Money Money Money

(well, we ARE in the land of ABBA!)

Thursday morning arrived; Mark had agreed 8am with the mechanic, but one of the young lads from the garage knocked on our door at five past seven to say he was ready to take Kampington into the workshop, so we had to scamper fast. He was clearly under the impression that he was going to be driving him there….
The young lad did the standard trick of walking up to the passenger door, peering in, then looking gormless for a second or two before realising that the steering wheel is on the “wrong” side… He eventually convinced himself that Kampington really wasn’t going to start, but only after he’d half flattened the battery in the process of trying (Mark muttering “Stop It” under his breath all the while).

It then became clear how they were going to get Kampington into the workshop; not with reindeer or huskies but with a fork lift truck!

The long and the short of it is that we spent the whole day hanging around at the garage, not daring to wander off unless a decision or agreement to go ahead was required and the mechanic moved on to a different job in our absence.

The problem was diagnosed; a faulty injector (as we’d suspected but hadn’t told the garage). and knackered copper seal under it.

There was a lot of poking of the seal under the dud injector and sucking of teeth:

By mid-afternoon, the mechanic was saying that he might have Kampington done by the time they closed at 4pm. Then he changed his mind and decided that we should stay on the car park again overnight and he’d hook Kampington up to the diagnostic computer again in the morning when he’d be cold to check everything was now looking ok. We were happy with that; better safe than sorry!

Back in Kampington, the issue of the bill hung over us like a little cartoon cloud. How much was the labour bill going to come to? If main dealers in the UK often charge £100 an hour, how much do they charge in Sweden? We knew we’d had a mechanic working on Kampington all day, diagnosing and then fixing the problem. We weren’t sure how much assistance he’d had from the young lad beyond taking Kampington into the workshop and poking the defective seal….

With Money on our minds, we decided to work out how much we’d spent in Norway. It came to £1256 over 27 days (a spending rate of £1415 per month), not including the road tolls, which we haven’t had the bill for yet. It sounded like quite a lot (which we fully expected) given that our last two winter trips to Spain and Portugal have come in at under £1000 per month (mind you, they both preceded the slide in the value of the Pound following the Brexit vote).

Looking at the figures more closely, though, 57% of our spend is accounted for by fuel costs and the four ferries we took whilst in Norway (we didn’t include the cost of the ferry from Denmark to Norway). So basically we’ve just driven a long way in a short period of time. Not that Norway is cheap, mind; we just bought very little other than fuel. Food, in particular, could have cost a small fortune if we hadn’t brought everything we could with us….. We spent £151 on food (which was all fresh stuff – meat, milk, bread and the like)… oh, and not forgetting the NotMilk….

Mark’s been doing very well on the “confused by foreign lingo in supermarkets” front this trip; he’s only picked up (and I didn’t notice in either case) two items that were not as he intended:

NotMayo, purchased in Denmark, is remoulade: pretty much the same ingredients as mayo but in different proportions, it tastes more acidic and has small “lumps” of very finely chopped raw veg in it. Mark thought it was mayo as it was in a mayo-style bottle. We’re still slowly working our way through it. It’s edible is about the best you can say….

NotMilk, purchased in Norway, was initially a disaster when Mark poured some into his tea. He reckons it’s like runny natural yoghurt (you can imagine for yourselves the shriek followed by some rather choice language, particularly as we’d parked up for the night by this point and were nowhere near a shop). He decided he’d use it up on his muesli and has taken to the stuff, even going so far as to buy a second carton when the first ran out.

Getting back to the Norway expenditure, we also spent very little on “tourism”: £138, which included the £54 to get into Nordkapp and three fridge magnets for Kampington. Norway is surprisingly light on Vikingry. There was a very tacky-looking “Viking Valley” down in the fjords, on the standard “day trip” coach route from the cruise ships. We saw it over the fence from the adjoining fuel station; workers were still busy assembling and painting the flat-pack “authentic” Viking huts….. Then there was the Viking museum on the Lofoten Islands which seemed from their website to have lots of similarly reconstructed stuff (buildings and ship) plus “exciting” re-enactments. Mark decided that at £20 a head admission, he really did not need to see “Erik from down the road and his mates dressed up as Vikings”. There were lots of other museums but none that drew us in; particularly in the North we had the definite feeling that it would be “wasn’t life as a Norwegian fisherman grim?”. After a childhood scarred by “wasn’t life in the cotton mills grim?” I’m not keen on all that stuff. We reckon we can probably imagine the grimness without props.

Come Friday morning, we were back in the garage by 7am and out again by twenty past, Kampington having been given a clean bill of health and our pockets having been lightened by SEK 11,879  (which works out using the “real” exchange rate rather than our usual rule of thumb of dividing by ten for smaller amounts, to £1100). Phew. In our imaginations, the bill could’ve been double that.

We now had time to kill, as we wanted to check out the Systembolaget store in Gällivare before leaving, and that didn’t open until 10am. Systembolaget is Sweden’s answer to Vinmonopolet, ie the state-run booze shop. Supermarkets only sell weak beer; for the real stuff you have to go to the state shop.

We passed the time by visiting the Coop and ICA supermarkets, both of which opened at 7am. After a good recce, we can safely say that food in Sweden is much much cheaper in Norway. Some fresh stuff is still expensive, but then again we are in the Far North; many things are at UK-type prices. I am particularly confused by the Norwegian salmon on offer at ICA – how can it be half the price it was in Norway? I’ll be having some of that just as soon as there’s space in the freezer 😁 You’ll be pleased to hear that tomatoes are now back on the menu!

Systembolaget also brought good news on the financial front. We can now afford to get back to the serious task of pickling our livers! The cheapest 3 litre box of wine (equivalent to 4 bottles) we found at Vinmonopolet was £33 (so yes, we did buy the cheapest). At Systembolaget, we got a 3 litre box of South African red for £18. Now that’s more like it 😋 That wasn’t the cheapest in the shop (which was about £16); given that the day had already been expensive, I didn’t investigate the offerings in bottles, though I’m sure I shall at some point 😁 Mark has even bought himself some cans of Swedish beer to “interview”.

We’d already decided the previous day that once Kampington was fixed, we were going to backtrack slightly to the nice parking spot with fettlings and wifi at Lappeasuando that we’d stopped off at briefly on Wednesday. Neither of us had slept well on Wednesday night, and although we’d slept better on Thursday night, we’d been up early on Friday for Kampington’s 7am date with the diagnostics machine. So a bit of down time and a good snooze were in order.

There was a bit of a hold-up on the way due to a reindeer ambling along the road:

The reindeer really didn’t give a monkey’s about the traffic; it just kept ambling along the road at its own pace… Even the lorry coming the other way seemed to make no impression at all…. This could explain how large animals are a major cause of Swedish road accidents; they really don’t seem in the slightest bit bothered about getting out of the way.

There was only one bit of bad news at Lappeasuando; our ‘phones have stopped working again 😞 So rather than there being a general problem in Sweden / part of Sweden which Three fixed after we contacted them, it seems that they’ve fixed nothing at all and we just happened to drive out of the problem area on Wednesday after they’d promised that their technical support bods were on the case 😞 Oh well, at least we now know that our ‘phones will spring into life again tomorrow as soon as we get 20km or so further South…..

Our plan now is to get a good night’s sleep, then put Kampington’s woes behind us and get back into dossing mode tomorrow morning.

(PS We should point out that all this talk of money isn’t because we’re skint, it’s because we’re careful! That’s how we got to be dossers in the first place 😀 There’s no need for anyone to be in the slightest bit concerned for our wellbeing 😀 – not that anyone would, says Mark!)

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