Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I'll have a side of BUGGER with that please

So, we all know how awesome I am with technology. Actually I'm pretty good but stuff just seems to happen to me.

In our latest episode we come across a struggling traveller whose laptop meets with an unfortunate accident. In that a speaker, amongst millions of wires is pulled down onto the screen of her laptop rendering it useless.

The poor weary traveller looks up to the sky and thinks - in the vein of Job but of course not being blasphemous at all - why dear God why?

Luckily the weary traveller has recently received money back from medical expenses in New Zealand and goes forth and buys a mini - less powerful laptop. Which is also in the Swedish alphabet - didn't think of that!

However, pictures of mine adventures, iTunes music and other sundry items are lost. In hope, she takes herself off to the local electronics store, but alas, in vain, they cannot access her computer hard drive.

Realising that in a foreign land she cannot do much she still looks to the light of the Anglo world and will trudge around with laptop until a brave Canuk can rescue her precious items. Failing this the back up plan will be to ship the damn thing home because the traveller knows of a brave knight in the land of Aotearoa who can always fix her troubles.

Disheartened at excess expenditure the weary traveller is reminded by a Swedish fairy princess that she has full travel insurance and may be able to claim...

and thus the story of the weary and disheartened traveller is TO BE CONTINUED....

Friday, 24 August 2012

It's been quiet but nice

OK - the Scandanavians come up with the best stuff. Check out the photo below. This is their version of an ice tray. You pour water into the bag and it seals itself up and then you lay it in the freezer to freeze. When frozen you simply break the plastic and out pops the ice. It's a space saver, easy to use, you buy the bags in containers like the Glad Bags and you can store heaps of them at once. I realise I sound like an infomercial but seriously this stuff is awesome.

Mama Svenska very kindly agreed to cut my hair. I hate getting my hair cut. Usually I have to spend over 3 hours in a salon and I just can't sit still for that long! She learnt to cut hair in her teenage years - her father was the barber of sorts in their tiny village (Ralund - previously mentioned) and when the boys wanted more funkier haircuts - presuming this is in the 60s and they wanted Beatles rather than short back and sides Ulla learnt how to cut hair. 50 years later and I reap the benefits. Free, quick and painless. She didn't even get my ear with the scissors (this was actually a caveat!)
Getting a hair cut - we've figured out that with all the hair dying I've gone back to my actual natural hair colour. 

Now Ida has gone and be a gimp. Actually she thought that she could stop a massive plate glass window from dropping. With her hand. Delusions of superman I tell you.

She had previously torn ligaments in her hand - so now she is in a cast for a week to try and fix it. She has to wear gloves to do things. Hee hee
The future makings of the worst prostate check ever
Years ago one of our dogs had an operation and we had to put a plastic bag around its leg. We have to do the same thing for Ida before she goes into the shower. Giggles.

Langstroms should not be allowed near equipment ( her father saw planed his fingers/thumb off at his work)

Check out my new Dickensian gloves knitted with love for me by Mama Svenska. Loving them - can't wait for it to get colder so I can use them!
For all of you who have had to work with me, or live with me and heard me complain about this. I finally got my damn glasses fixed so they no longer go sliding down my or off my face so that I need to keep pushing them up like Point Dexter.

This afternoon to a gold mine - 1 km underground. I am really hoping at this point that I'm not claustrophobic although I remember my father taking me caving when I was younger so I'm thinking not. I also intend of thieving any rock I think has gold it in.

Not that I will be able to do anything with it - but I just feel the need to. Maybe I have a little LOTR in me after all - my precious!

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Swedes play Chicken (aka lessons one can take away thus far in Sweden)

Almost half way into my stay in Sweden I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the top ten things I have learnt thus far (and do they translate into everyday life):

- in no particular order -

1. Swedes play chicken. As in - if you are on the footpath, or in the supermarket or anywhere (apart from the road) and you see someone coming towards you - don't move out of the way. AT ALL. Seriously, when I first got here I was dodging people left, right and centre and then I realised that the buggers were never moving for me. I was summarily enlightened on the Swedes aversion to giving way to anyone. I mean, that would be polite - which apparently the Swedes are not, on the whole, renowned for. I don't mean in a Japanese there are millions of us squished into one tiny area so this is how we roll. This is - "I can see you 100 metres away and technically (as there are four of us spreading out on the footpath) we should move for you but bugger you kind of not moving".

