My view right now (running in Copenhagen)

There’s nothing like a run in a new place to put an extra zest in the legs. Having a couple of weeks in Copenhagen, accompanying my husband on a business trip – but with three children in tow – has meant day time activities focused on keeping the young ones happy and entertained. Ever since we landed in Copenhagen (and after the jet-lag of travelling from the USA had passed) my legs have been pumped to get out on a pace of their own; independent of my beloved chick-a-dees.

When the opportunity presented itself I was out the door without a glance back. It was Saturday morning, 7am, when I hit the pathway alongside a picturesque waterway, known as Peblinge Sø (The Lakes, Copenhagen).

The Lakes, Copenhagen

My energy levels were so high with freedom and my legs fizzing to take me on an adventure to explore new sights. My view as I ran was all new to my eyes. Everything caught my attention and there’s nothing like running a route for the first time, not knowing what’s going to be around the next bend, to make a person want to keep on running!

My view was filled with large sweeping vistas as the three artificial lakes, divided into five basins, presented themselves in turn.

There were natural islands along the lakes, home to beautiful bird life.

Close to the pathway a mother swan slept, with one eye partially awake to watch over her baby cygnets. Whilst pedalo boats also took the form of the swans that grace the lakes.

The bridges that divided the individual basins were picturesque and led my eyes on down avenues of roads, that given more time (water and energy!) I would have continued to explore).

Residential areas bordering the waterways captured my attention as they came into view.

It was an absolute delight and I shall definitely be out running again before I leave beautiful Copenhagen.

Information on running in Copenhagen

Copenhagen running routes, including the Copenhagen Lakes.

Running Tours Copenhagen – Check out this company that provide various running tours of the city, from 6km to 15km.

Life and light at Søndermarken – Denmark’s first and only interactive running route consists of a system of lights on the fringe of Søndermarken, firmly resolved to pace runners to keep up their self-imposed pace, chosen at one of two start-stanchions.

__________________________________________________

Linking up with ‘The Photo Gallery‘ at Sticky Fingers blog,
where the theme this week is, ‘My view right now’.

The Great Outdoors (in the centre of Copenhagen)

We are currently in Copenhagen, Denmark. In this city of bike loving, apartment dwelling, contented people are numerous gardens and playgrounds. We are still recovering from jetlag and all the children are on different body clocks – but we have managed to get out and explore one little playground in the central city, called ‘Skydebanehaven’, which has a lovely blend of space, play equipment, trees, flowers and nature touches; including bird houses and bird feeders.

If I wasn’t juggling three children single-handedly (hubby is here on business), and we’d fully recovered from the change in time zones from California, USA, to Copenhagen, in Europe, I would have been out exploring a lot more already – but we have a total of 12 nights here, so I’m pacing myself and hanging out for more fresh air exploring come the weekend and into next week. I thought we had the body clocks sorted yesterday – but then we fell asleep between 6 and 8pm – which would have been great, only Miss 4 awoke at 2am and the other two children at 4am!

Miss 4 rides a wooden horse on an imaginary adventure

Miss 4 rides a wooden horse on an imaginary adventure

Anyway, I’m just grateful for the few moments of outdoor time we are getting, as I get terrible cabin fever if I’m cooped up indoors for long. Thankfully there are some scrumptious eateries on the street we are staying and plenty of open spaces to escape to – even for a quick half hour or so.

Miss 8 practicing her balancing.

Miss 8 practicing her balancing.

I can’t wait to get out some more – and even head out for a run once hubby is home, to explore the great outdoor pockets of Copenhagen at my own pace!

___________________________________________________

I’m linking up with ‘The Photo Gallery‘ at Sticky Fingers blog,
where there’s some lovely posts of other bloggers enjoying the great outdoors.

Arriving in Copenhagen

Copenhagen Airport greeted us Sunday evening, as the sun was setting. It was a light and airy welcome, with barely a wait to clear customs and collect our baggage – just what we needed in our still jet-lagged state; after flying from LA, USA to London, UK, the day before! Our flight from Terminal 5, London Heathrow, was smooth and pleasant. British Airways were excellent to fly with; perhaps it was because we were obviously jet-lagged (we looked that bad!) that they handled us with extra care – giving us priority to the front of the line when boarding. All three children nodded in and out of sleep on the flight, which was just over an hour and a half long.

