Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GOTHENBURG - THE CHRISTMAS CITY

Gothenburg has skillfully marketed itself as the "Christmas City".
The funfair park, Liseberg, is glimmering with lights. Downtown Gothenburg is also full of lights, decoration, and nightly light-shows.

An extra ferry from Denmark accommodates the increase in winter tourism.
The hotels are nearly fully booked and the restaurants are flourishing. This is very welcome in what is usually the off season.









Tuesday, December 8, 2009

LUCIA - DECEMBER 13

The Swedish Lucia celebration is an annual festival of medieval origin, observed on the 13th of December. On this day, the darkness is brightened by Saint Lucia, a creature of goodness and light who opens the door to the Christmas season.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

ADVENT IN SWEDEN


Four weeks before Christmas (beginning on the first Sunday in advent), Swedes put electric candelabra in their windows and keep them on all night and also during darker days. Many have a candelabra in every window. Since Swedes rarely pull their curtains at night, it is beautiful to walk the streets and see the many lit candelabra. Though most Swedes are not particularly religious, they do enjoy the candlelights in the dark of the long winter.

"Advent is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, and it also marks the start of Christmas festivities in Sweden. More people visit Swedish churches on the first Sunday of Advent than any other time of year; they come to sing the well-known Yuletide hymns. This first Sunday is also the day communities decorate their streets and squares with wreaths, garlands, lights and Christmas trees. At home, Swedes light one candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, in special four-pronged candelabra.


Another way of counting the days until Christmas is the Advent calendar, a card with "windows" that you open, one by one, for each passing day until Christmas Eve. These calendars, which were introduced as late as the 1930s, have become increasingly popular. Swedish radio and television broadcast daily Advent programs for children based on a specially published calendar.
During Advent many people hang luminous stars of paper, straw or perforated metal in their windows. Introduced from Germany around 1910, these stars have become a central feature of Swedish Advent celebrations."
Source: "Traditional Festivities in Sweden"; Author: Ingemar Liman; Published by: The Swedish Institute, ISBN 91-520-0113-X

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BEFORE MCDONALDS


Once upon a time, there were no McDonalds retaurants in London.
Does it sound like a fairy tale ?
It might seem unreal to some, but it's true.

So where could a student eat cheaply in 1967?
There weren't many places. But I remember The Golden Egg restaurants where you could get a meal for a reasonable sum. They all had fake brick and fake vaulted ceilings and such, but what I particularly remember: the miniscule portions. I haven't thought about The Golden Egg for decades, but when I came across this picture, I remember always wishing there could have been a bit more on the plate.

Friday, October 16, 2009

THE MIRACLE AT SPEEDY MOTORS

I have just finished THE MIRACLE AT SPEEDY MOTORS by Alexander McCall Smith. It is book number nine concerning a ladies detective agency in Botswana. Two more books are promised by the author. People do not seem to get enough of them. And I can see why. These books simply make you feel good. They are real "feel-good" books.

The charm lies in the tone of the storytelling, the gentle humour, the loving and respectful description of the various characters. Women definitely have the upper hand at The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. They have the greater smarts and men (with their vanity and lack of insights how women work), are at a great disadvantage. The author has obviously great fun in describing how the women use this talent to their benefit. A woman friend who had started reading one of these books, refused to believe that the author was not a woman, no doubt a compliment to Mc Call Smith's phenomenal insight into the feminine psyche. The books simply have to be read and enjoyed, that's all.

Alexander Mc Call Smith was born in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe today) and was educated there and in Scotland (where he is a professor of Medical Law at the university of Edinburgh). He also spent time in Botswana as a law professor, where helped set up a law school at the University in Botswana. So he has a solid background to draw on.

He is not just a "sweet old man", who writes about his childhood in south Africa. As the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee he is an intellectual heavyweight and I suspect this writing is welcome relaxation for him.

The inspiration for the character of "Precious Ramotswe" and her detective agency came to him when he saw a heavy set woman chase a chicken in in a yard. McCall Smith would never refer to her or the main character as fat or heavily set, but simply as "traditionally built" -- McCall Smith never uses rough or direct words. Aids is referred to as "the terrible disease".

Precious Ramotswe who "is traditionally built" stands for ordinary people; how people look when they eat, and are happy and not preoccupied with modern fashion magazines. She stands for old Botswana, for old traditions of civility, acceptance and respect, untainted by the modern world. You do not have to live in Botswana to feel the loss of "old" values, to feel not at home in the commercialized modern world. And therein lies the universality in these books.

