Miscellaneous · Personal · thoughts · Uncategorized

Generation Busy

This post has been a long time coming. I unfortunately lost my job last month, and while I’ve been offered another job, it doesn’t start until the end of the month. What that means is that I’ve had a lot of time to sit around and think. At times it’s been frustrating and boring and, let’s be honest, having an income is nice, but on the other hand it’s given me pause for thought about what it means to be busy.

At the moment I’m listening to Brené Brown’s lecture series ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, inspired by her TED talk of the same name. It’s been one of my favourite TED talks since my counsellor in third year of Uni recommended it to me, but the full lecture series is even better. Honestly, in that classic “who would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive” scenario, Brené would be top of the list – she’s insanely clever, sassy without being snarky, and I just generally think we’d get on pretty well.

One of the things she discusses is our fascination with being busy. How we get a kick out of being able to reel off a list of things that are taking up our time and attention, how we brag about the hours we’ve put in at work, and how, if we admit that we’re feeling pretty relaxed about life, people don’t seem to know how to respond. In western culture, being busy to the point of meltdown is something of a status symbol. We endlessly compare ourselves to our peers and beat ourselves up if we suspect that we’re not making the most of our time.

It’s something that I witnessed all the time as a student. “How many words have you written yet?” was a hot topic of conversation and people would loudly moan about spending full days in the library and not leaving until they were thrown out at 2am. I don’t think these comments are helpful to anyone. Beneath the complaints is insecurity. Often people say these things not to vent their own genuine frustration or to encourage empathy, but to assess the competition. To find out how hard others are working. To see where they sit in the pecking order. To quell the universal voice of shame that insists we are only worthy of feeling joy if we’ve suffered the hard graft and “earned” it through tangible “success”. The culture of studying to the point of exhaustion is something that’s only going to get worse as Universities like my own introduce nap pods and 24/7 opening hours.

My main cause for excitement upon graduation was the thought that I could finally leave my work at work and have time to indulge my passions outside work hours. For the most part, I’ve been able to do so, but I can’t help but suppress that niggling feeling that I should be doing more. It makes me feel so stressed when I see people my age without an inch of wiggle room in their daily schedule, because I can’t help but compare myself to them. It think it’s a generational thing. There’s much more competition among us millennials to find full-time, emotionally rewarding work, and we must resort to filling every second of our time with activities, projects and courses that will enrich our employability. All this is often on top of paid employment that pays the bills in the mean time. Is it any surprise that, in a recent worldwide study of young people (defined as being 15-21 years old, but probably with similar trends just outwith this age bracket), Britons exhibited the second-worst mental wellbeing?

I’m sure to some, this kind of lifestyle provides good motivation and is perhaps even desirable. But in my opinion, it’s sad that the economy has gotten to the point where this is seen as a normal way to survive. Where’s the time to reflect? To be kind to ourselves? To work smarter, not harder? We often have to push ourselves to exhaustion just to be seen as competent, but with no support system to keep our wellbeing afloat. Mental health services are vastly underfunded, meaning not only a lack of services, but less money put into campaigns that encourage us to be open about our mental health. The vulnerability required to reach out and say “actually, I think I’m overworked” or “I need some time off to get my mind in order” is seen as weakness when really, being able to tap into your own emotions and ask for help is one of the bravest things you can do.

It’s time we stop glorifying this kind of exhaustion. I’m fed up of feeling a deep sense of shame when I’m not “busy enough”, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Literature · Uncategorized

My 2016 in books

2016 was a particularly bookish year for me. I started a Booktube channel in autumn 2015, and while I wasn’t that consistent in uploading content throughout 2016 (in fact, I’ve all but disappeared into the ether now, but I don’t have any serious regrets about that – I’m spending my time doing other things that nourish me and make me happy. Maybe I’ll return when inspiration strikes. Maybe not. Either way, I feel I express myself better in writing so it’s probably for the best that I give a bit of love to this blog instead. Anyway, I digress…), being a part of the community motivated me to read often and read widely. Then in June, I became a full-time bookseller. While some might expect that full-time work would detract from my reading time, being surrounded by amazing books and even more amazing people who love books as much as I do has had a tremendous impact on my reading pace. As a result,the number of books I read in 2016 soared.

