Living in Two Very Different Cities: London and Malmo

I used to wonder what it would feel like to live in different cities. Well, that’s exactly what I’ve done for many years.

After living in the UK and spending part of the year in my native Sweden, it comes naturally to me to adapt to life in my both my home town, Malmö, and London. Both cities are very different and yet both are home to me and my family.

As author of my genre and a native Swede, living in both cities is challenging and very exciting.

London, UK

Living in London and city living

In London I’m surrounded by multi cultural events, wonderful diverse people and cultures, not forgetting the constant buzz of life in a city that has so much to offer. Sometimes it feels as if I’m in a movie, experiencing amazing things that encourage me to write my novels. At times it also feels overwhelming to have so much around me, different experiences and enormous opportunities to explore and acquaint myself with. On one hand it’s exciting to visit new places, galleries and museums, art exhibitions and stage productions. On the other hand it’s also incredibly stressful to keep up with new and up and coming events.

I just love to explore different parts of the city, the village atmospheric communal spirit. My favourite areas are too many to mention here. I’ll settle for a few… South of the border: Richmond and Barnes are appealing to me, perhaps because they are reminiscent of Sweden. I love the River Thames, parks and commons. I love walking in Richmond Park at the weekend,
watching the beautiful deer and having Fika ( coffee break ) in a lovely cafe. It clears my head to walk and take stock of my latest novel, characters and get new, fresh ideas and inspiration for my next novel. In North London my favourite areas are Hampstead, Belsize Park and Camden. They’re areas buzzing with activity, with lots of things to do and engage with at the weekend. Less outdoor activity than south of the river yet with just as much to offer culturally and on so many levels.

What I really like about London is the unexpected opportunity to meet and mingle with people from different backgrounds. It enriches my life to be part of other people’s lives and cultures and learn new things. It also helps to create new characters and settings and plots. Life’s never boring in London yet can be stressful at times when I’ve got a lot to deal with, work, writing and spending time with loved ones. The latter matters most as it’s their encouragement and support that enables me to do what I love.

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

When in Malmö, It never ceases to astound me how calm, clean and organised everything is. From the moment I land on Swedish territory ( or Danish if traveling via Copenhagen ) the air is so much cleaner. It smells fresh outside and the sky’s usually not as dark as in London. The streets and pavements are wider and people cycle on designated cycle tracks as opposed to busy London roads and traffic jams.

Nearly everyone loves the outdoors, irrelevant of season and weather conditions. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Meeting up for Fika with family and friends, talking and getting cosy in front of an open fire, mulling over recent events, a love affair and anything that springs to mind and worthy of discussing and getting feedback on are part of daily life.

Swedes tend to do things in moderation, hence the expression Lagom, which indicates life’s at its best when not doing too much simultaneously. It also means we enjoy the present and don’t worry so much about the future all the time. Lagom applies with how we live, our customs and diet. Enjoying the here and now is more important than living up to expectations of what might happen in the future and how we’ll fare in years to come. No highs or lows, just living in the moment and mentally preparing for the future.

Swedes frequently come across as reserved and shy, but once you get to know us you will discover we’re loyal and make great friends for life. Superficial stuff is all too common nowadays yet Scandi people tend to shy away from superficiality and connect on a deep level. We love to read and have long conversations. Starting a meaningful dialogue and conversation that continues from where it started is considered to be an attractive trait and good recipe for lasting relationships between friends, family members and loved ones.

The food’s lovely and nourishing as well. Swedes love to experiment with different cuisine but we also like to eat the simple, delicious dishes that we’ve inherited from past generations. Personally, I love fish, gravad lax, all kinds of fish recipes handed down to me from my mother and grandmothers, home made rustic recipes of meatballs, Ikea’s are good but not as great as my home made inherited recipe!

Just like the numerous famous restaurants and chefs in London, Malmö’s eclectic offers of eateries, cafes and wine bars represent local and international cuisine at its very best. Visiting a fish restaurant by the beach, bringing a bottle of wine and wearing casual clothing while enjoying the last rays of sunshine and the soft wind from the sea is a wonderful and relaxing way to wrap up a day on a sandy beach, watching the sun go down with friends. Picnics are a great way to celebrate and have get together.

Midsummer’s Eve is a lovely celebration of summer and life in a city that’s expanded a lot since I was a little girl. Listening to my favourite artists, in the open air in the People’s Parks where musicians perform live in front of audiences is very Swedish and a tradition. If you’ve read my books, you know how much I admire some of them. Yes, ABBA’s a national treasure but they’re also individual artists in their own right just like many others.

Malmö is the city of parks, commons and beaches. Limhamn’s Harbour is just as beautiful and lovely to spend a summer’s evening as the famous harbours in and out of Europe. Tourism isn’t as big as it is within the UK and London and with a small population of 300000 inhabitants in and around Malmö, there’s plenty of space to walk and explore the beautiful country side, parks and beaches. The architecture is very special too.

London is wonderful for discovering new inspirational places and meeting people from all corners of the world. Malmö is where I recharge my batteries and find the inner strength and motivation to finish what I’ve started and move onto the next project. Both cities are a privilege to spend time in yet Malmö has a special place in my heart. It’s where I was born and lived until I moved to London in the 90’s.

Perhaps you’re torn as well between different cities? If the answer’s yes, remember home is where your heart is with the people you love.

I’m fortunate I get to live in two equally wonderful places.

Summer’s just around the corner. Enjoy every minute of every day.
And don’t forget to live Lagom and in the moment.
Until next time,
With love;
Hélene

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