Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
(Lunchtime*) :
Snowy chaos in Helsingborg

What I think:

*Note to any bosses at work who might read this: It's lunchtime, OK?
I'm not blogging during working hours. So there.

The weather in Helsingborg has been weird this winter. It's been so mild, with hardly any snow, and the little that we did have melted in no time.

Then yesterday, it started snowing. Lots.

And this morning, The Local (Sweden's news in English) reported that there's a "stay at home" warning to people living in Skåne.
(Skåne is the county on the southwestern tip of Sweden. Both Malmö and Helsingborg are in Skåne. End of Geography lesson.)

I took a few photos on the way to work this morning:

This is a view of Tranemansgatan - my road:
Here's a hill that I walk down every day
(although today I skied down on my Doc Martens):

This is a bus stop on Södergatan:

This is a view of
the outside of Sam's Bar on Carl Krooksgatan:

The building where I work is called Tretorn - this is Swedish for "The Three Towers".

It used to be the site of one of Sweden's largest rubber factories, specialising in boots. Now it isn't.

But there's a statue on the western side of the buiding
commemorating the site's heritage:
The Swedish government should invest in some winter coats for these guys. They look frozen. That's what I think.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007:
Bowling in Helsingborg

What I think:

Last Saturday, I was supposed to meet my mate the Yank for a few beers. He was out with a Brit in the afternoon for a few drinks, and told me to give him a call if I wanted to join them later.

It turned out that I did indeed fancy some over-priced crappy beer that evening, so I gave him a call.

When he answered, he said he was at the bowling alley. I remembered that I had been invited to this a couple of weeks back (a mutual friend had booked a couple of lanes), but had kindly declined. Not really my scene, plus I was a bit skint (US/CAN: broke).

But that night, since I hadn't had a beer with the Yank for a while, I thought I'd go along anyway, and just drink beer and have a bit of a laugh.

When I got there, I had a look around, but couldn't see the gang who was supposed to be there. People did seem to be enjoying themselves though:
Then, while continuing my search for Yank & Co., something caught my eye.

What was that between the screens that show the scores?

Was that..?
Yes it was.

It was a bloody telly (US/CAN: goddamn TV):
I couldn't believe it. Between every pair of score-screens, there was a television, showing a chat show (US/CAN: talk show), with the sound turned down. At a bowling alley. On a Saturday night.
(In the photo above, there's an advert (US/CAN: commercial) showing.)

I finally found the Yank & the others (they had just finished bowling and were about to grab a table) , and pointed out the ridiculousness of this.

This one guy, one of the most interesting people I've ever met, tried to convince me that this wasn't such an odd thing. He tried to justify having television in bowling alleys because people in this country are into Eurovision, and that they wouldn't want to miss anything.

Here's me not looking terribly convinced that this was a very good explanation:
I mean - hello! Firstly, Eurovision is a (crap) song contest. Most songs that I know rely on the concept of sound. And the sound of the songs being sung.

It would take a genius of more-than-Brian Enoesque proportions to come up a song dependent on the sound of a bowling alley in Helsingborg, Sweden.

And secondly, Eurovision is not on all year long, thank the Baby Jesus's straw nappies (US/CAN: diapers).

In any case, I dropped the issue for now, and went and sat with the other guys, who seemed to be having a great time.

Here's what guys from Helsingborg look like when they're having a great time:
And, thanks to previous Swedish measures of beer, the Yank was also pretending to have a great time as well.

Here he is in his "auditioning for the made-for-TV (UK: Telly) movie (UK: film) called "Gene Simmons: Give Me A KISS" (based on a true story)" mode:

Sorry ladies, he's taken.

Within about fifteen minutes or so, me and the Yank got bored, so decided to leave.

One the way out, we couldn't help but stop and admire
the beautiful mural near the entrance:

Pretty symbolic, eh?

Although I'm not really into it myself, I've always thought that going bowling was about spending time with friends, and having a few beers and a laugh.

In this context, Television is a totally unnecessary distraction. They should not be allowed in bowling alleys, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007:
Fat Tuesday in Helsingborg

What I think:

Today was "Fat Tuesday" in Sweden (aka Shrove Tuesday in some other countries).

