Friday, 22 June 2012

Week14: The Horror of Marmite

My mission this week was to learn to eat the English spread Marmite. This yeast extract that looks like tar is a by-product of beer brewing and has got a reputation for being one of those things you either love or hate. 

The person I’m staying with is definitely a big lover of Marmite as it was the only food he liked when growing up. After five days of force-feeding myself I’m not hating it anymore ... I wouldn’t say that I like it, but I can tolerate it without feeling sick or sneakily having to put my toast in the bin.

What is worse though is that my host is a big horror film fan, and as I have to do whatever my host is doing I had to endure Nightmare on Elm Street. I started off in the armchair, but twenty minutes into the film I was on the sofa holding on to my host’s arm for sheer life ... Twice in the night I woke up having very dark dreams. I was grateful it was one of the shortest nights of the year.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Week13: Football Score Helped me Decide

Yesterday Sweden played England in the Euro 2012, and a friend suggested that I make my decision whether to live in Sweden or England depending on the outcome of the match ...

Before Swenglish I hadn't watched a football match for over ten years, but this year I've watched two matches because two of my hosts have "forced" me to join in.

Yesterday's match was pretty exciting as football goes. Especially as my host, her two kids and I all bet money on the game. I believed Sweden would with win 4-2. The odds were so high that if that had happened I would've won nearly £800, but when Sweden scored 2-1, even the English family wanted Sweden to win so they could share the money with me ...

It didn't happen though. England won, 3-2 and I guess that means I have to live in England ... At least until next time Sweden plays England!


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Week13: From being a Non-Drinking Vegan to having a Sunday Pub Roast

 The beauty of Swenglish is that even if I travel from one part of the city to another, it often feels like travelling between two different countries. I spent most weekend with host number 12 meditating, singing mantras, following a wheat-free, sugar-free, vegan, sattvic (excluding mushroom, onion & garlic) diet and drinking nothing stronger than nettle tea. On Sunday afternoon I met host number 13 in a pub for a (vegetarian) roast and pints of ale, followed by watching football in another pub.

Traditionally a meal similar to the English roast dinner is served in Sweden on Sundays, but people would never go out for a roast– unless there was a special occasion and even then they would have to find a posh gastro pub and spend lots of money. The potatoes would most likely be boiled instead of roasted and the meat would be pork or beef, rarely lamb. And it would be unheard of for the younger generation to have a traditional meal on a Sunday – take-away pizza is the Swedish way.

In England people of all ages, including lots of students, go out for a roast on Sundays and it’s very affordable (between £6 and £10) and you usually get a mountain of food. However the meal I had didn’t look very appetising (I photographed my plate before I’d touched anything – it was served in a true sloppy manner) and I’m not too sure about the taste as I was too hungry to care.

Among the slop on my plate were Yorkshire pudding (years ago I thought it was a dessert and it does remind me of savoury croissants), cauliflower cheese, and a mushroom parcel, so I definitely broke the wheat-free, vegan, sattvic diet. I enjoyed having an ale, but it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. I quite liked my super healthy week ...

I couldn’t care less about the football – Ireland played Croatia and lost, but the Irishmen in the pub were in good spirits and sang along to the Irish folk songs that the bar staff kindly put on. Apparently England is playing Sweden this week. I’ll have to get my Swenglish flag out ...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Week 12: A Toilet in the Wardrobe

This is what you’ve all been waiting for ... another toilet post! The family I’m staying with this week will get the prize for having the weirdest toilet circumstances so far.

I thought I was sleeping next to a wardrobe ... But it turned out to be ... not the wardrobe to Narnia ... but the wardrobe to the toilet! I can’t see why you would waste wardrobe space by making an extra entrance to the loo. (There is another ”normal” door as well.) Also there’s no lock on the wardrobe door either side, so if you use the toilet anyone could walk in on you through the wardrobe. The gap between the wardrobe doors is big enough to have a peep, but luckily for the person who is peeing or whatever, the toilet itself isn’t within sight.

I’ve never seen anything like it in Sweden – or England for that matter. If you have let me know!

PS. Despite the weird wardrobe, I’d give the toilet 4 out of 5 stars as its clean and have mixed taps and no carpet.

Read more about my view on English toilets here.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

WeekX: God Save the Queen

God Thank the Queen for giving us an extra day off work. Queen Elizabeth has reigned England, well Britain, for 60 years and the weekend that just passed was her Diamond Jubilee celebration. For most people it just meant an extra public holiday, an excuse to go mad or get drunk at a street party. Not too many people seemed to care about the Queen herself.

God Save the Queen, the infamous Sex Pistols song was released 35 years ago when the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee. I was very impressed by this song and odd as it sounds, Sex Pistols along with the other "77 punk bands" - and their message of rebellion - was one of the reasons I wanted to move to England.

The people I've stayed with so far (including the person who owns the picture in the picture) haven't been big royalists, they see the whole thing as a bit of a joke. However people in England seem to make a bigger fuss over their royal family than people in Sweden. There wouldn't be an extra public holiday just because of the king.*

Yesterday I moved in with Swenglish person number 12 and she spent the Jubilee Weekend camping in nature and was happy to be in total isolation, away from the crazy celebrations. My own views? I find kings and queens somewhat old fashioned and  feel sorry for anyone who's forced into something by birth. Despite what Sex Pistols sang, the queen is a human being, not a Queen.

Author Erinna Mettler has written about her view on the whole spectacle here.

*The National Day of Sweden, 6 June, has recently been made into a public holiday. I just found out that the origin of the day goes back to 1523 when the famous Gustav Vasa became king of Sweden, so after all the Swedes are just as crazy about their royalties as the English are ...