Language Barriers.


It has been said that trying to learn Swedish in Sweden is very hard to do.

Generally immersing yourself in a country is a good way to learn the language, but in Sweden the moment they hear you speak English, then they speak English. It’s not so much a second language over there, but a joint fist language nowadays.

To get in to college or university you must be fluent in English (so Alex will be fine!). If I understand correctly, the first language officially taught as a subject at school is English, then Swedish.

That being said, if you speak the language (or at least try) then you will be accepted to a greater extent than if you simply expect everyone to talk to you in English.

Certain nuances are lost in translation. Imagine a funny joke being stripped down to basics and then being read back by a person who has a reduced vocabulary and isn’t quite sure of the tone and sound of the words. This is how your English can come across in translation, and even though the story may be understood, the actually humour is lost.

There is a fish tank and it has two goldfish in. One of them asks how to drive a tank.

It’s all there… It’s just not funny. You need to buy in to the language to fully buy in to the country – and the language is pretty cool once you get in to it.

My trouble though is memory issues. I can listen to audio book lessons in 5 minute tutorials, and by the end when a quick pop quiz is given to test the couple of words I have been taught, I’ve already lost them from my head.

This is where immersion in the language works well. It hammers it home (probably using Mjölnir) if you can learn and try in real situations every day.


Anyway, I’m hammering away at the lessons, and little bits are sticking. Not as much as I’d like, but something is better than nothing. I’ve noticed certain words and sounds are similar to variations of the same word in English. This is due primarily to a great deal of English being born of the Viking traders and raiders that took over all but a little of England from 793AD onwards.

For example:

Can you speak English?
Kan du prata engelska?

It’s not a great leap from ‘can you’ to ‘Kan du’, and ‘prata’ is similar to ‘prattle ‘or ‘project’ as an alternate to speak. ‘Engleska’ is pretty simple in its own right.

‘Hello’ is ‘Hej’ (hey), so that’s simple enough. ‘Goodbye’ is ‘Hej hej’ – which is again, not to tricky to take on board after all, to hellos making a goodbye is like two wrongs making a right or something…

‘Tack’ is one of my favourite words. It is used for please and thank you. Similar to ‘ta much’, so that’s how I remember it.

There are variations depending on the level of thanks. ‘Tack’ on its own is quite formal (thank you), where ‘Tacka’ is more sociable (thanks!). ‘tack så mycket’ is a deeper thanks (thank you very much). Deeper still and you can show gratitude by saying ‘Tack, tack så mycket’ (thank you, thank you very much).

Little bits like that are quite easy. One word that can be used in subtle variations to mean a range of things. Not so hard to remember. In fact ‘tack’ can be used to buy things just by pointing & saying ‘tack’. It will get you by, and you’ll be respected a little more for trying.

Yet my memory is dire. It’s fine that I can tell you these things now, and those few words took a week to sink in, with about 4 hours of audio tape on repeat… I need a better way. I need to fix my memory!


Oddly, watching the TV series ‘Vikings’ about Ragnar Lothbrok (a composite of various historic Viking figures who features in several Nordic poems and sagas) helps a bit. When they are talking in the Norse language (Swedish is similar to Danish, Finnish & Norweigian, and as such can be understood across the board to a point) there are words that I am slowly picking out. Also with the ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ in its original Swedish version (so much better!), I watch with subtitles, but am finding I can pick words out. It’s a long way from understanding what is being said, or being able to have a conversation, but the blocks are there to build on.


I shall keep you up to date as we learn more!

Hej hej.

Truck Law and Old Dogs

One consideration – and a major on at that – is the road use law for Sweden in regards to old vehicles.

The environmental laws are very tight & restrictive for commercial vehicles & large trucks, so I am looking into that at the moment.

Tax on the other hand is looking good. Vehicles over 30 years old do not require road tax, so our 1977 Series 3 88″ petrol Land Rover is tax exempt.

If we go for the Bedford MJ, that would also be tax exempt – but might be restricted as to where it can travel. I am waiting for some answers from the Swedish transport department on that.

Meanwhile, after a ring gear failure, ‘Frank’ the Landy is undergoing surgery, and at the same time will be serviced & modified to deal with Swedish roads & weather better.


