On Monday, I made an early start to drive to Heathrow for a flight to Gothenburg for the Kommits Annual Conference.
There, together with Hans and Roel who had flown in from Holland, I was met by Thorbjörn Larsson, the President of Kommits, who would drive us 200 kilometres north to the Quality Spa & Resort at Strömstad, near the Norwegian border, where the conference was to be held. First we had to collect Rick Bareuther, who arrived in Sweden from Reno on Saturday, from his hotel at the Central Station.
Meanwhile, Christian Bonfire, who I met at the Dutch Conference, last year, was meeting Mike Manson and his wife and daughter who flew from New Zealand.
Following a very pleasant drive and time to freshen-up, we met some of our other Swedish hosts - Antoinette van Leeuwen and Marianne Olofsson – for a cruise to South Koster Island, where we had dinner.
Cars are banned on the Koster Islands so, after our boat had moored in the fjord between the north and south islands, we took to pedal power to cycle to the restaurant. Following a lovely meal we cruised back to the mainland in the dusk, about 10.30 pm, passing a couple of fishing boats surrounded by clouds of seagulls.
Socitm and Kommits are members of an international association called "LOLA". This week's conference actually takes place on Wednesday and Thursday, but it has become the practice for each member country's annual conference to include a programme of activities for its international guests.
On Tuesday our hosts took their international guests on a tour that took us to Halden, in Norway, and around the Swedish region of Tanums Kommun. I heard that in the spring there is always an issue of paying for the clear-up of Strömstad's 300 kilometres of beaches.
Very disappointingly (and embarrassing for me, as the only British guest) we were told that analysis of the rubbish showed that 80% of it came from Great Britain. I wish I could believe that this was just because of the prevailing tidal currents! We visited fishing villages, a world heritage site with bronze-age stone drawings/ inscriptions, lunched on the coast and walked among magnificent scenery.
In the evening, having been joined by the majority of conference delegates, we cruised the archipelago, with entertainment and a shrimp supper sponsored by HP and AVEA. Unfortunately, a few years ago, I became violently allergic to some shell-fish, so have learned to be extremely cautious of such food, but I was able to dine well fine on cheese and beer!
I learned a lot from my Swedish hosts of how their national society is run; its problems and ambitions that I believe will be of value in planning Socitm's future development with members and colleagues.
The Power of Blogging? Richard Steel, of CRC, got in contact with me to put my mind at rest after a client found my Blog, and read my concerns about someone apparently having ordered goods in my name. My namesake has, indeed, purchased goods from Truprint, and has a personal e-mail address that's similar to my own. Thanks again for getting in-touch, Richard!