Baby shop wars, the latest in a long line of high street nemeses and The Notorious Ros-a-lyn

They are all, every single one of them, thieving b**tards. No I’m not talking about bankers or estate agents, I’m talking about the single most unscrupulous, manipulative, crafty devils to ever walk this earth.

I am talking about baby shop owners.

You walk in and my word aren’t their shops lovely? Wide, bright, open isles. Friendly warm staff, and look, one of them is pregnant! Oh yes, we are in the right place! Isn’t all this just bloody marvellous…

Do not be fooled dear reader. Wide bright open isles you say? All the better to let you see everything. All the better to wheel your pram round. And actually, IS that girl really pregnant? Or is it all an elaborate ploy to separate you from your cash? Because rest assured dear reader, these shops are designed purely to separate you from your cash and there isn’t a fear they won’t play on, or trick they won’t pull out of the bag.

Don’t believe me? Let me refer you to Exhibit A. below. What is one of the biggest fears associated with being a new parent? Germs. And where are germs found? In dirt. And which specific part of baby apparatus comes into the most contact with dirt? Pram wheels. And how does one combat this? Simple really, with a £20 (!) ‘Deluxe Floor Protection System’. Or, as you might know it better, a ‘Plastic Sheet’,

Exhibit A. The Deluxe Floor Protection System ©

Exhibit A. The Deluxe Floor Protection System ©

Now you may be asking, why the anger Fraser? Surely you didn’t spend £20 on a bit of plastic you could buy for a fraction of the price? Of course not dear reader, I’m not an idiot!

But.

Well, I’d be lying if I said we hadn’t stumbled into other tricky traps, which is especially vexing given Alex is nobody’s fool and I’ve worked in Marketing for over 15 years. Our stumble came from the one simple truth all baby shop owners know. There is virtually no limit on the amount of money a new parent will spend on trying to ensure a good night’s sleep. And in the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that we invested in a baby nest… Oh the shame of it…

pic 2

I am almost too embarrassed to tell you how much it cost. Ok it was £80 (1,050 SEK). Now I appreciate that in the picture above from their website it actually looks quite impressive. Well trust me, it is not. It’s basically a couple of yards of fabric wrapped round some foam and tied off with a draw sting at the bottom. That’s it. If it cost you £5 to make yourself you’d be getting ripped off, and you should really leave that to the people buying them. And let me tell you, these things shift by the thousand.

How did it work out? How do you think? In the three months since Rosalyn arrived we have used it 4 times. 4! From what I can gather it basically doesn’t have the right ‘vibe’ for her and she refuses to even contemplate sleeping in it – for the record this is not a habit she will get away with later in life when she will be forced to use, and be grateful for, everything we buy her!

All of which brings me nicely on to baby sleep. Babies are a bit weird aren’t they? Actually before that let me just reassure you this isn’t about Rosalyn sleeping at night. People talking about how their babies do or don’t sleep at night must be the most boring conversation it is possible to have and should be limited to direct family members only.

This additionally extends to,

  1. How the baby is feeding
  2. How the baby is growing
  3. What colour their poo is

*Which interestingly are also the four main search terms on our ipad.

No, this is about Rosalyn sleeping during the day and the fact there is a complete lack of consistency or rules. One day she will sleep through police sirens chasing a car down the road. The next a person blowing their nose 20 meters away will wake her up (both true stories).

Tantalisingly she will either do 30 minutes, and I’m not kidding when I say you can set your watch to it, or two hours. Nothing in-between and no way of knowing which way it will go. However your best strategy to ensure it is completely silent on the 30 minute mark. Which brings me to my latest ‘Stockholm High Street Nemesis’. Regular readers will already be familiar with the challenges Stockholm’s drainage system presents to pram pushers and the lifts I have developed to combat them,

pic 4

Well I have new enemy and there is no quick fix. I’m talking about the automatic crossing alarm,

pic 4a

This being Sweden, practically every crossing is fitting with one of these. And they all, for obvious reasons, omit a very loud, ‘clack, clack, clack, clack, clack’ whenever the lights are about to turn green. If Rosalyn is within 10 ft of one of these things within a few minutes of the infamous 30 minute mark it’s game over. But how do you cross the road without the lights changing? You see my dilemma dear reader and feel free to share solutions in the usual way.

On the other hand of course if she is in the mood to sleep, pretty much anything goes. A full lunchtime serving at Muggen (d) including scraping chairs, clanging plates? Not a problem. Indeed we were in a burger place the other day which has a preference for 90’s rap and she actually fell asleep to The Notorious BIG, the little party animal.

Part of the problem, and I know how ridiculous this sounds, is that she is very sociable. I say sociable, she might just nosy because sometimes when she wakes up in the pram and gets agitated  I’m convinced it’s because she wants to know what’s going on.  This is particular the case when we are somewhere with a lot of background ambient noise. Get her out, let her have a look round and she’s happy as you like. As a result I have discovered that one way to calm her down at night is to watch football on TV. I know that sounds like the worst parenting in the world but I’m convinced the ‘hum’ of the crowd does sooth her. In fact here I am being FORCED to watch the Manchester Derby,

Parenting. Hard work.