Vehicle Options: Bedford MT


Another bigger variation of the Bedford MJ. This replaced the TM and was the last of the Bedfords (Marshall). Sadly, although it looks to be a very capable truck, there are some drawbacks.

I have some pros and cons listed – and this list will be updated as and when new things are discovered – or if anyone out there has anything that they’d like to add – and I’d really appreciate that help.


  • Simple to operate.
  • 4×4
  • Winch option.
  • Basic kit – Less to go wrong.
  • Tough as old leather. Proven in the battlefield.
  • Bigger version of the MJ – More to love!


  • Can’t find one anywhere…
  • Spares availability is therefore an unknown.
  • Concerns over registering and modifications to make civilian road legal.


Vehicle Options: Bedford TM


A step up from the older Bedford MJ I am looking at. The bigger Bedford TM.

This has the power okay, but it has a big drawback that currently leaves it dead in the water (unless I can get a really cheap one to offset the fuel costs of this 10 mpg beast.

I have some pros and cons listed – and this list will be updated as and when new things are discovered – or if anyone out there has anything that they’d like to add – and I’d really appreciate that help.


  • 10 MPG… Dead in the water idea.



Vehicle Options: Bedford MJ

I’ve always liked the old Bedford trucks. They are hard-working, simple beasts (I guess we have a lot on common).

The older Bedford trucks don’t have the power or strength to do the trip in question (without me worrying all of the time…), but the MJ has that little extra power over the earlier MK and it’s predecessors. They are simple (no electronics) and have a good proven track record in military service.

I have some pros and cons listed – and this list will be updated as and when new things are discovered – or if anyone out there has anything that they’d like to add – and I’d really appreciate that help.


  • Simple to operate.
  • 15 – 20 mpg on a long trip. (The TM only does about 10 mpg…)
  • 4×4
  • Winch option.
  • Currently spares are not a problem.
  • Reasonable price – but rising fast. You could get a good one for £2000 in 2007. Now you are looking at £5-6000.
  • Basic kit – Less to go wrong.
  • Wealth of knowledge on the internet. (e.g: Buyers tips)
  • Tough as old leather. Proven in the battlefield.
  • I’ve always liked them… Yeah, the heart needs to be ignored…


  • Becoming harder to find.
  • Spares availability is finite at present.
  • Concerns over registering and modifications to make civilian road legal.
  • Prices going up.
  • No power steering (can cause fatigue over a long journey).
  • Only a 2 seater (up front).
  • Small cab.
  • Load size.
  • Tricky engine access. No tilt cab.



Vehicle Options: Overview


Please post any comments/suggestions on vehicles on the above link. Thank you.


Getting There. Part 1.

A major part of the move to Sweden is actually getting there with all of our belongings and pets.

The initial idea was for Chris to ferry/drive with Alex & the pets, with some essentials to set up house, and for me to follow a little later with a truck full of the rest of our gear. This is still our number 1 option.

The main ways of getting there are:

  • Sea & road (okay for pets).
  • Air & road (no good for pets).
  • Rail & road (need to explore this one further).
  • For our belongings we could possibly use a shipping company.

The truck would need to be simple, reliable & capable of the 1,500 miles (est) over roads of varying conditions, such as Tarmac &/or gravel. The thought here is an ex-military 4×4.

Top of the list is a Bedford MJ, then a DAF 45 4×4. I like the Bedford, and have heard the DAF has some problems. That being said, the DAFs are still in service, many are available as ex-military & apparently doing a great job in service – although they have various faults. The Bedford is as simple as they get, is no longer in service & is starting to become harder to find/buy. Additionally the Bedford is only a 2 seater, and ideally I want a 3 seater.


Once moved to Sweden, the truck would be used for big shopping trips, removals, ferrying things around, camping trips etc in all conditions that the Arctic town can throw at us. So it has to do the trip & then be a family utility of epic proportions. If it can’t work for us, then it’s not worth it. That alone starts me erring towards the DAF (but my heart wants the Bedford!).

