• One of my favourite places.
  • It's a Southern California fall day like this that makes me miss my Topanga house in the mountains. You can see more photos on the blog.
  • This time last year I took my first road trip up California's 395 through the eastern Sierra mountains. I went on to Mammoth, Truckee and Yosemite.

It was epic.

The highlights for me were Bodie (Check out my highlights for "ghost town"), Mammoth (reminded me of the Canadian Rockies), and seeing the Donner Party Memorial/area.

It's a super hard state to live in, but it sure is beautiful. (PS: I made a Spotify playlist for just the drive:
  • I posted this in stories but  got so many comments I had to post it here.

I'd read an article which said how common an electric kettle is in the UK/AU but not in America. 
This was so interesting to me because my kettle is probably my most used appliance. But when I stay in homes here I can never find one.

A lot of Americans told me they use their microwave for hot water or they have a stove top.

And @astridpiepschyk explained it had to do with voltage. "Most Americans don’t own an electric kettle because the electricity voltage is too low to power a kettle effectively. In Australia, UK the voyage is 240, but in America it’s 110, and not very effective in boiling an electric kettle. It works, but takes a long time. This is why stove kettles are much more common." So what started as a post about how I love my half shelf for teacups in my 1930s cupboards turned into a great cultural and scientific conversation.

This is why I love Instagram 😀
  • Ten years ago I moved to Philadelphia to build Anthropologies first Social Media, Content and Community programs.

It was a dream come true for two reasons. One I loved the company and two I was moving in July which meant I'd have an east coast fall.

It did not disappoint.

I spent every weekend out in nature with rosy cheeks, drinking hot apple cider. All this time later, that fall is still one of my favourite s and I miss it every year.

PS: the last photo is my old garage on my one acre property in Chestnut Hill. I had an 18th century stone home which I loved. I don't think I ever really wrote about this place because i never really settled in. Something I wish I'd done but I was just so consumed with work.

Pps: I've done a fall clothes clean out and am posting things for sale at @hyggehouseshop this week
  • I like taking photos at Disneyland that don't look like Disneyland.
  • This is my aunt on my french fathers side. During WWII, she got tuberculosis and was sent to a sanatorium to recover.

To pass time, she and her other young female friends would doll up, take photos and send them plus letters to soldiers to flirt with. Some they knew, some they didn't. Like old-fashioned Bumble. 😀
She was incredibly smart, witty, and fierce. In this photo she was full of possibilities and hope.

She married soon after to an abusive alcoholic, had four sons and quickly got trapped by circumstance and the era.

She was my favourite family member even though I didn't see her that often. I have one hand written letter from her and this photo which are the few family things I have.

I loved her because she always listened to me - patiently and sincerely. She saw who I really was and was so kind about it and oddly relatable. She gave me direction without advice. She laughed often, was direct when needed and sometimes acted soft. She was the only one who ever called me sweetie (my family nickname at the time was Chuck! and my family never used soft names with each other. So sweetie felt so amazingly special). I had 5 other aunts but I called her just "Aunty" as she defined them all. It was only to her that I felt a connection, unconditional love and a sense of family.

Her situation was always pitiful and dire,  but she never acted like a victim. When I saw her on her deathbed she was so small, weak and wilted from a hard life. But somehow she had always given me courage and strength, as if to say to be the possibilities she couldn't be.

Recently I hung out with my two young adult nieces and they both just called me "Aunty." Not Aunty Alex or Alex. Just Aunty.

It made me feel so special and like we have formed the same bonds that I had with my own Aunty. And that I was now being to them what she was to me. 
But more importantly, they helped me change my idea of her - the one that she never accomplished something. 
Because she did. 
She taught me how to be a good Aunty - one of my favourite things to be. That's her legacy which I think is really beautiful.

Well, that and dressing up when you feel poorly. 😀
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There's something so magic and calming about Ojai and this place taps into it so perfectly. And they have the best massages.

My recs? Avoid weekends and holidays. It's insane and the spa isn't as relaxing because it's just so overcrowded.

For rooms, avoid the ones above Libby's Market/Pub (I think they are the original rooms). They're just louder & smaller. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I've had a suite with a patio, bedroom and fireplace down by the spa that was heaven and I've had a larger room by the main restaurant (I can't remember that buildings name) and both were amazing. This past room was in the Topa building which is their main building and it was really lovely (and had a balcony overlooking the golf course). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I've  been here with girlfriends, alone, on retreats with work and loved all the experiences. I know a lot of people who come here with kids (@couldihavethat has a recent post in IG and her blog on why it's great for families) and it's also totally dog friendly (@ScoutStCharming has been). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I  paid for my room 😀 and received zero things for free. So not am ad, just sharing what I love.
  • I found hope in Hope thanks to nature and my nieces.
  • The bridge next door and the buildings in the park across the street burned down in the Woolley Fire. But the Old Place still stands which makes me so happy. It's my favourite place in LA and I have missed hanging out here. It's nice to be back.
  • Possibilities.


Danish Life Wanderlust

Selso Slot (Castle)

May 10, 2019
Selso Slot (Castle) in Denmark on Hygge House

(Note: The photos are from various times from 2007-2017 and the camera quality varies. But they tell the story of Selso Slot and also reflect all my visits there.)

Selso Slot is a very traditional example of a Danish Castle – plain, simple, purposeful – with a history going back to 1100s although its current structure dates to the renaissance in 1576. Brick was 5 times more expensive to use than any other material in the 16th century so some brick was borrowed from other manors or estates, giving Selso a unique look. Also making it unique in Denmark was its (now non-existant) moat, which was created by water access to Selso So (Selso lake).