After landing in Copenhagen a friendly taxi driver took us to Vaernedamsvej, affectionately known as ‘Little Paris’, where we had an apartment organised for our 12 night stay. It was dark when we arrived. We walked into a courtyard, set back from the street,  following the instructions the land-lady had given us to find the key and access the apartment. The apartment was on the first floor – and we were grateful to have only one flight of stairs to walk up.

We didn’t sleep much that first night and were awake at 5am checking out ‘Yelp‘ to find out which cafe opened the earliest in our neighbourhood. Thankfully, the exceptional ‘Granola‘, which we could see from our apartment, opened at 7am and we were practically waiting at the door when they opened.

After breakfast we visited a local supermarket to stock up on essentials. It was ‘rush hour’, but you wouldn’t have known it. There were hardly any cars on the roads – just plenty of bikes. The scene was calm and serene. People smiled as they biked to work, most without helmets – as the dedicated and large bike paths made their travel so safe.

A street in Copenhagen in the morning

The man of the house then bid us ‘Farvel’ (Goodbye in Danish) and headed off to the office, whilst the girls and I walked back to the apartment.

We spent the afternoon sleeping. The man of the house returned from work at 6pm and joined us. We all woke at 8pm, with our body clocks utterly screwed!!

We ventured out of the house that evening for a meal – but the children really weren’t up to much exploring. Nevertheless the fresh air helped us and we were all asleep again – by 2am!

The next morning started incredibly early – 5am for two out of three children! Feeling seriously jet-lagged we got through the day, with only Miss 4 having an afternoon nap. Miss 11 and 8 managed to last the day, falling asleep in the evening and sleeping all night…

Finally, after four nights in Europe, the jet lag is over and we are ready to properly explore Copenhagen!

24 hours in England

We touched down at London Heathrow early afternoon on Saturday. Our flight from Los Angeles went smoothly enough – after a delay boarding the plane due to a fatality on the incoming plane from New Zealand. Thankfully, we had access to the Air New Zealand lounge, which was so much more pleasant and peaceful than the alternative. It was a lovely touch of ‘home ‘ for our three New Zealand born daughters. They walked in to a greeting of ‘Kia Ora’ and a big cuddly Kiwi bird. New Zealand wine and beer was available, cheese from the homeland, carrot cake and pictures of red Pohutakawa trees bordering a pristine New Zealand beach.

We enjoyed grazing on snacks, chatting to the cabin crew, watching the World Cup football and the airplanes coming and going.

The cabin crew on the Air New Zealand flight to London Heathrow were so friendly and welcoming; a blend of nationalities from Welsh to Spanish. We settled in for the ten hour flight, with a great assortment of inflight entertainment. The children were all impeccably well behaved on the flight. They didn’t sleep much (probably three hours at tops!), but were quietly happy with the movies and games. The man of the house was delighted to enjoy a ‘Speights’, so he was ‘good as gold… mate’!

When we landed in London, early afternoon, it was morning in Santa Barbara, California. They’d been on the go for 24 hours and were extremely sleep deprived, but still held themselves together for the nearly one mile walk from the airplane to customs!

It was incredibly humid in the airport. By the time with reached the lines of people at customs we were all dripping with perspiration. After a relatively short wait, of around twenty minutes it was our turn to hand over our passports for inspection. Unfortunately our middle daughter was feeling very queasy at this point and shortly after declaring, ‘I feel like I’m going to vomit’, she spewed on the floor at the customs desk. My heart went out to her, whilst my stomach churned. It was all too much for our eldest daughter, who withdrew as far back as possible. Our youngest was sweetly comforting and sympathetic. The staff at customs were so good, offering up water, a cloth for our daughter and a bag for anything else to follow. Poor love.

Half an hour or so later, we finally emerged with our bags at arrivals to be greeted by my dear parents.

Whilst Dan headed off with our eldest daughter to pick up a hire car, I headed off with our two youngest in Grandma & Granddad’s car to their home in Hampshire. We skipped an awful traffic jam on the M25, by driving via Windsor – pointing out the castle on the way.

