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Let Me Tell You About Sweden

Its not completely finished, I need to learn about a lot of the functionality. I find it easier to learn as I go as I have done with this one.

The first post is already up about how I enjoyed my first Bandy match.

I will no longer be posting on this blog address but will keep it up for archive reasons.

Happy New Year to you all!

Shane’s Swedish Christmas Day

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, the Swedes do Christmas on the 24th December.

White Christmas

White Christmas

We did get a light dusting of snow which always adds to the occasion. These were taken in the North of Stockholm, it’s a lovely setting I think.

cimg1728We were due to go and see more of Miss Palins family in Linköping, which I was looking forward to but my neck was not much better so I decided to bale out and go home to rest.

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I had debated about whether to post the next photo. Its a bit like ‘Er In Doors’ in my favourite British comedy Minder, you never get to see her which makes her more mysterioys.

Ah what the hell I write about her often enough, here is Miss Palin….scroll down.

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Sorry only kidding, there is a reason why I call her Sarah Palin, I am not going to divulge it on here but she hates her, which makes it even more funnier!

Anyway here we are….

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Tomorrow we are off to Bandy! Now this is exciting I have never been to a game before, I have been told to wrap up warm!  Of course I will take some photos!

Shanes Swedish Christmas Eve

Swedish Christmas Tree

Swedish Christmas Tree

So far so good! I was kindly invited to Ms P’s sister and brother in laws for julafton -Christmas Eve. This is the main day for Swedes, in England its time for turkey and presents on the 25th but the Swedes do it on the 24th.

Christmas Donald Duck -Kalle Anke

Christmas Donald Duck -Kalle Anke

I always thought it wierd that presents are given out on the evening of the 24th but actually I think it works better than the UK way of doing things. When we got up, we had a present each from the stocking. Ms P bought me a Bamse comic! Vad roligt! More on our friend Bamse in another post.  Then we had coffee, lussebullar, gingerbread etc.  Whilst the Brits get Her Majesty at 3pm the Swedes sit down to watch Donald Duck.  Apparently there never used to be be many cartoons on Swedish tv so this was a big thing for most kids.

The cartoon hasnt changed either!! Of course with satellite and cable tv, there are 24 hour cartoon channels now so Kalle Anke and friends doesnt quite have the same appeal.

Julbord!

Julbord!

I have reported on the traditional Swedish dinner before – Julbord. This was the course I had to avoid. Usually Swedes do this in sittings and first of all they scoff the fish course.

Julskinka!

Julskinka!

This is the famous julskinka – Christmas ham. It was delicious, it has a lovely mustard coasting. Yum! Ms P’s mum also knocked up a blinding veggie pate, it was fantastic. I must ask her for the recipe.

Jansson's Temptation - minus the fish!

Jansson's Temptation - minus the fish!

Then we moved on from the cold meats to the warm stuff. I rather like Janssons Tempation, or Janssons frestelse as its known in Swedish. Its potatoes with cream and the fish version includes anchovies. Of course some nice sausages involved as well!

Swedish Christmas Cheeses

Swedish Christmas Cheeses

We finished off with bread, crackers and cheese. Yum!

After the meal, the family gave out presents. Ms Palin as ever the organiser, handed out a present to each which we had to open. Once that was done we then opened our presents.

Christmas Presents -Julklappar

Christmas Presents -Julklappar

My Christmas Presents. Didnt I do well!

Some unexpected presents for me from Miss Palins’ family. I was very lucky to receive some great books including ‘How Soccer Explains the World’ and ‘A History of Sweden by Herman Lindqvist.’  I am sure there are a few blog posts to come from that tome! I haven’t read a lot of Swedish history so I will be looking forward to that.

I also got an interesting looking Swedish DVD called Åshöjdens BK, its from a childrens book and is about a fictitious football club in Sweden. It was filmed and shown in the eighties. I am looking forward to watching it. Ms Palin says its good way for me to increase my Swedish football vocabulary which will be very useful if I start refereeing here in March.

I also got some skiing gloves, tartan scarf and socks and yes Sarah outdid herself and completely humbled me by buying me a Bjursås ski package and an overnight stay in the well thought of and traditional Dalarna Green Hotel.

I have never been skiing before. I am not sure if Sarah has got this for her to see how bad I will be, it will keep her in laughs for sometime. I guess its payback for me calling her Ms P!

The end of the day was seen in by a lovely drop of Scotch.  A medicinal of course, unfortunately I had slept awkwardly the night before and my neck was giving me some real aggro.

So how do I rate a Swedish julafton with a British Christmas Day?

Of course, I missed the turkey but I have one from Taylors and Jones in my freezer so no loss there. I like the whole new experience, I guess thats why I decided to stay in Sverige. I actually like the way the day is organised. My experiences back home are one of complete deflation after dinner has been eaten. Back home the Brits tend to open their presents when they get up, then tuck into dinner and spend the rest of the day wallowing on the sofa watching the Christmas episode of Eastenders.

Naturally I will miss the obligatory James Bond film, especially now, I need to scrutinise Roger Moore’s skiing technique.

All in all a very enjoyable day, mainly because I, as a foreigner, was made very welcome by a Swedish family.

How did you enjoy Christmas Eve? Did you do anything different?

