"Telling old stories, and singing songs, that make me think about where I came from"

Posts tagged ‘Scot in Sweden’

Update from the dark side of the moon

It looks like I’m going to have to start every blog post by apologising for not having blogged in awhile. This is something that I don’t want to do, so I’m going to get it out of the way now, and then hope for your understanding in the future. My lack of posts are simply down to the fact that blogging has become the very last of my priorities. Documenting your life through jumbled words on a computer screen seems to, in some way, preclude actually going about your day and living that life. After getting through my ever increasing work load, perhaps going to the cinema, more often watching the local ice hockey team, or generally just relaxing with a book at the end of a day of studying, the last thing that comes to mind is engaging in the activity which I am involved with at precisely this second. But today I woke early, the morning light is streaming into my room, the tree outside my window has frozen again, and it really has been quite awhile since I last posted. Plus, I’m desperate for any distraction from having to start studying again. So, here I am.

Frozen tree

Just as a note, as I type these letters I am also engaged in a debate with a Councillor on twitter as to whether or not trees freezing is a uniquely Nordic phenomenon or something observable in Scotland, as well. I think he wins, but I have never noticed frozen trees until living in Sweden.

Slalom expert extraordinaire

Since my last entry I have experienced a lot more of Sweden. Skiing – no, not of the Nordic kind, but skiing nonetheless. Visiting Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city and comparable to Glasgow – if we insert Sweden into a sort of Scottish model (something I do on a regular basis). Watched ice hockey, professional and children playing in a school playground, eaten more meatballs, found out what that purple sauce on the meatball sandwiches is, promptly bought the purple sauce, experienced -15 degrees, gained an understanding of why Swedes remove their shoes at the front door, and picked up a little bit more of the lingo.

Firstly, skiing. Now I had skied once before, although it was about a decade ago, on a dry slope, and I quickly realised once I got to the top of that fateful hill two hours north of Uppsala, that I remembered nothing from that one time experience. So I think it should be discounted. I spent the morning on my backside, my knees felt like they were going to break, the gaggle of children on the slopes seemed to be infinitely better at this pursuit than I could ever dream of being, and we went for some lunch at the point when I was getting ready to throw in the metaphorical towel. The final straw was when I had to voluntarily collapse to the ground as I sped towards a small child, the look of fear contorting his face, and the impending guilt of having annihilated a toddler pressed heavy on my mind. Clearly I was not the first person to have ever done this, as his mother motioned to me and uttered in Swedish that I had dropped my goggles. What kind of mental pursuit is this?

After lunch I was like a new man. Well, so I like to think. In my mind a revolution occurred, all of a sudden I was an expert slalomist and I could skid stop in an impressive fashion. Now I am aware that the reality probably looked far different, and from my girlfriend, Julie’s, giggling at my attempts, I’m fairly sure I am on the mark with this one. But either way, I had markedly improved. As we took the lift to the top of an intermediate run, skied off, slalomed our way down, and I stopped without even a hint of a fall, I suddenly realised why people like to ski. It was a rush – but I am still left thinking that any recreational activity in which you take the greatest pleasure at not falling and almost killing yourself, is a rather odd pursuit. But I might just be on my way to becoming a convert.

Gothenburg - and my new lack of hair

Secondly, Gothenburg. My father decided to take a jaunt out to my adopted Nordic home, but since ryanair flights are far more convenient to Gothenburg than Stockholm – and we thought it would be nice to see the other side of Sweden – we decided to visit its second city. It reminded me a lot more of Scotland than Sweden. It was windy, there was no snow, we saw some homeless people drinking on the streets, almost tripped over beggars, and we kept coming across parks or streets named after Scottish industrialists; Keiller Park, Carnegie Street (or ‘Gatan’ to those versed in Swedish), and so on. When we visited the city museum, the nineteenth century section was more of a who’s who of Scottish capitalists than anything particularly Swedish.

I think this post is quite long enough, so I’ll leave it there. I could go on to tell you about the stuffed whale in Gothenburg’s Natural History Museum, the fact that the museum itself was like something from the 1950s and that you could almost imagine Carl Linnaeus himself hunching over the exhibits, or about the gender history that I am writing just now (who would have thought). But I’ll save these intrigues for another time.

One last thing; I really, really, can’t wait for spring.