We spent the rest of Saturday resting. The man of the house enjoyed watching some more World Cup football, having a couple of pints in an English pub with his father-in-law and picking up a primo English curry (the Gulshan in Fleet is such a good’un!).

Our youngest daughter was the liveliest. She was so excited to be at her Grandparents house.

The next day, Sunday, started incredibly early. Miss 4 and Miss 8 awoke before 5am. By 7am Miss 4 was ready for some exercise out and about (she’d already circled the garden, said ‘Good morning’ to the wood pigeons, and eaten a pancake). I headed out to the local swimming pool with Miss 4 and Granddad  – at 7am! We had a really fun time and returned back to the house. Miss 4 was still bursting with energy. Meanwhile Miss 11 awoke and headed up to the local town centre with her Daddy and Grandparents for a full cooked English breakfast, before walking up to the local Calthorpe Park to check out the annual carnival festivities with young Miss 4 in tow.

They all returned about midday, with Miss 4 asleep in the buggy. I’d stopped at the house to keep Miss 8 company – still in recovery mode from the being sick on arrival at Heathrow.

We had a few good hours left to rest before having to head off on another journey – this time to Copenhagen in Denmark. All the girls fell fast asleep and we had to wake them up at 4pm when it was time to leave for Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5.

Terminal 5, London , Heathrow

Terminal 5, London , Heathrow

So, a flying visit to England indeed! Managed to get a quick fix of an English curry, pub and full cooked breakfast though. I managed a nearly 4 mile jog too (on the day we landed – definitely had a touch of cabin fever to expel!). It’s always a great feeling to arrive in England, the birth place of hubby and I. There’s a feeling of completeness, for me in particular, when I’m at my folks home. We bid farewell, knowing we’d be back on British shores again in a fortnight, after a two week business trip for the man of the house in Copenhagen. Phew! Busy times, but precious too.

Our free wheeling 11 year old!

Our oldest daughter has just turned 11 and she celebrated in sunny California (her first ‘summer’ Birthday – as she was born in the middle of New Zealand’s winter – on a particularly wild day in Wellington!). She has grown tall enough to have her first proper bike, with gears and all that jazz, for cruising around. She very much wanted a retro style bike, with a large saddle, mud guards and room for a basket. She’s not keen on mountain biking, but definitely needed some gears for when we get back home to hilly Wellington, New Zealand.

On the morning of her Birthday she slept in – way past midday – finally waking at nearly 2pm in the afternoon (she’d spent the night before on Skype with her New Zealand pals), giving her Daddy plenty of time to go and pick up her new bike. She woke to her sisters greeting her in bed. They had been so excited to see her open her presents and waited very patiently all morning. The afternoon was a wonderfully relaxed one, with the girls all cruising on their bikes down the lane by the house. We ate a very late brunch and celebrated in the evening with a wee cake. Miss 11 was quite overwhelmed (in a good way) at her bike.

Birthday wheels for Miss 11

I was reminded of my own first ‘big bike’, a white racer that I rode throughout my teenage years all around the country lanes of north Hampshire, in England, where I grew up. I have so many fond memories of Sunday bike rides with my Dad and sister (usually with a pub stop for lunch, a coke-a-cola in a glass bottle with a straw and a packet of salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps!). It was wonderful to have those wheels and the freedom to visit friends. I kept my bike well into my University years and spent my first holiday with Dan, my now hubby, cruising around the Isle of Wight on my bike. We spent a week cycling up and down the hills of the beautiful island off the south coast of England, a short ferry ride from Southampton, and camping in a wee tent.

I could see in my daughter’s eyes the significance of this new set of wheels, how she envisioned herself biking around the bays of Wellington and along the waterfront (on those stunning sunshine days – probably not in a howling southerly!). It’s the perfect bike for her.

A few days after her Birthday she ventured out a little further on her bike, enjoying an evening ride with her Daddy around the streets of Montecito in Santa Barbara. The first of many rides!

