Saturday, 20 March 2010
It happens today at 17.32
At 17.32 today, we will experience the vernal equinox, when night and day are of equal length. From tomorrow, the days get longer and lighter. Spring and summer are on the way, and the temperature is rising.
This time of the year, it's easy to feel that everyone is Sweden is either going away or has already been away on a long-haul holiday to the sun. Thailand is the favourite winter destination for Swedes, followed by the Dominican Republic and the Canary Islands.
But not everybody can afford an overseas holiday. Not everyone has the means or the state of health to sit on a plane and be catapulted to warmer climes. But there is a solution. In the Swedish town of Västerås.
At the care home for the elderly, 'Södergården', the staff have created a South Pacific room for the residents.
In the ceiling, there are infra red lamps which provide heat and solarium tubes which provide ultraviolet light. Electric fans provide a light sea breeze. The room is filled with sand, and projected onto the walls are images of a Hawaiian blue sky, sea and palm trees. These images can be changed so as to alter the theme of the room - for example to an archipelago scene or city view of Paris or Rome. The residents lounge in deckchairs or sit at the bar and sip exotic fruit cocktails.
This is such a fantastic idea to brighten up the existence of the residents in an old folks' home. Apparently it hasn't been proven yet, but experts believe that a room like this can lead to better sleep patterns, more energy and reduced anxiety for the old timers.
When all you hear are horrific examples of how old people are treated in residential homes, this comes like a breath of fresh air.
When I hear examples like this, it's almost as though I'm looking forward to becoming old in Sweden.