All the uncomforts of home

Prince Philip died today. He was 99 and was married to QEI for more than 70 years. He’d recently spent time in hospital where Prince Charles visited him. He was released from hospital in order to spend his last days with the Queen. He died peacefully, apparently.

According to Twitter, the UK was suddenly a wall-to-wall, all channel TV blitzkrieg of nothing but Philip. In fact, both BBC 1 and BBC 2 were broadcasting the same programme at the same time. Which seems a bit odd.

In the meanwhilst, here in Sweden, no royals died and the weather turned nasty. In fact, as a complete reversal of the glories of yesterday, the heavens opened and I was drenched beyond dry. I was instantly transported back to Farnham and my Sunday morning splashy walks into Waitrose, shoes gradually absorbing more water than possible and my jeans getting soaked.

Perhaps the weather had changed out of deference to Philip. Whatever the reason, it was certainly pretty gloomy. Not that the gloom lasted. Of course, by the time I reached the Ica, the rain had all but stopped. And, by the time I was walking back home, the rain had vanished and the sun was starting to appear.

Stupid weather.

Speaking of the Ica, the Trollbäcken store is being renovated. I noticed on Tuesday that the fruit and veg section had been turned 90° and the end cash register had gone, replaced by another one further along. Then, this morning, there was a lot of activity with shelving being moved, units emptied and a lot of dodging of trolleys full of stock.

When I was laid up with my sprained ankle and Mirinda had to do the shopping, I provided her with a map of where things were in the Ica. She said this served her well. I’m glad they didn’t start changing things a month earlier because my rough map would have been a bit frustrating.

Apart from the inconvenience of shopping during renovations, I reckon the shop is going to look pretty good when it’s finished.

While I was gradually drying out, Mirinda attended a conference. She asked me to get her some printer paper because there would be drawing.

Of Mirinda’s many skills, she would be the first to admit that drawing is not one of them. So, when asked to draw something which represented her research, it was littered with stick figures and was a game. Actually, I reckon the game concept was very good and the use of different coloured flouro pencils, inspired.

However, I rather liked this representation of how graduates feel about having to jump through algorithmic hoops in the early stages of the search for employment.

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Walking in sunshine

Some days, you get up, go through your usual routine then leave the house and the beauty of the day almost bowls you over. It all looks impossibly glorious and the world seems perfect. Today was like that. All day.

I had to go up to Trollbäcken to post a letter and, while it wasn’t my usual shopping day, I was glad to have to go out on an errand. The day was just so lovely.

I noticed most people were looking happy and think it must have been the weather. Not that people don’t generally look happy but, sometimes, the weather can imprint itself on their faces. So, today, they tended towards the cheery rather than the glum.

I posted the letter at the Hemköp, put money on our travel cards and then sat and waited for the next bus back.

The day continued perfect all day. That’s not to say it was warm. The temperature remains not too far above zero. But, of course, that’s just how I love it.

The main thing I did today, postage apart, was trim my beard. After yesterday’s dramatic haircut, I thought it only right that the hair on my chin should be brought into line with my head.

All of that, though, pales into insignificance when I report that today, I went on the evening constitutional for the first time since spraining my ankle. I’ve missed the neighbourhood.

Mind you, it’s changed a bit. The last time I went, it was dark and the Christmas lights were still up. Today, the sun was still up and most of the decorations have gone.

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A footpath going nowhere

The holiday break being behind us now, the old routine was once more entered into. Mirinda went back to work, starting the day at the café at Trollbäcken, while I dragged my trolley to Tyresö Centrum for essentials.

There was something else I wanted to do at Tyresö Centrum.

The other day I decided that I needed a haircut. It had nothing to do with Sharon thinking I looked like an old taxidermist or how I’d almost been recruited onto a Norwegian fishing trawler. It was more to do with the fact that the length now enabled me to lose the last remnants of colour.

