By Mitchell Jordan
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You might know Van Badham as a writer from The Guardian, or maybe you’ve seen one of her numerous plays performed around the world. Failing that, you may also remember her as the woman responsible for that eye roll when she went head to head with a former politician who really doesn’t deserve to be named here.

As for myself, I think I’ll always remember Van as the woman who dropped to her knees in apology for being late for our first meeting and proceeded to suggest (very strongly) that I read Margaret Atwood and Albert Camus. Probably the best advice anyone’s ever given me.

“Have play, will travel” has long been a motto of Van’s, whose theatre has taken her across the globe. She’s certainly no stranger to Scandinavia. Here are her suggestions for anyone visiting the northern region for the first, or fortieth, time. Like Atwood and Camus, you really shouldn’t ignore them:


Sunset in Helsinki, as seen from Suomenlinna. (Photo by Mitchell Jordan)

1) The Finnish Lakes. Nothing beats a sauna in a forest hut around Joutsa.

2) Suomenlinna in Helsinki for picnics in summer with strawberries.

3) Catch the train from the Helsinki train station to Russia. It’s one of the journey’s of a lifetime.


Old town, Stockholm. (OlaEricson/

1) In Uppsala, I love the gardens around the Karolus Linnaeus museum. In the museum there’s an examining room as well as his magnificent cabinet of monstrosities. The whole experience is like a journey into the mind of the curious scientist.

2) In Stockholm, I love wandering the streets of the old town (Gamla Stan) in the snow. All those grey cobblestones interrupted by the militarily manoeuvres – it’s a real contrast of bleakness and pomp and I think it appeals to my sublime aesthetics.



1) In Copenhagen, you can’t go past the Lakagehuset chain of bakeries. They make butter-perfect Danish pastries, with the freshest fruit and sweetest custard set off by coffee so delicious you will remember every swallow for the rest of your life.

2) The new Opera House in Copenhagen is one of the great landmarks of the world. It’s staggering for its architectural elegance and you have never heard the sound of the sung human voice until you’ve heard it in its chamber.

Copenhagen’s new Opera House. (Image VisitCopenhagen).

About the Author

The boy with the thorn in his side. Still looking for the light that never goes out.

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