2004 - Present

The autumn of 2004 was spent clearing out our offices at Viaduktsgatan, Karlskoga. Cleared by the end of August....Sam and a few friends carried box after box and other bits & pieces to Danno, the dump! Emotionally draining.

Not one client nor employee made contact with me afterwards, except, Michael Holland and Andy Creighton.

My main contact man at Avesta Sheffield now Outokumpu, whom I looked upon as a friend, never made any contact. Those at Degerfors never made direct contact although I still see them regularly at the football ground, Stora Valla!

I had a 6 month salary guarantee, then I registered as unemployed, at ArbetsFörmedling. The hope now was that I would now find a stress free working environment. It was now the Spring of 2005. Had kept the contact with Kennet Karlsson at KarlsonHus AB.


KarlsonHus Industrier AB

I organised a work practice programme there for a 6 month period, which would lead to employment. Kennet was talking to a very ambitious lady, who was going to turn Britain upside down with her eco friendly Swedish engineered timber framed homes.

This was sounding very exciting and was soon to lift my mind away from the difficult months that I had in 2004, and into 05! 

The first phase of this work was to be in Dublin at a Trade Fair. The Swedish Trade Council, in Dublin had organised a Stand for several Swedish Exhibitors, one of which was KHI. Kennet invited a lady to be on the Stand with us. We got big crowds, doing our best to record names/addresses, mostly by using a code reader, as every visitor had a badge with a “streckkod”. We only had one such, so the other helpers on the Stand had to write down names etc by hand. This Expo was a Friday (for the trades) and the general public on Saturday & Sunday.

Initially she wanted to employ me, working from Åseda. I refused and said that if I was going to work with this project it would be with KarlsonHus Industrier AB. As I understood she was to contribute a certain amount of financial support for the start up! A lot of discussion went on during our stay in Dublin, August 2005.... whilst sitting with Kennet & Architect Micke Andersson, in the Pub, at the Old School House, Northumberland St, Ballsbridge, Dublin, they (KHI) decided to offer me the job.

Later on after returning to Sweden I suggested to Kennet that he apply for wage support from Arbetsförmedlingen, for the first 6 months!

I was now feeling happy again, doing something which I really only ever wanted to do, from way back, even before starting Daccab......Daccab for me initially was only to be a stop gap before getting back into the housing industry....1982-05...a long wait!

I started the commuting in late August 2005. The first task was to follow up all contacts made at the Exhibition in Dublin. After a few days I couldn't find the list from the “coded” visitors. Made contact with that service supplier. They served me with only a few. Someone else saying they represented KHI got the bulk of the contact details. Suspicions were directed towards a certain lady, who by now was pressurising KHI for quick deliveries on quotes and technical information. I was in the process of preparing a Technical Handbook for the KHI product for the new UK/Ireland market. Her company had acquired the rights for both markets!

This lady's relationship with KarlsonHus Industrier was sinking fast. By this time I had made contact with an Irish family, through this earlier mentioned Expo in Dublin. Based in west Cork, which would eventually lead to quite a few houses being built in the Cork area.

They then started to work hard with the contacts they had established.

In the meantime I wasn't making much inroads into the other market areas working from Åseda, so I travelled to Ireland and met up with several potential interested parties.....led to nothing!

End of the KarlsonHus Industrier AB project

In early March, after my 6 months AFörmedling wage supported period had elapsed, Kennet came to me one pm and explained that the company couldn't afford to pay me after the wage support package had ended. I finished at the end of March 2006.

I was distressed and disappointed, felt that everything/body (not family) was/were against me. Mum's health was failing, and Dads' condition was about to raise its ugly head. To travel to NIreland I had to get permission every time from ArbetsFörmedlingen/A-Kassa; life was quite a burden just now..........

Unemployed & sick period

Registered at ArbetsFörmedlingen as unemployed, and now started a period of living on A-Kassa! (unemployment benefit)

Easter, just a few weeks later, I had a frightening experience.......palpitations/hjärtklappning. I had said very little to Liz, but on the Easter Tuesday, April 2006, I said to Liz I'd better go and see about this. It had been on going, on & off during the whole of the Easter week-end. I suppose with the long “relaxing” week-end the body was issuing a warning to me.

