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[Nigeria]Nigerian glossary


Recent things

Filed under: family,tech — kevin @ 18:18

I know I haven’t updated this for ages, but I’m living a much less exotic (although no less enjoyable) life these days.

Mum and Dad came out to visit me for a few days, against all the warnings of my colleagues (the weather is notoriously bad here in November). We were quite lucky with the weather, less lucky with catching tourist attractions open. For example, in Vadstena the main attractions are only open on weekdays during winter.

Here are Mum and Dad outside the Arbetets museum (Museum of Work) in Norrköping:
My parents standing on a bridge in front of part of a river, surrounded by former industrial buildings.  Mum and Dad are wearing big warm coats.

I also just bought myself a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner:

It should make keeping the many square metres of floor space in my apartment clean.


Moving things around

Filed under: site — kevin @ 15:02

I’m doing some rearranging of this site starting today, some parts might not work properly for a while.

Update: Should be finished now, although there may be some parts that I’ve missed.


A minor victory

Filed under: other,sweden — kevin @ 19:10

After several attempts I’m victorious in my struggle against the lath and plaster wall between my hall and kitchen:
A wood and metal coat rack with a couple of coats hanging from it, attached to a large wooden board and the wall.  Below is a shoe rack.

Some time ago I bought a shoe rack and coat rack from IKEA. Shoe racks seem to be more or less compulsory in Sweden. Attaching the hat rack (hatthylla) to the wall proved difficult. Rawlplugs pulled straight out and a little investigation led me to believe that the wall is made of lath and plaster, with a thick layer of extremely fragile plaster.

This weekend I finally got round to buying a stud detector, locating the solid bits inside the wall and then screwing a large piece of wood onto those bits. At last I have something solid to attach the coat rack to!

Of course the bit of wood (nice solid birch) cost more than the coat rack, but at least they match.


Stockholm – Midsummer

Filed under: sweden,travel — kevin @ 15:02

I’d been planning to visit Stockholm for a while and eventually got around to booking train tickets and accommodation. It was only afterwards that I realised that I was going to be there for the midsummer weekend.

Midsummer is a big thing in Sweden, with various traditional food, dancing round maypoles and a very strange song about small frogs (apparently they’re funny because they have no ears). The celebrations had been on the Friday evening, but there was still a holiday atmosphere.

When I was booking the train tickets I encountered one of the oddities of SJ‘s fare structure. It’s sometimes cheaper to travel first class than second class, including the days I was travelling. So on the Saturday morning I boarded the very shiny X2000 tilting train at Linköping and took my seat in the very nice first class coach. A first class ticket includes tea and coffee, fruit, newspapers and wireless internet.
The interior of a first-class railway carriage, decorated in muted colours and wood panelling.

The journey was pleasant, with stops at Norrköping and Södertalje. Lots of typical Swedish countryside passing by; the well-kept fields and red-painted houses look like something from a postcard, but there are plenty of them in between stretches of forest.

Arrival at Stockholm Central is a bit confusing, there’s a shortage of maps to allow you to orient yourself. I wandered around a bit and eventually found a sort of self-service tourist information desk and picked up a free map. I worked out where I was and which exit I wanted then started to make my way towards the Skeppsholmen youth hostel, stopping on the way for lunch.

Skeppsholmen is an island close to the centre of Stockholm, opposite the royal palace. It was formerly occupied by the Swedish navy but now most of the buildings have been converted into museums. The hostel is the former carpenters’ workshops and accommodation, there are also rooms available in af Chapman moored outside. Of course, this being Sweden, there are rules. I couldn’t get into my room until 3pm, so I had to carry all my stuff around until then.
On the left, in the foreground, a bronze statue of a winged man marks the start of a bridge.  To the right, in the distance, a white-painted tall ship glows in the evening sun. The bowsprit of a white sailing ship frames the Royal Palace.

Back to Kungsträdgård to the tourist information centre to buy a Stockholm Card. Another typical Swedish experience: “take a ticket and wait for your number to be called”. The manufacturers of these queueing machines must make plenty of money in Sweden.

On the way back to Skeppsholmen I walked past the Grand Hotel and almost right into Jay-Z, he was signing autographs on the pavement while several large American cars were being filled with wardrobes on wheels and hangers-on.

