Friday, 26 December 2008

Swedish Christmas

I have just returned from three magical days at Göran and Siv's (Niklas's parents) holiday house, along with Marianne, Niklas, Josephine and Alex and some extended family. There wasn't a lot of snow, but it was definitely a white Christmas, my first. The house is a very old cottage in the woods, small and very cosy.

I was given the honour of being Santa Claus on Christmas Eve (maybe because no-one else wanted to do it?) Swedish Christmas presents all have poetry written on the tags, which must be read out, a task which called for the special skills of the Head Elf.

We went to candlelit midnight mass at the church in the village, then out for a walk to an ancient hill fort on Christmas day.

My thanks to everyone, especially Göran and Siv, for a wonderful Swedish Christmas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Walls and balls

Conny the carpenter arrived at some uneartly hour this morning and made a start on the stud walling in the space where the fourth wall of my new bedroom should be. At least I was up early enough to catch the sunrise.

It's worth pointing out that Conny is a big manly man, as evidenced by the man moustache. At one point he went down the road to get some insulation, leaving me to attach the plasterboard to the framework with his cordless drill and box of screws.

An actual bedroom with actual walls. And an ensuite.

Something that I didn't mention in yesterday's entry (I must have been too excited about the camera); Sara and her parents came on Sunday with a trailer load of "house stuff". We now have a dining table and three chairs (none of which are orange), more than one plate, cutlery, saucepans and a coffee machine. The coffee machine was an unexpected bonus, so unexpected in fact that I don't have any coffee or filters, otherwise I would have been able to do the civilised thing supply Conny with caffeine. I'll be set up properly by the time he comes to put the other two walls up.

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, is the most important day of the Swedish Christmas. That is to say, it is the day that presents are opened. We are going to Niklas's parents' house and I understand they are excited to have an Englishman in attendance as they will be able to show me how a traditional Swedish Christmas is done. I am intrigued, and shall be armed with an English Christmas cake.

On a sillier note, I am more than partly responsible for the disco ball that is now hanging in the boardroom of Bombadil Publishing AB. Kudos to co-conspiritor Marianne.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, 22 December 2008


I've been happily playing with the camera, which Marianne located yesterday. If anyone cares, it's a 5 megapixel Minolta SLR and I think I'm getting quite good with it, especially as the instruction manual is nowhere to be found.

I'm not going to fill the blog with pictures, but I'll put up what's relevant and leave the arty shots in the Picasa album.

Yes, I do have a drinking fountain in my kitchen. Don't you?

(click the pictures to enlarge)

We've found the camera!

Friday, 19 December 2008

(Ooo-o) I'm a legal alien (wow-o)

The digger boys got it stuck in the mud again today. The lawn now resembles tank training ground that has been abandoned because tanks can no longer negotiate it. On the plus side, the drains have been repaired.

I am now a legal alien (cue bad singing) in Sweden; the tax authorities, having got over their initial surprise at someone volunteering to pay tax, have registered me. This involved a trip to Oebro, about half an hour's drive away, and a trip to IKEA on the way back. I'm waiting to see exactly what it is that Sara will be arriving with on Sunday before opening an account there, but it was still interesting to see how a genuine Swedish IKEA store differs from the variety that inhabit the UK. There is no difference at all, by the way.

My office now has a plant. I had to put it together myself, but it cost a little less.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Lots of news

I'm sneaking another blog entry in quickly, before the complaints start again...

About the biggest news at Bombadil Towers at the moment is my new fridge, which is fab. I surmise that it has formerly seen service in a restaurant as a wine fridge - it's full height, with a glass door and lights at the top. It's branded Vichy Nouveau and it puts just about every other fridge in the shade. It's one cool fridge. Marianne and I moved it from one of the barns the other evening with the aid of a pallet truck, lots of bad jokes and a discussion about the metaphysical moustache!

Having spent hours cleaning, polishing and generally admiring my new fridge, I have identified only one problem so far - I keep walking past it and assuming that I have left the door open - as the light is on and I can see the contents. I'm sure I'll get used to it. I hope Sara shares my enthusiasm for Aphrodite. (Yes, I have named it.)

The snow has temporarily melted, which is causing rather a problem as the Orica guys are digging like there is no tomorrow; perhaps they were rabbits in a former life. On second thoughts, probably not, as there are still only two of them. Anyway, all the melt water has turned the tarmac very muddy and the lawn is a total quagmire to the point where they got their four wheel drive digger (fitted with studded snow tyres) stuck yesterday. So much for my plans to play croquet out there in the summer then.

More exciting news - our two Norwegian friends, Morton and Aksel of the web video company Cnit Vision were here on Monday and Tuesday. They will form an important part of out Media Centre, a self-sufficient project that we are setting up in some of our surplus office space. Morton and Aksel are great fun - Morton is the first person to play the grand piano with competence, so hopefully he won't mind being roped in as session musician occasionally. Of course, we haven't told him about his new role yet...

