Dark, cold Octphởber in Copenhagen

Dark, cold Octphởber in Copenhagen

October kick started with a weekend in Manchester to discuss papers and to get some loving from my boyfriend’s cat! There was also a weekend in London for catch ups, birthday and engagement parties. I also fitted in a visit from a Manchester friend, tried a few new restaurants, and made some progress at work! It was getting really dark here – last Thursday I cycled to and from work in the dark. Those 2° difference in sun angle compared to Manchester makes a difference! But now the clocks have gone back and the mornings are not too bad anymore.

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Cat cuddles make everything better

Manchester was buzzin’*!

*I was inspired by a YouTube video I watched of a guy known as Korean Billy teaching the Manchester dialect. There’s a part two too!

Oh Manchester, how I have missed you! Especially at the beginning of October, when the new academic year starts. At this time of the year the city usually looks grey but it’s bursting with new students and the feeling that anything can happen and anybody can make it. Check out this new promotional video the University of Manchester made showcasing the diversity at the university!

While I was in Manchester, I went to Altrincham Market for lunch with some friends. I would recommend the sausage roll served with piccalilli from Great Norther Pie Co. and a pizza from Honest Crust. Don’t be put off by how busy the place looks, tables are turned very quickly! We also went to a great Thai restaurant in China Town called Try Thai, where I ate a delicious massaman curry with chicken and coconut rice – Mmm!  My little sister also came to stay for a night. Thought she missed me but she just wanted cat cuddles!

By the way, if you’re interested, here’s my list of the best places in Manchester according to me!

London was as glorious as ever! Obvs.

On my weekend trip to London, I met up with my friend who’s now pregnant! We had cream tea and she made curry! Mmm! How British! I also met two of my bestest friends for their joint birthday lunch at The Yacht London. Here’s my review of the place with more photos!) I also went to a soirée at my newly engaged friends’ home to celebrate! And I ate some pho! This would be the first bowl of three phos that I would consume this month. There was also some wonderings around London, in Covent Garden, and I got to see the newly opened Switch House at Tate Modern and its controversial Viewing Level.

Seasons changed in Copenhagen

Gone were the long summer days and in their place were some windy, sometimes rainy days. The skies have been filled with thick clouds that seem to filter out any remaining drop of winter sun. There were still some gloriously sunny autumnal days, especially the last weekend of this month. Copenhagen seems to be preapred for rainy days; There are tunnels underneath Bispebjerg Hospital, where I work, so that we can go between buildings and to the canteen without stepping outside! One of the local tat shops is even selling foot/shoe covers to protect one’s feet, when going dancing in the rain I presume!

At the beginning of this month, I got a flat tyre and for a good two weeks, I travelled like a king on Copenhagen’s transport system. A metro and a bus ride to work cost 15 DKK each way – over £3.50 every day at the current conversion rate. Yeeesh! With a stern push from the postdoc with whom I share the office and help from of my dear friend who came to visit me the bike was taken to a local shop for an inner tube replacement! My first day back on the bike was an early start and I really wasn’t used to riding in the dark. I’m gonna have to suck it up though ‘cos as they keep telling me, ‘Winter is coming’!

Danish lessons

So in last month’s update I mentioned I started free Danish lessons! (See point 5 on this previous post for more details.) We’ve had 5 weeks worth of lessons so far. [Week 42 (i.e. 17th – 23rd) was the Danish Potato Holiday – traditionally, kids would get the week off school to help their family harvest potatoes, so we didn’t have lessons then either.  I spent one day that week eating a whole plate of chips for lunch, so that’s my contribution.] In Danish I can introduce myself, talk about my apartment and have learnt the numbers and other basics. I’ve yet to master asking about other people and understanding what they’re saying back to me. The pronunciation is very tricky! Here are some of the advice I’ve been given, “Try talking like you have a potato in your mouth”, “Sound like you’re being too lazy to pronounce the words”, and “just mumble the endings”!

It’s a lot of time, two 2.5 hr classes a week but it makes me do something different. However, it is very slow moving and I get frustrated at how slow or disorganised the lessons are. I do like it that I’m finally learning numbers and can start to understand what the supermarket checkout people say to me! I’ve also met a few cool people in my class and I’m making the effort to make friends too! I’ve invited everyone to our housewarming party in two weeks’ time! This should be fun. I’ll update you next month.

Science is back in business!

