Friday, 30 January 2009

Up on a Friday

I've been putting things up in my office. Some coat hooks...

A whiteboard...

Here's another view of the whiteboard.

If anyone knows how to photograph a completely blank whiteboard, please let me know. It's completely blank because no-one's got any whiteboard pens.

Monday, 26 January 2009

House progress

Apologies, my loyal readership, I have been attending to business other than blogging! Here's what has been happening (mostly in pictures).

Conny the carpenter has finished the walls of Sara's bedroom and will be returning next Monday to fit the door and install a door to the bathroom, which is missing. He has also repaired the lock of what is currently the back door, but will become the front door once the alterations are complete.

These lockers were lying in the old changing room, I was going to throw them away. Sara for some reason took a fancy to them and will be using them as a wardrobe in her bedroom. So long as I never have to see them again, that's fine.

This is the old changing room, which I have spent all weekend converting into the guest bedroom. I've cleared all the junk out, removed the lockers, dismantled the changing cubicles, taken down the ducting that was coursing its way across the ceiling, painted the walls, laid carpet tiles and finally vacuumed 30 years worth of dead bees out of the light fittings. It's looking habitable now.

This is the coat rack and I'm actually quite excited about it. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's just a sign of civilisation. The light will be moved, its position is less than ideal...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

That's no falling

Today's observation: Snow has surprisingly high tensile strength!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Snow again

On Saturday, it was spring, but today the sub-zero temperatures and the snow has returned, and very pleasant it is too. No, that's not sarcasm, I must be becoming Swedish. It's only about minus 1 degrees centigrade and it feels warm.

Our video shorts project is now in its 4th day!

See the latest installment here

or search for Bombadil Publishing at

Thursday, 15 January 2009

I like short shorts...

The shorts are online! Well, the first short is. They will be posted daily, so there will be another one tomorrow.

Stop what you're doing and go and view it now!

They're all under 2 minutes long, so you don't need a lot of time, and they're entertaining. No excuses - go!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A Swede walks into a bar...

At around 4.30 in the afternoon every day, the buzzing of one of the antique flourescent lights that live on the ceiling of my office becomes completely unbearable and I have to turn it off. For some reason I don't notice it all morning, or for most of the afternoon.

I made my first Terrible Joke in Swedish the other day, something which I'm sure you'll agree is something of a milestone. It happened when we were having "fika", which is the Swedish coffee break that happens at 10 in the morning, and then again at 3 in the afternoon. The conversation went something like this.

Alex (Marianne's 10 year son): I need someone to lend a hand with my plans for world domination.
Marrianne: Not now, it's fika (coffee break) time.
Alex: But Mussolini didn't have this problem. Come now, I command you!
Marrianne: Alex, fika!
John: But Alex is a pojke (boy), not a flicka (girl).
All: Leave the building immediately...

It says more for my Swedish than it does for the quality of the jokes at Bombadil, but only marginally.

The weather at the beginning of the week was particularly English, that is to say cold and windy with grey skies. It's gone back to being Swedish now, with cold air, low humidity, blue skies and sun. I prefer it this way. I took some photographs of the ice on the lake today. I think ice may be my new obsession as my previous obsession with trees was wearing a little thin. (There's a joke in there somewhere, not quite sure where though...)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Messing around in boats

The video camera arrived today, so expect the shorts to start shortly. And yes, that is exactly the standard of humour that you should expect.

As promised, I took some proper photographs of the boat.

It's actually in pretty good shape, that is to say the hull is sound. There are a few holes in it, but that's OK because it's allowing the rainwater and snowmelt to drain out of it.

This is most of the boat paraphanalia that we collected from Steinar.

Pull the rudder one - you mast be joking!

(Sorry, just limbering up for the shorts...)

Sunday, 11 January 2009

We are sailing...

Life in Sweden can be many things, but it is never boring or uneventful. In fact, I believe I have done more in the last couple of months than I did all of last year. Leaving out the portion of last year that I was on the Plymouth-Dakar Rally, of course.

There's a boat at the Bombadil site. It's out of the water, sitting on a trailer and restorative work has been started, but stopped at an early stage. We became curious about it, made a few enquiries and were told that the owner was a previous tenant of one of the workshops and was prepared to effectively gift it to us. So today Marianne and I went to collect the sail and some other bits and pieces from Steinar, the owner. Having met him for the first time, we discovered that he used part of his rented premesis here to make kayaks. He stopped work on both his kayaks and his boat due to poor health.

Several years on, Steinar has now recovered, but hasn't been doing a lot lately. So we've invited him to continue building kayaks in his old workshop and help us to restore the boat. He was also involved with the archery club here, which he will revive. There's an archery club party soon, which he will organise.

I only have these "artistic" photos of the boat that I took the other day to use in a presentation. I'll take some proper pictures tomorrow. It's a Swedish built Koster class.

Learn more about the Koster class at the Wooden Boat Rescue Foundation's website.

Steinar also told us some stories about our site. Apparently, the building he used to rent is inhabited by poltergeists, which can be heard knocking, banging and rattling doors at night. Nobel, now best known for the peace prize that bears his name, made his money by inventing and manufacturing dynamite. Every so often, there was an explosion and the inevitable loss of life. On one occasion in the 1970s the explosion was so large that all the windows in the town, around a quarter of a mile away, were blown out.

