Archive for the 'Journal' Category


Liesbeth Salander was my neighbour!

Liesbeth Salander was my neighbour!

So she’s a fictional character and the time period was slightly wrong but it still felt bizarre to realise that the big apartment that she bought in the second book of the Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy was right next to where I used to live in Stockholm. We even used to go to te same 7 Eleven.

The other day I took the Stieg Larsson guided walking tour which takes people around several locations as described in his Girl With The Dragon Tattoo novels. It is a fascinating tour and one that I would recommend if you have read the novels. The guide describes some of the key scenes in the novels and it helps the novels come alive.

Even though it’s not the tourist season, there were about 30 people in our walking group from all over the world. I was the one who had come the furthest from Australia.

We also heard about how the Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is currently being filmed in Stockholm. Apparently they are aiming to make Stockholm look dark and foreboding and have it raining most of the time. The director has this vision of Sweden as being a socialist society with facist undertones.  I don’t what he’s thinking because that’s certainly not the Stockholm I know and love.

Back to the walk, if you’re in Stockholm and are interested, check out the City Museum’s website at the following link. Tours are conducted in English and Swedish. As an alternative you can buy a map and do the walk yourself.

Here are some photos that I took during the walk.

Mikael Blomqvist's apartment

Mikael Blomqvist's favourite cafe

Offices for Millenium magazine (above Greenpeace)

Liesbeth Salander's luxury apartment building (I used to live just behind it)

Not part of the tour but I loved the name of this hairdressing salon


No Jetlag – Phew

I still can’t believe I’m not suffering jet lag! My sleeping patterns are defiiotely out of whack but that’s par for the course even home in Australia.

It helped that I picked a good airline in Thai Airways. The two reasons I picked them were that they fly direct to Stockholm (even SAS don’t do that anymore) and they have about 3 inches extra legroom when compared to most of the other airlines who cram people in so that your knees are around your ears. It was great that on the first leg, we had an ultra modern A340-600 and that I had a spare seat next to me.

Another plus was that I discovered I still had some frequent flyer points from when I flew with them in 2007.  They are about to expire so I was able to use some of them to get lounge access in Bangkok including a nice hot shower. Thai definitely get my thumbs up.

I was still quite zonked out when I finally hit Stockholm town. I did plan to have a little nap when I got to where I was staying but I was so excited to be there and it was sunny (albeit zero degrees) I just had to get out there. So I got the bus back to Söderholm and just wandered around. Söderholm is quite a cosmopolitan area and there’s always something going on. I used to live there so for old time’s sake I revisited my old apartment (from the outside anyway) and just wandered around my old haunts. I think that this really helped with the jetlag being out in sunshine and fresh air.

Thai Airways A340-600 - pure class even in economy

Peter Jöback was there to welcome me to Stockholm (almost)

A view of Stockholm from Söderholm

Another view from Söderholm

My old apartment (behind the bushes) - the cobblestone streets used to play havoc on my ankles

The beautiful Katarinakyrkan (church) just around the corner from my old apartment


First Snow and First CD Shopping Trip

I woke up on my second day in Stockholm to the sight of the first snow for the season. This is what I saw from the balcony:

Then from another part of the balcony:

And then on the way to the bus:

I had to walk carefully to the bus since I didn’t want to go arse over tit and do myself some damage. It’s not so easy the older you get. I made it in one piece but unfortunately my bus did not. It got part of the way to Slussen and then decided to go no further due to mechanical problem with the rear door. The bus was full of grumpy looking Swedes which was bringing me down so I braved the icy  streets and walked the rest of the way to Slussen. It was a pleasant walk with some great views of Gamla Stan (the Old Town) and I didn’t slip once.

Then it was time for the traditional walk from Slussen, through Gamla Stan and right up to the city centre. It’s a good walk and one that I have done many times on past trips. It felt good to do this familiar walk and it was time for another Swedish tradition – CD shopping.

I normally hate shopping but when it comes to catching up on Swedish music then I make an exception. I covered quite a bit of the city, including the second hand mecca along St Eriksgatan. By the end of it I was quite weary though. I didn’t get everything on my list but managed the following.

