Wednesday 9 May 2007


We are just back from Stockholm, a very interesting place and well worth another visit. In fact my husband said he could live there, but I think that it's a bit cold in the winter. I know that I'm ignorant, but I really hadn't realised how far north it is.

71 museums and we managed to visit 2. The Vasa and the Nobel museums. We also did guided tours of City Hall where the Nobel Prize dinner is held and the Royal Palace. Fascinating.

My friend and I even managed to catch the changing of the guard at the Palace. Well when I say “we” I really mean “she”. We got confused, which isn’t difficult. We had been told the changing of the guard was on at 1315, but when we arrived at the Palace at 1200 - what do you know -they were changing the guard! OK – not very impressive, but we saw it.

The English speaking tour of the Royal Apartments was not until 1400 so we did what all good Brits do – went out to lunch. Just after ordering we heard the band strike up. Our ears pricked up. Could it be that this was the REAL changing of the guard? Leaving two husbands to supervise the serving of the lunch we ran around the corner just in time to see the new guard being marched into the square and disappear behind a wall of bodies.

Not to be deterred my friend, being a brave lass from Northern Ireland and having lived through the “troubles”, left the safe haven of the cordoned off area, where we could see nothing but Swedish backs, and stood right out in the open beside the official photographers. No fear there!

The guys with guns were not happy with this arrangement, but Swedes are terminally polite so they only looked and very kindly didn’t shoot. Luckily they were not of the Viking variety of Swede. I bottled out. I wasn’t totally convinced of their hospitality, maybe because I had never lived through the “troubles” and I’m not used to people with guns being mad with me.

Before long others in the crowd, encouraged by the bravery of this little lady from Belfast, also defied the cordon, the guns, the glares and joined her. The guys with guns were now getting visibly perturbed, trying to act like hard men. But my mate stood her ground and was not at all intimidated.

As I said, I missed the changing of the guard, but witnessed instead death defying heroism. Much more entertaining.

Then she spotted someone in the crowd who looked remarkably like our rogue taxi driver and was terrified. Which only goes to show that some people are scared of guns and some people are scared of gums.

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