Copenhagen: The Pregnant Mermaid

 

If all goes to plan, two weeks today I will be having a baby here in Denmark. It’s our second child and, to put it mildly, has been a long time coming.

Photo bump mermaid

I think the Bump enjoyed it.

 

Over the past eight months, I have kept up my swimming – averaging between one and two kilometres a week. As the bump has grown, this is the one sport I have felt able to do that hasn’t put too much strain on my body.

Mermaid pic

Feeling weightless

 

 

Today, thanks to my Monday swimming group led by an inspirational woman called Sue, I became a mermaid. OK, so I’m not exactly Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid, but a Pregnant Mermaid, yes.  The weightlessness of swimming under water with a tail is just magical. Obviously I didn’t try all the moves the other mermaids were perfecting but I gave it a damn good try!

So with just 14 days to go until delivery day, I intend to keep up the swimming. And I hope I will be able to return to the water as soon as I’m allowed. I took my son swimming from just a few weeks old and I hope I can do the same again.

charlie swim 2

Charlie the Waterbaby!

** With thanks to Sarah-Jane Elsey and Elisabeth Godin for the photos and video taken today.**

My 2km swim around ‘Borgen’

swim start

The start of my heat in the Christiansborg Rundt 2014

There are some things that make Copenhagen a truly great city in which to live. One of them is being surrounded by water and being able to swim in it.  Once a year that includes a two kilometre race along the canals of Copenhagen.  What makes this particularly special though is that it involves swimming around the Danish Parliament, Christiansborg which is known to many as ‘Borgen’.  There aren’t many capital cities in the world where you can swim around the seat of power!

group

My swimming group, just before the race started

biggroup

Swimmers in my heat, mostly from Kildeskovshallen

line

Lined up and ready to go!

Yesterday I joined around 3,000 others who were also taking part in The Christiansborg Rundt.  In my heat of 25, were members of the swimming group that I joined a year ago.  We’ve managed a few sea swims this summer, but haven’t had a chance to swim in Copenhagen’s canals.  It was very different swimming around tight corners, under very long, dark bridges and among the thousands of jellyfish – yuck!

me medal

Straight after my swim – medal in hand!

canal

The view from a bridge in Copenhagen

But what an experience.  Some in the group are super fast and managed it in around 30 minutes.  I swam it in 44 minutes and was really pleased.  And if I get the chance to do it again, I will.

A Year in Copenhagen

nyhavn2nyhavn1

I can’t really believe it’s been twelve months since we left London for Copenhagen. But in June last year we started our new Danish life. On the whole it’s been a fantastic adventure and I personally feel it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made as a family. That’s not to say things have all been perfect – they certainly haven’t. But here are some of the highlights:

Family living

n and c 2photo 2-4
Monocle magazine has yet again voted Copenhagen as the world’s most liveable city in 2014. You can read a previous blog here about why life in Denmark is not perfect, but on the whole it is a very easy city. The working hours are generally shorter than in the UK. That means we can actually see Charlie in the evenings, which wasn’t the case in London. The child care system doesn’t break us financially, which is the way it was going in the UK. Sadly for us the Danish education system didn’t work out (see my previous blog here). But Copenhagen City Council still pays for half of Charlie’s international pre-school fees which is pretty generous (one of the reasons why tax is so high here). Transport is also good, including cycling (see later). And living less than a 10 minute walk from the beach is just great.

Making new friends

pippa
I miss my family and friends but I have met some wonderful people here in Copenhagen from all over the world. Some of them have befriended me through my swimming class, some through Charlie’s kindergartens and others via friends.

photo

Inga and her granddaughter Emma with Charlie and me

We’ve also been lucky enough to meet a distant relative, Inga Peetz, who has been so kind to us – even offering us her home to live in when we first arrived. I’ve also been pretty pro-active at befriending people in the various playgrounds dotted around this city. When you move abroad you have to be brave and talk to people – I’m quite good at talking!

Learning how to ride a bike again

bikes
Copenhagen is a cycling city and I can’t tell you how great it is being able to bike safely – whether it’s taking Charlie to pre-school or cycling to work or swimming lessons. I blogged last August about learning to ride a bike again which you can read here. You’ll be pleased to hear I’ve got a little faster.

Triathlon training
bike

Which leads me on to exercise. What’s happened to me? I’ve never been one for being particularly active, but not only have I started cycling, I’ve also found myself running.

tri

With our medals – Charlie photo bombing the photo!

And having rekindled my love of swimming, this month I completed my first mini-triathlon (read all about it here!) My next aim is to take part in a 2 km swim around Copenhagen, along with my ex-pat swimming group, starting from ‘Borgen’, the Danish Parliament.

Learning to freelance

me euro

Reporting from Eurovision for Al Jazeera English

saxo

Working at Saxo TV with former ITN employees Angus Walker and Owen Thomas

Until I moved here, I’d worked for ITV News for fourteen years. Some of that was in regional news and the final few years were for national ITN, based in the House of Commons in Westminster. It was obviously a big deal walking away from a prestigious job. But since August I have been a freelance reporter for Al Jazeera English TV; I’ve been reporting for the business channel Saxo TV (with some former ITN employees – small world!); written articles including one for a UK magazine on Danish politics in which I found myself interviewing PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt; interviewed the Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier; and to top it all I’ve found myself editing the newsletter for LINK, a women’s expat group based here.

TV2

Interviewing Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Learning Danish

danish

A quiet drink after passing our Danish exam

From my previous blogs, you’ll see that I’ve struggled with learning Danish. I’m no pro but I was so pleased to pass my Module One exam. And at least I can ask for bread in Danish, even if the reply is always in English.
photo
So would I recommend this adventure to anyone else?  The first few months were tough but one year on, the answer is undoubtedly yes.

Competing in my first Mini Triathlon

bike

Getting ready for the race, complete with wicker basket

When it comes to sport of any kind, Copenhagen is the place to be.  From the World Half Marathon to Iron Man, this city loves physical challenges.  And so today I found myself taking part in my first mini triathlon with a group of women I regularly swim with.

girls

My swimming group (including me) ready to compete

This morning’s tri consisted of a 300 metre swim (that’s six lengths of the local 50 metre pool), a 20 km bike ride (on my cheap bike complete with wicker basket) followed by a four km run.  Taken on their own they are perfectly doable.  But put them all together and it was a real challenge – particularly for someone like me who only started jogging six weeks ago, after a break of six years.

bikes

Bikes!

drink

A quick water break!

I completed the triathlon in just under an hour and a half (including swim/bike/run change-overs) so I was really pleased.  I’m not running a marathon anytime soon.  But to have done something that I wouldn’t have considered a few months ago has made me feel very proud – even if I hurt tomorrow.  Best of all we celebrated with champagne. Now that makes everything worth it!

medals

Just crossed the finishing line!