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Monthly Archives: February 2014

En Kväll på Operan och en dag på Museet

I’m sat in my living room listening to the rain outside. It’s the sort of rain that’s relaxing to listen to: storm levels of rain but no wind or thunder, just rain. Curled up in my dressing gown and blanket, a cup of tea in one hand, it’s somehow serene. I am, however, very grateful that I don’t have to go out in it, though.

This week’s been quite eventful really. Sunday kicked it all off with Emil’s Concert in Kungalv. The concert was a musical quiz, and each piece of music was to do with at least one question. I went with a few of Emil’s family members to it, specifically his mum , grandad, and his grandad’s ( for want of any other word) ‘lady-friend’ Britt. Emil’s Grandad and Britt don’t speak much English. I ended up speaking a bit of Swedish with them – not as impressively as my last outburst of Swedish with Emil’s parents, but still – it was at least partially understandable, because we did have a short conversation.  The quiz was more in the form of a crossword, and whilst we didn’t finish the crossword, there were at least a few questions that I got the answers to on my own. It was very enjoyable, not least because one of the pieces of music was Pomp and Circumstance, which is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Monday was Viking Lecture again, coupled with meeting up with Nina and setting the world to rights via a visit to Knapp Carlsson’s ( the button store). The lecture was alright too.

Tuesday was a visit to the Gothenburg City Museum with my Viking Class. It was fun to go around the Viking Exhibit with a few other people, even if I admit I didn’t end up paying attention to our lecturers much, and went off ahead with Hayley to look at stuff on our own a bit and to chat about Game of Thrones. We got quite irritated with the number of typos in the English versions of the texts on the walls. With some of it I could understand – the errors were clearly from direct translation from the Swedish, but some of them were literally just bad proof-reading. Generally speaking, I love  the museum there – It has a couple of really wonderful exhibits, and I particularly love the hundred year old piece of film footage of someone going around on the tram and looking at what the city looked like a hundred years ago. It’s so fun to watch!

After the museum I sat outside on the steps at Brunnsparken and read a bit. It was beautiful sunshine and I didn’t feel like going straight home. I called Emil and he met me there, with the idea of going to Eriksberg for a bit. In the end we ended up doing useful stuff instead (read: I sat in Condeco whilst he went to the Bank to organise Society stuff), but it was still lovely.

Wednesday was a bit boring. I ended up inciting Emil’s Panic Monster to get his PhD application finished. However, in the evening I rediscovered Disney’s Atlantis, which was great. I forgot how much I like that movie, and also quite how much Milo looks * exactly* like Daniel from Stargate. Seriously – it’s the same character as well!

Yesterday was quite good too. I woke up quite late but when i did get up ended up going for a walk. It was a lovely day and quite mild out, so I just kept walking. I ended up coming from Korsvagen through Avenyn, up to Vasa, through Haga and ending up at Jarntorget. The idea initially was to find Emil a present, because he’s been lovely recently, but I didn’t find anything good unfortunately. As I arrived at Jarntorget, Three Fire Engines went past, followed by a white vehicle of some type with flashing blues. Evidently something big, I thought. I got on the tram, and a fire car came past, then an Ambulance with sirens and blues. As we went down towards Linneplatsen, I saw that they had all parked up around the outside of the toy shop with the big lego sign. The staff were all looking chilly and stood outside, and several firemen in full breathing apparatus were heading into the shop. I didn’t see any fire ( or even any smoke) but seeing as it’s quite a big block and buildings here seem to be made of a considerable amount of flammable material, I suppose the large-scale reaction may have been as a precaution. I haven’t seen anything online about it, so i guess it can’t have been too bad.

In the evening we went to see La Cage Aux Folles at the Gothenburg Opera. It was AMAZING! It was the Swedish version of it, but I still understood what was happening, and parts of it moved me almost to tears. I would fully recommend seeing it to anyone who is considering it – seriously – It’s a great story, and I must say all of the dancers have the nicest legs in the world ( seriously.)

 

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We have full fat milk at the moment  because of the baking I was doing today, and I’m used to semi skimmed or skimmed milk. For some strange reason full fat milk now tastes like UHT milk to me if I drink it in tea.

That is, it tastes genuinely awful. It’s nice on it’s own, but in tea? Somehow it just tastes wrong. I suppose it’s good really but it’s very odd.

Strangely enough though, in Sweden, Full fat milk is in a red carton, semi skimmed is green and skimmed is blue. This I find really confusing as it’s the opposite way around in the UK, where red-top is skimmed, green-top is semi, and blue-top is full fat ( we also have gold top, which is Jersey milk and is even creamier). There’s also the carton thing, which i find really odd too: Swedish milk comes in cartons, whereas in the UK it comes either in glass or plastic bottles.

