Tongue Tied

​Apart from having an absolute rubbish memory, one of the hardest things for me learning Swedish is that unlike French, the spoken Swedish language often sounds nothing like the written word suggests.

For example the Swedish for goodbye is written as ‘hejdå‘.

 When read with the English grammar and letter sounds that I have used all of my life, this suggests the word is pronounced ‘hedge dah’, but it actually sounds more like ‘hey door”.

Another is ‘hur mär du?

This is ‘how are you?’

Sure, you’d think ‘how are you’ = ‘her mar do’… but no, it’s more like ‘hur more ah’. 

Ett mä... to feel.

Looks like ‘et mah’ but is pronounced more like ‘or more’.

Lots of rolled ‘r’ sounds too.

I’m making some progress…

Sit quietly, and I’ll begin.

I sit quietly in the late evening light amidst bracken and undergrowth, awaiting tomorrow’s dinner to come out to feast on some lush green grass; I stare up and watch a majestic barn owl sweeping stealthily over the hedgerows with the same idea as me.

A shrew is sat next to me, oblivious of my presence. I heard it scurry through the dried grass behind me, then up beside me. I didn’t move. I hardly breath. It carries on its way without a blink.

11822635_10155970825070374_9133926041935036108_nA pair of roe deer cautiously move through the longer grass one hundred metres ahead of me. They are the second pair to join my line of sight.

Rustling from my right. I bring my eyes around slowly, hoping that tomorrow’s dinner is finally coming out to eat. It’s noisy, clumsy even, not at all like I’m expecting from my reluctant dinner guest to be. A badger struts out into the field a couple of metres to my right, then carries on across the field.

Other than the inquisitive grey squirrel, and the mink that curved and slew from one hedgerow to another, I’m starting to wonder if tomorrow’s dinner is even going to show.

It’s getting darker. The Buzzards and Kites aren’t around at this hour, so it can’t be them that are causing a lack of bravery in my future stew.

Sat to my right, and slightly behind me is Ali. He’s 9 now and bright as a button when it comes to what we are here to do… or not do, as things are seemingly playing out.

11822436_10155995436775374_4542131996419759813_nThe night swallows the dusk and we call the stalk off. There’s no sense of disappointment as we are happy enough to have witnessed a peaceful, yet nocturnally busy section of our beautiful countryside and some of its inhabitants.

I eat meat and eggs and I have animal produce based products throughout my wardrobe, my house, my car, my workplace… much like most of the people I know – even the vegetarians. I know a majority of animal produce comes from factory farmed animals – and this doesn’t make me particularly thrilled. Factory farming is cruel, sickening and… well, you don’t care because you don’t see it. Like most people I still buy the stuff because there’s not much of an alternative.

Meat generally comes in tins, in frozen bags, or on polystyrene trays covered in clear film, so you don’t get the guilt of the process it took to get to that stage. In fact all animal produce, be it food, clothing, perfume, drink, paint, glue, string, car interiors, key fobs, wallets etc is pretty far detached from the source. You don’t get the guilt; you are far, far removed.

I’m not about to go and live in a yurt and survive on air, and I’m not about to go vegan, and I’m not about to say how all you supermarket shoppers are bloody murderers (because I’m still one of those murderers… albeit begrudgingly) but in my own small way I want to distance myself from the factory farming that goes on. One simple way to do this is to go and hunt meat from a renewable source: I can then ensure a quick and clean despatch whilst at the same time getting a 100% free range, healthy, clean living animal on my plate. It does go against my love of animals, although it’s an immense leap away from the harrowing supermarket meat hell.

In Northern Arctic Sweden we plan to be as self-sufficient as we can be. Grow our own fruit and veg, raise rabbits and chickens and go hunting for food and trade with the locals. Firstly though I need to get some hunting skills under my belt, as the last thing I’d want to do is to turn up with all the gear and no idea.

563631_10152372152000374_412049778_nI am a target rifle shooter (much like the Olympic prone shooters), and I am in the higher percentage when it comes to accuracy and precision. In simple terms, at 100 metres I could pierce a male teenage rabbit’s ear so when it gets home its father will give it a huge lecture on ‘So this is how you want to live your life eh? Earrings now is it? Hmm? You’ve not been the same since you started hanging around with the rabbits from the warren down the street! They’re a bad influence on you my lad!’… I digress…

5 shots at 50 metres

I am a good shot. I decided to put this to good use and go out to feed my family. I knew I could shoot a rabbit without it knowing a thing about it. The last thought would be full of blue skies, green fields, fresh air and then nothing at all. My third greatest concern was how I’d feel actually doing it.

