Ingrid likes her buggy. We like her buggy. Now, while the buggy is en route from England to Sweden, we’ve let her walk as much as she wants, but after a few hundred metres she generally shows us that she’s had enough and wants up. She weighs over 11kg and that’s more weight than I want to be carrying unaided for longer than 5 minutes or so. Perfect, put her in a sling, you might think! Unfortunately Ingrid is becoming a sling resister. She has no objections to sitting on my hip, but carrying all that weight on one side of the body is not at all comfortable after about 5 minutes. I would much rather have her on my back, but she doesn’t want to go there. On a few occasions I’ve actually put her on my back (because we had to go out and I’m not strong enough to carry her any other way all day) while she is yelling and pushing me away, and that felt awful… I’m forcing something that should be all fun and pleasure. It’s like force feeding ice cream to a child, or forcing them to hold a cuddly puppy.

Two more days until we get the buggy back, and slinging can again be voluntary and fun for everyone involved. I never thought I’d miss the buggy so much.

About a year ago, someone summarised Ingrid’s personality as “strong, glad and active”. (It was the staff at her first nursery, the one at my workplace, where she spent her first month in daycare.) While we didn’t disagree with that summary, it wasn’t something we ourselves had particularly remarked on at that time.

Over time we have come to realise just how apt that description was. To an outside observer who sees lots of different babies, it may have been noticeable a year ago. Now it is obvious to anyone who spends a few hours with her.

Ingrid is physically very active, and needs movement. She can not sit still for long, and she gets bored very quickly when there isn’t enough activity. Something needs to be happening all the time. On the days we are at home, she is usually ready to go out within two hours of getting up. (Which means that when she wakes at 6.30, she may want to go for a walk already by 8.) She gets incredibly restless if she is forced to stay at home all day, so during our long weekends We now try to go out twice a day, or for a full-day outing. Ideally we go some place where she can run and climb, but even a trip to the supermarket is better than sitting at home.

I have no other toddlers close by to compare her two, but from what I have seen, not all of them are like this. I hear of children who are happy to sit still and listen to mum read a story. When Ingrid reads a book, she is always actively involved: holding the book, pointing at things, saying their names. I see children who lean back in their pushchairs and don’t mind being carted around like a sack of potatoes. When Ingrid is out in her pushchair, she sits straight up and takes in the world. When I go grocery shopping, she always wants to be involved, to hold a bag of carrots or a carton of juice.

Her favourite activities tend to involve big, heavy things. I don’t know if she is strong because she likes heavy things, or if she likes heavy things because she is strong… She likes to lift milk cartons, to carry around pots and pans and big rucksacks, to push chairs around and to climb stairs.

And Ingrid has fundamentally a very glad and sunny disposition. At the nursery she just left, the staff said that they couldn’t remember her ever being angry. At home she definitely can be unhappy or upset at times, but it’s always for a clear reason: hunger, boredom, tiredness, or having her nappy changed, or not being allowed to play with the computer. There is no pointless, aimless whining. She is a joy to be around.

For those of you who have not moved from London to Stockholm in early spring (because in Stockholm, late March is definitely still only early spring), here are some first impressions.

Stockholm looks deserted. Compared to London, there is a lot of space and few people. Even 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning, the roads were almost empty in the middle of town and there were hardly any people in the streets.

Stockholm is also visually quiet. London is an incredibly busy place, with a very high information density. A lot of people, vehicles, and movement, but also a lot of visual input – signs, details on houses, shop windows etc. In Sweden the architecture is more restrained, the shop windows less in-your-face, and the street signs all standardised.

The grass is brown and not green. In London grass remains green all year round, because winter doesn’t get particularly cold. In Sweden, grass dies during winter and then fresh grass comes up in the spring.

The air is dry. I can feel my skin shrivelling and wrinkling. At the same time it means that the air does not feel as cold as it would in London. 7°C in London is raw, wet and cold; the same temperature here feels quite mild. I used to put this down to habit, to getting used to the weather, but I doubt that that would happen overnight.

There is gravel on the pavement everywhere. Gravel that gets stuck in the grooves of shoe soles, and on the wheels of the suitcase, and then sneaks into your home and onto your wooden floors if you’re not careful.

We’ve landed. We have a flat, and it has furniture, and we have food and internet. The boxes and furniture are in transit and expected to arrive on Wednesday.

It still feels weird to be here, and the move still feels a bit unreal. It feels like we’re on vacation, like we should be going home soon again.

The one thing that makes this definitely different from a vacation was that we did not need to worry much about what to pack. There was no risk that we would forget to pack something important, because by the time we left, the only things left in the flat were some cleaning supplies, some money for the cleaner, a few spare lightbulbs, and instruction manuals for appliances like the cooker and the washing machine.

Tomorrow we will start house hunting. On Monday we will visit the tax office and let the Swedish government know that the country has three new residents, including one new citizen.

