Crisp Autumn Air. Grateful I can do both. Live in and explore the tropics with the man I love – and fly up for a few weeks of sliding completely into a European life with dear friends and family in comfortable seasonal surroundings. It’s amazing how natural both elements feel – both so essential to who I am now. This week, staying with friends in a beautiful home in Islands Brygge, Copenhagen, from Monday to Wednesday I wake up to a scrumptious breakfast table every morning, go for nippy sunny walks along the water and cross Langebro (a bridge I used to crisscross every day for 5 years when studying at Copenhagen University 7 years ago) to go and work from my favourite cafes, such as Grød Vesterbro, and libraries, such as Den Sorte Diamant, connect with some of my favourite people at various wonderful venues and just meander around on my own to soak it all up. From Thursday to Saturday, it’s a beautiful home in Vesterbro, owned by another couple of close friends, that constitutes my starting point for these lovely days. The Autumn chill in the air, the pre-Christmas excitement filling the big city, the old and new traits… ahhh.
Yo Studios. From Barre2Barre to various studios in California, Hong Kong and Australia – so happy with all the different barre styles, methods and settings I’ve been able to experience this year… now adding Copenhagen to the list as well, and this place is just wonderful. A bright and airy welcoming space in a backyard close to the water in Islands Brygge. Filled with plants and wooden elements. White walls. Full classes every day – sweet, fun and dedicated young teacher, who used to be a ballet dancer at the royal ballet, why her style is very balletic and flowy in nature, and classes full of smiling, engaged students… they look so young, blonde, Danish… Sunshine fills the cheerful white space, and through the big windows, you see wavy yellow leaves and flakes of blue sky.
Kindred Spirits. As always, the easygoing and caring nature of my friends fills me with happiness, warmth, gratitude… I’ve made plans to see folks 1:1 or in small groups every day, and it works because all of them are flexible and easy to communicate with – and because of the simple fact that these people are the ones I’m most comfortable spending my time with… so whether I’m exhausted or not, feeling super social or not, I know it will be lovely to see them before, in breaks from or after work: there are no expectations, and if anything, the meetings are energising and nurturing. On Monday, I meet a friend from London for lunch at Torvehallerne. In the evening, I meet two other friends from London, one of them my old housemate, for a home-cooked dinner in one of their cosy flats on Nørrebro. Tuesday morning, I meet the very first friend I made in London for breakfast at Wulff & Konstali in Islands Brygge. That night, I go for another home-cooked dinner, this time with friends, also from London, who live in Frederiksberg. They live right next to a florist, and as per tradition, I pick up a bouquet of flowers before I enter their beautiful little nest. She cooks pumpkin soup; he opens a bottle of pinot noir; meanwhile, I play with their kid. On Wednesday – after work drinks with a friend from London in a new bar next to Illum, after which I walk down through the centre of town and pick up treats from Sticks ‘n’ Sushi and take them to my hostess’s house (her boyfriend is on a business trip in London). She is the first of four friends I meet in a row – Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday at noon – who are all pregnant. In all cases, it seems to just have happened like that, all planned and in the first go etc. Most of my friends in Copenhagen are pregnant or parents by now… It has gone SO quickly. Oh well. On Thursday, I walk around Kastellet and drink tea with a friend I’ve known since I was born. I haven’t seen her in years, but she reached out to me on Wednesday afternoon, and I’m so grateful she did. So many things have changed for both of us, but the familiar, positive, creative, mutually supportive and attentive dynamics of our interaction, the fact that in so many ways we know each other so well, couldn’t ever change. Dinner at Mangia (it seems Italian cuisine is the new Nordic in Copenhagen??) with a friend from Singapore, who shares the most touching story of how she told her boyfriend and family about the new addition to their family – and hilarious stories from her new job – and pictures from her and her boyfriend’s new idyllic holiday home by a forest lake in Sweden… I miss her in Singa, but there’s no doubt she’s thriving here. Friday – breakfast at Atelier September in the centre of town, with the two girls behind BLAD, chatting about their new calendar for which I’ve promised to translate the small bits of text, introduction and promotional material, followed by a walk through gorgeous morning sunshine across Nyhavn and Christianshavn with one of them – to work from her office. Dinner with another former flatmate from London at La Fabrica. Saturday – morning coffee with my hosts, followed by breakfast at Bowl Market with the couple I was staying with at the beginning of the week. Lastly, I grab my bag and walk over to see my high school friend and her daughter, in their new snazzy home right behind Glyptoteket. Her husband makes us lunch – and serves a glass of wine with it; the limit for my friend, who is pregnant with their second child. After that, at 2:30pm, I take a taxi to the airport and board a plane to London at 3pm exactly: Copenhagen is so small and efficient.
London, Baby! Taking the train from Stansted to Liverpool Street Station and stepping out onto Bishopsgate… the familiarity, the voice on the speaker, people munching on Pret sandwiches, the immediate strike of lovely memories and current love as well: this is such a cool and exciting place… taking taxi to my friend’s house just off Angel Station, getting ready to go out with her, taking an uber together to Taproom by London Fields Brewery, where one of my closest friends and her boyfriend are throwing a farewell party. They’re moving to Sydney. Familiar faces, festive decorations and music, heaps of food from Tas Firin… laughter, dancing, speeches… continuing the party at seedy Dolphin, just like in the old days, and taking a cab home with my friend from Angel at 4am. On Sunday, I wake up early and get up and out… bright morning sun shining from a clear blue sky, crunchy golden leaves on the floor, stately Victorian terraced houses… tears in my eyes over all of this beauty. The streets are empty. My feet take me up along Upper Street and back down through Camden Passage and onto the canal… I walk to Broadway and get a coffee from the Pavilion Bakery. Down to Columbia Road Flower Market, thinking that I must have walked this route at least 400 times. If I didn’t love life in Singapore as much as I do and if I didn’t feel that this is my life as well… right now… I am here… then I think I’d feel very sentimental right now. But my current happiness is as deep as my happy memories, so it’s all good. Everything is exactly as it usually is at the market – the happy, jovial buzz… Christmassy… cosy… spirited… Meet two English friends for brunch at Dishoom after a slow walk around my old stomping ground, Arnold Circus and Redchurch Street. No words to describe how much I love this place, where I lived, loved, worked, dreamed for five years. Meet a friend back at the flower market after brunch. We buy a cup of tea at Lili Vanilli and sit down on a stoop to listen to today’s live music before we buy a huge bunch of hydrangea and walk back up to Angel, where we hug each other goodbye. She walks home. I walk into my favourite Waterstones on the green to buy a few novels before walking down to another friend’s place on the canal. I’m staying here until next Friday. We curl up on the sofa with blankets and watch the Guy Fawkes fireworks, eat pizza from Sweet Thursday and talk, talk, talk until I fall asleep at 9pm, happy as a clam… or as a Cam in (one of) her right element(s).