Gamla Uppsala

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Meant to be

I sometimes wonder what on earth I am doing in Sweden. Most of the time I’m completely unaware of where I am. Other times I feel very settled and comfortable with my surroundings. But there are those moments – almost existential I guess – where I take a second, breathe, and realise I’m sitting in a country I’d only visited briefly once before I packed my little (well, it really wasn’t that little) suitcase and set off from Edinburgh Airport. It’s not that those moments entail any, ‘get me the hell out of here’, feelings. It’s more, how did my life lead me to be sitting here in Sweden’s fourth largest city? If you had asked me two years ago where I imagined I would be post-university, I think ‘Sweden’ would have been roughly the last answer I would have given you. Is that a bad thing? No, not at all. It’s just an excellent example of how you never know where life might lead you.

Now, I say all of this. But my father emailed me a picture this weekend which perhaps pours a healthy dose of doubt upon the above paragraph. There I am stood by the Trevi Fountain in Rome, 6 years ago. I had never actually seen the picture and, until he sent it through, I had completely forgotten that I’d ever owned a Swedish football shirt. I don’t remember why I bought it, where I purchased it, and I don’t even really remember wearing it. There is a vague memory of being chased down a street in Dundee on one of our unnaturally hot summer days a few years ago, by a bee that was convinced I was a giant, moving daffodil. I can’t imagine that ever happened to Henrik Larsson.

As hard as I try, I am struggling to cast my mind back to what my thoughts of Sweden were before I decided to apply to Uppsala University. Most likely, I thought of beautiful people, huge wealth, equality and social democracy, and an incredible welfare system. And has that changed? Well, in ways. But gaining a more nuanced, sophisticated impression of country whilst demythologising it, actually adds to its attraction.

Oh, we have snow by the way. Fairly deep, powdery snow. And there was me thinking it would never come. One last thing; please, please don’t judge me for the sideburns in the picture.

Disappeared into the Swedish mist

By my lack of blogging you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d disappeared and become one of the unfortunate characters of a Swedish crime novel. The last few weeks have spared me hardly a second to think. It has been the business end of our ‘period’ – mini-semester for those of you not versed in the Swedish academic system. At 1am this morning I put the finishing touches to the last piece of coursework for this period, so all that is left to do is present my latest work on Friday and then run to catch the bus to Arlanda, jump a plane headed to Copenhagen and, after a short stop off in what I’m informed is the most expensive airport in the world, I’ll be boarding a plane for Edinburgh.

In the intervening time since my last post I have turned 26, which I’m still trying to figure out my feelings towards, Julie has visited – around the same time – and I received my surprise present of flights to Belfast to visit Gary and Maeve. As I’m sitting writing this it has just dawned on me that this has been the longest period of time in my life that I’ve been away from Scotland and the longest period of time in 4 years that I’ve not seen my old uni pal Gary Cocker. So it’s nice to know the remedy to both of these issues is close at hand.

Gary and Maeve

It’s funny how the things that once seemed strange, new, exciting, or just plain annoying, have now become daily life. It has become the norm to understand nothing that is going on around me, to not see beggars, and to narrowly avoid being run over by bikes. It no longer seems strange that you can’t buy alcohol in the supermarket, that you have to take a ticket to join a queue, and that people leave work at 4:30pm – except on a Friday when you’ll be lucky to see anyone working beyond 1pm. There’s something bleak about Sweden; cold, damp, misty, and almost a little sinister. But that is counteracted by fashionable orange trousers, crazy hair, the fact it’s cool to wear glasses my grandparents would be embarrassed to sport, and the warm, welcoming nature of the Swedes.

A particular highlight was my first visit to a Swedish person’s home. One of our lecturers had invited the class to his apartment for a post-seminar and a general get together. In true stereotype the shoes came off at the front door, there was an array of weapons on the wall, and food and drink was provided. It was really nice and informal, which made me see the benefits of Sweden’s egalitarian system. Don’t be fooled, Sweden is by no means the land of milk and honey, and you can’t help but get the impression that a lot has changed in recent years – almost a loss of innocence – but the idea that a university is a community, with the professors all the way down to the first year students on an equal footing, is not just senior management rhetoric which appears in the latest recruitment pamphlet, the Swedes really mean it.

I get the impression there’s a lot more to learn about this country and the transition it’s going through. I’ve been surprised by some of the views I’ve encountered in what is supposed to be the home of liberalism and equality. I’m looking forward to better understanding Sweden during my time here, and it’s got me thinking that Scotland’s desire to emulate our Scandinavian cousins – to become a free social democracy in Northern Europe – might be chasing phantoms. Perhaps we’re aspiring to be the Sweden or Norway of twenty years ago, but things seem different here. It’s in off-hand comments and under-the-breath remarks that you pick up this air of disquiet.

