david cairns

Resia möter: David Cairns, Storbritanniens ambassadör i Sverige

Jag har alltid varit fascinerad av Storbritannien. Av deras vackra landsbygd, mysiga te-drickarkultur (fantastiskt när man inte dricker kaffe), deras fanatiska sportintresse och i de flesta fall väldigt väluppfostrade sätt. Därför blev jag nyfiken på att se hur en äkta britt trivs i vårt avlånga land och valde att intervjua den mycket trevliga ambassadören David Cairns. Här delar han med sig av sina smultronställen i Storbritannien och lyfter fram de största skillnaderna mellan länderna.

Brittiska ambassadören David Cairns
1920s style at the Queen’s Birthday Party in June.

För att intervjun ska bli så korrekt som möjligt har jag valt att inte översätta den till svenska, skulle du ha svårt att förstå kan du höra av dig så ska jag översätta.

Name: David Cairns
Title: British Ambassador to Sweden and Foreign Office Director for the Nordic Baltic Network

In what city/area were you born?
– I was born in Suffern, outside New York, in America. My parents had moved there in the 1960s. My father was a scientist. We moved to the UK when I was 6, and we lived in the countryside in Hereford.

What´s your favorite place in Great Britain and why?
– Tough question. I think in memory of my grandfather I would choose Matlock Golf Course in Derbyshire which is truly beautiful.

Did you apply to come to Sweden or did someone choose that for you?
– I applied and I was very lucky to get it. Sweden is a very popular choice.

I know your Swedish is very good, how did you learn so fast?
– It is not as good as I would like it to be. But I like talking, and I’m not too embarrassed about making mistakes trying!

What´s your favorite place in Sweden? Have you travelled a lot in our country?

– I have travelled quite a lot. I visit Goteborg four times a year and Malmo twice. I have been up to Luleå, to Gotland, for work and holiday, and skiing in Åre. Where I live in Djurgården is quite amazing. But my favourite spot so far has to be out in the archipelago. We went sailing this summer, and as someone promised us, it was “magiskt.” Skiing in Vemdalen in February. Sailing in Stockholm’s Archipelago in August.

Skidor i Vemdalen
Skiing with the family in Vemdalen in February.

What´s the biggest differences between everyday life in Great Britain and in Sweden?
– For everyday working life, parental leave for dads. I had two weeks leave when my children were born, and thought myself quite lucky. That was before I heard of the ”papaledig dream”.

What´s the biggest differences between Swedish and British people?
– Stockholmers (at least) are better dressed, but less polite.

What do you miss the most from home?
– My children. They are at boarding school in England.

Is there a place in Great Britain that you really like, but almost no one has heard about? What we in Sweden call “smultronställe”?

– So many. To choose one, some family friends of ours live in a house called The Manor, in Hemingford Grey, near Cambridge. It is not very big but it is open to the public. It is 1,000 years old, one of the oldest inhabited houses in England. Lucy Boston, the author, lived there, and created a beautiful garden with old roses, amazing clipped hedges, and a moat. I don’t like the ghost, though.

Have you been to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland? If so, what´s the best things about them and what are the biggest differences between them and England?

– My father’s father came from Scotland, and mother’s father from Wales, so I have links to both. For me the best thing about Wales is the rugby, and in Scotland is the reeling (dancing). Both have strong, different, cultures (and languages in some parts) from England.

David Cairns seglar i svenska skärgården
Sailing in Stockholm’s Archipelago in August.

If someone is going to Great Britain for the first time, what would you recommend them to see and do to get a great understanding of the area?
– How long do they have? Who is the target market?

  • For a quick “mature” weekend in my hometown (Cambridge): Saturday: Fly into Stansted Airport. Arrange to stay in one of the University colleges (you can in holiday time). Have lunch at the Eagle Pub where the American pilots used to drink in the war. Go punting along the river Cam. Go to Kettles Yard museum then tea at Fitzbillies. Early evening open air Shakespeare in one of the college gardens (during the summer) then smart dinner at Midsummer House. Sunday am. Lazy English breakfast, then drive to the home of Henry Moore, near Stansted. Pub lunch, then plane home!!
  • Too boring? Saturday. Plane to Heathrow. Paddington Express to London. Walk along Regents Canal to Camden Market for lunch. Then to big football club of your choice for afternoon match. Big night out – XOYO in Shoreditch? Sunday. Clear the head rollerblading round Hyde Park. Then walk across to Paddington, and train back to Heathrow.

Do you have a favorite hotel and restaurant in Great Britain and why do you like it so much?
– We began our honeymoon with one night at Cliveden House, near Windsor. That was very special. My cousin runs the best restaurant in South West England, called Wilks, in Bristol.

Where do I find the best Afternoon Tea in Great Britain and do you have a good one in Sweden?
– That is very hard. For something different, if a bit scruffy, try the Orchard in Grantchester, near Cambridge. Nice walk (or punt) from town and lots of history. I haven’t found very good black tea in Sweden so I bring Yorkshire tea (my wife strongly disagrees, by the way). But fika is great, and for a different type of fika we really like Baghdad Café.

What kind of sports do you prefer, if you´re in to sports at all?
– Yes, I like most of them. Since arriving we have learnt how to cross-country ski and wild skate. I helped win a squash championship against the Swedish Navy. I’ve played some nice golf, and rowed for Stockholms Roddförerning in the World Masters Competition in Copenhagen in September. I will see if I can manage to do Vasaloppet….

David Cairns på Eurovision
At Eurovison in May.

What team do you support?
– The England rugby team, followed by the Welsh rugby team.

What´s your favorite food in Sweden and back home?
– Swedish food is excellent. We were lucky to join the Nobel banquet last year, which is extraordinary. But even the prawn smörgås you get on the train to Göteborg are pretty good. When I visit home I definitely like to have a pint and a pack of salt and vinegar crisps at our local pub.

Is there somewhere in Sweden/Stockholm were you go when you miss Britain? Good Afternoon Tea, British grocery store or something similar?
– The Embassy, here in Stockholm, has an excellent pub.

What do you think about this whole Brexit deal? Do you think it´s going to have an impact on tourism? Good or bad?
– We will create the best possible relationship between the UK and the EU. The UK has had an Ambassador here in Sweden since 1535, so we have a long, and good, relationship, and that will definitely continue. For tourism, there is so much to appreciate in each others’ countries, I am sure it will continue to grow.

Thanks a lot David for taking the time for this interview. I hope you´ll have a brilliant 2017 with many new adventures, both in Great Britain and Sweden.



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