Monday, 31 January 2011

"Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue" Anon

Bless me Blog for I have sinned, it's been probably too long since my last confession. Today, I donned the Primark velour romper suit (usually reserved only for extreme instances of hangovers), lounged around on the red sofa, watched a 'Classic Jerry Springer' episode ("I slept with my fiances mother"), 3 consecutive episodes of 'Judge Judy' and did nothing from the To Do list whatsoever. I felt more ill today than I did yesterday and fear I may be on the slippery slope down to something bad. If the aeroplane germ doesn't kill me though the shame of how I have spent the day will. I am regressing into a revolting teenager that can only communicate using inaudible grunts. I didn't consume any Pot Noodles or Tizer however, but this is only as I was too ill/lazy to go to the shop and buy them. To make matters worse and induce me to feel even more sorry for myself, I discovered today that the application made to try and purchase the freehold for my flat was completed incorrectly by the Solicitor which makes the application void.

I would never in a million gillion years buy a leasehold property again. Its the kind of old law that makes no sense and is a complete nightmare to sort out. I can pay the mortgage on my flat off but while its still leasehold, I will never own the land its built on. I'll only own the bricks its built with. There are 74 years left on the lease which apparently isn't very much, so me and the other chaps in the house are trying to buy the freehold from the freeholder. Until this is resolved, I cant move which is what I am desperate to do. When I bought my flat 4 years ago, I didn't bank on The Wig moving in or my addiction to buying old things. I need more space! Anyway, the bad news today that the application was wrong will add more time onto getting it sorted and its doing my damn head in, it feel's like I'm not in control of my own life and the uncertainty of it all is a really horrible feeling. When its all resolved though, the current freeholder will be getting something nasty in the post from me and the other chaps, that much is absolutely certain. Something that rhymes with 'log word'... We know where he lives, works and what he looks like. Don't blame me, blame google for telling me.

So, the day has gone by with nothing constructive taking place, although I did find a use for the cutlery tray that I bought at Lewes the other day (and also finally a use for a small collection of Royal mugs I found hanging around in my kitchen cupboard). Only problem is, there's nowhere to put it!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Moose Salami

I had plans for today. Not especially epic ones but plans none the less. The Wig and I were going to take a stroll to the Barbican, via Columbia Road to share a salad (our new diet / money saving plan) and then watch the 'Black Swan' using the Barbican membership card (£6.50 each, not bad). We were even going to take homemade popcorn along as I'm sure popcorn is good for diets and making it at home certainly saved a few GBP's, however, two things transpired against me. Firstly, I have been unable to take a shower for 2 days. I feel revolting and couldn't risk bumping into anyone I know by leaving the flat. The Wig has been re-sealing the bath for the whole weekend which has made it impossible to get a proper wash. I would have a strip wash as my dad used to call them, but quite frankly I am not 6 years old and don't own a flannel. Secondly, I woke up this morning with a hacking cough, headache and cold. Welcome back to the UK! One of the problems with going anywhere by plane apart from the ghastly latrines and unidentifiable 'food', is that you are very likely to catch a germ. And despite Sweden being the land of the beautiful, they have the same germs as the rest of the ugly population.

So, unfortunately the day has been a write off and I really hate a wasted day. There is always something to do or go and see (or eat), particularly in London, but all I have managed to accomplish today is to watch the final episodes of Boardwalk Empire (really, its brilliant), and avoid eating the only food I could find in the cupboards. Luckily, we had brought back some snacks from Sweden otherwise I would have been forced to chow down on the emergency tin of sardines, and if you have to open those up you know you are in a bad situation. They are only there in case of hurricanes / floods / outbreaks of war.  I'm not sure how long one can survive on Moose Salami and Plopp's with popcorn for pudding without getting a hint of scurvy, but hopefully I'll feel a bit better tomorrow and the sealant will be dry. 

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Hej Stockholm!

