Thursday, 29 March 2012

The waiting game

Tuesday I had my interview with Castrol but unfortunately there was some kind of mix up as the chap I was due to be interviewed by wasn't there! I was able to be interviewed though, as his boss was able to do it instead..............if a little unprepared! The interview itself went ok I think. I was more nervous on this occasion than the first interview but I didn't let it get to me too much. I came out of it feeling positive but I then started going over everything in my head and did what everyone does after an interview where you think of better things you could have said! I am my own worst critic and can be quite hard on myself so naturally I was annoyed! It's not that I said anything wrong or couldn't answer the questions, I just felt I could have said a bit more. Anyway, not a lot I can do about now! What's done is done so its time to play the waiting game.

Tuesday night Aicha and I decided to go out for dinner and then onto the cinema. The weather has been quite warm this week so I met Aicha from work and we took a stroll into town. Initially we were going to eat chinese at WagaMamas near Central Station but the walk into town took longer than anticipated so we decided to eat lebanese food at a food court called 'Kungshällen' which is opposite the cinema. Kungshällen is one of my favourite places. Whenever I came to visit in the past, I would always make sure I went there at least once! They have all sorts of different cuisines to choose from. They have chinese, mexican, latino, lebonese, indian, greek, name it! All at a reasonable price as well!

Once we finished eating we headed to the cinema to watch Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I've wanted to see it for a while as I have heard good things, and it certainly didn't disappoint! Whilst I don't think it will be everyone's cup of tea, this sort of film is right up my street. Its quite a slow paced film with not much action but I thought the plot was really good and I thought Gary Oldman was excellent in the lead role. The story is set in the 70's and is about a MI5 agent who is asked to come out of retirement to uncover a soviet spy within the British Intelligence Service. Its really well made and it keeps you guessing right until the end.

Yesterday and today I have been going through my music as Tom and I have decided to take a roadtrip and we need some tunes for the journey. Aicha and Josephine are out of town this weekend so we thought we do something of our own. We are going to a place called Nianfors which is about a 3 hour drive from Stockholm, and we are staying at a country house owed by Josephine's father. Tom has hired a car and we are going to share the driving responsibilities. I thought he was going to hire just your average car but we are going to be driving this................

Its a Chevrolet Camaro! I couldn't believe it we he told me. A proper american muscle car! I can't wait to get out on the open road! I'm not sure how much it cost to hire but from what I have been told its not as expensive as it would be in the UK. I can't wait, its going to be buzzing! I just need to burn some good driving tunes, pick up some food, pack my bag then I'm set! Hopefully the weather will be good for us so we can check out the area once we are there. I will take some DVD's with me just in case the weather is shit. I have an Only Fools & Horses collection which I never get bored of and its been a while since I last watched Band of Brothers! Bring it on!!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Interesting Weekend!

Friday night I made my debut for The Tudor Arms. I was really looking forward to making my first appearance and was looking to start things off with a win. I was buzzing all day as it has been over 2 months since I played a competitive game. The team we were up against were called AC Azzurri and if you haven't guessed already they were an Italian outfit. The club has yet to win a game pre-season but we were hoping to change that, and things were looking rosy after 20 minutes as we found ourselves one goal to the good. In the following 10 minutes or so we should have extended our lead but unfortunately we couldn't put the ball in the net. This came back to haunt us as just before half time their centre forward was put through on goal and was able to slot the ball past me into the corner to make it 1-1. I was very annoyed at having conceeded as they had never really troubled me up to that point.

The second half began and after about 10 minutes I found myself going in for a 50/50 ball with their centre forward after initially saving a long range shot. As I got my hands on the ball, he slid in with full force and kicked the ball whilst my hands were on it. I managed to hold on the ball but as I stood up I waved to the ref as I could not move my finger. I was quite taken aback when I took my glove off as my finger looked similar to this...............

