Monthly Archives: July 2009

Tina can

Some of you will have seen my attempts at showing you nice photos from Sweden. I am pleased with the results some of the time, or at least until I see what others can do.

I’ve recently been introduced to an acquaintance of Mother-of-witch, who lives just round the corner from me, and she really can take good pictures.

Because I admire what she does so much, I’m taking the liberty of linking here to her Flickr photos for more of you to enjoy.

I’ll just resort to using my camera when there is no better alternative.


Would you like to dance?

I’m never sure how to describe the phenomenon of dancing to live bands that Swedes engage in. It’s not clubbing. I’m sure of that. It’s dancing, but what image that conjures up in your mind, I have no idea.

So, in the summer in Sweden I can go to sleep to the sound of a ‘dansband’ on a Tuesday evening. That’s because they are playing sufficiently far away, not to be too noisy for me. They are playing at Västerhagen, which is an outdoor dance venue, in the woods near the water filled ditch I once stumbled into on my way to school in the dark one winter. But that’s enough about wet boots.

It’s ‘easy listening’, I suppose. And Swedes love dancing, and particularly outdoors in the summer. Midges, and all that. Lovely.

The other day while we were still heading straight for our Gothenburg parking adventure, we overtook a coach on the motorway. I saw the stork a long way away. Closer to, I saw that the stork was a flamingo. Pink. It was the coach ferrying the dansband Flamingo-kvintetten (Flamingo quintet, to you) to somewhere, possibly a somewhere with midges. According to the side of the coach they have been doing this for 45 years, and I certainly remember them well. They were – possibly still are – one of the big names in the business.

Västerhagen, for all its position in the woods near me, also attracts the big names. Some time I will actually go along to experience this at closer range than through my bedroom window.

Offspring and I vividly remember another bedroom with a lot more noise. We were staying in a large Gothenburg hotel one Saturday night, when we found ourselves dancing in our beds. The hotel had a dansband for their Saturday night entertainment, and it may have been two floors away, but we were able to sing along to every song. It was that loud.

And if that sort of thing isn’t enough, you can attend special events lasting days, where people come on holiday to dance like mad for a few days or a week. A kind of dansband Glastonbury, maybe.

A waffle stop tour

And thank God for the Norwegian seamen’s church in Gothenburg.

The Resident IT Consultant and his witch have rarely been so close to complete meltdown as on Friday. And yes, it’s taken me three days to muster up the strength to even blog after that.

Daughter required a visit to Liseberg, the Gothenburg theme park. Son and Dodo were willing to keep her company. The adults should have known better. Anyway. We drove leisurely, stopping first at the Sia-Glass ice cream factory in Slöinge for Dodo’s purchase of ice cream sauce to take back to Britain. Then a longer stop at Freeport, Kungsbacka’s retail outlet.

Then the bad decisions kicked in, because lunch at Ikea may be cheaper than elsewhere, but with those July holiday queues we should have got out even faster than we did. Still hungry, and it was late by this time. OK, we could look for pizza places in Mölndal on our way in to Gothenburg. We could have, had the Resident IT Consultant not whizzed past all the exits on the motorway.

So, let’s aim for Liseberg, then, and pick something up to eat there, awful though it may be. After negotiating two sides of Liseberg on the outside, narrowly avoiding getting stuck across tram tracks with hired car with weirdest handbrake ever, we spent quite some time driving round the car park. We had lots of company, because many others did the same thing.

At this point I kicked the little ones out of the car, saying they were big enough to cope on their own, and go in there and have fun (hah) while we park. Somewhere. Perhaps. We drove. We drove some more. Still in the same car with the same handbrake. Stopping on steep hill to look at map, behind parked cars. Still with the same handbrake… Phone call from little ones to say Liseberg had given up on the idea of taking payment in plastic and they were traipsing round for cash machine.

Drove some more. Drove past little ones who had found money somewhere. Drove. Drove. Oh, and did I mention I was aiming to be at the cinema at ten past three?

We had a dinner date in the suburbs with Pippi after six. Decided at this rate we may as well go there immediately and park. Maybe even stay there and leave little ones to their fates. Pulled into 30 minute layby to consult more maps, phone Pippi, and breathe. We were outside the Norwegian Seamen’s church, which incidentally is next door to the cinema. The witch decided to use the church’s toilet on the grounds that churches are nice places , and we are members of the Scandinavian seamen’s church in Liverpool, so were practically at home, so to speak.

WC requirement dealt with, there was a tantalising smell of waffles. The sign said they were open for coffee and waffles all day. On investigating some more, space to park the car and its handbrake – legally – came to light. I’m not saying where. Early Pippi plans were scrapped and two demented people decamped to the church’s coffee room and ate waffles. We had still not had lunch, as you may remember.

Ate more waffles. And possibly some more still. Hard to recall. We spent 90 minutes in that blissfully quiet, empty, comfortable waffle heaven.