As it turns out I did feel remorse, but not regret. It was a clean shot as expected (a rabbit is easy compared to the competition target size I am used to) and I felt good knowing that it didn’t know a thing. It didn’t even flinch at the muted crack of my suppressed rifle. Heck, if I had the choice it’s they way I’d want to go; a free spirit blissfully unaware of everything apart from the sun on my back and my lungs full of fresh air and freedom, and then nothing. Sure beats crapping yourself in an old persons rest home whilst eating jello and watching ‘Songs of Praise‘ on a Sunday afternoon.

This rabbit was not shot for nothing. As I stroked his fur smooth and placed him in my game bag, I actually thanked him for the meal that I’d gratefully have. Seriously. If you don’t respect it, don’t do it.

wpid-wp-1438332881496.jpegNext up was my second greatest concern: Alex.

How would he feel about this? We’d already talked about factory farms and he really dislikes them. He is a big-hearted lad and loves all animals, so hunting them didn’t sit well with him – or rather it caused confusion. He knew on one hand it was far better to hunt and kill a wild rabbit, knowing it was a clean quick kill of a free and happy living animal, but on the other hand it was still killing a fluffy bunny. He was okay, with reservations, so I didn’t push for him to come out hunting with me. He’d have to get used to it due to our future plans, but I wasn’t about to rush him.

After my first hunt I arrived home with the rabbit in a bag so Ali wouldn’t have to see it. I walked into the front room of our house to go through to the kitchen and he asks quietly; ‘Is that a rabbit?’ I told him that it was and offered him a look into the bag. He gingerly looked in from the top of the bag, but really couldn’t get the whole picture. I asked if he’d like to see it on the table outside, to which he nodded quietly.

Once the rabbit was on the table Alex became curious and asked to stroke it. It had lovely smooth fur from its healthy diet, and as the shot had been clean there was very little blood or tissue damage.

It looks so cute...’ he started.

I figured this was it. He still gets upset about one of our cats that had to be put down many years back.Any second now the tears…

…and it feels so soft… and… is that where the bullet went in? Where did it come out?… It must have been quick! He doesn’t even look surprised!‘…

With that, Alex was satisfied that I had done my job correctly. Precise, accurate and painless. He didn’t feel so bad as it was all for a good reason.

I asked if he’d like to see me skin and gut it. This was my biggest fear; not for Alex but for me. I had to gut and skin Mr.Rabbit for the pot. I didn’t even do biology at school because, well… ew. I mean really… ew, ew and ew. Bloik…

Maybe with Ali beside me I’d be forced to man up and….

EEP!!! No thank you!!!‘ squeaked Ali as he scampered off…


Turns out it wasn’t so bad. I appear to have grown up and grown a pair.I had purchased an insanely surgically sharp Morakniv bush knife and the whole incident went smoothly. I say smoothly, but what I really mean is it was a mess of a job, but I didn’t hurl. I didn’t even feel like hurling. Had the blade been dull and had I had to hack and tear at the rabbit, then I may have felt worse for it.

Turns out Ali was more curious than nauseous. As I was butchering the rabbit Ali had come back and was looking through the bucket of internal bits and pieces; asking questions about which bit went where and noting that kidney beans must be called kidney beans because they look like kidneys. He’s very much like my dad in that way; he could look at a scene of human devastation (he was an air accident investigator) and become completely detached from the carnage, locking straight in to scientist mode. To him it wasn’t evidence of a life, but rather clues to the cause of the crash – ‘Look at this poor pilot’s neck!‘ – ‘Yes, you can see the impact must have happened with some lateral force, suggesting the aircraft fell sideways into the ground…

Whilst he was still showing interest I offered him the chance for a hunt that same evening. He’d never really shown much spark at joining me for target shooting, although I  had hoped he would one day (like I did, taking after my dad). He jumped excitedly at the chance though, and has been on nearly all of my trips out since. He makes a wonderful spotter, and he ensures I keep my end of the bargain up by auditing my shots, checking to make sure my shots are swift and with no suffering – He’s adamant that trophy hunting is bad, but hunting for an honest purpose (as long as it is painless) is okay.

Here’s the thing… Like me, he gives the rabbit a loving stroke before I put it in the game bag. He’s not in it for the kill – which is fine by me, because neither am I.

