Wednesday, 30 November 2022

How Are You These Days?


"Hi, how are you these days?" (or the equivalent in Swedish) was the question that met me first thing this morning, when opening Messenger on my phone, to check who had sent me a message. The sender was someone with whom I've had no contact for nearly 50 years, and even then (back in our teens) we were never close. We hung out with the same gang of mutual friends for a while, but I can't recall a single occasion when the two of us - just she and I - spent any quality time together.

I thought about it for five minutes or so - then deleted the message (which consisted only of that single question), as I found the mere thought of trying to come up with an appropriate (short) answer exhausting... (Obviously, the question has not yet been erased from the back of my mind, though - or I wouldn't be writing this.)

Something similar, although at the same time completely different, also happened to me yesterday, on my usual meditative walk around the old cemetery nearby. Out of nowhere, two women (my age or possibly a bit younger) popped up, one of them shouting "Excuse me!" and waving a piece of paper at me. I stopped, thinking she wanted to ask the way to somewhere, or something of that kind. That was not the case. She wanted me to have the brochure she was holding, with a headline saying something about "an end to all suffering". (Typical Jehova's Witnesses kind of pamphlet.) I shook my head and politely said no thanks. She then tried to start up a conversation anyway, asking if I had never thought about it, though? (referring to all the misery in the world, I suppose) Me: (deep breath) "Oh yes... I'm just not in the mood to discuss it just now."  And I left (without taking the pamphlet); now pondering about whether it's the pandemic that made them abandon knocking on doors, and come up with the idea of haunting people in cemeteries instead... 

Now I'm curious how others react to similar kinds of situations as those described above. Only answer if you feel like it, though! ;-) 


May be an image of text that says "1 @SoVeryBritish VeryBritishProblems Try saying these without sounding sarcastic: 2. 3. 1. That's great great Gooo for you Have fun 4. Fascinating 5. Thanks for that 6. Well done you 7. Good luck with that 8. Sounds thrilling 9. What a shame 10. Wow"

May be an image of text that says "VeryBritishProblems @SoVeryBritish Email translations: was unle the impression" Translation: I'm furious "As per my email" Translation: I'm furious "With respect" Translation: I'm furious "Whilst I appreciate" Translation: I'm furious "As I'm sure you're aware" Translation: I'm furious"

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Seasonal Baking


I started this week (yesterday + today) with some traditional Advent/Christmas baking. I had prepared the gingerbread dough a couple of days in advance. The dough was easy enough to handle, nothing got burned, and the biscuits/cookies smelled wonderful (besides ginger, the recipe also includes cloves, cinnamon and cardamom), looked nice enough, and tasted pretty much as usual... However, something about the texture did not come out quite right. While they're not exactly 'soft', I'd still hesitate to call them 'ginger snaps' in English. (In Swedish,  conveniently we can use the word 'kaka' about anything from a soft cake to a very snappy biscuit/cookie, though - so from linguistic point of view, never mind!) I didn't make a very big batch, and they'll no doubt get eaten (by me) anyway ;-) The only thing I did different from usual was that I used a stevia based sweetener instead of white sugar. As the recipe also has brown sugar and treacle in it, and I kept those, I didn't expect it would make much difference. But maybe it did. (I've used the sweetener in muffins/cupcakes before, but of course those are supposed to be soft anyway...)

While I still had my baking trays and things out, I followed up today with also baking some Swedish 'Lucia buns' (saffron buns). They came out all right.

The shape is traditional for buns baked for Lucia /St. Lucy's day. In Swedish we often call them lussekatt (pl. -katter), but  the shape as well as the name can vary between different parts of the country. And also whether you use saffron in them or not. (My mum didn't use saffron in hers.)

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Lights in the Dark

Starting on Thursday afternoon, and continuing on Friday, I've been putting up my decorations for the 1st Advent weekend:


Living room

Bedroom and Study

 Happy First Advent Sunday, everyone!

As usual, I'll be adding to the Christmas decorations gradually during December. Basically I always start with the candle holders and stars for 1st Advent, plus changing some textiles (kitchen curtains and table cloths/runners). Some angels may appear around St Lucy's day (13th Dec); while elves/gnomes and my little Christmas tree rarely come into the picture until much closer to Christmas Eve.

Friday, 25 November 2022

And Winter Came (2)

 Continued from my previous post (Monday, 21 Nov).


That was on Monday. Already on Tuesday, the snow started to thaw and melt away again, though. I just haven't got round to posting these remaining snowy pictures until today.

