Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's easy to forget

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With both UK and Sweden aiming to ease their unemployment statistics by getting up to 50% of young people into university-level education and with jobs such as window-cleaning and vacuum selling soon to be a three year degree course, it is all too easy to forget that for very, very many people, university is a far of dream or an extreme privilege.

(As for those of us on our second degree, well, I once read a quote by a lady whose name I have forgotten, but who defined luxury as 'being able to do what you want with your time'. I guess that means that I am living the life of luxury and therefore should embrace my law course not as a chore, but as more of a privilege. Hmmm, that I will have to think about!)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Filling-up the gaps

I recently wrote about the Law course being the leviathan course for this degree and as such I was approaching the course with some apprehension. And indeed, within the first few days, I was already swamped with reading and seminar preparation and individual work and the prophecy started to become self-fulfilled... and then Ellie got ill, completely knocked out with a 39 degree fever and tonsillitis, and then her stomach rejected the antibiotics that she had been prescribed and more fever followed and agonising stomach cramps and then little Ben gets his first cold!

It is suddenly in a week like this that you realise how much time you can create when you are really forced to fill up the gaps, the pack action and doing tight into every corner. What with looking after Ellie, looking after Ben, taking the midnight feeds and the early morning feeds, preparing the bottles, keeping the house in order, getting the car assessed before its guarantee runs out, exercising etc... it has been a tough old week. The thing is that when Ellie and Ben get better and we can go back to sharing things, I am going to suddenly have loads of time on my hands to do law... and maybe, just maybe some time to do something besides law too!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Here is a picture of the Japanese lantern in my front garden. Yup it has snowed again! To think that we drove all of 250 km up North to find some snow and when we returned there was just as much in our back garden. Yesterday was -9 and today has mercifully warmed up and is only -5.

Whereas snow once meant sledging and snow-ball fights, it currently means that I slip and slide on my bicycle on the way to school (and frequently fall off!), I have to shovel it out of the path in front of my house and up to my door, as we are liable if anyone slips and it also means that the wood on our hallway floor is currently stained white with the salt I sprinkle on the steps to ensure that I can get Ben safetly to the car without slipping!

Still on the positive side, -5 helps you clear the cobwebs from your lungs and in a year's time, when Ben is slightly bigger, snow will once again mean sledging and a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows floating in it! mmmmm

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Not quite the Winter Olympics, but...

We have just come back from Ben's first skiing trip. Ok, he didn't actually do any skiing, but he did go for walks in the beautiful snow-covered landscape, cleaned his lungs out with some crisp, cold air and looked quite surprised when he felt his first ever snow-flakes landing on his chin and forehead. Needless to say that his look of surprise quickly changed to one of extreme dissatisfaction and Daddy had to quickly carry him into the restaurant, where he promptly started to smile again.

We took a great long-weekend break to Hestravikens Värdshus (see http://www.hestraviken.se/default.aspx) a lovely countryside hotel. We had procured the hotel's master suites and spent the weekend feeling like royalty as we wandered about in our bathrobes from the bedroom to the living room and on into the bathroom replete with Jacuzzi. Despite these luxuries, we were disciplined and after a good breakfast we took it in turns to get some skiing in. I stood on the top of the first slope trying to remember how to ski again, and then in the middle of my fevered concentration, I accidentally turned my skis down slope and, well... I remembered quickly what I was supposed to be doing. Unfortunately as the resort was only small, the slopes that it had were by and large too advanced for me in that they are too steep, with ice on the down sections and then sudden piles of snow that caught your skis and made turning difficult. Naturally I fell quite a few times, even though I was travelling at Granny-speed, but I am glad to say that I didn't fall of the lifts, not even once!

With an outdoor temperature of between -9 to -14 and a beautiful blanket of pristine snow, each day felt super healthy and we returned to the hotel every evening with rose-tinged cheeks, ready for a three-course meal prepared by a master chef and followed-up by a whisky and coffee by the fireplace. At the end of the weekend, we had rather grown accustomed to this way of living, but as I was packing to bags to leave, I found my law books and remembered that I was a student... and so life goes on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shake, rattle and hum

It is the day after the first ju-jutsu training of 2006 and I ache and I know that it will get worse during the day. It is just as it should be.
Sometimes, just sometimes, life is predictable.

Congratulations to 'Bear' for his speedy recovery from a broken foot and for joining us finally in the Green Team.