He’s not squeamish, hes incredibly safe and follows instructions to the dot (where guns are involved I am very, very strict on safety). It’s turned from me worrying if he’d be able to even look at me for shooting a rabbit for food, to the both of us having some of our greatest bonding moments ever!11825006_10155985366640374_3636391379000896382_n

Since his first hunt he’s gained some camo gear and a monocle telescope. He’s even enquired as to being able to train to shoot targets so he can one day shoot to eat. As for eating… I cooked a Rabbit Biryani with our first two rabbits and Ali enjoyed every last bite.

11694804_10155852241795374_2628158483857138131_nOne thing that people don’t appreciate about hunting is that you are fully immersed in the wildlife, the countryside, and in trying not to be seen you see some amazing and beautiful sights. For me and Ali the kill shot is by far smallest part of the day – albeit not insignificant as it is taking a life after all: We get our enjoyment out of the environment of the hunt, the smells, the noises, and the other wildlife we see during the day.

It makes us appreciate our good friend the rabbit (and what other quary may come our way), and it gives us the ownership and the responsibility to give that quary the respect it deserves.

You can’t get do that with a vacuum packed slab of supermarket flesh.

Some people are very negative about hunting for food. They see all hunters as elephant poaching lion murderers. Yeah, and all car drivers drive drunk, all vegetarians are stinking hippies, all dogs are vicious and so on…

Some say that by me explaining my hunting in blog posts I am in someway trying to justify it to myself.

Cognitive dissonance anyone?

If you do some research on factory farms and can still say that my single, painless bullet is more barbaric than one of those mass meat producing inhumane factories, then what you’re really doing is trying to justify to yourself that you’re somehow in the right, not that I’m in the wrong.

 If you don’t like it, then that’s fine with me; just don’t try to justify your views by trying to make me out to be the one at fault.




Taxing Problem

It’s been a bit quiet lately as we deal with the important and dull necessary tasks…

We’re trying to leave the UK with no outstanding bills, other than the mortgage. A couple of long term loans are being pressed into shorter terms just so we have no financial baggage.

That aside, we face the issue of dealing with our house. The two choices are to keep it and get agency to let it out, or we sell it.

Either way we get hit with taxes when taking the money across to Sweden.

It’s around 15% of what you bring in (over a certain amount). Selling the house would be a big hit. Once the mortgage is cleared by the sale, there isn’t a great deal left to take in real terms, and then getting that taxed would be painful. All the payments and for what?

Leasing through an agent still seems the way to go. We figure the monthly income would cover the agency fees, the mortgage & the maintenence. Until the lease payments pay off the mortgage we wouldn’t see much income, but once paid off, we’ll have a steady income for ourselves in our later years (the house would be a good pension). Yes, the income into Sweden would be taxed, but it’s income all the same and it’s also going to be income when Alex is older. It would give him something of a parachute in life.

If the income goes direct to Sweden, and then the agency take their cut and the mortgage lenders take their cut, we would be owing each month. If I can get things arranged properly though, I should (legally, you huge corporate arseholes) be able to pay the agency and mortgage lender before the remained is transfered to Sweden, so we don’t get taxed on money that is going straight back to the UK. We’d only get taxed on the money that’s coming in and staying in Sweden.

I don’t mind paying the taxes. It’s for everyone’s benefit, but I would loath paying tax on money that then has to go straight back to the UK to pay the bills. Yes, tax what’s coming in and staying – that’s fine by me.

More research…


Trying to set up a bank account so it is ready for us when we get to Sweden is being a pain.

Handelsbanken (the Swedish bank we want to use) require a signed letter from our current UK bank that simply states that yes, we are who we say we are and we have been customers for however many years. It’s a very simple reassurance to the Swedish bank that we can be trusted, as we are long time established customers of a UK bank.

The trouble is, our particular branch (the signature is at the branch managers discretion) hadn’t seen this type of letter before, so they said they couldn’t sign it due to bank policy. We know it isn’t bank policy as we called head office. It is purely the branch manager’s decision. He didn’t want to check it out, so made a quick ‘Nope‘ there and then. Didn’t even ask his superiors. Lloyd’s have always been good to us, so this was a kick in the teeth and a possible rethink regarding who we bank with.

We went to HSBC and yes, they can do international banking and it will allow you to take your account to any country, along with any history (which is good for credit, mortgages etc)… but you need to have £50,000 in the account in the first place. So that’s no good as we aren’t quite up to that in our savings account. By a long shot.

bankThe other option might be Handelsbanken, the bank we actually want to go with. They are a Swedish bank now running in the UK. I don’t think the UK and Swedish branches are linked as such – in fact I believe they are independent, but as they are all under the same umbrella it might be the way forward. A branch/office has opened up locally so we’ll be trying to get in contact with them.

More as it happens….


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: 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.