We also went to visit Niklas's mine - it was the first time that I had seen it. It comprises a large collection of red timber buildings, dominated equally by both the mine-head and the main processing building, which is built onto a hill so as to utilise gravity in the ore sorting process. Niklas is heavily involved in a long running project to demonstrate the feasibility of establishing a lunar colony, with the target of having the colony in place on the moon any time between 2018 and 2024. My first question was "what does an old iron ore mine have to do with a lunar colony?" Well, the idea would be to build the lunar colony underground, so as to offer protection against meteor strikes etc and to make it easier to establish some sort of artificial contained atmosphere – and where better to test the concept than at the bottom of a disused mine. Read all about it here - in the words of the people in the know, not my paraphrasing.

Finally, yet more exciting news – we had our first meeting today with me in my role as a Bombadilian rather than as a painter. Certain jobs have been apportioned – I am taking responsibility for the daily video clip, the Bombadil blog (yes, before you ask, I will update it more often than this one!) and the emerging international markets including, intriguingly, Mexico. Watch this space!

Adios, amigos.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The day of the Giver of Light, Saint Lucia

"M'Mother" has been complaining that I haven't updated m'blog often enough. So here is what happened at the weekend.

I've painted my kitchen over in the Relaxation Suite - the walls are no longer orange! It's now a rather pleasant pinkish/beige colour. My original plans to paint the kitchen purple were thwarted by Marianne, which is probably a good thing.

On Saturday evening there was a Saint Lucia concert at the church in Nora. It's a ceremony which opens the month-long Christmas festivities. Marianne and Niklas were busy doing something or other; the children were busy doing something or other else, so I went down myself to have a look. It was essentially a candle-lit concert by the church choir (including a lot of children) singing a mix of traditional Swedish Christmas songs, Christmas carols translated from English and even "we wish you a merry Christmas" in English. The choir was led by a girl with a crown of eight candles (lit) on her head. During this time, Father Christmas and a chap in a papier mache ram's head gave out sweets. The church itself is a very beautiful building; plain white on the outside, but red and green and gold inside and full of murals.

More later...

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Snow and paint

Marianne's washing machine, dish washer and some other appliance (I forget which) arrived today. The delivery was late because, according to the driver, "the lorry went into a ditch." Might have had something to do with the three inches of snow that fell. It's the wet type of snow rather than the dry type, but still our walk this evening was spectacular. It's very, very quiet with so much snow, for some reason.

The good chaps from Orica (the company who sold us the site) have spent the day digging an enormous hole in an attempt to solve the mystery of Why The Basement Fills Up With Water. Marianne's basement, not mine. I don't have a basement, which means less space to store wine and less space to paddle in too. The contracts are yet to be formally exchanged, so Orica are footing the bill for half a dozen men and various earth moving equipment. I can't imagine that happening in England. The vendor would simply send various contractors to assess the situation, before announcing that none of them could start work before February in any case. Then, just to be doubly sure, he would go on holiday to Corfu for three weeks.

The bedroom walls are finished. I just need to paint the skirting boards (they're looking a little tired) and lay the carpet. The carpet may have to wait a bit though, I attempted to cut a square earlier and my marathon carpeting in the enormous living room appears to have dome something to my carpet cutting muscles (don't laugh). I'm sure I'll be in fine pile-slicing form in a few days though and it would be nice to have the bedroom completed by the time the gang return from England on Friday night.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Day two of dog "ownership"

Having a dog is a new experience for me. Pixie has been following me around all day like a shadow. It was a bit disconcerting at first, but I'm getting used to it. I suppose she normally has a choice of five people to be with, but now it's just me. Being Marianne's dog, she's completely bonkers. She also has an identity crisis. If you want her to come, calling "Pixie!" is not particularly effective. Shouting "Pot!" or "Pot Head!" works quite well, though. I am assured that this is short for "potty-head", which in turn is not a reference to a small child's toilet equipment (as in potty-mouth), but just means bonkers, which she is. If you want her to sit, you may try saying "bottom!" or perhaps "Pixie sit bottom", which works roughly one third of the time. The other two thirds of the time you may as well just sit down yourself. We've just been for a nice long walk, during which she managed to wrap the lead around a tree only once, which is an improvement on yesterday’s walk. She's currently asleep in her basket in the study by my desk. It's cold out tonight, but a dry cold that's quite refreshing. There was the very lightest dusting of dry powdery snow this afternoon. According to the lady in the paint shop, Sweden is having very odd weather this year. I think there is supposed to be a lot more snow.

