I have a book entitled ‘Swedish Innovations’ which, not surprisingly, spends one hundred and three pages telling the rest of the world what a clever nation Sweden is. It is a very interesting book, informing the reader that from the zippers we snag our unmentionables on as we get dressed of a morning, the cartons that spray milk all over our newly ironed shirts at breakfast time, the Saab turbo engine that subsequently conveys us to work at a heady thirty kilometres an hour, we are surrounded by examples of Swedish inventiveness at every possible moment of our waking day.
Now, obviously, the provenance of all the innovations in the above mentioned book has been thoroughly researched, but there are many other claims often made of Swedish marvellousness where one wonders how they could possibly be substantiated. Sweden, home of the oldest, the biggest, the smallest, the newest, the best.
For those of you who are interested, Sweden boasts not only the world’s oldest bed manufacturer but also the world’s oldest auction house. Fancy that. Apparently Sweden also has the ‘best nature’ in the world. How does one quantify ‘best’ and ‘nature’ in this context, I wonder? Now, don’t get me wrong, some of the scenery is spectacular but there are great swathes of it that could be quite accurately described as a giant pine tree farm with a motorway running through the middle of it. One might like to suggest, timidly, that New Zealand may possibly have even ‘better nature’.
Someone told me the other day in all seriousness that St George – or rather St Göran – had been Swedish. Gosh, silly me – there I was thinking he was a Turkish soldier from the third century. Likewise, another of George‘s countrymen, Saint Nicholas, aka Santa, must find it all rather bewildering being Scandinavia’s most squabbled over immigrant.
Anyhow, this book ‘Swedish Innovations’ is actually a very good read. While there is obviously some pretty high-tech stuff in it, one of my favourite entries was for the very practical Snickers work clothes. I happen to think that Swedish workmen do look rather natty in their trade specific overalls, and one’s day is so much better if one is attired appropriately. Quite how I square this with the necessity of having to wear seven inch jewel encrusted Marc Jacobs sandals whilst typing, I am not entirely sure.
Speaking of the simple but practical, I was given a tip off last week that I simply had to investigate. Down by the little bridge that leads from Djurgården over to the island of Beckholmen, there is a magical miniature Thai restaurant. Well, in this case ‘restaurant’ may be stretching the truth a bit. It is actually a food kitchen in what appears to be a converted horse box, surrounded by plastic furniture and umbrellas, just beside the roadside.
This horse box affair backs onto a derelict shipyard, so with the rickety bridge and water frontage views, together with the proprietor’s dog who seems to do a lot of lolling about, the whole place has an air of being somewhere all together un-Swedish.
Despite its less than salubrious surroundings, the lady in the converted horsebox cooks all her food to order and it really is very good indeed. Served on paper plates with plastic cutlery, and with no toilet facilities, it is a bit rough and ready but a quite an adventure. I can imagine that if you go down for an early evening meal (it closes at 8pm), it would be a great start to a night out. Prices are around sixty to seventy kronor per dish and as the lady only serves soft drinks, my informants like to take down their own bottle of wine, which no one seems to have the slightest objection to.
The neighbouring island of Beckholmen is certainly worth a little wander around while you are there. The area is partly disused, with a rather impressive enormous dry dock to peer down into. More importantly, it is also home to the amusing giraffe painted cranes that you can see from the water as you come in from the Baltic, which I suspect just may be the biggest, oldest, most hilarious giraffe painted cranes in the whole wide world.
Nom Thai Food
115 21 Djurgarden
Tel: 08 660 97 67
Opening times: 11.00 – 20.00 every day
‘Swedish Innovations’ by Kjel Sedig ISBN 91-520-0694-8
Nom Thai Food:
Best, oldest, cleverest, spiciest converted horse box in the world 10/10