Sunday, 31 December 2017

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Our New Year's Eve 2018 Family Night


After a hectic time of Christmas holidays with visitations, we decided again this year to relax and just be as a family for the new year's eve. It is a day, where we reflect over 2017 as a family, give thanks for 2017, get ready (this means cleaning and tidying up the home) and plan ahead for 2018.

This year was actually our Little FECS first new year's eve celebration with us. The other years, he had been going to bed at the usual time at 8pm. Today, our Little FECS agreed to take a nap of two hours from 3-5 pm and then another three hours from 8-11 pm, in order to be allowed to stay for countdown to the new year, and we were very glad that he did. 

We ordered in sushi for new year's eve dinner at home from Letz Sushi. It was all sold out from Sticks n Sushi this year. We had our new year's eve dinner at 5pm, when our Little FECS woke up from his nap. Baby FECS joined us for dinner. She loved sushi.

During dinner at 6 pm, we listened to the Queen's speech from our iPad. It was a touching and reflective speech, where she touched on inclusivity, that each person matters and a tough year for the royal family with the prince consort's health. I felt that I have learned a lot from her speech and something that I could reflect on and take with me to the new year. 

After dinner, we put Baby FECS to bed and then our Little FECS. We cleaned up after dinner and also did a bit of spring cleaning of the utility room. Before we know, it was almost 11 pm. Daddy FECS then went to wake our Little FECS up.

We made fruit juice (melon and pineapple) and chocolate milk for the family time. We also had the tradition Danish new year cake for the family time.

We started with reading the Bible from Proverbs. Then we each took turn to pray. It was a very touching and meaningful prayer from Daddy FECS. He touched on thanksgiving for Baby FECS, who is a miracle that came into our lives, for our Little FECS who has grown, helping to take care of Baby FECS, making breakfast for her, while the two lazy parents sleep (oops, that showed how bad we were), for our Little FECS has surpassed Daddy FECS in Danish at age 8, for his father who is getting better and daily life is back to norm after treatment, for a wonderful extended family vacation in Barjols in October 2017.

Thereafter, we went through the 2018 calendar for the major events we can expect in the coming year from January to December. We are very excited about family visitation from Singapore this coming June 2018 from my mum, C and R.

Thereafter, our Little FECS read the Danish story that he wrote in December.

Thereafter, we read a book together. We selected the book, "The Sixty Minute Family" by Rob Parsons. Daddy FECS read the first chapter. We will continue this book for our Family Time in 2018.

As Daddy FECS finished chapter one, it was 10 minutes to 12 midnight. We got ready for the countdown with our iPad tuned to the clock at the town hall.

We stood on the sofa, and the clock struck 12, we jumped and shout "Gud bevare familien FECS" in Danish and "God bless the Family FECS" in English.

Then Daddy FECS and our Little FECS went out to make some fireworks. I stayed home to be with Baby FECS, who was fast asleep.


After seeing the fireworks, we continued with our family time with setting goals/new year's resolution for the new year. Daddy FECS led this session and he guided our Little FECS set his goals. We all set 2-5 goals for the year, and we will review them at the next Family Night. 

One of my goals is to learn to be a better encourager to my hubby and my children. I will learn to improve by listening to podcasts and e-books. Another of our goals is to be a better communicator i.e. how we can speak kindly to each other in the midst of a hectic daily life with young children. By God's grace, we came across a course for couples from a Danish church http://www.sorgenfrikirke.dk/event/3587011 and we have already signed up for it. We will have our in-laws come to our place and stay with the children, while we are at the course.

After setting our yearly goals, we watched a short video clip on the New Year's Eve countdown in Singapore. The fireworks was amazing. By the time we finished, it was 1.30am. We were sleepy and didn't get to browse through the photo album of our Little FECS, when he was a baby.

We had dragged our comforters down to the playroom and all three of us had a sleepover in the playroom.

This coming year, we have decided that we will have our Family Night each Saturday of the month. So the next one will be on 3 February at 8pm. We have found a way to make it work. Because Baby FECS is so small, it is rather stressful, when she joins us. We have decided to hold it at 8pm, after Baby FECS has been put to bed. And from our experience today, it would help on the day that we have Family Night that our Little FECS take a nap of 2-3 hours in the afternoon.