It was five past three as we began, and all thoughts of the cinema had to be scrapped, despite being next door. Sanity was begging to be restored. I checked on the little ones that they were OK. Found later they had also had waffles at Liseberg, although theirs cost rather more. We rendez-voused at the church later on, and Daughter received short guided talk on its architecture from friendly Norwegian, before we took off for Pippi’s.

Since the purpose of this post is to praise the church and its waffles (did you know Norwegian waffles are especially nice?), I shouldn’t criticise Liseberg. We usually love it, and I’m sure at some later stage I will blog about its charms, but I do not understand the ban on card payment. It’s not really their fault the car parks were clogged up with Liseberg visitors. They even repaid Son and Dodo for their tickets to ride, when Son got irate over having paid 600 kronor (£50) to go nowhere at all. In three hours Daughter managed four rides for her 300 kronor, which even in a good mood I think is really poor. The others watched. And ate waffles.

There may be more waffling here later.

Torchwood – The End

Can’t possibly do this without spoilers, so please go away if you don’t want them. And come back later, of course.

The slight problem of having exiled myself on the morning after Torchwood episode one, means it took a while to lay hands on the full week of Torchwood, and even longer to watch it. So I don’t know if it makes sense to discuss it here and now?

After the slightly disbelieving gasps over on Facebook as the drama unravelled, and the comments on here soon after, I didn’t know what to think. But now that we’ve seen The End, I feel that not only did I have fewer expectations about anything at all, but also knowing that others were distressed, I wasn’t. I was prepared, and I’m sure that helped. And to be honest, I don’t mind if there is no more Torchwood. It’s been good and I’ve enjoyed it, but I’ll be happy to see more of Russell T Davies’s work elsewhere, and I’m pretty sure John Barrowman will pop up again. He’s the popping up kind.

And Mary Hoffman, thank you for thinking of Daughter. This was no Coraline, however. All the horror was sort of real, rather than spooky. So Daughter is sad that there most likely won’t be more Torchwood, but a David Tennant-less Doctor Who is far worse.

I think the upset was to do with Torchwood being immoral, this time round. Yes, the plot was not exactly nice. But it’s fiction, and it was well written fiction. Yes, it did spell the end for Torchwood and most of the characters, but better end now than get boring.

Am I alone in not being surprised at the idea the Government would behave this immorally? I’m a cynic and a pessimist, and I expect the worst most of the time. And Captain Jack’s behaviour? Hmm. Never nice to find feet of clay, but it was a clever way of making us happier to see the last of him, seeing he can’t be killed off too easily. The presence of the grandson should be an early indication that he had a purpose.

For the rest, I feel most of the characters behaved very morally, sooner or later. The sight of Gwen and all the others running for cover with the children, against all hope, was very encouraging, as was the usefulness of the Welsh hooligans for stealing cars and standing in front of the soldiers. The very type of people the PM felt we’d be better off without.

So, I’m afraid I liked it.

“Their tyres, not their throats”

NCIS 5.14 has to count as one of my most favourite episodes. We watched it  recently, again, when we needed cheering up. Have already forgotten why we needed cheering, but not what we watched to treat the symptoms.

I think it might be because in ‘Internal Affairs’ our gang are on the outside, having been put out of business by the FBI. Not out of action, though, and they use their spare time efficiently, solving the case from Gibbs’ basement, using his ancient computer (just the fact that he ever had one makes the mind boggle) and his even dustier printer. And McGee is too polite to tell Gibbs what he thinks of his dated equipment.

‘Do what you do best’ says DiNozzo to Abby as she goes to be interrogated by Fornell. ‘Dance?’ she says. Well, that would have been fun. Her slurping CafPow and waffling is pretty good, too.

I’m reminded of no 5.14 more often than any other episode, as I happen to have a still as my wallpaper. I was watching when the phone rang, so I paused. After staring at the screen for all of the phone conversation, I decided I liked it, so saved it.

But what I like best is when Gibbs hands Ziva a knife and tells her to deal with the FBI, outside. ‘Their tyres, not their throats’, he reminds her as she sets off.

Cake and fleas, jam and thunder

It was a good idea Son had. Get the bus to Harplinge, a few miles away, have elevenses at Börjes and then walk the mile or so to the big farm where the annual flea market was being held. Afterwards we could walk home. Nice morning outing.

The weather wasn’t too promising, but the rain held off as we sat in the café. Nice Prinsess pastries were consumed, and lots of great bread was bought to take home. It rained a little en route for the fleas.

The farm is on a narrow, not very busy side road in a field. I have never seen such a jam before in our quiet part of the countryside. Cars can’t usually meet on this road, so to have loads of traffic in both directions was slightly problematic. Suspect the rain that was coming down quite nicely by then was part of the cause. If you can’t go to the beach, you go to the flea market.


Good thing we didn’t need anything. The crush was tremendous, and the temptation to buy was, too. You could have furnished and equipped a home with what was for sale. Cheaply. But I don’t have an empty home.

When both we and the fleas were exhausted we walked home through the beautiful countryside. The beautiful countryside with heavy rain and thunder. Great idea.

