Monday, 29 December 2008

Not a salmon in sight

Haha! Not that salmon is bad, but the British Christmas is very different to the Swedish one! I was home in sunny South Wonston (and yes it was actually sunny!) for a week, not long really, but I crammed a lot in. Flew home on the Saturday night and chilled on Sun, before having a Christmas cut (fab alliterative skills) at Tony and Guy, and heading to London for a Christmas catch up (I did it again! I'm so clever) with Sophie and Louise - both of whom seemed really well. Hadn't seen Louise since graduation! Here they are standing under a magnificent tree:

I trailed round the shops in Winch, M&S was especially mental with all those people buying posh Christmas vol au vents, and caught up with the family as much as I could. Christmas Eve was one of the few chances to see a couple of the Spoons, and Lil surpassed herself in giving me a travel Balderdash (which was enjoyed with much hilarity on Christmas day!) and Spongebob Squarepants tree decorations - awesome! Christmas itself was traditionally cosy, with presents in the morning and a slap-up de-lish luncheon to make us all feel satisfactorily stuffed.

Malvern G and her hurty foot!

Paps does the honours

Boxing day at the G's was equally yum, with the added fun of childrens' playgrounds in the morning (where the 'grown-ups' had a blast!) and an insane round of Articulate in the eve. Oh, and the stick game.
All hail the holy helium stick!

A typical family moment

Saw a few more spoons on the Sat morning for a quick brek at Starbucks (gotta make the most of their caramel hot chocs, there are no Starbucks in Sweden :O), before heading back to the land of minus degree temperatures. John had a great surprise for me on Sun, as a final part of my Christmas present. We went go-carting!!! It was terrifying what with certain people crashing into me on more than one occasion (grrr), but we both managed to do our laps in under 60 seconds, and remain in one piece.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Ice Bar contd.

A few more COOL pics from our trip to the ice bar:

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Ice Ice Baby (dum dum dum dede dum dum)

John's Christmas present took place yesterday, and comprised spaghetti bolognese (as in a meal, not just a packet of raw meat and uncooked pasta...) followed by a visit to the Absolut Ice Bar Stockholm! The bar was opened in 2002 and recently expanded in size, now sporting insane ice walls, an ice bar, ice glasses, an ice table and stools, and an ice chandelier. The temperature inside is a rather tingly -5 degrees! But the frightening thing is that's sometimes warmer than outside...brrr. It's definitely a novel experience, and now I've got a taste for the icy chilliness I really want to see what the Ice Hotel up north (where the mountain people live...apparently) is like. Here are a few pics from the 'cool' occasion!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Jul-mas cheer :)

Cannot believe how fast December seems to be flashing by, Christmas is in less than 2 weeks! Well it's a good thing I've done all my xmas shopping then, isn't it hehehe. I braved the crazed hoards of Saturday shoppers today to buy my final few gifts, which I think my dear family members will appreciate for their Swedishness! I'm looking forward to going home next week (20th) and seeing everyone, but I feel lucky to have experienced the Christmassy period in another country for the first time - especially for the glögg and pepparkakor biscuits! This week I met John's grandpa (Morfar) and wife Inger for a Julbord (Christmas table) at a really cosy restaurant in Stockholm. Madde and Ninnie (J's mum) were there as well, and we had a traditional meal of salmon, xmas ham (woo!), herring and meatballs. I had a taste of my first julbord at the pre-school's xmas party last week. It took place at an incredible Versailles-esque venue with a banquet table buffet a mile long, literally! - I have since discovered it's a bad idea to pile your plate with too much food...even if it is all for free...

Sampling glögg (as an aperitif!) at the restaurant

Family photo, and me!

Next to Santa's reindeer
NB oops! I think a few of the pics were too big. Ah well, you can view the full pic by clicking on it.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Välkomna till Sverige!

My very first visitors came at the weekend - woop! Dearest Mamma and Hughman braved the BA flight over here on Friday evening and stayed at the First Amarenten, just a few hundred yards down the road from me. Staying in a hotel was definitely a more comfortable option than sleeping on our sofa! We had a packed itinerary, including going to Old Town to sample the Christmas markets (we had glögg!), shopping in the design stores, visiting Vasamuseet (big wooden ship that sank in the 17thC), looking at weird artwork at the Modernamuseet, and having the most delicious 3 course meal at Den Gyldene Freden - one of the most famous restaurants in Sweden! Overall it was a lovely weekend, and I'm hoping to entertain some more visitors in the New Year hint hint!!

Meatballs at Gyldene Freden!

The Vasa

Changing the guard at the Royal Castle

The Mitchells Sweden-style! The weather was fantastic...

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

White Out!