She also celebrated her Birthday with a visit to a super duper cinema at ‘Muvico Thousand Oaks‘, where she watched Transformers 4 (she loves all things science fiction) in 3D and sat on a ‘D-BOX‘ seat! Her eight year old sister and Daddy joined her. They thought it was amazing and the ‘D-BOX’ seats were a huge hit! 

She’s done so well this past year, having to leave the school she loved in Wellington, New Zealand, to live in California, USA, for a while. She was so brave in making the move. She has missed her friends and school very much, but coped brilliantly. The ‘icing on the cake’ of her Birthday celebrations was the news that we will be flying back to her home in Wellington, New Zealand, in early October this year – just in time for ‘Term 4’ at the school she loves and to be a part of her dance school’s end of year show. She’ll then have the long summer break before starting Year 8 in 2015. She’s so thrilled and the sparkle in her eyes and smile has totally returned.

Parenting Moments to Love – whilst we lay low between travel adventures!

We’ve been very much home bodies after our exciting week away in San Francisco, with side trips to Santa Cruz and Monterey. It’s been nearly three weeks since we got back and we’ve been very self contained in the house we’re renting in Santa Barbara, till the end of August this year. The three girls are so content with their own projects that we rarely feel the need to get away from house and having a swimming pool in the backyard gives a wonderful release when indoors gets too much! I also think there’s an unconscious need to pace ourselves – as we tend to go ‘all out’ on exploring mode when we’re away; and we’ve recently had the news that we’ll be travelling to Europe in a week’s time!

Yes, we’re off to Copenhagen, in beautiful Denmark, for the first two weeks of July, followed by a week in North Wales, in the UK, visiting family and a week in Hampshire, south of London, in the UK, visiting more family. The first two weeks hubby will be working and I’ll be navigating the streets of Copenhagen with my three daughters (once we’ve got over the jet-lag!). Thankfully daylight hours extend to nearly midnight – so I’ll probably encourage the girls to lay low in the morning and party hard in the evening, once their Daddy has finished work!

All this travel is definitely exciting, but kind of exhausting with children too! So, when we’re not travelling, this is how we pass the time – and it’s pretty special too…

In between the crafting, imaginary play, rabbit chasing and Minecraft Skype sessions with friends, late into the night, there have been copious games in the swimming pool,  song writing, singing, reading and quieter moments to watch the birds nesting in the eaves of the house we’re staying. I’m going to miss this year of natural learning, without having to rush out the door to be somewhere at a particular time. It’s been wonderful to have all three girls at home, interacting, living, playing and being together.

I’ve enjoyed stretching out on the yoga mat, under the endless blue sky of southern California, and heading out the door for runs in the evening. The girls inspire me with their energy, often encouraging me to dive into the swimming pool with them, to try a new stretch or go for a run on the local running track. In the past few weeks they’ve been down the batting cage and to the climbing wall. There’s always something happening, but it’s all unscheduled, natural flowing action.

In preparation for our next trip away I have loaded up a Danish App on our gadgets, so we can use our manners in the native language whilst in Copenhagen! The girls are looking forward to the adventure and have been watching YouTube videos about Copenhagen and experimenting with the language. We’re staying in a lovely apartment, in central Copenhagen, near an area known as ‘Little Paris’ (good coffee and Danish pastries!).

Our travelling will soon take us back to New Zealand too, as after this trip we shall have a couple more months in California, USA, before heading back to our home in Wellington, New Zealand! It’s the birth place and home of our children. Our children, particularly our eldest daughter, very much miss their friends and their home. It will be good, in many ways, to get back to the community and good friends we know and love – but a part of me will miss the travelling! Thankfully, with my daughters getting older, I feel a few more independent trips of exploration on the horizon.

__________________________________

Joining in with the lovely…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Top Dad | Father’s Day 2014

He’s Dad to three daughters. He gives his all to connect with them individually. They each have very different personalities, that take a lot of skill and energy to work with! They demand his energy, time, humour and patience – and, most of the time (!), he wouldn’t have it any other way. He gets home from work and leaves his work-hat at the door. He’s so good at putting on his ‘Dad hat’ with a genuine heart and mind. If he does have to catch up on work he tries to wait till later at night… though his daughters can quite easily, between them, burn the candle at both ends! He needs his coffee and was very deserving of breakfast in bed on Father’s Day, 15 June, this year!