 Linking to Skywatch Friday

Monday, 21 November 2022

And Winter Came (1)

The first snow is here. On the east coast of Sweden they've had a lot more (really a lot). Here, just about enough to cover the ground, and make the streets and walkways treacherously icy. But Monday afternoon was sunny, and I ventured out for a while (with studded boots + walking poles for support)... (Saving some photos for another day, as for some reason I got trouble with uploading them half way into this post.) The title I borrowed from a favourite CD by Enya.


Linking to:

Through My Lens

Sunday, 20 November 2022

The Railway Murders - Book Review


The Railway Murders (A Yorkshire Murder Mystery Book 8) by [J. R. Ellis] 

The Railway Murders
A Yorkshire Murder Mystery #8

by J.R. Ellis (2022)
Audible narration by Michael Page, 8:15 h

The 8th installment in J.R. Ellis' series about DCI Oldroyd & co in Yorkshire. I enjoy these books for a combination of reasons: The Yorkshire setting, likeable main characters, and focus on classic mystery solving rather than on too much detail of violence and forensics etc. 

In The Railway Murders each chapter starts with a reference to classic films/books about other murder mysteries involving trains. In this book, the setting is a museum railway, and the murder takes place in connection with a film shoot. It's a classic "locked room" mystery, as a film star has been shot dead in a train carriage, with the cameras rolling outside. But the victim was alone in the carriage, and nobody else was seen going in or out... So the mystery is as much about figuring out how it was done, as by whom.

For me, it was easy to imagine the setting of this book... My father was a railway and steam engine enthusiast, and on two family holidays by car in England and Wales back in the early 1970s, we visited several museum railways like this, also including train rides. 

What I also appreciate about this series is that besides the Kindle books being fairly cheap, one can also add the audio book at a real bargain price when buying it together with the Kindle book. I don't really know who Michael Page is, but I find listening to him reading these stories a joy in itself. So I mostly listened to this book, even if I also bought the Kindle.

Saturday, 19 November 2022

That Time of the Year

And suddenly we're past mid November, with only one more week to go to 1st Advent weekend... Looking out of my windows, all the trees are bare now, and it's getting dark early in the afternoon. (Sunset 3:45 pm.) The last few days there have also been chilly winds blowing, with temperatures close to freezing point in the mornings - and not much better during the day either. I'm thankful that I did manage to get my flu vaccination over with on Monday (see previous post) while it was still quite mild, and no wind. Queuing outdoors for 45 minutes later in the week would no doubt have been more of an ordeal!

I was still feeling tired for a couple of days afterwards, though; hard to say if side-effect of the vaccination or just "anyway". (Not exactly ill, just a bit "slow".) But yesterday, I decided it was a good day to change my kitchen curtains - as I always do around this time of year. Other decorations for Advent will wait until next weekend; but I always prefer to get the curtain job over with beforehand, choosing a day when I have the time, and feel up for it.

Today, I woke up to the news on the radio that the east coast of Sweden was having the first snow storm of the year - as much as 30-40 cm in some places.

Which told me it was also time to get on with the final "winter preparations" on my own balcony... So today I've covered my clematis (climbing on a trellis against the wall) with a layer of fibre cloth, and wrapped my strawberry boxes in old newspapers and shoved those under the bench - which was already covered with a plastic tarpaulin for winter. 

Seems I was just in time. Looking out the window tonight, I see we're now having a light snowfall going on here as well... Whether it will remain just light, or turn worse, I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.

For my own part, there's nowhere special I need to be tomorrow. Might be a good day to just stay in and get started on some Christmas correspondence...

Monday, 14 November 2022



Last week, I didn't get another chance to go across town for the drop-in flu vaccination. (Wednesday was Laundry Day, Thursday Dentist Day, and Friday Food Delivery Day. Plus it was rainy all week.) Today it wasn't raining, and I decided I had to grab the opportunity. It did require an effort, though! 

First, I spent about an hour online trying to solve the mysteries of the buses. The printed time table I had did not match the one that I (at last) found online. And when I tried the online search app (supposed to be simple, but it really isn't...) that did not seem to match either of them. So I just had to take a chance, and decided to trust the latest PDF timetable. (It seems they adjusted the times from 1st November, which probably explains why I "missed" the bus last week.) To be of the safe side, I also gave myself a margin with the time I needed to walk to the railway station to take that bus. 