More snow! There have been blizzards and everything! It must be several feet deep now, which makes walking places kind of difficult, espesh if you're a clumsy clutz like moi. Here are some pics from a snowy walk with Darja (J's dog - the fluffiest, chubbiest and happiest dog in the world!!). I love Darja. :)

NB These pics were taken before the latest snowfall, so there's even MORE now!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

This weekend...

It snowed! And it's only November, yikes. The temp in Stockholm has dropped to -1 so it's a tad chilly outside, one of my fingers stopped working today. There were some great photo opportunities though, and I made my first snow angel of 2008! It's strange experiencing my second winter season this year, as I got a pretty good dose of snow and cold weather when in New Zealand. But this is different because the Christmas lights are up and the markets are in full swing - it's all so jolly festive!

Last weekend...

I made chokladbollar!! This can be translated to 'chocolate balls' or another, slightly less PC name - 'nigger balls'. Apparently it's a big faux pas to name these wonderful sweet treats with the latter name in this day and age, but everyone secretly knows them as such. Anyway, they're a Swedish delicacy so I had to try them hehe. John and I made 13 - they were AWESOME (of course we only had 1 each...)! Here's the recipe if you're interested, and you can check it out on Wiki:

And here's the final product, sooooo gooooooooooood:

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Bonkers Banking

I have been in Stockholm for a little over a month now, even though it feels like no time at all! And as I have a job and subsequently a salary, I thought it would be a good idea to open a bank account (this is where the problems begin). I have a shorter day on Thurs so John and I toddled along to Handelsbanken to set it all up. The first step, being given an account, went swimmingly. However! When I asked when I would receive a cash card they told me I couldn't have one unless I produced a Swedish ID card, available from the police. As luck would have it the police station was close by, so we dropped in only to be told that nooooooo unless I was Swedish I couldn't get an ID card, I would have to get one from the bank. I explained I had just been at the bank and they had sent me to the police, and was told 'Oh yea they always do that becuase they can't be bothered to deal with it'. Fantastic! So we returned to the bank to ask what the hell was going on, and they then told us that yes they could give me an ID card after all (thanks for that) BUT I had to prove to them that I would be a faithful and legitimate customer. How?! Well, I would have to know someone connected to Handelsbanken..(WHAT!?!?!).. By this time I was thinking the world was slowly going mad. As it happens, John's dad has a connection to someone in the bank so she may be able to vouch for me - but this was a complete stroke of luck!

The ridiculousness doesn't stop there. Apparently I cannot receive a proper Visa cash card (to pay for things with) until they have seen activity on my account, such as a few payments. This means I may not get a proper cash card, even if I am able to get the flipping ID card, until my salary has gone in a few times - this will take months!!!!!! Needless to say I was beside myself by the time we'd finished and am now seriously contemplating keeping my money under the bed, where at least I can get to it! Bloody banks.

Oh on a positive note I went for 2 'fikas' this week! Fika basically means having coffee and yummy pastries with a friend, and I think it's awesome. Hopefully there will be many more to come.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Home again jiggety jig

I had a much needed break from the kiddies this week with a trip home, hoorah! The purpose of it was to have a check-up on my poor perforated ear drums, and thankfully they have completely healed themselves, good ears. I was able to catch up with quite a few people, beginning with the family on Thursday evening. Granny provided some excellent nosh and we had a hilarious round of Trivial Pursuit - which I'm sure I would have won had the questions been up-to-date, not circa 1851. Friday saw me and Haribo roaming the shops of Soton for a winter coat for took approx. 7 hours but we located it and now I am nice and warm and cosy. In the evening Kimmy joined us back at home for Indian yumminess (courtesy of Tesco ha!) whilst Hugh came close to death setting off fireworks in our garden. Oh yeah, and he's going to be playing THE Winslow Boy in a production at the Salisbury Play House - well done pughey! I'm not jealous at all.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Surprises, chocolate and 007

This last week has been pretty good at the pre-school, what with a sweetytastic Halloween party on Thurs and a half day on Fri - there are some perks to working with children! But the weekends still seem to be the best part of the week...funny that. On Friday I joined J for a surprise birthday party for one of his friends. I've never been to a surprise party before - it was hilarious! I would like to request one for next year ;). Saturday was chocolate day! (Although I really think every day should be chocolate day). I read about a cafe called Chokladfabriken (The Chocolate Factory) in the Stockholm guide and, obviously, absolutely had to go there! I can confirm that they have the best hot chocolate ever and I want to live there. Finished off the day with a little JB..not the John Bjuvman kind (ha!) but the 007 kind! I liked the film in general, but where on earth was his martini shaken not stirred!?!