Happy Father's Day!

Miss 10 (nearly 11), his oldest daughter, is a fan of all things science-fiction and Minecraft. She’s not into sport much, but loves to dance and sing. She shares a love of music with her Daddy. She isn’t one for hugs and kisses. She’s hard to comfort when upset. The best tonic is laughter and a light-hearted distractive approach – which her Dad is the best at. She doesn’t seek out attention, but will withdraw to her room and independently entertain herself for hours and hours. Her two younger sisters are much more verbally and physically demanding of their Dad’s attention – so Dad has to make sure he schedules special one on one time with his oldest daughter. He’s so good at this. He’ll take her out to watch the latest movie or play a board game with her. Sometimes they fire up the Play Station and play ‘Sing Star’ together.

Happy Father's Day

Miss 8 and a half, the middle daughter, is very boisterous, doesn’t have a volume switch, is extremely physical and attention seeking. She has unstoppable energy that can be exhausting and draining at times – as well as uplifting and inspiring. She is constantly testing her body to see what she can physically achieve. She’ll be in the swimming pool, seeing how far she can swim underwater, doing headstands on her surf board, egging her Dad on for a game of tag or a session down the ‘batting cage’ or at the climbing wall. When she does sit down she’ll still fidget, or stand on her head whilst watching something on the TV. She likes history, reading and writing songs. She’s a deep thinker and often anxious about the world’s problems and how they affect us as a family, and her as an individual, this can cause some in-depth, impromptu, late night, conversations!

Miss 4 years and 4 months adores hugs and is very loveable. She is definitely a sensory seeker, like Miss 8. She will try all types of food, even spicy. She has a very easy going personality with an imaginative and creative mind. She loves to cuddle up with her Daddy and chitter, chatter away to him about what she’s been up to. She also loves to splash about with him in the swimming pool and be carried high on his shoulders. She’s still small enough for her Daddy to throw her in the air and give her ‘Daddy rides’. She giggles and laughs with a big heart and smile.

Miss 4

And then, there’s his wife! What a man to handle three unique daughters and still find some time to be attentive to his wife.

He’s a very caring, attentive and generous man and his daughters adore him (as do I) x

The Photo Gallery | The Longest Day

It’s normally at this time of year, in New Zealand, that I’m rugged up with a Pinot Noir, glaring at a flickering candle and wishing I was somewhere warmer. There’s a certain romanticism of tucking up and hunkering down for winter – but it wears off pretty quickly (unless of course there’s a ton of fresh powder snow on a mountain nearby!).

This year, I am in the northern hemisphere, seeing in the longest day, and feeling very appreciative of the sunshine, warmth and long daylight hours. I looked at my Facebook feed of updates from family and friends in the northern hemisphere with shared appreciation and not a shred of envy. Meanwhile, I looked at my southern hemisphere pals in New Zealand with admiration – as some were running marathons and half-marathons, others throwing themselves in the water at Lyall Bay for a mid-winter swim and some hitting the snowy slopes.

I suppose I could have thrown myself in the Pacific ocean for a swim, but went for a run instead. I finished up with a beautiful walk along the beach, at high-tide, getting splashed by the break waves hitting the rocks as I carefully made my way from Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach.

Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach at high tide

I wasn’t alone on my walk. This beautiful pair of white heron were never more than ten yards from me. They kept a wary eye on me, not entirely pleased to be sharing their spot with a bumbling, bare-footed, human. I did try to channel my inner mountain goat spirit whilst scrambling over the rocks, but really didn’t look very graceful – although I managed to complete my walk without a twisted ankle, so that’s a result.

White Heron

I feel very fortunate to be here at the moment, knowing that when the daylight hours start to decrease toward winter, I shall be back in Wellington, New Zealand, just as summer approaches. I shall take the memories of this year in southern California with me, where the sky has almost always been blue and outdoor celebrations have rarely needed a ‘Plan B’. There were two summer-solstice weddings set up on the beach, with typical Californian confidence of the weather being good.

