Love You Long Time, London | 06-121117

Monday. Wake up early, bright blue sky… nippy, chilly, COLD…. walk down to Shoreditch Grind for some hot morning coffee, continue along Old Street until I get to Oxford Street, where the Christmas decorations are up… get to the neat white office building in the corner of Soho Square… reunion with my sweet colleagues from all over Europe… so nice to be in the same time zone as them for once… coffee break (at Tap on Wardour Street) with one favourite colleague, lunch with another, after which we walk around Carnaby and its side streets in glorious weather… It gets dark at 4:30pm… After work, I cycle through Covent Garden, Holborn and the City, loving the familiar, stimulating mix of old and new … Work out at my favourite gym, on Devonshire Square, after which I browse around Planet Organic, drooling over all of the vegan yoghurts, soups and salads I used to live on … you can’t get anything like that in Singapore. Stroll around the old small winding memory lanes of Spitalfields… Meet an English friend and her Swedish boyfriend at a speakeasy just below a flat I used to live in with my friend Emily. After one cocktail, we move over to Pizza Union for pizza and red wine with two other friends, a Dane and his Estonian girlfriend. Cheap and cheerful. Walk home through Shoreditch and Angel. My sinuses are blocked, my lips are purple, my heart is throbbing with happiness. S is in Melbourne and Sydney on business. 3 weeks apart is a long time, but we’re very aligned and therefore it works: we talk and text every day, not too much and not too little, we miss each other very much and prefer travelling together, but we also love where we are and what we’re doing there. So it’s all good… for 3 weeks.

Tuesday. The Christmas spirit hits me as I cycle to the gym in Tottenham Court Road early in the frosty morning. After my training, I meander through my favourite streets in Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia to get to the office. Lunch with my team. Meet an English friend, who just moved home from Singapore, for coffee at Milkbar. Team dinner at the Dishoom off Carnaby Street. All day, I feel bouts of sadness about the fact that I’m not flying home from London to Denmark for Christmas (to the tunes of Chris Rea) … the cold and the light in the darkness… picking out a Christmas tree and decorating it… drinking red wine in my parents’ cosy livingroom… singing carols in church on Christmas Eve… all of the Danish Christmas songs… the smell of pine and oranges and clover and fresh frosty air… drinking gløgg… spending time with my family. Then I close my eyes, take a deep breath and reset…. I feel grateful. Grateful for these memories – and for the knowledge that there will be lots of these Christmases in the future – and for the fact that I get to experience another lovely kind of Christmas as well… the exciting holidays that await me and S in Goa and Kerala, with our Indian family and friends. The most important message of Christmas is love, light and warmth.. Not only do I get to spend it with S in a place that for me is new and alluring, I also am comfortable knowing that my family and friends in Denmark are safe and sound and very happy… My parents are even joining us for New Year celebrations in Kerala, their first time in India. Last year showed me that the Christmas spirit is present in the tropics as well… different, but even warmer in some ways, haha. Speaking of temperature: I am here now, and I get to wear my warm winter clothes, and I’m only halfway into the trip; next week, I will be hanging out at my parents’ place in Denmark. It won’t have a Christmas label hanging over it, but it will contain all of the love, light and warmth…

Wednesday. Cycle into Covent Garden for a morning walk around the Christmas-decorated market… Mistletoes and giant baubles… Meet one of S’s best friends from Hong Kong, who is in town to look for a job, for a lovely lunch at Breddos Tacos… In the afternoon, at the office, we have prosecco to celebrate that one of my colleagues became a dad last weekend… In the evening, I walk via Exmouth Market to Islington, where one of my closest friends has cooked a lovely dinner for me and two of my other oldest, sweetest London friends. Haha, these days are full of so much love and comfort… I feel lucky every second of it. Work is more intense than I’m used to, because my team is based here in London (and in Boston)… It’s clearly very beneficial to be in the same room and time zone as them now and then… And it makes each of the days on this trip very … Intense and full of impressions and communication: movement through London on my own; interacting with colleagues at work; meeting friends over meals and drinks. I sleep very well every night, with a big smile on my face, haha.

Thursday. In the morning, I cycle from Angel to Mayfair for breakfast at Deliciously Ella. In my lunch break, I cycle through Hyde Park for super quick lunch with a friend in South Kensington. In the evening, I cycle from Soho to Angel for dinner with my Best friend, the one who is moving to Sydney, at our special spot – the organic gastro pub, Duke of Cambridge. After eating, when we are a few good glasses into our bottle of red wine, we pull out my laptop and create a giant google doc brainstorm full of ideas for the new business she is planning to start in Australia…

Friday, Fever, flu, flying back to Denmark.

Copenhagen Weekend with English Friend. A year ago, my best English friend came to visit me in Singapore, and this weekend, I get to take her on her first tour of Copenhagen. We do and see as much as possible in two days without simply running from place to place but taking our time to enjoy every minute of it and of our time together as well. Fortunately, it’s a beautiful sunny weekend, crisp and clear. We’re staying with my friends in Islands Brygge. Get up early on both days to make the most of it. Long walks, good food, good drinks. Editor of a wonderful travel blog, she has high expectations and a high energy level when experiencing new places, and fortunately for both of us, we’re pretty aligned in our tastes, interests, rhythm. Amazing dinner at ex-Noma space, Restaurant Barr, evening walk along the canals in Christianshavn, breakfast at Grød followed by coffee from Coffee Collective in Jægersborggade, walking through Assistens Cemetery to get to Mirabelle in Guldberggade for another coffee, browsing through the small boutiques in Elmegade, continuing down past the colourful facades in Sankt Hans Gade, crossing the lakes to get to Torvehallerne, climbing Rundetårn for a grand view of the city, lunching at Väkst, browsing in Hay’s flagship store and Illum, meandering through the Christmas market in Nyhavn, walking through town to have wine at Pate Pate in the Meatpacking district, then drinks at my favourite cocktail bar, Liedkob, then dinner at Mangia… Next morning, we walk along the harbour and around Kastellet, then have breakfast at Bowl Market and walk up Værnedamsvej to get coffee from Rist, then walk along the lakes and down through the centre of town to meet my brother, who is having coffee with an old friend near Kongens Nytorv. Here, we say goodbye. I’m driving home to Jutland with my brother; she’s flying back to London. Wonderful weekend!

Driving Home. 2.5 hours in the car with my brother, crossing Zealand and Funen to get to our parents’ place in Juelsminde. We haven’t spent this much time together since last autumn, when he was interning at the Danish Embassy in KL… it’s lovely! We listen to music and podcasts, drink coffee, chat a bit, enjoy the best kind of comfortable silence. In Juelsminde, our mum is greeting us outside the house with my brother’s corgi puppy, whom I meet for the first time.

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