I started having my hair coloured over 40 years ago but, with the advent of my new, Nordic beard, I thought it was looking a bit silly. I wanted to go all natural. I reasoned that I could always dye it afterwards if I wasn’t happy. As it turned out, I was very happy.

I had decided to try Moe’s Barbers in the centre. It was where I bought my beard wax the other week and they had been very helpful. They also don’t wear masks and/or those clear plastic face shields. Plus I haven’t been to an actual barber since I was a child under my parents care and was looking forward to the relatively new experience.

Anyway, the chap who cut my hair was a dab hand with scissors and electric clippers and soon I was transformed into a normal member of polite society rather than someone off to the edges of it.

The barista at Espresso House was very complimentary about my new look which also speaks volumes about the old one.

On the way home, my ears feeling the cold for the first time in months, I noticed the road works at the roundabout not far from our house. They started work on it before we went away. I thought they were repairing cables or something similar but, rather than cables, they have lain a bit of footpath and dropped the kerb for pedestrians.

That’s all fine and handy except that it doesn’t actually go anywhere.

The road that leads into the roundabout has a bank on one side and a big ditch on the other. Both of them are inaccessible to pedestrians. Generally people just walk up the road and avoid the vehicles. It’s a quiet road.

I’m not sure what the new footpath is going to achieve. Well, apart from a bit of work for a couple of chaps and a digger. Still, it gives me something to write about, I suppose.

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Japanese cat with exploded nose

It was an early start this morning as we headed back to Tyresö. Eva had said we could delay our departure beyond the usual time to leave except that she had suddenly had a booking and, being a work day, she had to rush around like a crazy person. We finished packing by 9am and had a final cup of coffee on the verandah, overlooking the fields for the last time.

We were out, Max packed and were saying goodbye to Eva on the stroke of 10am, as requested.

The weather was perfect for driving. The sky was mostly blue with a few scattered, wispy clouds. Okay, it was very cold and the wind cut through the flesh if you were in it but, overall, it was great travelling weather.

We stopped twice for breaks along the way. As opposed to the trip out, we decided to try for a proper rest area rather than a services car park. As it turned out, we had one of each. First up, there was the incredibly scenic rest stop on the edge of Lake Våtsjön, off the E18.

Toilets, tables and benches with shelters, a beautiful lake for swimming, boating, fishing and, of course, the noise of the highway never far away. To add to the general atmosphere, there was also this rather strange sculpture.

As you can see, to the left of the photo is what was once an explanation/information board. Someone clearly disagreed with it and ripped it off and, probably, chucked it in the lake. I’ve tried a reverse image search but, it seems, I’m the only person to take a photo.

Mysterious object aside, the rest stop was lovely and Mirinda and the girls had a good wander around, stretching their various legs, before we climbed back into the over-packed Max and returned to the road.

The second stop was at a motorway services which featured a Circle K petrol station, a McDonald’s, a MAX and a Chinese takeaway chain called Chop Chop Asian Express. It was all rather depressing, particularly with the icy wind whipping off hats left, right and centre.

We had a rather disgusting cup of something described as coffee but what tasted more like reheated brake fluid, and returned to the road again.

We pulled up at the house in good time and set about unpacking and settling back in. Checking out the empty mouse traps and throwing out expired items from the fridge. The usual end of holiday activities.

It was an excellent ten days away but, as usual, it was good to be home.

I forgot to mention that last night, I played Mirinda at chess. Neither of us have played for years. In fact, she was probably the last person I played. Anyway, having established the fact that I’m so bad I even lose when I play myself, we had a game. And, you’d never believe it, I actually won. Not from any particular skill but because of a lapse in concentration on Mirinda’s part. It was a delightful moment when I put her king in check mate. I may have been a little ungracious in my win.

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Where awful American cars go to die

Who was Waldemar Platou and why is there a massive great monument to him in the churchyard of Sunne Kyrka? This was the question which struck me as we walked through the aforementioned graveyard and I spotted the white upright slab with the relief of, what appeared to be, an actor on it.