However after 36 hrs of tests, nothing wrong physically was found.....the Doctor, before release asked me lots of questions. She then said quite clearly that this was a stress related illness and referred me immediately to my local GP, and she also suggested I should have therapy.


It was at this point in my life that I decided things must change! One major change was that we considered selling our house at Linnebäck//our home of 23 years....part of reducing stress in my life!

A long story short, I met with a Doctor at Baggängen who put me in touch with a Cognative Therapist, Gunnel, who steered me through a difficult period. Meeting for 1hr per week for a few weeks, then 1x fortnight and finally when I felt the need. This, coupled to a visit to the Doctor every other month for 6 months. This was for the Doc to assess my condition and continue to issue “sjukintyg” /Sickness Certificates!

This went on for a long time....April 2006 until March 2007. I felt quite depressed during the first part of this period, not interested in meeting people....all initiative had gone....so unlike the person I was during the best Daccab days!

During this period I had frequent contact with AFörmedling/AKassa. Finally we were in agreement that I should go back to the work place for a 6 month trial, part time job, where no pressure would be exerted, no demands made....just to mix with people again. This should start March 2007. I was finding that my stress tolerance was virtually zero...still was subject to cold sweats and anxiety “attacks” (attacks maybe not the correct expression....but very easily stressed if asked by Liz, the boys or anybody to do anything!)

Yet I continued to visit Cookstown frequently.....mentioned my status (not in detail) to Yvonne, but no one else!

Return to job market....trial

The choice of work place was with me. I made several suggestions, with Degerfors Golf Club being top of the list! AF were successful in organising this and my “HandLedare”/Supervisor was a very nice young woman. She took me along, where I met Stig, Anders and a few others. They were sympathetic and helpful. I had a new routine, 10 hrs per week ie 2 hrs per day at the reception, not answering the telephone, just doing admin work eg sorting keys for their new camping season, doing statistics of the previous golf season's green fees etc. There was no job offer at the end, for which I was happy! I felt now that my working days were over, and it had taken this whole process to show me that. I began in March 2007 and had 6 good months...although when I came home each day I would sleep for 2 or more hours. In late May 2007 my hours/days were changed at my request....I suggested "working" 3,5 hrs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays instead of the 2 hr daily routine. This was accepted....still slept when I came home!

The Swedish system had worked for me and to my advantage....showing me just what I was/wasn't capable of, after the break down of health......never had any serious problems with the “bidrag”/benefit system, just followed the “small” print and did the best I could...although there were some stressful interviews and a very stressful meeting with a loan Doctor, during the period after my sejour at the Golf Club. He assessed me as fit for work and thus his report to Arbetsförmedling was to that effect! “Vi får ta våra små smällar i livet......!”/ ca we must be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.....were his encouraging words.......jävla idiot var han!

I came out of that meeting feeling VERY down, NOT knowing where to turn, nor what to do? Took to smoking! Next morning I rang the Therapist, for a meeting. She took me the same afternoon. I explained, she talked and promised that she would contact Head Doctor for the District (Steven's boss at that time!). I requested to see my own GP, which I did, within a few days. The original decision made by that little "budda" doctor was overturned and I continued on extended sick leave! Budda got his marching orders a few weeks later. My Therapist and GP were mighty in their assistance to me during that week.

"Spent force"

A few weeks later my GP produced a Certificate stating that I was a “spent force” for the work market. This had to be completed and lodged by the end of June 2007, because the Government were introducing a more austere program for sickness benefit from 1 July 07! I carried on at the Golf Club until September 2007.

My extended sick pay continued and assessment by my GP in the normal way as before.

In December 2007 I got the final clearance, allowing me to have a form of “förtidspension”/pre pension benefit, until I was 65....which in fact was the same as the year previously, extended sickness benefit! 

This was a relief and now I could get on with a new life....and how that was going to be is yet another story!


This now meant that I could travel backwards/forwards to Cookstown without having to get it ratified by the authorities!.....and how important that turned out to be.