Lesson: Always stand your ground, you may bump into the other person but they'll be almost expecting it - nay- respect you for it.

2. You are not invincible  In NZ because we have an easier liquor law we tend to think that 2 glasses is by no means a blood/alcohol level that could possibly impair you. She'll be right mate I've only had a couple.

However, try having 2 glasses of vino, hopping on a bike and you will realise just how much alcohol actually affects you.

Lesson: You are most definitely boozed after 2 glasses no matter what the voices in your head are saying. And you may not always have a dandelion bush to soften your fall (refer to previous blog post).

3. Pee before you leave the house: There is only one toilet in Skellefteå township which is public and appropriate for use i.e. you know that dodgy toilet that you HAVE to use on SH1 and you think needs cleaning up. That is heaven compared to public toilet here.

Lesson: Learn your environment BEFORE you get stuck in an uncomfortable situation.

4. Sometimes a phallic statue is just that: OK, just admit it - sometimes you look at artwork and thing - gosh that looks like a .... or a .... Well my first time in Skelleftea township I look over at this statue and I'm like that looks like a penis. Then Ida said to me " this is a statue that represents a phallus". I was like, you're shitting me. Then she said, no , but for goodness sakes don't say it looks like a penis. I was like, hang on - you're telling me it's meant to represent a phallus but not a penis - which is essentially , given the correct moment in time, the same thing. Yes was the answer. Ok says I.

Lesson: Sometimes giving something a fancy name does not detract away from the fact that the town you live in , quite on purpose, has a statue representing a penis. A rose by any other name...

Wikipedia: just in case you're interested.

It is not unusual to see people posing this phallic statue

5. Extra heaters in cars are not a rangi way of fixing the heat: coming from NZ and the great culture of "she'll be right just use a bit of duct tape" I hop into some Swedish cars in the front passenger seat, look down and see a plug socket. With a heater attached. I just think - ah well fair enough easier than buying a new car.

Apparently it's not just a rangi way of fixing the heat in a car. In winter it gets so damn cold sometimes you need EXTRA car heaters in the north. Why not put them in properly you ask? Well... because not all cars made are directly for the North of Sweden. They also have to plug their cars into little car heater things during winter as well.

Lesson: Don't automatically assume the reason for something  - you may not have the full frame of reference.

6. NZ really needs to up the ante on our download speeds It is ridiculous how quickly it takes for things to download here not only that but it is far cheaper here than in NZ.

Lesson: no lesson but I am glad I'm going to have another year at least of fast download speeds in Canada!

7. Do I really giving a flying...? Away from Auckland and separated from pretty much everything I know its been easier to decide whether I give a crap about something or not. In the end I have learnt thus far not to sweat the small stuff... and its all small stuff. I've also learnt a thing or two about how I let people treat me and my expectations of those around me. I said to Ida about a situation the other day , "let's be honest do you really want to hear about (*insert particular drama) from this person? Ask yourself - do you honestly giving a flying ....?" It sounds so simple yet so often I have found myself worrying about things and people that if I boiled it down, I really don't care that much about - this then takes time away from the things and people I DO care about.

Lesson: Cut the dead weight, pay attention to the things and people you really care about. The rest is just noise to be blanked out.

8. Every nation has their "Marmite". I.e. the food everyone else not born of the country hates. Most of us Kiwis love our Marmite. I was trying to explain the comforting goodness I experience when I have a Milo and some Vogels toast with butter and Marmite. I had a fake Marmite here Our Mate - it smelt the same but the rest was just a big disappointment. However - managed to get some people to smell it. They said it was the most disgusting thing they had ever smelt. And this is from the people that love sour,smelly fish - (Surströmming) which to be fair I managed to avoid having the last time it was being eaten.


This makes me so homesick I feel like licking the computer screen
Lesson: Never diss something that someone loves just because you don't like it - there will be something you love that they cannot understand and this is true for everyone just get on board, try it once and keep your mouth shut.

