House Stompin’

As the last days of our summer holidays become shadowed by our impending return to work, we leave our house in a state of repair that we had not imagined. For the better.

A few weeks ago, Jo said without warning that she would like to begin renovation of what is to become the living room. Looking at what needed to be done, I told her to go for it.

At the same time as Jo was scraping, sanding and preparing, we decided to go to Ikea and buy a number of simple kitchen units. Our idea had originally been to find something second hand, but we soon gave in to Ikea, wishing to save time. The kitchen has been an empty shell for many years; It felt like it was time to get something done, so the family could start to spend more time there, instaed of relying on Mormor’s for cooking our meals and watching television.

Jo’s hard work in the living room has taken us a huge step nearer a completed room. My attempt at installing the kitchen units went, for the most part, well. And thanks to a carpenter friend of Jo’s brother, it looks like we may have a bathroom before Christmas.

Considering the situation just twenty days ago, our house is coming along very nicely. Providing the local workers can fulfill their end of the bargain, we could have hot water and electricity where it is most needed.

Nine Years Old

Today, Freya, is your birthday, and we are celebrating it whilst in the north of Sweden with your cousins, Jocke and mormor.

The weather has not been the best since we got up here three weeks ago, but today the sun pushed up the temperature to an almost uncomfortable (for me) level.

As usual, mormor and Mum made a selection of pies and cakes. Along with the three different types of biscuits and ice-cream, we indulged in the sugary smörgåsbord presented to us, washing it down with fizzy drinks and coffee.

The sunshine gave us the chance to play brännboll (one of your presents). Despite some similarities to cricket, there are some parts of the game I simply do not understand, though it did not lessen the enjoyment that we had.

The rest of the afternoon you spent swimming and hanging out with your cousins, whom you and Zelda seem to like very much. Your socialising has meant that some of your presents are waiting patiently for you. You did play Monopoly with me this morning, for about half an hour, and Super Mario 3D for you 3DS is yet to be opened. The present that you have used most so far today has been the one that you have (not so quietly) wished for these last few weeks: a camera.

Oh, and Jo thinks that she may have broken something in her foot whilst swimming this afternoon.

41 plus 5

This week has seen two family members celebrate their birthdays: Jo and Zelda.

Jo received a couple of presents that she wished for earlier this year. My memory, at least when it comes to presents, is mighty fine. Jo only needs to mention an interest in something one time, and it is stored in a part of my brain that actually works. I also use my phone to make notes, so armed with a double hard drive, I am force to be reckoned with.

Now Jo is the proud owner of a pizza stone and a staple gun. Unfortunately, a couple of gifts are still being delivered, but there is still a lot one can do with a pizza stone staple gun.

In the evening the family surprised Jo with one more present: a visit to the comically named Wong Kee restaurant. The food is a bit overpriced for what it is, but it is still tasty, the offspring like it, and it is near to where we live.

Today, Zelda had her birthday, starting with breakfast in bed, which consisted of five strawberries and some orange juice (Zelda’s wish). Her presents, as always, are quite difficult to think of. She requested a pony and a mobile phone, though I do not think she was disappointed to get a new scooter, kite, and swimming goggles, amongst other things.

After a small party in the park, and time spent by the water nearby, we ate pizza using Jo’s newly acquired stone. Because the girls were famished, we opted for a shop-bought pizza base. We soon realised that this was not the optimal way to start experimenting with pizza, the base being difficult to work with. The end result was very similar to the normal way we have it, but the girls did not complain.

So, congratulations to Jo and Zelda on their birthdays. I hope you both have many more, and I hope I get to see many more.

ESC in Malmö – Saturday

Saturday started off with an unexpected piece of news. As we were slowly getting ready for another day in town, Jo received a Facebook update that Hop Louie, a well known Swedish street artist, was having a vernissage in a gallery in Malmö. Today. In a gallery that was situated about 200 metres from our flat. We had our first mission of the day.

The gallery was quite small, and there were probably only about fifteen Hop Louie pieces. In another small room was an exhibition from a woman calling herself ItchySoul, whose art was both humourous and interesting. Jo and I stood there with our glasses of white wine, when Jo expressed an interest in buying one of Hop Louie’s pieces called Framåt. It did not take me long to persaude Jo that she could use some of the birthday money she had got from me to buy a pair of vegan shoes. So, within half an hour of entering the gallery, Jo was the proud owner of an original Hop Louie, which will be sent to us after June 1st, when the exhibition comes to a close.

It was an odd feeling. Jo has been into street art a couple of years, and has done her best to photograpgh as much as she can, sometimes placing herself in potential danger to get a good shot. From the start she has liked Hop Louie, and while it feels natural to support him, there is a part of me that feels uncomfortable standing in a gallery, drinking wine, and looking at a price list of, what is essentially, street art. A far cry from walking through a dark, icy, disused train tunnel in the hunt for new pieces. Still, I am glad that Jo made the decision to purchase the piece. Who knows, it may even be worth something in the future.

After our departure, we strolled up to and around Old Town, taking in the Eurovision atmosphere that was oozing from the main streets. Our next mission involved food, in the form of falafel. Since Malmö is known for its falafel, it would have been rude to have left without trying at least once. Luckily, we arrived at Meze de falafel, just before four o’clock. It did not occur to me that any restaurant would close in the middle of the afternoon, and looking at their website gives conflicting information about weekend opening times. Not that it mattered, as we ordered a falafel in Libabread each. The portion size was more than enough, and the price was a very decent thirty-five crowns per roll. The only thing that brought down the whole experience was accidently eating a small slice of lemon in the tabbuleh. Lemon rind, even in small quantities, is extremely sour, and not recommended.

After eating, we made our way back to the flat, to prepare for the main event. We chose to go to Folkets Park a few hours before the start of the final, in order to get a decent place. On our arrival, we saw that many others had had the same idea, though we found a spot just on the wrong side of the path that intersects the park. We did not count on the park, and the path, being packed full of people arriving later than we did. Some people even sat on the path, making it more and more difficult for the public to traverse the path, and resulting in our view of the screen being obscured.

For a while I became increasingly irritated at the general impoliteness of people vying for their own personal space in the park. It goes against the sense of Brittishness I have, especially when I saw people complaining who themselves had commited a social faux pas in my eyes. By the time the final had started, I was in a better mood, even though we had to stand to see anything. The evening ended pleasantly, the result expected: Denmark won. We had other countries as our favourites, but a Scandinavian victory means that we could possibly do a similar journey next year. Something we have vowed we will do.

Kladdvent 2012

Jo has been interested in street art for a year or so, collecting pictorial memories from around Stockholm before it disappears, thanks to the current political view of noll tolerance. The month of December has given her a special reason to wander around the city, though, as a group of street artists use Stockholm as an advent calendar.

The idea is that every day at around lunchtime, GPS coordinates are released, revealing the destination of a newly designed piece of artwork. Anyone who sends in a picture to the group’s website has a chance to win a special prize at the end of the Chrimbo period. The more pictures sent in, the greater the chance to win.

This afternoon, Jo went to mingle with the artists and other “competitors”, with the hope of earning first prize. She has been most diligent, only missing a couple of days, and on many occasions she has been first, giving both extra chances at the final prize, as well as the occasional gift left by the artist.

As I write this, Jo has just returned from the mingle with a bag of goodies: a diploma, a book about noll tolerance, and a rather nice orange and black stencil of August Strindberg. It would be fitting to end this post with a witty, relevant quote from the Swedish playwright, but I can’t find any.

Posted in Jo