Parenting. Hard work.

Talking of exploits in the local area, this week our current lifestyle was beautifully captured in the local newspaper, The Södermalmsnytt (a publication I fully intend to appear in before we leave). The reason it caught our lives at the moment is that it contained a special feature on the rise of café’s on the main road behind our flat, Hornsgatan.

Sweden is the capital of Fika, i.e. meeting socially over coffee, it’s in the collective DNA. Stockholm is the café capital of Sweden. And Hornsgatan is café capital of Stockholm. As the headline below says, there is one every twenty meters.

pic 6 a

The tragic/brilliant thing (depending how you look on these things) is the sheer number of these café’s we’ve regularly been in. Just taking the three specifically featured in the article,

pic 6 b

Thankfully, for our own sanity, we were able to escape the area directly around our flat last weekend with a visit to our friends Jonas, Jane and their two lovely children, Louisa and Helena. As per usual you can guess who the star of the show was,

pic 7

I’ve mentioned Jonas and Jane before as they are currently having a new house built over here. The reason for mentioning our visit last weekend is that whilst they are having that house built, they are renting a beautiful place in Nacka, just south of the city. This gives me a chance to quickly talk about what it’s like to live outside the city centre in Stockholm.

Now it should be noted that the part of Nacka they are renting in is a very nice part of Stockholm and only 20 minutes from the centre of town – unimaginable when compared to London as you can see in the pictures below.

pic 8 pic 9 pic 10 pic 11

(Top left to right) A house near theirs, on the side of the hill you can see a purpose built summer terrace. Someone’s left their boat in their drive way again, nightmare. ‘The small lake at the bottom of the hill’. The view back towards Stockholm.

Keep in mind this is 20 minutes from the centre of Stockholm. Say what you like about Sweden they do get a lot of things right. Although my personal favourite moment came when Jonas took me to see the ‘local petrol station’.

Not a huge call for this type of thing in London or Manchester to be fair.

Not a huge call for this type of thing in London or Manchester to be fair.

I also love these log benches. Good old Sweden, find your log covered in snow? Fear not just flip it back. Job done.

pic 13

Or how this for Swedish efficiency? A dentist’s next to a sweet shop.

pic 15

Now before we move on to this week’s regular features an update on an item which is surprisingly becoming something of a regular feature itself. I say surprising because I am surely not alone amongst those who know my dad (Brendadio) to be surprised that Rosalyn’s car is STILL on course to be finished by Christmas. To fill in new readers Brendadio is in the process of building Rosalyn a ‘swing bin car’ based on Lotus 7 (it’s a long story).

Pic 16

Well in the latest update from the famous HYNES MANCHESTER WORKSHOP (my parents kitchen table which must have gone down well), I can reveal that things have taken another leap forward and we are still on schedule for it to roll off the production line on Christmas Day.

Brendadio, the ‘practical professor’ surveys his handiwork.

Brendadio, the ‘practical professor’ surveys his handiwork.

And fear not, its CO2 emissions are well within European regulations – nobody wants another scandal! Of course Rosalyn will be far too small to ACTUALLY DRIVE the thing but let’s just park that for now (see what I did there?) and instead be ever so slightly disturbed by this picture of a similar children’s car Brendadio found in a museum in Edinburgh. As far as visualising what Rosalyn will eventually look like driving it goes, I can see what he was getting at. But this is just plain terrifying.

pic 18 

Baby Watch

Roz

Rosalyn is 3 months old today… well 12 weeks which I’m informed isn’t actually the same thing. It’s hard to explain how quickly the time has passed and whilst I know everyone says they grow up quick, it’s ridiculous and staggering to believe the changes she has made in such a relatively short period of time.

Picture of week

pic of the week

We are heading home for Christmas! Here is Rosalyn with her first British passport. As a side note, it was always our intention that she would have a British passport, however it turns out the rules on Swedish citizenship are such that without a Swedish parent she couldn’t have got one even if she wanted to. But then she is 3 months old and probably shouldn’t be making decisions like that anyway.

So we’ve booked our flights back to the UK for an extended Christmas visit and look forward to catching up with family and friends in The North, The South… you get the idea.

Winter Watch

Winter is coming

The same park near our flat which turned off the water to the fountain 4 weeks ago this week installed the first Christmas tree I’ve seen in Stockholm. Winter is coming dear reader.

Track of the week

One of Rosalyn’s favourite sleep time records, The Notorious BIG with Hypnotise. Sleep well!

Fraser ‘clack, clack, clack, clack, clack’ Hynes

2 thoughts on “Baby shop wars, the latest in a long line of high street nemeses and The Notorious Ros-a-lyn

  1. Fraser, we’ve met briefly, it’s Cat one of Sara’s friends.

    We have a nine week old and are also suffering from the thirty minute or two hour nap stretch. We use the cooker extractor fan to drown out the noise. Our true noise story: the baby slept through four screaming Todlers, Anna crying loudly in the same room and the carpets being fitted, he can’t sleep through paper being put in the bin or is getting a plate out the cupboard!

    Love the blog, good luck with the business!

    Like

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