My first stop was the Arkitekturmuseet, in a modern building at the top of Skeppsholmen. It’s interesting, but not very interesting. A collection of models of various famous buildings and descriptions of typical building styles. Apparently the red paint with white corners on rural buildings was originally meant to look like (much more expensive) brick. It had started raining heavily while I was there, so I had an expensive espresso and waited for the rain to ease off before returning to the hostel.

My Stockholm Card included public transport, so I walked up to the ferry terminal at Nybroplan, getting fairly wet in the process. The rain stopped once I got there, so the long wait for the ferry wasn’t too bad. The ferry took me across to another island, Djurgården, which has many of Stockholm’s attractions, including the open-air museum Skansen. I spent a few hours wandering around Skansen, although most of the buildings had closed up at 5pm. Dinner was a takeaway reindeer meat, sour cream and mashed potato wrapped in flat bread thing from one of the stalls in the park.
A red wooden belfry with shingled legs against a blue sky. A small wooden building, painted red and white. An elk with calves in a wooded enclosure. A single-storey wooden building with an archway leading through to the back.

I took the historic tram back into the city and the T-banen to Gamla Stan (the old town) but it had started raining again so I just had a quick scuttle around before returning to the hostel.

The Skeppsholmen hostel isn’t a very sociable place, lacking a comfortable lounge or communal area. Instead they have a bar/restaurant, which I’m sure is very profitable for them. I went for a walk round the island to look at the various old boats moored around it, many of them being lived in.
Old boats moored in front of trees. A sailing boat moored to a wooden quay.

The next morning, after a fairly restless night due to the horrible bed, I got up for a little stroll then returned for the breakfast buffet. The buffet was pretty good, all the usual muesli, bread, ham, cheese and of course a selection of pickled herring. I get the feeling that Swedish youth hostels are lagging behind the rest of the world, still a bit of the old puritanical attitude there and nowhere near as nice as the typical New Zealand hostel.

I packed up, checked out and walked round to Vasamuséet, public transport has a bit of a slow start on a Sunday and it was a nice morning for strolling along the waterfront. The museum is excellent; the Vasa itself is very impressive and well preserved and restored. In particular they’ve made it quite clear which parts are original and which are modern replacements. A little bit more technical information about the raising would have been nice, but that’s just my engineering side. Tied up outside are a few more museum-ships, but there’s a terrible lack of information about them, apart from a little exhibit on ice breaking aboard the S:t Erik. In the museum I overheard two visitors talking about some prices quoted on one of the displays: “is that modern euros?” (no, I think they’re talking about 17th century euros).
Wooden carvings on the side of a ship, the wood is very dark, almost black. A wooden sailing ship in a museum buidling, people milling around down by the keel.

After a quick hot dog and Coke for lunch I visited the Estonia memorial, I noticed that one of the victims was Nigerian. Then it was on to the Nordiska museet, a huge and impressive building but it seems to be short of useful exhibition space. They had some odd but interesting exhibitions, including one of table settings from various historical periods. Another exhibition was of furniture, mentioning the research of the Home Research Institute that led to the development of the Swedish kitchen standard, this was featured in a film I wanted to see a few years ago but never got round to: Kitchen Stories.

Back to the Gamla Stan, in better weather this time, for a wander around. I visited the Nobel Museum, which frankly isn’t worth it, it’s all fancy displays and little real content. Gamla Stan was heaving with tourists, mostly German, many of them with that annoying habit of stopping suddenly in the middle of the pavement to take pictures.

For the train back to Linköping I’d paid a bit extra for SJ’s “plusmeny”, a three-course meal served at your seat. It was very much like an airline meal but was pretty good. Hot smoked fish, mashed potato and vegetables in a cheese and mustard sauce and salad. The dessert part wasn’t so good: soggy cake, synthetic cream and a puddle of generic fruit goo.

Catching up

Filed under: sweden,travel — kevin @ 12:50

You might have noticed that since moving to Sweden updates here have been few and far between. I think it’s mostly because there’s not so much to tell people about, life in Sweden is fairly similar to life anywhere else in Europe/North America.