Stockholm is not the city to visit if you are struggling with a low self image due to too many chrimbo cheese platters and have no permanent job. You need to be thin and rich in this town baby! However, we did have an exceedingly great 5 days away but now its back to reality, off to boot camp and then to find some work to pay for the trip. I had heard that Sweden was one of the most expensive places to visit but thought that nowhere would be more pricey than London, but lets look at the evidence:

Mocha £3.50
Smoothie £4.50
Sandwich £9.00
Cakes £3-4.00
Salad £14.00
(Museum £10.00)

Wowzers! At least that explains why everyone is so thin in Sweden, they can't afford to eat.

The trip did not start off well due to my usual chaotic way of packing. Make various piles of clothes for a week before the trip, then the night before departure get in a panic that I might need that dress/coat/velour tracksuit that I haven't worn (nor fitted in to) for 3 years, make another couple of piles to cope with extreme freak weather (just to be on the safe side) , then try and squash it into a tiny case round about midnight. On this occasion though, I had forgotten the lock on the case had broken on our previous trip and I was meant to buy a new one... Half an hour and one roll of black gaffer tape later, we were set. Not exactly the chic cosmopolitan image I had hoped for myself on a trip to visit the beautiful people.

Once we arrived though, it was brilliant! I wasn't expecting so much snow or that it would be as cold as it was (minus numbers every day) but I would recommend a visit and would definitely go back. It was extremely icy everywhere we went and the only sound you hear when you are out and about is the sound of people slipping around. You need your wits about you and sturdy footwear that's for sure. I didn't realise this but Stockholm itself is made up of many small islands which makes mooching about very interesting, it's vast, and they also have loads of museums and in the summer you can get boat trips around the islands. If I go again though, I would look into the airport transfer to town a bit more thoroughly and maybe ask the hotel to book a taxi on our behalf. The taxi we got, since we had done zero research and didn't know where we were going, was a flat rate of £52. Yikes. We since found out, you can get an express train or a bus but we can do that next time. The drive time to Central Stockholm was 40 minutes from the airport should you wish to know.

The hotel we stayed in was very central and was next to Ostermalmstorg tube, it was pretty much like staying in a hotel on Bond Street, a very swanky area and needless to say we didn't buy anything from the surrounding shops. I think I'm ok for Mulberry bumbags at the moment. Our room at the hotel was perfect, although there was no bath and we needed more hangers for all the clothes I had taken but never wore.  After we had checked in (you check in and out online on arrival and get emailed a key code for your door when you book), we went for a stroll across the water to Gamla Stan, the old town.

Gamla Stan is very pretty and where we had our first experience of what things cost. A local had recommended a restaurant to us for dinner where we could get 'swedish food'.  Despite being a beautiful place, I've never had to pay £2 to hang my coat up in a restaurant before and £82 was definitely a little excessive for some herrings, meatballs and lingonberry bread.

Day 2 and the weather was very grey and cold. After an interesting breakfast at the hotel of ham, cheese and a boiled egg, we walked over some different water to the island of Djurgarden to visit Skansen. Skansen is the most popular tourist destination in Sweden apparently. Its an outdoor museum with traditional buildings and farmsteads from all over Sweden through the ages and also some authentic scandinavian animals (bears, bison, wolves, elks, WOLVERINES!). When we got there though we realised it wasn't the best time of year to go. It closed at 3pm as that's when it starts to get dark and most of the houses were closed but it was nice to wander around. Although we did not see the bear, WOLVERINES! or elks, we did see a dead squirrel in the snow when we left. Poor thing.

They also had a Tobacco + Match Museum since a Swedish person invented the safety match! This I did not know.