31 Dec 2017 (1Y7M15D & 8Y9M26D): Setting goals for 2018

31 Dec 2017 (1Y7M15D & 8Y9M26D): Setting goals for 2018

31 Dec 2017 (1Y7M15D & 8Y9M26D): Entering 2018... thinking of near family in Singapore... watching fireworks from Singapore...

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

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Pebernøder - Danish Christmas Cookies



Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:
1. 1 tsp cinnamon powder (stødt kanel)
2. 1 tsp clove powder (stødt kardemomme)
3. 1 tsp star anise powder (stødt nellike)
4. A few grate of muscat nut (et lille nip muskat) (optional)
5. 500g graham flour or just plain flour
6. 1 tsp white pepper powder

Wet Ingredients:
1. 250g butter
2. 200g sugar
3. 1 egg
4. 2 TBS cream (piskefløde) (optional)

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degree celsius.
2. Gather the dry ingredients into a bowl.
3. Beat butter, egg and sugar together until blended
4. Add the dry ingredients (cinnamon powder, clove powder, star anise powder, muscat and flour) into the mixture.
5. Knead into a dough until it more or less doesn't stick to your hands.
6. Roll into small balls
7. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until golden in the oven.
8. Let cool and store in air-tight jar.

Additional Information:
I am making the Christmas cookies for guests, so decided to use the traditional Danish recipe rather than my healthy version. Baking powder is not necessary, as it expanded the pebernødder a lot into cookies instead. Our Little FECS told me that he didn't use baking powder, when they baked them at his school as well. As we ran out of white pepper, I didn't use any white pepper. I don't think it made much of a difference.

Update 10 November 2018:
I used 100g of olive oil instead of 250g of butter. I didn't use the cream. It tasted very nice and very sweet. I should reduce the sugar next time. I baked for 12 mins.

References:
https://www.alt.dk/mad/opskrift/pebernodder-a-la-lagkagehuset
https://www.dk-kogebogen.dk/opskrifter/visopskrift.php?id=23760
https://www.arla.dk/opskrifter/krydrede-pebernodder/
https://www.alt.dk/mad/opskrift/klassiske-pebernodder
https://www.dr.dk/mad/opskrift/gammeldags-pebernodder-med-kardemomme

 Here are the main ingredients: Muscat, star anise powder, cinnamon powder, clove powder, 1 egg, 250g butter, 2 TBS cream

 Add 1 tsp star anise powder into a bowl 

   Add 1 tsp clove powder into the bowl 

     Add 1 tsp cinnamon powder into the bowl 

  Grind in some muscat nut

 I added 1 tsp brewer's yeast (optional)


  I added 2 tsp wheat germ (optional)

 Add 500g flour

 Measure 250g sugar

 Measure 250g butter

 Beat butter

Add sugar and continue beating

 Crack an egg

 Continue to beat the wet ingredients until it is all well blended...

 Add 2 tsp cream (piskefløde)

Continue to beat the wet ingredients until it is all well blended...

Like this...

 Add the dry ingredients

 And mix well
 Use hands to knead into a dough

Like this...

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What to Do with the Super Porridge that Your Baby/Toddler Couldn't Finish?


Ingredients:
1. 250g risengrød (Danish rice porridge)
2. 1 egg
3. 1 TBS flour
4. 1 tsp cooking oil (if you use non-stick pan, it is possible to avoid even using oil)

Directions:
1. Mix risengrød, egg and flour together.
2. Heat pan with oil on high and reduce to medium high (no. 7.5 on my stove).
3. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and place it on the pan.
4. Spread it into a bigger round area the size of a small bowl.
5. When the back of the pancake turns golden brown, flip it around (adjust the heat accordingly to how fast your pancake browns, as you want the inside to be cooked dry as well, and not wet like the original porridge)
6. When the other side turns golden brown, it is ready to serve :-)

Additional Information:
I got inspiration for this idea from the Danish klatkager - turning left over rice porridge risengrød into pancakes. Hey, why don't I do the same to Baby FECS' super porridge?? I wondered to myself. The super porridge I made for Baby FECS usually consists of oat, carrots, pumpkin and mashed banana as well as wheat germ and brewer's yeast. Other times, I use quinoa or millet. Sometimes she could not finish it, like this morning.