Maybe people just like to gripe, but I have a feeling it’s more than that.

Humanities are a thing of the past

A humanities student in Sweden is worth a third of a science student. This may sound like a provocative statement but in cash terms it is completely accurate. The humanities are suffering from chronic underinvestment not only in Sweden, but across the West. Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust recently noted, that we have ‘eroded our support for humanities‘ and that ’emphasis on the short term can mean especially painful cuts for disciplines whose value, though harder to measure, is no less real.’

Anyone involved in Higher Education is aware of this issue but seem either unwilling, or unable, to counter this trend. As Scottish universities try to survive with less funds, senior management teams have looked first to the humanities to make savings. There are no headlines of ‘Life Science Department to lose 100 members of staff’, ‘University axes partnership with pharmaceutical company’, or ‘Professor of Signal Transduction role made obsolete’. But in the UK as a whole, we have seen Middlesex University terminate its philosophy department, Sussex limit their history scope to post-1900, and the only British Professor of Palaeography role removed from existence.

You will not be seeing the University of Edinburgh History Department going into partnership with an arms manufacturer or pharmaceutical company, and perhaps herein lies the problem. Economic short-sightedness and a fetish with the present, has seen universities elevate science over the humanities. There has been an intellectual attack upon the humanities, to the extent that I have witnessed humanities’ students themselves downplaying their degrees. I will not get into mud slinging contests with the sciences – because that would paradox the intentions of this article – but we must try and take a broader perspective when considering the societal, economic, and cultural benefits of all academic disciplines. A doctor saves a life, that is a real benefit. A scientist discovers a new immunisation, that is a real benefit. History, philosophy, and political science can help to frame legislation to alleviate causes of poverty, sectarianism, war, and provide the tools to explore the big questions of who we are and where we fit into the world. Harder to measure, but these are real benefits.

Universities who fail to understand this equation, in admittedly testing times, run the risk of undermining the essence of what a university is. Rather than fostering a desire for discovery and knowledge, they become engine rooms – laboratories motivated simply by producing the next multi-million pound drug. Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, and the other elite universities understand this. But we risk a situation where the study of the humanities becomes the playground of only the very rich.

There is, however, one country who better understands the future and necessary balance of Higher Education: China. Whilst their growth in the sciences has been noted, sneaking in under the radar is unprecedented investment in the humanities. At institutions which have hitherto been the domain of the sciences, the Chinese are restructuring to bring in the humanities. One such example is Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou who have introduced a liberal arts college. Two thirds of students in China currently study science, a mirror image of the UK where two thirds study humanities, and perhaps as we try to balance – and risk outweighing the other side – so the Chinese are looking to balance their graduate output. Although I’m inclined to think more is going on here.

China is emerging as a super-power (if not already there) and have emulated the West in many areas. But in some distinct ways they are emulating our strength of fifty years ago. They seem to understand that a price tag cannot tell you the true worth of everything. So, to bring hope and ambition to their populace, the Chinese have spent billions on developing a space program which includes a manned lunar station by 2020 and this week saw the launching of their space station. They join America and Russia as the only other countries to have achieved this unilaterally. The Chinese also understand that to develop a strong society which is aware of its heritage and its potential future, so it must invest in the humanities.

We may scoff at the Chinese lack of democracy, human rights record, or other aspects of their culture which we find worrying. But one thing is for sure, they are not so quick to destroy their cultural and historical hearts – the humanities departments of universities.

I will not be run over

A month in and I may not speak a word of Swedish – well, beyond the odd word to get me by in a shop and the necessary ‘I don’t speak Swedish’ phrase – I may not have tried canned rotten fish, or experienced unusually cold weather, yet. But at least I have now internalised which way to look when crossing the road. Gone are the early days of repeated left-right-left-and-right-again, every time I approached the kerb, a routine which must have made me look like I was having some form of convulsion. I’m settling in. Each day that goes by the inevitable confusion of culture clashes becomes less frequent, and I am beginning, slowly, to understand Uppsala.

