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Friday, 14 August 2015

Switched Off In Sweden


 


I’ve been trying to remember the last time we had a holiday which didn’t involve strenuous physical activity – and/or getting wet, and I can’t. Until now, that is. We’re just back from a wonderfully lazy week in Sweden, staying with old friends in their summerhouse on the west coast, about 50 miles north of Gothenburg. We took short hikes, picked blueberries, ate seafood and enjoyed fair weather and long light nights.

 

 
The most energetic undertaking was rowing out to Krakan (pictured below -  the name means ‘crow’). It’s an uninhabited island two or three miles by sea from where we were staying and just a few miles from the former shipbuilding town of Uddevalla, visible in the background. Of course, we camped there – what else would you do? No tent, just a fire of fallen wood, a bottle of wine and our bags laid out on the grass.

 


 
My pal Bror, whom I’ve known since the 1970s, is a ceramicist and teacher (of art and history). For much of the week he was distracted by having to fix the roof – it’s the price he pays for being the most skilled of the siblings who share ownership of a family property. However, he didn’t need much persuading to sit and drink beer now and then. The assembled collection of empties, I ought to point out, represent the work of four adults, not just us two. Not at our age.

 

 
We had everything we needed at Lilla Hafsten: a warm sea, quiet woods and good company. We only took one trip out when Bror and his wife Carina took us up the coast to see a collection of Bronze Age rock carvings. This site was once on the coast but the sea retreated long ago and the granite (yes, granite) rocks now overlook a fertile plain.

 




 
 
 
I fell in love with Sweden in 1977 on my first visit there. I loved the landscape, the sense of space (it’s twice the size of Britain with about a sixth of our population). I was also enchanted by their Allemansrattan, or ‘every man’s right’ which entitles you to camp, gather wood and water on any land, so long as you move on after one night. It seemed to me a kind of tramps' charter, and I have taken advantage of it - in Norway as well as Sweden. Obviously you ask permission if you’re on farmland, but it’s as much as anything a matter of courtesy. Scandinavians love the outdoors and expect to be able to enjoy it.

Ah well, I’m now back to work on the brewery project – but only for four weeks. Come mid-September we’re off to the States.