FAREWELL TO LUGNADAL

Lugnadal in Swedish means a “calm valley”.  It’s also the name of the first Swedish house I stayed in back in 2000 on our first trip to the country.  After a storm-tossed trip by ferry from Newcastle to Gothenburg in mid-December across a belligerent North Sea, it was pitch black when we reached Lugnadal in the early hours of the morning.  It was a blessed relief after over 30 hours of weary travel by boat, train and car.  We awoke the next morning to a bright, crisp Skåne morning in what is an old farmhouse typical of the area – four connected sides around a central courtyard.  And it’s where my love affair with...

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WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL COPENHAGEN

Danny Kaye may have crooned about Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen in the 1952 movie, Hans Christian Andersen, but after our recent visit the Ws would stand for Wet and Windy.  And very cold.  Yet it is an undeniably attractive city with its impressive buildings, wide boulevards and cosmopolitan atmosphere.  For nearly twenty years we’ve been passing through Kastrup Airport on our way to Sweden across the Bridge.  Only on a couple of occasions have we made day-trips into the city itself.  Now that Anita Sundström needs to visit Copenhagen on a case she’s working on in the next Malmö Mystery – Mourning – I thought it might be an idea to spend some time there,...

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HERE’S TO A LESS CONFUSING 2019

Christmas is almost upon us and I hope that it will bring a bit of peace and sanity to the world.  I know I write about the chaos that murder can bring but it’s nothing to what is going on around us.  America is having its well-publicised problems, while the United Kingdom is no longer united as the politicians try and sort out the gigantic tangle that is Brexit.  And while we’ve had our eyes on other things, the Swedes still haven’t got a Prime Minister.  This extraordinary deadlock has been in place since the general election of September 9th.  I wrote about this impasse exactly three months ago.  Neither of the blocks (right...

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IS SWEDEN SUFFERING FROM OUR WORLD VIEW?

Sweden seems to have suffered a lot of negative press over the last couple of years.  We heard president Trump telling America “look at what happened in Sweden last night!” having watched Fox News.  This was followed by the claim on radio from British right-wing politician, Nigel Farage, that Malmö was the “rape capital of Europe”.  Since then, there has been a huge amount of comment in the run-up to last week’s general election.  As I write, no government has been formed as the two main political groupings are only one seat apart – the last government (Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party) have 144 seats; the four centre-right Alliance parties...

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HOT TOPICS IN SWEDEN

I’ve just returned from my second trip to Sweden this summer and both visits were marked by hot weather.  We’ve been lucky in that most of our summer visits to southern Sweden have coincided with reasonable weather, but this year has seen extremes.  In a country where 23C is a normal summer temperature, Sweden recorded the hottest July for two hundred years.   In a land dominated by forests, inevitable fires have followed as temperatures soared.  Amazingly, these fires stretched from the south to beyond the Arctic Circle.  According to officials, 25,000 hectares of forest have been burned.  Unable to cope with events that the country isn’t equipped to handle, Sweden turned to neighbours Norway...

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