I think the DAF would be the best option for such a long drive, as it would be less fatiguing to drive & it has that much more power & torque so won’t be being pushed so hard.


There are other options with more modern Scania, Man, Iveco, Mercedes, Volvo etc, but with those comes added complexity.

I could just go to eBay & buy a non-4×4 civilian truck, but I am concerned about how tough it would be & whether it could handle the road & weather conditions.

Either way, there is a lot of research to do on choosing the right truck.

For Chris & the pathfinder trip, a Ford Transit type van is required. That’s pretty simple to deal with. They are easy to find & can go on standard car ferries. The truck on the other hand has to go on a commercial RO-RO ship due to its size. They’ll both need the shipping routes sorted though, so that’s another bit of research to carry out.

If we have too much to take on one truck, we may decide to add a second truck, or get a shipping company involved. More research…

I think a sit down, cup of tea & a plate of biscuits is needed to write down all of the options.

Watch this space as they develop…

Floating the idea…

When plans become more solid, I’m thinking of raising funds for ‘Help for Heroes’. The drive in an old army truck from the South of England to the Arctic north of Sweden is not a simple one, and I’m doing this way to get to know the country & have a bit of an adventure during the move – but it occurred to me that in using an old army truck I could also help those who used to drive them, for us, in ‘less idyllic’ locations.

It’s just an idea at the moment, but it feels right.


Jokkmokk Visit Summer 2014

In August 2014 Christine took her mum and Alex to Jokkmokk to see the place in the flesh, and to meet up with a chap from Future Jokkmokk, who made the move to Jokkmokk from the UK about 10 years ago, and now helps others do the same.

She was well and truly won over by the place – and not just Jokkmokk. She spent a little time in Luleå and a far amount of time on the road driving from Luleå to Jokkmokk, through some wonderful Swedish countryside.

Her overall impression was one of a modern, clean and friendly country that strives to give everyone an even chance to live a good life. Even out in the middle of nowhere in Jokkmokk there were full amenities and services – so much so that you could go out there and live off of the grid, but still have all the mod cons you are used to in a more highly populated area.


One such example was the camping area she stayed in where she had a Facetime (like Skype) talk with me, as she took her phone around the site and down to the lake to show me on the video call what the place was like. Heck, if we leave the house in the UK we lose network connection, but she was walking through woods and by a lake and was streaming high definition video to me. Yup – out in the peace yet still able to connect to the world if you want to.

Anyway, Chris will be blogging about her trip at some point when she has some time – but meanwhile here is a link to the photo album of the trip.




Why Sweden? Why the North?


We like peace and quiet. With a little over 2,000 people in Jokkmokk and the nearest city 2 hours away, you get peace and quiet.

Being a small community you also get that small community spirit that gets sucked out by overcrowding due to the higher percentage of arseholes per metre squared. That being said, Sweden is regarded as one of the top friendliest nations in its own right – so by that rule, a small community is going to be that much friendlier again. Chris found this out when she visited.

Oh, but the weather?!? A typical query from British friends.

Yes, it has weather.

Unlike the UK though, Sweden seems to have realised that in the winter it gets cold and there is snow, and so they are prepared for it. It’s like they’ve realised that this cold weather happens around the same time each year, and they have the infrastructure to deal with it. Amazing.

It also has rain. That is known to happen. It happens in the UK too.

What about sunshine? Yup. Sweden gets that as well. Jokkmokk, being inside the Arctic circle, gets long summer days and long winter nights. Almost 24 hours of sun a day at the height of the summer, and almost 24 hours dusk (not darkness) at the depths of winter.

Compared to England, and bearing in mind it is well within the Arctic Circle, you’d be surprised at how comparable the climate is. Yes, it is a couple of degrees colder in the summer, and yes, it is a lot, lot colder in the winter, but as Billy Connolly once said:

There is no such thing as bad weather; just the wrong clothes

…or words to that affect.

It has a less humid atmosphere and less rain, with less chance of rain, than England for most of the year around.

This graphic shows the difference between the London and Jokkmokk. As an example, in January it shows Jokkmokk has 24mm less rain that London.


There are many other reasons we are heading out that way, and those will be explored in more blog write ups over the next few months.