I love the light. I can cope with cold, wind and rain, but natural light is like water to my body and soul. It’s been great to have such a good dose of it this year! Definitely good for my health. 

___________________________________

Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers, with this week’s theme of ‘The Longest Day‘.

The Photo Gallery | Breathe

Saving a little lady bird

1.

She stops her splashing,
to stare at the life she’s saved from the water.
There on her fingers, the lady bird clings,
resting for a while, before taking flight.
Then she exhales, aware of her breathing,
and the miracle of life.

Silent breathe

2.

‘Look! There’s a rabbit!’ she wants to shout,
but muffles her voice with her hand –
so as not to scare the rabbit.

She turns to her parents, backlit by the sun,
to make sure they are watching.

They walk slower,
aware of the noise each step makes,
conscious of their breath,
every inhale and exhale.

In that moment they feel connected –
to all of life itself.

Sleep

3.

Thankful, for
the gentle rise and fall of her chest,
the sound of her breath,
the life force that flows through her,
that was once shared within me.

_________

Three children I’ve been blessed with,
carried into this world,
watched over whilst they slept through illness –
and rejoiced in the sound of their breath.

running on the beach

4.

Most of the day I just breathe,
without awareness, or appreciation.
Then I have a moment to myself, a gift,
to run on the beach,
or stretch out with a few sun salutations,
and am flooded with awareness –
and it’s an all encompassing,
mind, body and soul feeling,
of being truly alive.

© Sarah Lee, June 2014

____________________________________

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

A beautiful weekend in Monterey

We drove into Monterey on Friday evening, after a stunning drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco.

Beautiful Bay on the Pacific Coast Highway enroute to Monterey from San Francisco

If time had permitted we would have stopped a while to enjoy the many picturesque, sandy bays. Some of the bays were carved deeply into high cliffs, with difficult access making them even more appealing to explore. The quiet, remoteness of some of the bays reminded us very much of New Zealand.

We stopped at one bay, which curved along the edge of the highway, to watch some incredible kite surfers catching the prevailing wind.

Kite surfer catching some air!

I often carry a small kite or two in my holiday suitcase (along with a ball, pens, paper and a couple of electronic gadgets!) and this was a perfect place for a quick fly.

Miss 4 didn’t need to run with her kite to catch the wind at this spot; on the contrary she had to cling on tight or lose her kite! I’m just glad the kite wasn’t any larger – as I’m sure she would have flown with it!

Miss 4 holding on tight to her kite

After a quick breather (literally!) we climbed back in the car, along with a burned log that Miss 4 insisted on carting along with us. She was hoping to make a driftwood house, like some we’d spotted earlier on our drive, but nature hadn’t delivered any to this particular beach.

When we arrived at Monterey we were all pretty tired and ready to relax. The beautiful Intercontinental Hotel, which hubbie had booked us into for two nights, was a perfect place to chill – and we had a room with a view.

We didn’t have much on our agenda for our brief visit to Monterey. We had all day Saturday, before driving back to Santa Barbara on the Sunday; though there was one place which was an absolute ‘must do’ and that was the incredible Monterey Aquarium.

It’s not like any other aquarium we’ve visited. The sheer magnitude of the tanks has to be seen to believed. There is a whole kelp forest, which can be viewed on a number of levels, along with an ‘Open Sea’ tank, where you feel like you’re right there, in the midst of all the action.

It’s really like having a glimpse into another world.

As well as these spectacular large scale exhibits there’s also plenty of hands on activities for younger children to learn about the ocean environment, alongside touch pools and smaller viewing windows on particular species and different environments.

And there’s the most incredible and fun jellyfish exhibit.

A very incredible place indeed!

What’s more, the waters surrounding the aquarium are absolutely teeming with life. Hubbie went to find a bottle store, to pick up a celebratory bottle of bubbles for our 15th Wedding Anniversary, and came across a beach of seals!

He did eventually return with a bottle of bubbly (after a slight Forrest Gump style detour!), along with some food from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. opposite the hotel.

A wonderful weekend with great memories.

Now, go visit the wonderful Coombe Mill in Cornwall, England, for some beautiful outdoor fun… 🙂

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall