Victim of my own charm

We had unexpected visitors today. In a not very Swedish way, KSP, Anna Boom-Boom and Rollo turned up to partake of coffee on the deck. There was a lot of laughter. It was definitely great fun. And Rollo did a Rodney*, making sure all of the dog biscuits were gone by the time the three of them left.

KSP was dropping off a Swedish grammar book that she’d mentioned at dinner the other night and, given she was over our way anyway, why wouldn’t she pop in? And, of course, there was Jason to meet. Given she’d already met Fi and Lauren, it was only right that she completed the set.

The talk was vigorous and various topics were covered, including Jason’s participation in the yearly Trosa Run, or Trosa Stads Lopp. It’s almost 9k around the town and KSP decided that Jase could represent Friskis & Svettis this year. It’s held the first Friday after Midsummer every year. Jason was very keen and we will all be there to cheer him on.

One topic that was hotly debated around the table was a discussion around a conversation I had with Christina’s mum at ICA this morning.

She had been adamant that everyone loved me at SFI. That the staff really appreciate the fact that the students are turning up. Apparently, it’s quite difficult getting them into class even though it’s a condition of their social security payments to do so.

It seems that numbers have improved over the last three weeks. When I think about my first day when it was just Arij and me, and the crowds turning up since, I have wondered why. Christina’s mum claims it’s because of my energy. I reckon it’s my charm.

Though, as I explained to my listeners, I can’t quip, which is a stalwart of my charm offensive. In fact, I think I just sit there and smile inanely or just look confused as I try to speak Swedish. And it’s not like I can quip in Arabic.

As I said to Mirinda when I returned from shopping, I am a victim of my own charm. Had I been dull and listless, I would probably still be Arij’s only pupil. Damn this charm of mine, I said, why can’t I turn it off? If only I wasn’t so charming, I wouldn’t have to put up with the snorter.

Anyway, for some reason, there was a lot of chat about my apparent arrogance as well. I maintain that it can’t be arrogance if it’s true.

Something else that was briefly discussed was the fact that everyone smiles for photographs these days, almost as if they are making up for the Victorians who looked deadly serious every time someone pointed a big, bulky camera at them. KSP posed accordingly.

* Rollo is a terrier that KSP regularly looks after and Rodney is a golden retriever who lives next door to our house in Farnham. Rodney would regularly stroll into our house and gobble down any biscuits the girls had left in their bowls. It appears that Rollo performs the same, essential service.

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Now she is ten

Emma is now, officially, older than me. It was her tenth birthday yesterday, which, in dog years, makes her 70. Not that she appears to be slowing down at all. She spent a lot of today chasing sticks and tennis balls. Then, late in the day, she jumped in a lake, chasing a bit of wood that Jason threw into the water. Happy birthday, gorgeous girl.

Judging by Jason’s photos, the lake looked as beautiful as it ever does. The serenity of the lake was not disturbed by other people. The lone paddleboard rider was a long way off. It was bliss.

Being a Sunday, we had our usual French lunch at Emil’s Backe following the customary Skype call with Fi. The weather was so perfect, it had even tempted Beth From Next Door, and her husband Matts, out into the wild world. Along with a lot of other people.

Mirinda is getting well known by the people who run Chez Charlotte. The woman has agreed to talk only (mostly) Swedish to her. Mirinda orders and chats in Swedish. It’s excellent practice. Jason had a go as well. I demurred, keeping the girls company at a table and talking mostly English.

It really was an idyllic day.

And, in the latest news, here’s a donkey, living his best life with a bunch of elk.

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Baltic research

On the poster it claimed the walk from the ferry stop to the research facility was two kilometres. I think the printer left off a zero. It was a long walk that saw Mirinda, Nicoline and me, quickly separated from the other 12 visitors to Askö, an island in the Trosa archipelago. This was because everyone walked at a different pace which quickly saw the group stretched out of sight of each other. Fortunately, it was also a beautiful walk through woodland and fields, along a well-defined path and over three cattle grids.

As an interesting aside, when we returned home and told Jason about the cattle grids, he had no idea what they were. Our description was somewhat haphazard but, eventually, he understood. He claimed his ignorance was due to his not having attended an agricultural high school.

We were on Askö to visit the Stockholm University Baltic Sea Center, a lovely place set in idyllic surroundings.

