This weekend we went on our first trip back to the UK since arriving in Copenhagen 3 months ago. We had a wonderful time but I couldn't help feeling a bit 'displaced'. We spent four days in Edinburgh celebrating my brother's wedding and if seeing your youngest sibling getting married isn't enough to make things feel a little surreal then being in a country that was at once familiar and yet foreign sealed it.
When preparing for the trip, I was so excited to be seeing my parents and family again and to be going shopping in my favourite shops (oh, how I have missed the Gap) that I overlooked how it would feel to be 'abroad in the UK'. From the moment we landed at Edinburgh airport, things started to feel different.
For a start, everyone spoke English (or at least a version of it!!). For the last 3 months, I have been wandering around Copenhagen in a language vacuum. I have no comprehension of what is being said around me and tune out. Sometimes I might pick up on intonation or volume of speech but I have enjoyed being immune to the detail of other people's conversations, especially those on the mobile phone of the person next to me on the bus or train.
Back in Blighty I found it (quite frankly!) intrusive to be amongst English-speakers again so that walking through the streets of a busy city, my thoughts were interrupted by snippets of stranger's conversations.
It was like seeing an old friend again when I stumbled across a Prêt-à-Manger and decided to take a pit stop for a cappuccino and an almond croissant. That was a regular part of my morning routine when I worked in London and I relished every minute of it. As I sat in the window watching Edinburgh open up for the day, I still had a niggling feeling that something fundamental in the landscape was amiss.
And then it dawned on me - there were no cycle lanes and hardly a bicycle in sight. In 3 short months, I have become accustomed to the whirring and clanking of the Copenhagen bike culture. The cyclists of my newly adopted city are the third dimension of its traffic scene that give it a very unique vibe. Its not just the fact that people are on their bikes, its their sheer number, their stylish bikes and cycling attire and the mutual respect between the different road users. I have to admit though that the topography of Edinburgh does not necessarily lend itself to two wheeled ambling.
On any view, Edinburgh is a beautiful city and the hilly walks up the cobbled streets led to spectacular views up to the castle and back to the surrounding lowlands.
By the end of the trip, when I had celebrated with my family and had my fill of shopping, I was looking forward to coming 'home'. Obviously, it was hard to say good bye to loved ones and I had the slightly unnerving feeling that we weren't going 'home' but rather we were going away again. In any event, I needn't have worried, a very sunny and clear Copenhagen evening welcomed us and, give or take a few pangs of homesickness, we're back on our bikes.
But what does all this have to do with pictures of a tea cup, saucer and side plate? Well, these beautiful and delicate pieces of antique china were the 'favours' given to the lady guests at this weekend's wedding. My new sister-in-law sourced probably close to fifty of these unique sets and placed the bundles of sugared almonds in the tea cups. Apparently she collaborated with my mother to choose this set for me and I think it is one of the most original and beautiful personal touches I have seen at a wedding. It was inspired and I hope these photos do it some justice...