Sweden was bitterly cold during my deployment there. I sat huddled next to an industrial heater during my night shifts, checking the weather forecast and reading “Temperature -15°C. Feels like -21°C.” Frost precipitated out of the air before my eyes and I watched half-metre long icicles grow within the space of a few short hours. One more than one occasion, I found my work boots frozen to the ground. Even during the day, taking some time to visit some sights in town on my way to by a chair in IKEA (where else?!), I could only bear to allow my fingers to take one photograph at a time in the raw, frigid air – and that in the middle of the day when the outside temperature peaked at a relatively balmy -7°C. The darkness would get to me too, and during the period when I was on night shifts, I only saw true daylight a couple of times a week, if not at all.
It was quite a depressing period, but there were things that still warmed my heart – the jolly demeanor of the Swedes who gladly broke my isolation by speaking to me in fluent English, heating myself up in the gym and the sauna, wholesome, hearty food and drinks – most notably chokolat tryffel and pear cider at Sweden’s best gay bar – and even just being able to go for a walk in the crisp open air to get a change of scenery (albeit wrapped up like a ninja) worked wonders to improving my mood and easing my case of SADS (Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome). On one of my walks through Gothenburg town centre one afternoon I took this photo which reminds me even though places can be difficult and painful, they can still be beautiful – you just have to make the most of it, even though that can often be very hard at times.