Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009:
Recycling (and my strange building) in Malmö

What I think:

Since I moved to Sweden, I've felt that recycling is a pretty thorough thing here. I even wrote about how it works in Helsingborg a couple of years ago (here). But it appears that recycling is not quite as thorough in Malmö as it is in Helsingborg.

Having just moved into our new place in Malmö, we naturally had a fair amount of rubbish (US/CAN: garbage) to dispose of, so off we went on our first visit to the rubbish room. It's actually in the basement, and along a long-ish corridor.

What we discovered was that, while there are the usual bins for paper, cardboard, clear and coloured (US/CAN: colored) glass, hard plastic, and general household waste, there are none for soft plastic or organic waste (left-overs, peels/skins, bones, rude cashiers, landlords, etc.). So all plastic carrier-bags/wrappers and people you don't like (including rappers) have to go in with the general household waste.

Now, I'm just wondering whether this is an all-of-Malmö thing, whether it's just my building, or whether it varies from building to building, or area to area.

I know that there are a few fellow blogging expats out there who live in Malmö, so I would be grateful to anyone who knows the answer to my query if they would leave a comment for me. Thanks.

Another thing
Something else we discovered was that we actually have a sauna in our basement! Yes, a sauna!

Sounds exotic, doesn't it? Well...

Firstly, it's right next to the rubbish room. The smell leading to the whole experience is not really conducive to what I'd call "relaxing". Think: a very different kind of aromatherapy (leaning more towards aversion therapy, for all you Psychology buffs out there).

Secondly, there's no lock on the door.
When you go through the orange door with no lock, located just next to the rubbish room, you enter what looks like some kind of weird waiting room.There are hooks (on the wall) behind the door which leads to the next area, so one assumes that this is where one might disrobe (US/CAN: take off your clothes). If I remember correctly, I think that door has at least got a lock.

In the next room, immediately to your left, you see this:I have to admit that I'd never seen one of these before, and therefore have no idea as to what it could be for. It's about toilet-height, and almost toilet-shaped, but it's obviously not a toilet. Any ideas?

My guess would have been that it's for a mop, but I didn't see one around, and I somehow can't imagine people heading down to the sauna carrying their mops. But I don't know, maybe they do that here.

After nearly seven years of living in Sweden, I'm feeling like a total newbie again. Thanks, Malmö.

So, if anyone knows what that thing is, your comment is welcome.

Let's continue our tour, shall we?

Turn around from this toilet-like thing, and directly in front of you, at the end of this little tiled hallway, there's a shower.It looks clean enough, and there's nothing particularly nasty about it, but it just somehow feels grungy. Maybe it's just the environment. This whole thing is starting to look like the set of some gruesome horror flick.

Just before you get to the shower, however, there are two doors on your right.

The first one is the toilet.
It's not very clean, nor is it disgustingly dirty either. It's just not somewhere you'd want to sit and do the crossword.

Finally, the second door on the right; the one between the toilet and the shower, which is directly across from the weird toilet-like thing, which is just inside the door from the scary "waiting room", which is just through the orange door with no lock, which is right next to the rubbish room, is the sauna.I am by no means claustrophobic, but this place immediately creeped me out.

I'm not even sure if it was the size - with the prospect of being closed in with loads of steam everywhere - or if it was the thought of several years' worth of sweaty Swedish bottoms having dripped on these benches, but this place didn't appeal to me at all.

Here's the heater thing,
where you dump ladle-fuls of water to make the steam
(as seen from the top bench):
As it stands now, I can't really see myself going down there to "enjoy" a "relaxing" sauna.

But you never know; I may well get drunk enough one evening to want to give it a go. I'll keep you posted on that.

Bottom's Up
OK, so now we've been to my little corner of Hell. Let me now take up, up - way up - to a nice little piece of Heaven (or as close as I reckon I'll ever get anyway).

We have a rooftop terrace! OK, so we actually live on the ground floor, but this terrace is open for all residents to enjoy.

Sweden doesn't really have many of what one would call skyscrapers... I think the nearest thing is probably something called the Turning Torso, an odd-looking building which is apparently the tallest building in Scandinavia.

So this little rooftop paradise above the seventh floor (UK: sixth floor) is a pretty good ways up for this part of the world. And its size could make for some promising parties (although I'm not actually promising any parties).

It's kind of a C-shaped terrace...

