Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “stockholm”

A Winter Walk in Central Stockholm


It’s a nice thing to have a spare hour in a foreign city and have no real idea where to go. 

Just walking sometimes leads you to some very interesting places. Snow covered parks where people walk their dogs. 


A few photographs and thoughts from around the Kungsholmen park area on a cold November afternoon . 

One striking thing about Central Stockholm is the ease whereby people can walk and cycle. The cycle lanes are often as wide as many roads. 

The November Winter is Starting in Stockholm


Stockholm is a city that changes a lot with the seasons. Sitting on the edge of winter it is grey and cold. 

Snow is settled and preparing to allow the rain to turn it to grey slush. 

Even the photographs taken in colour look monochrome . 

The people look cold. Walkways are not easy to use with only the bicycle lanes having made friends with the salt or grit. 


The only clear colour comes from the plethora of traffic lights and pedestrian crossing lights. 

The days are short and even by 3 pm it looks like night is preparing to visit. And it is cold. Two degrees. A little rain. Makes it feel colder than freezing. 


Triangular hotels give curious patterns and reflections. 

Stockholm Paintings By Vincent Van B


There are many things to do and see in Stockholm and many sights that lend themselves to being painted. Here are a few examples from the city centre. Stockholm is a nice place for sure but a little bit of colour does not go amiss. 00001907

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Monday In Solna. And Where Exactly Is This?


Solna is a rather unassuming suburb of Stockholm maybe 15 minutes from the city centre. It is unlikely to represent a holiday destination for many however is contains some lovely walks along Brunnsviken Lake and through Haga Park. As is usual with these trips I get an hour or two to explore locally and the best option is to simply walk in any direction . There are some surprisingly nice things to see and places to walk. Here are a few of the local sights. Including the imposing looking Radisson Blu Royal Park hotel and their drinks menu which persuaded me that Swedish is not too an onerous language.

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Brunnsviken Lake

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Brunnsviken Lake

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Dusk at Brunnsviken Lake

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Radisson Blu Royal Park Stockholm

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Ghost of Solna

Reflections on 24 hours in Stockholm and Reasons to walk around. Did I find a blonde version of Elisabeth Salander?


One of the many curious things you notice about Stockholm is the absence of lots of things that I have seen a lot of recently in other cities. People look healthy and generally contented. They talk more quietly and are more polite and respectful of personal space. There is little evidence of many people furtively smoking, and little evidence in the central part of the city of graffiti art.Not many homeless people are to be seen either, although as dusk was falling a few were trundling their trolleys with their worldly posessions into what will be their home for the night.  So Stockholm contrasts very strongly with Madrid, Amsterdam and Gothenburg. There also was not the sometimes slightly threatening and certainly disconcerting sights of beggars ( often immigrants to that country) aggressively trying to obtain money or sell unwanted goods to passers by. A huge contrast to Madrid where it seemed every 50 yards or less someone was thrusting, often literally, cups or containers into your face in an attempt to get donations of money.

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Stockholm Railway Bridge

It is very difficult to base a realistic appraisal of a city on a mere few hours walking around but it has a calm aura. I saw signs for places that I recognise from Stieg Larssons books such as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In fact a thin girl, very thin, walked past me, short blonde hair, looked like she had cut it herself, and I glanced at her and she at me, and I thought, blonde Elisabeth Salander. She had many of the real features of the character, unlike the incorrectly cast Rooney Mara. Signs pointed to Gamla Stan, Aftonbladet, Sodermalm and Kungsholmen, all names that sounded so familiar from the books. A man scurried past who also might have been Mikael Blomquist.

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Aftonbladet

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Vasagatan

An air of affluence pervades the city, with few walkers by looking poor. Clothes are generally smart and people walk with their heads held high. In the whole 2 hours of walking the only exception to this rule was a group of three dubious characters drinking beer and other poisons on one of the walkways by the river. There was little evidence of the prominence of the graffiti art that so adorned Amsterdam and Madrid. In the city centre one had to look hard to find any and the little there was decorated bridges over the railway less favoured with pedestrians.