I read 84 books in 2016, and while I was initially going to condense this down into a top 10, scrolling through my shelves on Goodreads has made me realise that I read way more than ten books worthy of a mention. So, I’ve decided to organise these smashing reads by category in order to simplify a little bit: novels, novellas and short story collections, poetry, children’s and YA, and non-fiction. All books were bought by myself, unless otherwise stated.

Without further ado, here’s my list.


  1. The Sellout by Paul Beatty. I think its accolade as the winner Man Booker Prize 2016 speaks volumes about the literary merit of this book, but it really is just so damn good. From the blurb, you know that this is going to address the issue of racial tension in the USA in a satirical way and Beatty executes this theme brilliantly and with so much compassion underlying an important political message. You might think that any character who tries to reintroduce segregation and slavery is going to be painted as a villain, but instead, we have a sympathetic, somewhat hapless protagonist fuelled by Malcolm X-esque idealism who just so happens to find himself caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The ending had me punching the air while sat on a Vienna U-bahn platform. (Sent for review by Oneworld Publications)
  2. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. Another Man Booker shortlisted book on my list, this completely defied my perceptions of crime fiction and historical fiction. I rarely read either genre, but picked this one up in an attempt to read all shortlisted books before the results were announced (I managed all of them except Do Not Say We Have Nothing) and also because Graeme is a Glaswegian author with whom I have many mutual connections. His Bloody Project, which explores the motivations and aftermath of a brutal triple murder in the 19th-century Scottish highlands, had me hooked and I devoured it within a matter of days. There were so many fascinating, multi-faceted characters, embroiled in a dark plot with many a twist and turn. I’m still talking about this one – it really is bloody brilliant (pun intended). (Sent for review by Saraband)
  3. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I completely underestimated this book. The story is nothing groundbreaking – family saga that spans generations, but the unique selling point in this case is the addition of a pesky author who gets far too involved with this family’s life. However, I really loved it. Patchett has the most gorgeous turn of phrase, making even the most everyday moments sound like poetry. I also really enjoyed how this book jumped about in a non-linear fashion with minimal signposting. As I don’t like being spoonfed when I read, this really worked well for me. All in all, understated and sublime. I reckon it’ll be nominated for this year’s Bailey’s Prize. (Sent for review by Bloomsbury)
  4. The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss. Where do I even begin when describing this book? It’s lyrical, yet gritty. It’s political, but encourages the reader to think for themselves. It’s surreal, yet more grounded in reality than many of us will ever realise. It’s the most dazzling blend of contrasts I’ve read all year. In summary, it’s about a family whose teenage daughter suffers from a rare form of anaphylactic shock that causes her to pass out and her heart to stop beating when over-exerted. As her family come to terms with having a chronically ill child, plenty of other relationship tensions bubble up to the surface. I love this book not only for Moss’ stunning prose, but also for its characterisation – Miriam is a badass fifteen-year-old sharp-tongued feminist, her little sister’s behaviours and conversational quirks are spot on for a child of that age, and their father (the narrator of the book) is a stay-at-home dad who relentlessly supports his doctor wife. A big thumbs up from me.
  5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. My number one favourite book of this year, and definitely in my top five books ever. This one is just heartbreaking. Warm, funny, beautifully written, but totally devastating. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that its protagonist is a nine-year-old dealing with the aftermath of his father’s death in 9/11, but the way that he grows throughout the novel, uncovering a rich family history and battling his inner demons, is amazing. What starts as the voice of a child matures into a young man who understands that life isn’t always simple, that sometimes deception is necessary to protect the ones you love, that some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved, and that ultimately, life goes on. It’s a sentimental subject, but Foer doesn’t go down the often-tread path of mawkish sentimentality to gain sympathy from his readers – instead, he embroils these messages in a web of varying, often quirky, narratives that all paint a complete picture of human empathy without dictating how the reader should feel. This book is just utterly perfect. I’m still thinking about it half a year after turning the final page.

