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söndag, juni 26, 2005
It has just been midsummer weekend, probably one of the biggest festive times in Sweden. It was also Lars-Göran’s youngest son’s birthday party on Sunday, so we had to be back to organise a family get together for him - probably the last time the family will be together before we all go off for summer holidays. That means leaving Bullerö and heading southwards. The idea is to celebrate Midsommarafton on one of the islands then make our way to Nynäshamn on Saturday.
There is something very special about midsummer celebrations in Sweden and especially out in the archipelago. It is the beginning of summer, everything is blooming and the days are the longest time of the year, with over eighteen hours of daylight around these parts and twenty four hours of daylight in the north of the country. It is an ancient celebration of the summer solstice and in Sweden, it is always on the third weekend in June - that is the weekend closest to the solstice. So Friday (or the eve) is the day that the midsummer pole is raised and there is singing, dancing, food and drink and the entire weekend is given over to the celebrations.
We decided to stop by the island of Nämdö and do some shopping for fresh vegetables, then sail on tomorrow southwards and join in the midsummer celebrations at Kymmendö or maybe Lacka, depending on how far the wind will take us. We pulled into Guns Livs, a busy and well stocked supermarket on the east of Nämdö. This started out in 1950 as a small bakery, run by Gun and Georg Öhman and over the years it has expanded to include a supermarket, cafe and service station, now run by their daughter. When we came to the landing, Gun herself was outside and she immediately fell in love with Lambi and even kindly offered to watch her for us so we could both go in and shop. I always like to support these businesses when I can as I think they provide a great service for those out in the archipelago. The prices are a little higher than on the mainland, but not outrageously so and very often they have a good range of groceries, especially the ones belonging to the Skärgårdshandlarna chain. I managed to pick up everything I needed for our traditional midsummer dinner, so I was very happy and we thanked Gun for taking such good care of Lambi for us.
After a hectic stop, we headed off to find a night harbour, first anchoring in a bay on Nämdö, but later moving a little south east to a beautiful, calm idyllic bay in near the bird sanctuary of Ängskär.
Again the evening was spent outside rowing around and enjoying the peace and the songs of the many birds nesting on the islands nearby. There are a few houses on the island, owned by the Archipelago foundation, but no-one seemed to be around this early in the season.
The morning dawned cool and very misty. For a while we couldn't see very much at all, but then it lifted a little and we set off in light winds, deciding that we'd weave our way around to Kymmendö. The visibility was not the best, but we kept a good look out for other boats as well as carefully navigating our way through the stony waterways.
But a few nautical miles south, the fog bank disappeared and we had bright, sunny and windy conditions, so we made the goal very quickly. It seemed a pity to stop for the day so early while conditions were excellent, so we pushed on towards Mysignen and hoped to make our club island, or at least close enough to it today to give us only a short trip in the morning.
As the day wore on, the winds became stronger, peaking at near gale strength and the waves increased. We reefed the main sail and furled in the foresail to the smallest size but Lambi was really scared of the motion of the boat. It has been a long time since we last sailed and I think she has forgotten about it all. For her sake, Lars-Göran decided to head for the nearest sheltered bay just north of Muskö and anchor for the night. We were fine with the sailing, but it is no fun if Lambi is shaking like a leaf and whimpering. Everyone onboard has to feel good. Still, we managed to do around 24 nautical miles in a short time and that was good. The forecast tomorrow is for similar conditions, so heading southwards would stress Lambi more, so we thought it would be far better to cross over the seven or so nautical miles to Utö, where they always have a big celebration for midsummer.
The sailing there only took a couple of hours and the boat behaved really well, using just a reefed main and the storm sail. Lambi wasn't thrilled, but she was calmer today because Lars-Göran held her for a while. We did have a scary moment when the furlex came loose and the foresail billowed out in the strong winds. Ropes were flying around (and unfortunately hit the sprayhood's plastic window, breaking it) but we soon got it under control again and quickly slid into the small bay near the church - far away from the noisy guest harbour. Inside the bay, it was calm and sunny with no clue as to the heavy conditions outside of the island. A passenger ferry followed us in, decked out with birch branches for midsummer.
Lambi was really keen to get to land, so we took out the dinghy and motored the couple of kilometers up to the main guest harbour and secured the dinghy at a small pier and set off towards the main township. It was a perfect summer day - hot, a gentle breeze and so lush and green.
At the main harbour, it was packed with holiday makers. Utö is a very popular destination for summer visitors as it has a youth hostel, camping grounds, cottages to rent and a guest harbour that takes 260 boats. You can hire cycles, mopeds, kyaks, there are cafes and shops, lovely sandy beaches and a regular passenger ferry service from the mainland, so it is a good destination for families or young people to explore. And midsummer is a busy time for them.
We were here three years ago with Madde and we stayed in the guest harbour. All I can say is NEVER AGAIN. The noise here is incredible, with every boat playing their stereo loudly, people drinking and partying all night and with 260 boats crammed into a small harbour there is no-where to hide from the noise. While I think it's fine that they party on, I don't actually want to live among the noise, so we are happy to visit, then return to the peace of Kyrkvik later in the day. I would hate to be moored near these guys for example.
I bet there are a few headaches and a lot of sunburn tomorrow morning! Midafternoon we joined the crowd heading up the hill to where the midsummer pole will be raised. Many of the kids were wearing midsummer wreaths made from birch leaves and wildflowers. Apparently, girls and young women are supposed to pick seven different species of flowers to make up their krans and after lay them under their pillows. Then that night, their future husbands will appear to them in a dream.
A Swedish maypole is very different from any other type of maypole, with the main pole, a cross beam and two circles hanging from the cross beam. It is meant to be a symbol of fertility and certainly lives up to its reputation as this is the night that all inhibitions are thrown out the window. The pole is decorated with birch leaves and flowers and is raised by a few strong men and hammered into place. Then people dance around singing traditional songs.
Everyone joins in the communal singing and dancing - young and old and the atmosphere is very friendly, good natured and festive. Later we went for a walk up to Kvarnen (the windmill you can see in the background of the last picture). Utö is a very old island as far as human habitation goes. There was a coal mine on the south of the island as early as 550AD and here in the northern part of Utö they mined iron ore from 1100 to 1867, pulling up around two million tons of ore for processing. The whole island was badly affected by the Russian invasion in 1719 and was literally burned to the ground, with fires raging here continuously for three weeks. So everything you see here dates from after that time. This particular mill was used to grind corn for flour. There were other mills that were used for the mine, but they haven't survived. This mill dates from 1791.
The view from the mill platform across Mysignen to the mainland is wonderful.
Inside the mill is a display of old photographs and some information about the mill, it's history and life on the island in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of the equipment is intact as well and you can see how it all operated. If you go there, it is well worth taking a look, both for the view and for the interesting display there.