My paper that was accepted for publication last month is now available online and open access! [Give it a click please. Thanks!] There’s no rest for scientists. Just because you’ve started a new job, you still need to make sure you’ve got a steady production of papers going. No papers, no grants! Big papers need time and people and right now we’re still working on one from my previous lab in Manchester. Luckily I can do some analysis here. Last Friday a retired colleague sent a finished draft of an eagerly anticipated manuscript describing the coolest, most innovative science I’ve ever had the chance to help out with. This called for a breakout of the emergency dark chocolate digestives for the reading ‘cos I was that excited!

My work in Copenhagen is also going well. Now that the imposter syndrome I mentioned last month has worn off, I can actually appreciate everything a bit better. I’ve worked out which conditions are best to give me the most live tendon cells! They’re growing nicely! I’ve established a good working relationship with the people in the two different buildings I have to work in. All good things.

In November I have the Lundbeckfondet Postdoc in Denmark Fellowship deadline so I’ll be spending a few days preparing for that. Having re-read the previous three applications, I think some improvements are needed!

Across Broen to Malmö, where people speak funny!

We wanted to go on the Øresund Bridge from The Bridge but we’re not allowed to cycle over it so we did the next best thing and took the train. It was about £25 for a 24-hour return ticket to Malmö in Sweden. Luckily we remembered out passports! There were checks leaving Denmark.

Malmö is a very pretty town by the sea, with some nice buildings, plenty of sculptures and cute design shops. The town is small so we only spent an afternoon there. On a PhD student’s recommendation, we lunched at Surf Shack where they serve juicy burgers but it was the garlic fries that deserve a special mention!

Helsingør

We also took a trip to the north of Sjælland, to Helsingør where Hamlet’s Castle, or its real name Kronborg Slot, lies. It is well worth a visit at 90 DKK for adults! The castle is well maintained and is pretty spectacular. Make sure you save the Casemates to last! They’re super spooky and you’ll need a torch to read any of the info plaques. Dow there is also the sleeping giant, Ogier the Dane. It is said that he will wake if Denmark is threatened and will save his country!

København har også mange tinge at gøre!

That’s right, Copenhagen itself also has a lot of things to do! As it was a Halloween special at Tivoli, me and my friend had a wonder inside. She was please that gløgg, a Scandi mulled wine usually containing a shot of rum, almonds and raisins, was served at 11am! Then last Saturday, there was a big group of people in Halloween costume waiting to go into Tivoli! It was soooo cool!

There is also The Round Tower in the city centre. It was built by King Christian IV in the 17th century. It’s special and worth a visit (only 25 DKK) because it contains a spiral ramp that goes to the top, but then there are a few steps that take you out to the observation deck where you can get a great view of the city!

My PhD student friend also recommended a great place for a drink with a view – the Illum Rooftop, which is the food hall with some nice restaurants on the top level of the swanky Illum department store. I’ve only visited the Bar Jacobsen, where like a tourist, I ate a whole plate of chips for lunch, and also tried the Christmas ale (already!). If the weather is beautiful, you can also sit outside, where you get the sounds of street performers below and get to watch shoppers go by.

…Og at spise! Selvfølgelig!

And if the weather is bad, you could always find a nice place to eat! This month I tried the ham and mushroom pizza from Italy – there aren’t many exciting pizzas here but it’s close to home! I also tried the dirty acai chia cup loaded with strawberries, bananas, jam, almonds, coconut, skyr and peanut butter at the Yelp Early Bird event at Grød. I took my friend to the Mad og Kaffe in Amager for brunch and then to the Amager branch of Sticks n Sushi that is set in a old gunpowder house for a fancy belated birthday treat! As she loves Vietnamese food, we went to Pho Hanoi near Copenhagen Central Station as it had good reviews. Here I had my second bowl of pho of the month and it was delicious! I persuaded my boyfriend to want pho the following weekend and I had my third bowl of pho for October. [Hence renaming of the month to Oct-phở-ber! Read my review for Pho Hanoi here.] At work we had a visitor and my boss took us to Gustavs Bistro and tried their menu of the day – 3 courses for 350 DKK! No review for this yet but it was a very nice venue, which hosts musicians during the annual jazz festival and it has a wine shop! Visit if you’re in Østerbro!

So you see I’ve managed to have myself some fun this month! November will bring: my friends’s PhD defense at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, lunch a Noma, our house-warming party, cool live confocal microscopy sessions, start of the Christmas markets, visit from friends and many more surprises I’m sure! In the mean time if you’re looking for something else to do after reading my blog, check out these podcasts that are basically films for your ears and imagination: The Truth, Dark Tome, and Secrets, Crimes & Audiotape.

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Housemate and I went out for drinkies – maybe it was too much
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