I can now leave the country!

Now I am free to leave Sweden when I want. A nice woman at the British Embassy in Stockholm called and told me my passport was ready. Thats super fast and great news for me, it means I can travel to business meetings in Finland next week.

I was rather touched this morning to see a note in the hallway at home from a lady on the second floor. She was notifying people she was having a ‘lite fest’ small party and apologises in advance for any noise. How nice and polite is that!

Not sure about tonight now as I forgot the Mighty Red as playing Chelsea in the Champions league semi finals so will have to watch that, hopefully I can get the Valborg stuff in after that. It will be nice to meet Jamie, a regular commentator here and the blogger behind Big Swedish Adventure.  He has now moved to Stockholm so dont forget to keep an  eye on his blog too.

I forgot to mention that I bought a ticket to watch Hammarby again. They play Goteborg on Sunday, that will be a tough game as IFK won the title in 2007. I also bought this seasons shirt and tried to buy a season ticket but they have stopped selling them which I found a bit strange. I will just have to be organised and buy tickets in advance. I cant wait!

May Day and Valborg

Valborg

Sweden has a Bank Holiday on Thursday for May Day and on the Wednesday evening the Scandinavians celebrate Valborg..

V

alborg is celebrated in Sweden in  ways, always depending on the part of the country. Lighting large bonfires is a popular celebration in eastern parts of Sweden like in Svealand or Uppland, where people gather material for their bonfires for months ahead. Lighting bonfires is an ancient custom related to keeping away evil spirits, demons and witches.

Nowadays Valborg is just seen as a celebration of springtime, but for a feel of the good old Viking days the Skansen Open-Air museum still celebrates Stockholm’s largest and most historical Valborg celebration.

For most of the Swedes though, Valborg just means the end of the winter season and there is no better way to celebrate it than singing Spring songs. Spring songs and choral singing are very typical of the Swedish Valborg celebrations, with many of the traditional songs dating from as back as the 19th century. The most popular and traditional spring festivities are held in the old university towns of Uppsala, Lund and Gothenburg, with its famous carnival parade.

Current and graduated students party all day and all night, and even perhaps longer than that, wearing all the time their characteristic white graduation caps. Valborg is a double national festivity in Sweden because King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrates his birthday on Valborg’s day, 30th of April. Swedish flags are raised all around the country to salute him and show him respect.

May Day (May 1st) follows the Valborg celebrations with a wide choice of events, marches and demonstrations taking place across the country to celebrate the working class’ rights. The 1st of May is a public holiday in Sweden, and many Swedes spend the day either attending the celebrations of political parties and trade unions, or simply enjoying a picnic outdoors with friends and family, weather permitting.

 

 

 

 

Text taken from Scandinavica.com

On Valborg I will go to a party on Gamla Stan, beef stew apparently which will ruin my diet, oh well. I am still off the booze though and havent had a proper drink since around Easter time. Cant say I miss it either.

On May Day, my dear friend Miguel wants me to go and watch the Communist rallies. Miguel and I go way back to our Young Liberal days so yes we are both political anoraks really. I may go if I have time though Nick the Swede has invited me to watch Hammarby away at Syrianska which is  team made up of Assyrians I believe from Södertalje. Sounds like a great day off, politics and football!

Revolution on the Streets of Stockholm

It seems the Social Democrats are holding a rally and march in Stockholm on May 1st. I saw a poster today on the tube advertising it, they must be spending a fortune on this ‘bli supporter’ campaign. Now the Socialists marching on May day is old hat, the revolution I am talking about is the fact that you can become a member by texting in. It costs SEK 100 and its all automated, good old Person Nummer you see.

I met a SDP member the other day and had a good chat with him. I think sometimes I am guilty of looking at the philosophy rather than the activists. Yes many are Party stalwarts and blinded by Party loyalty but this chap was very asute and I would be inclined to vote for him if he stood in my ward. I love political philosophy but political heart is much more important at the ballot box.

Back to revolutions, a friend of mine booked her bus ticket on Sunday via text!!! She didnt have a monthly card so she just sent a text to the bus company. She got a message back which she shows the driver and thats it. Very revolutionary I think.

Learning Swedish with the British Secret Service

Live and Let Die

I am always looking for inventive ways to learn Swedish.

I am a big James Bond fan and have all the DVDs, so I have decided to watch each one with Swedish subtitles. Of course buying the Swedish voice dvds would be better but expensive. Once my Swedish is a bit better I intend renting more Swedish DVDs as I find Swedish tv hard going, its mainly British or Yank programmes with subtitles.

