A pile of snow

In urban areas most of the environment is planned by adults. Their way of looking at the environment is utterly different from the view of children. Therefore, it is important that children have places to appropriate in the city. But how can you plan places where they are allowed to play freely without a fear of anything?

If you thought about creating playgrounds, you are on a good track. They are a perfect example for spots in public that kids think about as their “own”. In our latest group task, we worked with the topic, children, in an urban context where the main purpose was to study the environment’s significance for children. We started off by asking ourselves: what makes a good playground?

At the beginning we all had the assumption and discussed that a more nature-like environment can more likely provide better opportunities for children’s play while more artificial spaces will not offer the same range of affordances. That a place with diverse vegetation, berries to pick, branches to collect and thus more open for creativity always wins the battle against a pre-set static design. We also thought that there were distinct views on what makes a good playground from different perspectives. The children’s idea of a good playground is not necessarily the same as parents and planners think about. They don’t care about safeties at all, just want to play. Whereas parents surely do, moreover, they don’t want sand, loose material, snow and dirty kids to take home. So we were longing for finding out the truth!

We chose to look at two different playgrounds in Lund to compare. They were ideal for our observation because they differ in their setting, age group, size and creating contrasting atmospheres for playing. We were fascinated to learn more about the different view of the people who visit the playgrounds: children, parents and teachers. Therefore, our method was not only based on going to the places and observing but making interviews with our target groups: children, parents and teachers there and find out more about their beliefs.

During our week’s long research, we both found astonishing and reassuring facts about the topic. But guess what. Even though, it might sound like a cliché, we came up with the conclusion that there is no playground such as good or bad. After looking into our two cases, we could tell that neither of the chosen examples are perfect but according to our observation, both of them have good values. Both places are popular among children, which is important to accentuate, because the biggest criticism always comes from them, alias the users. If they like it, and as it turned out, they do like it in our cases, there cannot be a huge mistake.

However, there was an unexpected turn in our study. Surprisingly, the rubber paved, hyper technologic playground with ready-made static equipment scored just as good as the other, where the focus is nature-based. Still, we faced with a funny situation at the artificial playground, which made us smile and wonder. In the middle of the site, packed with ultramodern tools, there stood a tiny pile of snow which the park maintenance forgot to take. Now you can have a guess what became the most intriguing tool of play for all the kids… Not the blinking, sound making, crazy super-duper equipment. Nope. It was exactly the little remain of the snowfall!

So, maybe our assumption was still not that wrong? …

Weekend sneak-peeks

Go and explore if you have a bit of spare time!

In my study programme we have relatively a lot to do on weekdays and be at school from morning ’til afternoon. But a thing what I really appreciate is to have free weekends.

Alnarp is located almost in the most Southwest point of Sweden. This has the drawback that it doesn’t have the landscape that people usually think about Sweden with moose, mountains, forest and lakes. But a big advantage is having Denmark just around the corner! Sometimes I just take a short stroll on a free Sunday to Copenhagen but Denmark has a lot more to show than just the famous capital.

Here you can find some sneak peeks of places that I’ve recently visited:

Helsingør Maritime Museum

M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark, Helsingør 56°02’20.4″N 12°36’57.6″E

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Rubjerg Knude lighthouse 57°26’56.5″N 9°46’27.8″E

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Northern point of Denmark, Skagen 57°44’55.7″N 10°38’07.6″E

Sugary hours

To continue with the food series, I will tell you why you should not miss a Tuesday without a Tisdag-fiket at the Union house. Moreover, neither the baking Monday to prepare for it.

First of all, just to make everything clear, Swedes do “fika”. The term can be best described with the following fact: if there is coffee than it’s called a fika, but preferably not just coffee but something sweet as well. Like cinnamon rolls or chocolate balls. But if you had been already familiar with fika, you might also be aware of that it’s not only pretty common here, but a thing Swedish people cannot exist without :).