Novellas and short story collections

  1. Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson. Cosy, perfect, magical, wonderful. I don’t know how much more I can say. All these stories were absolutely enchanting. My favourite was ‘The Snowmama’, which I read aloud to my family on Christmas Eve, but I also really enjoyed the ghost stories as well. Between each story is an essay about and recipe (“ressaypes”, you could say) for a festive food cooked by either Winterson herself or, more often, someone important in her life. It’s one of the purest, loveliest collections I’ve ever read and I’ll be returning to it annually.
  2. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter. This has been on my radar for some time now, but it wasn’t until it was Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month in September that I decided to pick it up. Oh man, some ugly crying was involved with this one. As it is heavily influenced by Ted Hughes’ Crow, I decided to read that first in order to gain a deeper insight into the themes of this gut-wrenching novella – for those not in the know, Crow is a figure in trickster mythology that is present at the scene of all devastation, and in GitTwF, he visits a Ted Hughes scholar and his two young sons in mourning of their wife/mother. I’m really glad I did read both books, although I know plenty of people who read GitTwF without reading Crow and still understood the book in a powerful – albeit slightly different – way. I’d love to do more research into Crow throughout literature and come back to this one, as I really think it could be interpreted in so many different ways.
  3. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. In this short but sweet collection, Eagleman (also a renowned neuroscientist) posits what the afterlife may be like. In fact, he asks this question a total of forty times, resulting in this wonderfully surreal vignettes that raise the question, “would I want there to be an afterlife if it was like this? What about if it was like this instead?”. One of my favourites was the opening story, in which the afterlife involves repeating every single activity you did in life, but grouped together by category. So you’ll spend weeks waiting for the bus, before years of sobbing over a lost love, or days of looking for missing socks. The other tales in this collection are all equally surreal yet brilliant. I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes to ponder life’s big questions and has a penchant for the bizarre.
  4. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. I love Japanese literature, but occasionally it can all feel a bit too similar. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this collection – Ogawa’s dark, magical realist writing was not unfamiliar, but was original and elegant enough to refresh my interest in the genre. Some of these stories I would even go as far to categorise as horror (bodies in the vegetable patch, anyone?). Ogawa uses the classic Japanese poetic tradition of using recurring motifs to bind these stories together and I really felt that it worked well – I especially enjoyed seeing characters pop up outside their own stories, merely a fleeting backdrop to other people’s stories. I’m really keen to read some more of Ogawa’s writing, as this collection really crept under my skin in the best possible way.


  1. When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard by Megan Beech. In 2016 I decided I would like to read more poetry, so when exploring the vast poetry section at Waterstones Sauchiehall St in Glasgow in January, I picked up a few collections from poets I hadn’t heard of before. I was drawn to this one as Megan Beech is a fiery, feminist performance poet, and that’s the kind of thing I go out for. I’m so glad I took a chance. It was completely bloody awesome. I could relate so strongly to Beech’s poems, given that she is around the same age as me and faces the same patriarchal, millennial problems that women in their early 20s (and of any age, I suppose) deal with every day. I recommended this one to a few people and it seems to have really snowballed in popularity since, and now it’s popping up all over Booktube – it definitely pays to take chances and champion a fresh poetic voice!
  2. milk and honey by Rupi Kaur. I bought this on a whim to see what the hype was about. I was definitely not disappointed; it exceeded all my expectations. Every time I thought I’d found my favourite poem, another one would come along. Long story short, my phone is now chock-full of photos of these heart-achingly illustrated poems. I don’t know to describe it really, but I honestly think every young woman should read this collection. Its depictions of hurting and healing and love are so utterly perfect and cathartic to boot. Go go go.