In the early evening, we made our way back to Kyrkvik where we were anchored close to the lovely nineteenth century church. We sat in the cockpit, enjoying the sun, the music and a gin and tonic and watching the people on the shore out swimming and frolicing around. It is very peaceful here far from the madding crowd at the main marina.
We enjoyed our midsummer dinner - two varieties of marinated herring, boiled new potatoes with a buttery chive sauce, a tossed salad, hardbread and for dessert, fresh Swedish strawberries with whipped cream.
The sun almost never sets and even at ten o'clock at night, it was still warm, sunny and the skies were blue, making it look more like early afternoon rather than late at night. And people were still out sailing and enjoying the "day".
Weatherwise this has been the best midsummer since I've been in Sweden. Usually it is cold and wet on this weekend so today has been a real treat - it gives me hope that more warm weather will follow in the coming weeks.
onsdag, juni 22, 2005
Sunday morning, we took up the anchor, set the sails and Fiona sailed away northwards at an easy and comfortable pace while we all enjoyed the sunny day. There was even time for Lars-Göran to go up to the front of the boat for a closer forward view.
We drifted by the seal breeding grounds near Biskopsön, but didn’t see any seals today. As the afternoon became early evening we thought about where to anchor for the evening. There are several fine mini-archipelago island groups around here, all with good spots to stay safe from the strong southerly winds that were forecast overnight. In the end, we thought we’d take advantage of the fact that sailing season has not officially begun, so we went to the historic island of Bullerö. During July, this place is jam packed with boats, but today we were alone and could choose any place we liked along the rocky cliffs in the bay near the small village.
Bullerö is a nature reserve owned by the Swedish state since 1967, devoted to protecting the cultural value of the island and to preserve it in an unexploited state. The island got its name from its rounded shape. Today this is harder to see because of the growth of trees, but several decades ago the rock formations were much more visible because of over-grazing by farm animals. The name Bullerö is derived from the English word “boulder”.
The island was inhabited from the early seventeenth century by a group of three crofter families who lived together in a small village group and tended animals in the summer months from the big estates on the mainland. They also grew potatoes, cabbage and turnips as a staple diet and supplemented this with berries that are plentiful and varied on the island as well as fish. They would trade some of the fish for flour and other necessities. The village is tucked away behind the rocks in the bay.
We spent the evening watching the terns divebomb for fish on the rocks near the boat. There are huge schools of minnows in the shallow waters and this means a feast for the coastal birds, many of whom are breeding on the small islet next to our boat. I spied quite a few young gulls out trotting around and was amazed by how agile and acrobatic the small terns were at catching fish.
In the morning, it was bright and sunny so we took the dinghy and motored around to the village pier and set off to explore the island. We started with the group of four houses that make up the village. People still live in them today and their job is to look after the island and to guide visiting groups around. There is even a small overnight cabin to rent for those who want to stay on the island. The timber houses are really charming, with the typical Swedish falun-red colour and white contrasting windowsills and eaves. You can see that it is a glorious early summer’s day and that everything is lush, green and blooming.
The first stop was up the hillside at Kikarberget (lookout hill). This is a great place to look over the bay and across the sea and the surrounding islands. It is no wonder that a wooden tower was situated here as an air defence warning station during World War II. Today the tower is used to carry 24 solar cell panels that supply the island with electric power. And you can see that we have been joined by another boat in the bay. Why do they have to tie up right next to us, when there is the whole island to choose from? This is one bit of Swedish behaviour that I’ll never get used to – the idea that we all have to tie up together in a bay.
We continued around the island to Rävängsviken (fox meadow creek) where there is a large hunting lodge. This was built by the famous Swedish artist Bruno Liljefors (1860 – 1939) who purchased the island in 1908. He used the island for summer holidays with his family, for hunting with his friends and for finding artistic inspiration. Most of his paintings are of the wildlife around the islands. Fellow artists like Anders Zorn and Albert Engström were frequent visitors. It is a fabulous location, overlooking a protected bay and surrounded by fragrant meadow. Today it houses a small museum of archipelago nature and culture and some reproductions of some of Liljefors’ work.
The plant life on the island is rich and varied and it is unusual to see so many different plant varieties concentrated in one place. In the boggy areas of the island you can find heather, osier, bilberries, lingon, honeysuckle, crowberries, cloudberries and many varieties of moss. But my favourite one was the tuvdun or hare-tail cotton grass with it’s long, soft sprigs of fluffy flowers.
Just past the hunting lodge, there was a meadow and a small cabin used by Liljefors as a studio. It overlooks the sea and the outer skerries and must have provided great inspiration to the artist. The field was full of mature trees – mountain ash, alder, aspen and meadow-sweet flowers along with dog roses, elder, mint, juniper, buttercups, clover etc. The scent was intoxicating and it was lovely to wander through the fields and enjoy the summer scene.
We decided to climb up to the cliff to the side of the lodge and enjoy fika with a view of the sea and outer skerries. On the way there, we found this huggorm or viper sunning itself on the lower rocks by the water’s edge. I generally do not like snakes and despite Lars-Göran’s assurance that it was not deadly or aggressive I have to say that it gave me the creeps and I was very careful about where I walked, especially after I nearly stepped on another one closer to the village later in the afternoon.
When we reached the top of what is called the sunrise hill, we were rewarded with a stunning backdrop for our afternoon coffee and cinnamon buns. In front of us were the smooth granite and gneiss rocks of the bay and in the distance, a panoramic view of the outer archipelago along with some of the lighthouses that mark the main shipping lane into Stockholm.
While we were sitting on the rocks having our snack and enjoying the view, a large, old fashioned wooden sailing boat, Sofia Linnea, came into view. We watched her gliding along with her sails billowing in the breeze, then she turned, lowered the sails and dropped anchor just outside of the bay where we were sitting.
A short while later, a smaller wooden sailing boat also came along and actually made her way into the bay where the hunting lodge stood. We thought the area would be too shallow, but there is a passage through the stones and on a calm day like this, one can weave around and make your way in, tying up at one of the mooring rings on the cliff and being rewarded by absolute privacy and a beautiful view.