Today, while I’m doing laundry, I’m making an effort to catch up a bit. Later on there will be an entry about my weekend in Stockholm at the end of June.

For now, here are some pictures from a hiking/camping trip to Omberg eco-park a few weekends ago. Lake Vättern is amazingly clear, apparently it’s safe to drink almost everywhere. Even in the harbour at Borghamn it was clean and free of the usual oily scum.

A narrow path leads through a dark coniferous forest, shafts of light shine down through gaps in the foliage. View across a large lake, framed by treetops in the foreground.  On the far side are low hills and above them a clear blue sky. An old two-storey building in gardens.  In the foreground are a sunlit wooden bench and table. Fields of golden crops stretch away from the camera, divided in the middle by a hedge with a single tree.  In the background red-painted farm buildings sit among trees.


Playing with maps again

Filed under: other,VSO — kevin @ 20:08

I like maps, I can spend hours looking at them. I’ve also played around a bit with making maps (the Kaduna bus map, for example).

This evening I’ve been playing with Google Earth and Google Maps, set off when I noticed that the coverage of Kaduna had gone from uselessly blurry to “I can see your house from here” level.

So I’ve made a map showing some of the places I mentioned during my time living in Kaduna. You can see it online at Kaduna Places or look at it in Google Earth: Kaduna Places.



Filed under: books,bradt,travel,VSO — kevin @ 16:36

The second edition of the Bradt guide to Nigeria is finally out, complete with my updates to the northern section and seventeen of my pictures (unfortunately the cover photo isn’t one of mine).

My copy should be on its way to me now, I’m really looking forward to seeing my photos in print. I suspect the money I’m being paid for the photos is going to be spent furnishing my new apartment, when I finally find one, maybe I should have asked Bradt to just pay me in IKEA vouchers…


My apartment

Filed under: sweden — kevin @ 14:09

It’s only taken me more than seven weeks but, at long last, here are some pictures of my apartment in Linköping.

View down a wood-floored hallway, with doors on either side, through a door at the far end. A wood-floored room with a double bed and a large round paper lampshade dangling from the ceiling. A wooden-floored room with a large sofa opposite a TV.  A large window looks out onto other apartments. A kitchen, metal worksurfaces and white cabinets.  Pots and coffee-making equipment are scattered around. A dining table stands in front of a large window.  Bed linen is draped over the chairs. A wood-floored room with an open doorway.  Beside the doorway is a white desk with a laptop sitting on it (among other clutter). A white-tiled bathroom.  A plastic shower curtain screens the bath, to the right is a sink with a mirrored cabinet over it.

In the last few weeks I’ve been looking for my next apartment. The people I’m subletting from are coming back from Denmark in August, so I have to have somewhere else to live by then. Finding an apartment isn’t all that easy, and with many of the property companies involves queues and points, all very northern European.

P.S. If you’re extra observant you might have noticed that the picture filenames have ‘Linkoping’, with an ‘o’ instead of the ‘ö’ (they’re different letters in Swedish). This is one of the many horrible lingering effects of most computer technology having its heritage in systems invented by people who thought that just the letters A-Z, numbers and a bit of punctation should be enough for anyone. There are several different ways of representing the letter ö — to make matters worse when I’m typing it here I have to use ö.


Scavengers in Kano

Filed under: VSO — kevin @ 12:50

The BBC has a good “In pictures” story on children scavenging the rubbish heaps of Kano. Andrew Walker has been busy recently, producing some good varied Nigerian coverage.

The lake he mentions is this one:
The sun sets behind an ancient city, reflected in a lake.
it looks much nicer at sunset!

By the way, I’m still intending to post some pictures of my apartment in Sweden and things like that. I just haven’t got round to it yet.


Moved to Sweden

Filed under: General — kevin @ 20:55

Over the past week I’ve been combining catching up with my family with packing up all my possessions and shipping them off to Sweden (using Seven Seas). Today I followed them, flying out to Linköping via Copenhagen.

I’m renting a furnished apartment until August, so that I can take my time looking around for a more permanent apartment that I can then furnish exclusively from IKEA. In fact I’ll be going in there tomorrow for a few things I need right now.

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