I discovered that Waldemar Platou was actually a very successful brewer from Norway who quite possibly never set foot in Sunne. I was unable to find any mention of his taking part in theatre at all. Also, he had a middle name: Stoud.

I did discover that he became a brewer’s apprentice at the age of 16 at the Christiania Brewery in Maridalsveien, and never looked back. He took the brewer’s exam in 1888 and the next year was given the job of Master Brewer at Christiania’s. He then went to Bergen and established the Hansa Brewery. By 1898 he was the CEO of Hansa.

He married three times (dissolved, died, survived), his second wife being the Norwegian stage actor, Dina Nordvik.

Dina was very well known in Norway. She was born there in 1884 and died there in 1921. She was just 37. I have no idea what killed her but she had a daughter. Her daughter was Lill Platou who became a famous Swedish actor who performed as Lill Norvi.

Lill married Otto Thoresen. Otto died in 1959. Lill, on the other hand, lived until 2006. At some point they (or just she) lived in Sunne.

When Lill died, she was buried in the graveyard at Sunne Kyrka and her memorial slab was placed in front of the big monument pictured above. I assume, as a tribute to her parents.

Needless to say, we drove into Sunne today and visited the church. Which was closed like almost everything in Sunne, including the Systembolaget. Fortunately, the Coop was open.

As we walked through the (almost) silent roads of Sunne, it struck me that there was an inordinate amount of ugly, noisy, very long, old American 1950’s type cars roaming the streets. They were all ridiculous. It was almost as if they had been involved in a vintage car display but were left behind by the other cars that were too embarrassed to tell them where they were going next.

It’s an interesting reflection on Sunne that that is the most memorable thing about the place. That and the fact that it appears to be largely closed over Easter.

And that was about it for our day. Well, apart from the fact that we had snow over night and I woke to this out of the kitchen window:

After settling in for the night, Eva came over for a few drinks and a lovely long chat about a job offer she’s had in Beirut and how she’s solving the problem in the Sudan. She is a very interesting person with some rather forthright views. I like her very much.

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A little bottle of Jacob’s Creek

The place where we’re staying is quite close to a small collection of buildings, collectively going by the name of Goats Swamp. Or Bog. While the whole place looks quite idyllic, there are bits where you understand why it’s called a swamp. Or bog. In particular the area where Mirinda took the puppies for a walk this morning. To say they brought quite a bit of swamp back with them would be an understatement. Fortunately, they didn’t smell of goat.

Being Easter Sunday, we devoured our treats. Rather than ridiculous numbers of chocolate eggs wildly distributed throughout the garden, we settled for a couple of marzipan chickens.

They were perfect. Unlike the day which was dominated by my inability to walk very much. Because of which, we didn’t really go anywhere other than returning to the Restaurant of Dr Moreau (Värdshuset Tvällen) for our Easter Sunday late lunch.

Amazingly, the restaurant stayed open for us, the only reservation after midday. We had the entire place to ourselves. It felt like when the Mafiosi boss invites the mayor over for a meal and organises for the entire restaurant to be empty. Except without the guys with guns standing at the front door.

Bodyguards there may have not been, but we were more than adequately protected by the plethora of Easter witches. This particular witch quite entranced Mirinda. She now wants one. Clearly the witch Easter theme is something we will need to retain, no matter where we’re living.

Normally, we’d feel a bit odd being the only diners but the restaurant is, basically, an L shape, so you can pretend there’s other people just out of sight. Also, we were in the dog allowable area which further cut us off. Whatever, we enjoyed another wonderful meal blighted only by the addition of menus in English. As I always say, “Where’s the fun in knowing what you’re ordering?

I forgot to mention the other day, but the house wine here is Jacob’s Creek (white, red, rose). Quite odd dining in a restaurant in the middle of Swedish nowhere and drinking Australian wine.

My only complaint (and it is hardly even a complaint) is that there was no music. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The kitchen staff had Abba playing, and we could just hear it through the open door, but it would have been nice to have a bit of Cornelis playing throughout the restaurant.

