I've started reading the blogs of people I don't know (a function of not having enough to do with my time at the moment). It's been interesting. Are New Zealanders interesting people? Do I just think that because I'm from NZ? Is well-travelled the same as interesting? (I do hope so, that's my personal plan).
I've been fighting my demons a bit this week, and it's comforting to read about other people's ups and downs and sidewayses. I must get around to doing one of those 100 things list, because I love reading them.
I just made chocolate-chip cookies. They didn't turn out too bad, considering this was the first time I've baked in months. I bought things a bit at random in the supermarket (osaltad smör - unsalted butter? - yes, as it turns out). A happy discovery was that the supermarket sells Green & Blacks Mayan Gold chocolate. Thrilled skinny (or not skinny as the case may be, after eating the entire block).
It's been fabulous and sunny the last couple of days. I spent much of today on my balcony and in the courtyard, soaking up the sun. No complaints here.
Patrick and I went to see Harry Potter (och fången från Azkaban) last night. It was very much a compromise decision, as we have pretty much diametrically opposite taste in movies. So it was happy that we ended up enjoying it. Definitely an improvement on the last one.
I feel as though people look at me oddly on the streets here sometimes, and I wondered if I look obviously non-Swedish. That theory was dashed today, when someone stopped to ask me for directions in Swedish. My new theory is that I'm looking too happy and/or smiling at strangers (beeg no-no), although I would've thought I got over that particular quirk in Brtitain. Hmm.
Does anyone have a good vegetarian quiche recipe? Maybe mushroom and spinach? I just spent half an hour wiffling about with Google. All the recipes I found seemed unnecessarily complicated, requiring things like 8 egg whites (?) or 2 cups of cream (ick).
Look at this. I've only been on the farm for a couple of weeks, and already I'm talking about recipes. Just you wait, I'll start knitting next.
The weather has been lovely the last couple of days, which has made being here a lot more fun. We went picking wild blueberries and strawberries yesterday. Wild strawberries (aka smultron) are very Swedish, I'm told. They're very small and entirely delightful. Heaven only knows how you pick enough to make more than one mouthful. Being-Swedish-Training Part II - You must collect your smultron by threading them on a straw (is this where the word straw-berry comes from?).
We did manage to pick several kilos of elderflowers (fläderblom) and we're planning to make cordial, in another cooking effort today. Yum. Picking elderflowers sounds like more fun than it actually is. I imagined strolling through a sunny field idly picking a flower here and there. . . .
Instead, they seem to have a symbiotic relationship with nettles. Elderflowers also grow on enormous bushes, just out of reach of your average Eithne. There were some predictably (un)hilarious moments with me falling over into huge nettle forests.
In other rural news today, I've also started work on the kitchen garden. All I've done there yesterday and today has been weeding, weeding and more weeding. I'm nearly finished, thank god. I think I'm developing Gardener's Back.
I found an entire frog family today, from baleful-looking Grandma frog down to little skippetty Junior. I'm going to have to re-house them before we start paving. Andreas is planning a Danish kitchen garden, with raised wooden beds and stone paving around the edges. That has to be happy times for my back.
I'm now living on an island surrounded by a moat. I just thought I'd say that to make you jealous - it's been one of my long-held dreams.
Unfortunately, it's a rather large island. The whole of the old part of the city of Malmö is surrounded by a moat. All we need now are drawbridges, which could be pulled up in case of emergency/invasion. If only the council had a bit more foresight. . .
I've been exploring the city today. There are some lovely old cobbled squraes that remind me a little of Edinburgh. People cycle everywhere. I find it very endearing. I think it's because there are all sorts of people I wouldn't expect to see cycling, from elderly ladies with their shopping, to small children trying to cause accidents, to the young-hip-coolsters on their rattly old machines. Everyone rides the same two brands of bicycle, which you'd think would cut down on bike theft considerably, but apparently not.
I'm keen to start cycling, but I'm waiting until I get a bit more used to the traffic driving on the right hand side of the road. Currently I am almost-run-over at least twice a day. It could only be worse on wheels. Especially since I haven't been on a bicycle in about ten years.
There's graffiti etched on the lift to my apartment. It's an 'E' with a love heart around it. I feel a little bit loved every day. ;)
Bollocks. Bollocks. Bollocks.
I have made the stupid (and completely avoidable) mistake of moving to a country with no salt and vinegar crisps. Again. Arrrgh.
After an unsatisfactory interlude at the corner shop, I am making do with lättsaltade. This is clearly a highly inferior flavour. I can only hope this will be healthy for me, because it's certainly not going to make me happy.
Have you noticed that soft drink brands are international, but crisps vary wildly from country to country? I suppose there's more money to be made from sugary water. If you like that sort of thing.