Like Dundee, Uppsala is a student city. The University is not merely the lifeblood of this city, but it is the vital organs which preserves its life. Last week was Kulturnatten, a day when the city played host to various cultural events, stalls, and festivities. In the evening Julie and I took a trip up to the castle and watched some fire dancers in the botanic gardens. There was a wonderful carnival atmosphere in the city, but again, it had a student feeling. I couldn’t help thinking about Raisin Monday in St. Andrews, or Scotland’s best Freshers Week in Dundee.

As I walk down any street in Uppsala I am becoming blind to the differences from home. In the beginning they were everywhere; from the American style suburbs with boulevards lined with trees, to the incessant flag flying, or merely the architecture. Close your eyes for a second and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in New England. Not that I’ve ever been, but it’s certainly reminiscent of how I imagine Maine, Massachusetts, or New Hampshire to look.

The differences that I am still struggling with are the academic idiosyncrasies. Instead of a 3,500 word essay, I have to do a ’20 page project’. The lecturer seemed confused when I quizzed him on the required font, font size, line spacing, and margins. I mean, come on, a slight tweak of any of the formatting and you could drastically increase, or decrease, the length of the piece. Added to that, classes in Uppsala start at quarter past the hour, and some begin at 8:15am. I felt like death warmed up when discussing useful theoretical frameworks in early modern history at that time in the morning. Without caffeine it just wouldn’t have been possible.

All of these ‘issues’ are really minor complaints. I’m loving my course and I will be eternally grateful to Uppsala, and the Swedish people, for allowing me to study here free of charge. The country is welcoming and very interesting for anyone, like me, who has a passion for early modern history. Sweden’s answer to St. Giles in Edinburgh is the Domkyrka in Uppsala. This is where the reformation in Sweden began and it’s a 2 minute walk from my department.

If I stayed here for a lifetime, there is one thing that I would never get used to. For all the good that Sweden has done me, I now hate cyclists with the passion of a, well, a thing with a lot of passion.

Sour yoghurt doesn’t go well with coffee

Not for coffee

As the title suggests, I had my first little accident in Sweden. Surviving without coffee was not something I was ever going to do, but when I bought sour yoghurt – thinking it was milk – and added it to the already cheap and nasty coffee, I got a fairly revolting surprise which left me caffeine-less for an evening. It’s a mistake I have no intention of repeating, and I’m pleased to announce, that I have now figured out the Swedish word for milk – mjölk. Don’t ask me why that was hard.

Settling in a new country is a little like being a recovering alcoholic; you have good days, you have bad days. Today is a good day. Everything seems a little easier now and I’ve regained some of my focus; if not really started any serious reading. Being a masters student is rather different from my time as an undergraduate. We have access to a study room exclusively for postgrads, we have a little kitchen to prepare food, 24hr access to the buildings, and an air of superiority – maybe that’s just me. Having been set some reading for one of my courses I was surprised to notice a name

Chris Storrs

I recognised. The book in question was written by Chris Storrs, a Professor at Dundee who taught me during honours. I have to admit that I’ve never read any of his work before. It feels a little strange coming all the way to Sweden to read the works of my former teachers in Scotland. I’ve also decided that most of what I’ll be tackling for my assignments will be Scottish history – which begs the question why I’m in Sweden. Well, I suppose there’s the little fact of no fees.

In the last week I’ve realised how poor Scottish football is, not only because of our defeat to the Czechs (which was hard to swallow), but by watching the Swedish third division and noticing a parity with the SPL, I’ve continued to be sunburnt – Scottish skin is not made for this climate – settled into my new home, enjoyed class, played football with Swedes, drank coffee, had fika, liked fika, refused to eat raw heron, and began to enjoy the whole experience.

Julie visits on Wednesday… I’m counting the days. So much to catch up on, so much to see. For now, spare me a thought as I tackle the mountains of reading that I have been set. I need to make space for my favourite Scottish girl who will have my undivided attention for the latter part of this week.

12 Days Later

In some ways my stay in Sweden has been a little like the film which has inspired this blog title, ’28 Days Later’. There hasn’t been any mass extinctions or hoards of zombies, but I have spent the last 12 days being rather confused, a little lonely, unable to communicate with some of the locals, and wishing things could go back to the way they were 13 days ago. That’s not to say that I don’t like Sweden, because I do, nor that I’m really struggling, because I’m not. It’s more that the novelty of it all is wearing off somewhat and I’m eager to start class and move into my room – thankfully both events happen in the next few days.

