Well, duh. Just realized in the middle of the night that the amount of space that I could used to upload photos was limited to a measly 3 gigabytes, which got me to Day 308 our of 366, so I just purchased 10 more gigs and we should all set to go. Since it was light at 5:00 a.m., no sense wasting the morning. For anyone tuning in, you should also read the previous post, which was really the point of posting today.
So where were we? Ah, yes, walking back home down Prins Bertils Stig enjoying the stormy day.
On the way back, there is a rhododendron park and this little bush is the first one to have blooms. Our yard has three or four giant bushes, so we should be in business in a couple weeks.
Bianca ran into a couple of her friends. This one is named Maya. Bianca gets along best with calm energy dogs like herself and this Westie and the other one we met, Morris, are two she likes best.
This place teems with birds of many kinds and descriptions. This duck family waddled off into the water when they saw us coming. This is the big reason why dogs are not allowed on the beaches from May 1st; they might disturb the nests along the water. Later on, people don’t want dogs on the beaches more for poop reasons. Between May and September dogs are limited to one beach near town, though it is a looooong beach, just not too near us. Bianca will manage.
Speaking of which, here she is scoping out . . .
. . . the pheasant that has been hanging out in our yard recently. Mariette thinks there is a next in our rhododendron bushes. We will see what happens there.
The big event of the day, however, was me attending my first soccer game here. The Halmstad Boll Klubb (HBK) was taking on the side from Jönköping, from the middle of the country, and a neighbor invited me to sit with him.
The pre-game entertainment consisted of the HBK mascot dancing around on the field. Swedish soccer is not as big as in the other European leagues and the top players from Sweden usually head to Germany, Italy or one of the other top leagues where the big bucks are. One of our neighbors played for the Swedish national team in the world cup and then had a career in Germany.
We sat at midfield, five rows up. In other words, the best seats in the house. Every soccer team, in Europe at least, has a tradition that guarantees the future of the sport: little kids get to accompany the players as they come onto the field for introductions before the match.
If they tried this before an NFL game, half the kids would probably wind up being eaten by crazed linebackers. Anyway, things are a lot more relaxed here and the kids will probably never forget the experience.
My guess is that the stadium holds less than 10,000 people and the fact that the game was televised held the crowd down for sure. I am certain that I am the only one in the crowd who appreciated one ironic moment. There was no national anthem before the match, which was refreshing for me. While waiting for the TV broadcast to begin, however, they blared Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life over the PA system and that immediately brought me back to listening to the Jim Rome Show that was a staple of my mornings in the U.S. for many years. The irony for me is that Jim Rome hates soccer and has done many funny bits making fun of the sport. I had to smile to myself as absolutely no one else would have gotten the joke, as I am sure no one reading this will get it either. Anyway, there was something nice about not having to listen to a national anthem before a sporting event. It was just a sporting event, not a show of patriotism or a bow to the nation’s military-industrial complex, such as it is in Sweden.
Having played soccer in grade school, high school and intramurally in college, I still maintained the more or less prevailing American attitude toward the sport: not enough scoring! And not enough devastating injuries! Bruised shins that result in a 0-0 final score will have a hard time catching on in the U.S.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience, not the least part of which was going to the VIP lounge before the game to be introduced to some of my neighbor’s friends and then again at halftime to sit, eat salami and cheese sandwiches and chat with one of the richest men in Sweden. Our neighbor is close friends with him, has jetted around the world in his private jet to World Cup matches and sits on several boards of companies with this gentleman. Not that anyone would have guessed by his casual clothing and unassuming nature. In fact, most everyone was dressed in what appears to be standard uniform for Swedish middle aged men: black jeans and black jackets with black shoes. Ostentation here means wearing a blue woolen scarf with the HBK logo on it as he and my neighbor were flaunting (though hidden under their jackets I must add). No one defers to anyone else. Instead, they thank the women in the kitchen who prepared the snacks and say hello to the ushers and guards at the gate, the fourth richest man in Sweden and a major sponsor of the HBK team included. Somehow, Mariette and I have found ourselves in the midst of some very well off and well-connected people here in our little slice of heaven.
The VIP lounge was hardly what one would find in Yankee Stadium, yet the walls were hung with banners from game with other international teams, such as the Tottenham Hotspurs, and a trophy case gleamed with silver trophies of the team’s past glories.
As for the game, it was, in soccer terms, a wild and wooly shootout as you can see from the final scoreboard:
Yes, the home side was victorious, 3-2, which made it a happy event for all. HBK seemed to have the game well in hand and outplayed the Jönköping team throughout but a lapse at the end of both halves made it interesting until the 93:04 mark, at which point the game ended. Soccer games are supposed to be 90 minutes long, but they never are because time gets added for some reason (I think when players are writhing around on the field holding their shins). Now, don’t anyone take this the wrong way, but I liked the game. Five goals is a ton for a soccer game and there were at least that many very near misses, so there was a lot of offense, enough to satisfy this American anyway.
Which reminds me, they play American football on a club level here in Sweden and it must be about time for their season to get going. I have to look into that.