Children’s and YA

  1. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. I feel like I’m cheating slightly with this one, given that’s part of a series that I started in December 2015, but The Subtle Knife is definitely my favourite book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. I can’t remember what it was that made me love this one so much, but I hazard it was probably the introduction of a multiverse extending beyond that experienced by Lyra in Northern Lights. Everything felt that much richer, and I completely fell in love with all the new characters. Mary Malone meeting the Mulefa has to be in list of my top literary moments ever.
  2. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. This book restored my faith in YA literature and I gobbled it up in a couple of days. Never have I read a YA novel with a protagonist so similar to my teenage self; I really wish this book had ben about when I was a teenager, as I think it would have been a source of immense comfort. Frances is perceived as being quiet, studious, and – dare I say it – somewhat boring at school. She is still well-liked and has a small core of friends with whom she goes out on a semi-regular basis, but none of them know the “real Frances”. The real Frances is a punky, CONFIDENTLY BISEXUAL (!) nerd who loves nothing more than drawing fan art for her favourite podcast and wears leggings with cartoon characters all over them. So when she discovers that she has actually known the creator of this podcast in real life all along, her life changes drastically for the better. Finally, she has someone with whom she can act like “real Frances”. But, all is not well…A hilarious, poignant debut novel with well-rounded characters and realistic relationships and dialogue, I would heartily recommend this to anyone who needs a new perspective on YA literature. And Welcome to Night Vale fans. Would 100% recommend to Welcome to Night Vale fans.
  3. Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee. A bit like Grief is the Thing with Feathers for 10- to 12-year-olds, Maybe a Fox is a lovely little magical realist novel about grief and how finding the spirit of our loved ones in nature can soothe  heartache. Set in a frozen American landscape, Jules is devastated when her older sister – and best friend – Sylvie disappears into the woods behind their house one day and never returns. But is Sylvie really gone? Her friend’s brother has recently returned from the war, having lost his best friend as well, and their respective grief combines to weave a really moving, compelling tale in which even adults will find deeper meaning. Just a truly lovely book. (Sent for review by Walker Books)


  1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. You know you’ve hit upon something special when a book climbs its way into your “top books of the year” list on 30th December. A few people had recommended When Breath Becomes Air to me, but I had kind of pushed it to the back of mind – I wanted to read it, but it wasn’t a high priority. That was until I was sent a reading copy of the new paperback edition, and one evening, when I was in the mood for some non-fiction, picked it up on a whim. I regret NOTHING. Telling the story of a nearly-graduated neurosurgeon and aspiring writer diagnosed with lung cancer in his mid-thirties, this isn’t one for the faint of heart. It’s heartbreaking, but it has given me so much to think about. What makes life worth living, especially when you know the end is near? Is death a better option than living a life without self-expression? I know some people have shirked this one off as mainstream misery porn, but it’s really not. I implore anyone to read this and not consider their own life choices and mortality. Definitely one to read with tissues, especially while reading the afterword written by Kalanithi’s wife after his untimely passing. (Sent for review by Vintage)
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight. Like many, I am not a self-help book person. Without having read any, I have always assumed them to be a bit too preachy and overly simplistic. That’s one of the reasons I picked this one up: it’s almost an anti-self-help book in its irreverence. It doesn’t pander, it doesn’t pussyfoot. Instead, its core philosophy is blunt but effective: if you can’t be bothered, or if it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it. Become unapologetic about this. Build yourself a “fuck budget” of things to which you can realistically dedicate your time, money and enthusiasm. I honestly do thing this has improved my mindset in many ways. I’m super excited to read Sarah Knight’s new book, Get Your Shit Together. Now go forth, and be fuckless.

Aaaaaaaand thus concludes my mega-list of favourite books of 2016 – congratulations if you read this far. I did say it was a good reading year for me, didn’t I?

I hope 2017 will be another epically brilliant reading year, and that maybe I’ve helped you discover some new books you might like to pick up soon – let me know!


The original Hygge: Copenhagen travel guide

In the spirit of bringing this blog to life again, I’ve decided to cast my mind back over the year and write about some of the adventures I’ve had.

So today, I’m going to bring you my top travel tips for visiting Scandinavia’s capital of cosy.