Not to write a whole novel, the result to day was: 15 min walk from home to the railway  station. Nearly 15 min waiting for the bus. 10 min on the bus. 10 min walk from where I got off that bus to my destination (the current vaccination centre). I arrived almost on the dot when they opened today, i.e. at 13:00 (1 p.m.) .... to be met by a long queue gathered already. (Not too much of a surprise. By the look of it, nearly everyone 65+. I guess the others probably did not like the thought of outdoors queuing in the rain last week any more than I did.) 45 min in the queue to reach the door. 5 min for the vaccination itself (including paperwork and clothes off and on etc - and 1 minute sitting down for the actual jab). After that, I had another errand to a "tech" shop nearby for a few purchases (various cords and bulbs and whatnot for the upcoming Christmas season) - 20 min. Coming out of there, I decided I probably wouldn't really save much time (or even effort) on trying to catch another 10 min bus ride part of the way back. So I just walked all the way home: another 45 min. Which means the whole adventure took 2 hr 45 min; out of which I was on my feet (walking or standing) about 2 hr 35 min... (phew)

Yes, I was tired when I got home. But at least it didn't rain; and now it's done; and hopefully it'll be a while before I need to visit that part of town again!

Friday, 11 November 2022

Magic Transformation


Happiness is having one's mouth full of teeth again - after a few weeks of having had to make do without one of them! Yesterday the Tooth Fairy (i.e. my dentist) waved her magic again, and I got my new crown put in place. Turned out a perfect fit, so will hopefully make daily life easier again for a while (until who-knows-what-may-happen-next). 

* * *

Coming out from the dentists' , I still had sort of a contrary feeling of deserving an extra "reward" for going through the process. So before I went back home, I ended up also going to a shoe-shop to buy myself a new pair of warm indoor slippers. Well - it wasn't really an impulse purchase, as I'd had it in mind for for a while. ;-) And probably not one that would have ended up on my blog, if not for a certain detail. I tried on a few different ones, but here is the pair that I ended up buying:

See that little tag? It "sealed the deal" for me...

Recycling magic! :-)

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Rainy November

(Anonymous mushrooms spotted on one of my recent walks)

November has continued as it started - grey and wet. Yesterday, it was pouring down all day and I didn't go out at all (which is unusual). Today, I did manage a short walk in only a light drizzle. I also had half in mind to take the bus across town to get my flu vaccination over with. But the bus I intended to take was either early (so that I just missed it), or else really late... As I wasn't sure which, I gave up waiting after 10 minutes, and decided that It Was Not Meant To Be (today). Today was just the first day for the flu vaccine anyway; and as it's all drop-in, it's anyone's guess how long the queue might be on a specific day or time. (It's still because of the pandemic that I need to go "across town"for it. They are again doing all the flu vaccinations at the same place where they've also been handling the covid ones.)

At home, I'm watching 'Roofers At Work' again = the last episode of the 'live soap opera' that's been going on around my street for just over a year now... ;-) (I.e. - they're now exchanging the tiles on the last roof, which happens to again be one close to me.) Since last month, they've also been exchanging our entrance doors. (Not sure why, but I guess for a combination of security and isolation reasons. I myself have reported problems with ours more than once, as it's not always been closing properly as it should.) And before that, lifts/elevators. It's been a busy year that way - always some work going on somewhere along the street!

Over the weekend (while it wasn't really raining much, and no wind, but still grey), I was hit by unexpected inspiration to do a bit of "work" myself - as in washing windows. It may have been the reappearance of the roofers that reminded me... After they had finished the roof on 'my' building back in summer, I washed the windows in the kitchen and the living room, but didn't get round to the bedroom and study. For one thing I keep the blinds there down and half-shut most of the time anyway... Plus, washing the windows in those rooms also involves a bit more preparation (as in moving furniture).

It's got a bit easier in my study since I got a new desk some years ago, though. Because with this one, the top just rests on the drawer unit without actually being attached to it. So easy enough now (once I've emptied the table!) to just swing the top to the side (and let it rest on a chair or something instead), while the heavier drawer-unit can remain in place (not being all that much in the way).

(Yes, I anticipated that I might have to show you...)


Job done, and things back in order.
(All neat and tidy for about 5 minutes...)

I also started "thinking about Christmas"; like checking if I have enough Christmas cards, and ordering stamps, and one or two other things (Santa's secrets - shh) ... My experience from last Christmas, and also this year, is that postal services around the globe (and within my own country as well) are still not as reliable as they used to be - so best start early. 