The inside design of Selso Slot, including all the French wallpapers, dates back to 1735 when it was rebuilt to fit the Baroque style. It was almost always lived in by the German Scheel-Plessen Barons and fully used part-time as a (family) castle until 1829. According to Wikipedia, no one lived in the castle or owned it after 1829. While it’s true that the castle itself didn’t have anyone living in it, the grounds of Selso did.

My mother’s family lived here for 40 years until the 1950’s when Magnus Carl August Wilhelm Otto Carlsen (Baron von Plessen of ​​Scheel) died. The story my family tells is that the baron was kind and fair though he visited very rarely. There was a sense of pride living and working at Selso but in those days, the idea of preservation wasn’t something people thought about and since the owners didn’t live on the property, the castle was never upgraded and left the way it was in 1829. Between 1950 and 1972 it became rundown as there was no one working the land and squatters moved into the property housing (not the castle), and thieves stole door knobs and marble from inside. It was privately bought in 1972 and 30 years later was opened into a museum.

My mother’s father and grandparents lived on the property in the gatekeepers home (the yellow house) which, up until 1829, only titled people lived in. My great-grandfather was known as “Hr. fodermester” and ran the farming operations on the estate, working directly for the Baron. My mother grew up visiting her grandparents and cousins here with memories of playing in the castle (it wasn’t locked in those days), hanging clothes to dry on the second floor and seeing the first floor as a storeroom for grain. 

My history with Selso is through my mum’s memory and family stories and my own visits before it was turned into a museum. The photos below of the inside are from 2007 when my mother and I went to visit and we met the owners who were restoring it. My mother told them her history and they let us into the castle to see it, just as she remembered it from 50 years before. It was a very special, sweet day to see it in that state. And although I’ve been back to Selso many times since (my family’s plot is at the church – see below), I haven’t been back inside since I’m generally only in Denmark in February and it’s only open during the summer.

Selso Slot (Castle) in Denmark on Hygge House
Selso Slot (Castle) in Denmark on Hygge House
The room where a wife supposedly killed her husband before throwing him out the now bricked up window.

Every castle has a ghost story and this one isn’t any different. My mum tells the story of Elisabeth von Thienen, wife to Baron Mogens Scheel von Plessenalson. In 1749, jealous of all of his affairs that he had when he was at their other home in Copenhagen, she stabbed him in his sleep in the room pictured above, threw his body out the window, into the moat, and then killed herself by jumping out the same window. She became known as The White Lady. My mother remembers as a child seeing dark stains in the floor of this room and on a few occasions seeing a woman in white in the window.

Although the story of The White Lady is pretty well-known and accepted, I haven’t been able to verify anything beyond the fact that the Baron was a womanizer and “died suddenly”. There have been conflicting reports of him dying at Selso or Copenhagen but it’s pretty well documented that Elisabeth lived until 1788. So, part of the story could be true. How else do you explain what my mum saw in the window? 😉

The 18th century french wallpaper can still be seen and is pretty remarkable that it has survived all the uninhabited, damp years years.

One of the things I love most is all the windows and their purpose. Selso was built at a specific angle with all the windows to allow for amazing cross-breezes to keep the home cool. It was why, after hundreds of years, when we walked in there was no musty or old smell. The windows kept everything fresh inside by their perfect shape and placement.

Selso Slot (Castle) in Denmark on Hygge House

Before it was opened as a museum and the last time I was inside (2007 I think), the kitchen was in its original state and hadn’t been inhabited or used since 1829. There was no electricity, heat or running water in the castle and the tools you see in the photos above were all original to Selso. The windows in the kitchen had the same thought-process as those above stairs to keep things cool and allow for breezes. It’s the oldest functioning kitchen in Denmark. I think since then they’ve opened this up as a museum it’s now used to sell coffee and baked goods though. I’d love to go back and see how it’s evolved.

Selso Kirke (Church)

Selso Kirke (Church) in Denmark on Hygge House
Selso Kirke

In 2017, my mum and I were updating our family plot records with the groundskeeper when he told us a fascinating story about the Church’s age. It wasn’t until 2015 that the original date of the Church was known. When gas problems occurred they had to take up the church floor, discovering there was an original and round church floor from the 1100’s. This made it one of the oldest Churches in Denmark although no one seems to know why this location would make it so.

It’s a tiny, charming little church with beautiful views of Selso Lake and a place I love visiting. It’s so beautiful and peaceful, with birds always singing and the wind always blowing. My family’s plot (on my mother’s side) is here so when I visit, I always say a hello to them. The Church parking lot is now the parking for Selso Slot and the trail to the castle begins here.

Family Photos

Getting There

To visit you’ll definitely need a car as there is no train or bus service out there. But it’s such a pretty drive you won’t mind. Google: Selsøvej 284050 Skibby

How to get to Selso Slot in Denmark

I found a video showing the of Selso Slot (this is not my video so I’m not sure of the date):

  • Reply
    LisaNo Gravatar
    May 20, 2019 at 10:37 PM

    Thank you for this wonderful update and sharing the pictures and family history. It looks so amazingly beautiful. I check in every now and again to see if you’ve posted anything new. This time I win!

  • Reply
    Janis ZakisNo Gravatar
    October 1, 2019 at 5:04 AM

    I came across your blog whilst researching my mother’s wartime refugee experiences. I have a photo of her standing outside a building, in farm clothes, holding a bucket. On the back it says Selso 1947 Spring. Checking your family photos the building looks identical to your picture with the horse and cart. Do you know of any records of Latvian refugees working there in the late 40s. I am so excited to have come across this. Thank you for writing the blog.

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