So after I made the klatkager for the rest of the family, I decided to turn Baby FECS' super baby porridge into pancakes. And it was a hit :-) She ate quite a few pieces and also for lunch. So while the rest of the family are eating, albeit the less healthy klatkager, Baby FECS was happily eating her super porridge pancakes :-)

 Add 1 egg and 1 TBS flour into the left-over baby porridge and mix well

 When the back of the pancake turns golden brown, flip it around

 When the other side turns golden brown, it is ready to serve :-)

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Klatkager - Danish Rice-Porridge Pancake Made of Risengrød


Ingredients:
1. 250g risengrød (Danish rice porridge)
2. 1 egg
3. 1 TBS flour
4. 1 tsp cooking oil (if you use non-stick pan, it is possible to avoid even using oil)

Directions:
1. Mix risengrød, egg and flour together.
2. Heat pan with oil on high and reduce to medium high (no. 7.5 on my stove).
3. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and place it on the pan.
4. Spread it into a bigger round area the size of a small bowl.
5. When the back of the pancake turns golden brown, flip it around (adjust the heat accordingly to how fast your pancake browns, as you want the inside to be cooked dry as well, and not wet like the original porridge)
6. When the other side turns golden brown, it is ready to serve :-)

Additional Information:
I love this simple recipe. I got to know about this from a relative. She told me that you just need two ingredients - 1 egg and 1 TBS flour and she is right. A check with the internet shows all kinds of recipe including sugar, butter, milk, cinnamon, etc. These are nice to have, but it is really delicious just with egg and flour added to the risengrød, since the risengrød already contains sugar and milk.

This is actually a kind of pancake made from left over risengrød (Danish rice porridge). It is actually very tasty, easy to make and a good way of using leftover risengrød, or if one is tired of eating risengrød and wanted another way to eat it.

It is called "klatkager", which means blob cake - like you drop a blob of porridge on the pan. A better name for it should be rice pancake.

I am trying this for the first time. Although Daddy FECS is a Dane, he has never tried it before, although as a young boy, he has heard that his friends had tried them. He reckoned that it was because there was never really any leftover risengrød at his home, as they were usually all finished up.

References:
http://www.louisesmadblog.dk/klatkager/
https://www.dk-kogebogen.dk/opskrifter/visopskrift.php?id=2677
https://www.meyersmad.dk/lav-mad/opskrifter/klatkager/

 250g risengrød (Danish rice porridge)

 Add 1 egg and 1 TBS flour and mix well

This is how the consistency of the mixture looks like

Place 1 TBS on the pan and spread it out to a bigger area the size of a small bowl

When the back of the pancake turns golden brown, flip it over

First I made 1 piece... then I made three of them in a pan...


 And I also tried making four of them all at one in the pan...

It all turned out really well.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

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The 3 C’s of a Great Marriage


I chanced upon this article and I am summarizing it as a way for me to digest it and apply it. Indeed, God is reminding me the importance of communication and conflict management. I can't say that I have mastered these skills to perfection... I am still a work-in-progress... it is humbling to realize that... but our God is a good and great and kind God. He comes alongside us, help us in our weaknessess, cheer us on in our journey of continuous character development...

The three critical ingredients of a great marriage:

1. C - Commitment
2. C - Communication
3. C - Conflict Management

1. Commitment

  • True love in marriage is not based on just emotional feelings. Emotional feelings come and go.
  • In marriage, you believe that love is commitment, love is a decision.
  • You decide to do the loving thing for the person you are married to because you are committed.
  • You are committed even when things aren’t working out well.
  • Commitment isn’t something that’s two weeks or two months or two years. You are committed to this person for the rest of your life.
  • You believe in that person and you make each other’s life even better.


