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Stockholm baby!

3 June 2008 by superlative

I had a lovely, lovely weekend in Sweden, which felt massively long because we packed so much into it.

We set off on Friday morning after a bit of a false start because Zac had managed to leave all his marathon entry details behind. Once we got up to Stansted, we met up with the others and off we flew to Stockholm Skavsta on the yellow-highlighted monstrosity that is Ryanair. Although yes they are cheap as an airline, they really do shaft you on all the extras as much as possible, including charging you if you check in at the airport instead of online, and if you dare try to take more than hand luggage. They also charge you for PAYING for your flight, by adding a charge for every method of payment available, which I think is ridiculous, there is no free way of paying. How can you fly with them without paying?? Fortunately all of our lot had been very good and crammed everything into one bag each, so we were relatively charge-free on that side at least.

In typical Ryanair style, the Stockholm airport they fly to is actually 90 miles from the city is really just a couple of buildings with a plane parked next to them. So once there we had to get a (very efficient) airport coach to Stockholm for an hour and a half. It was SO hot there, it must have been more than 70 degress when we arrived, so the coach was not all that pleasant really. And then once we finally arrived at the bus terminal, we were picked up by Rob and one of Emma’s sisters, and had another half hour car journey, so all in all it must have taken about nine hours to reach our final destination!

We spent Friday night at a very nice hostel near Emma’s parents’ house, and then on Saturday we set off into town shortly after the boys who were running (Zac, Simon and Rob) in order to take up position to cheer them on. Stockholm is a lovely city I have to say, very clean and really quite quiet for a capital city. There’s water everywhere, lakes and rivers and things, because it’s built on a set of islands, and the buildings are very pretty.

I know it sounds a bit rubbish compared to the boys who actually ran a marathon, but spectating all day was actually very tiring. It was boiling hot all day, and you couldn’t just ‘watch’ the runners: you had to scan constantly every face that went past in order to have any chance of spotting the people we were meant to be cheering for, which meant you had to be alert and poised with your camera at all times. It was really quite difficult to identify three people among 18,000 runners all wearing identical caps!

We flitted around between four different points in order to get ahead of them each time and cheer them on some more, which meant quite a lot of walking around the city. That was nice in a way because we got to see a fair bit of it, although I’m not sure how Emma managed it all while also looking after baby Elliot (who was very good, considering he’s a baby and it was a hot and long day).

The boys all did really well, and all managed to finish the marathon. Zac came first and took about 4 hours 19 minutes, then Simon with 4 hours 25, and then Rob in 5 hours 20 minutes or so. He had the hardest time of it, having done less training than the others, so everyone was very proud (and relieved) when he finished it in time and in one piece, and actually still looked remarkably well!

Here’s a nice picture of Zac running:

After the marathon we went to Rob and Emma’s house in Katrineholm, about two hours from Stockholm. It really is in the middle of the countryside and they’ve got masses of land around their house, and it was all very picturesque and sunny and quiet.

Sunday, our last day, was lovely as we went and saw a pretty lake, then had a barbecue lunch, then went to another lake and had a nice outdoor swim and sunbathed on a jetty. Then it was back to Skavsta, back on the Ryanair cattle train after cramming some food down us and running through passport control, and then a late-night drive back home that got us back about 1am. I was more tired than I realised when I finally parked, so it’s lucky the roads were quiet and we had a safe journey.

I thoroughly recommend Stockholm and would definitely go back. We’re going to Rob and Emma’s wedding in August, which is on the coast, so we’ll be seeing some more of Sweden then anyway. Everyone seemed to speak perfect English, which made the Swedish I’d learnt a bit redundant, but never mind.

And while I enjoyed meeting baby Elliot, and felt ever so paternal when I held him and bobbed him up and down, it made me realise that I’m so not ready for children yet. Babies are SO much work, you have to devote all your energy and time to them, and I like my life as it is a bit too much for that at the moment. Maybe in 5-10 years I’ll feel differently, I think for now I’d be quite happy being a favourite uncle.

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