Later this year my boyfriend turns 40 – I have to keep reminding myself that he isn’t a nonce and that I’m actually 38, so there’s nothing dodgy going on. He’s extremely difficult to buy for, even on regular birthdays, and family have started asking me already for present ideas. Thinking that there might be some expensive computer- or guitar-related gizmo that he’d like, I asked him to think of something expensive that we could all club in for. After thinking about it for a while, he came back with an idea about going to Sweden for some computery Dream Hack thingumajig, so I said ‘Work out how much it costs, and I’ll see how much cash I can get together for it’. As he started planning it, it started to sound more and more interesting – it’s expensive to fly direct to the venue (a place called Jönköping) but really cheap to fly to Denmark and then take a train up to Sweden. The more I heard about the plan, the more I thought ‘Oooh this is starting to sound like an adventure!’. Of course it was an adventure for my bf, not me, but I broached the subject of me tagging along and he was completely up for it (“Well I don’t really like reading on planes or trains, so it would be good to have company”).
But, of course, the worst thing in the world I could do would be to tag along and then be a nightmare girlfriend, constantly moaning ‘I’m bored!’, ‘You aren’t paying me any attention’, ‘Do you love Starcraft dorks more than you love me?’, etc.
So I started looking at Jönköping, and looking at what I could do while he was
geeking out watching Starcraft. Well, unless anyone here can tell me otherwise, Jönköping has a match museum, and little else. Fairly soon into my search, I found a forum in which someone had asked what there was to do there – this was the first response:
I lived in jönköping for 6 months. I can tell you that the two best places to visit are the airport and the train stations. These will, at least, allow you to go to leave Jönköping and go somewhere where something happens. Dullest place I’ve ever lived in my entire life.
Hmmm. But, I’m still going to go, because despite Jönköping appearing to be the Swedish equivalent of Telford, I think that the travelling is a big part of the adventure and if there’s one thing that me and my bf do well together is travel. In a few weeks it will be 21 years since our first foreign holiday together (camping in Amsterdam) and we’ve been playing the same game (with the odd variation) ever since – known to us as The Alphabet Game, or Alphabetti Spaghetti. It’s not a complex game – name actors/films/bands/TV shows beginning with the letter whatever (sometimes taken from the registration plate of the next car we see, sometimes the letter of the place that we’re heading to). We’ve played it for so long now that certain actors names immediately take me back to a holiday (Piper Perabo – Whitstable, walking along the beach). There are in-jokes and groans that the same films always elicit (‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 2’, ‘Nooo – you’ve got to give the full title – disallowed!’). Sometimes we let other people play, but they usually can’t keep up with the 21 years’ worth of stored up obscure TV shows beginning with “W”. We’ve played it while looking at Gaudi architecture in 40 degree heat and while wading through a mud bath in Yorkshire, we’ve played on long drives, train journeys through France, a coach journey that took almost 24 hours, on flights and on hikes. When things needed spicing up a bit, we added directors into the actor category, but made them worth double the points. Sometimes when I’m packing to go on holiday I will mentally ‘pack’ some new ideas for the Alphabet Game.
We also like holiday catchphrases – my favourites being ‘Hellooo! We’re British’ and ‘Bloody joggers!’. At this point I do realise that no one is ever going to want to come on holiday with us.
Obviously there’s all the other stuff about going on holiday – please don’t think that I’m a complete dork, only travelling so that I can play some stoopid game with my bf and to announce loudly that we’re British (as if that wasn’t obvious enough, since I’m the only person who has lost the top layer of epidermis and is stood in a one-woman queue). I’ve never been to Sweden or Denmark before, and we have a friend in Malmo who we might be able to visit on the way home. I’m even intrigued about how much there could possibly be to exhibit about matches (I imagine the invention of safety matches may feature heavily). There are lakes and places nearby that look like they might be worth a visit. Who knows – perhaps I might be able to see the Northern Lights (though I have done zero research into this). The point is (there’s a point?) that the journey will be part of the adventure, and being able to do that with my favourite travelling companion is something that I do not take for granted.