Meet a real life retired person

This week the OWL has spoken to Karen Marie, 75, a retired church administrator and singer who lives in Copenhagen

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Karen Marie in 2015

Home is a small apartment in the centre of the city. It’s a lovely place, peaceful and quiet with a beautiful courtyard and a lovely park on my doorstep.

I wake up Monday mornings fresh from a weekend at my boyfriend Henrik’s place just north of the city. We’ve been together for twenty-three years, but we don’t live together. The first thing I do is turn on the espresso machine, there is no sweater sound than the sound of a fresh latte brewing in the kitchen. I don’t have breakfast. I know you’re supposed to but I prefer to save the calories and then have a nice lunch instead. After coffee, I go for a walk by the lakes. I have a pedometer and, unless the weather is horrible, I try to do at least 10,000 steps every day.

Lunch is often something from Torvehallerne, a new food hall close to my flat. I am lucky to have everything nearby. Museums and concert venues are all within walking distance. This is important to me because I am fond of art and I attend as many exhibitions as possible. I’ve also been a music enthusiast my whole life. My GP is just downstairs, which is handy, and my sister lives upstairs with her husband in a large apartment. We see each other all the time. I often go sunbathing on their terrace as I try to maintain an all-year tan. It can be hard in Denmark, obviously, but since Henrik and I started spending most of January in Tenerife, I get to top-up my tan whilst avoiding the worst part of the winter. In the summers we rent a house on the west coast of Denmark. The beaches there are endless and it’s easy to find a secluded spot.

Years ago I’d often babysit my grandchildren on a Monday. They live with their parents, my son and daughter-in-law half an hour away. Now, the girls are teenagers, they prefer to come and visit me. I also have a lovely daughter who lives in London. I often visit her there, travelling all over town with my Oyster card. Other than Copenhagen, London is my favorite city.

If I’m not going to Trinitatis Church where I volunteer, I like to read in the afternoon. My favourite authors are Einar Már Gudmundsson and Jón Kalman Stefánsson. Recently, I’ve also become very fond of Julian Barnes. I’ve read ”Levels of Life” and am currently reading ”The Sense of an Ending”. It’s quite hard and I need my English/Danish dictionary by my side. (His latest, “Noise of Time”, has just been published in Danish so this time I’m going to cheat and buy the translated version).

I am also working on my memoirs. It’s been difficult, not least because I recently changed from Microsoft to Apple. I love my Mac, but I found the transition quite hard. Luckily, I can get help at my local library. They run a ‘net café’ offering computer support free or charge. I also get a lot of help from Apple. They are always very patient – I start every phone call by telling them I’m seventy-five!

On a Monday evening, Henrik tends to come over. Then I cook or we get something from one of the take-away restaurants nearby. Afterwards, we watch TV. Music documentaries or Danish and British TV shows. We recently watched the last episode of Downton Abbey. I wish it hadn’t ended. We loved it so much!

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