Absolut was a Swedish brand of alcohol. The company has been making vodka since 1879, when Lars Olsson Smith distilled it and started selling it outside Stockholm. The reason he did that was because inside Stockholm there was a monopoly which determined the price he had to charge: Outside, he could charge what he wanted. He even gave away free ferry rides to his distillery in order to entice customers.
The reason I’m talking Absolut is because the company seems to own a significant chunk of the town of Åhus. In fact, the water and the wheat with which Absolut is created, both come from Åhus and don’t have to travel very far.
Sadly, Absolut is no longer owned by Sweden. In 2008 the French group, Pernod Ricard bought it for a staggering €5.63 billion. Mind you, they still sell a lot of vodka each year. And these days it’s flavoured with all sorts of fruit and herbs.
We passed the many buildings of Absolut (collectively called Absolut Home) when we walked up the main street today. Obviously, this was after our final visit to the cafe so the girls could have some sort of meaty treat from their favourite Swedish woman.
Åhus has not always been dominated by a vodka distillery. In fact, it was actually dominated by the church back in the Middle Ages. I found a sign with an English translation of the history of Åhus which included a little artist’s impression.
It looks like it was a sleepy little fishing town back then and now it’s a sleepy little place full of vodka and pizza restaurants. In fact, you can never be too far from a pizzeria in Åhus. It almost felt like we’d accidentally fallen into a matter transmitter and emerged in Naples.
I’m not joking. There are a lot of pizzerias in Åhus.
My favourite things about Åhus, however, are both pieces of art rather than Italian food.
The first piece is an old bit of distilling equipment that has been placed outside Absolut Home but, rather than just leaving it to rust alone, some very clever artist has fashioned little people to inhabit it.
The piece of equipment stands about seven foot tall and the figures are slightly taller than a Barbie. I’ve put more photos on my Flickr account but here’s one.
And they are all drinking Absolut. I assume. It’s all very clever.
The other piece of art is in, what appears to be, an empty pool at one end of the main street. It is called Livscladje (The Joy of Life) and was erected in its current location in 1950. It was a gift from Kristina and Per Mårtensson to Åhus in 1949. The sculptor was Nils Möllerberg (1892-1954), a famous artist from Kristianstad.
It depicts a life-sized naked woman holding something over her head. It might be a sponge or a ball; no-one seems to know for sure. Though, on close examination, it actually looks like a giant coronavirus.
Having walked the length of the main street along one side we returned on the other then headed back to the house for lunch.
Following lunch (which managed to use up all the salad stuff we had left) we took the girls down to the beach for their last walk along the sands of the Baltic.
The weather was lovely: Sunshine, light wind, not cold. The beach was almost deserted except for a few, isolated walkers. One couple were strolling along, hand in hand, shoes off, obviously being very romantic…or so Mirinda said.
Tomorrow we leave for Stockholm so this was a rather bittersweet visit to the beach. We left our footsteps in the sand as a fond farewell.
The rather dramatic clouds in the photo above didn’t come close to Yngsjö but drifted off to Poland. Or Germany.
Today, this happened
Sometimes it feels like digital music has been around forever. But it hasn’t. In fact, today marks the 19th year since the iPod changed the way in which most of us listen to music. On 23 October 2001, Apple revealed to the world, their first generation digital music player. The first iPod sold on 10 November, 2001 and things just haven’t been the same since.
The iPod was preceded by iTunes which became the only way to load and use music on all Apple products. A user monopoly which continues to this day with all Apple stuff.
The original iPod allowed around 1,000 songs to be loaded and carried around. The catch-line ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’, worked brilliantly. I think there’s probably 19 year olds around today who only know CDs because their parents have them gathering dust somewhere in an attic.
By July 2017, the iPod was superfluous. The smartphone, since 2008, had replaced so many devices and the personal music device was definitely no longer required. How quickly technology decides what we do and don’t need.
Interestingly, when we emptied the flat a couple of weeks ago, I came across Mirinda’s iPod. It still works. Well, once I’d charged it, anyway. Of course, I had to find an appropriate charger, something that Apple excels in. Changing chargers, I mean.