9. Sweden doesn't believe in post shops: At all - I've got stuff to send home and do you think for the life of me that I can find any sort of packaging/ system/shop. I have trekked EVERYWHERE -  I have one more hope left so we shall see how that pans out. So anyone who knows they're getting a little package I'm sorry - its coming unless Willy Wonka makes good on his promise to be able ship things physically by TV.

Lesson: Just because a country is left leaning and has post boxes doesn't mean they have an actual post office you can go to.

10. You are never too old to climb statues. One of our forays into town and the only night club we met a local singing pop star. As we all cycled away from town I spotted a statue. I yelled out "OOO statue photo" Maturity is key here. Bless his heart Funky Dan as he is known promptly follows me to the statue and poses in front of it. Looking around , he wonders, where has the Kiwi gone. Meanwhile in front taking the photo the Swede Ida is in stitches as she notes the Kiwi not posing in front of , but rather climbing up onto, the statue. Funky Dan promptly followed suite.

Lesson: There are two lessons to be learnt here. One - the ancient art of statue climbing is definitely Kiwi/Australian past time not quite jumped onto by the rest of the world ..... yet.... and Two -  no matter how hard you try , sometimes , you just have grab the moment, be immature, and have a good giggle.

Me and Funky Dan

Friday, 17 August 2012

VERY honourable mentions

I just have to do a shout out to my dear friends who I love and have just gotten engaged. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm the most cynical romantic out there.


Vanh and EJ


Jesse and Sarah

you are two fantastic couples who restore my cynical faith.

I can't express how happy I am for you all and I actually like all of you not just half of you haha



Briefly speaking....

Okey dokey - the week or so in brief:

So I went up to the biggest "happening" in Norrland. It's an expo that has everything from household products to craft items.

Bought a little something something for my parents and myself some awesome earrings and a ring both of which are handcrafted by a local artist out of vintage spoons!

Next was dinner at Emil and Maria's house - smoked fish - literally smoked just 1/2 hour before it got to the table in this very handy and manly smoking device!!

I also got to try beaver meat. Disturbingly I posted this on facebook and actually received a recipe for it back from one of my mates. Takes all sorts!

Oh and at some point I learnt a very valuable lesson about wine and dandelion bushs. Drink wine, don't be as coordinated - end up in a dandelion bush.

On Saturday just gone Ida and I organised a BBQ for some friends and it was heaps of fun - even in Sweden the men are around the meat while the women are inside!

After eating we played a traditional Swedish game of coordination called Kubb. I actually managed to hit something so I was quite impressed. Basically you try and knock out your opponents 5 wooden pieces. Once you hit one from the other side you get to throw it in the middle then you have to try and hit it again. Once you get all their pieces you have to go for the King piece in the middle.

There were two Kiwis playing that day - guy in purple top is Ida's cousins hubbie Matt from  the Mount

Julle goes in for the throw

New friends! Arun and I

It's actually quite fun! I have learnt the Swedes do love their games after they eat but I believe this is a good thing - particularly for the digestion.

Snus makes your lips go funny ( I don't have any in just mocking Julle)

Jo'berg and Ida

Awww. All tuckered out

I also learnt that it is not wise to try and move too quickly on slippery floors while running away from Swedes - ouch!

I bruise and I am slightly unco - it makes for an interesting mixture

I have been helping out around the house and making dinner. I must say though that after walking around the hoooge ICA supermarket in Solbacken it was nice to then realise that they don't sell udon noodles at all here. Or the hokkien ones that are sealed up. I suggested I import a few Asians from Howick to boost their lagging Asian dining experiences here. I really miss the easy access to places like Tai Ping, etc. I have however found vermicilli noodles and shall be trying to make my first ever (because I always get Maman to make it hers is the best!) Island chop suey. I am going to make Ida try it before anyone else a/ because I'm less scared of poisoning her and b/ because she's tasted Maman's chop suey and so will be able to tell me whether or not I get near the mark.

Yesterday was Ida's sister's 5 year anniversary of her passing. We went to Anne's grave and it is in the most peaceful beautiful setting. It was perfect weather yesterday and it was comforting to the soul to sit for a moment and take stock on life.