There's a pastry called a Semla that it's tradition to eat on this day; the idea is to fatten you up before giving everything up for lent.

It's basically a bun with the top chopped off, the bottom part then has some kind of sweet almond paste and topped with whipped cream, then the bun's top is placed back on and sprinkled with icing sugar.

We were served these at work today during our afternoon break.

Here's a photo:
I don't really see the big deal, personally. The bun is a bit too bread-like; kind of dry.

I think it should be sort of cakey, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday, February 15th, 2007:
More links from Helsingborg!

Quick note:

I've just added loads more links from the entry I made on February 13th, 2007.

Many are to fellow bloggers, and many are to other sites on the Internet. Some are relevant and some not, some are educational, and many are ridiculous.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007:
Travel (to) Sweden:
the Unofficial Guide
to Helsingborg, Sweden -
with yellow coats

What I think:

Helsingborg is a beautiful city. So beautiful, in fact, that it's a great place to get away from once in a while - just to enjoy its splendour anew - all over again. Except in the winter. During the winter, doing the laundry is more fun than Helsingborg. Try doing your laundry in Helsingborg in the winter.

Before you start thinking that I've started working for the Swedish Tourist Bored - I mean Board, I'm trying a little experiment, loosely based on an experiment by some Irish guy in Denmark. He's asked all his blogged-linked mates to link to him with "Irish in Denmark".

I don't know what he hoped to achieve, but if you find that you're linked to here through some weird random links, please link back to me somehow, using the term: "Travel (to) Sweden with invisible Zimbabwean banana-flavoured underpants".

My experiment is about trying to get the top Google search for "Zimbabwean banana-flavoured underpants" because we all know how common that is. So please, link now. This particular African nation's future may depend on it. Zimbabwe's may as well.

In the spirit of this post, I'd like to say a few words about my recent trip across the seven C's (which are not appropriate words to mention in a family blog) to Helsingör in Denmark.

Here's a photo of me at the threshold of my voyage - to Denmark:
Don't I look like I'm in the perfect advert? It's brilliant! The sign says, "Welcome to Europe's (something to do with) turtle-ish (I think) ferry line! We segregate(?) misspelled baby swan runts!" Or something.

Wait. I've just been told that it actually means that they're frequent and that they sail all night. No turtles or cygnets involved, apparently. Boring.

Here's a photo of Helsingborg's coast on the way back (because I screwed up and uploaded the photos in the wrong order, and couldn't be bothered to fix it, because I haven't figured out an easy way to do it):The photo above was taken through a dirty window on the ferry. Adds character, don't you think?

While waiting for the ferry, we saw someone with funky leopard-skin-patterned shoes, so we decided to make this a spot-the-funky-footwear trip:

Then we saw them again:We didn't really see anything else that could be described as "funky", so we decide that a funky footwear trip was not gonna happen.

So we had something to eat, got back on the ferry, and went back to Helsingborg. You've already seen the photo of the coast on the way back, so I guess that's the end of that story.

Yellow-coated people in Helsingborg:

This should really be a different post. Oh well...

I noticed some people in yellow jackets walking around town a while ago, I think it was in the summer, or maybe a year ago, or perhaps longer ago (in Sweden, time is more abstract than it is elsewhere), and I've wondered what they were about ever since. Time to investigate.

I snuck up behind a couple of them recently, and took this photo: It says "Tryggehetsvärd" on their backs. This translates to "Security (or "Safety) Hosts". I couldn't work out what these people are about, so I thought I'd ask a few people.

I found out that it depends on who you ask.

According to some people, the people in the yellow jackets provide a valued service, looking out for the young people of Helsingborg, and ensuring that they're safe on these mean streets.

Others say that they're ex-criminals who can't get any other work.

Other others say that they're the Swedish government's way of trying to reduce unemployment figures.

I just don't know. There's this guy at the Charles Dickens pub who says that they're a waste of space, that they meddle in people's business, that the police hate them, and that they may not use the toilet unless they buy something. He doesn't like them very much.

