28 September 2009

Swedish autumn

Autumn is starting in earnest up here. The first leaves started falling from the trees weeks ago, but during the past week or so the colours have really started changing.

It's actually not very cold yet (even though Lisbeth has taken out her thin gloves for biking in the morning!) so it's lovely to go for walks in the parks in the mild (early) autumn weather.

We are particularly happy about our daily commute through the Haga park and around Brunnsviken where these pictures were taken.

27 September 2009

Porter and the Chocolate Factory

Despite good intentions this year won't be taking us to Munich - where a considerable number of 'chemistry friends' are located - so we decided to mark October fest by making a porter based chocolate cake. Just drinking a few extra beers in the name of the event would have been to easy...

Beer and a little coffee replace milk in the batter and on the first day we could distinguish both tastes in the finished cake. However, when the cake had sat until the next day, it merely tasted like a rich chocolate cake.

And rich is certainly what the suggested amount of glazing would have made the cake. We did buy all 500 g (1 pound) of chocolate but decided to only make half a portion after all - and that was perfectly sufficient!

22 September 2009

Did we move back to a monarchy?

Yes, we sure did. And the proof is that apparently everything can be more successfully marketed by association with the king.

The little guy above is in control of the Swedish pick-and-mix candy and goes by the name of 'Caramel King' (rumour will have that there is also a 'Godis-prins' - a 'candy prince').

The sign below belongs to one of the first falafel places we noticed. Our expectations were obviously quite high and although we don't know how the Swedish king prefers his falafels, we think we've had better ones else where...

Another large chain of shops sells beds (perhaps even in king-size?!) and the name only becomes all the more fitting for this particular branch which is located on King Street (Kungsgatan)!

We wonder if all firms will change their names when Victoria accedes to the throne and becomes Queen?!

19 September 2009

The Ikea Saga

Although we moved into a furnished apartment here in Stockholm we still had to take the metro to Skärholmen to visit Ikea at Kungens Kurva - the world's largest Ikea.

As mentioned the apartment was furnished so we didn't have to resort to such extreme measures as seen in the second picture: the poster advertising a quite nice exhibit on Ikea at Liljevalchs Konsthal.

In fact, we limited ourselves to the few things we could easily carry home on the metro and decided to order a bed and a rocking chair for delivery from Ikea. This would turn out to become quite the story.

For one thing, it turned out that goods cannot be ordered from the Ikea homepage without a Swedish issued visa card. So before we could even get started we had to wait for Tue's bank to issue one of those. Then followed more waiting: Ikea needed a couple of weeks before calling us up to arrange the details regarding delivery. At this point they told us that one of the items we ordered wasn't ready for delivery but that they would ship it later via the mail service - due to the Swedish/Danish language gap we didn't quite catch what exactly was missing. Lisbeth was the one who had to stay home to receive the delivery from Ikea. We were expecting to receive fewer items than we had ordered - so we were very confused when we realised (after the Ikea truck had left) that we couldn't see anything missing, but rather that Ikea had delivered one bed too many (!!!)

We assembled the bed we did want, and also the rocking chair and still couldn't see what was missing. Then we called Ikea to tell them they had delivered one bed more than we had ordered. This information was very difficult for them to process - obviously this wasn't a customer issue they had any kind of routine in handling. But at long last they promised us they could send a guy out to pick it up a mere two weeks later - well, what was the hurry, it was only blocking half our hallway.

Then it was Tue's turn stay home and receive - or rather: to let go. The bed was out the door as agreed upon and since we didn't get any curious extra bills from Ikea we started to think that the whole thing was finally settled. That lasted until we - driving on the highway between Amsterdam and Rotterdam - got a phone call from Ikea: They wanted to arrange for a delivery time for the missing goods of our order. At first we thought they had gotten the info about the extra bed confused after all and wanted to deliver yet another bed, but in the end we understood that the things they had originally promised to ship by mail service were finally ready and they wanted to deliver them now. So Tue had to stay home one more day. When the mysterious package had been delivered it turned out to be covers for the pillows in the rocking chair - something we still hadn't realised was missing.

13 September 2009

Wedding in Dissington Hall

Last week it was once more time for pulling out the passports and going of to the airport in order to go out in the world and attend an international wedding - this time it was Richard (from England) and Vivienne (from Singapore) who had chosen to get married in a rented manor house in the countryside in northern England.

But merely one destination of course doesn't satisfy the likes of us, so we managed to fit in an evening and a morning in Edinburgh on the way there. Should we - even after having devoured a Scottish breakfast including Haggis - against expectations have had any doubts as to whether or not we were in Scotland we were so lucky to meet a few soccer fans in the street to set the matter straight for us.

The wedding followed the local traditions: Richard had to leave home and go to a hotel for the last night before the wedding, so he could stand there and really sweat it until Vivienne's brother led her down the parted winding stairs which Dissington Hall supposedly is so famous for. The ceremony itself was quite similar to the one we attended in the US: poems were recited by both the maid of honour and the best man, and in addition to the well-known "I do" both the bride and the groom had to say their vows to each other before the kissing. At last the papers had to be signed before the photographer dragged them into the garden for some serious shooting.

Later followed a dinner which in sharp contrast to its Danish counterpart was uninterrupted by neither songs nor speeches. The speeches which by Danish comparison were quite modest didn't occur until the dessert. And thus there was time for a couple of hours of disco before closing the doors around midnight.

10 September 2009


Last week Tue experienced his first crayfish party - together with his department. The evening offered trays of crayfish, assorted schnappses (such as red tea & blueberry, aniseed, fennel and lemon), group singing, and - true to the tradition - a hat competition. The hat thing may have been more of a tradition at the department than in Sweden in general.

01 September 2009

Spare mail

Concerning their personal mailboxes the Finns give priority to visibility in the wintertime landscape (green and red are the most popular) and general weather-resistance (plastic is most common) over such issues as individuality.

However, since we were there in the summer we were much better able to appreciate the unique foot this mailbox had been given.