You may have noticed that I was quiet in 2016. I really just wasn’t feeling my muse, and I only write when I have something cohesive to say. Besides, I wanted to see how the year would end, after the dark days of benefit deprivation, celebrity deaths, Brexit and Trump.
I can safely say that the occupants of Tribble Towers made it out alive. The human occupants, anyway. Sadly, I lost a number of tarantulas (Steve being the last of 2016, Damocles being the first of 2017) and not all of them were old. That’s just Nature, for you.
So, there were some horribly low points. But there were also really high points. Allow me, for instance, to tell you about Sweden!
Sweden was my husband’s company’s team building exercise for the end of the year, but also a company holiday – and so us WAGs (we officially got labelled WAGs!) were allowed to come along. I wasn’t the only one who had never flown before, and a colleague’s girlfriend almost refused to go thanks to nerves about taking her first flight. I knew I’d met her when an attractive lady with long brown hair approached me in Stansted Airport and asked “Are you the Spider Lady?” (she loves spiders too, and only went along because I was going). And that is how I met my new friend for life!
My first flight! Please excuse the bags under my eyes – I had to get up at 4am after being too keyed up to really sleep!
Saby Sateri: our hotel. Our room was top right in this picture.The Vasa Warship. Worth reading more about.
Obligatory cute animals at Skansen, the living museum. The crocodile went for the MD when he turned his back (and that crack in the plexiglass shows he makes a habit of it)!
I should also mention the amazing food. We spent our first evening at the MD’s house, with his two sons and his lovely wife. There was a pink dip to dip tunnbrod (a type of flatbread) into, with sliced vegetables to nibble on. I have to know what the pink dip is, because it’s delicious! For now, my friend and I are simply referring to it as “that lovely pink stuff” and waiting for some to be brought over for us the next time the MD is in England.
The following morning, after a delicious and drawn out continental breakfast (and the discovery of a beautiful tea blend that contained pieces of mango), Dom and I went outside to take pictures of the hotel grounds:
The red cabin you see here is opposite the hotel, and was the building used for the official company Christmas party. It had a fire pit and – if the upstairs conference room was turned into a bedroom – it would be a place I would happily move in to and call home.
I have already touched upon Skansen and the Vasa warship, and on our journey into Stockholm I discovered that the MDs wife (who is a native Swede) is happy to talk about the history of the place (that’s how we ended up seeing Vasa at all; I’d spotted a statue outside the Palace and wanted to know who he was). Skansen had a lovely (huge!) Jul market going on and, of course, there were the animals.
Now I need to tell you about the hotel’s Jul Feast! There was unlimited food, snaps (otherwise known as Aquavit or Akvavit) and beer (which I don’t drink). I wanted to eat more, but it was hot in the private dining area and I was stuffed with cheese, cold meats, Swedish meatballs and herring. Herring marinaded in all kinds of different ways, smoked herring, plain herring… they eat a lot of herring in Sweden. There was also salmon, which tasted absolutely incredible. We didn’t stay late at the works party ourselves, but a lot of people didn’t turn in until 4am (it was that much fun – I just tire very easily).
The following morning, a very hungover group of people drifted down for breakfast and – as we were flying back to England that day – it was decided that we’d take things easy at the bosses house. I didn’t feel up to the forest walk (I opted to be driven there), but I did make it to the jetty on Ingaro Bay and back to the house again:
As you can see, it was a beautiful, clear morning. I’m sure that clean air saw off the worst of my CFS symptoms.
Back at the house we just idled about, chatting and watching silly YouTube videos. There was pizza, and I discovered Swedish pizza salad. I’ve bought a lot of Swedish food since returning home, as it tends to be lighter and healthier than British food.
Sadly, our time had come to an end, and we had to be transported back to the hotel to wait for our lovely bus driver, Hans, to drive us to the airport. I think it’s safe to say that none of us really wanted to leave, and as we left the bus for the homeward trip, I couldn’t help giving Hans a hug and a hearty “Tack” (thank you). The Swedes are incredibly polite and they love the English, but they genuinely appreciate it if an English person uses whatever Swedish they manage to pick up whilst visiting. Since Dom and myself are planning to go back for a few days in May or June, I’ve decided to get learning!
Our year began so badly. Who could have forseen how wonderful it was ultimately going to become? Thank you for having us, Sweden: we will see you again very soon!