I’m still trying to get our things dry. Wonder why that job usually  falls to the mother of any family?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

‘It was good, but some things were missing. And they’d added other things instead.’ This was Daughter’s verdict of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, after we’d finally seen the film. Son and Dodo agreed, whereas the witch has to admit to a short memory, that means she can’t quite remember what happened in which book.

But, yes, some things were missing, but perhaps understandably so. The question is why they feel the need to add things that were never in the book at all? Burning down The Burrow may be a brilliant idea, but don’t we need it again?

The Prime Minister thing at the beginning of the book is one of my most favourite favourites, and it was missing. The Tonks and Lupin love affair was simply an accepted fact, rather than a lovely, romantic struggle.

It was quite a nice film. I can only assume that all viewers are presumed to know the book, as I doubt that anyone coming fresh to the film would understand why anyone said or did anything at all.

I believe some people are not reading the books, now that you can have it on film. I hope this applies to very few ‘fans’, because you really don’t get anywhere near full Harry Potter value watching the films. But each to his or her own…

Wonder why Snape’s hair is no longer greasy?

Remembering the moon

As I hinted, there were more Tom Hanks related things happening chez bookwitch last week. By pure chance I happened to notice that television had his series From the Earth to the Moon on late at night. They are broadcasting two episodes back-to-back so we missed the first two, but the remaining ten should be manageable.

It was a bit of a marathon in front of the box, with more watchable things on a Wednesday night, but we are dedicated around here, so persevered.

The first (i.e. the third) episode was the one about Apollo 7 and Walter Schirra, ably played by Mark Harmon. That’s what we call luck, getting here just in time for that particular episode. We also watched Apollo 8, which is about as far back as my real memory goes as regards the Apollo programme.

For episodes five and six we were joined by the Resident IT Consultant, who seems to find space fun, too. Luckily Son and Dodo are people with real lives, so they were able to resist. It was the Lunar Module this week; the one on Apollo 9 and the Apollo 11 Eagle, which a few of you will have heard of.

Nerds that we are, we are looking forward to the rest. And I’m certain that most of the actors have done a stint on NCIS at some point or other.


You’d expect to find Astrid Lindgren, of Pippi Longstocking fame, over on Bookwitch, but Saltkråkan is primarily a television series. Last summer may well have been the first for many years when I didn’t watch the annual repeats on Swedish television. Not that I need to, as we now have most of it on video, but there’s a certain feeling of tradition about watching it in the summer holidays. This year I haven’t noticed whether it’s on or not.

Saltkråkan is a fictional island in the archipelago north of Stockholm. Tjorven (that’s a pet name; not even Swedes have that peculiar a name) is a seven-year-old girl living on Saltkråkan, with her family and their enormous St Bernhard dog Båtsman. The witch is the same age as Tjorven, which may explain the lingering affection I have for the series. And she’s chubby. The Melkersson family from the city come to spend their first summer on the island. Their youngest boy, Pelle, is a similar age, and he loves animals. He even loves the wasps that attack his poor, accident prone father. The house they’ve rented is a leaking old place, ready to collapse, but they grow to love it.

Not all that much happens, really. It’s simply a charming account of a typical Swedish summer; rowing, swimming, finding hidden treasure, getting chased by a bull, fighting off Pelle’s older sister’s suitors, catching fishing net stealing thieves, buying a rabbit, getting lost while picking berries in the woods. The Melkerssons return for Christmas, for some traditional style celebrations, and beautiful snowy scenery.

Later on they made a few films, including letting Pelle’s sister get married and have a little girl of her own.

I’m fairly sure the book of Saltkråkan came after the television series, rather than the other way around. And 45 years on we are still watching. For me it was one of the most important things to find for Offspring when they were younger. It was expensive buying videos at the time, but I still did it. Daughter still marvels over the way Tjorven and Pelle manage to buy the old house right under the nose of the rich city type who wants to build a bungalow, by offering the owner a deposit equalling the cost of an ice cream. That’s proper fairy tale material.

Knut or krona?

Who’d have thought that seeing Harry Potter would be such a challenge? Not only did I fail in getting to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo last time in Sweden, because it was on too late at night. Now I can’t see it at all, as it’s no longer on around here. But Harry Potter is, and contrary to Daughter’s fears that there would be a delay because Sweden is behind with things, The Half Blood Prince is out today, as in most places around the globe.

The timings of the film are fine. Buying tickets is a struggle, though. Went to town last week, intending to get them then. Cinema not open until much later. Home to phone. Phone number is for Stockholm and does not deal with tickets. Website is slow and badly designed, but try for long enough and you can work out how to book tickets.

First day sold out. Second day a bit iffy. Third day fine. Choose tickets. Give card details. Stupid idea. They don’t take foreign cards.

So, it’s square one again.

Me, I’m not too fussed when I see the film. Daughter would like to see it early. But I don’t want to spend half a day on the bus there and back only to buy the tickets. I suspect that the first available day will have moved further away by now, so it won’t be early.

Have decided not to think about it, and perhaps things will work out somehow. Best not try too hard.