I began spending more time in Cookstown, talking to Dad about his life in Moneymore, his memories of family members, working life and his connections to the Methodist churches and his own personal faith. I wrote this information on loose papers and collated on my returns to Sweden. I did mention to him several times that I felt like a journalist. I'm so happy that we had these conversations, unfortunately not enough as I now have gaps that cannot be filled.

My sister Yvonne dedicated her life being available for both Dad and Mum during the late 90's and the years well into the 20's. I tried to do as much as was practically possible by travelling to Cookstown as often as possible, to relieve her and letting her and Ron have some time to themselves, away from Cookstown.

Yvonne sent me a resumé on 7 October 2010 relating to Mum/Dad's medical status, their health decline, and her working status, from 2003 (I have added bits & pieces!). 

Mum in Craigavon Hospital for a few days November 03

Mum back in Craigavon January 18 2004 for 3 weeks – “something happened” (assuming a minor stroke on the right frontal lobe....taking all ability to take initiative.

During 04 not capable of doing anything.  Mobile but liable to fall.  Home help.  Yvonne cooking and washing etc etc.  Doctor/also out of hours doctor summoned many times. 

Jan 05 lying more and more – diverticular problems plus osteoporosis in back causing lot of pain pain back and front.  Becoming less mobile. 

April 05 could not walk.  Home help requested my help.  Mid-Ulster Hospital on wards for 2-3 weeks then Ward 6 May-Sept.  To Westlands mid September 2005.

Yvonne career break 2004

2005 returned to work 2 January for 1 day.  Off sick.  On sickness leave for 3 months. 

April to July boarded resulting in meetings with Human Resources. 

Granted 6 months unpaid leave August-end January 2006.

February 2006-April 2006 requested early retirement/redundancy.  Turned down.

Boarded. Returned to work May 06

Requested 2nd career break January 07 granted. Started 2nd c/b May 07-March 08

Applied for redundancy Sept/Oct 07. Redundancy granted Dec 07

Left work 31 March 2008 with redundancy package while still on c/b

Dad – 6 week period late summer 2005 trapped nerve in back – in a lot of pain – had to use wheelchair to visit Mum in Ward 6 Mid-Ulster

2005 eye sight deteriorating – had been blind in left eye for 7 or 8 years and had a maturing cataract in right eye for a few years – driving becoming an issue

2005 passing out unexpectedly – arrived to find Dad passed out sitting on his armchair at home – passed out 2 or 3 times in Church – passed out sitting in the chair next to Mum’s bed the day after Mum moved to Westlands – hospitalised on these occasions and also in hospital as a result of a chest infection (in hospital same time as Mum same ward)  recurring chest infections– took Dad to the out of hours surgery in Moneymore on 2 or 3 occasions at weekends.

November/December 2005 cataract removed in clinic in Hillsborough

November/December 2005 pacemaker installed in RVH

Autumn 2005 increasingly Dad concerned about stomach/bowel – Dr Flanigan concerned alarm bells ringing after blood tests taken

Late February 2006 Des with Dad at Mid-Ulster for colonoscopy – Dad collapsed and was admitted to the ward

Early March 2006 bowel operation to remove malignant tumour – chemo not recommended 35% chance cancer would return. Was operated on by Dr Dahn, a very nice consultant, with Indian origin, in March 2007. I was with Dad at one of these conversations with Dr Dahn.

October/November 2007 scan at the Causeway showed cancer in the liver....3 monthly visits to Laurel House Antrim

April 2008 Dad breaks left femur in Craigavon for 10 days Mid-Ulster from 24 April to 20 May in Fairfields 20 May to 27 June Home

June 2008-February 2009 cancer advancing. I was over on a regular basis and noticed his health on a downward spiral. Continued attending church. Rev Patterson was very loyal, visiting regularly and also visited Mum regularly.  //end of Yvonne's resumé

Yvonne was now staying at nights with Dad.

During this period, I was in Cookstown every month....in 2008 I had approx 13 return trips to Cookstown! A RyanAir regular!