2. Communication

  • Poor communication style that will sure end a marriage: When we begin harshly, in a rude form, in a mean way, when we communicate.
  • We start feeling negative about the other person.
  • We start accusing them of things.
  • And then we go into bad opinion about them.
  • Then we can’t fix the discussion or the problem we are dealing with, because we feel bad about the person, because the communication began in the wrong way.
  • Good communication:  Start by complimenting the person and say, “I want to discuss this.”


3. Conflict Management

  • Marriage comprised of a commitment to this person. 
  • You want to stay married to him for the rest of your life, but you know that you need to communicate. But in communication and in family, there is always conflict issues.
  • And conflict issues have been here since the beginning of time. It is very common, all families face it. The key is learning how to handle conflict in your home, even in family where there are children, we can come to the right conclusions.
  • In appropriate conflict handling: Yelling at each other, calling each other names.
  • Although these are learned behavior, everything that you have learned to do, you can unlearn.
  • You have to know this: When in conflict, there is escalating conflicts and anger, that’s a danger sign that you need to be careful and kind of slow it down. Give it some time.
  • Then you start avoiding each other, because you can’t talk or you can’t be around each other. 
  • We can take a little break from each other, because every relationship is a challenge, but when we are avoiding each other, hiding from each other, because we are afraid of conflict, that’s not the answer. Or we start disrespecting the other person, putting them down, not respecting them.
  • And what can happen in a conflict if we are not careful, we can develop negative habits where we are continuing using words that are inappropriate or yelling.
  • God doesn’t want that to happen to you. 
  • God wants you to want to be with each other.
  • We have a good God that created us to love people, especially love the person you are married to.
  • We need to honor the person we are married to. Respect who they are, and who God created them to be.
  • You can learn how to manage conflict and how to communicate in appropriate ways. You will get better at it if you trust God and let Him help you. And if you read the Bible and understand there are good ways to treat people, the people that you love and you are committed to. 
  • God will help you to learn how to communicate better.
  • God will help you to be committed to your husband.
  • That He has created a very special person you can learn how to communicate with and you can be committed to him/her for all of your life. And God will help you with conflict issues.
  • I want you to know that God’s on your side, because God created marriage. He created marriage as a gift for you. And I hope that you trust Him as you decide to be married for the rest of your life.
  • The best way to make your life work is to be connected to your Creator.

I have been prayerfully thinking about what my personal development goal(s) for next year 2018 should be... so it's no guess what two of them will be now :-) I will consciously work on my communication skills and my conflict management skills... plus one other...

What are your goals for next year?

Prayerfully commit them to God, and He will bless you, and as you look back in one year's time, and marvel at the progress you have made :-)

References:

Monday, 20 November 2017

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What to Do with Your Child's Artworks?


20/11/17 (1Y6M4D): It's getting boring and routine to do lunch boxes... I've got to find a way to keep me going by injecting some fun into it... 

I recycle J's art work into a little greeting card in Chastine's lunchbox to :-)


Sunday, 8 October 2017

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Montessori Activity: Ladling Pasta


Age: From 1.5 years old

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes

Preparation Time: 3 minutes

Objective(s): 

1. To train the child’s fine motor skills.

Materials:

1. 2 buckets, one filled with dried pasta
2. 1 ladle
3. 1 tray

Directions:

1. Demonstrate to your toddler by ladling the pasta from one bucket to another.

2. Encourage and let your child try it.

Cost: 

Ladle 5 DKK (1.15 SGD) from Søstrene
Big Bucket (20 DKK) from Netto

Additional Information:

Baby FECS (1y4m22d) shown a lot of eagerness to use the spoon during meal time. She refuses to eat, if we don't give her two bowls, so she can scoop food from one bowl to another. Out of meal time, here is a structured way for her to practice her accuracy by scooping the pasta from one bowl to another.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

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Things to Do with Kids in Denmark in December


The kids in Singapore have a month long school holidays in December. December is probably not the most ideal time to visit Denmark, as the days are much shorter. Night sky falls by 3.30 pm and the indoor museums have shorter opening hours too. The weather is too cold and not so pleasant for outdoor activities, yet not cold enough for snow to appear. Thus, very often one doesn't get to see snow at all during December in Denmark (I know this is the number one wish of Singaporeans, who live in a tropical island and don't experience the four seasons).