Back with Max we made our way back to the Goat Swamp though not before stopping for a bit at the edge of Lake Kymmen. This is pronounced something like Shimm’n. It’s one of those odd thing with language that, in Swedish, sometimes the letter ‘K’ is pronounced ‘K’ and other times ‘Sh’. Regardless of the name, Mirinda and the girls had a bit of romp by the frozen shore as I waited, warm as toast, in Max, nursing my sore toe.

Eventually they grew tired of chasing sticks and returned to the car for the rest of the drive home. Actually, Emma didn’t get tired of chasing sticks because it’s impossible.

So, a rather quiet but relaxing Easter Sunday with an exceptional meal in between. Here’s skål, from a happy old taxidermist, as Sharon describes me.

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Anti poaching unit

Having written extensively about how bad some bathroom facilities have been in our travelling experiences, I figured I should write about ours here in the middle of nowhere. Sadly, it won’t be a funny report. The facilities are fantastic.

A walk-in shower, heated floor, roomy, toilet next to the bedroom. In fact, I’d say that this is my ideal bathroom. Here in the middle of nowhere.

So that’s my report.

Elsewhere, here in the west (and a bit further north) of Stockholm, we decided to head to Karlstad.

We were worried it would be crowded with people, given it was the Easter weekend. Our concern was misplaced. There was very little traffic and very few people. Mind you, there were a lot people at the famous Artisan Bread where we stopped to sample their famous cardamom buns.

And I can highly recommend the cardamom buns. Possibly the best I’ve had since discovering them. If you ever find yourself in Karlstad, Sweden, treat yourself to one.

Filled with bun, we headed for a convenient car park, left Max and headed into the city centre.

Eva had told us about the Lion Bar, which allows dogs, so we intended to have a late lunch there. Beforehand, we headed up to the compact, little cathedral.

Originally, the church was built near the river in the 13th century. It managed to last until 1616 when it burned down. So, as these things go, they built another one on the same spot, opened in 1629. Things changed a lot when Queen Kristina granted Karlstad church cathedral status in 1647.

There was a concern that the church, having now become a cathedral, would sink into the water. Conveniently though, the church by the river was destroyed by fire (another one) in 1719 – I don’t think this had anything to do with the Great Pillage. The decision was made to build the new one on a hill in the centre of the city, a long way from the river (and possibly matches).

In 1730, the new cathedral was opened for business. Then, in 1865, another big fire broke out and destroyed the tower and roof. So, that was repaired and then, in 1915-16 the whole thing was renovated, though not to the extent desired by architect Erik Palmstedt. He wanted the choir wall removed. The church authorities disagreed.

In the 1950’s, there was another attempt to have the choir wall removed but, again, it was thwarted.

But, there is a happy ending to the choir wall debate. In the major renovation of 1967-68, the choir wall was moved eastwards a bit. Everyone was then happy.

Though, of course, these things always come around again and there were more renovations in 1997-98. This has left the cathedral looking bright, welcoming and warm. While not as beautiful or exceptional as the church at Nora, it’s still pleasant to wander around.

Or it would have been pleasant had someone not been tuning the organ. As Mirinda said, it sounded like the Martian sounds in War of the Worlds by Jeff Lynne, but not as tuneful. At first I thought it was a jack hammer. This is the first time I’ve heard an organ being tuned. I hope it’s the last.

We then strolled slowly down to the Lion Bar.

It was quite amazing how empty Karlstad was. Mirinda asked a guy in the bar why it was so quiet. He said it was because of the plague and the fact that it was Easter. I don’t know why but the place was definitely empty. And the vast majority of shops were closed. Except for the wonderful Lion Bar.

Here we met Michael, once connected with the Danish royal family and once connected to Eva, he is a very charming man. He works at the Lion Bar all hours of the day and night. I’m assuming his workload has dropped off with the early closing hours edict.

