And then, Sweden!
Yes, we found Heathrow. In a smaller car which we had collected in Wales we were fair game to the madder of the English drivers, who swoop up behind you and sit about 16 inches from your tail til you lose your nerve and pull over for them to pass.
Therefore London driving was not fun, and finding Heathrow through a maze of Monday-morning traffic and flyovers and passunders and multi-laned freeways and direction signs galore was one of my less enjoyable driving experiences. But, we got there. I was glad to hand over the car even though we did get charged a mysterious 40 quid ‘out-of-hours’ fee despite the ‘in-hours’ nature of our handover. One is not in a position to argue and well they know it.
And on the plane again; arriving at Arlanda airport in Stockholm to a wonderful welcome from our bright-eyed girl Ylva and her papa Anders …. holding up a placard saying “Goodonya Grieves, Welcome to Sweden”! followed by a family dinner of typical Swedish repast …. a smorgasbord of delicious Swedish treats prepared by Maria, Anders’s partner.
Ylva’s mum Eva was there, and Rolf arrived from Hedemora, and after the elderberry wine and beer Anders brought out the Schnapps and they all sang their rank Swedish Schnapps songs as we scholled and scholled and scholled. Then we broke out the Cognac which had been our gift, and some whiskey with a name like Leathfrogue appeared, and we made some serious headway with the lot.
At one stage during the evening Robert was seen to be playing didgeridoo on our hosts’ vacuum cleaner – once we managed to convince them that they had to turn it OFF for this travesty to occur. He managed to get a very respectable didg sound out of it even though it was a Swedish vacuum cleaner and he was fairly thoroughly under the weather.
Our enthusiasm for the evening was such that, like a bunch of ridiculous teenagers, we didn’t know when to stop (I thought it was the Swedes who are reserved? They always claim to be) and the Grieves ended up crashing on the sofa bed for the night rather than risking the incomprehensible train system to the other side of Stockholm where our motel room lay empty and sad without us (but with all our things).
And the morning brought remorse. The sort of remorse that in my case was accompanied by hot and cold tremors and the sort of head – and stomach – that God invented to punish sinners.