Today we are off to the oldest area in these parts so will update on that.

Oh - this is also an old shot but this is where I am staying!

FINALLY a big shout out to my mate Ian Hui who Remote Assisted me from NZ and helped me sort out my PC issues - you rock Hui!!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Something I did on Facebook while bored

This will amuse my Aunties, make my mother go hmmmm and my father worry. To be fair my mother is going to retire at 100 - just after she buys that one last coat that she needs (in addition to the 50 in her closet). I swear Narnia is through her wardrobe.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Love is giving up the underwire to your bra

As I have made my way through this life I have always had in the back of my mind all the sayings that my mother passed onto me from her father.

"Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, the other gold"

"Love many , trust few and always paddle your own canoe"

"Above all guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life" (Well anyone who knows the disaster that has become known as King Henry VIII knows that I need to work on that one).

I'd like to add one to the list though - true love means giving up the underwire to your bra.

I'm in Sweden as you well know staying with my dear dear friend Ida and she brought a bra in NZ (haha I knew it was bought just wondering how many of you just went - Anne-Marie we paid for that education at you can't even use correct grammar - wait that was just my Maman).

Anyway, I knew how much she liked it - so said to Mama Svenska that she should take the underwire from my yellow bra and put it into Ida's one. Now admittedly I'm not an entire saint (I'm sorry to shatter the illusion) and I did hate the underwire in it but I ask you this -especially you females - how good must a friend be to give an underwire too ?!!!

That's all I'm saying about that.

Anyway in another mention to a beloved friend of mine who is going to kill me for even putting this in the same blog post I have to say that in a guy/girl way my bro Ian has been answering my IT questions while half a world away.

I mean I can literally email and say - Plantronics headset broken help - and I get help. Sometimes friendship is not just about underwires but the massive wiring of the world that connects us all together.

Sorry I mentioned you in a bra piece Ian - but to be fair it's me you have to forgive me! I get to speak to Ian tomorrow and that's awesome.

The rest of you if I have not sent you a letter - its coming and I love you all - I will be bringing you the news in brief via puncto reflexionis tomorrow!

Bisous xxx AMP

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Technology - friend or foe


I just wrote a whole blog and the stupid piece of tech died on me. Now I have to remember what I wrote again and to anyone who said oh you should have saved it imagine me looking at you disdainfully and saying yes I know that and I tried to. Hmmph.

Ok where was I?

Friend or Foe


The first time I was in Europe there was barely any internet access. I found one small pc in an entire school that I could load up the internet on. The next time I was in France the internet had progressed however Facebook didn't exist.

Both times you relied upon texts , or even way before that - eeh gad - letters!. I am writing a few letters to people now and some postcards because I have to say that the effort you put into letters and postcards does mean alot.

However, as I log onto Facebook, Crackbook or whatever you want to call it - I have to say its nice to be able to follow up with what my friends are doing with their day to day activities. In a way it is a less morbid version of Jean Paul Sartre's Huis Clos. If you haven't had a chance to read this play or see it on film I recommend you do. There is a 1950s version I believe that is quite palatable.

I love reading peoples comments on their lives, their funny pictures they put up and yes, even the status updates that are sad or angry. The ability to converse with others so freely and in a social albeit online environment is one that I think many of us needed - its important to feel connected with people.


You find out things instantaneously that you don't want to know about. And also, sometimes there is too much information out there.

The instant gratification of text can harm more than it helps - with whole important conversations occurring without a face to face.

However this can also be good. Putting an end to things that should never have been - the ability to decide to cut ties without too much having to happen. A disposable way to leave disposable relationships.

Overall I think tech is good, it's the way in which you use it. I know from my previous experience at the Ports that I have learnt not to just post things willy nilly - everything these days is so public.

I also have learnt to treasure the friendships I have that are more intimate - and deal on a person to person level.

I'm lucky I have great family - I would choose every single one of them to be in my life - and my friends are the family I have chosen.

You snus (snooze) You lose

 I had to do a special section for this particular product. This is snus - pronounced snooze. It is like chewing tobacco only you don't chew it you roll it in a ball and stick it up in your upper lip.