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Stockholm Graffiti Art

Central Station is a hub for the city with many trains going in all directions, over bridges and people walking in a thousand different directions at once. Everywhere you look there are important looking monuments and statues. The station somehow comes to life even more when it snows.

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Snowing in Central Station

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Trains escape Stockholm Station

In the world famous Karolinska Hospital and Institute a huge painted mural is the focus of the entrance and outside buses advertise the ABBA museum where we can all become instant dancing queens.

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Who wants to be a Dancing Queen?

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Karolinska Hospital Mural

A walk along the river provides a back drop to the city with steeples and important looking buildings rising out of the dusk. The daffodil bulbs have been slow to wake up and grow.

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Slow Waking Daffodils

At dusk many of the buildings look formal and a little grand and loom up out of what is left of the little fading light. There was an air of grandeur emanating from many of them without even knowing their purpose with an imposing look.

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Central Stockholm

The air was cold, two degrees Celsius in fact, with snow forecast for two days time and one could almost smell that in the air. The coffee shops do a brisk trade. They serve you quickly and are many  hierarchies above Starbucks and Costa Coffee in both their friendliness and ability to serve customers quickly. Not cheap though, with a coffee poured from an urn, some Colombian special coffee 39 SK, so to me 5 euros. The shops were warm and inviting and many of those inside were similar to me, single people in there for a reason, using their computer or talking on the phone to escape transiently the cold.

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Central Stockholm

Generically though there is a massive difference to the  UK in that anyone serving be it coffee, food or hotel workers, are unfailingly polite and respectful and provide a clear service, instead of the sometimes angry and often indifferent service that one gets in UK. And I think I am right. Contrasting similar workers in similar shops in both countries.

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Central Stockholm

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Central Stockholm

Sweden is not a cheap country though. A salami pizza, maybe 50% larger than needed or usual, cost 180 SK, so around 20 euros. A return ticket on the Arlanda Express, which takes you directly from Arlanda airport to central Stockholm is 520 SK.

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Central Stockholm

The highlight of the short walk around was smelling then finding a small stall on the edge of the water selling crepes and waffles decorated with the most gorgeous and calorific toppings. I can recommend paying 60 SK for a waffle covered with Nutella and white chocolate, that was less rich then it sounded but a perfect antidote and therapy to the cold that was making hunger come to life.

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Waffle

Should Football Managers Harangue Officials on the pitch? Tommy Williams and Kingstonian


As a football fan I see plenty of occasions each game where the officials get it wrong and sometimes badly so. Having said that players and managers also are culpable of making errors plenty of times in any given game. I do however take a view that officials should be allowed to do their jobs with the expectation that they will not be perfect and certainly should be protected from on-pitch haranguing and demonstrations of anger on the pitch itself. At the recent Met Police v Kingstonian game at half time, immediately before which Met Police had scored direct from a corner, the officials were approached by the Kingstonian manager Tommy Williams clearly angry at some percieved error of judgement, and in a finger waving manner. We all in non-league should have respect for the officials and I personally cannot condone this behaviour. I am sure there are other views out there and it would be interesting to hear them.

Angry Tommy Williams Kingstonian manager confronts the officials at half time. Why is this acceptable?

Angry Tommy Williams Kingstonian manager confronts the officials at half time. Why is this acceptable?

Environmental Enforcement in Wimbledon. What is happening to my world?


Firstly please share this post with friends and colleagues. What I am about to describe is a worrying trend and one that I would not like to see expanding. A kind of “legal ” vigilante going under the euphemism of ” Environmental Enforcement”. OK. Picture the scenario. A short one hour visit to Wimbledon and returning to the train station and about to enter.  What did I visualise?