This is it – the computer will now be taken apart and packed away. No more blog posts until we have landed and either unpacked the computer, or found one to borrow.


A pleasant side effect of being child-free but not at work: restaurant lunches! I haven’t had a chance to do that very often recently. And I expect I will miss London’s wide range of restaurants, so we’ve gone out for lunch at two of my favourite places this week. Tuesday was Yo! Sushi, and today we went to Ping Pong (which is a dim sum chain).

Sushi is pretty much the only non-vegetarian food I eat by choice. Otherwise I only eat fish if there is no vegetarian option, or if it’s something particularly dull, such as a cheese omelette. I find that both fish and seafood taste and feel a lot better raw than cooked. Actually my last few meals at Yo! Sushi have been mostly vegetarian – edamame is nice, and they do nice grilled aubergines with ginger, and their tempura is great because it is served so fresh – but my favourite is their sesame seared salmon. And if you ever go to Ping Pong, don’t miss the steamed rice wrapped in a lotus leaf.

Learnt from this packing experience: You will underestimate. Get a good deal more than you think you will need, of everything.

We ordered new boxes for books, and thought we had bought way more than we could possibly need. They’re all full now. We brought out all the boxes from our previous move, and thought the same – there’s no chance we will fill those. Guess what – we did. We thought we’d need a day, and now we’ve been busy for three.

Packing is more pleasant when you don’t have to worry about running out of time. We could have squeezed most of the work into one very long day, and cut corners: quickly stuff things in a box, instead of wrapping and putting them down one by one. Now we’ve been able to go out for lunch every day, and spend time in the evenings doing other things.

The same goes for packing materials. We have enough resealable plastic bags to last us through this move and probably five more. And it’s nice. There is no need to stop and think, “Can I put this in a bag, or will we need them for something else?” There is no hesitation. We can put each rolled-up cable in a bag of its own, as well as each bottle from the bathroom, and each widget and doodad from our desk drawers.

We thought packing and preparation for the move would take about a day, plus the work that the movers said they would do (pack all the breakable stuff). We’ve been at it two days and there is still more to be done. Good thing we left ourselves a wide margin!


  • Packed all books (20 boxes) and CDs (3 boxes) and DVDs, comics etc
  • Disassembled bookshelves
  • Emptied attic of camping gear, summer clothes, diving gear etc, and repacked all that
  • Packed all plants and most toys
  • Emptied most drawers (of clothes, tools, and office supplies)
  • Disassembled our bed and Ingrid’s cot

Still to be done:

  • Pack remaining clothes
  • Pack away our computers

… plus all sorts of odds and ends that will probably grow like a hydra, chop off one head and two new will grow in its place. But we’ve got all day tomorrow to finish (the movers arrive early Friday morning) so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Ingrid is developing a temper. She has outbursts of anger when the world does not behave the way she wants. The trigger can be anything – seeing the wrong kind of food on the table in front of her; not getting to play with CDs or my wallet; not getting to see Teletubbies. (She is very fond of Teletubbies, but if she watches TV too late in the evening she can’t go to sleep afterwards, so she isn’t allowed to.)

If she is tired, the outbursts develop into full tantrums, complete with tears, screaming, arching her back, and throwing herself on the floor. She’s still new to this, so her tantrums pass quickly. The anger goes away, and we have a hug, and together we make the tears go away as well.

I definitely get the impression that the tantrums are beyond her control. Her initial anger may be such that she won’t let me hold her, but afterwards she is always a bit sad and wants a cuddle. She isn’t doing this to try to manipulate us. (If she did, she would have given up already, because throwing a tantrum has never led to Teletubbies.) She just can’t control her feelings.

When she isn’t tired, she often releases her anger by shouting, hitting or throwing something – knocking over her cup, or throwing her toy on the floor. Which is interesting, because it’s started all of a sudden, and she cannot have learned this from anyone (unless it’s other children at the nursery), so it has to be an instinctive reaction. It is funny – in a way that seems so grown-up, so un-babylike, but what it really means is that adults who throw crockery and slam doors have the emotional maturity of a toddler.

Drinks have been shared, farewells said, and hugs and handshakes exchanged. It feels strange to think that I will never walk into this office again, never touch that code again, and (most likely) never meet most of these people face to face again.

I’ve moved several times within the firm I worked for, and each time I moved, it was clear that the new job was more “right” for me than the old one. (With one painful exception.) After my last move I was pretty certain that I’d finally figured out that writing software was what I really wanted to do. I really enjoyed this job. What I hadn’t expected – although in retrospect it makes perfect sense – was that a job that fits me would also bring with it a team that fits me. While all the previous teams have generally been made up of bright, civilised, mostly-nice people, and I generally liked them well enough, I’ve never felt like one of them. This is the first team within the firm where I didn’t feel like an outsider, where I felt a sort of kinship with the other members of the team. I felt, for the first time, that the rest of the team were folk like me, and not from a different planet. (Believe me, traders really are from a different planet.)