Oh! I forgot to say that my green belt now means that I can finally train in the Advanced Group. Wooo! Wooo! (or maybe Wu! Wu!)

Monday, January 16, 2006

whether we want it or not, the second hands keep on ticking

Last Friday I emerged from my hermitage and squinted up at the sun and sucked the cold fresh outside air into my stale lungs. Ever since I have returned from UK, I have battened down the hatches and have been in my study working on the 8 questions we got for our Social Politics paper... and finally on Friday I handed it in! Wooooo!!

The weekend was spent going through our house from top to bottom and just throwing out clothes and other miscellaneous junk. I don't know if you know the feeling, but the past few weeks have just felt as if the whole house has just been sitting and weighing heavily on my shoulders. There just seemed to be piles of stuff everywhere and just no space or order, I started to almost feel claustrophobic and just wanted to get some large black bin bags and start throwing out. I am about halfway through now and it feels so good!

... and Law, the dreaded course in our degree has finally started! It is almost as if you think of it as some kind of marine bootcamp. Everyone talks about it in hushed terms and I remember last terms seeing the students in the year above us crowded around tables in the library all the time and all you could get out of them were comments like 'We thought we have had some tough courses, but everything so far has been easy compared to law' and so on... And now I have started it and parted with SEK 1600 for books last week. Time to roll my sleeves up for the next 20 weeks and then it is time for Summer! Now that's a nice thought!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Enthusing about the latest Harry Potter film...

For those of you who know, I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan and last week, I finally got to see the fourth film and all I can say is WOW! The film is much darker than the first three (I know that that almost seems to a be a buzzword these days, that the latest Batman/Spiderman / Lord of the Rings is much 'darker') but this time it really was. The film was more grown-up and sinister and in keeping with where the books are heading. Anyway, I digress... the film had me spellbound (ha-ha) from start to finish. I laughed, I was moved and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The film's 2 1/2 or so hours went by too soon.

I am waiting for the seventh and final book with trepidation. I can't wait to read it and find out how the story ends, but at the same time, I am torn, as I just don't want to story to end. I don't want to read that final page and just have that empty feeling, that that's it, no more stories to look forward to. I get kind of sentimental about good books and feel almost as if the world is a touch greyer when they finish. I felt that way about Robin Hobbs' Farseer's trilogy, Liveships trilogy and Fool's trilogy, I felt that was about the Lord of the Rings and I know I will feel that way when the epics and adventures of Harry, Hermione and Ron finally end.

On a positive note, Hermione looked stunning in her ball gown and is going to grow into a very beautiful woman and a talented actress. That is one to watch in the forthcoming years and it is nice to have some young English talent coming through. I guess that is one of the things I like about the Harry Potter films; it is that they are very English.

If any of you, my 'avid' readers have seen the film, what did you think?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Year, New Year

Just got back from the UK after spending a very pleasant week at my Mum's house, relaxing. Despite the fact that my course reading was mounting by the day back here, it was nice to be able to just get away from it all, relax, eat some good food and catch-up with some old friends (and new). Ben got shown around the family, but sensibly, Mum had organised everyone to come and visit us, so we didn't have to pack him in and out of cars. On the way home from the airport, we stopped by to show Ben to his Great, Great Aunt and she was very glad to see him. Bless her, she was waiting in the corridor and then had organised a private room and just loved holding him. She told us that he had really made her Christmas. He also got to meet his Great Aunts and his Great Grandad. Ben was in second heaven, not only because he had plenty of baby sitters, but also Mum had managed to fix a baby gym so packed with toys that he didn't know where to start first. He spent many happy hours lying there gripping the giraffe with different coloured feet and kicking his heart content. Mum had also fixed a wonderful baby chair that rocked him and played music (see picture below), and after his initial reservations, he sat in there quite happily the whole time we were eating New Year's dinner.

On the subject of New Year, it feels weird for me to enter a New Year without one single resolution. But relax, the Paul whom you know so well, will catch-up with himself and come-up with some resolutions, and if you are very good, I may even publish them here, so you can hold me to them...

That said, I just have a good feeling that 2006 is going to be a good year and I hope that the same will be true for all of you.

As regards the blog, I can't promise anything as this term will be pretty tough as we are about to start Law, which is touted as our hardest module, but please do drop by during a coffee break and look for up-dates as I am going to try hard to keep writing, even if it is only something short.