He also loves dogs. To the extent that he boiled up a couple of Danish sausages (“Better than Swedish because they are 80% meat“) and managed to hand feed Emma a bit. To say the girls wolfed down the rest of the sausages would be an understatement.

Michael also told us more about the Anti Poaching Unit of which he used to be a member. As was Eva. It sounds amazing. Though he also warned us about traps, poison and illegal hunting practices that we needed to look out for in the forests of Sweden. Mirinda is thinking of doing the APU Course in Stockholm though she’s not so keen on the self-defence classes you also have to attend.

But there’s a lot of money in poaching and, as we have all learned through the pandemic, money is way more important than people. Poachers would clearly not hesitate to attack someone for the price of a dead moose.

We had a couple of planks (pork, mashed potato and beans wrapped in bacon) which I washed down with a couple of on-tap IPAs. It was all an absolute delight. It was almost like there was no pandemic just outside the door.

Before heading home, Mirinda wanted to see the edge of Lake Vänern, the biggest in Sweden, the biggest in the EU and the third biggest in Europe. It is pretty big. And we only saw a very small bit of it.

I say ‘we’ but I sat in the car reading while Mirinda took the girls down to the waters edge. My ankle has been acting up for the last few days and I’m growing increasingly incapable of keeping up with anything much faster than a snail.

We’re returning to the restaurant tomorrow so hopefully, I’ll be able to get a shoe on.

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The restaurant of Dr Moreau

In 1909, Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf became the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. She was born in 1858 at Mårbacka near Sunne. Her family had inherited the property but, following her father’s death, her brother took over and made a right hash of it. He lost the property and ran away to America. The prize for the Nobel gave Selma enough money to buy Mårbacka. She returned to her childhood home. And we visited today.

The house wasn’t open and there was no one there, but we could wander around the grounds, which we did. The place was closed as much because it was Good Friday as being the off season. And maybe a bit of plague as well.

There was a very chill wind following us as we walked around the main building and through the apple and pear orchard.

Having never heard of Selma before coming to Sweden, Mirinda has made up for lost time so, in coming to this part of the country, it was only right that she should visit this shrine to the great writer.

Our house, where we’re currently staying, is somewhat more modest than Selma’s place and probably far more comfortable for it.

First thing, Mirinda took the girls down the gravel road and into the woods, chatting to the locals and fording streams. She didn’t see any bears. Or elk. But she had a lovely long walk before we piled into Max and headed out.

Having established that there appears to be no dog friendly eating establishments in Sunne (Eva was not surprised) Mirinda found a restaurant in a small place called Tvällen (it has three buildings, one of which is the restaurant). The restaurant is down a long and winding road, passing ridiculously picturesque lakes and forests.

It’s like you could drive for days and find nothing then, suddenly, there’s Värdshuset Tvällen, a place not for vegans. A place where you can indulge in one of the best steaks, flambé in cognac and drowning in a creamy pepper sauce.

It is also the home to the legendary flying rabbit-headed unicorn fanged squirrel. Surrounded by witches and other various stuffed creatures (the witches weren’t stuffed) the flying rabbit-headed unicorn fanged squirrel reigned supreme over the pack of normal critters.

Clearly the stuff of a taxidermist’s dreams, it stared at me throughout my meal. Fortunately, I took my glasses off and avoided most of that evil glassy eyed gaze.

Ignoring this abomination, the restaurant was so good we booked to return on Sunday.

But we didn’t leave before chatting to an English woman, and her daughter. They were intrigued by the green mini in the car park and came looking for us. They’ve been living thereabouts for two years, having come from Crawley. We had a lovely chat, discussing the various pros and cons of living in Sweden.

The daughter, about 14, had easily picked up the language and was ever ready to correct her mother in shops. Her Swedish friends told her that her accent was very localised and didn’t have a trace of her Surrey-ness which was very clear when she spoke to us.

We all had a marvellous chat and parted firm friends. I assume the husband and son were sat in their car, waiting.

On the way back from the restaurant, and on our way to the lookout at Tossebergsklätten, we came across the beautiful church at Gräsmark.