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I am appalled. There are three I will call them officers with the gentle demeanour of harsh traffic wardens crossed with prison wardens who are ticketing folks under the name of environmental enforcement. Their crimes? Seems throwing cigarette ends anywhere than some specific receptacle. Fixed penalty fines of 75£ or 80£. Those being questioned had a poor grasp of the English language. Apparently this is a criminal offence to throw cigarette ends away like this as one officer explained.
My views on this were heavily influenced by recent reports that police no longer routinely investigate burglaries. And around 10 yards away a homeless man was prostrate and sleeping and would have been a better beneficiary of their wise input and assistance. One might also argue that folks needing help such as this man might be better recipients of environmental protection than inadvertent or even deliberate throwing of cigarette ends on the ground outside a station . Am I right to be angry about this?

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After a little research tonight it seems Merton Council have a zero tolerance to littering, or so they say.  The wording from their website tells us this

Due to the high number of pedestrians visiting the town centre, Wimbledon has the highest rate of cigarette litter in Merton with over 1,500 FPNs being issued since June. As well as taking a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement, the council works to educate residents and visitors to the borough about environmental crime and the likelihood that they will be fined £75 for littering”

http://news.merton.gov.uk/2014/10/24/merton-council-tells-smokers-to-watch-their-butt/

With their website explaining in graphic detail how to pay the £75 fine.

http://www.merton.gov.uk/environment/fixedpenaltynotices.htm

What however is worrying is that there is no right of appeal against a fixed penalty notice. So we all understand the situation that littering is not a good thing and the majority of us would agree that we should do it. However there are limits. And those limits to me are exceeded by seeing in practice that people who were it seems unaware of this draconian zero tolerance to cigarette ends, and we are not talking about littering huge amounts of kebab shop waste or newspapers on the streets, but cigarette ends, are being fined what seems an excessive amount. Furthermore to see a homeless man prostrate, rather curiously by a gritting bin, and these environmental enforcement officers take no action in the 15 minutes that I observed them was to say the least disheartening. That ” society” , well the council , cares more extracting punitive fines than humane care, speaks volumes.

The next aspect that we need to address is the actual environmental enforcement officers. Their attire of a kind of jump suit more often associated with prison, with their waists surrounded by more equipment than many would need to climb Mount Everest or contain a whole ward of rioting patients in Broadmoor, seems excessive to say the least. Together with mounted CCTV on their uniforms. I am sure Neil Armstrong had less equipment when he set foot on the moon with Apollo 11 in july 1969.

Many or even most of these officers it seems are supplied by a company called Kingdom. A press release from March 2014 stated that the council’s own enforcement officers will work alongside the Kingdom enforcement team from the end of April as they go out and about around Merton to make sure the borough is kept litter-free. Kingdom’s team is led by ” experts with an ex-military and police background”. Quite why this is so necessary to deal with ordinary folks who have thrown cigarette ends on the ground is not so clear. They issue these fixed penalty notices to those breaking the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

http://blog.kingdom.co.uk/2014/04/kingdom-part-of-merton-councils-zero.html

Where it however gets more interesting is that Merton Council has come under fire for reducing street cleaning in town centres on Sundays – while spending nearly £130,000 a year on four environment enforcement officers. So photographs published in March 2015 show far worse littering caused by the overflowing of these bins than I certainly visualised on the pavements of Wimbledon. In fact I saw nothing other than the poor homeless man. There is a lot of information provided by the government on how councils can issue FPNs and also how they should use the funds accrued.

http://www.wimbledonguardian.co.uk/news/11863279.Merton_Council_cuts_back_Sunday_street_cleaning_to_combat___1_2m_overspend/

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fixed-penalty-notices-issuing-and-enforcement-by-councils

The same site above lists the various offences for which FPNs can be given and it is immediately obvious that some of these are serious and should be punished in a punitive manner, however in the context cigarette ends must be at the lower if not lowest end of the spectrum.

graffiti
littering
fly-posting
nuisance parking (people selling or repairing cars on the road)
dog control offences
abandoned vehicles
leafleting without permission on land where leafleting is restricted (‘designated land’)
failing to nominate a key holder or give the council key holder details in an alarm notification area
failing to provide a waste carrier licence (for businesses transporting their own waste)
failing to provide a waste transfer note when moving non-hazardous waste

There is a world of difference between for example “littering” with an abandoned vehicle and a cigarette end. Yet the difference in fine amounts is surprisingly small. £200 for abandoning a car and £75 for abandoning a cigarette end. The money must also be put to specified uses.

