Mes photos est arrive

Ended up buying a card reader in the end.

 So here are a few shots taken around the street where I live, plus some random pics of a lovely hotel I got to stay in in Helsinki. I am not the best photographer, plus it’s a fairly new camera so still working out all the settings, but at least now you can see Sweden through my eyes.

Check out the snaps here 

I am not sure about Picasa, I like the fact it gives you a map and a few other snazzy features. I will try it out and see if it is any good.


Doing your laundry in Sweden

The title is banal and I never thought I would ever be writing  a blog post on washing my clothes however….

The Swedes take this very very seriously.

There are very few launderettes in Sweden and most apartment blocks have their own laundry room. I think us Brits are spoilt with washing machines in our kitchens.

Roger the landlord showed me the laundry room when I moved in. You basically get different time slots and you unlock your room number and place it in the slot you require.

Piece of piss thinks I. Wrong.

I booked the 4-8 slot and was intending on rocking up to the laundry room about 6pm. Åsa my colleague shook her head in disbelief and said that wasn’t the way to do it and that you only get half an hour grace otherwise you lose your place.

I am laughing at this but she wasn’t. Darren another colleague who hails from Oz was chuckling to himself. He has been here six years now and he laughed as he recalled this was the first lesson he learnt in Sweden.

So I had to leave the office and get home to do my washing!

I have to say though I was impressed with the facilities, choice of 3 machines, dryer and á machine which I can only describe as an electric clothes horse in a closet. Great for work shirts.  They also had mangles in there!!!! I swear it, I will take some pics as I now have my USB card reader.

Todays Swedish word of the day is tvätt – laundry.

Opening a bank account in Sweden.

Today is officially the first day I have lost my rag in Sweden.

It’s funny really as a dear friend of mine emailed me recently asking what has happened to my writing style. I explained that its early days and that right now I am trying to get into the habit of regular posts.

I also explained that I am still new to Sweden. A few colleagues and Swedish friends are reading this so I have to be careful. I also think its bad form to ‘mug off’ the country you live in.

It is something that constantly annoys me about those Celts, whether they are from Scotland, Wales or Ireland, the ones who slag off England but still stay there and work there. I have never been a party to that and certainly wouldn’t want to slate my new hosts.  

I may however vent my frustration on occasion but I am hoping this is because of a difference with the system or characteristics. The day I support another team that plays Sweden (other than a British team) is the day I pack my bags and head for Arlanda. I guess Norman Tebbit and his cricket test would be proud.

Today I threw bit of a hissy fit at SEB bank. I popped over there yesterday to set up a new bank account. They asked for my passport, rent contract and a letter from my employer. I duly collected everything and returned today.

After spending nearly 30 minutes twiddling my thumbs waiting for my number to come up (see earlier post) I was told that I could not get an account until I had a residency permit.  I don’t mind the fact that I need this but if only it had been explained to me yesterday I could have got on the case today. I made it known in no uncertain terms that the SEB bank would not get my business when I have the permit.

Unfortunately said residency permit takes 6-8 weeks. Oh well.

I then had to pay my school bill at the bank. So I get another number and wait. Of course I get the only cashier who doesnt speak much English. Fine, well thats why I am learning Swedish so I muddled through but she wasn’t going to accept my credit card as payment.

This, in a country where you can use a credit card anywhere. I once saw a bloke pay for those silly roses in a nightclub with a credit card! Yet at SEB they were having a monk on because I wanted to use my flexible friend. In the end she gave up and trotted off to process the card.

Banks – don’t you just love ’em! 

Todays Swedish Word of the Day is bankkonto – bank account.

ps I was given the incorrect USB lead so am ordering another one, photos coming soon!

How the Swedes Queue.

My night out in Copenhagen got very messy. I broke my golden rule of not getting drunk the day before a flight, I was not a pretty sight at the airport.

I did learn an important word though baksmälla – hangover!

Today I went to the SEB bank to try and get a Swedish bank account sorted out. They have a unique way of queing up here. 

There is a machine that despatches a ticket number. You then wait for your number on the screen and go to the desk indicated. It reminds me of waiting at the meat counter at Tesco when I was a kid.  It is of course a better system than ours, far more civilised and you don’t have to stand there. You can take a seat and read knowing that no Swede is going to jump in.

Maybe though this is indicative of the difference between the UK and Sweden. The Swedish queueing system is about order and control wheras the Brits have to put their faith in standing and waiting to get served far more ‘laissez faire’….  What do you think is better?

I hate having long nails and couldnt find my nail clippers. I wasn’t sure where to get them but was told to go to Åhlens City. Its a big department store and located opposite the office. They seem to have everything in this shop.

Todays Swedish Word of the Day is nagelsax – nail clippers 

VisitBritain Ignores Wales

As a few of you know I work in the travel game. I get to go to a lot of travel and tourism trade fairs around Europe.

Something has been gnawing at me for awhile and today I kicked it off.

VisitBritain is the tourism arm that represents tourism to our home nations. They get millions of taxpayers dough to spend on promoting us.

The last 12 months their stands have all been a disgrace. They have picked a music them such as the Beatles, Oasis etc, ok that narks me as there is more to Great Britain than that but today…

Well I am at a fair in Copenhagen and saw the usual stand. The conversation went something like this

Me. Why are you called VisitBritain?
Her. Ah because we represent all the tourist boards in Great Britain. Why?
Me. Well I think you should be called Visit England because I cant see anything remotely Welsh or Scottish on this stand?

She then goes behind the counter and fishes out a dusty copy of a brochure on Wales.

Me. So why is that behind the counter and not visible?
Her. Stony silence, in fact I felt a little guilty as she looked like she was about to cry.

OK most of you know my politics , that I consider myself British before Welsh but with things like this I can see why Welsh and Scots people get pissed off. I think I shall write to the Welsh Assembly as this in my view is a fookin disgrace!

Swedish News in English

As most of you know I am bit of a news junkie., I spend most of my online time reading the news from different parts of the world.

One of the best resources for English speakers in Sweden is The Local. It’s an online newspaper covering the major stories and the quirky ones from Sweden in English.

They also have a great discussion board that I used to ask questions on before my move. I am sure I will be using it a lot more once I am here.

My next big dilemma is finding a Swedish Radio station to listen to. I must confess the three things I am really missing so far is Match of the Day, Radio 5 Live and Planet Rock.

Yes I know I can get them on the net but its not the same when cooking in the kitchen or having breakfast. Also I need to push myself into listening to as much Swedish as I can.

Getting Frisky

Most people know that Scandinavia has some of the most robust gender equality laws and attitudes on the planet.

I remember when I first came to Stockholm in 1994, that there were far more women in higher placed jobs in Sweden than in the UK, certainly in the political world. Now thankfully the UK has caught up but there are some areas where there are no differences between the genders.

Take yesterday for example, I set the machines off at Arlanda Airport security so I had to get frisked. To my amazement this was done by a woman. Usually there is a male and female guard who then proceed to carry out the check, not here. I know some people who would have paid good money for that, but I just smiled and tried to act nonchalant whilst really I was thinking bloody hell this would never happen back home. Not sure if this is the norm or just that they were short staffed.

Fortunately I had nothing on me so she didnt need to carry out a strip search, wouldn’t have wanted to put her off her lunch now would I!