Tempus Fugit

It’s a cold evening here in Västra Götaland. It is also my last evening in Sweden before I fly back to England tomorrow. Last Thursday I took a short, easy flight on SAS from Heathrow to Kastrup where I met up with the Viking and took an Öresund Tåg to Kalmar. The train ride was nicer than the flight. SAS are not the best airline, but this crew were largely from parts of Europe not Scandinavia and they did not speak Swedish. That very much annoyed me. I like speaking Swedish. They’re competent and efficient, but other than a cup of coffee or two there is little difference between them and Norwegian — save that Heathrow is a far better airport than Shatwick!

We made good use of the sauna and spa. This was, ultimately, a spa weekend. It was a very nice spa and a very nice sauna. The breakfast in Kalmar was very nice, too. It was largely locally-sourced, freshly prepared and of good quality. I am fond of Scandinavian breakfasts, especially if they offer copious amounts of Herring. They offered copious amounts of herring.

We visited the Kalmar County Museum, Kalmar’s baroque cathedral, Kalmar Castle and did a fair amount of walking. The museum had a temporary exhibition on life in Kalmar during the Cold War. In the best Swedish tradition, the emphasis is not on the rarefied, but on the tangible — what relates to most. The Viking quite approved of the painting of the flagship of the Swedish Navy getting blown up whilst surrounded by Danish ships. He broached the idea of having a very large version of that painting erected on the Danish side of the border in order to welcome visitors from Sweden.

Kalmar Castle is northern Europe’s best-preserved Renaissance castle. It is also the site where the Kalmar Union, a union of the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish thrones was signed. It’s a pretty building with wonderful views of the sea.

The Viking left for Denmark on Sunday. He had to be back at work the next morning. I left for Göteborg. Travelling through the Swedish countryside is invariably a beautiful experience. There was some snow which made it even prettier. My hotel in Göteborg is very convenient, it took me five minutes to walk there from the train. It is, however, a bit more sterile and it lacks some of the amenities.

I walked through Gamlestaden yesterday. It was different to what I had expected, but after trudging through some building sites, it was still worth the effort. I have spent most of my time in Sweden in places like Kalmar, Ystad, Lund, Helsingborg, etc. They are not villages exactly, but they are certainly not major urban centres. Göteborg is very different from Stockholm. Stockholm is ravishingly beautiful in a very understated way. Stockholm is also more aloof. Göteborg was started as a working port city. Its temperament is different. It is rougher, but not unsafe. It is very cosmopolitan, but it is distinctly Swedish. Göteborg has always been a centre of immigration and emigration. Many of the great names in its history are Dutch, German and Scottish. International trade was centred in Göteborg. The Swedish East India Company was based here and its former headquarters is now the Göteborg Museum. Those that came from around the world, those that left for better opportunities.

It is a city with money, but social problems are also more readily apparent. It is an overwhelmingly clean and well organised city, but there are more tensions than there are elsewhere in Sweden. It is not without reason that Göteborg, along with suburban and rural Skåne are the places where the Sweden Democrats derive most of their support. While I did not instantly like Göteborg in the same way that I did Stockholm, I grew to like it quickly.

 

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

6 thoughts on “Tempus Fugit”

  1. Stop keep writing about all these places Christopher!! I am joking, of course, since every time someone talks of ‘different places’ I have the urge to visit them – and my travel itinerary for this year is now almost sorted: Russia and Poland and then India.

    Talking of Tempus Fugit – we need to communicate about your trip to Oz – will be in contact soon.

  2. I quite like reading about them and then thank God I don’t have to go there!
    Russia, Poland and India, Oh my God! Think of all the noisome disgusting people and diseases!!
    i don’t like going into Bellingham in Jan and Feb, too many snotting bug ridden people coming up from California, major roads spread diseases too.
    Very busy lurking out in the County sorting my greenhouse, starting new seeds and spinning whilst watching the ‘agent orange’ debacle in the White House. Makes a change from the Brexit fuck up! Really, one could run the whole thing on the back of a postage stamp in triplicate and look at the mess they are all making. A wonder they don’t charge for such a comedy of errors.

  3. Boadicea: I like the Nordic countries. They’re clean, orderly and not crowded. One thing that I struggle with in southern England is the crowding. Even in semi-rural Dorset it sometimes feels like I can’t turn a stone over without uncovering a hundred or two more people. Of course, I will leave in just over a month. Wish me luck! The idiotic new managers are trying to cut my hours by 40pc because they can’t manage their finances or use enough common sense so I have yet another thing to worry about.

    CO: I try to avoid the Pacific North West for similar reasons. The people always looks unhealthy and glum. Oh, and many are rather bland. The worst is Idaho. Russet potatoes have more personality than most of the people. In Scandinavia people tend to be healthy, to look healthy and be well put-together. It isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the price. I am fortunate to have a good social circle in Dorset. Some are utterly deranged which makes them far more interesting!

  4. Bland is terribly polite!
    Total bloody PC itis, mustn’t offend anyone, the “I didn’t like to” brigade. The more ‘diverse and sexually fucked up ‘ the better.
    BUT, at least it isn’t catching! Only in the sense of overload into the nearest mental hospital for a padded cell!!
    Plus they all dress like loggers. (Which I don’t think is catching)
    Fortunately my seeds do not appear to exhibit diversity and are RELIABLY HERMAPHRODITE!

    Rural areas of Britain are full of strange people, Wales is even better, completely mad. One nutter friend used to shoot at his wife through the ceiling from the living room when she was in bed upstairs. They sold that house with the holes still there. I’m quite sure the new owners had no idea how they were made! Amazingly they are still together.
    Another used to sit under the bridge in the village and if you looked over at him, he used to shoot at you. This was considered entertainment on the way home from the pub. He never actually hit anyone and out there it took at least 4 hours for the police to arrive, by which time all had gone home, even the gunman. Of course everyone denied knowledge of the affair.

  5. Sheona: No, only for a few weeks in Singapore and Australia. While I do go abroad regularly, I fail to see how my life would improve elsewhere enough to make me want to go for the foreseeable future.

    CO: California might be a mess, but at least there’s some spark and fire in Californians. I have a horrible time with dull people. They quickly drive me up a wall, especially when they have no sense of humour. Perhaps that is one reason why I tend to get on with Northern English so well. Three of my favourite people here are from the north. Two are Scousers, one is Mancunian. They might be a bit rougher around the edges, but they’re solid, decent people who don’t put up with any guff.

    Some of the younger ones here aren’t too bad, either. One of my colleagues is a shameless flirt. Out of fear of sexual harassment complaints he, despite being thoroughly heterosexual, makes a point of only flirting with male co-workers. One of us is the “gentle giant” sort and isn’t much bothered by anything so he just shrugs it off. Another is the youngest child of one of the wealthiest families in the region. He finds it amusing. I’m the tightly-wound, jaded pain in the arse and I just flirt right back because at this point, very little shocks or offends me. Today, for example, our shift ended at the same time so we went to that Mecca of bourgeois respectability, Waitrose. On the way we joked about where we should have our “pre-date sex” — we agreed on the skips or by the stairs nearest car park. Of the older ones, one is an ageing ex-radical leftist from Ireland. In the 1980s he was involved with all sorts of insalubrious activities. In recent decades, he’s had a full change of heart and has become a stalwart of right-wing activism.

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