Ended up here at the end of my stag do on Saturday. I can’t say I remember much.
This afternoon I strapped Gerda into her seat on the front of my bike and we went and explored Carlsberg.
While still the corporate HQ of the company, the area is being comprehensively redeveloped – 3,000 homes are going to be built here – but it’s currently a charming hodgepodge of adventure parks, artificial beaches, playgrounds, and assorted event arenas, sprawling in the long shadows of the mostly defunct industrial buildings.
Our route there takes us through Humleby, the maze of beautiful terraced houses originally built for employees of Burmeister and Wain, and then up the main cobbled street and into the heart of the area. We poked around the Boxland Bazar – a temporary flea-market housed in shipping containers complete with beach bar – and then strolled around enjoying the sunny weather and taking pictures.
Animals aside, Copenhagen Zoo is a beautiful place to spend some time. It’s expertly landscaped and planted, especially over in the quieter side where the petting zoo is, and where the layout allows for plenty of peace and quiet in secluded corners, away from the crowds.
The zoo has been getting plenty of praise for two recent high-profile additions – the Norman Foster-designed elephant house and the Arctic Ring - but these are crowded, especially at the weekend. And besides, it’s the smaller things that the zoo does well that really make it so enjoyable – plenty of green space for picnics, handy push-carts for transporting tired children and provisions, fun ways to inform and engage kids, and a pleasing lack of stalls selling tat and junk food. Go zoo.
There’s a beautiful nothingness waiting at the core of an especially demanding crossfit workout. As soon as you become aware of it, it begins to cloud. But the few short minutes your mind stays unruffled are blissful. There’s only movement – lift, pull, squat, jump, carry or run.
The inspiration for this film came from watching a girl at the Lab finish her workout. I could see she was in that state of abstraction. There was a hypnotic rhythm to her movements, and grace too. That was what we tried to capture.
I moved to Copenhagen in January 2006 with enough money to last a few months. I had no job prospects, no contacts, and knew nothing about the city. I can’t quite remember how I heard about the bar. Maybe it was mentioned in some article in the local English-speaking newspaper, or listed in a guidebook. The description was appealing either way.
I seem to recall not being able to find it the first few times I tried. Eventually I achieved the feat. I wandered in early one weekday afternoon and found a dark and scruffy cellar bar with one other patron – both had seen better days. Crucially, the other chap was watching cricket on the TV. I stayed for a few hours, had a couple of beers, made some small talk about the cricket. I returned often. Began to recognise faces and was recognised in turn. The best bars exert a particular force. You see something in them others don’t. But that’s fine because then they’re your own. Bloomsday was my own.
A couple of the pics above I shot while filming in Bloomsday – the bar I’ve drunk in since moving here six and a half years ago and which is closing in less than a week. I’m looking forward to sharing the film with you but I’m not looking forward to life without my favourite bar.
My loveliest memory of December was the flight back to England (first shot above). We left in early morning darkness and climbed above the clouds into daylight – an interzone of cerise stillness between here and there, everywhere and nowhere.
Woke up to a light drizzle and a need to add something to the day. These are all taken in my neighbourhood – a route I take often to walk the dog. Early morning in Vesterbro is tranquil; the all-night bars are shuttered, the cafes and the corner shops take over. One gentleman takes the opportunity to wash his van.
Inspired by Ben Terrett, Iain Tait and Russell Davies, I’ve been trying to blog more. But what with Agency Future, CPH Meal, my agency blog, Bobby, a full-time job and everything else, it’s not easy. That said, I enjoy doing these monthly retrospectives. Knowing that I’m going to publish them each month makes me a more conscientous photographer, and a keener observer of my own life.
September was beautiful weather-wise, only turning cold in the last 10 days. I was in Hamburg briefly, and returned to the Lake District with some good friends. I was also lucky enough to eat some good food, with visits to L’Education & Pastis (probably my two favourite Copenhagen restaurants), Fiskebaren and Sgroi for various reasons.
Chris and I started CPH Meal last year with the goal of putting on occasional food events in the city. It’s been a lot of fun, and for two people that work in advertising, also a great learning experience. The purpose of this post is to share some personal reflections on the process of building our little brand.
Learn From Others – While almost by definition every new venture is unique, the experiences of others can serve as inspiration. I’ve watched closely as the guys at Inventory have built their brand from square one. In just a couple of years they’ve gone from being just another men’s style blog to a full-on player in the men’s fashion scene with their own magazine, online retail venture and, most recently, an actual shop.
Most impressively, they’ve not made any obvious missteps along the way. They’ve kept their visuals nice and clean, they’ve put their own personalities and vision at the core of the brand and they’ve been gracious. Put simply, they’ve been clear-sighted, dedicated and genuine.
I should also mention that Hugh MacLeod’s evolving thoughts on what he’s termed the ‘Global Microbrand‘ have also been an influence, as has Monocle magazine. Its consistent focus on small-scale enterprises undertaken with passion and verve is always a good reminder that it can be done. You just need to do it.
Define the Why – When we recently relaunched our site, the section that caused us most soul-searching was the About page. Chris and I had lots of conversations about what CPH Meal was all about. We both had our own ideas and our attempts to come up with a unified text led to a lot of over-intellectualization. But looking back, I think it was a necessary process – by defining what we weren’t, we started getting closer to what we were.
We went back to basics and set down some of the principles we shared and then Chris went away and wrote a text that nailed it. It taught us that coherency for a brand (even one as miniscule as ours) is not easy – you have to graft, you have to tweak and hone, and you have to be prepared to evolve.
Be Personable – This basically means be pleasant. It applies to most things in life and branding is no different. Chris and I are not trying to build a cult of our personalities (we’re far too straight-laced for that), but we’re trying to forge the brand in an open, honest and transparent way. What that means in practice is signing our names at the end of blog posts, linking to our own Twitter accounts on our bio page, and making sure that we host our events graciously.
Pay Attention to Detail – John Foster Dulles wrote that a man’s accomplishments in life are the cumulative effect of his attention to detail (thank you Google). This is so obvious, but so important. When you’re working with chefs of the level of Rob Martin and Ben Greeno, you know that the food is going to be something special. The job Chris and I have is to make sure that everything else is too. That means anything from making sure toilets are clean and fully stocked with paper and our menus are accurate, to checking that our punctuation is spot-on (still a work in progress).
I was hoping to make this a list of ten or five but these four seem to me to be a good start. It all comes down to doing something you believe in and doing it well.