Snow in Sweden!

With the clocks going back an hour getting up to leave at 4.30am was a little less painful!

I drove through the dark to Gatwick, and caught the plane after a fairly clear journey, taking off early at 8am.  Checking your bag in now is all automated which was new to me, but once I’d sorted that, I’d got on the place and sat back for the flight.  By the window I could see below and with the clouds and the angle of the sun I saw a complete rainbow effect which was cool.

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Once I landed at Arlanda, Stockholm I was under the cloud again and it was snowing! With a bit of wind making it a blizzard!  Its how I always imagined it, but thankfully it didn’t last more than an hour, or settle, although apparently it was the first snow of the season!

I met a friend at the airport, and traveled back to his place to dump bags and since I would need a pillow for my spare bed so had to visit Ikea, since in Sweden so got the pillow and couldn’t miss out on the famous Ikea meatballs and gravy!!

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We had a beer in a pub away from the store, and noticed several things, firstly, it got dark at about 3.30pm which totally threw out my body clock, it felt more like 10pm when later it was only 6pm, the temperature was obviously colder than the uk at just 2 degrees (I left home at about 10 degrees) and some of the names I found funny such as a chocolate bar called ‘Plopp’ that you can buy from Willy’s – you can enter or leave car parks following signs for enfart or utfart !!, and the end station at the end of a train line is ‘Slutstation’.

So we planned some cultural things to see over the next week, and get an idea of what Stockholm has to offer, and there is a lot!  A lot of history, and things of interest…

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What would you do?

Today I did something I’ve never done before.  I went in to a supermarket and bought a meal deal – chicken wrap, crisps + water, and gave it to this person.

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But how many times do you walk past someone like this.  I know I do all the time, but today was different and I really felt like I wanted to do something helpful.  We all have times when life is cruel and hard on us.  Many times some people are so wrapped up in their own lives that we forget that others are suffering too.

Often people ask ‘Can you spare some change, love?’ or words to that effect, and many just walk on by, wrapped up their own lives and not giving a thought about someone just fighting to survive the day.

I made the decision to get the food for this person, and went into the supermarket and got a meal deal just for her.  I came back out, went up and handed it to her, saying “I think you look like you need this more than me” and she thanked me and off I walked.

It was a small gesture, I could tell she’d had a tough time since she was clearly not new to the streets, her skin looked grubby, her teeth in a sorry state, and I wondered just how does someone cope in a real homeless situation.  Her head hung in her arms, I could tell she probably felt beaten by the world – the world can be a cruel place.

I also thought that in the past I have walked past homeless people thinking why don’t they just get a job and sort themselves out, but its easy to say or think those thoughts, but I bet her reality doesn’t make such a thing as easy as that sounds.

She had a cup in front of her, hoping people would give her money.  I am skeptical of that because the common view of a lot of people is that it might just go on a bottle of whisky or drugs.  But by giving her food and water today, I know that that will help her to at least not be hungry.

The line in ‘Parklife’ by Blur suddenly came to me after having given her food which is:

‘I feed the pigeons, I sometimes feed the sparrows too It gives me a sense of enormous well-being And then I’m happy for the rest of the day safe in the knowledge there will always be a bit of my heart devoted to it’

Now obviously she’s no pigeon or Sparrow, but by helping another fellow person I felt I was just doing something human.  A little bit of kindness goes along way, and I encourage others to think twice about walking by, and maybe give someone a helping hand.

Life is very tough for some people, and I believe that we are all able to do things in our lives to improve our own lives.  Sometimes though, a helping hand is required, maybe to restore our belief in ourselves, maybe just to say everything is going to be alright, maybe just to show someone that there is a place for us all in this world.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, I do believe that you should never give up!  Life finds a way, but sometimes an extra helping hand does help…

What would you have done?  Please comment below…

and if you enjoyed this post please ‘follow me’.

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Food and location

One of my favourite things is to eat good food!  If you know me, you know I enjoy quantity too, but actually its the quality that is most important.  When I’m at home I don’t pretend to be a master chef (ok I do pretend!) but aside from producing meals that others politely tell me they enjoy, I prefer to go out to eat.  I will eat almost anything and want to impress how good the food was here, I do eat meat and so if you are reading this and don’t for whatever reason, then please don’t be offended…

Recently, I was in France and had a tasty meal in the town of Caen which was good, but in my experience if you drive away from the big towns and cities and find a nice quiet rural restaurant, you can find a really superb meal waiting to be served.  I discovered this when I went to Sainte Marie Du Mont, in Normandy, France.  There was a lovely restaurant with welcoming staff, and a relaxed friendly atmosphere (and no I’m not on commission!)

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I’ve always found french food very tasty, there are many famous Chefs that are household names over here in England such as  the Roux brothers and Raymond Blanc.  However, this quaint little gem delivered good quality food, at affordable prices and tasted great.  The starter for me was a slightly nostalgic affair since it was ‘Delice du Perigord’ (Delights from the Perigord region of france) and I’d enjoyed a family holiday in that region years ago.  I thought the plate looked amazing with pan-seared duck liver, foie gras, and smoked duck breast, and tasted so good!

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I was happy that the starter was a decent size too since I always get disappointed if its gourmet food and half a tomato on a lettuce leaf turns up!  As you might expect, the foie gras (goose pate) is rich, but as a delicacy was fantastic.

The main course didn’t let me down either, I always enjoy a steak and this one was  8oz char grilled and was ‘melt in your mouth’ juicy and tender, just how I like it, with fries, and the perfect amount of peppercorn sauce.  In my book it scores very highly, especially as it’s something I wouldn’t normally cook at home, so its a pleasure to enjoy when out.

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For the dessert I quite often go for something heavy, with sauce but for a change I opted for something a lot lighter, a creme brulee, and I could tell it was freshly made.  It was light, creamy and had a beautifully glazed melted sugary top which cracked apart with the spoon allowing for the lovely crunch as the spoon cracks the top and you eat it.  Served with ice cream and a ginger flavoured biscuit, really good.

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After the meal I looked around me and saw the village was a place where the Tour de France had come through a week or so ago and so bicycles were everywhere!  A really nice friendly little village and I recommend it thoroughly.

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