Here's a view from one of the corners at the end
(facing the bit where the stairs are):

Here's a view from the other corner of the end bit
(facing where I was standing in the previous photo - you with me?):

And finally, here's a view from the other side, facing the end:
In the photo above, you can just about make out the water on the left (the Öresund or "The Sound" - it's a strait, in geographical terms), behind that building. You can actually see it better from up here, but I didn't take a shot from that angle.
But what's that odd building towards the right?

Yes, it's the aforementioned Turning Torso!

So there's loads of space up on the terrace, some tables that look like they're used for barbecues, and a decent view. Very good party potential. Maybe if I introduce myself to all of my neighbours, one of them might invite me to a party sometime! Or I suppose I could try to get a life and make some friends in Malmö.

What do you think?

Personally, I think that there should be more consistency with recycling in this country. Malmö should recycle all plastics and organic waste as well, so that they can make that fantastic bio-gas to run the buses, like they do in Helsingborg. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it.

That's what I think.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009:
So long Helsingborg, Hello Malmö

What I think:

It's the end of an era.

Last Saturday, my girlfriend and I moved from Helsingborg to Malmö.

It was a pretty smooth move, although Lucy Fur (the cat) was none too pleased about sitting in a little cat-box for the two hours it took us to get there, only to be locked in the bathroom while the guys moved our stuff in. But she's settled in now - although she has suddenly developed this odd desire to crawl under the duvet to sleep during the day.

Spot the bump.
When I mentioned the move to my friends (all two of them), some of them (Johnny) asked, "But what will happen to Helsingblog?"

Well, here you are - the blog is now Helsingbloggin' - Malmö.

I will still be commuting to Helsingborg a couple of times a week, for band rehearsals and the occasional meeting (I used to travel for the same length of time (about an hour) every morning and evening when I lived in London, so this is really no big deal); in fact, I'm sitting in the basement of the Telegrafen pub in Helsingborg as I write this.

I'm actually "piggy-backing" on the pub's wireless broadband.
(Well, they charge enough for the beer here anyway; that's my justification.)

There will still be many adventures to be had in Helsingborg, so there's no point in stopping the blog just because there's a train ride between the two cities. The main difference is that you will now get some information about both places - sort of a two-for-one blog. Good offer, innit-eh?

Also, there are now a few blogs about Helsingborg for you to look at (have a look in the sidebar on the right). I especially recommend Kieron's An Englishman in the Borg. He's been writing it since he found out he'd be moving here from the UK, and describes what he's learned so far... It's a personal blog, but it has some great insights about the "how's and why's" of moving/living here. Do check it out.

Back to this blog, apologies in advance for any inconsistencies you might find with the title. You may still see it listed as Helsingblog in a few places for a while; it'll take some time to track everything down.

So. It's been a while, hasn't it? What have I been up to since last time (besides moving)?

Well, here's a brief rundown (not necessarily in the right order:

My girlfriend and I went to London for a few days in January (I think). This time, we decided to do a bit of a touristy thing, as we usually just go down the pub to meet my friends, or hit the West End, Camden, and/or a couple of other areas. So we did the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace (etc.) thing for a change, just so we could say we'd done it.

Before setting off to the city centre though, we saw this cool ad on the side of a bus in Stoke Newington, paid for by some kind of Atheist organisation(s):
We liked that.

The next bit is pretty surreal...
We went to this place near Baker Street that has all these famous people hanging around, both living and dead. But the dead people seem to look better than the living, so we decided to talk to them.

I spoke to Charles Dickens, and told him about the pub in Helsingborg that's named after him, where I've spent many a fine drunken evening. He seemed quite pleased and generally jovial at first, but when he asked about what I'd been doing in London this time around, and I told him about that bus, he started going into a big rant about "morality today" and "in my day" - blah-blah-blah - and I felt I couldn't relate to him anymore.

Here's me telling Mr Charles Dickens about the Charles Dickens pub.
In Helsingborg. In London.

It started getting pretty ugly when we started discussing Theology in general. He became the Charles Dickens I wish I'd never known. He was waving his hands around like he was going to hit me, but in a girly-fight kind of way. Well, I couldn't stand for that, so I delivered a skillfully-placed left jab straight to his right cheek, and knocked the bugger out. Take that, you Pickwick Papers-pimping parasitic prima-donna.