Rangers football fans

There’s lots going on in Uppsala – it’s the way I imagine St. Andrews University to be, with a little more euro-trash. There’s a certain innocence to the city, and to the students who can be found dressed in funny clothes and singing songs at each other. I’m not quite sure what it’s all about, and to be honest, I’m not that interested in finding out. But I can’t help thinking that if this was Scotland the songs would have a sectarian undertone and the gangs of people would be far more menacing. Because that is the main difference that has struck me. In Uppsala you feel safe – not just in the student areas, but everywhere, all of the time. There’s no edge, no feeling that you should be aware of what’s going on around you. Take for instance the bike situation: everyone seems to ride a bike here and when they park them, very few people bother with a security chain. Rather, they’re just left there. In Scotland they’d last two minutes before being ‘acquired’ by one of the locals.

The hardest part of being here is being apart from Julie. We’ve been using skype – which has been tricky since I’ve been in hotels, searching for a decent connection, at times speaking to my computer in public. I’ve become one of those awful international students that used to drive me to distraction in the library. We text a lot, and phone occasionally. But it’s not the same as being in the same room as someone. She comes to visit on the 6th September, I’m counting the days.

This has been a hard entry to write. I’m not loving it here, but I’m not hating it. I’m a little bored and I miss Julie a lot. But I’m in limbo right now. This week I start class, move into my room, go to the supermarket for the first time, watch the local team tonight, and begin to live in a more permanent way. Once this week is out, I’ll have a better and clearer view of Uppsala, the University, and my adopted home for the next two years.

Oh, and I now live in a city where it’s cool to have a side-parting.

A real Scot in Sweden

18th August 2011: my flight landed in Arlanda, Stockholm, and I finally commenced a two year stay in a country I had visited once before – for a day. I’m sitting in a small hotel room in Uppsala, the window is open and the rain is tearing down, cars are noisily passing the window. It is, however, quieter than the night, when added to the cars are the sounds of drunken residents of Uppsala and the snores of my father in the adjacent bed. Quite how he sleeps so soundly is beyond me. Each night I’ve crept to bed, scared of waking him. I’m slowly coming to the realisation that I could stomp around the room, shouting, and the snores would continue to emanate from his resting place.

I could give you a run down of everything that has happened in the days since I arrived, but I want you to enjoy my blog, not fall into a deep sleep like my father. So, in brief; I’ve been lost in Stockholm, visited the archipelago, eaten expensive food, generally been shocked by prices, got a sun tan, been drenched in rain – twice – seen the Cathedral, Castle, centre of town, looked for Neds, not been able to find Neds, and generally accepted that notwithstanding cultural quirks, Sweden is generally not too different from Scotland. That is, if Scotland had a bit more money and brightly coloured houses.

Whilst on the boat trip in Stockholm we saw lots of really impressive summer houses on the little islands that make up the archipelago. I don’t think I would be alone in assuming that these houses belonged to wealthy Swedes. And I don’t think I’d be wrong in this assumption. But our tour guide said something that took me aback. 50% of Swedes own a summer house – a remarkably high number, albeit many of these will be substantially smaller than the archipelago  mansions. Yet, it is not only the upper and middle-classes who have such luxury. In fact, 30% of Swedes receiving state benefits (the dole to all the Scots reading this) own a summer home. At this stage I could make lots of sweeping generalisations about Sweden being a more inclusive state than what I’m used to, that Swedes are generally more wealthy, or that houses must be really cheap. I’d be intrigued to know how many Scots on benefits holiday in the Costa-del-sol; perhaps it would provide a rough comparison. I can’t make any authoritative statements and I leave this post as merely the reflections and first impressions of a new immigrant.

Two days in and I like this country. Uppsala is beautiful and Stockholm is a must see. But I’m still on tourist mode. If I figure out the truth – or lack thereof – of any of the above statements then I’ll come back to them. For now, well, I just wish it would stop raining. 

A different ‘Scot in Sweden’

The year is 1812, Thomas Thomson visited Sweden and recorded his thoughts. I came across them and thought they might be of interest. Got me wondering if it has changed much…

“The principal merchants in Gothenburg are Scotsmen. In consequence of letters of introduction which we carried to several of them, we experienced from that liberal and respectable body a profusion of kindness and politeness which it was impossible to surpass, and which it would be very difficult to equal. The want of inns, and our ignorance of the Swedish language, would have made it very difficult for us to have procured dinner while we stayed at Gothenburg, but this difficulty was obvaited by the merchants, with one or other of whom we dined every day during our stay in that city. The entertainments which they gave were in the Swedish style, and possessed a degree of splendour at which I was not a little surprised. As the mode of dining in Sweden is very different from the mode followed in Great Britain, I shall give a general description of a dinner, that my readers may form some notion to themselves of the customs of that country.