In all the years playing in goal I have never broken or dislocated a finger before. My team-mate popped it back in straight away and I could move it to begin with but it started to swell very badly so I was advised to go off. It wasn't quite the way I envisaged my debut to pan out but up until that point I had played very well so I couldn't be too dis-heartened. The game ended 2-2 with AC Azzurri having a player sent off for throwing a punch. I have to say the lad was quite brave as he threw a punch at our big Icelandic midfielder who looks like he should be playing rugby not football! I wouldn't fancy my chances if he suddenly lost his temper with me! He kept his cool though and just got on with the game................the player who was sent off left the pitch rather quickly! As someone once said, there is no such thing as a friendly!!

Saturday we spent the day at Barkarby Shopping Outlet and whilst there we popped into IKEA for a spot of lunch. This was the first time since I had moved here that I had been there. It was always tradition that whenever I came to visit Sweden we would go to IKEA for meatballs...............or 'köttbullar' as they are known here! To me IKEA meatballs seem to taste better than any other, and with mash potato and lingonberry sauce with it there is nothing better!..............other than a Sunday roast maybe!

In the evening we were invited to Tom & Josephine's place for a BBQ. It has been a while since I have seen them both so it was good to catch up. The food they cooked was awesome. We had marinated chicken breast, tenderloin steaks, grilled peppers, potato salad and crusty bread, all washed down with a few beers and some white wine. Over dinner we discussed the idea of the four of us going on a trip to Helsinki for the weekend. You can take the ferry from Stockholm on the Friday afternoon and arrive in Helsinki in the morning. You get to spend the day there then you travel back in the evening. It sounds like it could be a right crack and its not too expensive so I think we will definitely book that at some point.

Sunday was a lazy day. The only reason I got up at 9am was to watch the Malaysian Grand Prix otherwise I would have slept until 12!! Aicha's brother Tariq and his girlfriend Paran came to visit in the afternoon. It was good to see them as I hadn't seen or spoken to them since Aicha's fathers birthday meal. Talking with them was the only real socialising I did the entire day! I did speak to my mum in the evening. She has been very sick recently and was admitted to hospital in the week. The doctors have identified the illness but they are not sure yet as to when she can come home. Hopefully it won't be too long and I wish her a speedy recovery. Love you Mum x

Today is Monday which means I have my interview with Castrol tomorrow. I'm not too nervous about it. I can't do anymore than my best and if I miss out on the job then so be it. It will be a good experience for me so I can take lots of positives from it. Hopefully it will go well. Its been delayed a week already so I'm keen to get it done now. Watch this space.................

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Ah to be in Stockholm!

Sunday afternoon I travelled to Hammarbyhöjden to watch the Tudor Arms take on Stureby FC. This was our 2nd friendly game of the season so far. The first game was played last Sunday whilst I was in the UK. The boys lost 2-0 and apparently didn't play very well. This would be the first time I had seen them in action so I was keen to see how they would get on. I don't particularly like watching my own team as I would much prefer to be out there playing, but I will always be there to support none the less.

The game itself was quite entertaining. There were lots of tackles flying in and at times it got quite tasty! The match ended 3-3 but I thought our boys deserved to win. Although I wasn't there the previous week it was a massive improvement by all accounts. Not only did I think we played better than Stureby but two of their goals were a tad controversial as well. One looked offside and another was a blatant handball...............still I'm not bitter! Although I wasn't picked for this game I was told that I would definitely play in our next game. The game is on Friday night against an Italian team called Azzurri. It will be good to finally make my debut and hopefully we can pick up a win!

Monday I woke with massive back pain, which I have been getting every morning for the last 2 weeks. I only seem to get the pain after waking up but once I start walking around the pain disappears. After another morning of hearing me whinge, Aicha booked me an appointment with the chiropractor. I had never been to one before but I was told that for them to fix your back they have to inflict a little bit pain in doing so..................and that he definitely did! I had a problem with the muscle tension around the middle of my spine so he applied pressure to the affected area. It was really painful at first but then pain subsided after a few seconds. I even heard a crack at one point which was a bit un-nerving!! He finished off with a massage and once he was done my back felt much better. Since then I have not had any more back pain in the morning so whatever he did seemed to have worked. Cheers doc!!

My 2nd interview for the job with Castrol Oil was pencilled in for Tuesday morning however Monday afternoon I got a call from Christian at the recruitment agency saying that the interview has been moved to next week. It was a bit of a shame as I was geared up and ready for it. I suppose its not such a bad thing as it gives me a bit more time to prep!