The people of Sweden have a right to know who these yellow-jacketed people are, and how much they're costing. We need to be told, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Here are some more yellowcoats, across the road from Dickens: And another shot of them, with a more sensitive and artistic view:

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007:
Pantspotting in Helsingborg

What I think:

You know that "fashion" of wearing trousers (US/CAN: pants) that are too big for you, so that the top of them actually comes down to about halfway to your knees? It seems that a lot of people in Helsingborg are really into this "look".

I find it both entertaining and educational; you really get a good insight about the current trends in pants (US/CAN: underwear). Like I care.

Whenever we're out on the town, GF and I always point out the different kinds of underpants we see. It's become a sort of in-joke for us.

We were at a trendy little bar called PL13 a few weeks ago, and we noticed that this really was the Mecca of underpant exposure.

By the way, despite being quite small, PL13 is actually quite cool, especially if you're into Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Smiths, some Punk & Goth, and stuff like that. I much prefer the choice of music there to anywhere else.

I've only got two issues with the place: it's only got one toilet, and it's usually full of guys whose mums should really still be dressing them.

Last night, GF and I had arranged to meet someone there, so we thought it'd be fun to go on a proper pantspotting mission. I actually brought my camera specifically for the occasion.

We stopped at Zoo Bar for a noodle stir fry first (I recommend it; cheap & cheerful food before a night out). We sat at a table next to a group of people, and I spotted a girl with her knickers showing over the top of her jeans.

What a result! We hadn't even got to PL13 yet, and we were already getting some pant-flash action. OK, so this was more accidental than an actual fashion statement, but I took it as a good sign anyway.

I asked my girlfriend to move over a bit, so that I could pretend to be taking a photo of her, while actually focusing on Knicker Girl instead. Here you go: the first exposed undergarment of the evening:

Once inside PL13, we were quite disappointed, to be honest. It was much quieter than usual, and there were no blaring Calvins to be found. Only a few weeks earlier, the whole length of the bar was awash with these droopy-drawered dudes, and now - nada.

We went and sat at a table with our friend, and a few beers, feeling vaguely melancholy. Oh well, thought I, might as well abandon the mission.

But then, we couldn't help noticing a guy sitting at the bar exposing not his pants, but his bum crack (I'm assuming he's in the building trade). Not what we were after, but I thought I'd snap it anyway, just for the hell of it: OK, that was fun. We continued chatting & drinking, when we noticed someone who'd come in & sat down - exposing his pants! Hurrah!

I went over and stood next to him and asked my girlfriend to take a photo of "me": There were a few more candidates, but they were all wearing long-ish coats. Damn winter.

Then, finally, the ideal contender strolled up to the bar and ordered a drink. This was more like it: I have to say that I was quite blatantly nonchalant about going up straight behind this guy and taking a photo of his arse. Similarly with the others as well; I'm quite surprised I didn't get flat-packed by anyone.

In any case, that was just about the end of our mission. Not quite as successful as we'd hoped, but nevermind. To finish the game off, I went up to the bar myself, pulled my trousers down a bit, had a seat, and had a photo taken, showing my best side:The lack of continuity in this town can be so frustrating. You go out to try to show the world that there are loads of people in Helsingborg who show off their pants, and hardly anyone turns up. It's bloody typical, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007:
Five Things You Don't Know About Me

Yikes! I got tagged by High Priestess Kang!

I had a similar thing a while ago, so I've had to think of more stuff to share.

OK, here goes:

1. After brushing my teeth every evening before bed, I smoke a cigarette.
Marlboro, since you're asking.

2. I usually yawn almost exactly thirty seconds after sex. No offence to my girlfriend. In fact, she's the one who pointed it out.
She finds it cute.

3. I snore. Loudly. But then, so does my girlfriend. It's definitely a match made in Heaven, or whatever good place you believe in - like Dublin, maybe? I hear it's nice there. Although I've never been, myself. But yeah, let's go with that: it's a match made in Dublin.

4. I've been told that I'm a "natural" at modelling.
No, it's true.

5. I studied Theatre in high school and college, both in Montreal and Birmigham, England.

That's it.

Now whom shall I tag this time...? Hhmm....
OK: Shazzer (from Shazzerspeak), Montchan (from By The Way...), Bluesoup, Tug (from Just Tug - let's see if she can come up with anything that we don't know about her), and kT (from sand in the machine).