That is something that we will try another time we come by the island. I’ve really enjoyed learning something of the history of these lovely islands and to know that they are being preserved for future generations to enjoy.
söndag, juni 19, 2005
After the last few days of warm weather, it feels like summer has finally arrived. Previously it has been beautiful in the sunshine, but once the sun slips behind a cloud you feel the chill in the air. However, on both Thursday and Friday the breeze has been warm and it seems that it is time to set sail again.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny with a few fluffy clouds and a brisk north-easterly breeze, so we took off in the morning and headed up Mysignen with no particular destination in mind but a determination to simply enjoy the sailing experience. As we got further north, we wondered where to head for a night harbour. With 25,000 islands to choose from in the Stockholm archipelago, there is always somewhere close by when you feel the need to stop for the day. We studied the sea charts and discussed a couple of options, but looking up to the sky, we got inspiration from the heavens. A Lambi Cloud drifted into view:
Now tell me does that or does that not look like Lambi seated on a soft quilt! So it was perfectly obvious to us that we should “follow that cloud” to see where it led us. It turned out to be an interesting experience. Lambi led us through a narrow, shallow, rock-filled channel between the islands of Utö and Ornö at a knuckle-whitening 6-7 knots and through into Gåsstensfjärden. That gave us a few options for a night harbour and we wondered whether to head north to Fjärdlång or east to Huvudskär, but in the end the wind decided for us and we eased into a bay between the islands of Valön and the bird sanctuary of Ängsön and dropped anchor in a beautiful, peaceful bay with a view across the outer skerries.
It is hard to believe that this is not a lake, but the Baltic Sea we are looking at. The water was almost mirror like and ideal for a small exploration of the nearby islands with the dinghy. Even though it is quite a harsh environment, there are still a lot of flowers and plants blooming on these small rocks.
The dog loves to explore around and check out the new smells and she was happy to potter around by the shore line where you can see the reeds and rocks glimmering in the evening sun just below the surface of the water. It creates a really cool dappled effect.
The island west of us (Ängsön) is a protected area for birds and you are not allowed to go to the islands, nor be closer than 100m from the shore between February and August. So we contented ourselves with the small rocks and islets around Valön. We could see and hear the birds from the other islands – gulls, ducks, terns and a myriad of forest birds twittering away, much to the joy of our two birds who were sitting in the cockpit sunning themselves and enjoying the surroundings. Even though it is nine at night, it is still broad daylight outside.
In the morning, another short row with the dinghy gave us a view of the other side of the island, out towards Huvudskär in the distance. The sea is blue and inviting and we are going to continue once the wind picks up a little.
Meanwhile, it is a perfect way to start the day. We ate breakfast in the cockpit, watching terns and gulls fishing in the water nearby. A short time later, a moose came down to shore and grazed on the new shoots of the reeds for several minutes. It was so great to sit there quietly and see the “king of the forest” wading in the water foraging for his breakfast. Unfortunately it was a little too far away for a photo and they are so shy that it would have fled if we tried to get closer. I also spotted some nesting herons in the reeds. You don’t often get to see them because they are so shy and also blend in really well with the environment. But it was interesting to watch them patiently waiting, watching and then spearing the fish with such accuracy.
Around mid-morning as the air started to warm up, a pair of sea eagles took to the sky, effortlessly circling overhead on the thermals above Valön searching for food. It is difficult to believe that they can see anything from so high up, but I suppose that is where the phrase eagle eyed came from. I am always a little worried when I see the sea eagles overhead as I know that Lambi looks like a tasty meal for them and it has been known for them to carry off small dogs and cats, so I keep a careful watch over her. I also noted that Bruce and Sheila were not comfortable with the eagles out and about, so I stowed them safely inside and said a final farewell to this lovely bay – one I know we will visit again.
So, a big thank you to Lambi Cloud for showing us a new anchoring place. Today we are headed north again, to who knows where. Perhaps we will again get some inspiration from the clouds.
onsdag, juni 15, 2005
Our boat was built as a family sailing boat and is set up to sleep six people and thus enable the typical Svensson family (papa, mama, 2 or 3 rugrats and maybe the family pet) to go away for summer sailing in comfort. We used to have a much smaller boat and still that particular boat (a Maxi 68) was also a popular boat for families, though I don’t know how they all managed to stay on speaking terms in such a small space.
We are increasingly finding that our much larger family boat is only big enough for just us - “Vi Fem” (ie the five of us – papa, mama, small dog and two birds). There really is no room for other humans to come along and sleep aboard for the weekend, unless we leave some of the pets at home. So I think we’ll take along guests on day sailing trips only and not have them sleep aboard anymore.
There is that much pet paraphernalia aboard that I wonder how poor Noah survived on his ark without going completely insane. We have baskets, cushions, a plastic dog toilet box, large bird cage, food and water bowls etc not to mention the bags of food we need to store aboard for the hungry menagerie. And I can assure you that whoever invented the phrase “to eat like a bird” to describe someone who eats very little has never met my birds who manage to pack away a startling amount of bird seed every day.
When we sail, Bruce and Sheila stay on the main table in the salon, strapped down securely with safety lines. When we also put he foldable bikes inside while under sail, it gets very crowded in there.
Strangely enough, the birds quite like to sail, even though they are native to the desert areas of South Australia. These guys seem very adaptable and quite happily chat, eat and play even when the boat is pounding through the waves. When we stop for the night, we move the birds to the navigation table, which is out of the way, except if you need access to the quarter berth bed.
So we tend to use that area for storing things like the sails, tent, cockpit cushions, auto pilot, hatch covers etc rather than as a place to sleep. We also store the bikes outside when the weather is fine, so the starboard sofa can at least be used as a sofa, though not really as a bed, because Lars-Göran’s extensive tool kit and spare parts are stored in the space behind it. This means that if you lift the back to provide a wider berth, you are hemmed in by boxes of spare parts!
Okay, what about the sofa on the port side? Well, in theory, two people can sleep there, as you can lower the salon table, add a mattress and use it as a small double bed. So I guess guests could sleep there, but then Bruce and Sheila like the salon to be kept dark and to wake up early and squawk and chatter with the forest birds for a while. Most guests don’t really appreciate that after a late night sipping wine in the cockpit.
The captain and “the old ball and chain” get the prime sleeping position in the front of the boat in the lovely, cosy forepeak with it’s roomy double sleeping space. And the trusty ship’s dog is also there to “protect” her master. We can close the door to the main salon and leave the unfortunate guests to deal with the birds while we sleep in peace.
So despite the size of the boat, the fact that we have toilet, shower, laundry facilities, refrigeration, stove and oven and apparently six beds, it really is only made for the two of us. Which is just how we like it.
The weather is lovely and sunny at the moment and the harbour has really come alive with cafés and restaurants open for the season and the small handicraft shops starting to open up. I’ve noticed a steady increase in the ferry traffic as well and it won’t be long before the summer campers and caravaners arrive along with many more guest boats. We wandered along the harbour yesterday evening after dinner and admired some of the foreign boats tied up to the guest pier. And later the master and his dog sat on the pier and enjoyed the last rays of evening sun.
