During my time in Malmö I worked for an electricity company called Sydkraft. Now owned by Eon, they were the regional electricity company for the southern one-third of Sweden.
My Swedish colleagues were extremely friendly and I remember that once a week we would go to lunch in the nearby Kronprinsen shopping centre and eat fläskpankakor med lingonsylt—bacon pancakes with lingonberry jam. Delicious! On another occasion, we went to a public bath where you alternate between sweltering in a hot sauna and plunging into the icy sea. I remember we got told off for drinking beer in the sauna.
On Saint Lucia’s Day, 13th December, we had an unexpected treat when a group of beautiful young women came into the canteen at lunchtime and sang Lucia carols, while we ate ginger biscuits and special buns called lussekatter.
I had weekends free, so I took the opportunity to travel around the local region and further afield. Near Ystad on the south coast of Skåne, I visited a stone circle or “stone ship” called Ales stenar (Ale’s stones), magnificently situated on a clifftop looking out to sea. Fans of Wallander may recognise this as the spot where Wallander brought Annette Brolin for a romantic picnic.
Yuko and I also visited the nearby university city of Lund, where the cathedral has a wonderfully complicated mediaeval astronomical clock.
Nowadays, Malmö’s outstanding landmark is the Turning Torso building by Santiago Calatrava, the tallest building in Scandinavia, towering above what remains otherwise a low-rise city. But when we were there in 2001, it did not exist, and the city’s tallest building was still the Kronprinsen—or possibly the tower of St Peter’s Church.
For our Christmas dinner in Sweden, we went Swedish style, including smoked reindeer. If you examine the packaging closely, you’ll be pleased to see that Rudolf has, in fact, been allowed to join in the reindeer games.
We bought these “triangle lights” in Sweden and still use them in our window every Christmas. In the picture, you can see lights like these in each of the windows across the courtyard.