Then in the evening, we had a date. A date with my internet friend, the Swede. In 2006 I started a blog on Myspace which I wrote for exactly one year. Reading it now, most of it is rather cringe worthy, however it was a year that turned out to be very eventful. I had just split up with a long term boyfriend, we had to sell our house, I bought my first car after not having driven for 13 years, I bought my flat, I travelled to Prague and Argentina with work, met The Wig and my father passed away. This last event, was not only the worst experience of my life but it also brought someone to my attention who I met for the first time this week. I can't recall exactly the details but the Swede and I became Myspace 'friends' in 2006 and over time sent each other short messages. Then after I wrote about the death of my father I received a message from him via my blog. It was something along the lines of how he was sorry to hear about what had happened and it made me think that maybe not all people on the internet are weirdos. And we have been in touch ever since and since we were going to Stockholm it made sense to finally meet IRL as he put it. (I think this means 'in real life'...).

So the Wig and I travelled by tube to Medborgplatsen on Sodermalm to meet the Swede at Pet Sounds Bar.

I don't know why but I felt very nervous going to meet him but thankfully he turned out to be a nice normal (very tall) Swede, not an axe murderer or anything unsavoury like that. We watched some live music, had a few drinks, chatted and the went back to the hotel. Still in one piece.

Day 3 and the sky was a  brilliant blue, just how I'd imagined Swedish sky to look like. We walked back to Djurgarden with a slight hangover to visit the Vasamuseet.

This is the home of a warship that capsized on its maiden voyage in 1628 and now has been 95% restored after being raised from the sea in the 1960's. Its a bit like our Mary Rose. I thought it was a Pirate ship but was corrected about this by the Swede. There was no One Eyed Willy on this boat.

After some more meatballs, we popped into the Nordiskamuseet, which is the museum of Sweden's culture through the ages.

By this point I was rather museumed out to be honest and can't remember much of what was in this museum. Also, I think we are quite spoilt by our museums which are usually jam packed full of stuff and also free, that maybe other museums don't seem so good by comparison.

In the evening, after an amazing sunset, we had another date with the Swede and also his girlfriend at their flat in the area of Telefonplan. If they were going to be mass murderers this was the night to bump us off and stick us in the freezer but thankfully, as I said, not all people on the internet are oddballs. The area that they live in is a suburb I guess and the flats were built in the 1940's for the workers of the Ericsson phone company. Since then however, the flats have been sold to young Swedes as a first rung on the property ladder. It was so nice to go to their flat and just hang out. The Swede cooked us dinner and talked about his plans for his music, his girlfriend, Mirja, talked about the bags that she makes in her spare time, the wig looked through their records and I admired their lovely home. It was definitely the highlight of the trip and I hope that at some point soon we can repay their hospitality. The only thing that wasn't so good is the lack of booze for sale in Sweden. It was our job to bring the wine for dinner which I assumed we could pick up from a supermarket en route, however, you can only buy it from one place called a Systembloaget.

I wish I had known. I've never been to someone's house for dinner without taking booze. Worth knowing about this if you ever go to dinner at an internet friend's house in Sweden. Luckily we did not got totally empty handed since we had brought the Swede a birthday present from the Uk for his 30th, an Otamatone! For the Swede that has everything.

Day 4 and other than take a boat trip around the Archipegalo's which didn't seem to be running, there was nothing else for it, than to look for old stuff!!! We had been given a tip off to wander around Sodermalm but as with everything else here, it was just too expensive. Even the second hand and Antique shops cost a fortune, but as we walked back through the old town empty handed, we saw something in the window of what looked like a charity shop. It was a beautiful old shaving box for £40. Quite a lot of money for a Charity shop but a really lovely thing to have as a reminder of our trip. I also bought a small old doll from here for £4. I have no idea why. And then we popped in to the Nobel Museum which was only half open due to building works. Yay.

Our last day and just enough money left for lunch and cab back to the airport which was only £39 since it was booked through the hotel. Time also for a quick stroll around another one of the islands, Skeppsholmen. And that was the end of that week. I definietly want to go back since there is so much to see, although maybe to visit at a different time of year would be good. I would also need to be thinner and take more cash, but overall I would give Stockholm 8.5 Herrings out of a possible 10.