Wednesday 23rd June 2005

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 like,
'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 it is.
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 night.

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