And as a result of this observation on my part, I now have a song stuck in my head:

 

Enjoy

Dansa och Megaloppis

Yesterday was quite a busy day. As I mentioned already, we went bowling in Gamlestaden and had semla there too. However, that wasn’t the half of it.

After we returned home we had a few minutes of peace before chaos reigned again as both Emil and I got ready to go out (although the going out was to two different places!) Emil had a ticket to go and see Mnozil Brass play in a nearby town, and was going with his band friends. Just before he left they all found out that due to a plane strike in Frankfurt the band was running three hours late, but nevertheless, they went and really enjoyed it, arriving home at around 2am.

I, on the other hand, was going out dancing. Nina had promised that they’d show me how to dance ‘Bugg‘ which is, as i gather, a bit like a swedish variation of the jitterbug, and apparently there was a dancing night at a local casino. So, I dressed up in my favourite blue (slightly rockabilly but not entirely) dress, and dolled up with make-up, before heading over to Nina and Niklas’s  flat for a bite to eat and a board game with them and one of their other friends. We played Suburbia (I think that was the name), which was pretty fun, and were randomly attacked by Nina’s amazing flying kitten ( whose favourite games seem to be chasing my red-painted fingernails and pretending to be a parrot).

Soon it was time to go and we headed into town to Casino Cosmopol, not too far from Nordstan. It is, as suggested, a casino (one of only a few in the country). We paid entry (30kr) and then headed in. The band wasn’t that good to just stand and listen to, but it was great for dancing to, and Niklas is a very good dancer and great at teaching (and was also very patient when I screwed things up!). Within a few minutes I was dizzily twirling across the dancefloor. It was brilliant fun! Nina and I took turns dancing with Niklas as Joakim didn’t feel like joining in. In between Joakim and I were people watching, which is also a lot of fun. We were there from about 10 until 1.15 – a good sign of how good it was! I felt it was brilliant value as well – 30kr for entry, including wardrobe and free water on the side. In all, that made it cheaper than the nights out I would go on in the UK.

Niklas and I spent a while nattering after we got outside which was also very nice, and I then took the tram home. As I arrived at my home stop, I got of the tram and realise what a nice evening it was. For a few minutes I considered going for a bit of a walk. At this point, it dawned on me just how much safer it feels in Sweden than the UK at night: In the UK going for a walk on my own at 1.30AM would be unthinkable anywhere I’ve previously lived. Even in Cornwall it’d be unwise. In Sweden, not only did I come home on my own on public transport at 1.30AM, but it would be quite unlikely that I would have any problems if I went for a walk at that time – even on a friday night/saturday morning! I must admit, it’s really nice and quite freeing to feel able to do that. It’s a shame things aren’t so good in the UK. In Reading I rarely would go out of the house past 9pm on my own, and when I did I’d often either have comments thrown at me or feel unsafe. It’s very strange to see the difference.

In the end I decided to go straight home as I was thirsty. I stayed up until Emil got back, and he super-excitedly told me all about the concert, which he loved, and the fact that they had done thriller.

Today we went to Svenska Massan (which is just around the corner from us) for a massive flea market. Imagine a flea market the size of MCM Expo, for my UK friends, and I kid you not, that was the size of this one. We met up with Nina and Niklas again to go to this, and whilst we were inside we saw another friend – Sara.  I bought a set of sugar tongs for 20kr, and a few bits of netting with which to make some new petticoats. It was really good and I got some great bargains.

Since I got back I’ve been baking. Emil has a concert tomorrow and they’re going to have free Fika in the break and so he volunteered my baking talents towards this. As such, my kitchen is currently full of the aroma of Lemon Drizzle cake and Blueberry muffins. Both have come out in quantities slightly larger than I expected, but tests by the chief taste-tester (read: Emil) suggest that they’ve worked well. I’m actually very tempted to cook some more, as my sister linked a recipe for 7 calorie brownies earlier and I’m itching to try making them.

Semla

Yep – it’s that time again: time for another of my posts on strange Swedish foods. Today’s food is Semla.

Semla are buns full of whipped cream which are particularly eaten in the run-up to lent. Fat Tuesday ( Shrove Tuesday) is Semla Day. Yep, that’s right – instead of Pancakes they eat Semla on Shrove Tuesday*. However, they’re pretty much available everywhere from January onwards.

(*Just a note here for my Swedish friends: In the UK Shrove Tuesday is often known as Pancake Day – because, funnily enough we eat pancakes then. The traditional accompaniment to pancakes is lemon juice and caster sugar. A note to my English friends: in Sweden Pancakes usually come with Jam and cream. Whipped cream.)