The temperatures are still low – barely 20C but the blue sky, daylight until quite late and the welcome warmth of the sun’s rays makes the days seem brighter and more cheerful. Despite the cool temperatures, most people seem to think it is already high summer and the usual bright colours and masses of bare, if goosebumped flesh has already begun to appear. How can they wear tanktops when it is barely 20C? That’s one mystery that I’m still to solve. Even today, my Swede is wearing a white teeshirt, navy shorts and sandals, while I am in long pants, long-sleeved jacket, socks and shoes. The day before yesterday, he was sunbathing nude in the cockpit while I was wearing a winter jacket. I guess I’ll never get rid of my “winter tan” at this rate.
måndag, juni 13, 2005
After speaking with several friends and listening to their enthusiastic recommendations, we decided to head out to the markets at the town of Trosa. This town, also known as "World's End" is a charming little place, dating back to the fourteenth century and lies about 20 nautical miles south, then west of here. You can see from this map that it is about 70kms from Stockholm and Nynäshamn is the small red dot on the right hand side of the map. Not too far for a weekend trip.
There are about 4,500 permanent residents in the town, but in summer that swells two or three times because of the nearby summerhouses and the very popular guest harbour that lies here. We have dropped in for shopping several times while out sailing and it is one of my favourite special towns in Sweden.
The plan was to load the boat and take off on Friday afternoon. If we had good winds, we estimated a four hour sail to reach a small bay close to Trosa, then motor up on Saturday morning for the market. The reality was, as usual, somewhat different. Good winds? Whatever were we thinking?
We took the birds with us this time and the easiest way to bring them to the boat is via a backpack. Don't laugh - it works really well and you can see here that they are quite happy in there, though people do stare at my twittering bag.
We began as planned, though it turned a little cold after an hour or so and of course the winds were not favourable, so we had to tack (adding another seven or so nautical miles to the trip). That meant we'd arrive late at night, but we decided that was okay. However, the weather gods obviously determined that we required more of a challenge, so they sent us some fog and drizzle.
That in itself isn't so bad as we have good quality, warm, waterproof sailing clothes, so we went below and changed into those to guard against the chill and rain. Yes, it was grey and misty, but we had wind so with the sails up we were making speed. I think the weather gods were in a playful mood, because they decided instead to send rain - big, fat, heavy drops of rain and to kill the wind. Great. There is nothing quite as depressing as just sitting there stationary, sails flapping limply, surrounded by mist and water being rained on relentlessly.
The captain then made one of his famous executive decisions "Bugger this for a joke!" and chose to head by engine for the nearest sheltered bay and wait out the rain. We had reached the halfway mark after four hours, so we pulled into Soviken and battened down the hatches. Sometimes, you can take a break, have a bite to eat, rest a while and the bad weather passes, enabling you to hoist the sails again and keep going for a few more miles.
The rain really set in, so we thought it was madness to even consider going to Trosa. The weather forecast for the weekend was even more depressing, so we ate dinner and thought it was best to stay here until the weather improved. There were three yachts anchored here waiting out the rain and after dinner, I looked out of the window (and notice how light it is, even at 10.30pm) and saw a small fishing boat enter the bay. Surely they were not going fishing on a night like this?
That is exactly what they did - in an open boat, with no shelter. Around 10.30pm they came over to our boat and asked us if we had some matches as they wanted to build a fire on the shore for some warmth. Crazy, crazy guys, but they seemed really happy and during the evening and night we heard them laughing and chatting. It rained constantly all night long, then at about 7am, it suddenly stopped and the sun came out and dried off the deck and the sopping wet sails. By the time we'd had breakfast, it was really lovely outside and the fishermen cheerfully headed off for home, thanking us for the matches as the fire had literally saved their night.
We looked at wind direction and it was favourable, so the Trosa markets were achievable and we set off. What a contrast to the cold, grey fog of last evening.
There were a few boats out on the water taking advantage of the good winds and sunny weather, though I think that more than a few were put off by the depressing forecast and stayed at home, which was a great pity. We have sometimes gone out despite poor forecasts and found fine sailing conditions, so we take the forecasts with a pinch of salt, as we say.
Again, we passed the wonderfully appealing summer houses that dotted the shores of the many islands around here. Most of them are built right on the water and offer views across the bays and inlets. I know a certain Swede who would love to live in spots like these all year round.
In just a couple of hours, we had covered the required distance and headed up the narrow canal towards Trosa. This canal is surrounded on both sides by summer houses, some of them dating back to the nineteenth century or earlier. These ones tend to be much larger and have more decorative woodwork.
The winds were so good today that we were able to sail up this canal, which is not what usually happens at all. Generally we have to motor up the two nautical miles because the winds are in the wrong direction and also because it is a busy channel. In no time at all, we could moor at the guest harbour, which was full of foreign boats - mostly German, Dutch and Danish, with one lone Scotsman as well. And just at the end of the pier was the tivoli.
I felt like I'd been transported back to Adelaide in early September for the Royal Adelaide Show and finding myself smack bang in the middle of sideshow alley. The noise of the disco music was deafening and added to the shrieks and squeals of the mainly teenage clientele it was identical to the cacophony that marks show week in Adelaide. Uncanny how some things are universal, isn't it? The appalled look on Lars-Göran's face was worth the trip there. He'd never seen anything like it in his life.
We then decided to check out the market itself. I've been to several Swedish markets and have found them to be a little disappointing in that they are all much the same with no discernable local flavour. Just the same stalls, selling the same things at every place. But at Trosa, it was on a mammoth scale and the town was jam packed with people. I've never seen such a crowd here and the markets themselves covered every main street and square in the township.
We did fight our way through the teeming throng and bought some secondhand books (what a surprise) and some brända mandlar (like the ones we had at Gamla Stan last Christmas) which were a bit sickly sweet to tell you the truth. I was angling for some fairyfloss (sockervadd), tempted by the pretty colours, but got a warning look from Lars-Göran, so I passed on that.
Something we did find that made the trip worthwhile was a little plastic, re-usable, screw-in pouring spout, which can be screwed into tetra-pak containers and then sealed shut again. This means that we can easily use the milk and juice packs on the boat, without the hassle of transferring them to bottles as there are no way to seal the containers again. Such a small item and I've been looking for them everywhere for the last three years. I happily bought two of them.
I asked Lars-Göran if he wanted to look down the other part of the market and he said that he'd rather be covered with papercuts, then have salt and lemon juice rubbed into them. I took that for a No and instead we ducked down a side alley towards the relative calm of the canal.
The houses that line the canal date back to the mid 1800s. Nothing much earlier than this survives, because like a lot of east coast Sweden, it was destroyed by the raiding fleets of Peter the Great in the eighteenth century. Trosa used to be a very important trading town and very popular as sea-side resort town during the times when people used to go to "take the waters", staying in one of the charming boarding houses that line Trosa canal.
See why I love this place? There is an unhurried, old-worlde charm to it that is very restful. It was quite a respite from the madness in the rest of the town. We made our way back to the boat and some of the crew had a rest, because it had been a big day and they were tired little teddy bears.
