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Hej alla!

Wednesday night was the pantomime, which is one of my favourite nights of the year and always has been. We always go to the RAMPS panto, and it’s always been one of the markers that show my birthday is on the way – occasionally falling on my birthday itself. I’ll do a separate post about the panto (perhaps – i know i’ve been bad at having promised posts actually materialise).

I didn’t sleep particularly well on Wednesday night – I never do straight before travelling. I was too busy worrying about whether trains were running properly and whether I had everything I needed.

Thursday morning came around too early as usual. Mum made me some lovely sausage sandwiches and I had a large bottle of flavoured water to bring with me. The train arrived in good time and whilst the fields around Somerset and some close in to Reading are doing their best impressions of rivers, there was no problem with getting to Reading. I arrived at my friends’ flat with no problems… although alas, she wasn’t in for quite a while due to overrunnings of things, resulting in a drenched (it was raining) and cold ( it was slightly windy) and sleepy (lack of sleep) Charlie retreating to Nero for coffee and internet.

In the evening I met up with a smallish group of friends for birthday/catchup time, which was a lot of fun. Wetherspoons didn’t have the curry I wanted but it was all ok really.

Cue sleep, waking up and a mad-dash of shopping around Reading to buy some last minute medicine, make-up and ballerina shoes: Ballet pumps cost an extortionate amount in Sweden, but in the UK I got some relatively decent ones for £9.99. I also got a couple of vest tops for £2.50 each and a pair of canvas shoes for £1. I left the canvas shoes with my friends as there wasn’t really any space in my case, but I’ll collect them when i return, or I’ll ask someone to kindly bring them with when they visit 🙂

And suddenly it was time to get on the bus. The bus driver was a bit anxious as there had been an accident on the motorway and it was causing tailbacks. He drove extra- quickly to begin with to make up for it, and then we discovered that the tailbacks had cleared, so we ended up at the airport earlier than expected instead of almost two hours late! I also discovered by way of the internet that Gothenburg was due to have 20cm of snow.

Ordinary airport stuff, yatta yatta yatta, didn’t buy any alcohol as it’s gone up again and didn’t seem worth it. The gate opened 5 minutes early and there were only about 45, maybe 50 people on the plane. In fact, they let us board within 5 minutes of opening the gate, and we took off a few minutes early. It was the emptiest flight I’ve ever been on, and we arrived incredibly early at Landvetter. I actually arrived before Emil, who had come early with the intention of buying me a cup of tea and meeting me off the plane with some tea. Unfortunately my early arrival and his nosebleed put paid to that, but he did make m tea later and then cooked for me too. It also turned out that the snow was nowhere near as bad as expected – just a very light covering.

Today has been spent on shopping and printing off forms for various government agencies in the UK and trying to work out what I need to do to get my GU account set up. I can’t seem to do it from here, strangely enough. I was originally all prepared to go straight to the service centre today to get myself totally registered-up and organised, but it turns out that none of them are open until monday, so I shall have to wait.

For now, I’m enjoying reorganising my stuff, setting up my supplies ready for uni on Monday, and being sneak-hugged by Emil

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Väder i Storbrittanien

I’m still in England – 5 more days before I begin the descent into chaos that is travel.

Travelling to Sweden for me takes the best part of two days, because it’s a 5 hour journey to Reading, where I usually stop off for a meet-up with family and friends before doing the remaining section of the journey the next day ( which is a two hour plane trip, but with the added issue of 1 hour / 30 mins travel each side for buses to and from the airport and security). It’s a lot of travel, and whilst it’s physically possible to do in one day, it’s usually much better to do it n two, as not only does that allow for problems with the trains and connection issues (british trains are notoriously unreliable).

I’ve begun packing. This might seem a bit early to do that but I assure you: it isn’t! I have a HUGE amount of stuff in my room that is supposed to return with me, and nowhere near enough space for it all. Emil has suggested that perhaps I could post the tea and chocolate to myself somehow. I’m reticent to do that as post looks to be a pain in the neck, but hopefully it will be somehow possible.

Anyhow, I was once again SUPPOSED to be discussing the weather here in the UK. As you well know, we’ve had rain, storms and goodness knows what for weeks. Today it’s actually rather beautiful outside. Wonderfully dry, crisp and cold, and with a very very light breeze, just enough to enable the washing to dry properly. Hardly a cloud in the sky. When the sun shines on you ( read: when you aren’t in the shade) it’s actually almost warm. When you’re indoors however, it feels absolutely freezing. It’s genuinely really chilly.

The actual temperature? 10°c. Yep. Not even close to negatives. A full 10°c.

I can honestly state it feels about the same temperature as Sweden did at -7°c when i was out without a coat. I’m not sure how it works, but temperatures are never quite right in the UK. How very odd.

 

 

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Jul i Sverige

Mince Pie

Christmas is always very different depending on where in the world you are. In the UK we always have our brightly decorated christmas trees, our bright colourful lights and our holly everywhere.  We’re also big on Turkey, mince pies, sausage rolls, Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding, and it’s often said that the Christmas season begins when the Coca Cola advert airs on TV.

