Scandinavia or Bust

A quick post this week, as I’m busy tidying up loose ends and packing before heading off to Scandinavia! I’m speaking at a conference in the Swedish Naval Museum, Karlskrona, and am ‘bookending’ the trip with overnight stays in Copenhagen, which I’ve never actually visited before. (There’s a possibility that I might never visit it this time, either, as I’m flying with a certain blue-liveried Irish airline…) I’m really looking forward to it, principally because of the opportunity to look round the normally closed Karlskrona dockyard, built from 1680 onwards and thus the classic surviving dockyard site from my principal period of study. The conference itself should be fascinating, too, with a wide range of multinational papers on dockyards and dockyard towns; I’m talking on ‘Pembroke Dockyard and the Welsh Nation’, so it’ll be interesting to see how a predominantly Swedish audience handles the smattering of Welsh I intend to throw into my talk.

(Probably rather better than I cope with any Swedish they throw into theirs, I should imagine.)

In any case, it’ll be great just to be back in Sweden again. I was last over there six years ago, when I had an extended stay in Kalmar and Gothenburg as ‘fieldwork’ for the fourth Quinton novel, The Lion of Midnight; that trip was the first time I’d been outside Stockholm, where the Vasa is, of course, an irresistible draw for someone with my interests. I’ve also long had an interest in the history of Sweden’s ‘golden age’, and that explains why I set Lion there. As I wrote in the blog which ‘launched’ that particular title,

I actually taught it [Swedish history] to A-level students for many years – an eccentric choice, some might say, but most of them loved it, given the fascinating personalities and themes they were dealing with (not to mention the fact that the questions in the final exam were invariably predictable – either ‘why did Sweden rise?’ or ‘why did it decline?’ – and led to a pretty high percentage of each cohort achieving excellent grades).

So next week, and probably in the post after that too, I’ll be blogging about the conference, and my impressions of both Karlskrona and Copenhagen. Until then, though, it’s back to the packing…

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