A little later, I got a call from Beth, (an Aussie girl who lives in Södertälje) who was also visiting Trosa. She and her guy came down to the boat for coffee and a long chat, which was a lot of fun and we made a promise to take them out sailing this summer. When they left we hoisted the sails again and sailed down to a small bay nearby for the evening. The winds today were so obliging that we could sail back down the canal as well. Will wonders never cease?
During the night I awoke to the sound of heavy rain on the deck, but again by the morning, it had passed, leaving a bright sunny day instead. And the forecast winds were ideal for sailing home, so we got ourselves ready and set off for Nynäshamn.
The wind was brisk running at around a constant 16 to 20 knots, but the direction was not as ideal as we hoped, so it was constant tacking through the rock filled waters. We were making very good speed, but the boat was heeling strongly (which Lambi doesn't enjoy) so it required a lot of concentration to steer the right course and keep the ship's dog happy. As if the presence of islands, rocks and underwater reefs was not enough, we also had to dodge past large ships who use this route from the Baltic up to Lake Mälaren via Södertälje canal.
We had a scary moment as we were coming into a particularly rock-filled route around the island of Krokskär. Just as we were about to enter what we believed was the channel (unmarked despite the alarming number of shipwrecks in this area), Lars-Göran became convinced we had made an error and we were heading into a ground-filled bay. He did absolutely the correct thing by swinging the boat around to head out the way we came and re-check the chart. Unfortunately for him, the end of the traveller (a fitting across the boat to which the mainsail ropes are attached) broke off with a spectacular crash, causing the carriage holding the mainsail rope to pull off and the main boom to swing out across the boat. I managed to grab the rope and hold on to the main sail while Lars-Göran ensured that the boat stayed in deep enough water. When it was safe, he could turn a little to release the pressure on the sail so we could draw it in and reattach it to the rail (after a bit of brutal emergency surgery with heavy tools). This is the third time that this particular piece of equipment has let us down in a tight situation and for me that means that despite the prohibative cost of replacing it, we MUST do so as a priority for our own safety.
After all that, we had been on the right route in, so Lars-Göran, being the typical Swede he is, started to beat himself up about it and turn it into the usual Ingmar Bergman scenario of doom and gloom, despite my assurances that he had chosen the correct course of action in the circumstances and that the failure of the equipment was just an unfortunate accident and that we managed to get out of it all okay. Sure we were a little shaken and it was tense for a short while as we frantically tried to juggle the many things we had to do at once, but we DID manage it in the end. I think he felt a little better after I talked to him, but today professes to be disappointed with himself. Silly man.
At around 8pm, we saw the "welcome" sign of the outer grounds of Yttre-Gården, an island directly across the bay from Nynäshamn.
These grounds are at least marked though one does not always see the water breaking over these underwater stones. The winds were good for that today and it shows you that you have to be aware of where you are and read the charts and markers well.
By 9pm we were tied up at our own pier and enjoying a well-earned hot dinner, feeling very happy in general with our weekend sailing and looking forward to many more days out this summer.
fredag, juni 10, 2005
A touch of mild but sunny weather has seen us take an overnight stay on the nearby island of Nåttarö, a couple of hour's sail north-east of here. We had an easy sail across, helped by a brisk breeze and lovely clear blue waters, where the greenish/brown patches signifying shallow water were clearly visible.
As it was mid-week, we didn't expect to find many other boats in the normally busy harbour at the northern end of the island in Östermarsfladen and in fact there was only one large yacht moored at the inner pier. The entrance to this bay takes you along a narrow, relatively shallow channel between two islands and I again admired the enviable location of the summer houses lining the shore on the northernmost island. What a great view of the passing boats!
Nåttarö is very much a year round holiday island and is especially popular in the summer months. It is administered by the Stockholm Archipelago Foundation, who manage many publicly owned islands in this region. It is a nice sized island, being around five kilometres long and a couple of kilometres wide, so every bit is explorable and as an added bonus, there are no cars on the island. The island is covered in soft forest and fields, has many berries (mostly blueberries, raspberries and lingon), a large herd of wild fallow deer and is extremely rich in bird life. It also has a lot of sandy beaches, which makes it unusual in Sweden and an ideal place to holiday with children. In fact, Storsand in the north of the island is the biggest sand beach in the Stockholm region and always packed with people on a warm summer's day.
Today there were a lot of trees flowering and the air was thick with pollen, especially from the flowering hägg lining the pathway to the small village. There was so much pollen that the ground was yellow and our boat was also covered with a fine film of it. Once the birch trees start to bloom, the water will also be full of pollen, which at times gives us a scare as it looks like a patch of rocks and on more than one occasion we have turned the boat around fearing grounds, only to discover it was pollen!
There are compacted sand pathways over the island, leading to the village, or to beaches, secluded bays and through the forest. We took the main path from the northern bay to the ferry landing about two and a half kilometres away. It was a good chance to test our new foldable bikes on uneven terrain. As you can see, Lambi of course gets her own "dog basket" on Lars-Göran's bike, though funnily enough, on the way back to the boat, she preferred to run alongside the bike.
As you ride along through the woods, you hear the forest birds twittering, the crash of waves on the eastern shore and glimpses of the calm sheltered waters of the western beaches through the trees. It is a beautiful ride.
We stopped to go down and look at the shore and let Lambi have a romp in the grass. One unusual place here is Drottninggrottan (the queen's cave) which is a cave in the rocks on the east of the island. It got its name after Queen Maria Eleonora (1599 - 1655). She was the widow of Gustav II Adolf (of Vasa fame). When her husband died, she refused to release his body for burial and later the government had her held under house arrest at Gripsholm castle, also forcing her to sever ties with her only child, Kristina (later to become Queen Kristina). Maria Eleonora escaped from the castle and fled to Denmark, hiding out in this cave for a time to escape from the Swedish army. At least she had a great view while she waited.
On these beaches in summer you find many unusual and rare flowers like thrift, saltwort, butterfly orchids and sea rocket. But it is too early for those, though it is still a peaceful and beautiful place to bring a thermos of coffee, find a nice warm, sunny rock by the shore and relax.
Riding a little further along, we came to the small village on the island (Nåttaröby), right by the ferry landing. One of the reasons this is a popular place is that people can have access to the island via normal public transport - ie a Waxholm ferry from Nynäshamn that services the three islands of Nättarö, Ålö and Ranö. The village is well spaced out and quite pretty with its traditional red cottages with white edging.
In the summer season (beginning after midsummer in a couple of weeks) there are quite a few facilities open for the convenience of the holidaymakers. There is a well stocked corner shop with a good range of daily groceries, a sauna, 50 or so cabins to rent, a small restaurant and bar, over 200 camping places, a conference centre and one can hire bicycles and rowing boats as well. But today it was very quiet with only one or two cabins inhabited and a few deer grazing in the dappled forest.