December is a time where the focus is on Christmas. Most Danes tend to stay home for  "hygge" (coziness) to bake Danish Christmas cookies or to make Danish Christmas crafts. Here are some activities Danes do during Christmas http://www.familyfecs.com/2014/12/danish-christmas-traditions.html

Having said that, one of my Singaporean friend's family came to visit Denmark, and they really enjoyed it. And regardless, it is always fun to travel to a different place away from Singapore. Thus, I think it is all subjective and boils down to expectations :-)

Below is a list of things one can do with kids in December in Denmark:
  • Stroll down the main pedestrian street of Copenhagen - Strøget and see the Christmas lighting
  • Visit a Danish Christmas market at Nyhavn, Tivoli Gardens or find a Christmas market near you here and here and here
  • Visit Christmas market at Grantoftegaard farm (Sunday 3 December 2017 10am - 4pm, free horse-carriage 11am - 12pm on Sundays 3, 10 & 17 December 2017)
  • Free open house farm one weekend a month (Skolelandbruget) in Farum
  • Kids' friendly Christmas activities at The Land of the Legends (Sagnlandet) (weekends 2-3, 9-10 & 16-17 December 2017 10am - 4pm) Make your own candy, make tin soldiers, sew woolen elves, etc.
  • Visit the Christmas market at Kronborg Castle (Kronborg Slot) north of Copenhagen and visit the famous Kronborg castle at the same time (weekends 10 am - 5 pm)
  • Take a ride on a old Danish vintage train (Nordsjællands Veterantog) to Rosendal Christmas market (weekends 10 am - 5 pm)
  • Visit Egeskov Christmas market (10-11 & 17-18 & 24-25 November 2017 10 am - 5 pm)
  • See the changing of guards and get an insight into the Danish royal history at the Amalienborg Palace
  • Stay a night at the harbour floating boat hotel (CPH Living Floating Hotel)
  • Visit the new Lego House in Billund
  • Enter the underwater world of the Blue Planet Aquarium (Den Blå Planet)
  • Have fun at the play facilities inside the community Center Huset KU.BE at Frederiksberg
  • Visit the indoor playland Capella at Fields
  • Visit the Children's Museum at the National Museum and its guided tour (Nationalmuseet)
  • Try out first-hand at different olden day trades and professions at The Worker's Museum (Arbejdermuseet) children's section
  • Have fun with Science through the children's eyes at the Copenhagen Science Centre (Experimentarium)
  • See the ruins - remainings of the wall from Bishop Absalon’s Castle from the 11th century under the Christianbog Palace (Christianborg Slot)
  • See the Christianborg Slot's Tower and get a spectacular view of the city
  • Visit the Frederiksborg Castle (Frederiksborg Slot)
  • Visit the Rosenborg Castle (Rosenborg Slot)
  • Visit the Marble Church (Marmorkirken)
  • Visit the Copenhagen Cathedral (Vor Frue Kirke)
  • Experience a Danish Christmas church service
  • Pick edible wild mushrooms with a Danish local guide at Hareskoven Forest
  • See a ballet performance at the Royal Danish Theatre
  • See a Christmas theatre performance (Et juleeventyr) at The Open Air Museum (Frilandsmuseet)
  • Visit the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst - SKM)
  • Drive and see the Danish country-side by car
  • Go ice-skating at an outdoor skating rink at Frederiksberg Runddel 26/11-28/2 or Toftegård Plads 27/11-28/2
  • Go ice-skating at an indoor skating rink such as the Ørestad Skating Hall (Ørestad Skøjtehal) or the Hørsholm Skating Hall (Hørsholm Skøjtehal)
  • Go ice-skating at the ski-slope Copenhagen Amager Bakke (new, only opens in autumn 2018)
  • Jump to reach the sky (oops, I mean, ceiling) at Xjump Trampolinpark (Xjump Trampolinpark)
  • Go climbing at the bouldering climbing gym at Blocs & Walls Copenhagen Climbing Center (Blocs & Walls - Københavns Klatrecenter)
  • Visit a Danish supermarket such as IRMAMenyFøtex and Netto
  • Experience a Danish library such as Biblioteket Rentemestervej (Rentemestervey Library) - interesting green boxes as part of its interior deco for kids
  • Try the Danish open-sandwich smørbrød Adamsen's Fisk Deli & Sushibar at Gilleleje Havn (smørbrød)
  • Try some finger gourmet delicacies at the trendy Copenhagen Market Place (Torvehallerne)
  • Try some Danish pastry at Lagkagehuset
  • Enjoy a high-tea at the Danish Perch's Tea Room
  • Try modern Danish cuisine
  • Take a Danish culinary course with the Vladimir's Kitchen (Tim Vladimirs Køkken) in Valby cooking course
  • Learn to bake a Nordic pizza with Gorms Pizza
  • Try the La Boca restaurant for its signature Danish beef tartar at the West Market food mall
  • Bake Danish Christmas cookies at home
Christmas activities near our home:
  • Stroll down the pedestrian street of Lyngby and see Christmas decoration and Christmas stalls selling Christmas goodies near Magasin Departmental Store
  • Christmas activities at Lyngby Nordre Mølle (3 December 2017 10am - 2pm) - You get to taste elves Christmas porridge, hear elves Christmas story and play traditional Christmas games, make Christmas decoration and learn Danish traditional dance
  • Visit Lyngby Nordre Mølle Christmas market (9-10 Dec & 17-18 December 2017 10am - 4pm) 
  • Enjoy the Christmas activities at the ope-air museum at the Open-air Museum (Frilandsmuseet)
  • Sorgenfri Church Christmas Market (Sorgenfri Kirke Julemarked) (Saturday 2 December 2017 10.20 am - 4.30 pm)

