It should be clear to all that I'm a major Scandophile. Having spent an amazing year in Sweden with friends and family I have a real affinity for both the lifestyle and design ethos. The land of Ikea can be a lot more than simply blonde wood assembled furniture with brightly coloured Dalarna Horses. It is a country with a seriously harsh climate (night skiing in minus 20 is not to be recommended!) but the most incredibly beautiful long summer days. From June until August the sun scarcely sets and your energy seems to mirror this. The innumerable lakes are dotted with red summerhouses and surrounded by tracts of birch trees.
Apart from a serious addiction to the colour combinations used in Swedish interiors... I loved the architecture. While the late 19th Century saw the rise of some of the grand boulevards in Stockholm, my family had a great apartment on Strandvägen next to Lake Mälaren. You could look across the lake to a skyline dotted with church spires and older structures with golden decoration. Boats would sail past you along the foreshore and you could take a ferry to one of the islands nearby for a swim or lazy lunch. After a childhood spent in rural Australia this was the best 'stimulus package' my education could hope for. It gave me an enduring respect for the value of heritage and the significance of a culture evolving over many centuries. I also now have an unfortunate dependency on caviar spread in a tube and goat cheese!