Back at the bay, all was quiet and peaceful - a far cry from mid-July where over 200 boats are moored here.
We woke up this morning to the sound of ducks, geese, swans, mingled with the cries of seagulls, terns and sandpipers. And in the forest, we watched the darting swallows (favourites of mine), robins, scarlet rosefinks, sparrows and even mockingbirds. It certainly beats an alarm clock. And while we were having breakfast in the cockpit, we watched a mink slinking along the pier, looking for nests and eggs. It was a beautiful, sleek black animal and very, very cunning at searching out hiding places, though all the birds clubbed together to swoop on it and force it to retreat. Still, it was entertaining while it lasted.
Later, Lars-Göran went to land to check out the new dry toilet that has been built on the beach. It is an excellent idea for those spending the day at the beach and offers a magnificent view from the open doorway.
It's almost a pleasure to use it. You won't need the sports pages to read while passing the time here. After a restful night and morning, it was time to catch the breeze and head back home to Nynäshamn and real life again
onsdag, juni 08, 2005
Last Thursday, the German-based supermarket chain Lidl opened a brand new shop here in Nynäshamn. I have been really busy and haven't had a chance to go and check it out, but today I decided to pop along and see what it was like. I had read the advertising blurb with opening specials and there were a few things that I was interested in getting to stock up the boat for summer, especially spices and long-life milk (and theirs is a third of the price of the other supermarkets). I was also curious to see if it is a serious alternative to my usual supermarket.
We already have three big chains in a town of 13,000 people and many wonder if the town can possibly cope with another player in the scene. Firstly, there is the big ICA Kvantum on the northern outskirts of town. It is large, clean, roomy, well stocked with a great variety of foods and is a pleasure to shop in, but unfortunately it is very expensive so I rarely go there. If I could afford to, it would be my first choice of supermarket.
In the centre of town, with the very best location is Konsum. It is tight, with narrow aisles, high shelves, is crowded, poorly set out and there are long queues at the checkouts. This is also a very expensive shop and the choice is quite limited unless you want to buy strictly Swedish-type foods (falukorv, meatballs, herring etc). I do pop in for milk and bread occasionally (and their homebrand vanilla ice-cream) if I am passing back from the harbour, but not much else.
The other supermarket, situated in the north-east part of town is Willys, where I do most of my shopping. It is again poorly set out, you have to negotiate around packing cases and pallets and is not always very clean. The shelving is high (and I always need something on the TOP shelf!) and the shelves and freezers are often empty even of basics like coffee, flour (how can you run out of flour?). I suspect it is all "out the back" somewhere but you can never find someone willing to look. The queues at the checkout can also be a pain (waiting times of 20 minutes or more are not uncommon). There are also quite a few younger teens hanging around outside trying to get you to buy cigarettes and beer for them! But it is by far the cheapest food shop in town, has a good choice of products and I have worked out, through trial and error, the best day and time to go there and have a chance of getting most things on my list and not stand too long in the checkout queue. So I figure that the inconvenience is mostly worth it.
If I had to put it in Adelaide terms, I'd say that ICA is like Coles at Burnside Village, Konsum is like Woolies at Norwood and Willys is like Coles at Central Market.
So on to the new supermarket. The first thing that struck me about the Lidl shop was the location:
As you can see from the above map, it is right on the seafront, in the sort of location that would be prime residential real estate in most other countries, offering a wonderful view over the harbour entrance to the archipelago beyond. Not the sort of block of land where you'd build a supermarket and carpark! Still, it could be worse, I suppose - at least it isn't McDonalds!
Lidl have had a bit of negative press in this country over their employment practices (everyone is casual, part-time and non-union with unpaid overtime a common complaint). I have also been told that the staff are not allowed to go to the toilet except during scheduled breaks and there was a fuss recently in Poland, where women workers were required to wear special headbands during their monthly periods, to be allowed to use the toilet. Several people I spoke to in Nynäshamn flatly refuse to go to Lidl because of the way the staff is treated and also because they stock mostly non-Swedish products and engage in some very questionable practices.
Today, it was fairly quiet in the shop. It is spacious and bright but not really "attractive" at all, being set up more like a warehouse. It reminded me of Half-Case Warehouse in Glenunga in its early days. There were no shopping baskets, only trolleys, so if you only want a few things you either have to carry them in your arms or get a trolley. That's a bit of an overkill if (like me) all you wanted were half a dozen items.
Most of the goods were brands that I didn't recognise. They were cheap, but then unless you tried them you would not know the quality. I'm not a snob when it comes to cheaper brands, some of which are really good, but was reluctant to choose so many unknowns in one hit. I did notice that the Swedish brand items were the same or slightly higher in price than the same item at Willys. Beer, however was ridiculously cheap. I also spotted sultanas (not usually available in Sweden) and (joy of joy) some tins of reasonably inexpensive Aussie Macadamia nuts! In view of the story quoted above, I avoided the meat products
The check-out system was the same annoying, ball-breaking one they use in Australia at Franklins (and one of the main reasons I never shopped there). You have to unpack your items onto the long conveyor belt, then dash to the other end of the checkout where your items are piling up at an alarmingly rapid rate on a tiny table. There is only a short space for your items and the idea is that you just quickly pile everything back into the trolley, take it to the long shelf lining the front of the shop and pack it into bags there. I suppose they think it makes the checkout faster, but I HATE that system!
So overall, I might go there very occasionally for special items like UHT milk or dried herbs, but will continue to do most of my grocery shopping at Willys.
måndag, juni 06, 2005
Today has been the very best day by far weatherwise for the whole long weekend. While Saturday and Sunday were cloudy and wet for the most part, it has been sunny and warm on this Swedish National Day.
For the very first time, national day in Sweden is a public holiday and while you may think that would make people happy, in practice the news has had a mixed reception. The government decided to scrap the old holiday on the Monday after Whitsunday and have National Day, June 6th as a holiday instead. The reason this is not as popular is that as a fixed date it will change days each year, which means in future years it will be just a single random day off and not the coveted long weekend that was the old Pingst weekend. And in some years, it will fall on a weekend and there will be (horror of horrors!) no extra day off.
The day itself is not new and has been celebrated as "Swedish Flag Day" since 1916, though it was treated as a normal weekday with no particular fuss or ceremony. In 1986 it was decided to change the name from flag day to national day, though it remained a normal working day. Even though it is now a public holiday, there is no real feeling of joy and celebration about today and most people are a little confused about how to honour the day. The date itself commemorates the day that the "father of modern Sweden", Gustav Vasa was crowned king in 1523 and also the day that Sweden's constitution was signed in 1809.