I was happy with my stash although a couple of the rarer items on my list (out of print albums from Caroline af Ugglas and Pernilla Wahlgren) remain out of reach. I also have a couple of titles to get for the Judge but I still have plenty of time to get those.


Losing weight for charity

grantwlcIn the couple of months leading up to the recent trip overseas, I managed to lose 14 kilos which I was very pleased with.

Since getting back to Australia almost two weeks ago, I have found it very hard to get motivated to get back into the weight loss routine. I have been suffering jet lag for longer and much worse than usual. Must be old age, I guess. 😉

But I can only blame the jet lag for so long before biting the bullet and taking on the responsibility again. I was talking to a couple of colleagues at work and we decided to support each other in our health goals. My manager suggested to make it interesting and potentially more motivating, we could each put in $50 and whoever lost the most (based on percentage of weight loss) could take the winnings.

The idea then took on a life of its own and before we knew it, our numbers had doubled to six. We decided to give a first, second and third prize.

And then someone suggested that we could get friends, colleagues and family to sponsor us and give the proceeds to the charity of our choice. Well, the competition was on!

I chose the Starlight Children’s Foundation. I have always supported Starlight since they granted a wish for my nephew, Daniel – a computer. Daniel is sadly no longer with us but I have always been grateful to Starlight for granting his wish and for the work they do with other ill children.

I have set up a page at Everyday Hero for anyone who would like to donate and set a goal of $500. If I win a prize in the Weight Loss Challenge then I will also donate the winnings to Starlight.

Please help support this worthy cause and help me lose weight at the same time. As well as raising $500, I am hoping to lose 10 kilos (about 22 pounds) over the next 5 weeks. Click here to read about my weight loss journey and to make a donation.

Thank you.


The Three Gs


Graeme, Grant, Gustav

Apropos of nothing at all, here is a picture of me with my two bestest friends, Graeme and Gustav (from Sweden).

Gustav was on his first (and hopefully not last) trip to Australia in March 2007. The photo was taken on the Manly Ferry.


Mooving On Up, Mooving On Out

Moooving fine on a Friday 005

Imagine our surprise to look out of the office window this morning and see four giant flavoured milk cartons planted in Railway Square, Sydney. Being ever opportunistic, a few of us popped out during our afternoon tea break with camera in hand and trying to ignore the looks of passers by as we posed with said cartons. Naturally, I posed with the big pink strawberry. 🙂

Which of course is a cue for a song. When JudgeG and I visited London in 1993 (his first time and my second), we were lucky enough to experience a semi-golden age of music. The M People were part of that experience with two incredible songs – “One Night In Heaven” and “Mooving On Up”, oops sorry, “Moving On Up”.

Cos I’m moving on up
You’re moving on out
Movin’ on up
Nothing can stop me
Moving on up
You’re moving on out
Time to break free
Nothing can stop me

And because I’m feeling generous, here is “One Night In Heaven”.


Tongue-tied på svenska


A couple of months ago, I joined a Swedish class here in Sydney. I had lived in Sweden about 10 years ago but my language skills have become very rusty to say the least. While there is much I can remember, there is much I have also forgotten. Well, it has been ten years since I last attended a Swedish class!

I am pretty good on grammar and vocabulary and my pronunciation isn’t too bad but my big failing is when I try to put it all together in a conversation. I become a babbling mess.

I think I worry too much about getting it exactly right. My inner perfectionist is always at work and as soon as I realise that I’ve made a mistake (which is usually pretty early in the conversation), I crumble and make less sense than the Swedish Chef.


When I was in Sweden, I took part in the Svenska För Invandrare program (Swedish for Immigrants) and I always envied my class mates. They would mangle the Swedish language, throwing grammar out the window, but they could still hold conversations in every day Swedish without a worry. On the other hand, I would be thinking of my adverbs and conjunctions and prepositions. The teachers used to love me but I would be very hard on myself.

It has been good to get back into the routine of learning Swedish. I have joined a class with James and have been having fun. I have even started my thing of introducing the rest of the class to Swedish music since that can be a good way to learn the language.

I did want to say that I have a lot of respect and empathy for non-English speakers making their way in an English dominated world, especially on the internet. I can understand why they are sometimes a little reluctant to speak English even if their English is quite good to my ears. It’s a confidence issue and that worry of getting it wrong.