In Sweden it’s very different: here, Coca Cola doesn’t rule Christmas, but Julmust, and Gingerbread or Pepparkakor are the order of the day. A sort of mulled wine, known as Glögg, is also apparently quite popular, although I must admit I have yet to try it. It’s also almost impossible to get hold of suet to make mincemeat for the pies, and there are lots of other little things that seem very odd.

So: Where to start?

St. Lucia’s Day

This one’s pretty famous around the lobe actually. I remember reading about it when i wa a kid and thinking it odd! St Lucia’s Day is the 13th December and is where they remember a saint who got burnt alive and had her throat cut by a roman or something, but mostly it seems to consist of girls parading through town with candle crowns and white gowns, and little boys with wizards hats and candles in their hands, and that sort of thing. On St Lucia’s Day people eat saffron buns or Lussebullar, which makes me quite excited actually.

Saffron bun, photo taken in Sweden

Saffron bun, photo taken in Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why am I excited by Saffron buns? Well –  Saffron buns are something that in cornwall we eat at festivals in the summer. When we did the big parades and danced through the streets as kids, we always got given a saffron bun afterwards.  Saffron buns are also only really an important thing in two places in the whole world: Sweden and Cornwall. Pretty cool huh? However, for me, Lussebullar are a bit strange as Saffron is such a summery thing to me!

Christmas is Christmas Eve

Swedes celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. Yep, that’s right: Christmas Eve. They open their presents then and do all the Christmassy things then, instead of on Christmas Day. This is really confusing to me as Christmas Eve generally isn’t actually officially a day off, but Christmas Day and the day after are (correct me if I’m wrong Swedes!). Christmas Day is treated rather like Boxing Day in the UK.

For the benefit of any Swedes who don’t get the concept of Boxing Day, or why it’s called Boxing Day, it’s because the leftovers were given away on boxing day to the poor, and rich people used to give their servants presents on that day. It has nothing to do with Boxing matches, rather the boxes gifts came in. Coincidentally, Swedes have Boxing day off too officially – but Boxing day is just the-day-after-the-day-after-christmas to them. How odd!

Julbord

The julbord is the christmas meal. From what i gather it seems to contain a lot of fish, some ham and is kind of a buffet thing. EMil has promised to take me to one before i leave, so hopefully I can report back on this more later.

Pepparkakor

Pepper cakes (lit.) are gingerbread biscuits really. They’re very thin and incredibly moreish – as I write this curled up in bed at 2am, I’m overcome with the desire to go and get some now, actually! Quite genuinely, they’re very tasty, but I must admit that I personally have never really considered gingerbread to be particularly christmassy. Perhaps it’s because no-one in my family is particularly taken by gingerbread, but I’ve never considered it a christmas thing. Here however – it’s Lord at this time of year. You can’t MOVE without coming across Pepparkakor!

Julmust

Julmust

Julmust is currently one of my favourite things. Imagine Coca Cola only not as sickly sweet and slightly Christmassier. It smells like Rum and Coke, but is alcohol free, and tastes like maybe Dr pepper mixed with Coke, but less sweet somehow. A few people on the internet have likened the taste to root beer, but seeing as I’ve never tasted that I can’t say. I know it’s made with hops and spices, but that’s about it! In Sweden this is MUCH more popular than any other soft drink over Christmas, and Coke tried to buy the recipe and failed epically a few years ago. Coke doesn’t really equate to Christmas in Sweden – Julmust does instead.

Glögg

I love the name of this drink so very much, because it’s said as ‘Glugg’ really – the sound it makes when you drink it! I haven’t tasted any, but it sounds like it’s pretty much mulled wine, drunk warm from small cups and flavoured with Christmassy spices.

Stars in the windows

Swedes don’t seem to be too into the brightly coloured lights for their christmas decorations from what i see.  In every window you either have the 7 candles or a large light-up star, all of which are done with white light rather than the garish colours we use in the UK. It’s pretty – i grant you, it *does* look festive somehow, but I think it looks more-so in the UK. I must admit though, I’m partial to the star lanterns. Last year I did New Year in Sweden, and watched the fireworks from what i suppose is a cliff in Partille, and I remember seeing the stars and thinking them beautiful. I shan’t be doing that this year  – I’ll be home over New Years, but I still think those stars are lovely!

Tomte

Tomte are kind of like Christmas Elves, only they’re the ones who deliver the gifts. They’re really cute!

Anyhow, seeing as it is currently VERY late, I should cut this off here. It’s very interesting looking at how different cultures celebrate Christmas, and I’m sure I’ll have more stuff to add to this before i go home, seeing as I’m going to a St Lucia Concert on the 13th and I’m also going to hopefully have a julbord and visit Jul på Liseberg!