Many people feel that to honour the date a king was crowned nearly 500 years ago is hardly a reason to celebrate. And this is perhaps the same sort of dilemma we face in Australia over Australia Day commemorating the landing of the First Fleet in 1788. As in Sweden, Australia has not fought wars on it's own soil recently, no fight for freedom and independence and so there is no real need to show nationalism and flag waving except maybe at the Olympic Games.
What a contrast to Norway's triumphant celebration of Syttende Mai with mass parades and waving of flags and festivals to mark the day they became an independent nation. They are proud to stand up and proclaim that they are Norwegian and no-one can not be aware that May 17th is an important date for Norwegians if they are visiting the country that day. The country literally goes wild with joy.
If you came to Sweden today, though, it would seem like a dead, quiet day. Shops are closed, town is deserted and there is no outward sign that today is something special. In general, Swedish people like traditions and this is one that has yet to take root. Midsummer is the biggest holiday here and there are many joyful traditions associated with that day. It is one that no Swede would neglect and there is a festive air about the nation then. Perhaps in a few years as National Day becomes more known, it may develop into something more than it is today.
We went out sailing for the long weekend, despite the iffy weather. On our way through town, we came across the Nynäshamn version of the student parades through the streets.
There were several of these trucks full of students doing a crawl through centrum, accompanied by a lot of shouting, squealing and horns blowing. While I enjoy the spectacle and am happy to see the kids out enjoying themselves, I was also glad that I'd be out of town for the "celebrations" later that night. I'm getting too old and crotchety to put up with nights of broken sleep.
We met several friends on our walk down to the boat and all of them were astonished that we were contemplating going out. I was surprised in turn, as some of them have big, sophisticated boats with all mod cons and are ideally suited to comfort onboard in any conditions. It is wonderful to be out among the islands and on the water in any season, with the chance to switch off from land-based obligations and the working week and to just enjoy the weekend and recharge your batteries. Still, at least one of our friends told us about a market held in a picturesque archipelago town a few miles south of here next weekend, so we made a note to possibly check it out, especially as several boats from here are going to make the trip.
We set off. The only boat to be sailing out in the grey, overcast conditions. Even the guest harbour was fairly empty, except for half a dozen or so Dutch and German boats waiting for better weather before braving the archipelago. We are more used to weaving through the islands, so we don't pay them much heed, but I know that even experienced navigators from foreign lands find it a bit hairy and prefer a day of good visibility before attempting the route to Stockholm from here.
We are fortunate in that behind the large island in front of our harbour is a mini archipelago. It is a mere one hour sail from here and we found it completely deserted and were able to choose a good spot to anchor for the weekend. We set up the cockpit tent (or grog verandah as we prefer to call it) and relaxed with a few small jobs and watched the birdlife around us. The sun did peep out on occasion and some of us were very content!
It was a sort of lazy weekend, with book reading and chatting over a glass of wine and planning some of the things to do this summer. I've been pouring over some books about the coast around here and am keen to try out some new places. We also were in contact with our American friend Randall, who is still in Sweden, waiting for the strong winds and waves in the south to abate. He did set off from Trelleborg yesterday to make the 35NM crossing to Klintholm in Denmark, but turned back after several hours of strong headwinds and large waves. We consulted advanced weather forecasts for him and advised that he stay in port until Wednesday, as the winds would be far more favourable for him and his small boat.
We enjoyed our days away from home and the sail back in mostly fine conditions. Some people are so confident that they can sail with no hands.
The boat developed an annoying noise as we were motoring along, which seemed to come from the propellor axle. Something else wrong! It is beginning to get very, very annoying that things are constantly going wrong. Lars-Göran had no idea what was causing it, so we took her round to the service pier at the boat club and he raised her with the crane to get a closer look.
We were both dreading what we might find. Would we be able to fix it? How much was it going to cost? Would the money drain never end?
But the problem turned out to be simple and cost us nothing to fix. Thank goodness that Lars-Göran can drive the crane and we have the possibility to raise Fiona and see what is wrong ourselves. It would cost us over 1,000kr for a marina to do this, not to mention that they are shut on a public holiday!
So what was wrong? Well, every boat is fitted with zinc sacrificial anodes. They are meant to corrode and be replaced as they rot away. A much cheaper and safer option than allowing valuable metal bits of the boat (like the propellor) to corrode. It looks like this:
Ours had corroded and become loose, sliding along the axel and causing vibrations. We have spare anodes, so it was a quick simple job to fit a new one, lower the boat back in the water and breathe a big sigh of relief!
So we are ready for another sailing adventure next weekend. I wonder what will break then!
lördag, juni 04, 2005
This is one of those English phrases that confuses the Swedes around me. I used it today as my youngest step-daughter has come to stay for a couple of days and Lambi has abandoned me and glued herself firmly to Annelie.
I'm not sure where the image of dog as man's best friend comes from, nor the concept of the faithful dog, waiting by the fireside with his master's slippers. My dog is a pure opportunist, whose only thought is "What's in it for me" and "Who is sitting closest to the food".
I don't know the origin of the phrase about chopped liver. It seems to be used by Americans as well as Australians. But when it comes to pure Antipodean phrases, I do better with my Swede. He has taken to some of them like a duck to water and is quite happy to declare something "looks like a dog's breakfast", to tell me to "get my arse into gear", to be a little wary if something "looks a bit iffy", to stand there "like a stunned mullet" and to let me know that it is "time to bugger off" or when pleased to declare that he's a happy little vegemite. He even refers to me as the old ball and chain (thankyou, Ian for letting him know about that one!)
The one that confuses my guy the most is when I tell Lambi to "stop carrying on like a pork chop" when she barks at passersby. Lars-Göran has asked me to please explain the origin of the phrase and I can't. And I know it doesn't make any kind of logical sense. If anyone knows where this comes from (and yes, I've tried Google!) I'd be very grateful because at the moment I'm sure he thinks I made it up.
I'm off sailing again for the weekend - back late on Monday (which is a public holiday here). The weather looks as though it is not going to co-operate and overcast conditions with some rain are forecast. But if we wait for nice weather, we'd never go out at all. So we plan to wander around the nearby islands and if the weather sucks completely to simply drop anchor in some secluded bay, put on some classical music, fire up the heater, uncork a nice red wine and open a good book.
torsdag, juni 02, 2005
Today was an amazingly busy day in Stockholm. I needed to cross town at lunchtime and the traffic along Vallhallavägen was unbelievable. I expected long queues at Strandvägen (where I was heading) but not here around Karlaplan. As we sat fuming in the car, stressing about whether we would EVER get to our appointment, it hit me that of course, it was studenten time and the city was being taken over by parades of high school kids celebrating graduation, much as my step-daughter did last year. I can't get upset by that as I figure you are only young once and I rather like the whole concept, so I relaxed a little and we merely chose an enormous detour around the city to get to our destination.