“Hygge” (its closest English estimation of prounciation is “hoo-guh”) has become something of a buzzword recently, with sales of books on that uniquely Danish cosy feeling sky-rocketing – especially now we’re in the throes of winter. However, Copenhagen is still as delightfully charming and welcoming in the spring. I visited at the start of April and I cannot complain at all – the weather was mild (occasionally on the chilly side, but hey, I’m a hardy Scot) and it wasn’t too busy.

Getting there and getting around

While Scandinavia is generally considered to be an expensive destination, the flights themselves are surprisingly well-priced and provide a gorgeous view of the Danish archipelago when approaching Copenhagen. I love a bargain, so I found the best way to get there was to book my outbound and return flights with different airlines. I flew with easyJet from Edinburgh for £63.99, and with Ryanair on the way back for £35. I booked a month and a half in advance, so you could probably fly for even cheaper, but all things considered, I’d say I did very well! As for getting into the city centre, there are regular metro trains running from the airport for a decent price (I can’t remember how much exactly, because I got confused by the city map and bought a ticket to a station much further away than was necessary, so paid about four times the price) and it only takes about twenty minutes. Once you’re in the city, you can take the metro around, but to be honest, it’s quite a compact city so I had no problem walking. I hear bike rental is also pretty affordable and can make you feel like a true Dane – if you feel confident enough to understand the traffic flow. Although it’s a city geared towards cycling, I am ridiculously accident prone so decided to skip out on this one.



The hostel that I stayed in was, quite frankly, the nicest hostel I’ve ever stayed in. Sleep in Heaven is located in Nørrebro, about a twenty minute walk from the city centre, and I paid 195Dkr (~£22) a night for a bed in a six-bed female dorm. The downside is that there is no kitchen, but they are 100% cool with you bringing in outside food (even the greasiest of takeaways!) and since I prefer not to use communal cutlery and crockery when I travel, this was totally fine by me. They offered a pay-as-you-go, all-you-can-eat continental breakfast, but as the Danes do breakfast cafés so well, I didn’t make use of this. I think it was roughly £5. However, the best bit about this hostel was HAPPY HOUR! Each evening, there was a happy hour deal where you could get two pints of beer or glasses of wine for only DKK35. THAT’S £3.50, YO. I found it a perfect way to bond with fellow travellers.

Another thing I liked about this hostel was its proximity to lots of lovely parks, cafés, independent boutiques and the Assistens Kirkegård – burial place of famous Danes like Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. Cemeteries are some of my favourite places to visit when I travel so this was a real bonus for me.

Eating and drinking

Eating out in Copenhagen can be expensive, but if you work it into your daily budget, it is more than possible. I adapted to the krone surprisingly quickly, to the point where I didn’t mind paying the equivalent of £5 on a glass of juice, so I would advise that you go prepared to splash out a little bit! While my lunches and dinners were often quick snacks to munch on the go, my daily breakfasts were a real highlight of my stay.

One of my favourite places to start my day was The Laundromat Café. There are two branches in Copenhagen, as well as one in Reykjavik, and I can definitely recommend the one on Gammel Kongvej. The name of this cute, arty diner is more than simply a quirky moniker – you can actually do your laundry there as you eat! As I was only there for a few days, I didn’t need these facilities, but there was definitely something fun and cosy about sipping a coffee (or smoothie) as a washing machine churned away in the background – like curling up in a good friend’s home. I had the blueberry pancakes and a smoothie, which cost me 100Dkr – approximately £11. As I say, expensive, but it was very filling and if you go in knowing that you may need to splash the cash, the cost is much more tolerable. On top of this, the good folks at Laundromat wear their hearts on their sleeves with their colourful, political decor.

Another great find was Grød, a porridge café with branches across the city. Here you can create your own custom porridge, down the the type of oats used and all. Fancy some quinoa porridge? The Grød world is your oyster. I had some spelt porridge topped with apple compote, nuts, cinnamon and cacao nibs, eaten on a crisp morning in the cemetery, and it was like having my stomach hugged.