The church was built in 1739 following increasing immigration from Finland. Prior to that there was a small wooden church on the same spot. Sadly the church was closed, so we didn’t get to see inside. According to the information board outside, we missed a real treat with paintings on the ceiling and a terrific altar screen.

The information board does not explain why so many Finns immigrated to Gräsmark in the 18th century.

Having walked around and admired the outside, we headed off for the lookout. Eva had told us that it provided the best views of Övre Fryken. And she wasn’t wrong.

Up a narrow, winding, steep road (fortunately not gravel) we climbed wondering how high we were going to go. There was still snow at the top which gives some indication of the height. At the side of the road at one stage were the remains of a car, burned out and rusting, which testified to the isolation. Eventually, we reached the car park. We had the place to ourselves. It was very windy and quite chilly. But the views were well worth it.

We slowly and surely made our way back down the mountain and headed home, hoping we’d reach our dirt track before dark. Which we did.

We were met by Eva who joined us in a bottle of wine. And we chatted away for a goodly hour or so.

She’s quite the forthright woman, is Eva. She works in security in the way that Carrie Mathison works in security. She had some stories about dogs in Kosovo as well as a lot of views on the pandemic. She shares our admiration and belief in Uncle Anders (Tegnell) and believes that Sweden is following the correct path. She also thinks that the human race should be eradicated, starting with all the men.

As I said, she has some rather forthright views.

I suggested to Mirinda, after Eva had gone, that I’d love to cater a dinner party with her, Eva, Monali and Masha. I reckon sparks would fly.

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From Bloody Nora to the Friggin Lakes

Cornelis Vreeswijk was a troubadour. He wrote songs and poems, he sang and accompanied himself on his guitar. He was born in the Netherlands but spent most of his life in Sweden. Though he never became a Swedish citizen. He travelled the world becoming influenced by all manner of musical styles – jazz, samba, etc. He was never very good with managing his money and he was constantly being chased by the tax people.

Cornelis Vreeswijk was only 50 when he died of liver cancer. He’d battled addiction with drugs and alcohol for most of his life and was diagnosed as diabetic late on. He left a lasting legacy of music and poetry. He also appeared in a number of movies. In Stockholm there is a park named after him. In Grythyttan there’s a pub named after him and we had lunch there today.

Cornelis the pub is full of memorabilia about the troubadour. I don’t know why it ended up in this obscure little village but, when the Cornelis Museum closed on Gamla Stan in Stockholm, the contents were boxed up and delivered. And now, the place boasts that you can happily eat, drink and listen to some of Sweden’s best music while being surrounded by one of the greats.

We really lucked out because today, Skärtorsdagen (Maundy Thursday) they were serving a special Easter Bord. A delightful plate of various meats, fish, egg and beetroot. And beer (obviously).

Of course there was also the obligatory queue at the cheese and cracker table. Fortunately I am well versed in the art of thinly sliced cheese and took my place at the table. A number of very thin slices and a couple of crackers later, I carried my booty to the table. Mirinda was very pleased I hadn’t left the cheese with the ‘ski slope’ so typical of non-Swedes.

The big head on the wall to the left of the photo is Cornelis, by the way.

We had decided to stop off at Grythyttan because the weather was beautiful, and we wanted to see if the church was open. It wasn’t but Cornelis was. We were on our way to Sunne, leaving our accommodation near Nora after countless trips up and down the hill as I packed Max.

After filling up on ham and herring, we headed across country, drawing ever nearer to Norway but never quite reaching it. We drove on nice wide, almost empty dual carriage way roads and unsealed and slippy gravel tracks. The latter caused some tension. It didn’t help that our accommodation was at the end of a long, gravel track through farmland and inhabited by at least one big tractor that appeared wider than the road. Fortunately we met at a passing place.

We stopped at Sunne for groceries. Sunne is in between the wonderfully named Friggin Lakes. Actually, that’s what I call them. They are really spelled the Fryken Lakes. We are quite close to the southernmost one, Mellan-fryken.

