Katharine Ball, a stay at home mum from Copenhagen leaves her job behind to follow her husband abroad.
One of the things I loved about being a barrister was dressing up to go to court. I used to travel a lot. For longer than I care to remember I would be up and out of the door before dawn, clad in a black Paddy Campbell suit, carrying a black Kate Spade handbag and trailing a wheelie case of lever arch files, a wig and a gown.
After my son was born I worked part time. Enough work to keep me busy and to earn the good money that comes with being a member of an old respectable profession but I still spent two days a week at home; going to music groups, play dates etc. I didn’t mind hanging up my black costume for those two days to give my feet a rest from the heels and my back a break from pulling the wheelie case.
My head was a whirlwind trying to manage my two personas: barrister and mummy. To avoid embarrassing confusion I made sure that I had two handbags - sometimes I would have to check my handbag to remind myself what day it was. That was all part of the challenge and I thrived on the fast pace of it all.
When I was on maternity leave with my daughter, my husband got a job offer he couldn’t refuse... in Copenhagen. Denmark. Maybe it was because I was on maternity leave and my days were ruled by nap times, feeding times and nursery pick up that I merrily nodded along to the life changes that we were plotting as a family.
I’d never been to Copenhagen before. I’d heard of it - or at least I’d heard of Hans Christian Andersen, the mermaid and, of course, Danish pastries. Caught up in the romance of it all, I packed in my life in chambers, packed up all my worldly possessions and my two children and off we went to wonderful wonderful Copenhagen.
" I packed in my life in chambers, packed up all my worldly possessions and off we went to Copenhagen."
Here I am, three months later. The Paddy Campbell suits, Kate Spade bag, my wig and gown are all in storage. I’m officially on a career break and living the life of an expat stay at home mum (aka a trailing spouse). Whereas in London my identity was layered with the professional and familial, now it is all about the two little people in the family who are braving the massive changes and looking to me to reassure them that its all going to be okay.
My uniform these days is Gap jeans and Converse trainers. We’ve swapped a garden flat in leafy NW3 for a third floor apartment in Østerbro (a family friendly neighbourhood but urban nonetheless). I don’t ride the trains, I ride a bike - one that carries two kids and the shopping.
These changes have paled compared to the excitement and thrill of living in a new city, making new friends and discovering another culture. I don’t do as much shopping or consuming as I did in my previous life (Denmark is very expensive) but I’m indulging my creativity again and using my new environment to rekindle my passion for photography. I’ve always loved baking and now I can add cinnamon rolls and locally-inspired pastries to my repertoire. I don’t need to join a gym as I cycle between 10 and 20 kilometres every day taking my son to and from nursery and get a workout carrying groceries (and baby) up endless flights of stairs. Whereas our nursery in London was a five minute walk from home, here we are only a 15 minute ride from the beach.
Oh, and it turns out that Converse trainers and the mummy world can be chic too. At around 3pm some of the most stylish women you will ever see fill the cycle lanes. This is the school run - Copenhagen style.
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Main picture credit: Rex Features