Councils must use income from FPNs as set out :

Offence FPN money can be spent on functions relating to:
Litter – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Graffiti – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Dog control -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Fly-posting -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Unauthorised distribution of free printed material on designated land- Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting

So what I am left wondering is what training is given to these officers, what degree of latitude do they have in not administering a FPN, if they have any targets, and of course how much money is raised and exactly to what purpose is it put. There is clear guidance on publishing not only the enforcement strategy but also to how the money will be used. 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fixed-penalty-notices-issuing-and-enforcement-by-councils

So in my world there would be some degree of spectrum here on exactly what constitutes a littering offence and throwing a single cigarette end does not equate to toxic pollution of the planet. Maybe also these officers can not only look at the bigger picture, but as today adopt a more humane approach. To have allowed that homeless man to remain on the ground lying prostrate would not be their greatest achievement in their day.  Littering does have context and we need to be careful not to be too literal and punitive. If Merton Council want and feel they should adopt a zero tolerance approach, then this should be reflected in not only this aspect but all aspects of their work. Finally what exactly are they doing with the money, that was not happening before? I have developed a zero tolerance approach to not knowing the answers to these reasonable questions. 

Drowning Practice in New Malden


A few evening photos on a very wet and damp evening. A local road and a rahter spooky alley way walk

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Brentford and My First Photoshop Lesson From the 15 year old


I am just impressed by what a few lessons in GCSE photography have taught the 15 year old. Here you see the original photograph and what was created with about 20 minutes work. Soon she will be wanting paid commissions…and why not

Bees v Huddersfield  Under 18

Bees v Huddersfield Under 18

Brentford

Brentford

Brentford under 18

Brentford under 18

Brentford 0 Hull City 2. Any concerns over losing for Brentford fans?


Brentford came into this game on the back of a four game winning run and faced a physical Hull side with the menacing Steve Bruce prowling on the touchline. The simple reality were that Bees had a few chances in the first 10 minutes of which they should have taken at least one, but then the first half somewhat became an even game. The second half Hull upped the ante and made some decent substitutions and took the game away from Brentford with a combination of good technique and excellent finishing. David button would not reflect upon this game as his best for Brentford and the second Hull goal would usually not have happened with a spilling of the ball to the feel of the hull striker. hull however are an excellent side and move top of the championship after this victory and i would be unsurprised to see them there next May.

There was no shame in losing to the better side. The Brentford perfomance was good and the team are improving game by game. Do we have any concerns? Not really. Maybe the substitutions did not help last night. Taking Toumani off for me is never a good thing for whatever reason. KK runs a lot, has good positional ability but frankly lacks the technique for a good championship player and without being negative I can see him on his way to League 1-2 level in due course. Ryan woods looks younger each game but improves each game with immense workrate. Yennaris has settled, in my view surprisingly, at right back and also improves each game, but maybe still could elevate his general work rate. Some of his central defending was also excellent last night leading me to wonder if he might also be an option there.

Griffin Park under floodlights is something I will miss as there always is a special atmosphere and a midweek crowd on a dull and damp night of 9200 is excellent. Lastly it was good to see Sam Saunders back on the bench. He will play cameo roles one suspects but a good option to have.

Sam Saunders returns

Sam Saunders returns

Jake Bidwell Scratches his head

Jake Bidwell Scratches his head

Griffin Park

Griffin Park

Griffin Park

Griffin Park

Griffin Park

Griffin Park

Griffin Park

Griffin Park

Buzzette Bee

Buzzette Bee

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