The weather this week has been really strange. We had some snow here Monday and Tuesday, but today it was warm and sunny! Whilst this may seem strange to me apparently this is quite normal for this time of year!! With the sun shining I decided to meet Aicha after work for a stroll around the city. Here are a couple of snaps I took along the way..............


It was really nice to out in the sun today as its been a while since we have had a day like this one. Hopefully this type of weather is here to stay cos I can definitely get used to it! This place is buzzing during the summer months which aren't too far away now. Ah to be in Stockholm............!!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Back to business

Having arrived back in Sweden late Monday night, I knew I had to get straight to sleep as Tuesday was going to be a very hectic day! I had college first thing in the morning until 12pm then I had an interview in the city at 3pm. By the time I got home after college I had about one hour before I had to set off again. There was certainly no restbite! I had to eat lunch, shower, iron my trousers/shirt, print off some paperwork and then do some last minute preparations all in the space of an hour! As you can imagine I was pretty pumped up by the time I left!

The interview was held in Ostermalm, which is the eastern part of the city, and was held with a recruitment company called Perform IQ. Whilst there are many big recruitment companies in Stockholm like Manpower, Perform IQ are much smaller in comparison however one of the things they look for in job candidates, other than the obvious job experience, is a background in sports. They believe that the qualities which make a successful sportsman can be transferred to the work environment i.e. leadership, organisation, will to win etc..................which I thought was quite cool.

I arrived at the offices and met a chap called Christian who was one to interview me. I was a little nervous to begin with but after a couple of minutes of talking about my time so far in Stockholm I felt very relaxed! The fact that this was his first interview in english also helped as well! As the interview went on I felt more and more confident cos I knew the answers I had given were relevant plus I gave many examples of some of the work I had done in the past. I won't bore you with the detail but I left there feeling I had done well and was confident I would get callback for 2nd interview. I believe that you know straight away if an interview has gone well or if it was shit...................I knew it had gone well because I was feeling emotion that I had never felt before after an interview! Christian gave me his card and told me he would be in touch in the next few days so it was back to playing the waiting game.

After the interview Aicha and I decided to go out for dinner. Tapas was our choice for the evening so we headed to a little restaurant called 'Mamas & Tapas'. The food there was awesome but as usual when I go for tapas, I always over order! We did manage to polish everything off but we were fairly stuffed afterwards! As some of you know I hate waste and refuse to leave food behind!

Wednesday I was back football training for the first time in 6 weeks. It felt good to back amongst the boys again and now we were playing outside it was even better. I did feel a little rusty though. I definitely feel that I need a few games to get back to my usual standard. We have a friendly match this weekend but unfortunately I have not been named in the squad. Whilst I am frustrated not to be playing, I can understand why I have not been picked. It would be unfair for me to be picked over someone who has been training for the last 6 weeks! I will definitely be there to support the boys anyway and whose knows, if I bring my boots I may even get a game!

Today is Friday and whilst I was at college I got some good news. Christian called me to say that I have been put forward for a 2nd interview. The interview will be with a chap called Tobias who will be my direct line manager should I get the job. I am meeting him at 8am Tuesday morning so I best make sure I in bed early Monday night! Time now to prep, prep, prep..............

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Four days and a wedding!

What a weekend! It was great to be back in Brighton but, as usual, it all seemed to go past in a flash! I got to catch up with most people which was nice but unfortunately I wasn't able to see everyone. Obviously I was looking forward to seeing the family and hoped I'd have time to go for a few beers with my brothers at some point over the weekend. I shouldn't have worried though as I had barely stepped off the plane before ending up in the pub with them! I hadn't even made it to my front door! Seeing as I was at Lee's wedding all day Saturday all I wanted to do was go back to my mum's, have a cup of tea and order a curry...................but that all went out the window when I was dropped off at the pub and told everyone was in there waiting for me! In all honesty though I was really pleased to have met with them as I don't know when else we could have done that over the weekend. We had a cracking time and suffice to say we were pretty sozzled by the end of the night!

