Travelling through Scandinavia Part Two

We’re back home now after spending the past week and a half on holiday. The first week was spent in Norway. We travelled to Sweden next, staying at MJ’s, a hotel in Malmo.

The hotel was super quirky and covered in flamingos. It kind of reminded me of Hollister, dark lighting and perfumed air. We only spent one night here, we had a long day travelling from Oslo where we stayed overnight in Citybox again.

We had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant (Sweden wasn’t as expensive as Norway) which was delicious, but take into consideration that a main is small and the waiter recommended ordering two. I had Brussel Sprouts and Barry had Fennel and Saffron.

We went for a little wander around Malmo and grabbed some cocktails. It was pretty cold and late, plus we had to leave early in the morning so we didn’t explore too far. We did find this random giant lamp in the square:

Lilla Torg Square

It was part of Malmo’s Christmas lighting. Christmas decorations seemed to be up throughout January in most places.

The next day was long and we ended up sitting in the wrong carriage of our train and went backwards. However, whilst waiting for the next train we found a nice cafe and shop, the Stationen. We passed through Copenhagen and ended our trip in Billund, Denmark where we stayed at the Legoland Hotel and visited the LEGO House.

LEGO House

Skulpturpark, Billund

It’s our last day in Denmark before flying back to Stansted tonight. We decided to head back to the LEGO House in Billund but unfortunately it was closed today. However, we stumbled across a little nature walk where we found some interesting sculptures.

Without realising, we had been walking through Skulpturpark, an outdoor sculpture museum. We would have missed this but I spotted the park on our walk into town.

I took some photos to share with you. There are meant to be 19 sculptures altogether, here are some of them:

‘Hello Golem: Oto’, Sawako Ando
‘Hello Golum: Togen’, Sawako Ando
‘Standing figure’, Keid Moseholm Jorgensen
‘3-Dimensional Circle’, Jeppe Hein
‘Park Bench IV 2007’, Ingvar Cronhammer

Dream Cream – Piotis Naturals

I have a lovely new product I received as a gift for Christmas. It’s from Piotis Naturals on Etsy, an eczema psoriasis and dry skin healing butter. They also have a lot of other products I haven’t explored yet but seem to be natural and aimed at people with sensitive skin.

First things first, this product smells gorgeous! If you have sensitive skin you may shy away from products with scents but this contains natural ingredients and has a lovely lavender scent.

It’s very soothing, moisturising and helps with my skin. It’s £12.99 and is recommended for use three times a day. I have been using this for a month (perhaps a little too generously) and have half of it left still.

Please find a picture of the product at the bottom of the page. I really recommend it for anyone suffering from eczema or sensitive skin.

Soft on dry skin!
Piotis Naturals Butter

Travelling through Scandinavia

We have planned ourselves a trip through beautiful Scandinavia. We have travelled around Norway so far and will be arriving in Sweden then Denmark next week.

Our first part of the trip landed us in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, the city is large with stunning architecture. We visited the Barcode Project, a new development in the Bjorvika neighbourhood which exhibits this.

Oslo Opera House

We were fortunate enough to reach this district when the sun began to set, creating a romantic and memorable view:

‘She Lies’

We stayed at Citybox on Prinsens Gate (#6) which suited us just fine. The hotel is mostly self-service and has a university-dorm/hostel feel to it but with the privacy of your own room and en-suite. It is perfect for a short stay and is within walking distance to most places in the city.

Christmas tree in Oslo

We spent two days in Oslo, the first night was my birthday and we had dinner at Bacchus Spiseri and Vinhus. The food was amazing. I didn’t take a picture unfortunately but I had the duck leg confit.

We wanted to have a couple of drinks before bed but found that most of the bars and restaurants within range were closing. We did find a bar open in the train station but discovered how expensive alcohol was here, 160 NOK (£14.82) for a pint of cider. Food is also quite expensive in Norway due to the higher living wage. Be prepared for this if you’re visiting.

The second day we explored Oslo and walked to Grunerlokka which is considered to be the Camden of Oslo. We did find some independent second-hand boutiques. We even found a shop that let us make our own badges, Kool Kidz on Markveien (#56).

Kool Kidz

We also found the Oslo Opera House and walked up to the roof to see some spectacular views.

