Thursday, May 31, 2007


We walked out to the western harbour area to see the Turning Torso, Sweden's tallest building, and, at 190m, the second tallest apartment building in all of Europe. The nine cubes of five-storeys each swing twist through 90 degrees between base and summit.

The tower overlooks a mix of new residential areas and the south promenade (seen above) and the Oresund Bridge (below) connecting Sweden and Denmark, which I'll be crossing tomorrow.

Malmö Vice

Oresund Bridge

School playground

Malmö and neighbouring Lund have much to offer in the way of design excellence. The graduating exhibition for industrial designers from Lund at the Form/Design Center showcased a lot of interesting work. Just up the road, the Formargruppen artist cooperative had a interesting range of arts and crafts from the region; Heidi Hirengen's ceramics were particularly eye-catching. All in all, there's a quite different feel here to Stockholm, and as much as I enjoyed the Gamla Stan and Skansen areas there, I think I might find Malmö a more congenial place to live in.

Waiting & waiting

An email arrived from the hotel manager just before I left Göteborg for Malmö:
The 29/5 Place about arrive time we mast no the hotel shell by full ape theta night.

Best regards
Translations on the back of an envelope please.

Thumbscan from the online parish records
I've renewed my attempts to discover more about the family of my great-great-grandfather Sven, by exploring the Swedish Church records archive. Since I don't know the parish of his birth/christening, I have hundreds of separate archives to troll through just for the Malmöhüsparish entries of 1856/7. This is usually not helped by the handwriting in said archives, which looks like his granddaughter's diaries of horse-races she was going to bet on, and the huge duplication of popular names. So I have to find Karl/Carl Sven Olaf/Olof amongst all the entries for Gustav Fine Cotton and Kristina Maria Makybe Diva entries.

Jonathan Haidt's book, The Happiness Hypothesis was an engaging and concise synthesis of ancient wisdom and modern cognitive psychology. Highly recommended.

And none of it should be missed

Any of you in the London area should be, en masse*, standing in for me when Chris takes to the stage in the Grosvenor Light Opera's mayfly-brief season of The Mikado. It started tonight and runs through to June 2.

I'd give Nanky Poo's right arm to be there, but I won't be on that side of the Channel for another two weeks.

*or even comme une train de petites dames

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The province of Skåne was once part of Denmark, but it was one of several that was handed over to Sweden a few centuries before my ancestor Sven was born in Malmö in c.1857. On previous occasions whe I have mentioned my Swedish heritage to Swedes, they would ask where exactly ... Malmö ... (roll of eyes) ugh, practically Danish!!
Prior to landing in Malmö we had some short business in Helsingborg, an attractive city within sight of Denmark and Hamlet's Elsinore.
It was quite a warm day, the warmest that I can recall since we were in Warsaw in April. The city centre is perched between the harbour and a high fort with a park overlooking it all.

Bondi and I crashed out beneath a tree, until a trio of very young girls came over to inspect us. One of them was very determined to communicate and wasn't going to let her small English vocabulary (grass, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, ...) and my doubly meagre Swedish interfere with that!

Once she had established (1) that I was an idiot; and (2) Bondi was probably safer to deal with than me, she patted him a few times then asked us to move away so that she and her partners could climb the tree we were lying under. Yes miss, three bags full miss!
Prince of (H)elsin(gb)or(g)
Shortly after our eviction, it was time to meet a far mellower local, Camilla, reporting on our travels for Hundsport, magazine of the Swedish Kennel Club, with whom we had a lovely 3 hour conversation, interspersed with some photo shoots by the harbour.

Malmö was only 40 minutes drive further on, and our hotel was well placed near the central pedestrianised zone.  Having expected to find a modernised herring port, I was more than gratified to discover an amiable small city full of cafes, design centres, a really good CD store and many surprising little flourishes of sculpture, art-nouveau architecture rounded out with lots of greenery.

This was the city where Ingmar Bergman was director of the local theatre and discovered much of the talent (Max von Sydow et al) who were to populate his films in coming decades.

I loved this set of scultpures, it reminds me of Krazy Kat.
At last! An Oddfellows building that actually looks the part.
Lilla Torget

In the evening, squares such as Lilla Torget come alive as bars and restaurants fill. I am often reminded of Amsterdam, particularly with the swarms of bicycles used by all.





Lilla Torget (looking in opposite direction) around 11pm


Gothenburg / Göteburg (say "you're d'boy" quickly), Sweden's second largest city, is running an appeal to fill every crack between cobblestones with cigarette butts. They are close to reaching their target, but need just a few more donations.

The story goes that King Gustav II Adolf (pictured above, sans leash) pointed to the ground and said “Där skall staden ligga” ("Pick up those ice-cream containers please"There shall the city lie”) and nearly 400 years later, there lie some of the most rubbish filled streets I've seen in months, outdoing anything I've seen in Eastern Europe.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Farewell to Norway

Tomorrow we set off for the southern reaches of Sweden, completing two full weeks in Norway. Special thanks to Arne & Jan, Geir & Mari for hosting us during that time.

I now have 80% of the remaining accommodation booked, with an anticipated return to the UK on June 14. That allows Bondi to have a full 6 months in one country prior to being returned to Australia before Xmas, and there's still so much for me to see and do in that period. Exactly one month after that I expect to be starting work again in Sydney.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Statues, statues

Today we installed ourselves in the spacious apartment of Arne and Jan, about 15 minutes walk from Oslo's celebrated Vigeland Sculpture Park. It's the kind of place (always open and free to the public) that you want to return to again and again, to admire and contemplate the hundreds of human figures -212 sculptures over 80 acres, all created/modelled by a single man.

I was talking to some visitors from Florida, who helped me out with some photos, and was amused to see various people edging over to where Bondi was sitting behind us, in order to pose with him in photo frame.

Still life with Sonya Henje; Stiller life without Sonya