Our lunchtime goal was Vasa Museum on Djurgården. We even managed to smuggle Lambi into the museum, inside our backpack. I have not been here before, despite the fact that it is the most visited tourist site in Sweden. The entire museum is devoted to the preservation and display of a seventeenth century warship - the mighty Regalskeppet Vasa.
She really is an imposing sight. Her dimensions are:
Length, including the bowsprit: 69m (226 ft.)
Max width: 11.7 m (38 ft.)
Max. height: 19m (62 ft.)
Draught: 4.8 m (15 ft. 9 in)
Displacement: 1,210 tons
The VASA had 10 sails, six have been preserved, 64 cannons (3 preserved), and could hold approx. 450 men 300 of which were soldiers.
The story behind the ship is really interesting. She was commissioned by the king of Sweden, Gustav II Adolf in 1625. She was to be greater than any ship ever built at that time and the king himself dictated the Vasa's measurements (no one dared argue against him). It had two gun decks and held sixty-four bronze cannons. Various woods were used but mostly northern oak – a very sturdy wood. It is said that a total of 40 acres (16 ha) of timber was used to build her (and I can well believe it).
The ornate carvings you see here, were made separately in workshops and later attached to the bow and around the high stern castle. The stern ornaments (painted red, gold, blue) were carved gods, demons, kings, knights, warriors, cherubs, mermaids, weird animal shapes – all meant to both scare the enemies and also symbolise power, courage and cruelty. There are over seven hundred individual carved figures decorating the hull. The ship was painted in Baroque colours. They are still researching exactly how she was painted and the coloured carvings you see here are but a small example of the probable colour scheme.
The stern castle (that's the back of the boat, by the way) is an artistic masterpiece (note, this would have been painted and gilded at the time):
Despite such immense proportions and painstaking details and carvings, Vasa took only three years to build and when completed in 1628, she was both a floating work of art and a formidable weapon of war. Despite Sweden having a population of only one and a half million people, she was a dominating naval power and this ship was part of a grand plan to maintain Swedish power in the Baltic against the threatened attack by the Habsburg Empire of Charles V.
Up at the bow of the ship, we discovered where boats get the name for their toilets. I was always puzzled about why a ship's toilet was referred to as "the heads". It is a name that makes no sense to me and I never really knew how they acquired that odd nomenclature - until today. The very front of the ship is also called the beak-head. And the toilets were located right up front on the bow-sprit (that's the big pointy thing sticking out of the front of the boat). In the following picture, you can see a box-like structure on the lower right hand side (follow the yellow arrow). Well that, believe it or not, is the toilet! Not very comfortable, private, hygenic or environmentally friendly. And one of only two toilets on the whole ship (for a crew of 450!!). And I thought the women's toilet queues at nightclubs was long.
Anyway, because of its location at the beakhead, the toilet began to be called "the heads". And apparently in rough weather or when the boat was listing, it was a dangerous place to be.
"So what happened to this mighty warship, pride of the Swedish fleet" I hear you ask. Well, that is rather a good story as well. Vasa began her maiden voyage on August 10th 1628 from Skeppsbron. Thousands of Stockholmers gathered on the shore to admire the magnificent ship on its first voyage. She set her sails, but had only sailed for less than a nautical mile before she capsized. Apparently, there was a sudden squall and her gun ports were still open (having just fired a farewell to the king). She listed heavily to port in the wind, the gun ports sank below water level and water gushed in. It took only a few moments for her to sink. (This is very similar to what happened years earlier with the Mary Rose, an English vessel, sunk in 1545.) Vasa sank to 30 metres below the surface of the harbor and about 100 metres from the shore. No record of the finding of the court of inquiry, set up immediately after the disaster of her launching, has ever come to light. So the Swedish public service learned how to lose reports centuries before the Australian Public Service :)
If she HAD sailed, Vasa would have looked like this:
She lay at the bottom of the harbour for the next 330 years, before being rediscovered and salvaged in a mammoth operation by maritime historian Anders Franzén.
It was a really interesting visit. I've seen replica ships before when I visited the Dutch East Indiaman Amsterdam at Scheepvaartmuseum in Holland and the Cutty Sark at Greenwich in London a few years ago. Both of those were impressive, but nothing on the scale and magnificence of Vasa. And Vasa is not a replica. She is the original ship - almost 400 years old!
It still blows my mind that she was afloat long before Australia was even thought of by Europeans. We really are a young nation when you think in terms of the history of a place like Stockholm.
onsdag, juni 01, 2005
Can I just say "Yippee"
Today is the first day of the total ban of cigarette smoking in pubs, cafés and restaurants in Sweden. You can read a report in English from The Local: Sweden stubs out for good.
I think it's wonderful. At last I can go out for a drink or a meal and actually breathe freely. I won't get streaming eyes or a sore throat. I don't have to rush home and shower immediately to get the horrible smell out of my hair, nor do I have to my clothes out on the balcony for days (no exaggeration). These bans have been in place in Adelaide since 1997, so I was shocked when I first came here and found that people smoke everywhere. There was not a single place where you could grab a quick sandwich or coffee without being enveloped in a cloud of disgusting smoke.
For a nation that are so clued in on allergies and hypervigilant about healthy living, Swedes have this amazing blind spot when it comes to cigarettes. But the intense lobbying on behalf of hotel, bar and restaurant staff, who are three times more likely to die of lung cancer than employees in other sectors due to their extensive exposure to smoke, saw the law change from today.
Sorry if you are a smoker and object to this, but honestly why should we all become ill just because of your individual need for a shot of nicotine. I personally don't give a toss whether people choose to smoke or not. It's their bodies and their business, but not when it interferes with those around them. And smoke does get everywhere.
So now to enjoy the beautiful spring blossoms that have burst forth all over town
And tomorrow it's back to Stockholm for a final check up on my mother-in-law who is being allowed home after nearly seven weeks in hospital. I'm hoping for a sunny day to welcome her home.
This month's postsMidsummer in the archipelago (söndag, juni 26, 2005)
In the footsteps of Liljefors (onsdag, juni 22, 2005)
Lambi in the sky with diamonds (söndag, juni 19, 2005)
Vi Fem (onsdag, juni 15, 2005)
Mad dogs and fishermen go out in the June day rain (måndag, juni 13, 2005)
Riding along on my pushbike (fredag, juni 10, 2005)
The Window Shopper (onsdag, juni 08, 2005)
Sounds of nature (måndag, juni 06, 2005)
So what am I, chopped liver? (lördag, juni 04, 2005)
The pride of the fleet (torsdag, juni 02, 2005)
Butt Out (onsdag, juni 01, 2005)
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