Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Beavers in Stockholm

National Geographic magazine recently published an article about the rise of beavers in Stockholm. It's worth a read.

I had not known that beavers were last seen in the capital in the 1790's. In fact, beavers were declared extinct in the whole country in 1871.

Thankfully, they were successfully reintroduced in the 1920's, and within the past decade, they've made their way to the big city.

I'm pretty sure they won't make it out to the archipelago, however. At least, I hope not, since my house is made entirely of wood!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Stavsnäs Vinterhamn Pizzeria and Restaurant

When we took our shopping trip to Gustavsberg recently, we had some time to kill in Stavsnäs. Over the past couple of years, there have been a few additions to the little bunch of shops at the harbour. 

One of those was a pizzeria. We stopped in and were the only customers. (In fact, I think we were the only people at the whole harbour early on a Wednesday afternoon.) Sooz and I spoke with George, the charming young man behind the bar. He’s probably close to Grant’s age, and he’s attending university. It turns out he was the owner!

George’s family moved to Sweden from Serbia a generation ago from a family of restauranteurs. He bought and re-opened the pizzeria two summers ago. We talked about their business, and as you’d imagine, the summers are busy, and the winters are very, very quiet. Most of the off-season is just take-away pizzas for those people who live year-round in the Stavsnäs area.

We will certainly stop by George’s restaurant whenever we get a chance. I want to support him and his local business as much as we can.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Eurovision wrap-up

It's Sunday afternoon. I woke up just a little while ago, not getting home until almost 2AM!

Eurovision was a fantastic experience live. I have to say the most fun part were the crowds beforehand. The whole area around the Globe was packed with people of all sorts in costumes of every type. And I mean all sorts and every type!

The best part is was the atmosphere. It had a bit of a contest element to the party vibe; everyone wanted their country to win, but having a good time trumped everything.

Måns and Petra were superb hosts. The show was nearly 4 hours long, but it kept moving. Broadcasting such a complex show live to over 200 million people is an enormous challenge.

I was to the side of the stage and so got to see some of the mechanics behind the staging, and it was mightily impressive to a nerd like me.

There were lots of highlights. Justin Timberlake was great, for one. But the number by Petra and Måns outlining how to make a winning Eurovision song was outstanding:

I have a Flickr page of the day's activities. There are many more photos (perhaps too many more) on my Instagram page as well. Now back to real life...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Eurovision Final is set

It was a heck of a show. Mans and Petra are great hosts. The only snag was that none of the other Nordic countries made it through. This will impact Sweden's votes, I think. Will Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland give all their votes to Sweden? Or, freed from the obligation of reciprocal  voting, will they vote their hearts for a change?

I'm getting excited for the trip, to say the least!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Other favourites

Ukraine is also proving a popular pick this year. If she can get by the semi-finals on Tuesday, Jamala may do well with her song "1944", which refers to the Russian annexation of Crimea in that year (as opposed to its re-annexation this year):

The Eurovision rules preclude songs that are political in nature, but Jamala's song was approved despite Russian complaints. Voting will be interesting!

Another song with a bit of subtext is France's Amir, with "J'ai cherché". It can't be an accident that the French broadcasters chose a multi-cultural singer this year. Here's his winning performance:

The first semi-final is tonight, and I'll report on the big winners and losers tomorrow!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The bookie's favorite: Russia

Below is the official video from Sergey Lazarev, Russia's entry this year. Oddly, given the geopolitical climate in Europe, the bookies have Sergey as the top pick for this year's contest:

Here's a snippet of his rehearsal yesterday, which gives a good idea of how his performance will be staged. There are lots of Måns-esque interactive lighting effects. One thing that Eurovision can be counted on is to repeat what won last year!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Precisely one week from now

... I will be in my seat at the Globe arena, watching the grand final of the 2016 contest in person. It is safe to say that I am tremendously excited at the prospect!!!!!!!

Each day this week, I'll share the videos of the top contenders, along with info from the semi-finals.

For now, here's a recap of all of the competitors. It's seventeen minutes well spent, if you're into this sort of thing:


Thursday, May 5, 2016

The hus is getting older

We were talking with Marcia and Rutger about how long it has been since we built our house. We were all a bit surprised to realise this summer would be eight years since the house went up. It is amazing how quickly time flies. In many ways, it seems like yesterday. But then, I look at old pictures and we can see how much has changed.

I bring this up because this realisation has changed our thinking a bit. We took a lot of stuff out to the house in the first couple of years that we haven’t used. I’ve not wanted to throw anything away because of the effort of carrying anything out to the house.

This spring, though, both Sooz and I had a bit of a clean-up and earmarked a lot of stuff to get rid of. If I haven’t used it in a few years, I don’t need it! We’re a lot more organised and knowledgeable these days so we don’t need to hang onto stuff “just in case”. I don't want our little summer house to start filling up with junk like my regular house!

The other thing about the passing years is that we’re starting to see a need for maintenance and upgrades. Weatherstripping is becoming brittle, our door and window trim needs a new coat, our TV set is looking very dated. Up until now, we’ve been building and adding to the house. 

I expect we will be moving from constructing our house to maintaining it over the next few years. It may not be as much fun, but it’ll keep me busy, which is the important thing...