What I think:Warning: this is a very long post. Get some popcorn, or something.-> Brief introduction, for your
Now and the past...I'm back in Helsingborg now. I was in England last week, and flew back to Sweden on Monday, September 11th. It was actually quite freaky flying on September 11th, for some reason. Took ages to get through security as well.Then as soon as I got back, I wrote a tribute to one of the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York. So my mind was very much in NYC, although, somewhat ironically, I'd only ever visited New York airports; en route to Europe or Montreal.
I was part of this bloggers' tribute thing, in which all 2,996 victims had at least one blogger write about them. Scroll down or click here to read my tribute to Theresa "Ginger" Risco; she was pretty amazing.
Now that I'm back, I feel I should bring you up to date with what's been happening since the end of July. I thought I'd start with the most recent event, then go back to an event way back in July. Unfortunately, neither have much to do with Sweden (directly, anyway), so if you're here to read about Swedish culture, please come back another day. You've been warned.
Before I start, I'd like to explain one of the reasons I haven't blogged for a while. My girlfriend, who had moved all the way from Stockholm to live with me in October last year, moved back in July. Yes, we split up, but it was all very amicable. I still talk to her nearly every day, and we're still great friends. Go here (to my birthday greeting entry for her) for a stunning photo.
By the way, thanks for all the concerned-sounding e-mails and comments. As if you care.
-> The Wedding -
Simon and Marie, September 8th, 2006:
You may remember from my "Beaches and shy people in Helsingborg" entry that I mentioned having a brief conversation with Benny about Simon's wedding(?). Well this was what we were talking about. Him and his Swedish girlfriend Marie were finally doing the nuptuals thing.I arrived in London on September 6th. The wedding was to take place on September 8th, at some place called Belvoir Castle, somewhere outside Nottingham. I came to the UK early to visit some of my London mates.
At 07:34-ish on September 8th, I got on the train at St Pancras train station in London, bound for Nottingham. All I had was a not-so-detailed map with a markered dot which showed that Belvoir castle was not too far away from there.Once in Nottingham (at 09:36-ish), I managed to find the bus station, and enquired about how one might get to the castle. I was informed that there are no buses that go out that far, but that I could take a bus to Bingham, and hopefully get a cab from there. OK.
Once in the little town of Bingham, I looked everywhere for a cab office, but there weren't any. I went to the local Sainsbury's and asked where I could get a cab from. Apparently I needed to order a cab, but no one there had a phone number. I was directed to the library.
At Bingham's ultra-modern book-lending facility, I asked the kind lady behind the counter if she had any phone numbers for a cab. She informed me that she had, but she couldn't find her glasses. She thought that she may have left them in the office, and could I wait a moment, please. Mm-hmm, OK.
After what seemed like about 27 seconds (could have been more, could have been less), the kind/blind lady, now bespectacled, returned. She reached over to the bulletin board behind her, removed a bit of paper, and handed it to me. There were two cab numbers on it, which I duly noted.
By now, it was after 10:30 (without any "-ishes" this time). The wedding was to start at 12:00.
I found a phone box (US/CAN: phone booth) across the market square from the Co-op. The lady at the first number I rang said that they wouldn't have a cab until about 11:30 or 11:45. Hhhmm...I said that I may call back if the other company didn't have any cars (I didn't know how far away it was, but better late than never).
At the second cab number, I had to repeat the name of the castle a few times (and spell it out) before the lady knew what I was talking about. It appears that Belvoir is pronounced "Beaver". After listenening to some discussions in the background ("Where? He wants to go there now?", etc.), it was arranged for me to be picked up in a few minutes outside the Co-op. Phew.
Moments later, a very old guy pulled up. He eyed me suspiciously before waving me over to the car (ear- and nose-rings seem to have that effect, even if I'm wearing a suit).
It was quite a long ride, at least 15-20 minutes. I was sure that it would cost at least £20 (about US$38 / €30). When we finally got to the castle, he declared that the fair was £7 ($13 / €10). Good result. I gave him a tenner and told him to keep the change. Made it.