Today people get over stressed and burned out through hectic life styles. A good medicine for stressed people is to read some of these books and drop into a lower gear of life. Millions of people around the world have begun to drink the red African (coffein free) tea that Precious Ramotswe consumes in large quantities. So, could African bush tea be the secret that makes the proprietor of The First Ladies Detective Agency so sensible and relaxed, and able to sit and do nothing, and count her blessings?

The tea tastes good and is relaxing. But this wonderful tea is not enough for people to change their lifestyles. They must drink in Precious Ramotswe's philosophy too.

And that is not attained with a simple sip.


Friday, September 18, 2009

THE PAST IS HERE

Some think that we do not live enough in the past.
Here is the chance to revisit TV SHOWS, FILMS, CARTOONS, NEWSREELS, FILM SHORT SUBJECTS, SILENT & SOUND FILMS, HOME MOVIES, INDUSTRIALS & especially TV COMMERCIALS from the 1950’s/60’s
Visit TVDAYS.COM. Click here!



Thursday, September 3, 2009

THE CHINESE PAVILION

The Chinese Pavillion at the Swedish Royal Palace of Drottningholm is a must for any visitor.
Read more by clicking here.

People who visit Drottningholm palace,
unfortunately often miss to visit the Chinese
Pavilion. You need to cross the park and the
walk is around ten minutes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

KARIN BOYE


The sculpture of the much loved poet and author Karin Boye stands to the left of the Gothenburg City Library.

Usually someone has stuck flower in her left hand, a loving act by one of the many touched by the poetry of this author. She died 1941, when only 32 years old.

Information about Karin Boye: Click here!
Her futuristic (Brave New World-like) novel Kallocain is worth looking into.

CARPET BEDDING



Carpet bedding is a mass planting of low, mostly foliage plants in patterns that resemble the designs in Oriental carpets. It was a popular style of planting in Victorian public gardens but is rarely seen today except at the Garden Society in Gothenburg where the Victorian tradition was brought back in 2008.







Sunday, August 23, 2009

PICKING MUSHROOMS

In almost every Swedish grocery store, you find various kinds of mushroom knives (The sharp end is to cut off the mushroom and the brush is to brush off the dirt).

It has been very warm and wet lately - the best climate for mushrooms.
People rush to the forests to pick them. Yes, mushrooms can pretty much be picked anywhere as long as it is not within sight of a private dwelling. This is possible due to the Swedish Right of Public Access.

Berry and mushroom picking is a national past time.
Of course, one can make money selling mushrooms to Italian companies that have established themselves in Sweden to collect Karl Johan mushrooms (Boletus edulis) or what the Italians call porcini mushrooms. This mushroom is rare and expensive in Italy, but plentiful in Sweden.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

HUMBER CARS








The Humber Car factory in England dates back to 1886.

This old brochure from 1933 must have appeared too fine to throw away, so my grandmother saved it in her attic. I knew she bought a Packard instead with room for most of her nine children.

Friday, August 14, 2009

DADDY TIME

METRO (Sweden) Thursday August 13, 2009:
ONE MILLION DADDIES EXTEND THEIR VACATION.

One must be Swedish to understand what this really means.
Americans who only have two weeks vacation might wonder why the Swedish five week vacations need to be extended.

It has to do with the generous parental leave rules.
When you have, or adopt a child, a couple can take up to 13 months off work, divided between them. Mothers use most of the days, but it is more and more common that men take time off work to be home with their children. But it seems that when August comes, and the vacation is used up, the fathers are more interested in using some of the time. This year it is a million daddies who do precisely that, use some of their parental leave time to enjoy summer.

The Economist has an interesting article on the subject of encouraging men to take more paternity leave. Click here!
Wikipedia explains parental leave. Click here!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

MADONNA FRENZY IN GOTHENBURG

No, it isn't the religious Madonna, it's the pop star Madonna who is causing the frenzy in this city.

87 lorries/trucks arrived some time ago with materials for her elaborate show plus an army of workers to assemble the stage.

Madonna herself arrived yesterday and a candid photo of her in a Mercedes revealed that she is indeed 50 years old now.

She will perform at the Ullevi sports arena and as usual, the entire city, North to South, East to West, will hear what goes on during the concert.