At Sunne, Mirinda took the girls for a stroll by he lake while I battled the crowds in the Ica and avoided the wanker in the lowrise, 1950’s shit heap with the ACDC level speakers driving aimlessly around the car park trying to annoy as many people as possible. And bugger me if he didn’t follow us out of the car park and started heading out of town behind us. Fortunately he turned off, presumably looking for another car park.

Possibly the most adventurous part of our trip was arriving in a timber yard and trying to find the road across the railway line. Which we did when we decided to ignore Maxine’s directions for a bit, trusting our eyes instead.

Finally, we arrived at a lovely little house in the middle of nowhere and Eva, our hostess waiting at the gate. She showed us around the cutest little cabin behind her house. The views over the countryside, glorious and unending.

I reckon we’re going to totally enjoy this delightful isolation for the next few days.

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Final sunset over Usken Lake

It forgot to stop raining today. There were a few possible plans for the day, none of which included the rain. Still, after our usual morning of writing, we decided to take Max for a spin. After studying the map, Mirinda chose a place called Klockhammar to visit.

The name of the place comes from the fact that iron was forged there in the 17th century. Apparently it was not allowed in a certain area so another was picked, and it became Klockhammar. There was more than one hammer forge. It must have been quite loud.

Mind you, they stopped iron production a very long time ago and built a mill instead.

The other thing I’ve discovered about Klockhammar is the fact that the Örebro Punkfest was to be held there. It was due to take place this coming weekend but, due to the plague, it has been cancelled. Depending on the bands, it would probably have been as loud as the hammer forges.

So, we set off for Klockhammar.

At the picturesque collection of houses that is Pershyttan, and just as it plunged into the forest, the road decided to stop being sealed. This is possibly not a problem if either you are driving a four-wheel drive or the weather has been dry but, a mini in wet conditions, tends to not hold the road as well as one might prefer.

Mirinda tensed up as the back end of Max started to feel a bit slippy. She also slowed down. A lot. In fact, had we been going any slower we’d have been in reverse.

After what felt like 150 miles, she asked how much further we had to go and where was the closest sealed road. I told her we still had further to go than we’d already gone and that the nearest sealed road was back the way we’d come. We drove a bit further, her knuckles white as she tried to strangle the steering wheel.

My biggest fear was a tractor appearing round the next corner and forcing us off the road.

Finally, Mirinda decided to turn round and give up all hope of visiting Klockhammar.

A handy forest trail provided enough width to turn, and we started retracing our tracks, trying to avoid the slippiest parts of the road. Then a car appeared behind us. This achieved what I thought couldn’t be possible. It made Mirinda even more tense.

Along this poor excuse for a road, there were two short sealed sections over two small bridges. We were approaching one, and I suggested that Mirinda should pull over slightly and allow the person behind us to pass. My thinking was we could mimic his driving, given he was probably a local. It was also probably a good idea to let him get going as he’d be stuck behind us for at least a day.

He swept passed us, and we followed in his slip stream.

He quickly disappeared from view, and we were once more left on our own, vaguely aware of the back of the car not remaining wholly under control.

Eventually, our wheels hit the sealed road on the edge of Pershyttan, and we looked for somewhere to stop in order to unpeel Mirinda’s hands from the steering wheel. Unlikely as it seems, we wound up in the car park at Ica where Mirinda had a chance to get out of the car and walk around a bit. In the rain. The dogs were a bit confused.

It was soon decided that I’d go and buy salmon for tea, and we’d only go somewhere if the weather improved.

The weather didn’t improve so, other than Mirinda taking the girls for a walk late on, we stayed at the house.

Tomorrow we leave for Sunne and, if the sunset was anything to go by, the weather should be a shepherd’s delight.

While there’s a couple of things we won’t miss, we’ve both decided we’d like to live in Nora. Not Klockhammar and certainly not in the house where we are. But Nora? Yes, definitely.

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