Considering Kiruna’s long hours of darkness in the winter it’s not surprising that when electric lighting became available in the early 1900s the town installed it as a public utility long before most towns in the country. Light was a valuable resource in winter so these days locals will pay a lot of money for a fashionable light source, and Kiruna’s streets are aggressively over-lit with glaring lighting.

So that’s light. Something else in short supply in Kiruna are warm beaches and water you can swim in. This might explain why the local council is currently committed to an overspend of hundreds of millions of kronor on a new swimming pool, featuring water chutes and a relaxavdelning (rest area) with saunas and sun loungers. We can have it all, they thought, now that the mining company is paying. They received compensation money for the old pool but by the time the project got started overall costs had increased. Over the last few years these costs have run more and more out of control.

It’s a bit mad because the current swimming pool is gloriously underused – I was there this morning for a full hour and was the only person in the pool. Maybe they think a relax area will change all that – but for what purpose? You can understand the council wanting something bigger and better than what they have already, but it does look like dreams and civic pride may have led them to invest in a scheme way beyond their resources. The overspend will now have them (and us) paying off large sums every year long into the future.

You can’t help but wonder if this was ever something that local people really needed or wanted.

Last week in a local street I came across major roadworks – there were broken hot water heating pipes there that leaked, creating a hot geyser effect at street level. We had the same problem (and subsequent pit) outside our house last summer. New pipes had been delivered to the scene in readiness, and the welders had been called in, but nothing much seemed to be happening – some technical issue with the pipes perhaps.

Anyhow, the welders didn’t have much to do. They looked relaxed, living in the moment. They were sitting on the side of the hole in the sunshine. One of them was lying with his eyes shut, fully stretched out, soaking up the sun and listening to the gentle hiss hiss of the hot water leak. He looked blissed out. He could have been on a sun lounger next to a pool anywhere in the Mediterranean, but he was in Kiruna’s latest relaxavdelning.