I had arranged to meet them at the coach terminal in the city and from there we would decide what we would do first. I had pre-warned them about cold weather so I was glad to see them step off the coach in their snow boots and furry hats!! We decided the best thing to do was to head back to the apartment to get settled in, then head out later in the day. So after a cuppa and a tour of our new place, we headed out to Kista Galleria, where we met up with Aicha for a bite to eat at the food court. My sister Charlotte was very impressed with Kista Galleria. She was quite jealous of the fact that we have a shopping centre right on our doorstep................and having fallen in love with the snow, it wasn't long before she began talking about her next visit!!
That evening we headed to O'Learys for some drinks and a few frames of bowling. I was fairly confident that I would emerge victorious but Aicha had other ideas. She pushed me close all the way but in the end I did manage to win..............just!! The highlight of the evening for me was watching my Mum bowl. You never quite knew what she would do next! I would say that 90% of her attempts would end up in the gutter................but on the odd occasion she would get a strike!! It was all or nothing!! She surprised us all................even herself!!
The next day was a Friday and the plan was to do some sightseeing around Stockholm. Aicha had to work so it was left to me to be the tour guide for the day. We started off by taking the tunnelbana (the tube) to Mariatorget, which is close to an area which has great views of the city.
On the Saturday we headed to Ulriksdal for a Christmas lunch buffet, otherwise known as 'julbord'. No Swedish-style Christmas is complete without a julbord buffet! Although there is some variation from household to household as to what appears on the julbord there are several standard dishes that are usually tackled in three courses. The first generally includes a variety of pickled herring and cured salmon, the second is bread, ham, liver pâté, red beet salad, and cheese, and the final course is comprised of the warm dishes with Janssons temptation (potatoes with anchovies), meatballs, sausages, pork ribs, and cabbage. By the end we could hardly speak we were so full!! The food was awesome and it great for me to have experienced this with mum and sister. We all really enjoyed it!!
After julbord, we popped in to say hi at Aicha's parents. Aicha's family have been to England on a few occasions but this was the first time my family had visited them. My Mum and Charlotte were treated to a tour of the house, followed by coffee and biscuits (or 'fika' as it is known here). It was nice seeing them all together at the Kermoury's. It had been a long time coming!!
After a few hours we headed back to the apartment where we prepared to watch the live final of The X Factor UK. Unfortunately it was not shown on TV over here so the only option was to try and stream it online. Aicha is normally good at sorting this stuff out but she was at a party that evening so it was down me to organize it. I did manage to find a website to stream it from but after 5 minutes it was shut down so, as an alternative, we decided to Skype my Mum's partner Martin and watch it through the webcam on his Ipad. This seemed like a good idea in theory but the reality was a different thing entirely!! The glare from the TV made it impossible to watch and the sound was of bad quality also....................which is quite important when watching a singing competition!! We tried again to stream it online but it was no use so instead we watched some stand up comedy with a few glasses of wine!!
They left for England the following day and it was sad to see them leave. We had loads of fun during their visit and it was great having them stay. I hope having now visited Stockholm they can see why I decided to move here..................and I hope it will be the first of many visits!!
The following weekend I went back to Brighton, which for once did not involve a wedding! It did however, as with previous visits, involve a lot of catching up with people, a lot of shopping.................and a lot of alcohol!! I spent the first day of my visit getting my Christmas shopping out of the way thus allowing me more time for socializing I had a lot of people to catch up with in a short space of time, and, as expected, the majority of the catching up would take place in public houses! Unfortunately I wasn't able to see everyone I had intended to but I hope prioritize them next time.
By the Sunday the catching up I had done over the previous 2 nights had taken its toll and I was a broken man! Sunday is the day when all the family comes to my mums for dinner, and anyone who has popped in on a Sunday afternoon knows that it is a mad house!! With the kids running around causing havoc, it is 5 hours of carnage.................and right in the middle of it was me with the hangover from hell!! Luckily it did get better as the day went on and as much as the kids were giving me a headache, I loved being with them. I really miss them a lot................. definitely more than I thought I would!!
I flew back to Sweden a few day before Christmas and I was looking forward to taking some time off to relax. Whilst I love going back home, it is never the most relaxing of trips as I am always trying to fit everything in within a short space of time. The main aim when I go home is to see everyone, and it when you have so many people to see it can take some planning! Over the Christmas period, all I wanted to do was switch off, eat some nice food and enjoy a few beers....................mission accomplished!!