On the Saturday morning the plan was to go into town and do some shopping. I for one needed some shoes for the wedding and the family back in Sweden had given me a list of things to buy. This was one of the other reasons why I did not want to drink on the Friday as there is nothing worse than having shop with a hangover.................. but as we all know all good intentions go the way of the dodo once alcohol enters the equation! I did manage to get myself up early though and complete my mission...............but a mission it certainly was!

By the time I had been round town, had some lunch and showered, it was time to get my gladrags on for the main event. Now I'm not sure if this is just me but for some reason time seems to fast forward when you are getting ready! I thought I had plenty of time spare but by the time I was ready to go I only had 20 mins to get there! I did manage to get there just in time though................but not in time to grab a drink with everyone beforehand! The bar was temporarily closed as the guests had been asked to move into ceremony room. I think people began feeling sorry for me for going without as one by one they kept giving me there drinks to finish!

The wedding itself went very well although I can't continue without mentioning the groom had lapse in concentration and fluffed his lines! Apparently Kate was to be his 'nawful' wedded wife! We did have a good laugh at him but it was all taken in good humour! Below are some pictures from the day, hope you enjoy..............

The boy scrubs up well!!

For the meal I was on a table with the Saunders, the Rudkins and Rich Coleman. During dinner I made the monumental mistake of going to the toilet and leaving my food unattended. Those of you who know Mick and Ryan of the Rudkin clan know that they are always up to something so they decided to put pepper on my ice cream...............I however came back and ate my desert thinking nothing of it!! I kept wondering why everyone was asking me if my ice cream was hot! It wasn't until later that I realised what they had done!

After dinner came the speeches and I have to say they were all very good. I even got a mention when Lee was discussing the stag do! He had written a list of funny things that had occured and asked which one of of the guests had done it.................I had to own up to being the one who collapsed in a karaoke bar!! With each speech came a toast. The staff at the hotel had brought round some champagne and I was looking forward to having a glass.................until I tasted it and realised it had about a gram of salt in it!..................damn those Rudkin's!!

The evening party went as expected. Lots of drinking, eating, slurring and dodgy dancing! I also managed to see a few old pals who had been invited to the evening which I was really pleased about. I rolled out of there about 1am but I did to take a few pictures before leaving.............


As these pictures will probably illustrate.....................Sunday was spent nursing quite a hefty hangover! I did however manage to get up and go watch my nephew Bradley play football in the morning. Unfortunately they lost 2-0 but it was good to see him play none the less. In the afternoon my brothers and their kids came to my mums house for the customary sunday roast. Whilst I haven't missed much about England since I've been gone, I have definitely missed my family, especially all the kids!

Monday came and it was time to come home. It sounds strange to call Sweden home now but thats what it is and as the weeks go past its feeling more and more like it. I am used to being here now and really feel that I have settled in. Brighton will always be my true home though and its great that its not too far away..................which means I don't have to miss out on weekends like this!!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Schools out!!

Today was my last day at college before I fly back to England for Lee's wedding. My excitement reminded me of the last day of term when I was at school as I was constantly looking at the clock!.................the only difference being I get one day off rather than a week! College went very well this week. Although I am only two weeks in I feel so much more confident with the language than I did before. I am talking alot more in swedish with Aicha and her family and it feels good that its all starting to make sense!

We got our results back from Tuesdays test and I scored 69.5 out of 73. As I suspected my grammar let me down on a few questions therefore I was docked 0.5 points for each one. To be honest I'm glad I did not get full marks as I feel you can get ahead of yourself if you are constantly right all the time. I thought the test was fairly easy so I rushed through it and because of that I tripped myself up! The only way to learn is by making mistakes, as long as you learn from them! You know then not to do it again. One thing I must definitely remember is to write the names of countries in swedish!

Some people in class already have a basic knowledge of swedish like me and some people are starting from scratch. Sometimes the teacher will put you on the spot with a question and some find it difficult to answer. I could jump in and answer it for them but that doesn't help them as they need to figure it out themselves with the teacher's assistance. There is however a girl in the class who wants to answer every question whether its directed at her or not. Even if I know the correct answer I tend to take a back seat and let someone else answer but she tries to answer everything! For those of you familiar with the TV show 'Friends', it reminds me of that episode where Phoebe and Monica take a writing class and Monica is constantly saying "I know, I know!!!" every time a question is asked!!

