The weather was dire for the first half of the
day and so we were in no hurry to get going. We whiled away some
time with a mixture of breakfast and fraud-busting. The lovely
lady who ran our hostel spoke excellent English (and had probably
worked in a bar in London and was almost certainly worried about
the Euro). She asked for our help and put a printout of an email
from England in front of us. 'Whoever wrote this does not use
English as their first language.' Was my first response to expressions
'You are a business and for this we trust that you will not fraudulently
transact with us we have put a lot of trust in you and for this
you will not let us down. We will send the card to you and you
will transfer 3000 Euros to a Western Union account.'
It did not take Holmesian detective work to realise that this
booking for 10 rooms was not the best sales lead.
We spent some time in the grand central station building using
their internet terminals. It involved cracking a strange system.
The voucher machine required more change than a sensible person
would want in their trousers and so we both at different times
approached the girl who worked at the café and asked for
change. In each case she reacted with horror at the suggestion
that she ought to change our money, but then produced more than
half a dozen free ten minute vouchers. I remain convinced that
this odd behaviour somehow revealed a clue into the inner psyche
of Sweden and equally convinced that I will never understand what
Ross spent his bursts of ten minutes constructing an email to
the rest of the world that seemed to revolve around the idea that
I was fatter than him. I did my best to grin and bear this, but
eventually could sit by no more and was forced to point out two
salient facts to him. The first was that I am taller than him.
The second was that in the playground that we had come across
in Kiruna, while trying desperately to stay awake, his end of
the see-saw was the one that hit the ground.
The clouds cleared and we set off in a south west
direction. It was a fun flight although a bit niggly as whatever
height we chose to fly at we came across a big bank of cloud sat
directly in front of us. Ross made the best of a bad lot and we
have some very pretty photographs as a result. Two and a half
hours and one menacing cumulonimbus passed before Varberg on the
west coast came into view. The airfield was a tiny peninsular
of grass with challengingly short runways, but it was a breathtaking
way to arrive.
We met a charming young man on arrival called
Nicholas who was effervescing with the enthusiasm that all student
pilots have in places like this. We then met an equally charming
old man who appeared to be partially sighted and almost deaf.
His name was Peta and he was the Chief Flying Instructor. His
charm extended to a lift into town and Ross managed to procure
us a room in 'the best hostel in Sweden'. Again my fears were
allayed, words like 'best' and 'hostel' have not in my experience
always made good bedfellows. We had a good-sized clean room with
bunk beds, but the gem was that we were in a fort that dated back
to the 13th Century.
The evening's entertainment took the form of a
very enjoyable ambush by some locals. We sat down at the most
buzzing restaurant in town and began to get a bit pally with the
four Varbergers who shared our table. They consisted of a pacemaker
salesman, his two cohorts and a cardiologist who was his client
and target of his affections. We followed their suggestions through
the menu and wine list and then in a rearguard action Ross ordered
a round of six Gammel Dansk shots for the table. They countered
with a volley of their own local rocket fuel. Before the situation
could be suitably contained Ross had kissed the bearded salesman,
they had paid for our whole meal on his corporate card and we
were lost somewhere on the ramparts of the fort trying to find
our way home.
A practice steep turn to keep the hand in. Yes,
that is the wing.
The approach to Varberg
The entrance to the Fort. Our front door for the