He also spent time walking in the woods close by; he saw a bear on two occasions in 2006 and he has seen wolves here too. In fine weather he used to paddle in his kayak over to the islands on the lake to eat his lunch.

And all we went to do was to pick up a sail...

Friday, 9 January 2009


It was rather warm today; 3 degrees above freezing, to be precise. A lot of the snow melted and large puddles formed everywhere. Of course, the temperature has dipped below freezing again this evening and all of the water has frozen, leaving most flat surfaces like a skating rink.

Our latest project has been decided upon - Bombadil Shorts. These will be a series of short films telling the story of life at Bombadil. They're guaranteed to be entertaining. Watch this space!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Inspiring Dreams

The end of Day 3 working at Bombadil and I'm getting withdrawl symptoms from paint brushes and carpet tiles. Sara has moved into the Relaxation Suite and is currently cooking something in the kitchen. This is somewhat novel as the kitchen is a room that I've just been using to store dirty dishes.

I happened to read the English papers online today - there was a bit of a furore about some people who walked on a frozen canal. Apparently this is absolutely suicidal behaviour and the "safety campaigners" have been yelling and shouting (albeit from the safety of the bank). Well, I hope they don't see this photo - the Bombadil buildings taken from an unusual angle from the vantage point of the frozen lake.

It's 2.2 degrees above freezing at the moment, so I don't think this snow will be around for long. (It was minus 12 when I walked out on the ice).

Bombadil's slogan has been decided upon: Inspiring Dreams

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Twelfth Night

Today was another Swedish holiday - this time, Twelfth Night. There seems to be one a month, on average - not that I'm complaining. I spent it in the way any self-respecting Englishman would - cleaning. Cleaning the floors mostly, and what a lot of floors there are too. The utlity room is a little larger than my bedroom was in England.

Yesterday was my first day officially working at Bombadil Publishing. I set up my office in the morning and updated the Bombadil website in the afternoon. See - please report all dodgy grammar and broken links. I know the webshop leaves a little to be desired in the presentation stakes; we're currently working out how to edit the text there. It was written by someone whose first language is not English, so they've done well.

As you will note, my office sports the latest in invisible computer equipment.

Could "twelfth" be the only word in the English language to have both "f" and "th" in tandem?

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Snow news

It snowed today, Pixie by and large behaved herself and I painted just about everything in sight.

I know I've got a bit of an obsession about photographing trees, but vast snowy vistas just aren't that photogenic. Besides, there are a lot of very beautiful aincient birches here.

OK, here's a vista. That's a family walking across the snow on the ice on the lake.

These two trees are twenty feet from my deck. Sorry, our deck. Sara arrives on Tuesday and I must stop being so posessive. Our deck, our bathroom, our coffee machine, our washing up... The red building is a boat house.

It's rather peculiar - we don't call a kettle a water boiling machine, so why is there no English word for coffee machine? And, following a conversation with Marianne (who thought she was going bonkers and couldn't remember the English word) why is there no one word that means the opposite of steep? And a car house is a garage, a rabbit house is a hutch, a dog house is a kennel, but a boat house is a boat house? I could go on.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Crazy dawg

Pixie (aka Pothead) is in my charge whilst the crazy gang go skiing for four days. She has spent the whole day being very naughty. She knocked the kitchen bin over twice, stole an entire loaf of bread from the table, appropriated a clementine from somewhere and then to top it all off, wee'd in the guest bed. She has the good grace to be very apologetic and go off to her basket with her tail between her legs every time, but it's becoming a little tiring. She's also in a very gloomy mood which seems to have rubbed off onto me somehow.

I'm manically painting the last little bits of Marianne's kitchen, before laying the carpet tiles tomorrow. Not a job my knees are looking forward to. Am I getting old?

I went out with the camera this afternoon...

The lake is still frozen. Yesterday there was a chap skating - he went past, then a little while later we went past again in the opposite direction, so I deduce that the ice is quite thick.

I take these photographs on a digital camera, but I don't digitally enhance them, crop them or alter them in any way. The colours are real!

There has been no snowfall since Boxing Day, but everywhere is covered in ice crystals that grow daily. It was minus 10 degrees celcius, but it's a dry cold so it's not unpleasant. I was outside in just a shirt (well, and trousers) for fifteen minutes and was quite warm, apart from my fingers, which absolutely froze.

For all you lunatics... We're going walkies now.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

A retrospective

2008 was a pretty good year, starting with the Plymouth-Dakar rally, then the publication of "It'll be Fine", my first book. Then the publication of my second book, "The Student's Guide to Shared Accommodation". Of course, the was a lot of waiting around too, which involved working in a pretty menial job. But now it's 2009, I'm living in a huge house in a very beautiful part of Sweden. I've got the job I've always wanted, as many creative outlets as I can shake a stick at, a very comfortable lifestyle and a whole lot of prospects. And to top it all off, Rix FM, the local radio station that just played repetitive rubbish pop has suddenly and inexplicably turned into a classic rock station. I have no idea how or why, but it's fantastic.

Repetitive pop is big baggy pants...


Göran and Siv have been visiting Nora for New Year, the celebrations for which involved a vast quantity of excellent food and drink and culminated in a large firework display over the frozen lake. Ever the closet anarchist, Niklas invented a new way of launching rockets horizontally across the ice.

The camera battery charger has gone to ground, so use your imagination whilst shouting "bang".