The great outdoors

When the weather changes, the weather changes everything. I love being outside on a pretty day and so do so many other people here in Sweden.

I recently had a personal picnic in Östermalm (the east island) in a park called Humlegården (um, I think that means “the hopping farm” but I haven’t verified that). This photo is my view of the park. It’s remarkable that at about 2:00 in the afternoon on a Monday you can see almost twenty groups of people hanging out in this direction. This is actually two side-by-side photos that I stitched together.

The sun here is really intense. I’m always faced with a problem every summer. I love the sun, but my skin burns easily, and I just can’t stand the feeling of anything on my skin. Chapstick, sunscreen, lotion – all that stuff makes me crazy. It’s only early April and just a handful of days of sunshine have noticeably had an effect. I can already tell this will quickly become a problem. I’ll have to take some steps if I don’t want to be burned and red every day this summer.

After my picnic, I went in search of some sunscreen. I recently noticed there is a Kiehl’s store in Stockholm. I thought that might be a good place to find something that could give me sun protection without being oily or greasy.

Noticing Kiehl’s and choosing it for a visit goes back to what I was saying last week about how I would never listen to a band whose album cover looks stupid. The design aesthetic at Kiehl’s is very old-timey and has an antique apothecary or pharmacy feel. Old timey is one of my general interests.

My visit to Kiehl’s was what you would hope a visit to every store should be like. I was made comfortable even though the idea of using any of the stuff makes me feel uncomfortable. The friendly woman helping me, Helena, listened to what I needed, talked about a few different options, and wasn’t actively trying to sell me something. She was just talking about the various products with me. Kiehl’s stuff isn’t particularly cheap – especially for someone like myself who tries to never buy anything of the sort – so this kind of assistance was beneficial. She was also a fine example of why it is so hard to learn and speak Swedish. Her English was shamelessly perfect – not even a trace of an accent.

When I left the store, I hadn’t bought anything, but rather, was sent off with three samples of different sunscreens to try out and a business card if I had any questions.

Finally today, it has occurred to me that from reading this blog it may sound like my life here consists only going to concerts and stores, listening to music, discovering new beverages, sitting on balconies, having picnics, and drinking coffee outside. Behind the scenes, though, there is some actual work paying for all this. I’m keeping busy with a lot of design during the mornings and late nights, mostly for half a dozen clients in America. It’s not all strawberries and sunshine here. I do enjoy the work I’m doing and the people I’m working for are mostly friends, so it’s maybe it’s about 85% jordgubbar och solen. I guess I don’t have too many complaints.