Cold baths put work life in balance
Take a deep breath and climb down the ladder. Embrace the extreme cold, keep calm and let the initial feeling of shock pass. Exposing your body and soul to the cold winter water is a Halland tradition, dating back to the mid 19th century. For Martin Bergman, cold baths are about creating a balance in life through this meditative ritual.
It’s an unusually windy but pleasant evening and the sun is setting on the horizon. Just before Martin Bergman walks down to the jetty and descends into the ice cold, dark water, he sits in the sauna until reaching boiling point. After ten minutes in the water, he climbs out. According to Martin, that’s when ‘it’ happens.
– It’s such a lovely feeling once the blood starts pumping through your body. It’s a bubbly and popping sensation on the inside. When the warmth eventually returns to your fingers and toes, it’s like having champagne in your veins, says Martin Bergman.
Martin Bergman is manager of Fab Lab at Halmstad University, and he loves taking a bath – no matter the season.
– Usually, I don’t need to have a sauna before I take a bath. Most of the time I just go down for a dip or two, without having a sauna. Then I get dressed and go home, he says.
There’s usually a window of only five to ten minutes between the first and second bath.
– The second bath is pretty nice. Your body has gotten used to the cold temperatures and you already know how your body will react. It gives you time to focus on the actual sensation.
Martin is a design engineer with a master in machine technology and industrial design. He is also manager of Fab Lab’s laboratory at Halmstad University.
Taking cold baths once a week
A couple of years ago, Martin Bergman started to take cold baths more frequently. The ambition now is to do it at least once or twice a week.
– We all have our mid-life crises when we try to find peace and quiet in different ways. Some take up yoga, others start to meditate or work out to release tension. I take baths.
To Martin Bergman, it was about finding inner peace and calm in an otherwise stressful life.
– I had a lot of work and was about to hit the wall. That’s when I started to take cold baths more frequently, in order to become more focused and get to know my body better. It was like pulling the brakes on the stress in my life. I felt as if I became a better person and a better dad when I came back from a bath. It worked for me.
Bath facilities should be brought back
A couple of years ago, Martin Bergman and his friend Thomas started a Facebook group – Halmstad Cold Bath – which now has 2600 members.
– We have a long tradition of taking cold baths in Halmstad and there used to be several facilities for cold baths here. We want them back. People need balance in life, and not just for four weeks during the summer when the water is warm.
He says that the culture around cold baths was never really dead, it’s just taken a break and is just now starting to come back. In 1997, a new cold bath facility opened in Varberg and the members of the Facebook group are trusting that more towns along the Halland coast will follow.
– Sometimes, there are more people waiting in line to climb down the ladder in the winter time than in the summer, Martin Bergman says.
Curly kale – the Christmas superfood from Halland
It’s no secret that the people in Halland love curly kale. After all, it is our national dish. Ask any local what is a must on the Christmas table, and you will certainly get the answer ”curly kale”. Nowadays, we eat curly kale all year round, but where does this interest come from originally?
- We have been eating curly kale in Sweden for many years. There was curly kale in Sweden in the 14:th century and probably even earlier than that.
- It is said that Hallands great curly kale tradition comes from Germany. In the 19:th century many poor Hallandians went to northern Germany to find work. In Germany there was great interest in curly kale and when the Hallandians returned home, they brought back the interest and created new eating habits.
- Curly kale has long been associated with a dish called långkål (long kale) that belongs on the Halland Christmas table. Everyone has their own special touch for how the långkål should be cooked.
- Today, you can find curly kale in all sorts of dishes and snacks. In everything from smoothies and salads to chips and crisp bread.
- Curly kale is often referred to as a ”super vegetable” or ”super food”. In recent years, kale has become increasingly popular, with many of its health benefits often being highlighted.
- Curly kale is available everywhere in Halland. During harvest times you can find kale at many food markets and in farm shops.
Recipe: Swedish långkål
600 g (1¼ lb) kale leaves
1 tsp salt
1 litre (4 cups) cooking liquid from ham, ham stock or water
50 g (¼ cup) butter
180 ml (¾ cup) whipped cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground mace, optional
1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar, optional
How to do it:
- Rinse and scrape the leaves from the coarse stems.
- Add the leaves to a large saucepan of boiling salted water and allow it to simmer for 2 minutes. (You may need to do this in two batches unless you have a very large saucepan.)
- Drain well in a large colander, pressing down well with a spoon to squeeze the water out of the kale leaves.
- Return the kale to a saucepan and pour the cooking liquid from the ham (or stock from ham/chicken/vegetables) over the kale so it is just covered. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Drain the kale again, squeezing out as much of the stock as possible. (If preparing in advance, when the kale is cold transfer it to a dish, cover with clingfilm (food wrap) and store in a fridge.)
- Roughly chop the kale.
- Melt the butter in a pan, add the kale and lightly fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add the cream and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Add salt and white pepper to taste. Add ground mace and sugar if desired.
- Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Eat the långkål while piping hot.
- Steps 1 to 5 can be done up to 3 days in advance.
- Ideally långkål should be made using the cooking liquid from the ham, but it can be made using just water or ham stock made using a bouillon cube.
- Don’t be tempted to replace the cream with milk and flour as it really doesn’t taste as good, even if it might be a shade healthier.
Six reasons to live in Halland.
With an area of only 5 427km2, but over 340 000 innovative inhabitants, Halland is a bustling hotspot for dynamic business opportunities. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, settle down with your family, or find the perfect work life balance, Halland is a really exciting place to discover.
477 kilometers of coastal line
Do you like the feeling of sand between your toes? Or do you you prefer the Swedish archipelago? In Halland you can have both.
Excellent location and easy access to railways, ports, airports and roads
Halland is positioned with an excellent geographic location that connect five international cities: Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Malmoe and Oslo. The transportation opportunities are well-developed both by sea, land and air. For example: from Gothenburg you’ll reach Varberg in just 1 hour.
Dynamic business opportunities
The business community in Halland is bursting with entrepreneurial culture, cooperation, knowledge, and innovation. Halmstad University offers education and internationally reputable research. Also, the University participates actively in the development of society through collaboration with both the business sector and the public sector.
Vibrant food culture
In Halland you will discover a genuine and award-winning food culture with food created from locally sourced meats and vegetables. There are plenty of farm shops that stock organic meats and vegetables an of course the Guide Michelin-awarded restaurants Knystaforsen and Restaurang Äng.
Halland has had the highest life expectancy in Sweden for over 20 years. And life in Halland is truly something extra. Besides a wide range of nature expriences and coastal environments the people in Halland enjoy easy access to world-class health care and work-life-balance opportunities.
Lush grassy fields, rolling meadows, dense forests, trails that vanish into the mists of time – it’s all here in Halland.