One of the guys complained yesterday that he thought we were moving too quickly through the course. He is from Iraq and can speak english ok but says he is frustrated, and angry, with the pace we are going at. This annoyed me a little because whilst I know quite a bit already I had to start from scratch myself in England and when I did it was a lot harder than what we are doing now! When it was put to him that he can also study at home he said he did not have time................yet he doesn't work! I'm sure there are many people in the class who have busy home lives but you don't see them complaining! Plus the course is free so how can you complain?....................beggars can't be choosers pal!

Right, its time to pack my bag and head back to good olde England. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and especially looking forward to the wedding. Most of my friends will be there so for me its ideal as I can meet everyone in one place rather than spend the weekend trying to catch up with everyone!! As usual I will provide a full update on my return.............along with some snaps to support the commentary!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

In sickness and health

This week I felt back to normal. My tonsillitis has all but cleared up and I was feeling healthy again. The only problem is that Aicha has now fallen sick with the same illness. I feel really bad for her as I know just how horrible an illness it is. Whilst I need to study and look for work, I want to be on hand to look after her as she did for me when I was sick. The thing with this illness is that it completely drains your energy so you have no strength to do anything. I spent most of the time in bed sleeping so I expect Aicha will do the same!

Monday felt like my first day at college. Whilst I did attend twice last week it didn't feel like had as I was so ill and didn't really want to be there! The class is made up of many nationalities, with everyone learning in swedish. Whilst english is very universal, it is hardly spoken in class as the teacher wants us to speak only swedish. The people from the same country generally sit together and those who are the only one from their country tend to sit with the other individuals. I am sitting with some Russian women, Olga, Kristina, Samira and Mouna who is Syrian. They can all speak some english so we can communicate quite well.

This class is designed to teach beginners, not just those who do not know the swedish language but also those who cannot read or write so well. After 6 weeks you are assessed and put into the relevant class based on your level of knowledge. The assessment is made from a series of tests we have to take whilst on the course. From what I can see everyone can read and write pretty well so I think we will move through the module quite quickly!

Most of the first week was spent learning the alphabet and other basic things. Now as I've been with Aicha for 7 years so I already have a basic knowledge of swedish and the language rules, so missing a few days was no big deal but it's always good to refresh things! We then moved onto introductions, useful phrases, verbs and pronouns. One of the things I have noticed about learning another language is how much you begin to learn about your own!

Today we had our first test on what we had learnt over the first week. I think I got a high mark but if anything was to let me down it would be my grammar. When you write things like months or weekdays in swedish, you do not use capital letters like you do in english. I cannot remember if I used the correct grammar or not so I guess we'll see!

I am enjoying college so far.............its good to be actually getting up for something in the morning! It also feels good knowing that I'm doing this for me to give myself a better chance of getting the job I want. I just hope I can get a part-time job soon in the meantime! The weather has got much better here in the last two weeks, it was really sunny today so I decided to walk home from college. I normally take the bus as my college is over 3 miles away in the next town but I had my music with me so I thought lets walk it! Walking through the woods with the tunes pumping reminded me of summertime. It won't be long now until the picnics and barbeques make an appearance.............I can't wait!!! It's just a shame Aicha is sick indoors :(

Saturday, 3 March 2012


Where do I begin!! Well, that’s easy..............I’ll start at the beginning! Friday morning I was up at 6am to catch my coach to the airport..............I haven't been up that early yet in Sweden so that was one new experience on its own! I had a nice breakfast buffet at the airport and a couple of crafty beers around 10am to get me through my fear of the take off! Once we got airborne I was fine, I had my tunes playing and I just sat back thinking about what lay in store. Now I probably should explain that I was the only one of the group not travelling from London and as I could only get a morning flight it meant I would have to spend virtually the whole day in Budapest on my own as the others landed at 7pm. Now that might seem quite boring to most people but I have travelled to many places on my own before and have no problem filling the time with little excursions...............that was until I arrived in Budapest!

