Sweden is permanently braced for autumn. In May, leaves seem to remain tinged with russet shades – not quite believing that the sun has been shining since 4 am and it’s warm enough for a barbecue (although, I hear some Swedes barbecue even in the depths of winter). In spite of the fact that the country itself – bedrock, forests, and the sea – awkwardly stumble around the idea of summertime, the locals are some of the most relaxed people I’ve ever met in my life.
Shortly after arriving, I witness a man stop his car to chat to an old friend. The cars behind wait patiently, as if lulled into a daze by the sheer goodwill of letting this obstructing individual have their lovely but totally inconvenient moment. I take the opportunity to cross the road and grin: I’ve just flown over from London.
I’m in Sweden not for a holiday, but for deadly serious scientific business. I have a bag full of meteorite samples that have been waiting circa 2 years – no prizes for guessing why – to make it into a Secondary Ionisation Mass Spectrometer. This week, in almost real time, I finally got to break the tension and learn their secrets in the lab. I’ll keep what I learned to myself for now (… until I know I know what I learned actually means!) and savour it. Safe to say it was a tremendously productive visit to the NordSIM facility, which is located in a rather wonderful ‘Museet’ of Natural History.
Sitting on a bench writing this, looking out over a spectacular array of turreted houses, 19th century masted ships, and sparkling lakes, the sun goes behind a cloud. Reaching for my jumper, I realise that the trees were right all along. We are, after all, pretty far Nord!
[ …to be continued when I know what the data means ]