ESC in Malmö – Thursday

The day finally came for us to travel down to Malmö. The ladies of the family took an early morning train, and I followed in the afternoon. For the long weekend of Eurovision fever, we had the company of an old friend from our Luxembourg days, Debbie.

By the time I arrived at the flat that we had hired, the female members had made themselves at home, and unsurprisingly some alcohol had been imbibed. I was very impressed with our accommodation, which we had got from a friend of a friend of a friend for an exceptionally good price. Not only was it spacious and homely, (we later found out) it was ideally situated, being pretty much central to all our intended destinations during our stay.

I had only a short amount of time to regain myself after the long and slightly painstaking train journey. Eurovision awaited, and by seven o’clock we were outside the arena, standing in one of the long queues to get inside. And then, just to our left, a small demonstration started.

Now, I enjoy a good demonstration, but this was definitely not one. The subject matter chosen was the Israeli occupation of Palestine (of which I know next to nothing), so I had no bone of contention with the issue, though for some reason it felt that the Eurovision Song Contest was the wrong platform for a political diatribe. If there is one event that deserves a respite from political issues, it should be the glamour, glitter and gayness that is ESC. The rubbish PA system they were using did not help, and I can’t imagine the message being heard by many of the assembled croud. But by far the most agonising part of the whole thing was when they ended with a rewritten version of ABBA’s Euro classic, ‘Waterloo’, which I shall give the title ‘Israel’. I cannot remember the words, but the whole idea and performance was naïve and very silly. And just to make sure they killed of any last bit of respect and self respect, they were awful singers. Slaughtering a classic song in the band’s home country, to a potential audience of ABBA lovers is not the way to get supporters to your cause.

The actual show was exactly how it should have been. The arena floor was untraditionally standing room only, and unbeknownst to us the floor was divided into two sections. This meant that we ended up in the section further away from the main stage. Our view was somewhat limited, bringing down the experience a tad. We relied more on the TV screens to see what was going on, but the ambience of the evening contributed enough to make it a very entertaining evening.

Day one completed, and a thoroughly enjoable day had by all.

A Weekend To Forget (And Learn From?)

It has been a weekend that has left a slightly unsavoury feeling in my mouth. I had managed to contract a nasty fever already on Thursday (a national holiday), but still went to work the next day. I suppose having a 39 degree fever and expecting to have no consequences was a bit daft, though I knew there would be few children there. I also wanted to help finish of the construction and erection of a greenhouse that had been started last year.

At the end of the day I was exhausted. I was also in a Friday mood, so I had some wine when I came home. I ended up falling asleep early and waking up the next day with high fever, staying in bed until the afternoon. I eventually decided to cleave out of bed and made some food while Jo was in the middle of a massive tidy mission.

I do not know what I was thinking, but I took my ability to walk around as a sign that I could drink again. Which I did. A lot.

Sunday morning was horrible. Not because of a hangover, which I did not have, but because the effect the alcohol had on my nerves, already beaten down from being ill so many days. It felt like I was close to having a panic attack, and the short walk I took to assuage this just ended up giving me the sweats. The hypersensitivity I was experiencing was not helped from my excursion, as pangs of pain, numbness and aching back worsened my mental situation. Even after taking medicine, it took me about an hour to reach an acceptable state.

As bad as my own mental health may have been, I feel just as bad because I really did not see the family this weekend. I don’t think they minded – they were all busy doing other things – but I definitely think I missed out on an otherwise sunny couple of days.

The Time We Did Not Go To Örebro

We were supposed to join our friends, the Färdig family, in a joint mission to Örebro today. The idea was that we take a van big enough for the two families plus a load of vegan footware, so that Nina could sell some at the vegomässa that takes place there on this day. We did a similar thing last summer, going a little further afield to Oslo, which we all enjoyed immensely, even though the van we hired broke down on the way back.

Sadly, the trip was not to be. Around four hours before intended time of departure, Nina received a phone call from the preschool her son goes to. Her son had fallen foul to an ear infection and was in a lot of pain.

The news that we were cancelling the trip left us all disappointed. We had planned the weekend many months ago, which included a night at a youth hostel. Food had been made and packed, beer and wine put aside for our arrival in Ôrebro. Freya took the news worst, but tears became shrieks of joy when we arranged that Nika could come for a sleepover.

Libraries Rock

The family went to one of our local libraries today. We came away with a small pile of children’s books, which the girls began to read as soon as we arrived home. I could count the number of times I have visited a library in my adult life on one hand, and I do not really understand why. I suppose I enjoy the physical act of purchasing; being the first one to open the book and smell the newness; knowing that the experience will be stored in my own collection, probably never to be touched again. Not things one can experience with library books.

And yet I read quite a bit. With a multitude of other forms of entertainment all vying for my precious free time, I still manage to squeeze in a book here and there, and always seem to have at least one book in reserve, waiting for its turn. For our daughters, it is a different story.

Most evenings we read a book to them before they go to bed, which works out to over 150 books year. Even with buying second hand books, and borrowing from my work, we are forced to reread books quite a few times. The girls need new stories to enjoy. And that is where the library comes into the story, so to speak. I cannot fathom why we have not used this source of literature before now. I do know that we shall be making many more visits in the future.

Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No, Neither.

During the years that Jo has worked in the travel industry, she has been granted numerous special offers and discounts. These have included car hire, flight tickets, train tickets and hotel stays. And a hotel discount was exactly what we exploited last night when the family went to Arlanda for a one night mini-break in an old Boeing 747 that has been converted into a hostel.

We opted for the luxurious cockpit suite and adjoining first-class cabin. The cockpit itself was only just large enough to house a king-sized bed and small TV screen. The living quarters held eight original airplane seats lined up on either side of the cabin, with a couple of temporary beds slotted in where there was space. A reasonably large TV was placed at one end of the room, though curiously it ended up being at a 90 degree angle to the seats, making it uncomfortable to watch.

The en suite bathroom was rather difficult to navigate. The natural curvature of the outer wall likened it to an obstacle course. You had to duck to get through the door, then you were faced with either leaning to the right or backwards in order to have a wee. To take a shower with the shower head still in its fitting required pushing yourself against the inner wall to get a decent amount of water streamed onto your body.

The architecture of our living room gave me the feeling of spending an evening with a technologically advanced Bilbo Baggins. And, because of my fear of flying, it must have been the first time I have entered an airplane (sober) without feeling anxious.

It turned out not to be such a cheap holiday after all. Despite our room costing a third of the normal price, I had neglected to take into account the eight hundred crowns it cost for Arlanda Express tickets that took us there and back to Stockholm.

It seems like I have painted a negative picture of our night away from home. If the truth be told, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was a unique experience, made all the more memorable because of its quirks and the oddities that come with converting a plane into a hotel.