The houses in Sweden are fitted up with great magnificence. The public rooms are usually on the first floor, and vary from three to seven or more according to the size of the house and the wealth of its master. These rooms always open into each other, and constitute a very elegant suite of apartments.The furniture though very handsome is not similar to ours. You seldom see mahogany chairs; they are usually of birch or of some other wood painted. As the table cloth is never removed they have no occasion for our fine mahogany tables, and as the dishes are brought in one by one, and the dessert and wine put upon the table before the company sit down, they have but little occasion for a side-board. Accordingly, except in the house of Mr. Lorent, who had a very splendid side-board made in London, I do not recollect to have seen one in Sweden, even in the houses of men of the first rank. The rooms are not provided with bells. This I am told is owing to the extreme cheapness of servants in Sweden, which enabled every person to keep such a number as rendered bells unnecessary. This reason, which I do not consider as a very good one, exists not at present, for since the loss of Finland the wages of servants have considerably increased. Bells, therefore, might now be introduced with the greatest propriety; and to a foreigner, from Britain at least, they would constitute a great convenience. I have sometimes been obliged to go three times to the kitchen during the course of my breakfast, to ask for things that had been neglected or forgotten by the servants.

The Swedes are fond of great parties. I have more than once sat down to table with nearly 50 people in a private house. The hour of dinner is two o’clock. After the company are assembled they are shown into a room adjoining the dining-room. In the middle of this room there is a round table covered with a table-cloth, upon which are placed bread, cheese, butter and corn-brandy. Every person eats a morsel of bread and cheese and butter, and drinks a dram of brandy, by way of exciting the appetite for dinner. There are usually two kinds of bread; namely, wheat-bread baked into a kind of small rolls, for I never saw any loaves in Sweden: and rye, which is usually baked in thin cakes, and is known in Sweden by the name of nickebroed. It is very palatable but requires good teeth to chew it.

After this whet, the company are shown into the dining-room, and take their seats round the table. The first dish brought in is salmagundy, salt fish, a mixture of salmon and rice, sausages, or some such strong seasoned article, to give an additional whet to the appetite. It is handed round the table, and every person helps himself in succession to as much of it as he chooses. The next dish is commonly roasted or stewed mutton, with bacon ham. These articles are carved by some individual at table, most commonly the master of the house, and the carved pieces being heaped upon a plate are carried round the company like the first dish. The Swedes like the French eat of every thing that is presented at table. The third dish is usually soup, then fowls, then fish (generally salmon, pike or streamlings), then pudding, then the dessert, which consists of a great profusion of sweet-meats, in the preparation of which the inhabitants of Gottenburg excel. Each of these dishes handed about in succession. The vegetables, consisting of potatoes, carrots, turnips, cauliflowers, greens, &c. are handed about in the same way. During the whole time of dinner a great deal of wine is drunk by the company. The wines are claret, port, sherry, and madeira. What they call claret at Gottenburg does not seem to be Bourdeaux wine. It is a French wine with a taste intermediate between claret and port. At Stockholm I drank occasionally true claret; but scarcely in any other part of Sweden. As all the wine used in Sweden is imported from Great Britain, our wine merchants can probably explain this circumstance though I cannot.

The Swedes employ the same articles for seasoning their food as we do, salt, peppar, mustard, vinegar, &c. I was struck with one peculiarity which I had never seen before: they always mix together mustard and sugar: I had the curiosity to try this mixture, and found it not bad. The dinner usually lasts about two hours. On a signal given the company all rise together, bow with much solemnity towards the table, or rather towards each other, and then adjourn into the drawing-room. Here a cup of coffee is served up immediately to every individual. It is but doing the Swedes justice to say that their coffee is excellent, greatly preferable to what is usually drunk in England. This is the more remarkable because the Swedes import all their coffee from Britain: its quality therefore is not different from that of our own, and its superiority owing solely to their understanding better how to make it. You can get coffee in the meanest peasant’s house, and it is always excellent. It is usually about five o’clock when coffee is over. The company separate at this time, either going home to their own houses, or sauntering about in the fields if the weather be good.”