Today, I finished the first coat on the walls in the bedroom, so that it can be finished tomorrow. I also put two coats on the living room window (the window that I unaccountably missed before) and finished the last eight carpet squares, having moved the huge pile of damaged tiles that was in the way. I also went shopping for groceries and bought more paint. I picked up some colour charts as well, so I'm hoping to have the paint selected and bought in time for the weekend, when I can spend two days painting the relaxation suite. Magnolia for the hallways, dark red and almond white for the bathroom, light grey/blue for my bedroom and I can't paint Sara's bedroom because it hasn't been built yet...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Books and paint (a recurring theme)

Yesterday, I spent almost the entire day levelling Marianne's bookshelves. 3000 books take a lot of shelf space, and the floor in the living room is particularly wonky. It took lots of wedges to correct a deviation of nearly 3 inches from end to end.

Today, Marianne, Niklas, Alex and Josephine have flown to England to visit the children's grandfather, so peace has descended once more. I have custody of Pixie, a miniature Doberman, who is currently asleep in her basket by my desk in the Relaxation Suite. She's been following me around all day and even sat faithfully outside the sauna. Other than that, I painted some more of the bathroom and decided on the colour scheme for the Relaxation Suite, having consulted with Sara. I have to go and buy some more paint tomorrow morning (as well as picking up some groceries) so I'll get some colour charts and see if the colours I want actually exist.

Sara will be bringing her worldly possessions (well the worldly possessions that she will be moving from Trolhattan to Nora) on 21 December, so hopefully that will fill this huge house up a bit. Marianne and Niklas have also approved the plans for partition walls; the carpenter has been to have a look but is a bit pushed for time. We will probably appoint him to erect the studwork, then I will put up the plasterboard and lining paper.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


A few more things happened today. Niklas and I moved my washing machine in from one of the workshops and put it in the mop cupboard, where it is awaiting installation by both the plumber and the electrician. In the mean time, I have renamed the mop cupboard the laundry room. I cut a bit more of the hedge down, so I can see the lake from my desk in my house, which I have set up in the study. Marianne and I also moved another desk into my office in the Bombadil building, which is starting to look a little more like an office and a little less like an old room with a very bad paint job. Well, a little less, anyway. It'll be better when I get a chair to go with my desk.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Snow and water beds

Three or four inches of snow fell today, which is really very beautiful, however it is not cold enough to allow the lake to freeze, which happened a few weeks ago. The movers have unloaded all of Marianne and Niklas's worldly possessions and consequently I have sat on a sofa for the first time since I have been in Sweden. We had celebratory pizza and champagne this evening whilst discussing the future of the great dream that is Bombadil Publisihing.

Niklas and I spent a few hours setting up the water bed - the hose connectors had a tendency to break apart; a problem that I solved by raiding a bin full of old air hose components in one of the workshops on site here. Having fixed the first hole in the mattress, Niklas then proceeded to put his finger through the vinyl in a completely different place, meaning that the whole thing had to be emptied prior to being thrown away and a new mattress acquired. Emptying is still taking place as we speak, via a painfully slow siphon process. Perhaps tomorrow we will experiment with pumps...

Marianne and family have arrived (as predicted in yesterday's entry)

Marianne, Niklas, Alex and Josephine have arrived today, marking the official arrival of Bombadil Publishing in Nora. The complete tranquillity in building 1010 has been shattered and an organised but exciting chaos ensues!

I'm over in the peace and quiet of the Relaxation Suite, watching the lights on the far shore of the lake reflect in the flat calm water. There was a light sprinkling of snow this afternoon which has settled, making everything pristine and white.

On a more practical note, the carpet is down! I've never been on my knees for so long in my life, but I am happy to report that the 1000 sq ft living room is now carpeted. Well, except for a few tiles by the door where there is currently a stack of unused tiles standing around 150 high and I'm not moving them tonight. Carpet tiles weigh a ton! Tomorrow morning at round 07.00 Marianne's moving guys will commence unloading. I'll drop in for breakfast at around 10.00 and see how it's going. Then maybe in the afternoon I'll finish painting the bedroom...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Decorating is nearing completion!

Marianne and her entourage arrive tomorrow! I have nearly finished decorating the living room; about two thirds of the carpet tiles are down. The room has a circumference of 51 meters and every tile has to be cut so it fits snugly against the wall, or around pipework, or into doorways. It has been a very long day (as it has been all week, hence the lack of updates) but the room is starting to come together; the carpet is setting the walls off very well. I've also moved the concert grand piano (how much does a concert grand weigh?) without crashing it into a pillar and the large antique cupboardy thing. I've just got to finish the carpet tomorrow and paint a window frame that I somehow overlooked and it's finished! It's a great space in an old industrial building, high ceilings, big windows, interesting fuseboxes etc; it'll make a great place to entertain. If you can play the piano, please let me know. I've managed the theme to 'Local Hero' with one finger, which seems like rather a watste of such a beautiful instrument. I may have pianists' fingers, but a pianist I am not.