February started off with me coming down with flu and ended with me only cycling 10 out of 28 days (150 km for my Feb total). I know, I know. I already get ‘bike-shamed’ (a term I’m using to describe making someone feel bad for not cycling) by a colleague so I don’t need it from you too. My bike is still good. No punctures, no more lights lost but the chain is looking a bit rusty and started to squeak while I’m cycling! Eek! I’m just googling how to fix it and it’s going to be faff! The whole bike desperately needs a clean up from salt and dirt. I’m going to save this job for a nice spring weekend and I’m hoping we’ll get this in March!
Exciting time for me at work!
This month was spent optimising my CRISPR experiment! On the 2nd February my CRISPR collaborator confirmed that it was working (but needed more work) and I was soooooo excited! Then suddenly, it hit me that my old lab BFF and my old boss were not around to celebrate this teeny weeny science victory. [These teeny weeny victories each negates about 30-50 science fails so each one is very important.] The wave of sadness I experienced was so unexpected. I suddenly felt that being an independent researcher was not so fun especially when there’s no one to jump up with excitement with you or to shake cheerleading pom-poms for you. Another thing that I’ve realised this month about ‘growing up’ as a scientist is having the sole responsibility for looking into the future for the sexy big picture of my own work. This part is terrifying but quite exciting!
Other updates in the work front:
- Another revelation this month: I’ve fallen in love with the Li-Cor Odyssey western blot imaging system! I swear. I’ve never ever said “I love western blots!” ever in my life but at the moment it’s true.
- I’ve also been entrusted with doing a small study that’s a small part of the big Lundbeck Foundation program grant the ISMC was awarded last year. What I’ve learnt in Cologne is going to come in handy!
- Hopefully the remaining projects from my old lab that I’m still a part of will be published this year. They’re at different stages of readiness. I’ve reworked a draft, worked on the figures of another, and did 3D reconstructions on tissue-engineered tendons for my colleague’s paper. Whilst tracking through the stacks of electron microscopy images I found the world’s tiniest elephant (actually some parts of a tenocyte with some organelles inside)! Fingers crossed that these papers will be ready for submission soon!
- I’m finding my colleagues more and more awesome! This comes with us getting to know more about each other with time and so asking and offering help get easier. Thanks to the protein-loving masters student for checking my Danish homework. Thanks to a new medical doctor PhD student for helping me navigate the Danish automated phone menu that I needed for cancelling my broadband. “Why?” you say. ‘Cos the housemate and I are moving flats! Another awesome medical PhD student is letting us stay in his apartment for half the rent we’re currently paying and without annoyingly noisy neighbours whilst he goes on his RUBICON training in New York! And he’s been so kind to help me move my chest of drawers over already!
Foggy and ice-cold windy days filled with food
It has been so cold here but it’s definitely warming up now. We had heavy fog that made the hospital grounds look mystical and we had a whole weekend when Copenhagen was completely covered in bright white powdery snow. It was magic! Unlike the snow I’ve experienced in Manchester, which is usually sleet, we had actual snowflakes! I have photographic evidence below! It was amazing! It was like being pelted with many teeny tiny ninja stars that tickle your nostrils.
I’ve been very cultural this month
I met up with a Danish friend to visit Arken “The Ark” museum of international contemporary art in Ishøj just outside of the city centre. The building is inspired by the surroundings and built with elements that make it feel like a large ship. It’s set in the middle of bay and it’s going to be a beautiful place to explore when the sun’s back.
We went to see the Gosh! Is it alive? exhibition. It was a really amazing collection of hyperrealistic pieces and art work that makes you think about what is required to be perceived as human/alive. There’s also some permanent artwork by Damien Hurst and Ai Weiwei so it’s definitely worth a visit! Also, their café has really nice smørrebrød! The whole day was really hyggeligt!
One of my friends from my Danish class did an internship at the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) “National Gallery of Denmark” in Copenhagen and I took a couple of friends from work to see him do a presentation of his favourite pieces in Danish! Then when my friends came to visit there was an SMK Friday, which is when the museum is open for free until 10pm. There’s usually music and drinks and food! Two SMK visits in one week – I was feeling very cultural indeed!
I also took my visitors out of the city centre to Hillerød for a day trip to visit the beautiful Frederiksborg Castle, which also houses the National History Museum and stunning castle gardens. Sadly, we arrived too late and the castle was closing up (for 3pm in the winter) when we arrived after lunch. So we braved the cold winds and walked towards the snow covered gardens. It was so cold that the lake around the castle was frozen over. We tried to crack the sheet of ice with what rocks we could find but the ice was so thick the rock just bounced off! We don’t know how the ducks were still able to walk on it!