Tisdag-fiket in fact, is a notion in the vocabulary of every student in Alnarp. It’s a fika organised on every other Tuesday by the baking committee. Run by a club of lovely student girls from uni in the Union who like to bake and sell the result on the Tuesday’s gatherings. But as I said, there is no Tuesday fika without a preparation on Monday. That is where I went!

This week, inspired by the closeness of Thanksgiving, the girls in charge sought for a relevant theme. American sweets: chocolate chip cookies, pecan caramel pie, hot chocolate and miniature blueberry cupcakes with icing and so much more!

The small Monday baking fun always happens in the kitchen of the Union house and it starts by looking for the perfect recipes of the chosen desserts and by splitting the tasks for the following sugary hours. I became volunteered for being responsible for the tiny sized chocolate and cupcakes decorated with icing and oreo cookies (hmm… I am getting hungry if I think about it…). Since it was already my second time participating, I immediately knew what to do: to take out bowls, to search for the ingredients on the selves or in the fridge, unlike the last time when I was a bit unsecure at every step. I think my Swedish language of ingredients also improved because I could almost follow the recipe without help. What a success!

During the muffins were in the oven, I have some time to test and taste the other freshly baked cakes, just to be sure they are capable of selling on Tuesday. Waiting is usually the best time to enjoy chatting with your baking partners and the atmosphere – that it’s both a hubbub but has a relaxing and special feeling at the same time.

However, the good mood was not an exclusive reason for not preparing dozens of mouth-watering sweet stuff during the 4 hours with the joint forces of 8-10 girls and boys. Just the icing was left for the Tuesday, otherwise, ready for purchase!

What is more, besides the more or less serious baking session, there are always plenty of practical things to acquire and share with each other. For example- did you know that there are different yeast and flour to use for sweet or savoury pastries or bread? Such an enlightment! Until now it had been always a lottery which one to buy…

So if you are here on a Tuesday watch out for the Tisdag-fiket or even tag by for the sugary hours.

oreo cupcakes photo by Wessel van Vliet

my beloved oreo cupcakes
photo by Wessel van Vliet

 

Hutspot, Yorkshire pudding and Käsespätzle

Food is always a strong argument to come together. And food from all over the world on a chilly Monday evening? That directly sounds like a magnet!

The International committee, a group in my student union (Alnarps Studenkår), organized an international dinner. It’s an evening where students can bring and share dishes typical for their home country. So preparing your specific food is sort of the entrance fee for the dinner. In return, you can taste and fill your stomach with all the other nationalities’ tasty bites.

We ended up with a big variety of All-over-the-world “offers” with a slight potato overdose. Some of my most-liked were, for example, the Dutch hutspot, which is basically mashed potatoes. But with extra toppings, like carrots and onions, that transform it from a side dish to a main course. As well as the Yorkshire pudding, – what for it – not sweet, and not even a decent pudding! Gotta try it, more joyful than describing it. And my all-time favourite, Käsespätzle from South Germany. Just to mention some among others, but Swedes did not lag behind either. (Thank god, no blood pudding this time.)

photo: Wessel van Vliet

photo by Wessel van Vliet

With my Hungarian friends we teamed up to do something together. We chose to make ‘paprikás krumpli’ – a potato stew with sausages, spiced with tablespoons of paprika. A super easy, uncostly, but perfectly suitable cure for the foggy and cold weather outside. To warm ourselves up before being skilled chefs, some gulps of pálinka, a famous Hungarian spirit was obviously, inevitable.

It was loads of fun to meet many of my fellows, discuss the food, their origin and how our grandmothers used to make it. Of course, as always, Swedish quiz-time and coffee besides the desserts was present. We all felt food pregnant by the end of the evening, and even had some leftovers for next day’s lunch.

Do you feel observed by walking on the street?

