Stockholm’s building

Someone, I don’t know who, once said that you can tell if a town is prosperous by the amount of building that’s going on. By that definition, Stockholm must be a very wealthy place.

The amount of roadworks and building works currently happening in Stockholm is astounding. Main arteries have been dug up to create more lanes or bus stops, buildings are creeping upwards and additional floors are built on the rooves, new developments are being squeezed into empty plots. And the Slussen intersection is being demolished, reformed, debated and berated. 

As a Yimby, I love these improvements but it can make day-to-day life difficult. And the fact is, this isn’t going to stop. Stockholm continues to thrive and be Sweden’s engine. In research by the Chambet of Commerce released this week, Stockholm is the fastest growing capital in the EU. 

So fasten your seatbelts. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. 

Sweden’s forest cemetery 

Today I visited a peaceful, magical place in Stockholm – Skogskyrkogården – the Forest Cemetery. 

Built between 1919 and 1940, this location combines a burial ground with a chapel of rest and a coniferous forest.

Listed since 1994 as a World Heritage Site, the Forest Cemetery is a wonderfully serene place to say goodbye, to remember or just to visit. 

‘Paradise Sweden is just a myth’

winter österlen

I’m fortunate enough to have a country house in the south of Sweden. The rural area, known as Österlen, is as beautiful as it is deserted – long stretches of sandy beaches, rolling open fields, wind-torn buildings and wind-bent trees. Being there has always been a retreat for me, but it hasn’t always only been relaxing.

Nagging away at the back of my mind has been a slight feeling of discomfort, like a distant memory that you just can’t recall. I sometimes feel ill at ease walking out to the barn, in case there’s something lurking in there. Or when I suddenly realise I’m alone on a stretch of beach, just the lapping of the sea to keep me company. Or when I’ve gone for a long walk and find myself surrounded by high fields of corn and approaching a bend in the road. Or when darkness descends. Or the fog rolls in.

This feeling of discomfort I have one man to thank for – author Henning Mankell. This popular Swedish writer, who died yesterday age 67, is responsible for the internationally acclaimed series of books and films about Inspector Wallander. The stories he wrote are full of violence, strangeness and critical social commentary. He set his narratives in the town of Ystad, and the surrounding countryside of Österlen, where I have my holiday home. Quoted as saying ‘ that Sweden is supposed to be a paradise is just a myth’, he populated his stories with rampaging murderers, gangs and psychopaths.

Henning Mankell passed away after some years of fighting cancer. He left a massive legacy of books and storíes behind him and will be remembered as the author whose international success opened the door for other Swedish detective novelists.

And as he rests in peace, he leaves us with the unwelcome insight that peace is in fact just an illusion.

GÖTEBORG 20070922 -  Henning Mankell, regissör, deckar- och barnboksförfattare  Foto Måns Langhjelm / SCANPIX / Kod 9200

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