Oslo Opera House

We travelled to Flåm the next day by taking the train to Myrdal and then the Flåm Railway. This is a popular tourist attraction and is considered to be one of the best train journeys in the world.

We arrived at the Fretheim hotel and had dinner at their restaurant. It’s the first time I tried deer, not quite reindeer as is recommenced on a trip to Norway but close enough. We spent one night here and then took the Fjord Cruise through the Nærøyfjord. This is one of the highlights of this trip, a perfect picture of Norwegian scenery.

Dinner at Fretheim
Fjord Cruise

We thought we had booked a flat through AirBnB on this side of the fjord but it turned out to be the other side. Double check locations before you go anywhere! It didn’t take us long to get back, around half an hour including a shuttle bus and taxi.

Nevertheless, we arrived and explored Aurland the next day. It’s a small picturesque town on the side of the Sognefjorden. Our flat faces the fjord so we could wake up to beautiful views.

Aurland

We explored the little town and had coffee at a local cafe and bakery. It’s been a laid-back day but we have a busier one tomorrow. We’re travel back to Oslo for the next part of our journey.

I will post the second half of our journey next Friday when we have passed through Oslo, Malmo and Billund.

What I’m Grateful for in 2018

For Christmas, Barry got me The 6-Minute Diary which is a bit like a bullet journal that lets you practice gratitude and improve your own happiness day-by-day.

Therefore, I have decided to look back on this year at the things I have been most grateful for. It has been a wonderful year overall, despite having a bad flare-up I have a lot of fond memories to look back on.

The Six-Minute Diary

For Travelling

I kick-started 2018 with a weekend trip to Berlin with my friend Charlotte. It was the first time I had visited Germany and Berlin was an eye-opener with plenty to see and learn from. We spent our weekend staying over in Alexanderplatz and visited many sites including the Berlin Wall Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate.

It was cold in early January but we wrapped up warm and kept ourselves busy travelling from site-to-site. We tried the local cuisine, such as curry wurst and sauerkraut. At the same restaurant I accidentally ordered a beer the size of my head. Of course, I finished this… I can be a good sport.

East Side Gallery

And then, 6 months later I went on holiday again with some more lovely friends. This time to Treignac in France with Kristie, Jane and their dog Wilson. It’s was a good year for travelling and I anticipate 2019 to be just as exciting.

For Starting This Blog

It’s been a couple of months since I started this blog and whilst I have not gained any followers, many likes or views it doesn’t matter. I have been able to put my thoughts into words and am grateful to have found freedom in doing this.

Of course, I hope to continue this habit into 2019 and commit to posting at least once a week. I’m also appreciative of all of the blogs I have found since signing up to WordPress, there are so many great bloggers out there who continue to inspire me.

For Those I’m Close To

I met Barry at the beginning of 2018 and he makes me happy every day. Into 2019 we are living together in a flat we found five months ago in our home city. I’m not going to go too much into this for fear of sounding gushy but it’s nice.

It’s been a very busy year for all of us with me and Barry moving in together, then my parents moved house and now my sister and her boyfriend have bought their first home. The new year has started and we have barely finished unpacking.

Despite how busy we all are I know that they are there for me and I’m not afraid to ask for help when I need it and vice versa should they need me.

For the Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes all it takes is a genuine smile from someone unexpected such as a customer or passer-by. I received a nice handwritten letter from a customer, sharing what she had found helped with her dermatitis. I didn’t expect it and it was so thoughtful. It made me happy that someone would take the time to do this for someone else.

I would never have expected this

How I Cope With Eczema at Night

The itch that is associated with eczema is incredibly hard to explain to people who do not have the skin condition. We are told ‘don’t scratch’ but it’s not that easy. For me, I don’t always notice until a couple of seconds in.

It’s persistent and exacerbates eczema. I have tried to reduce how much this happens but most importantly have stopped beating myself up if I give in every now and then.

Why does it do this to us? The National Eczema Association (answers a lot of our questions) explain this on their website:

‘This type of itch begins when free nerve fibers are stimulated by nerve endings called C fibers in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis). The nerve endings can be stimulated by different factors, including external irritants, dry skin, eczema flares, or chemical mediators in the skin…

Many eczema sufferers find that it gets worse at night possibly due to a lowered temperature and circadian rhythms. I have found a few ways to prevent (or at least reduce) scratching and so far my skin has begun healing, in addition to stopping my mini-pill and taking multivitamins and omega oils for a month now:

Apply Aqueous Cream Before Bed

It’s an obvious one but this is about forming habits. Keep all of your skin moisturised by applying it at set times of day such as when you wake up and before you go to bed. It is also very cooling on dry, itchy skin.