I will watch the films in chronological order, so tonight I shall be watching Dr No. My favourite Bond of course is Roger Moore, who else!.

Anybody know the Swedish for ‘shaken not stirred?’

 

A touch of the Charlie Kennedy in Stockholm

Stockholm named a new Mayor today, Sten Nordin will take over the reins from Axen Olin. Both are from the Moderate Party who took control of the City in 2006.

I had never really heard of these politicans until recently. What struck me though was first of all that Ms Olin was the second female Mayor of Stockholm and secondly that she had admitted an alcohol problem. its interesting to see that her Party did not kick her out even though she allegedly took a month off to get treatment. Its pity the UK Lib Dems didnt have the same patience with Kennedy who is right up there with Ashdown and Grimond as the best Liberal Party leaders.

Also what I dont understand is that Mr Nordin is an MP but not a Councillor so how can he be Mayor? I guess here the ruling Party can select whoever they want as leader. I know when I visited the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) when I was 18 they told us that Ministers dont have to be MP’s! Probably a better system than ours but still for my money it means they are not publicly accountable to the electorate.

For example in the UK the Council Leader or Mayor can be booted out by the public. Interesting.

Strangely warm in Stockholm

 

Stockholm has been enjoying some great weather this week. My thermometer reached the early twenties yesterday.

What is remarkable is the change in the city and it’s people. Tables have appeared from nowhere in front of pubs, restaurants, bakeries, cafes and kebab houses. Its great to see people sitting out in the sun and enjoying the rays.

What I really like is my local square Mariatorget. They have a great statue of Thor having rumble with a couple of nasty sea creatures, apparently called Jörmungandr. What makes me giggle is the Swedish toddlers climbing all over them, they would have scared me senseless as a kid, must be the Viking mentality!

What is really cool now is the sea creature also doubles up as a fountain and there is a small pool around Thor and co. See the photo above.

If the weather is this good on the weekend I think I will try and get on a boat sightseeing trip.

Hammarby at Söder Stadion

I know you are all dying to know how my first Swedish match went…well…on the football side let me just say that had I been watching on the telly I probably would have switched over after twenty mins. But on the atmosphere side I was really impressed!

The Hammarby or ‘Bajen’ fans are probably one of the loudest I have heard. They just dont shut up! They have a fine repertoire of football songs, many with very funny lyrics well unless you support AIK that is.

Here are some videos I took, complete with sound! Look out for the guy at the front who is conducting the Bajen fans, there were several of these who got up at different stages to keep the fans singing.

Hammarby Video Clip One
Hammarby Video Clip Two
Hammarby Video Clip Three

Plus a couple of photos though not many as I thought clips would be better

I met up with Nick the Swede and his dad at Medborgplatsen, this is a big square in the heart of Söder. As the weather is getting really nice this area is totally transformed from a few months ago, with beer tables and food being served.

Nick and his Dad took me to the Green Hunter pub, Niclas pointed out that this was a great place pre match but not that nice any other night! I loved the pre match atmosphere and the sense of community, all fans in green and white, and united as they make their way to the ground. An earlier poster wrote that anyone who lives in Söder has to be Hammarby and I think he is right. Its not just football, its community and pride in ones community.

The ground itself, Söder Stadion is not the best. Its sandwiched between office blocks and Globen. In some ways its a nice sign that they havent sold out. In England the terrace I stood on last night would probably be a Morrissons or a Tesco Superstore now. Nick the Swede was telling me that first the Social Democrats in the mid nineties and more recently the Conservatives (Moduraten) have promised a new ground but of course this was conveniently forgotten when they got elected.

The first thing I noticed was the big net in front of us, to prevent crowd trouble I guess. This took me back to my youth on the terraces of the North Bank at Swansea!

It must be really hard being a referee in the Allsvenskan. They show the whole game on the screen so you get to see replays and of course the refs mistakes. It must be really hard to focus when you hear the fans baying at you as they see the replay. At least when you make a decision at park level you are sure you have made the correct call but when moments later you hear the fans then it must be hard.

I was impressed with the merchandise on sale both official and unofficial at the ground, I picked up an official Hammarby scarf, Nick the Swedes’ conversion of me into a Bajen fan is almost complete.

The transport infrastructure is also very good. The tube pretty much pulls up outside the ground and I am only a few stops away. I bought a Chorizo hot dog in bread on the way home and was appalled to find mashed potato in it! I love mash but couldnt get on with this, I think it will be a case of ‘bara salad’ next time.

Will I go back to watch Hammarby? Definitely, also be good to experience an away day atmosphere and most definitely a derby match with AIK or Djurgarden.