conway’s blog. All images in this post are property of Susannah Conway and have been provided for public use on her blog*