However, my favourite breakfast spot came not from a recommendation, but sheer seredipity: The Next Door Café, located in the historic heart of the city. Holy toast, this place was everything I could have wanted in a café – delicious food for a reasonable (by Danish standards) price, chatty, alternative-looking staff, quirky signs, tables decked out with old tickets, flyers and other paper paraphernalia, and a shrine full of cutesy, gaudy treasures. Upon ordering, I was given a plastic horse so they would know where to deliver my pancakes to, which beats a number on a stick any day, in my opinion. And when my pancakes arrived…oh my goodness. They were the most fluffy, perfect, banana pancakes I’ve ever tasted. Not only that, but they gave me a WHOLE BOTTLE OF MAPLE SYRUP. I respect any eatery that doesn’t dictate how much syrup I should or should not consume.

Finally, I feel I should recommend one place for dinner, lest I come across as a breakfast fiend of Leslie Knope standards (not a bad thing!). If you love books – or even if you don’t, but love good food – I would definitely suggest you check out Paludan Bogcafe. While there is a secondhand bookshop downstairs, I was far too hungry to peruse for long and soon treated myself to a lovely, piping hot dish of veggie lasagne, sat at a table surrounded by wall-to-wall bookcases. Lasagne is my favourite food ever, and I was not let down. At all. It cost 89Dkr (~£9), more or less what I would pay for lasagne in a British restaurant, so this is a good place to go if you want something hearty on a budget.


Sights and attractions

If you want to get a good overview of the city, forget the ubiquitous open-top bus tours that can be found in any city – with Copenhagen’s fantastic canals, harbours and lakes, it would be a sin not to see the city from the back of a boat. There are quite a few companies offering boat tours, but I went with Netto. Compared to other boat trips, this one was the cheapest option at only 40Dkr (~£4.50) for an hour’s trip. Many on TripAdvisor have criticised the scratchy, grimy windows, and I would have to agree, so I’d suggest you wrap up warm and sit in the outside area at the back of the boat. The information on offer isn’t absolutely amazing, but is enough to get a good feel of the sights around you (including Nyhavn and the Little Mermaid), and if nothing else, it’s a relaxing way to spend an hour.

I visited a fair musuems in the few days I was in Copenhagen, from the Court Theatre Museum to the Designmuseum, but my favourite was the National Museum of Denmark. This place has it all, and I could have easily spent a whole day there – at 75Dkr (~£8.40), the entry fee encourages prolonged browsing in order to get the best bang for your buck. There’s Danish history, from the stone age to the Vikings, natural history, art, traditional costume and artefacts (including an extensive musical instrument collection) from all over the world, and when I went, there was even a Japanese cosplay exhibition in which you could learn about the role anime, video games and cosplay play in Japan, before dressing up yourself and having a “digital makeover” in a real Japanese photobooth!

Another favourite of mine was the “freetown” of Christiania. I don’t have any pictures of the village itself as photography is strictly forbidden, along with running. Why are these things forbidden? Well, because Christiania citizens consider their village an autonomously run community and therefore outside of Danish law, so there is A LOT of marijuana for sale. Running and photography are signs of a police raid, of which there have been many over its 47 year history. It’s for this reason that dealers now skulk about in balaclavas, going about their trade from within huts draped in scramble nets and curtains. Don’t let this seemingly creepy image put you off though – the village still retains a fun, friendly vibe, thanks to its colourful murals, chilled music, scrap metal sculptures, jewellery stalls, pop-up vegan eateries, and cute gift shops located in the eaves of buildings that, from the outside, look more likely to host raves than tea shops. If you venture behind the village, you reach the real star of Christiania: the lake. Surrounding this lake are quirky, ramshackled houses that citizens have built themselves to suit their needs and protect the environment. It takes about 40 minutes to walk around the lake, and it was honestly 40 of the most peaceful minutes of my trip. Photography is allowed in this area.