Sunday, 3 September 2017

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Grantoftegaard Farm


Grantoftegaard is a very cosy farm set in a picturesque village called Pederstrup. It is open all year around. We got to know about it and visited it today during the Organic Harvest Day. During the Organic Harvest Day that takes place every year in September, the farm puts up a special program. In fact, the whole village Pederstrup is closed to traffic today for this event, and we also got to visit the adjoining Ballerup Museum.


When we arrived the farm, we saw the program of the day and the map of the farm.


Here is the program of the farm (in Danish only)


Here is the map of the farm


Here are the rabbits


Baby FECS got to see the rabbits.


You can see some goats too and jump on the hay.



Here is a cart full of organic vegetables for sale.

A pretty farm house boutique.

The farmhouse

An area outside the farm house, where you can eat your lunch box.

Sales of wooden toys and honey

Preserved animals from the nature stand

A preserved beaver

A preserved fox

Our Little FECS trying out an activity from the nature stand

The surrounding with a pond


Farm house with horses

The Ballerup Museum - Admission is free all year round. You can read more here:

Program at the Ballerup Museum

A small little funfair in the backyard of the Ballerup Museum

The carousel ride was free


Our Little FECS trying out the wooden horse

Cut vintage music box

Funfair game - 5 DKK for 5 tries

Girls dressed in traditional costume

Row of farm vehicles for kids to try


Village road sign

You get to see sheep and could also participate in a wool workshop - We didn't have time to join the workshop, as we were rushing to church




You could try to grind your own flour with the miniature grinder. You get to keep the wheat flour that you ground. It was a long queue, thus we didn't get to try. Could you see the big grinder behind?

Hay playground for jumping

Kids had fun going around in the hay cave

You see some pigs too

3 September 2017 (8Y5M28D): Free one round of horse-ride for the kids



3 September 2017 (1Y3M18D): Free one round of pony-ride for the younger children

Some chickens and hens


Free one-round of horse-carriage ride





Just behind are office building

Behind is the Grantoftegaard farm and the Pederstrup village. It was quite magical. Just outside, it is civilization, and just across this path, you enter all things quaint and picturesque, but yet a living village and a living farm.

We had a great time at the farm. It has a fantastic atmosphere, also thanks to the weather. We will definitely visit it again.

Details:
Grandtoftegaard
Address:
Pederstrupvej 69, 2750 Ballerup

Free horse-carriage ride at Grantoftegaard Farm on Tuesdays and Wednesday from 10 am - 1 pm (except lunch time 11.30am - 12pm) all year round and you don't have to reserve a space.

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