Thursday, 26 April 2012

Week8: Caravan Fever

A lot of holidaymakers in both England and Sweden use their caravans as a second home in summer, but this week I’m staying in a caravan that is a permanent home all year round. My eighth Swenglish host has lived here for almost two years; it’s warm and cosy and feels like a mini-flat.

However after four days of rain I’m starting to suffer from cabin (caravan) fever. On top of that I’ve come down with a tummy bug and am feeling pretty weak. To my comfort, my host is treating me very well. She had even bought some green tea as she read a previous blogpost where I mentioned what I missed from my “old life”, which is how I refer to my life before I started the project. As I’m trying to copy the routines of each person I’m staying with, I’m finding out what life-styles, including food habits, I like and don’t like. Apart from green tea I also miss muesli, which my host kindly provided.

I hope I’ve recovered fully before Saturday, so I can swap tea for wine! My host is a girl who works hard and parties hard. I understand why she describes her caravan as a sanctuary and creative space, it’s truly a place to wind down. In the midst of all the rain showers I’ve witnessed a couple of beautiful sunsets. And just as I finished writing this to snap some pictures, I noticed that the sky is blue. Finally.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Week7: Swedish Horse in English Home

Can you spot the horse, aka "Dalahäst" in the photo? Saturday my host took me to his friend's birthday party. I'm not very good at small talk, but was relieved when I spotted the traditional Swedish wooden red horse in the bookshelf, giving me a reason to ask questions. It turned out that the birthday girl had bought it when browsing e-bay for "something red and ornamental".

Originally the Dalahäst was made as a bi-product to the furniture carpentry industry in the 17th century in the county of Dalarna. The mass industry of this horse started after it had been exhibited at the World Fair in New York in 1939. However each horse is still handcrafted and hand-painted in the kurbitz-style, apparently involving nine different people. So if you want "something red and ornamental" to put in your IKEA bookshelf, why not? To read more about the history of the Dalahäst click here.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Week7: World Famous Squares

It’s not every day I have lunch in Trafalgar Square. My seventh Swenglish person is an arts writer, and he took me round a few galleries in London. When we stopped for a sandwich in the world famous square I felt strangely happy.

To be in a place I’ve seen on TV and read about in books makes me feel connected, puts me on the map. That’s one thing I really like about living in England, to be part of the world. People all over the planet know about London landmarks, but I doubt anyone can name a square in Stockholm unless they’ve been there on holiday. 
Perhaps it’s my job to educate people, so I've inserted a picture of ”Plattan” ("The Plate"?) ,
or Sergels Torg, a famous square in the heart of Sweden’s capital. 

And as a bonus I'll give you "Dödens's  Väntrum" ("Death's Waiting Room"), 
the "big" square (stortorget) in my hometown Nässjö.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Week6: Gaming

A part of Swenglish is to live the life-style of the person I'm staying with, and I'm trying to take part in as many varied activities as I can. I haven't talked to enough people yet to find out if computer gaming is more popular in England than in Sweden, but who would have thought that I'd play Battlefield and shoot people!? It's feels more "real" and is more addictive than I thought ... 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Week6: Taking the Piss

This week I’m staying with a well-travelled guy who is fluent in JavaScript and other cryptic languages. Yesterday I went with him to The Brighton Farm, a networking group for freelancing new media types, and beforehand I was warned by another guy: ”People get pissed and abuse each other”.

It wasn’t that bad at all. Most people who go the Farm are serious about their work and have received a lot of support when building up their careers as freelancers. I overheard people asking for advice on everything from mobile apps to making promotional videos, and I went home with a couple of business cards in my pocket, but if you’re not familiar with the English expression ”taking the piss out of someone”, you might be in for a shock.

There were some people who called each other ”crazy” and did things like folding a fiver so it looked like ”the queen’s bum cheeeks”. I could give more examples, but they would be too rude to put in print.

I’d prepared myself to be bored. I’d thought the evening would be more like a meeting where people discussed HTML in detail, than a fun social event where anything goes. I chatted to a Chinese woman who had been to Sweden and found it strange that so many dark films like The Girl with the Dragon tattoo and Let the Right One In could could come out of a country that seemed so fairy-tale like on the surface. I blamed the dark Swedish soul due to the long winters, but against my will I found myself laughing along with the guys who made fun of each other’s surnames and downing pints like there was no such thing as work the next day. (Even though this netdrinking often leads to new job opportunities).
When I asked my host what he missed about England when he was away travelling he said, without hesitation: ”The humour. Having a cup of tea or drink with someone, having a laugh and taking the piss.’
According to Wikipedia “taking the piss out of someone” is an expression meaning to mock, tease, ridicule, or scoff. I also read up about the origin and there are several theories all urine-related, but as mentioned above, I want to keep this blog reasonably family-friendly, so if you’re interested you can read more here.

At the end of the night I when I took a piss (literally), I was once again amused by the dysfunctional English toilets.


Thursday, 5 April 2012


I'm having an Easter Break from Swenglish and am spending the week in Scotland which in some ways is more similar to Sweden than England is, at least when it comes to the climate! The other day I got caught in a hail storm.

Swedish people (and a lot of other nationalities) often make the mistake of calling the whole of Great Britain "England", but Scottish people would find that very offensive! Scotland does feel like a different country especially as they've got their own Scottish banknotes and their own parliament. And I love it how everyone says "wee" instead of "little".

It's weird to be on holiday; I'm still in the mood of observing the person I'm staying with and keep taking photos of my friend. Who knows, I might include a Swottish chapter in my Swenglish book ... My friend, who lives in Edinburgh, think I should solve the Sweden-England dilemma by moving to Scotland!