I have written a separate piece, under the heading "Dad's -last -days".   giving more detail about my visits to NIreland in early 2009, when we knew that Dad's days were numbered.

This photo was taken in October 2007, near the ruins of the Allen homestead at Tintagh, Sperrin mountains, nr Moneymore.



Life did change after Dad's death. The homestead at Clare was now unoccupied, although for the following year, until February 2010, I stayed there alone when I visited Cookstown. This was a strange experience.......sleeping in my usual room next to Dad/Mum's room and neither of them there. Prior to Dad's death during my stays with him, I would wish him good night, thinking "how long will I be able to do that?", especially after he was diagnosed with cancer and the leg break! He made a remarkable recovery from the leg break, but the cancer ended his long and eventful life.

Selling Linnebäck, our home of 23 years!


Winter 2005

Liz and I had talked occasionally about selling our Linnebäck home and moving to town. In the summer of 2006 we saw an advert in the local press, where HyresBostäder were showing a flat, as part of a new 50+ project they were introducing on Värmlandsvägen. We looked, liked and applied. We were advised that there was a waiting list, so we were prepared to wait........a few months later, in November 2006 we were invited to look at a vacant flat. We said yes and met with their Marketing Manager to decide on layout changes, kitchen, bathroom, colour and flooring. The proposed month for moving was 1 March 2007. Things began to move at high speed.

There was just one problem....a major one! We had a house to sell!!? As soon as we had signed the contract with HyresBostäder in November we contacted a local Estate Agent. He visited us on a Friday in early December 2006, took photos and details. He said that he had several requests from young families looking for a home in the country, close to Karlskoga. This created a little optimism about a quick sale, perhaps.....

The day after, a Saturday, a young couple rang our door bell. I answered....Liz wasn't home. Their first question... "is this the house that is for sale?"....."är det detta hus som är till salu?" I was shocked. It is the Agents job to manage the sale. They apologised and said that the Agent had phoned them, and they were interested to see the house. I explained that they should arrange a viewing through the Agent. However I invited them in and we sat in the dining room and talked for a short period. They were very interested. A viewing was arranged within days.

The following week we had an agreement to sell, without any advertising or sales marketing! They had 3 months notice on their present flat....this led both them and us to the beginning of March 2007. Talk about timing......

We were about to enter yet another phase of our eventful lives. Hyresbostäder kindly gave us keys at the very beginning of the renovation period, allowing us to following the redesign and renovations. We moved the last week of February. On the same day we moved out the new owners moved into Linnebäck 8185!


We had now become townies and settled quickly into our new life, with its new routines and fresh challenges. New walk routes for Mira Dog, (Update....Mira was put to sleep 31 May 2013) the beginning of our visits to our local Coffee Shop....Patricia's Café (fr Jan 2013) formerly Moster Huldas and Kafé Ekeliden, 2007-Dec 2012...proprietors Hans-Olof & Lily Stensson and daughter Lana became our friends.

Very soon we realized that our car was surplus to our needs. We sold the car and I bought a moped. Unfortunately Liz doesn't share this mode of transport. We have invested in bus cards, allowing us to travel where we will in Karlskoga!


During our early days in Värmlandsvägen I had the long, stressful and complicated sale of our childhood home in Cookstown....starting in August 2011 completed in February 2013. See separate page above!

Our life continues in Karlskoga. I now belong to a Committee for the local residences, mostly arranging coffee afternoons once a month. I have been invited and now joined Degerfors Rotary Club, meeting every Tuesday at Degernäs Gård.

Stora Valla, Degerfors also plays a big part in my life, during the Swedish football season. Degerfors IF, in SuperEttan, is an iconic club in Swedish football.

We are happy to be near our grand children and great grand child and the regular contact that that gives.




Sarah Elizabeth O'Brien (Liz) became my wife in February 1971. Without her and her support through all situations in my life, this story would never have happened.

We hope to have many more years together with more adventures to write about. Most of the happenings in my life have been told. However there will be additions and updates as time goes by!!!

Update....Mum died 23 March 2016. I knew Mum was very weak and nearing the end. I was on my way (at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm) to NIreland when Yvonne rang me at 6:00 am.









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