The wonderful Miss Overkill (commonly known as Hanna) sent me a link via facebook which gave me a free Semla from Cederleufs & Svenheimers Bageri out in Gamlestaden. As such, after a nice bit of bowling this afternoon at Strike, Emil and I went to claim it so I could taste my first ever Semla. As he’s allergic to almonds, we had a vanilla one.

Semla

Now, it’s vaguely common knowledge that I’m not a huge fan of whipped cream due to incidents long ago (ask if you wish – it’s an interesting tale). Unfortunately, Semla tastes mostly of slightly sweet bread and a LOT of whipped cream. It’s not really offensive, but it’s a bit too creamy for my tastes. As such, I gave Emil the remainder of my one. Without the cream they’re – well… just slightly sweet, slightly Cardamom-flavoured rolls.

In conclusion – I can understand why people love them, but I’ll stick with my Lussekatter and Kanelbullar over Semla any day.

 

Svenska i huset

I’ve been in quite a good mood the last few days, which is strange but good. I’ve also been very productive, which is infinitely better than sitting around staring into space! Having sent off the majority of my forms earlier in the week, on Friday I sent off my change of address to HMRC in the UK, to let them know that I’m here for the most part. Looking through their website, the forms for being abroad don’t apply to me as I’m here less than a year, and it also doesn’t look like i need to do any other forms, but I expect that once they process my change of address they will call me at an inappropriate time and shout at me for not doing something i should have done.

In the midst of writing this, the post arrived with my Residence permit sheet. It’s only a letter, but it basically says that I can stay as long as I fulfil the conditions of why I’m here (i.e as long as I’m at University).

Emil at Saltholmen

Emil at Saltholmen

We also have been taking a lot of walks recently. On Saturday we went up to Saltholmen for a bit of sea air. It was very windy and Emil climbed up to the top of the rocks ( I was having problems balancing even further down the rocks so I decided not to go up that high. He was almost able to lie against the wind, it was that strong. We kept being pushed all over the place, but it blew away the cobwebs. It was quite chilly in spite of being a lot warmer than it has been in months – around 6 or 7 degrees above. Nevertheless, it still felt freezing.

The first draft of my novel

I’ve been starting to read through my Nanowrimo – Yes – that book I spent the whole of November writing is starting to form a real book! It’s a bit odd reading through my words and trying to make sense of them, but I’ve already realised that it’s not all crap, there are a few stellar bits of storytelling there. There’s a lot of rubbish there too, and a lot of clanky scene shifts and broken bits that need a bit more than just polishing, but I think there’s something worth working on there.   Considering this is a book I’ve been daydreaming up for the last four or five years, it’s really good to see a first draft out on paper – yep – we printed it all out so I can have a good look at it. It’s a lot of words, although nowhere near as long as it needs to be – ideally there will be something in the region of 150,000 words… maybe a bit more. Nonetheless, it’s beginning the long journey towards being a decent piece of fiction.

 

Car chargers?

Car chargers?

Oh! Yesterday we visited Emil’s family. On our way we stopped by Jula to go and get a few things.I now own a hair dryer again – for the first time in months! It only cost 99kr (£9.99), so I’m not expecting miracles but at least I might be able to dry my hair without too much difficulty. On our way we passed a carpark with lots of funny things sticking up in it. As we got closer I realised they were electrical cables. There are two options: either they’re some sort of heater for diesel engines (which sometimes don’t start properly in winter due to the temperatures) OR they’re Electric Car charging points. In all honesty, we aren’t quite certain which. A couple of the cars seemed to be plugged in. Either way – it seemed odd to me. Answers on a comments post, if you happen to know what these points are for certain.

Anyhow, Emil’s parents were asking me how well I was doing in Gothenburg this time around. They knew that I wasn’t always so happy in the autumn and that I found it hard, and they seemed relieved to find out that I was doing better. They also were talking about thinking in Swedish, which resulted in me speaking Swedish to them.

I explained ( in swedish) that basically that I don’t speak swedish often, but at home Emil and I speak Swedish quite a bit – not all the time, but quite a lot, and that i understand quite a lot. I also told them about the fact that I’m starting a course in swedish with the university in March and that I’m not on the most basic course because i understand more than is on that one, and that I am, in fact, on the second course instead.

They were pretty stunned, which was quite amusing. To be fair, that was the most swedish I’ve spoken in one go to anyone other than Emil. Whilst it wasn’t perfect and some of my words were a bit off, they understood what i said and it sounded fluent enough that it was clear that I knew what i was doing at least a bit. Not bad for someone teaching herself from the internet!

Anyhow, it’s time to eat something and head onto campus for my Viking lecture. Yay! Vikings!