If you are an art lover, then the National Gallery of Denmark is not to be missed. Entry is quite expensive – 110Dkr (~£12) – but not too far off what you might pay for a similar museum in some posher parts of the UK. I spent half a day here, but could have easily stayed longer if there weren’t other things I wanted to do that day. It is HUGE. I particularly enjoyed the Danish surrealism exhibition, as I do love a bit of surrealism and wasn’t aware the Danes had been so involved in the movement so often associated with the likes of Dali and Magritte. On the flipside, I would suggest that you skip Overgaden unless you’re an absolute conceptual art fanatic. I’ve recently developed the ability to attach meaning to conceptual art, even if it’s not particularly aesthetically pleasing. However, I still felt quite alienated by the art on display at Overgaden. On top of this, it’s not a very popular spot with tourists, so I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb when I was there. Coupled with the fact that I sat down for a rest at a bench inside and ended up getting stuck in the middle of a lecture in Danish and having to climb over people awkwardly to escape…Let’s just say it wasn’t the most fun experience. I did like this piece of French concrete poetry though (pictured below).

I could write a thousand more words about all the other things I did, but instead I shall try and condense the other highlights of my trip into a few brief decriptions. Tivoli is expensive, but fun, even if you’re not a big theme park person. Personally I thought it was worth it just to go on the Star Flyer (because despite the fact that I loathe the idea of being turned upside down or dropping down very fast on rollercoasters, I jump at the opportunity to be swung around 60 meteres in the air for a few minutes) and play Gallopen. Unfortunately you do need to pay for the ride tokens seperately, so it’s really only a place to go if you don’t mind splashing out for some oldy-worldy funfair magic. Going up the Round Tower was a spontaneous decision, but a good one, because for only 25Dkr (~£2.75) you get a fantastic view of the city and even of the Malmo skyline in the distance. There’s also a cool art gallery halfway up, which was a nice surprise. The Botanical Gardens are BEAUTIFUL. I regularly walked through them to go between places because they just made me so peaceful. There’s a lovely pond in the centre with ducks and herons and a cute little pier that I sat down on to have a little read. I went to the Carlsberg brewery on my last day, and considering you get two glasses of beer at the end of the tour, the entry fee of 95Dkr (~£10.45) seems quite reasonable. After all, at any other bar in Copenhagen, you’d likely pay that for the beer alone – at least here you get a tour as well. I was surprised at how interesting it all was, from the brand history to the brewing process. And of course, the world’s largest collection of beer bottles (below) is not to be sniffed at either…

Other useful information

  • I was warned by a friend that the exchange rate in all UK-based currency exchanges wasn’t great, and that it was best to take out cash upon arrival at the airport. This is what I did, and it did actually work out to be better value.
  • The Danes (and most other Scandinavians, especially those of younger generations) speak impeccable English, but if you’re like me then you’ll still feel bad for taking advantage of this. If nothing else, a simple “hej” or “takk” book-ending your otherwise English conversation is a nice way to show that you still respect their language and customs.
  • While there are many apps and websites with great travel tips (this one included, I hope), I feel that nothing beats having a good guide book. It gets you away from your phone, saves you expensive roaming data, and is a nice thing to flick through and mark up as you have a coffee and pastry break. I used the Lonely Planet Pocket Guide to Copenhagen, and it met my needs perfectly – lots of information and a handy map condensed into a streamlined format. For stay of a week or less, I’d highly recommend this particular guide! (They also do them for loads of other cities so if you’re an avid city-breaker, they make quite a cute collection)
  • The Danes seem to be big on public art, so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled and camera handy when wandering the city. One of my favourite arty finds was a photography exhibition installed on some building work that explored what the concept of dreaming means to elderly people (below). Just one more reason to walk rather than relying on public transport!

This has been a fair bit lengthier than anticipated, but I hope that it’s given you a good insight into some fun things to check out in Scandinavia’s capital of happiness – its happital, if you will. Anyway, I would definitely recommend Copenhagen to anyone. The kind of warmth and connectedness with the world that it instills is a feeling unmatched by anywhere else I’ve ever been.

My Danish recommendations:

Rita‘ (Netflix), any book about hygge (I have this one but have yet to read it – I will soon!), Alphabeat, Oh Land, Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, a good old Danish pastry (not literally old, pastry doesn’t keep well), and of course, LEGO. You’re never too old to muck about with plastic bricks.