Danmark Dagstur

Stena Line

Stena Line (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday was a pretty interesting day. Emil and I took the ferry to Denmark with Stena Line for a daytrip. It only cost us 99kr each and it was certainly quite a cool adventure. We got up at 7.15 and had breakfast, before making our way to the ferry in time to sail at 9.15 am. Our ferry went to Frederikshavn, a small town of 25,000 people in the North.

The ferry there was fun. I had pancakes and lots of coffee and then just watched the world go by from our seats about halfway down the ferry. After a while i got bored and decided to go for a wander, at which i discovered that in the lounge area towards the back of the ferry there was a lego exhibit-thing, with a lego R2D2. I dragged Emil to see it and got a photograph of him with it. ( see facebook if you’re a facebook person – I try to avoid photographs of us on here.)

We also spent a little time out on the sun deck, which was rather on the chilly side, although I must admit i didn’t rain at all yesterday. In fact, I was pretty surprised by how good the weather was yesterday – cloudy with outbreaks of sun. Not bad at all!

Anyhow, on our arrival we wandered down the incredibly long bridge that brought us into Frederikshavn. It’s known as the cash hose, presumably because the Swedes seem to come over purely to go to the pub ( on the way back I’d say roughly a quarter of the pedestrian crossers were people we’d seen in the morning who had gone for a ‘booze cruise’ – and I thought the Brits were bad).

Frederikshavn in a low sun Frederikshavn in a ...

Frederikshavn in a low sun Frederikshavn in a low sun (Photo credit: boegh)

We then went into town, where we found a band playing christmas songs and dressed up in santa outfits. we watched them for a while and went on a bit of a tour of the town, before deciding we were hungry and eating our packed lunch along with a cup of tea from a café we found on the way.

After this we decided to go on a hunt for the ‘palm beach’ mentioned in the little tourist brochure we had found on the boat. Unfortunately most of the museums seemed to be closed at the weekends, so we decided that a beach might be a better bet for us to try to find. I LOVE the sea, so finding a sand beach, particularly if it has anything even approximating waves,  is always something that makes me smile.

Our walk was lovely. We found some really pretty spots even if the palm beach itself was a disappointment ( the palms are put away indoors in winter, unlike in Falmouth) but the beach was made out of shell sand, and so was more like flour – greyish white, than the golden sands i’m used to. it was nice to walk on other than the sharp bits of shell that could catch your feet, and there were small waves (read: 1 foot high tops).

On our return to town, we discovered that all the shops and cafés had shut. We didn’t think it had taken us *that* long to visit the beach, but it turns out that in Denmark shops seem to shut at around 2pm on saturdays and don’t open at all on sundays – something that seems incredibly weird to me!. We got into a fast food place and I tried pølse sausages, which are basically like hot dogs but red, and that was quite nice.

After this we wandered around a bit longer and then headed back to the ferry waiting room a full three and a half hours early to sit and wait in the warm.

Things I learnt from visiting Denmark:

– Go during the week in off season – otherwise nothing will be open at all
– Danish sounds like Drunk Swedish with a cold – I don’t like it nearly as much as Swedish (sorry Danish friends!)
– pølse are ok but nothing that special
– Danes do, however, seem to have lots of Chinese restaurants, which I approve of ( Gothenburg is lacking in good ones)
– The Danish coast path is wonderful
– The public toilets are AWFUL!

We got a meal on the boat on the way back of beef with roast potatoes, bearnaise sauce and brown sauce (although they were actually more like thick cut chips/wedges and the brown sauce was actually gravy). It was wonderful! Really tasty. It cost 109 kr (£11) but included bread and butter and I also managed to get three cups of tea at the same time for not much more, which was wonderful.

In conclusion, the entire day out for one cost me roughly £35, including pancakes, 2 cups of coffee, 4 cups of tea and a meal of roast beef and potatoes, as well as my return ticket. Not a bad price for a day trip to a foreign country. And those views were beautiful, and well worth it.

Frederikshavn

En dag ut!

I’ve started Geocaching. It’s a lot of fun! I’ve already found a few of them around town (chiefly the one just down the road from me and one over at Eriksbergtorget). It’s a lot of fun.

Anyhow, today, Emil and I went to Saltholmen, because I wanted to visit the sea. As a cornish girl, I have always felt more at home around salt water and waves. Here in Sweden, waves are a bit of a rarity: there were only ripples on the water really because it was blowing a hoolie outside.  There were a couple of Geocaches around that I knew existed, but we didn’t manage to get to any of them in the end. We took a ferry out to one of the islands but had to come back straight away on the same ferry because we realised it was two hours before the next one back and we’d be late for Emil’s gaming night with one of his friends. On the ferry we had a fika and chattered a bit, which was really nice.

After this, we took  the tram back to Domkyrkan before walking to the Goteborg Museum. Now, I’ve been wanting to do the museum for at least the last two months, so i was very excited that we got to go to it. They have a viking boat! a real one! And they have a lot of old church carvings from pre-1300: the sorts of thing that in the UK were destroyed in the reformation. They also had some beautiful examples of victorian clothes, and elizabethan ones, and an old printing press, and a few other gorgeous items that made m very happy. I love doing history stuff!