Do you feel uncomfortable waiting in the middle of a square? Which pathway do you take through a park? The shortcut or the paved, designated one? Would you consider taking a seat next to someone while the whole bus is utterly empty? … Have you ever wondered about these questions or just acted without contemplation?

Well, until now, I hadn’t. But, in my new course, – People and environment – we were given the exercise to investigate the issue and understand people’s behavior and interactions.

Inspired by William H. Whyte and their research about social life of urban small spaces I decided to choose a place where I can record a specific pattern of people and their movements. I found a perfect spot within an easy reach from my place in Lund: a pedestrian street without car traffic but with a bike lane in the middle.

I set up my base in a cute café where I could have a perfect view of the street, supping a coffee in the warmth. To get an optimal result, I visited my observation point 3 times on different days but always the same part of the day. Every time, I had another weather condition, which raised my curiosity. What I wanted to know was: whether people acted the same way in pouring rain or on a nice, sunny, weekend afternoon. Is it always a movement space saying “go, go, go”? Or there are moments when people stop or slow down and wander around among the old colourful houses…

What I found and was mostly interesting is the number of stops people did. Heavy precipitation- 4 stops/hour; light shower- 11 stops; sunshine- 30 stops! Surprisingly or not, I detected a rising number of halts in parallel with the better forecast. More people stopped to just make a halt for a small chat or to enjoy a sunny spot for a few seconds when the weather was appealing to them. To say the truth, although, it seems a very much indeed evident result, still I was surprised to get some outcome that actually made sense.

After the last observation, when I stepped outside of the café to zip my jacket and put on my hoodie I just moved to the middle of the road to make some space for myself. In a few seconds, sudden and desperate ringing – observation of the site for three days weren’t enough to learn: there were also bikes on road. As Whyte says- “street is a river of life in a city”- well, eventually I became part of it…

Glimpses

This time, I selected some pictures which suits perfectly my chilly Sunday night mood. These are some glimpses of places in the vicinity where I was wandering in the last weeks. All worth a visit, I reckon.

Enjoy!

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Söderåsen national park, 56°02’22.1″N 13°15’09.2″E

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Jakriborg, 55°40’27.6″N 13°08’06.6″E

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Stapelbäddsparken, Malmö, 55°36’49.0″N 12°59’03.8″E

Superkilen Park, Copenhagen, 55°41'59.9"N 12°32'33.1"E

Superkilen Park, Copenhagen, 55°41’59.9″N 12°32’33.1″E

 

“They tried to make me go to rehab”

Guys, I am amazed! On Tuesday, we visited a special place where plants are a remedy for patients to heal. Do you believe me?

We went to Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden. Actually, I had kept hearing rumours about it, but never ever have seen it before. Such a hidden spot! Probably not an accident that the location is perfect for its purpose.

In this place they “use a nature supported rehabilitation” for people suffering from exhaustion syndrome and diseases like stroke. Nowadays, they work with refugees. As they said, the garden has always been a great health promoting part in the therapies and it provides a supportive environment for participants since 2001.

When we arrived, first, we were given a guided tour by Frederik Tauchnitz (landscape architect at the garden) around the yard. He led us through the restorative area, which is maintained just to have a recreational value. It was quite interesting to hear and to see how they form the garden to gain benefits from it. To bring an example, the way they choose the colours of the flowers not to be disturbing or visually too vibrant for patients. Instead, planting just calming shades of perennials:  blue, lilac, silver white and green, which has a positive effect on them.

It was also surprising that they use and accommodate the garden in a different way for each group of patients. For instance, people with stress related illnesses fancied lying around on a little mound and do sunbathing and just relax. Whereas patients with stroke were not able to handle that, and rather wanted to sit instead or chose to do exercises up and down the tiny hill, which was a big effort in their case.

We left the place using the same, and only entrance. As we got to know from Frederik having just one gateway is part of the conscious design they developed. People with memory loss or bad orientation skills can find their way much easier with the existence of this concept. Wow.