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Halloween / All Saints', Owls and Candles

As mentioned before, in Sweden we celebrate All Saints' Day on the first Saturday in November (i.e. today), rather than on November 1st. (The holiday was moved here back in 1952, which means it's been like that all my life.) It's a rather solemn holiday, mostly about remembering the dead, tending to family graves, and church concerts with requiems.

Nowadays it also tends to get mixed up with American Halloween traditions, though - even if many still claim that those do not belong in our culture; or should at least be limited to the night of October 31st (never mind what day of the week). Others argue that as All Saints has been moved, then Halloween should also be celebrated on the Friday before All Saints. And with schools nowadays also closed a whole week for "autumn leave" (no such thing back in my own school days!), Halloween time now tends to sort of spread out to cover two weekends + the week in between!

For me, All Saints used to be a rather gloomy holiday (sad rather than festive and child-friendly). Nowadays, I feel more free to celebrate or ignore it as I please, though.

In my own home, decorations for autumn/Halloween/All Saints are sparse. Basically, I just change the display on the old chest in my living room a bit - adding a bit of orange, and featuring my owl collection. (If you can call just a handful of something a collection!)


These tiny ones sit on the rim of my vase of fake twigs.
(They can also sit on a plant pot.)


The big one used to be my mother's. You can put a tea candle inside it. With a real candle, it gets very hot, though... So I sometimes put a battery candle in it instead.


Back in summer I found this little one in a souvenir shop and added it to the "collection". It's small but heavy - made of solid concrete. I fell for it because it reminded me of the bigger hollow one, and I thought they might like each other's company... ;-)

On another wall (all year round) hangs an owl made in batik technique, made by my maternal grandfather back in 1976. He made quite a lot of batik art back in those days. I think I got this one for either my birthday or Christmas that year.

 For this weekend, I put a lantern with a battery candle in my living room window. That's for all the family graves that I don't visit... The lantern may get stay up until it's time to put up Advent candles instead, though. (Or until the battery runs out; whichever comes first.)

I did also go out to put a real candle on the one family grave we have in the old cemetery nearby where I "always" walk, though. Someone else had been there before me:


Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Rotten to the Core (Book Review)

Rotten to the Core (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 8) by [T E Kinsey] 

Rotten to the Core
by T.E. Kinsey (2022)
A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 8

(Read on Kindle + Audible)

This book is part of an English "cozy mystery" series that I happened to pick up from the beginning (a few years ago) and have continued to follow. It's set in the pre-WWI years in an English village, and starring amateur detectives Lady (Emily) Hardcastle (a widow) and her lady's maid, Florence Armstrong (narrator of the stories). In the first book they returned from India, seeking a quieter life in a small English village. Of course village life turned out less quiet than they had imagined . By now they have gained quite a reputation for helping the local police solve all kinds of mysteries (usually including murder) - and readers  following the series have kept learning a bit more about their background with every book. 

 In this book, it's apple harvest and cider-making time in the village, and a member of an ancient society to do with the cider production is found murdered in an apple orchard. 

The author, T E Kinsey, grew up in London and read history at the University of Bristol. I enjoy the books because of the historical setting, likeable characters, witty repartee between them - and the author also obviously having fun writing them...

A few examples of dialogue between Lady Hardcastle and her maid:

‘So much for the sheds,’ said Lady Hardcastle. ‘If I sat in the wheelbarrow would you wheel me to the cider mill? It’s too hot to walk.’ ‘Not on your life.’ ‘I don’t know what’s become of modern servants,’ she grumbled. ‘I’m sure my parents’ servants would have carried them on their backs and been grateful for the work.’ ‘Times have changed,’ I said. ‘Herr Marx pointed out that I’m an oppressed mass, I am. I shall be rising up any day now, and casting off the yoke of the capitalist bourgeoisie.’ ‘And about time, too. But would you still carry me? It’s too hot.’ ‘No,’ I repeated. ‘Best foot forward, come on. The walk will cool you.’ ‘Now, I know that’s nonsense.’ ‘It’ll get you in the shade, at least. If you’re a good girl I’ll buy you an ice cream from that tearoom at Chipping Bevington.’

- - -

‘It’s always like that,’ I said. ‘We suspect a string of wrong people, some of whom end up being murdered themselves, until it finally dawns on us who the real killer is. That’s exactly how it works every time.’

- - -

‘Oh, there’s no need to rush,’ said Lady Hardcastle. ‘We shall say we went to look at the church. People never dare doubt one if one says one has been looking at the church.’

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