Swedes are nothing if not punctual, a trait I’ve particularly noted as we move through our 2nd year in Stockholm and the same events come around at precisely the same time as the year before. For example, once again, just like last year, here I am nipping out to the bakery across the square in front of our flat one Sunday morning when I suddenly find myself caught up in the Women’s political party, F!’s, annual rally. I guarantee there are full time party members that have been to fewer rallies than I have … and yes just like last year I did get another pink balloon, though as Alex points out stumbling across two F! rallies and picking up a balloon does not a feminist make.
2015 on the left, 2016 on the right… or is it the other way round? Last years blog: https://fraserhynes4.com/2015/03/12/a-game-of-thrones-boxes-and-feminism/
Indeed sometimes the only way to mark the passing of time is Rosalyn’s growth as these frankly terrifying pictures taken exactly one year apart show.
All of which lead us nicely to Rosalyn’s 1st birthday. 1st birthdays are a bit weird aren’t they? For starters the kid doesn’t really know what’s going on, won’t remember anything and can’t even eat their own cake – no matter how beautifully handcrafted it was by their mum. Still she had an absolute ball and despite being completely spoilt by both sets of grandparents, naturally her favourite thing was tearing up the wrapping paper. What is funny is how the classic presents from our own childhood still stand up to modern scrutiny. I’m sure most people reading this either had, or have played with, the pull along car phone in the picture below. Now given the closest Rosalyn is going to come to a phone with a cord will be in a museum, it’s amazing how she still knew to pick up the receiver and put it to her ear.
As part of her birthday we took her to the annual … yeap, happens the same time every year …. ‘’ (cultural festival – http://kulturfestivalen.stockholm.se/) in Kungsträdgården (The Kings Garden) – honestly dear reader it’s amazing how good your Swedish is getting from just reading this blog!
The festival is a real mix with concerts, live performance, skate boarding competitions and features at its centre, a huge cardboard arch by the French artist Olivier Grossetête. Why a huge cardboard arch in front of the Kings Palace? God knows, but I’m sure there will be some deep metaphorical reason behind (there’s a cool video about it here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qLhuxIDP44 ).
More importantly however, the festival also had row upon row of tents full of activities for children. I was personally impressed by the ‘Rum for Kids’ tent – hey, if you need to calm your kids down, whatever it takes I say! And who doesn’t love a bit of medieval style children log beating? Oh, what fun! I guess those Viking traditions are tough to shake hey Sweden?
The children’s zone also featured some acrobatics. Swedish style acrobats. As is fairly standard for Sweden, the show inevitably started with a political statement. Why? Again, who knows, I really need to get on this whole language thing… Anyway, I think it was something about the education system or something – video 1 below if you can figure it out, I gave up after about 10 seconds. Thankfully this was quickly followed by some very impressive acrobatics (vid 2).
All of which leads nicely into some very big news.
‘Mama Mia’ indeed!
That’s right, we are having another kid! Having basically decided that life wasn’t quite complicated, tiring or stressful enough we thought, ‘oh here’s an idea, let’s add even more stress!’ Only joking, it’s incredibly exciting and mother and baby are both doing great. He’s due to make an appearance on the 18th Jan which means we’ll be spending Christmas in Stockholm – oh I feel a Christmas special blog coming on!
I also have to say that the Foreign Office – who Alex works for and the reason we are in Sweden in the first place – have been absolutely outstanding and incredibly supportive. We were a little concerned we’d be told to pack our bags back to London, but that’s not the case and we’ll be staying in Sweden even longer than expected – ‘yes, more blogs!’… I hear no one cry.
Most importantly, it also means that we might finally get to use some of the unnecessary ‘first time parents crap’ that we bought last year. The pinnacle of which being the infamous £80(!) ‘baby nest’ which Rosalyn slept in for a total of 17 minutes. As was noted at the time, a baby nest consisted of some foam with fabric wrapped round and a bit of draw string – in total if it cost £4 to make I’d have been amazed. To emphasise how ridiculously expensive and how many first time idiots there are out there like us, I was entirely unsurprised to see one in a 2nd hand shop being sold for £50… £50!
Actually, it’s quite interesting the relationship Swedes have with second- hand stores. They are much more popular than in the UK, which is entirely understandable given the sheer volume and cost of specific items you need to buy for the winter, which of course the kid has grown out of a year later. I also think there is a cultural thing here at play in terms of not throwing out perfectly good clothes, we’ve certain picked up a few winter items for Rosalyn and the quality has been excellent. I think they just generally have a better and more sensible attitude about that type of thing.
Now I’m going to finish this blog on a bit of a downer I’m afraid. Regular readers will be familiar with a cafe that has featured in this blog since literally the first post and throughout: Muggen. Or as I like to call it Muggen (d) on account of how much they charge for everything! I’m not going to lie, I have a very well defined love/hate relationship with the place – I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else over here, so it was with some trepidation during the summer that I came across them refurbishing it.
Well dear reader, it has not gone well. They basically stripped out all the old fixtures and replaced them with a more modern aesthetic in a misguided and entirely unnecessary attempt to move from a cafe to more dining experience. Oh and they even raised the prices more from ‘Really? That’s expensive’ to ‘Are you joking?’. Well I was not happy dear reader and after a preview visit, decided to turn my back on the spiritual home of this blog. It was shambles. Terrible day time menu clearly designed to deter people from eating there during the day, a really ‘cold’ environment, far too clear – and worst of all, RESPONSIVE staff! You don’t go to Muggen(d) for responsive staff, you go there for the kind of service that can be best classified as ‘attempted but not that arsed’ – it’s all part of the appeal!
Well fear not because apparently I wasn’t alone and in the past few weeks things have started to return to normal, they’ve knocked through a wall, brought back the old menu, given up pursuing this night time food market nonsense and the staff have started to wear their default expression of indifference – just how I like it!
Pic of the Week
1am. Middle of Summer. Swedish style. Ridiculous.
Track of the Month
Muggen (d), don’t go changing…