As standard, I took my visiting friends up The Round Tower to get a bird’s eye view of the city covered in snow. And of course, I made sure they were well fed! We went for traditional Danish food at Restaurant Puk, which I would highly recommend. Do book as it’s very popular and busy. I would also recommend the Plankebøf – steak cooked on a piece of oak that’s a speciality of the restaurant. We also went for fancy but affordable Nordic food at Väkst where I had the best dessert I’ve since I’ve been dining in Copenhagen. It was pear sorbet with white chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallows, mandelin sponges and this amazing hot salt caramel drink with cream! As my friend loves pizza we went to try out the 8th best pizza worldwide according to the Guardian at Bæst. They pride in their homemade organic ingredients, including cheeses made daily from milk from their own herd of jersey cows. I admire what they’re doing – their organic charcuterie I tried on my second visit tasted amazing – but I don’t think their pizzas taste better than the Manchester joints (Double Zero, Honest Crust; and places I haven’t tried: Rudy’s and Ply) that make the same style of Napoli sourdough pizza. So those of you back home reading this, you’re not really missing out! Also, Bæst has this weird thing about pressuring people to order pizzas in twos. So when I went with my two friends, they were a bit reluctant to let us order three pizzas. They need to get a bigger oven, that’s what I say!
More food adventures
Many restaurants in Denmark participate in Dining Week each year during the winter holiday (week 7). Participating restaurants draw up a set menu of at least three courses and they’re all priced at 215 DKK. You book a time slot and pay online, then you just turn up, order some wine and enjoy their food. According to my foodie boss, they aim to impress patrons in this week to get them to return so it’s totally worth trying some out. I didn’t think that I could possibly afford to eat out for the 9 days so I settled for two!
My work BFF and I took our South African RUBICO exchange student to Belis Kitchen where we tried lobster salad, duck and grilled pears. We were really impressed by their food and I might go back. I say might because there are so many nice restaurants that it really has to be quite special to make me return. For my second Dining Week experience my Yelp friend chose Bonjour Vietnam for some Vietnamese cuisine, which was colourful and fresh. However, because of the lack of atmosphere and because their toilets left a lot to be desired I will not be returning here.
On a couple of dark winter nights I braved dining alone to fulfil my craving for pho at my favourite place Pho Hanoi and for Korean bibimbap at Restaurant Miga. The bibimbap was a bit steep at 160 DKK, (which made me miss Seoul Kimchi in Manchester, located on the road behind my old lab, which has the equivalent dish for half the price at £8.50), but it did the trick and was very authentic. I also tried their agedashi tofu, one of my favourite Japanese dishes, which also impressed me so I will definitely be going back for a special treat!
When my boyfriend came to visit this month, I took him to Fedte Greven which I was introduced to last year by one of the Yelp events I attended in Copenhagen. Their food was so good and their service and restaurant was really lovely that I couldn’t wait to go back. Luckily the boyfriend’s visit gave me the perfect excuse! As expected, the food was amazing – they do their seafood and their meat very well and I would recommend it!
Other social events
I met for book club and we discussed Bill Bryson‘s A Walk in the Woods, which was easy reading with some really funny bits. As it’s non fiction, I was sometimes a bit bored by all the facts about Appalachian Trail but I did get inspired to go out and have an adventure! Our next book, which I’ve cheated by listening to it on Audible, is John Irving‘s Avenue of Mysteries. It was intriguing and had a couple of good characters but it was quite repetitive with too many drowsy sex scenes that didn’t seem to add much to the story. The other book club members might enlighten me in our meeting next week! Next on my Audible list is the winner of last year’s Man Booker Prize, Paul Beatty‘s The Sellout. I’ll let you know what it’s like when I’m done!
Other things that I’ve been doing is skipping Danish class because we had a terrible substitute teacher whilst our regular teacher went on holiday. Met up with my Danish class friends for a housewarming party, practising our Danish in a German bar (I’ve also been practising my Danish emails at work too!), dinner at each other’s places and doing some pottery!
I know it sounds very hectic but don’t worry, mostly it’s been raining so I have had many lazy evenings chilling and watching Netflix with my housemate, eating pizza, burgers and pancakes!
Being able to listen to podcasts whilst commuting is the best thing about not cycling. Guys, if you like true crime or serial podcasts, you need to listen to my two current favourites: Up and Vanished and Missing Richard Simmons. I recommend the first one because after 12 episodes, there’s now been arrests and it’s pretty exciting now as it seems this case may have a conclusion and we are getting some realtime reporting! The second one is really well done and the mystery is fascinating. Go listen and enjoy!