I'm back in Malmö today. Patrick moved two fridges and a bureau out of the hallway today, and the flat suddenly looks stunning. It's a lovely apartment, high-ceilinged and airy, with dark red and green walls, and a black-and-white chequered floor.
My room has a balcony looking out on the street, and an old-fashioned stove I fell in love with the moment I saw it. It's huge, round and white ceramic, with delicate green and orange flowers and brass fittings. It stretches up to the ceiling and charms my parochial little NZ soul. I guess because I've never seen anything like it before.
I'm planning to plant flower boxes on my balcony and then I could definitely be at home here. Currently it's the only balcony on the street lacking an abundance of flowers. The Jones' (Svenssons?) are probably appalled.
Crisps, stoves, and flower boxes. Who says I don't give the people what they want. ;-) I don't particularly have anything to say, but goodness do I have a great new computer to say it on.
Let me know via email if you chat/messenger whatever. I see a whole new vista of geekiness opening up before me.
A black cat crossed my path yesterday. In fact, more than a few times. I suspect that may be the end of my good luck for this week.
There is a small black cat that accompanies me on my walks around the farm. However, there are rules. She always has to walk in front of me, and her favourite game is to throw herself under my feet in a distinctly suicidal manner. I've started walking very carefully indeed.
We also saw a badger last night. It walked right into us. When I think of the times that I tried to see badgers in Scotland by being very still and quiet indeed for hours, I just have to laugh.
I'm moving into Malmö today, before my life becomes an extended nature diary. I do love being out here in the green, but I'm also looking forward to getting to know a bit of the big bad city.
Often I feel a bit Little House on the Prairie out here. I started my first fire for heating purposes yesterday, carefully stacking my kindling and twiddling all the knobs in the approved fashion (it's an old-fashioned cast-iron style jobbie), tending it carefully . . . . It went out.
I wouldn't have survived ten minutes on the prairies.
I'm sitting at Patrick's computer, looking out the window at the trees and fields in the sunshine. There's a little red tractor parked by a stone wall (what Scottish people would call a dry-stone dyke) and a wooden swing waving gently in the breeze. It's all very picturesque. On second thoughts, perhaps I should be outside.
I'm inside because I have a bit of a sore throat/cold thing going on. Yesterday I slobbed all day and just played on the laptop in bed. That was cosy.
Last week I was at Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark. That was brilliant, if a little muddy. 70,000 people all camping in one slightly wet place? Actually, there were some serious seas of mud.
However, I did get to see Morrissey and the Pixies live. Ooh mama. The Pixies were good, but it felt like they were a bit hmmm, professional. Morrissey, on the other hand, was rocking. He is a seriously excellent live performer. Apparently he said afterwards that it was his best festival job in Europe ever.
We lined up to get right up the front of the concert. Nine people died at Roskilde a couple of years ago, so now they're extremely careful about crowd safety and only let limited numbers of people in the front pits. Of course, this just transfers the serious pushing and shoving to the queue outside, where some people were lining up for two and a half hours. The whole thing just boggled my little New Zealand mind.
Seriously, does anyone remember ever queuing for anything in New Zealand? - Let alone the sort of strategic queuing that ends up with a lot of bored people forming the sort of crush that leaves you wondering if all your bones are intact. . . .
Anyway, once we were inside it was all very spacious with kindly people handing out glasses of water on demand (they should definitely do that at more concerts). Great atmosphere, as we were surrounded by all the die-hard fans, singing along and dancing. There was even a bit of shirt-stripping action by Morrissey. I should point out now that he's in very good shape for a man of his years, and *not* fat, regardless of what detractors might say. He played a great range of old and new tunes, and even managed a bit of wit in between. Cor blimey.
We also saw Fatboy Slim, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Kings of Leon, Scratch Perverts, the Matthew Herbert Big Band, Joss Stone, and loads more . . . We did leave on Sunday before the Wu-Tan Clan, as the mud just got all a bit much. It was niiiice to get home and into a hot shower.
Not that they didn't have hot showers at the festival, you just had to line up (queuing again! See, I'm getting good at it by now), pay for the privilege, and then shower with fifteen other smelly festival-goers. Hmm. It's been a long time since I've had to share my shower with anyone else. I was making some interesting deductions about Scandinavian women, body hair, fake tanning, and general grooming.
In other news today, I am now an official Swedish resident, with a personnumber and all. This is all very exciting and speedy. I got the decision and fancy bits in my passport on the same day I applied and the ID number two days later. Go the Swedish government. Oiled cogs, is what I say.
Apparently if I want to open a bank account now, all I have to do is roll up and give them my ID no, et voila, a bank account.
None of this messing about having to have a gas bill or council tax book lah di dah. I love Britain, but goodness it was difficult to do anything with the bureacracy. It took me seven separate attempts to get a bank account there, and I was reduced to tears before the end of the process.
I guess I shouldn't speak too soon. It's a long road before I'm an even slightly functioning member of Swedish society.