Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ålön, Boats and a Birthday

I arrived safely in Sweden late on Wednesday night. Due to the fact that this trip was somewhat more permanent than a holiday, I had paid a little extra money to have another bag in the hold, which meant my baggage allowance was 50kg. This was fantastic from my point of view! I also had a few of Henrik's (my boyfriend's) things to bring with me as he was already in Sweden, so the extra bag was a godsend. The only issue however was how on earth to carry them! At Gatwick there was no problem, they came straight out of the car and onto a trolley, and then were wheeled round to check-in where the kind airport staff took them off my hands. But in Stockholm it would be another story. I would have to lift the bags off of the conveyor belt and transport them through the airport to the express trains in to Stockholm. Lastly I would actually have to get both bags on to the train with my bare hands. I'm not a tiny lady by any means (I'm actually 1.8m) but my upper body strength is pretty poor and to be honest I was worried! I knew there was only one thing I'd be able to rely on: chivalry. I had to hope that there would be someone else who would recognise my need for help and swoop right in. As it happens, there were TWO very kind Swedish men who assisted me with my bags, and carried them all the way on to the train, and off the train in Stockholm, so that I barely even touched my luggage! Whoever says chivalry is dead... They were great ambassadors for the Swedish and made me feel very welcome and relaxed about being in a new country.

I spent a day in Stockholm before we (myself, Henrik and his mother) took the ferry out to Ålön, one of the many small islands in the Archipelago. We are staying with Henrik's Uncle, who has a beautiful cottage near to the sea. Friday was spent enjoying the sunshine and relaxing with a good book. We also went out on the boat to a nearby island to get some shopping. It's a bit surreal here in the Archipelago, as people don't travel by car, but by boat. Before going to the shops, we first pulled in to a little petrol station on the water (literally, a Shell Garage) and a man came out and filled up the boat with fuel before we carried on our way. The island with the shops was very quaint, with a small grocery store, a coffee shop and a few other amenities. On our way back we did a little sight-seeing, taking in the beautiful surroundings and looking at the various houses people have built and restored out here.

Yesterday was my 22nd Birthday, and the morning was beautiful and sunny so I had my breakfast outside. Everyone sang to me and I opened my present and card that my parents had instructed me to pack and open on my birthday. The day continued to be lovely as the sun remained shining, so we decided to take a walk to the rocks and do some swimming. During the walk, however, the clouds gathered and blocked out the sun. We decided it was too cold to swim, but spent some time at the rocks anyway to enjoy the view and do some reading (see picture). After a while we decided to walk back to the house and on the way it began to rain. Then it didn't stop. The rain continued through the afternoon and into the night. It was still very beautiful though, and the house was very cosy. Henrik's mother had made a fantastic summer cake for my birthday, covered in strawberries and cream. We had it after a dinner of Salmon and a potato salad (which I had 2 portions of as it was so delicious!). One of the neighbours joined us for the dinner and we had a lovely, social evening. I also managed to Skype my parents and sister at home and fill them in on what I've been up to!

The rain continued through the night and eased off this morning. It's lovely and cool, but certainly not weather for swimming. So today has so far been one of those wonderful days where you stay inside and read, do crosswords, play cards and enjoy the fact that if you wanted to you could do nothing at all. This afternoon we might go for a walk around the island, and take another trip to the shops in the boat. Tomorrow we will head back to Stockholm as I have to meet a potential future employer on Tuesday (!) and Henrik and I also promised to help his mother with the Grandchildren, so that should be interesting!

I'll update again soon, when I am back on the mainland.

KJ xx

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas

It's my last day in the UK. Yesterday I was able to tick a few more things off my To Do list. I went and had dinner with my old music teacher, saw a few of my friends and did a lot of catching up with them. Today I have to pack. Seriously pack. And that's the number one priority. I've also got a hair appointment at 1pm, which is lovely as I've not had my hair done since January and believe me it needs it!

Tonight I'm going out for dinner with my sister and parents. They said I could choose where we go. It felt a little bit like choosing what to have for your last meal, not that I feel like I'm on death row - I'm very excited to go to Sweden tomorrow! But just because I knew this choice would really matter. So I choose the local Fish&Chips restaurant, and I am going to have Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas. Since coming home I've had a need to eat them. I think it's the Britishness of it. I must confess, since coming home, I've lost count of the number of times I've had Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas. Everytime it's been available on the menu, I've had to have it. I think tonight might bring the total to 8, since the beginning of July. Which wouldn't be too bad, but I'm sure most people don't have it more than once a week!

I'll be sure to let you all know if the Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas are everything I hoped they would be.

KJ x

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Welcome to my blog

I leave for Sweden on Wednesday 21st July. My journey involves a trip to London, including lunch with one of my Aunts, a trip to Gatwick Airport, then flying to Stockholm. Oh...and I still have a lot left to do...

To Do:

1) Go through every bag or box of things I brought back from my flat at music college and decide what I want to take with me.

2) Go through the pile of things I really want to take with me and decide what I do really want to take with me, as everything won't fit.

3) Go through my clothes. Will I wear it again? Did I ever wear it? Am I just being sentimental about the Tshirt that I love to look at but that doesn't fit? Do I already have enough cardigans? Is 9 white vest tops too many?

4) Pack final items into suitcases.

5) With remaining items, decide what can be stored in my parents home, and what can be sent to charity shops.

6) Pack storage items in remaining suitcases.

7) Go through pile of charity shop items. Would any one actually pay for this junk? Should it not just be binned? Is there a law these days on the level of quality when donating items to charity shops? I don't think any of my things would harm someone...

8) Call the Tax Man. Tell him I'm leaving the country. I can't do this until I've packed all my bags or my voice might not sound convincing enough on the phone.

9) Call the Student Finance Company. Tell them I'm leaving the country. This means I don't have to pay back my loan until I'm earning the right amount of money that's relative to where I'm now living. Tell them I'm living in Sweden. Praise God for the high cost of living, high salaries and high taxes in Sweden that mean I have to be earning considerably more to pay back my loan (unlike the UK where it is only 15.000 p.a.).

10) Stop wearing the clothes that I have already put aside to go to Sweden. Otherwise I'll be taking dirty clothes with me!

11) Wrap up all my errands and loose ends in the UK. Send all my post, hug all my friends, pay all my bills, visit my old music teacher, collect addresses, set up skype for my parents.

12) Buy a bikini. Damn.

And I've successfully procrastinated by beginning my blog instead!

KJ x