Author: David Atkinson

I am an independent #media professional: #journalist #author and #blogger for hire. Sign up for my #writing workshops as a media tutor.

Hanging out with the ‘latte papas’ in Gothenburg, West Sweden

My feature about a family-travel trip to West Sweden is in the new issue of Family Traveller magazine — just out [see image at foot of post].

It proved to be the girls’ favourite trip so far but, for me, it also proved to be a thought- provoking one.

We spent some time in Gothenburg with Henric and his son, Marcel [pictured above].

We were talking about the enlightened attitude Sweden takes to parental leave and the rights of fathers to bond with their children.

This was a sidebar to the main feature but worth highlighting, I feel, here on my personal blog.

Swedish buzzword

First Abba, then IKEA. Now there’s a new buzzword in Sweden: latte papas — fathers on leave with pre-school children.

The term refers to the way that Sweden is taking an increasingly enlightened attitude to the role of dads in bringing up children.

It lead the world in 1974 with plans to introduce equal paternity leave, giving both parents the chance of time at home with their children.

Sweden extended its ‘daddy quota’ on January 1, 2016, so that all new fathers are now automatically allocated 90 days’ paid leave on a use-it-or-lose-it basis.

Fathers can also take up to 280 days at 80 per cent of their regular salary with up to 12 years to use up the allowance.

The abundance of fathers with buggies on the streets of cities like Gothenburg has given rise to latte-papa cafes, galleries and play centres, particularly in the hip Linne and Haga districts.

Male bonding

Henric Stahl is taking nine months leave on a part-time basis from his job at a Swedish TV channel to spend time with his first son, 19-month-old Marcel.

“It may seem like I’m doing my partner, Jemina, a social worker, a favour by taking leave but, really, it’s my right to be with him,” explains Henric over lunch in downtown Gothenburg.

“Sweden’s strong feminist movement from the Seventies has been very positive in driving men’s rights, too.”

Henric and Marcel meet up with other dads twice a week at a play centre run by a local church.

“By taking leave,” he adds, “I empathise better in my relationship, I have a stronger relationship with my son than I ever had with his father.

“And I’m even more productive at work for having this time and space.”

“The one thing I’m not sure about,” he smiles, “is the term ‘latte papa’.

“Far from drinking coffee all day, we’re very much a bunch of working, stay-at-home dads.”

Gender equality

The UK came 12th out of 22 countries in the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness in Families Index (FIFI) 2016, which brings together a basket of measures to compare countries’ progress towards the goal of gender equality.

The top five countries in the 2016 index were all Scandinavian with Sweden taking the top spot.

Parental leave cost the Swedish state £2.2bn in 2015, largely funded by high payroll taxes levied on Swedish companies, according to BBC News.

West Sweden story in Family Traveller magazine

 

Oslo street food article for Guardian Travel

Forget hygge. The original Nordic lifestyle trend was all about the ultimate comfort food: hotdogs.

The Syverkiosken [pictured above] is an Oslo landmark. The low-fi, 12 m sq kiosk located near to Alexander Kiellands Plass, has been serving hotdogs every day since 1979.

With prices starting from 20 Krone (£1.90), it’s one of the cheapest snack options in the city.

But there’s more to the Norwegian love of hotdogs than just a cheap snack.

Living history

There were previously more than 40 such kiosks around town but late-opening Syverkiosken is now the last one standing, fending off cheap hotdogs from convenience stores with its family recipes and retro-fashion styling.

“Hotdog kiosks have always been a part of our culture, a place where people from all walks of life stand beside each other,” says hotdog chef Elias Pellicer Ruud.

“For Norwegians, real hotdogs are the taste of nostalgia.”

Owner Erlend Dahlbo recommends using boiled wiener sausages while fried, German-style bratwurst are favored in the west of Norway.

What differentiates these to hotdogs in Denmark or Iceland is the topping, a thin potato pancake to keep your dog toasty.

Taste explosion

Suitably inspired, I order The Special, a hotdog served in a bread roll with potato salad and mushrooms picked fresh that morning in the forest outside of Oslo.

I pair it with a can of Toyen-Cola, a local take on Coke.

The taste is comforting yet deliciously spiced with a particularly fiery brand of mustard and, when it explodes in my hands, smearing my chin with sauce, I wear it as a badge of honor.

Like any self-respecting Osloite, I’m lost in a moment of hotdog heaven.

Maridalsveien 45, Oslo

This story was first published in The Guardian under the headline Hotdog heaven on the streets of Oslo. I’ve updated it to credit the quote to Elias Pellicer Ruud.

It was subsequently picked up by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Guest blog posts for Chester Growth Partnership

Chester has some real characters — try Calum [pictured above at cigar shop Turmeaus].

I’ve been helping to uncover some of them recently with a series of guest blog posts for the Chester Growth Partnership.

It’s a copywriting job with plenty of journalistic research and a touch of personal blog-post-style experience.

Over autumn I’ve interviewed some key figures from the Chester foodie scene, experts in property and uncovered offbeat ideas for Christmas shopping on a tour of the Rows.

It’s been great, in particular, to celebrate the independent shops and small business that make the city special.

The content is hosted on the blog but also shared through the Marketing Cheshire social channels — look out for my stories on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The full set of guests posts is as follows. Look out for more in the new year.

Eat, drink and be merry: Chester’s foodie revolution

Could the future of Chester be more Blade Runner than black and white

Medieval cellars, an adult creche and German sausages — that’s how to celebrate Christmas in Chester

Oslo, Norway, and Portmeirion, Wales, travel writing for LoveExploring

 

Two more published articles — to add to a busy autumn for commissions.

Both articles were for the online travel site, LoveExploring.com.

The first looked at Portmeirion, North Wales, which marked the 50th anniversary of the cult TV series, The Prisoner, in September.

Here’s a sample:

The programme epitomised the counter-culture vibe of the late 1960s and Portmeirion village provided the perfect canvas for the psychedelic storyline. One memorable scene, involving a giant chess game with human pieces, is now regularly recreated in the central piazza.

Now read Six Reasons to Love Portmeirion, North Wales

Secondly, an article about Oslo [pictured] — my new favourite European city — offered suggestions for a perfect weekend and explored Oslo’s hipster district. No, really.

It also features the Noble Peace Prize Centre [pictured above] in time for the speech at Oslo City Hall by the 2016 winner, the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.

Try a taster here:

Grünerløkka, east of the city centre, is Oslo’s hipster central. The former industrial district has all the coolest vintage clothes shops and galleries. Check out the fashion-conscious locals over a microbrewed beer at the Grünerløkka Brygghus, or at the coffee-guru café run by Tim Wendelboe.

Now read A Perfect Weekend: what to do in Olso, Norway

Please do share your comments or tips for places I’ve missed.