Only a few weeks ago, U2, performed here and they brought 102 lorries/trucks of equipment with them (to Madonna's only 87).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

WHEN IN STOCKHOLM



The Royal Dramatic Theatre (where Ingmar Bergman was active) is a marvel to behold, especially now when it is so superbly renovated.
It was built in 1908, Jugend/Art Nouveau inspired.
The architect was Fredrik Lilljekvist.
Don't miss it!

Friday, July 31, 2009

STONES THAT KEEP ON ROLLING

It was March 1965 and the Rolling tones were really hot.
They still keep coming to Gothenburg, but they do not play in the same small hall they did in 1965. Today they play in a big football arena and the entire city can hear what they play, miles away.

The ROLLING STONES have remained popular, but imagine all the technical gadgets that have arrived since they played in Gothenburg 1965:

- Push buttons phones
- Cassette recorders
- Video recorder
- CD discs
- Computers
- Internet
- Cell phones
-DVDs
to name a few.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

WEIGHT LIFTERS


These are responsible guys.
Who really carry their weight.
Reliable and strong.
The quiet type.
Who know what to do, without a lot of fuss.
Always there for you.
Could you find better guys?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GOTHIA CUP

When Swedes leave Gothenburg for their summer vacations,
one would think that the city would feel empty.
On the contrary: The city is filled with young football (soccer) players from all over the world.
This year, 34,000 young football (soccer)players have come to Gothenburg to play in the tournament called GOTHIA CUP.
It is amazing how little Gothenburg is hosting the largest such event in the world.

Friday, July 10, 2009

OLD TIMERS

Lately we have seen many car models disappear while the American car industry is being reconstructed.

But in the past, many car companies have come and gone.
How many have even heard of the car companies that advertised in the issue of Literary Digest, October 2, 1920?

(Click on the pictures to make them larger)




Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A GOOD INVESTMENT

Invest in lilies -- great dividends are guaranteed.
For the ones that bloom in the summer, plant the bulbs in the spring or fall.
Good drainage is essential. And fertilizer.
That is all.
And they keep giving fantastic flowers year after year.
Not a bad payoff.



All lilies are in containers. The red lillies are actually planted in a large IKEA plastic storage container. I had to make some large drainage holes.

PALM TREES IN SWEDEN?


Yes, we have palm trees in Sweden!
But they are kept indoors in heated greenhouses all winter.
In mid-June it is perfectly safe to plant them outdoors as seen here at the Gothenburg Garden Society.
For a few month, we enjoy the exotic plants.
Before the frost comes in the fall, they are taken indoors.

The method of having Mediterranean plants in a heated green houses for winter storage (often very elegant and fancy buildings) is an old practice used by gardeners in palaces gardens of Northern Europe.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

RIGHT OF PUBLIC ACCESS (The Swedish Allemansratten)

Swedes who live abroad, begin to miss their exceptional access to nature.
Of course there are a lot of parks in the cities in Sweden, but most importantly, there is an old established right of public access to land outside the cities.

This means that Swedes do not encounter fenced in areas with signs that forbid access like one might in other countries. They do not have to drive for hours, to come to a National Park to get into nature.

The public access has never been a problem for property owners. The country is large and the population relatively small and with the old right of public access also comes responsibilities for the public.
To read more what you can do and what you cannot do, click here!

Wikipedia writes more on the freedom to roam.

A person in a Swedish city can, unlike their counterparts in cities on the continent, without owning their own land, have the pleasure of picking berries in the summer and mushrooms in the fall. And of course enjoy long relaxing walks, without worrying about trespassing. (This guy tried it: See what he writes)

There are also many nature reserves in Sweden.
This lake (Delsjon) and the surrounding area is a nature reserve reachable with a 15 minute tram ride from the center of Gothenburg. Here you can ski, hike, fish, swim or go for hour long walks.

Read about a foreign student who tried it out on a winter day. She took some pictures too. Click here!

Sweden might have high taxes, but our access to nature is quite exceptional.

Friday, July 3, 2009

IN A SWEDISH GARDEN


(Click on the arrow to start!)
This will be a nice memory when winter comes.
It was only last week.
Now the pink petals are on the ground.
And I have this little film.
And the bees have their honey.

STIMULUS PACKAGE - VINTAGE STYLE

The US government started several projects to stimulate the economy in 2009.
Therefore it is interesting to look back to the depression of the 1930's when the stimulus package was called WPA.
The American magazine FORTUNE, in 1935 reported on a new murals within the Federal Art Project.