The flat where I'm staying is about as basic as you could get. A slab of a bed with a tissue-thin pillow lies against one wall, then there is a desk and chair by the window and a fold-out table with two uncomfortable stools against the opposite wall. The walls are white, the floor is wooden, and the room is lit by a stark strip lighter that hangs from the ceiling in a particularly unhomely way. I have a small kitchenette at one end of the room which comprises two electric hobs, a sink, a fridge, and a small space for preparing food; the wet-room hides behind this, and contains the only mirror that I have access to, placed at forehead-height above the sink.
Strangely enough, I'm not yet wishing that I were back surrounded by all my belongings, or with endless distractions in the form of books, films, kitchen projects, or anything else. I have access to the radio through my computer, and have been enjoying more Radio 4 programmes than I would listen to at home. My evenings have so far been spent mostly writing and reading, which is just the way I wanted it to be.
My window faces East and so I wake up early every morning with the sun pushing through the less-than-robust Ikea blinds (I imagine it would be very hard to sleep when living here in midsummer when there is no darkness): thanks to the combination of bright sunlight and my uncomfortable bed I am never asleep beyond 6, and always up by 6:30. This suits me perfectly. I don't have a kettle, so instead I boil up a large pan of water to satisfy my morning tea requirements, and put a pan of oats on to simmer the hob ready for breakfast when I have finished catching up on my emails and the news. Most days I eat breakfast while listening to the Shipping Forecast, which I love, and which seems quite significant as I sit here, miles away from home and feeling a little lost at sea.
The solitude and simplicity of my flat here in Danderyd makes the trajectory of my day more pleasant and more necessary than it would otherwise be. I am lifted from the quiet by the morning chorus of birdsong, and the world becomes more and more complicated with each step towards the Tunnelbana station: the hoards of people streaming through the one door as I approach is sometimes a shock to my dormant mind, but if nothing else it jerks me awake and ready for the day. The opposite is true in the evenings, when I relish moving away from the hurried excitement of the evening commute back through the increasingly peaceful (bird-filled and car-free) streets of Danderyd.
Most evenings begin with a run, usually along the waterside which is changing with every forwards step into Spring. Because of this I usually don't eat until quite late, but my evening meals have been so simple that it hasn't bothered me to go to bed soon afterwards. I am limited by what products I can buy, partly due to the high price of food here, and partly due to quantities that I can use before I leave; brown rice and buckwheat provide the substance for most of my meals, teamed with pulses and whatever vegetables I could afford for the week (normally cabbage, mushrooms and carrots and not a lot else!). I chose to buy a pot of garam masala when I first arrived, which flavours many of my evening meals (dhals, rice bowls, soups and curries), while I treat myself to the occasional lime which allows me to create dressings and sauces using salt, ginger, garlic, and honey or peanut butter. At first I found the lack of flavour in my cooking highly unsatisfying, but it didn't take long before I found ways (such as lime juice or salt) to bring out the flavours of my small set of ingredients, and I'm now enjoying being creative within strict limits. As I begin to run my cupboards bare ready for leaving, this is becoming increasingly challenging.
While I am looking forward to getting back in my kitchen, using my slow cooker, baking bread, and enjoying a good oven-baked pie, I am not wishing away this situation just yet (this may all change next week when my cupboards leave me with only cup-a-soup and oats to work with!). It has been a test of creativity and resilience: I don't find myself weeping into my pillow at night, wishing for something more than my own company and a battered copy of La Nausée, nor have I found myself craving stodge to the point where I have headed down to the pizzeria on the first floor for a large Vegetariana for one. And when it does all get a bit quiet here, I take myself off - either on the Tunnelbana or on a run - to central Stockholm, where everything makes sense again, and where I find myself thinking that I never want to be anywhere else.
Peanut butter rice noodles - a new favourite!