Now I would love to say it is a beautiful city, full of amazing sights and attractions........... but it isn’t! Whilst in the cab from the airport I was looking out the window thinking ‘I hope this place brightens up when we hit the city centre’..............but it didn’t! It was quite dirty and dusty, the only thing that put a smile on my face was they had a Tesco’s store!! The hotel was ok though. The people working and staying there were very friendly and there was a good atmosphere in the bar. As I had the afternoon free I decided to walk down to the river. The River Danube runs right through the centre of the city and is the divide between ‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’. Here the sights got a little better but they certainly didn’t look like they did in the brochure! I did manage to a get few pictures of my own though..........

The boys arrived at the hotel around 8pm where they found me in the bar already on my first beer of the evening. The plan for them was to chuck the cases in the room, don the customary t-shirts and have a few beers at the hotel bar whilst we wait for this guy called Laslow who was going to take us on a bar crawl. Laslow turned up at 9pm but it wasn’t until around 10pm that we left the hotel! Now these boys had pretty much been drinking all day so I didn’t think we would be out too late.............this was confirmed when I witnessed the stag walk into a wall in the mens room of Burger King! Surprisingly enough we actually lasted until around 2am. I can remember that a couple of the bars we went to were actually quite cool and I also remember talking to lots of random people aswell! It was a really good first night. Below are some pictures from our escapades.........

Remember when you could smoke in pubs.............!!

Laslow (left) our hungarian pub guide!

The stag had clearly had enough by this point................

Time to go home.................

Definately time to go!

Random guy!
The plan on Saturday was to walk to an area of the city about 20 mins from the hotel and hire a ‘beer bike’. For those of you who have not heard of one of these it’s basically a bar on wheels which holds 12 people! Today was also the day to dress the stag in his costume. Now I had the misfortune of being dressed as Susan Boyle on my stag party and I still think my costume tops the chart in terms of embarrassment but seeing Lee walk out of the hotel dressed in a full baby grow definitely runs a close 2nd!!

Unfortunately, having made the long walk to the beer bike place it turned out to be closed!! This was a real shame as we had been looking forward to doing that plus the weather was really good. So to lift our spirits, we did the only we could............ we went to the pub! As expected the rest of the day was spent drinking. I don’t remember much about the evening, other than falling over in a karaoke bar and eating a dodgy kebab!! Luckily I had my camera with me so I could try and piece the day/night back together................

Beer bottle!

How was that shot????

Lee, are you ok????

Sunday was the last day for the boys but I booked myself another night as the only flight I could get back on the Sunday was via Copenhagen and cost over £150! One more night in the hotel cost £45 and a Monday afternoon flight was £49 so I opted for that instead. As the boys were not leaving until 5pm that afternoon we had time to catch the Arsenal Spurs game. We found a sports bar called 'Champs' and settled in for the afternoon. Each day over the weekend we had decided to have a 'kitty' running rather pay for everything individually. It wasn't until the Sunday that I fully appreciated how cheap Budapest was. In Champs we chipped in around £20 each and spent around 5 hours drinking in there plus we ordered food and the kitty was more than enough each to cover the bill at the end of the day!!

Whilst in there we also decided to play a selection of drinking games. 'Fuzzy Duck' made an appearance plus there was this other game we played which was hilarious! Well, I say hilarious, its probably shit unless you are about five pints up!! Lets just call it the 'rabbit ' game, see if you can spot it.................

Unfortunately it all had to end. The boys left for home and I retreated to the hotel to get some long over due shut eye. The weekend was a cracking laugh. No-one got hurt and everyone made it back in one piece! Although Budapest wasn't the most glamorous place in the world, the nightlife was pretty good and the boys all had a good crack....................but lets be honest once we get together we would probably have a good time in Baghdad!!

You are probably wondering why its taken me until Saturday to share my experiences from Budapest? I would love to say that the heavy weekend took its toll and its taken me this long to get over it but the truth is ever since I got back I have been laid up in bed with tonsilitis! Its been a week from hell to be honest, I don't think I've ever felt so ill! I even had to miss most of my first week of college which really pissed me off cos I want to push on now with the language. Still never mind, I had a good time with the boys and I'm back on the mend now so its back to business on Monday!