DIY (Do It Yourself)- Renovation

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Our office ‘to be’ full of packing boxes and without walls.

When we moved to Sweden I was excited but full of anxiety. Things seemed too good to be true but I did have a few legitimate worries.  one of the things I was most apprehensive about was the renovation work needed on our house.

The renovations we knew about when we bought the house but after the excitement of buying our own house we realised it came with responsibilities. One room in our hose especially needed work- since it had not interior walls!

While I was excited to renovate and keen to start, if a little daunted, there was one major problem…  neither I nor my husband had ever done it before! On top of this, we were attempting DIY for the first time in a foreign country, where neither of us spoke the language.

Our first major hurdle was finding a supplier. We needed wood, boards, paint, screws… the list goes on. We began with simple google searches but we soon realised that the cost of having building supplies delivered is NOT worth while, especially if you live in the countryside. Instead we toured the industrial estates of our nearest large town and found a shop there- Jem and Fix!

Jem & Fix are a Scandinavian equivalent of B&Q. They were the perfect place to buy pretty much all of the things we needed.

Website link: https://www.jemfix.se/

Our second problem was getting things home. Jem & Fix do deliver but their deliveries were similarly priced to other companies so this was no good. Another possibility was to borrow a trailer. This would have been perfect and doesn’t cost a penny, however I drive a small hatch back (not the best car if you live in rural Sweden) which has no tow bar. Our solution was to buy a rook rack (tack raker). This was a whole challenge in and of itself but once we had it we were able to get supplies back to the house.

Wall boards completed

After finding a place to buy supplies and finding a way to get them home, we had the challenge of actually renovating. This in some ways was easier than the first two steps. We added extra insulation and then put up wall panels. I had the ‘fun’ job of papering the walls- my husband refused. Finally we were able to paint and I fitted a wall plug.

We know our work is far, far from Sweden’s finest but we definitely think our office is improved. The final steps will be to add a more permanent floor covering- maybe carpet which is not at all popular in Sweden, strangely- and maybe to add some more personal touches. But, I now have a place to study, which makes me quite proud to look at when I compare it to when we first moved in.

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Fat Tuesday

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Lucia- another Swedish tradition, on the 13th December girls dress this way and sign traditional songs.

What is fat Tuesday and why do Swedes celebrate it?

I am not a religious person in the slightest although I am fascinated but theological ethics and cultural traditions that are born often from religion. Until 2000 Sweden’s official state religion was Lutheran Christianity. This is the reason for many of the traditional celebrations held in Sweden, despite most citizens now claiming to have no religion or atheist persuasions.
Fat Tuesday marks the beginning of Lent- a time when many christian fast or give up something in the lead up to Easter. In England this is usually called ‘pancake day’. The idea being that all fatty or indulgent products get eaten before the Lenten fast.

Semla in ICA

In Sweden, stead of making and eating pancakes they eat Semla. Semla are bready buns cut open and filled with an almond paste and whipped cream. They sold them at the university and I saw them in the local ICA. I was given mixed reports so I thought I better try one. They are quite heavy in texture and the almond paste tasted a little like marzipan. Some people love them and some hate them. I have to admit, I’m not 100% convinced- I think I’ll stick to pancakes next year!

 

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Weather in Sweden

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Having now lived in Sweden since August I feel like I’ve seen most of the Swedish seasons. All of them are beautiful but my favourite so far is the one just starting- Spring.

Summer

Before moving to Sweden and buying our house my husband and I visited. We stayed in Stockholm in June, travelling from there to Linköping and also to Mörlunda, where we now live. This was our first trip to Sweden and we were amazed. Stockholm was not what I expected, it was older, prettier and hotter! We were well aware that we were visiting at a time when the whether was untypical but none the less it surprised just hot hot Sweden could be. We were able to walk around the city in shorts and vests, even in the evening where it stayed light until about 11 o’clock. Our hotel room was not equipped to deal with the heat and we actually had to use wet towels to keep us from over heating in the night.

Sun in Stockholm

While the weather was unusually warm we were also told that the sun in Sweden feels different. This sounds odd and a little clichéd but the heat in Sweden is not the same as the heat in England. Temperatures of about 20 degrees in the UK might still require you to wear a jacket but where I currently live in Sweden, he air is so still that 20 degrees feels amazingly warm. I was expecting also to experience sunburn at some point over the summer- an inevitable hazard, having fair skin- but I didn’t. Perhaps this is because it feels warmer, the inclination to put on sun cream before getting burnt to a crisp kicks in.

Autumn

The autumn this year was stunning and seemed to go by very quickly. The weather stayed mild until well into October, I was actually reading some of my course literature outside in the sun up until October. When the weather did change it change rapidly. We had a few morning of freezing mist and thick frost. The leave on the trees began to change colour and eventually fall. It was beautiful to see the range of colours from bright greens to deep reds. This process probably only lasted a few weeks before it felt like winter.

Winter

The most difficult thing about winter was the longer nights. This is not so different from the UK but the day were a little shorter. Now that its becoming lighter I realise how nice it is to have longer evenings. In the middle of winter it was totally dark by about 4 pm and I always woke up in the dark, the sun rising about 8 or 9 am.

The cold of winter was certainly colder than in the UK but it felt crisper and fresh. When it snowed the landscape looked beautiful and the light levels actually improved as the snow reflected the little natural light from the sun. The snow made it brighter in the day but also at night. The moons glow on clear nights was reflected by the snow. This made going places in the evening, when the sun had set, much nicer than when there wasn’t snow.

Spring

The spring sun, desperately trying to thaw winter ice, at Valla Campus.

We are now approaching the end of February and the beginning of March and I am optimistic that Spring is no its way. We have had some beautiful days of sunshine. I was nice to see that I am certainly not alone in my appreciation for the weather. Last weekend, when the sun was really shining, there were far more people in town. I noticed that far more people were smiling and making eye contact. There was a strange feeling of optimism in the air. Incredibly, a few day later it snowed again! The following week was warmer though and the snow melted. These strange fluctuations on weather means that there are not too many sign of green new life but I have a feeling it wont be long. I can’t wait to see Spring fully underway.

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