Charles Dickens recovered rapidly, however, and was back on his little Victorian feet, and about to totally beat my scrawny arse, when Alfred Hitchcock came forward, doing his best Harry Enfield Scouser "Calm-down-Calm-down" routine...

Yes! Saved by the Master of Suspense - and with such brilliant timing!

I remembered then why I've always admired Hitchcock so much. It's the timing, you see.

(OK, I'm back in Malmö now, The dream is over.)

The Demo
On January 17th, I was having a nice quiet drink at the Charles Dickens pub (I'll never learn, will I?), when I noticed that there was a demonstration against Israel's bombardment of Gaza going on.

I had my camera, so I took some photos. Here are two, but I have more (although some are blurry):

CSI: Helsingborg - Live at Punkten
We got another gig at Pub Punkten on February 6th. Here's proof:
So, I took the opportunity to vandalise the southern part of the city.

First, I went to the movies:

Then I went to Helsingborg's cultural
centre - the library - and wrapped
up the fountain:
It turned out to be a great gig, especially since we turned the volume down this time, as requested, and fewer people's ears were bleeding at the end than last time.

Valentine's Day (bless)
On February 14th, I made a cheesecake.

I'd bought this brilliant recipe guide called Everything I Know About Cheesecake off Etsy.com, and it's brilliant. It's only five Yankee bucks, and well worth it.

I had already made the mocha swirl one a couple of times, but I thought I'd try a strawberry thing.
Here it is:
OK, so it may not look great (one has to take great care to make a gorgeous-looking cheesecake), but it tasted fantastic.

Love - Light in Helsingborg
From February 14th until the 21st, Helsingborg's city council had a pretty cool idea. This was to have various different landmarks around the city displaying different kinds of light.

This had varying results; some displays on some buildings just looked tacky, while others looked wonderful.

But I have to say that the projection/show they had on the castle-like-thing in the centre was very, very well done. It was a 10- or 15-minute animated projection display shown on this great landmark, and it was worthy of a few "oohs and ahhs" for sure. Thumbs up for that one.

I tried to take a video of it using my camera, but the result didn't do it justice. So here's a still, shamelessly stolen from the city's website:
Helsingborg Fashion - puh-lease...
While we were walking around, my girlfriend stopped at a shop window, stared in horror, and pointed at the display.

Let me take this step by step:

First, we have the not-quite-shorts/not-quite-trousers (US/CAN: pants) thing happening here:
I know I've mentioned this before (some scrolling involved), but this is something I do not like.
Guys: Keep your legs covered or don't. Make up your minds.

Then we have this:
The bow-tie. It's for the nerdy heroes in the background, who are starting to gain fame in some high-tech crime-solving TV shows. Hurrah for the geeks. Yeah.

I hate it, but OK, it's there; I can handle its existence (just about).

But this:
This... ensemble.... What event could anyone possibly imagine attending in this monstrosity of an outfit?
Write your answers on a postcard, then burn it.

CSI: Helsingborg - Live at Telegrafen
We got a gig at Telegrafen on February 27th. This was cool, as it was the first gig that was closest to the city centre, and one that many of my friends and acquaintances would be able to attend.

So I got busy with the crime scene tape a couple of nights earlier.
This photo was taken outside the Bishops Arms, while I was listening to this couple have a wonderful drunken argument:
Ahh, young love.

The gig itself turned out to be the best we'd ever had. Having mostly people we knew there probably helped, but we were definitely in top form anyway.

My girlfriend's parents even came to see the show. Wow.

She had specifically asked me to try to tone the language down a bit (apparently, I swear more than Johnny Rotten at the dentist's) so, after the first song, I said something like, "Listen up: my girlfriend's parents are here, so do me a favour and keep your f*cking language clean, awright?". Or something...

The show was a great success. We might even be allowed to play again within three miles of the place, within the next two years or so.

No, but seriously, it went very well. Here's a photo of a girl (whom I didn't pay - honest) who liked our show so much that she bought one of our t-shirts, and grabbed some CSI crime scene tape to wrap around her head and wrist:
The restraining order is in effect until August next year.

That's it.

It's almost 3:00 a.m. and I will now be publishing this post without reading it through, so apologies for the mistakes.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been reading Helsingblog. I will continue the blog, but it will be a bit different. Maybe even more frequent than it has been lately.

I would also like to thank the Swedish government for doing nothing about it, as this is what I've come to realise that they're best at.

And welcome to Helsingbloggin' - Malmö.

That's what I think.