Went in, chatted with Neil (the best man and a close personal friend of mine), drank some white wine, went out for a smoke, waited, chatted with another guy called Simon (not the groom), drank some white wine, went out for a smoke, waited, drank some white wine, chatted, waited, drank some white wine...At some point, Johnny (Yank) turned up, and I think we had some white wine.
OK, long-story-short time:
The wedding itself was good. A civil ceremony, and not too long. There was a string quartet, which was a nice touch.
Then out on the grounds, photos were taken, three cannons were fired (BOOM...BOOM...BOOM - very cool!), and tea and scones (with jam and cream, naturally) were served.
A brief "religious" ceremony took place. It was OK, but I didn't think the guy on keyboards was so great. I guess Depeche Mode were unavailable for the occasion.
A nice "sit-down" meal. Very nice. I switched to red wine. The speeches were great, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
A tour of the castle was to take place. Actually it did take place, but I missed it somehow. I found the bar though.
Images: Part of the castle...
and Simon and Marie, both looking great in this season's casual wear.
(Do have a look at the castle's website; the photo above does not do its magnificence or grandeur any justice at all.)
The disco was great; there was no ABBA or Roxette. In the adjoining bar, a chocolate fondue fountain was flowing, and a tasty buffet was served. I was a bit disappointed though; there were no cucumber sandwiches on stale white bread with the edges curling up (according to some people I know, this is standard fare at all English weddings).
Besides that, a fantastic evening was had by all. I think.
A bit of partying continued at the hotel before we all went to bed. Well most of us did, anyway. Yank left his room to visit someone in the middle of the night, only to find one of the bridesmaids shagging someone on the stairs.
Yep, a great wedding with all elements one would expect, and then some.
After a great English breakfast in the morning, it was off back to London for me.
That's it, in a rather large nutshell.
-> Late-July, 2006:
Trip to Helsingör (Denmark)
with Johnny (a.k.a Yank):
One day, Johnny asked me if I'd like to join him on a little trip to Denmark, to pick up some beers, and go somewhere for some - err - beers. I agreed. (For those who don't know, Denmark is only a twenty-minute ferry ride from Helsingborg. And beer is expensive in Sweden; go here and here for related entries.)
We found a nice square and had a couple of beers. I was taking a few photos as well. After a while, I went into a pub on the square to use the toilet. While I was there, some drunken Danish guy came up to me, and told me that he didn't like having his picture taken. I explained that I didn't even see him, let alone take his picture. I offered to show him the photos I had taken, but he just mumbled menacingly, and went back to his seat on the terrace outside the pub.
I told Johnny about this, and we had a laugh. And a beer. I decided to take a photo of Johnny from an angle that would very obviously include drunken Danish guy. When I did so, nothing happened; he just left soon after.
A beer or two later, Johnny was assessing the remaining-Danish-coins-versus-affording-another-beer-each situation. It looked like we may have been about 25 öre off (mere pennies). Johnny didn't look happy. Here he is with the empty glasses, holding the remaining change:Armed with my charm, I approached a table near the pub where a lady and her nice (though seemingly inbred) little son were sitting. I explained the situation, showed her the money we had, and asked if she would swap one of my smaller coins for a slightly larger one.
I don't remember what the amounts were exactly, but she was happy to oblige. I insisted that she take the change I knew we'd have, but she wouldn't hear of it. The little boy was happy to take it though. Everyone was happy.
Turned out that we even ended up getting change from this as well, so even Yank was happy again:After our final beers, we were just about ready to leave, when I noticed a group of men sitting on a bench that encircled a tree. They were just sitting around drinking.Wow. I had just discovered the Helsingör A-Team! A while ago, I had written about the Helsingborg A-Team's first appearance this year on the square across from the Charles Dickens pub. This was how we in Helsingborg know that springtime is here. (Another photo of them here as well.)Having had a few beers, and being in very close proximity to them, I decided to ask them if I may take a photo of them for my blog. They were most obliging:
Johnny and I made our way to the shops, bought the beers, etc. Then I don't remember what happened. It was a couple of months ago anyway.
To summarise the important bits of today's lengthy post: I'm single now.