Wear Soft Clothing Which Covers Eczema

Materials such as cotton and silk are recommended for eczema. I find polyester is fine and feels soft too despite it not being recommended for eczema. This is because it can be too warm so don’t overheat. I wear longer sleeves and trousers to prevent myself from scratching, as there is a barrier.

Take an Antihistamine

Over the counter and used to treat allergies and can reduce itchiness and hives.

Put a Dehumidifier in Your Bedroom

Humidity should be kept below 50% and will reduce dust mites. I have put one in my bedroom and it stops condensation also.

Wash Bedding in a Suitable Washing Powder

Don’t choose an irritant for a washing powder, like I mentioned in Is Your Laundry Detergent Irritating Your Skin?

I have also found and ordered one of these, it’s an Ecoegg washing ball (fragrance free) which should save money on washing powder too.

Wear Cotton Gloves

Put cream on first and then put these gloves on, it will stop you from involuntarily scratching. Plus, it’ll help lock in moisture. Make sure they’re made of cotton and fit you comfortably. They might fall off whilst you’re sleeping but that can’t be helped.

Distract Yourself

As best as you can. Watch a film or show you’re genuinely into and make a hot chocolate. Let yourself relax because if anyone deserves to it’s you. Eczema and itchiness can lead to no or little sleep. You are probably worried about your eczema and not getting enough sleep so it can be a vicious cycle.

Even good company and conversation can take your mind off of it, so spend time with your family and friends.

My Favourite Uses for Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has had some bad (cold) press lately (read here). This article quotes a Harvard professor describing it as ‘pure poison’ but a quick Google search shows that many people think it is a superfood.

This demonstrates the importance of doing your own research and not jumping on the bandwagon too soon. However, we are not cooking with coconut oil today we are using it as a beauty product.

I have used coconut oil on my skin in the past and am currently using: Lucy Bee Extra Virgin Fair Trade Organic Raw Coconut Oil It’s primarily advertised for consumption but I haven’t tried cooking with it yet.

Most coconut oil manufacturers will list its uses, including Lucy Bee. Have a look on their website or on the packaging if you’re unsure. Most will list it’s usefulness as a beauty product.

Here are three great uses for coconut oil I have discovered:

Add it to Your Bath

This can be incredibly soothing for your skin, especially if you’re experiencing a flare-up. I add around one or two teaspoons to my bath, you can add more as long as you’re aware the bathtub will become very slippery.

I don’t use coconut oil as a sole moisturiser because it is absorbed too quickly and doesn’t quite cut it with my skin. I love using it in the bath and following this up with a heavier moisturiser or emollient.

Condition the Ends of Your Hair

I mentioned this in my previous post, Haircare for Sensitive Skin as a replacement for hair products such as leave-in conditioner. Mind you don’t use too much. Start with a small amount, especially if you don’t plan on washing it out. It’s probably more practical to run it through the ends of your hair in the shower and rinse it.

This can be a great natural alternative to hair products which can cause flare-ups. It also smells gorgeous.

As a Make Up Remover/Face Cleanser

This is my favourite use for coconut oil and I was surprised by how effective it was the first time I used it. When I wear mascara this is the absolute best thing to remove it, it’s even better than a lot of eye make-up removers I’ve used.

It’s so soft and doesn’t cause redness or dryness like some make-up removers do. Coconut oil is comedogenic, so be aware if you’re skin is sensitive to breaking out.

Why Is It Good for Eczema?

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, making up half of the fat in coconut oil. People with eczema benefit from it because coconut oil can reduce inflammation and is antibacterial, antifungal and is an antioxidant. All of as well as hydrating the skin.

Coconut oil can be found in most supermarkets, pharmacies or online. I have sourced a 125ml tub from Superdrug at an affordable price of £2.49.

The jars will come with coconut oil in a solid format but will melt quickly when applied to the body. Let me know if you use coconut oil and how you get on with it.