Shanes Swedish Christmas

Swedish Christmas

Swedish Christmas

I will try and give you a peek at some of my Swedish Christmas experiences.  The above photo is my table right now.  The hamper is from Taylors and Jones, its a gift for Ms Palins’ sister and brother in law where I am spending julafton. Its stuffed full of British goodies.

You will also notice the Y Fenni cheese, yes a whole wheel, well it is Christmas. This also comes courteousy of the guys at Taylors and Jones. I also picked up some cheddar made with glögg (Swedish mulled wine.) There is a bottle of Glögg, a small amount of malt Auchentoshan,

Also you can spot a Christmas card from Iron Maiden. I joined the Iron Maiden Fan Club after seeing them play live this year, it was a nice touch to get a Christmas card from them. OK the signatures were not the actual signatures but hey still a nice touch I thought. You will also notice my reading material, well one part of my reading material for the Christmas, Mike Huckabees ‘Do The Right Thing’.

Y Fenni Cheese

Y Fenni Cheese

God Jul – Merry Christmas from Sweden.

Walking a Hammarby wonderland!

Walking in a Hammarby wonderland!

I wont be posting as much as usual but I will be blogging sporadically over the holidays.  I dont go back to work until Jan 7th, bliss!  I am trying to get some quality time away from the computer.

I have a 4 kilo turkey to cook, a whole wheel of Y Fenni cheese to devour, Mike Huckabees ‘Do the Right Thing’ to read through, Rock Band 2 to drum to my hearts content, oh and Christmas with Ms Palins family in Stockholm.

This is a different kind of Christmas for me.  I usually use it as a chance to really wind down, catch up with DVDs, books, cd’s etc  This year of course its my first Swedish Christmas so it will be interesting, will be nice to catch a Christmas Bandy game as well!

To all my readers, both regulars and those who pop in from time to time, thank you for your support!

Lots of good blog posts planned for next year!

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Tipping in Sweden

When it comes to tipping the Swedes just don’t bother. This is just as well considering how expensive a lot of things are.

Today I took a late lunch in my local Ciao Ciaos. It’s a small but friendly Italian place that does fantastic salads and tasty sandwiches. Today I took a pizza; I can really recommend the Hawaii!

I have been going there since March, they always smile and chat to me in Swedish because they speak little English. The way I speak Swedish amuses them but in a nice way.

Today I shocked them by giving them a tip. They seemed really surprised but I think tipping is a good thing, especially at Christmas. I don’t like the way a tip is expected in the USA and even the UK now even if the service is shite. I cannot stand places that include the tip in the bill. I do believe a tip should be given if the service has been good.

These guys deserve it as not only is the service good and the food tasty, I have learnt lots of Swedish food related words in Ciao Ciaos!!

Swedens New Immigration Law

Have they just blown their chances of re-election?

Have the Alliance for Sweden made a mistake?

 

The hot political topic in Sweden right now is the new immigration laws passed this week. Whilst the financial crisis spreads like wildfire, Sweden wants more workers and wants to make it much easier for them to get in.

I had a right ‘ding dong’ with Ms Palin on this, she started off by calling me a Right Winger (or was that a right whinger?) as I said I was against the policy, then ended up calling me a ‘Leftie’ when she realised what I was getting at.  Her sister called me something else which I can’t remember in Swedish but basically means ‘Social Democrat in disguise.’ Charming!

The Wall Street Journal has a great article on this Sweden Bucks Trends on Immigration Labour. Its true whilst every other country is battening down the hatches, the Swedes are open the doors to all.

Well so I thought.

My concern was that this would lead to even more hardship for the working classes as it’s inevitably the ‘blue collar’ workers who end up competing for jobs. It would be great news for business and particularly unscrupulous employers.  It would of course drive down wages and career opportunities.

However on a further reading it appears this is mainly geared at skilled workers rather than mass labour.

The new Swedish immigration laws include:

 

Swedens New Immigration Laws

Swedens New Immigration Laws

 

 I still think the above will be abused and there will be loopholes.

I still think it’s crazy that Sweden is opening its doors when there is economic uncertainty.  Indeed Sweden’s Finance Minister Anders Borg says Sweden’s economic growth is at its weakest for 30 years. 

Also the state-run National Institute for Economic Research (Konjunkturinstitutet – KI) said on Friday that Sweden’s GDP would fall by 0.9 percent in 2009 and grow 1.9 percent in 2010. Unemployment

is expected to increase from 6.1 percent this year to 7.9 percent in 2009 and 9 percent in 2010.

Some 135,000 jobs will be lost over the next two years, KI predicts.

“The number of layoff notices has increased dramatically, at the same time, newly reported job openings have continued to decrease, and firms have cut back on their hiring plans,” the report notes.

I still find it amazing that the Government has enacted this law.  My enthusiasm for the Alliance for Sweden government is slightly less this week, not for any xenophobic reasons, but purely on the basis of a economic concerns.  I like the fact its allowing business the chance to recruit in foreign talent much easier. Remember I am an immigrant myself, brought in because of a skill set which wasnt available in Sweden.

It will however, give ammunition to the extremists, you would expect the far right to be ‘milking’ this issue but what tickles me is that all the Lefties are against the law!!!

In the UK this is very different, the Unions rarely protest against more liberal immigration laws and are usually the first to dust off their placards and hit the streets on such issues.

What do you think about the new Swedish immigration laws? Is this good or bad news for Sweden?

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