It smells odd, looks like mashed up tobacco poo and has more nicotine than a cigarette.

But in the name of travelling adventure I had to try it.

Now, I'm not used to having stuff in my upper lip and I clearly am not good at it. Even when Julle rolled me a ball it eventually started dripping down the side of my inner mouth near my teeth - supposedly you're to push it back up with your tongue however I couldn't figure out a way of doing this without being totally obvious.

So , as I sat there, with bad tasting nicotine sliding down the front of my mouth - undoubtedly staining my teeth I thought why would anyone do this?

Julle has been informed that under no circumstances is he to give me this product again - he says yes - but I know him he'll do it  just so he can laugh at the outcome!

My thinking is that for 6 months of the year it's so damn cold in Sweden that you wouldn't want to go outside for a cigarette so you have this instead.

And for all my cigarette smoking friends - its only 10$ for a 20 pack of Malboro Gold here.

But for me it has put me off ALL tobacco products, maybe the New Zealand government should use it in their anti smoking deterrent campaign.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Fishing, Moose Spotting and why I have probably pissed off Santa

On Friday night we headed up to Ida's mother's summer house which is in Ralund (I'm still figuring out how to put Swedish punctuation etc in so its not spelt exactly like that).

It has been in the family for many years and is where her mother grew up. Ida, Emil and Maria - Emil's partner went up there with the two doggies - Sally and Freya.

View from the garden - its like time stopped still here a 100 years ago

A new hunting dog to add - all the dogs I've met have been proper working/hunting dogs!

 On the Friday night we went fishing - we were highly UNsuccessful but managed to have a good time all the same.

I even tried to row the boat home. I figured out that my right arm is distinctly stronger than my left arm and ended up going around in circles but to the amusement but little help of the others.
Maria (Ida's sister-in-law)

Rowing fail

Emil working hard
 Then after fishing we went for a drive around the forest in the hope of seeing a moose and we did!! He was massive and it was my first ever sighting of a moose.

Sally and Freya the dogs went manic - actually Freya went manic because she has been hunting properly and I think this made Sally just get excited as well!

This moose was magnificent and huge!

Every Swede gets excited about seeing a moose!! (Freya, Sally and Ida)
 On Saturday at lunchtime we went to visit a local museum. The guy that started it is related to Ida's mother (as are most people from around this particular area) and he started out with one small room and 100 visitors the first year and now has many rooms showing the changes of season to wildlife and nature in the area - last year over 30,000 people visited the museum where you also can have a lunch of the food hunted in the area.

Head here to read more:

The animals are posed incredibly lifelike in rooms set to look like their natural environment and are stuffed - some are donated as they are endangered.

Plates made from wood , as are the cutlery they are thrown on to the fire to cook more food when you are finished with them

YUMMY - this is how the food is cooked a little similar to Mongolian BBQ

You tell the meat by the antler next to it - this is moose

And this is reindeer - which I ate a bit of and thus am pretty sure that I won't get a  Christmas present because I've literally eaten Santa's ride. 

Maria, Emil and Ida

I really wanted to buy this red fox fur but wasn't sure if I could get it back into NZ - I guess I won't be applying for a role at PETA anytime soon.

Even the coffee mugs are fashioned out of wood

This is me - I'm throwing an axe - its top left - it is way harder than it looks trust me and you have to get a bit of force behind it - a bit more practice and I think I would have got it - it's the Dane in me coming out I think!

Lägg till bildtext
 Headed back to Moro Backe (which is the suburb where I am staying) and got ready to head out for an evening with some friends - but first a piccie with my Mama Svenska - Ulla
Mama Svenska and I 

Ida and I ready to  head out (yes on cycles)
 PS - I managed to cycle in a skirt and high heels. I am so impressed with myself right now!!!

Julle, Jo-berg , Made and Ida at the Viktor-Carl

Me and my new Swedish boys!
A very good night all in all!
Julle up there in the photo on the left is the guy whose summer house we went to the other weekend. Julle basically subsists on pizza, sausage and other crap food so as I have time I have decided to make lots of meals for him to freeze and eat when he needs to! Men - that's all I have to say - let's be fair I like being useful and cooking!