Nicoline had alerted us to the fact that today was happening ages ago, and I booked our places as soon as she did. It was lucky I did because the tickets sold out in minutes. Raymond, from Lagnö Bo, organized it which meant a ferry ride then a bit of a tour with Eva, or, as I like to call her, the woman with the amazing eyes.

Like the Riksdag the other day, I once more understood just about nothing. Fortunately, we had an expert translator with us. Nicoline not only translated, she also only translated the important stuff and added helpful comments like “That’s a stupid question” and “I don’t know what that means. Something about metal.

Eva Lindell, the station manager, took us round. She had the most amazing eyes. I was standing next to her while we were in the tower and her eyes were mesmerizing pools of icy blue. Unfortunately, according to Nicoline, Eva didn’t know that many specifics of what was going on at the research centre. Well, apart from the fact that they are part of the University of Stockholm, they monitor the Baltic and often accommodate visiting scientists. I’m fairly certain that her lack of scientific detail failed to satisfy the eco warriors in our group.

Still, everyone seemed to enjoy it. We chatted with a number of people who have interests in improving the environment. Raymond, in fact, was a member of the Green Party for a while, back when he was a politician. I think it was that kind of group.

My favourite thing was a big blue box which sits on a concrete pontoon like thing. It is floated around to different spots and monitors the levels of gases rising from the sea bed. At least that’s what I think it does. It was a bit difficult working it out. Methane was mentioned a few times.

Whatever it’s used for, I reckon it’s an amazing looking machine.

Actually, my first thought on seeing the entire facility was that if I was a research scientist, I would love to work there. Of course, I am both a scientist and a researcher but, not the two combined. Sadly.

Equally sadly, R/V Electra was not in port. The research vessel is generally moored at the facility but was off doing something else. Or being fixed. I don’t know what. However, it looks pretty sexy in the photographs. Actually, the whole fleet is pretty sexy.

Over lunch, we spent some time chatting to Karin and Casse who live in Vagnhärad. After we told them the story of how we ended up in Trosa, they told us their wonderful romantic life story.

Karin & Casse from Vagnhärad, a love story for the ages

They were a young couple in love but were separated by their career choices. As the years went by, they both married and had families. Karin was in northern Sweden while Casse was down south, in Skåne county.

Both of them then lost their partners, becoming widowed. Then, in some mysterious happenstance, they met again, realised they were still in love and married each other. They now live in Vagnhärad, where Karin used to teach.

As Mirinda said, their life is the plot from As Time Goes By. Without the typist temp agency of course. Or the irritating Judith.

Speaking of teaching, Karin knows my SFI teacher, Ninni and agrees with me that she is great fun and a lovely teacher. As the party left the ferry, Karin and I vowed to see each other in Vagnhärad some day.

After walking the 22 kilometres back to the ferry stop, we gathered in a circle and, at Raymond’s urging, spoke about the day. In order to do this efficiently, Raymond employed the talking pebble strategy. For those that don’t know about this particular strategy, it involves each person passing around a pebble and only talking when they are holding said pebble. It reminded me of the talking cushion in Breaking Bad.

It was then a very pleasant ferry ride back to Trosa Guest Harbour. All in all, a great day out. Nicoline really knows the things we love to do.

Back at home, I made my second recipe from the French woman’s cook book. It was Spring lamb stew and was fantastic. There was nothing that could improve it. We all agreed, it should become a regular Chez Gaz meal.

Oh, and, finally, this is for Jason.

It’s a cattle grid, Jase.

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New arrival

There was a celebratory handing over of a tablecloth this evening. It was as unexpected as it was unusual. It was presented with the correct amount of pomp and circumstance by Jason, the newest addition to the Trosa Aussies.

Mirinda saw the tablecloth and proclaimed it as excellent.

As you can see, Jason, having arrived from hot and steamy Queensland, was feeling the drop in temperature. At one point, he left the house to go and sit in the sun.

He arrived this morning at around 10:20, and Mirinda picked him up from Vagnhärad station. I, of course, was at SFI class which, I have to say, was pretty dire.

The one highlight was when Arij asked Alexandra and me if we had enjoyed our trip to the rikstag yesterday. After we both said we did, she then asked if we understood anything the guide said. When we both responded with a resounding “Nej!” we all laughed. By ‘all’ I mean the three of us, the others were all talking loudly in a mixture of Arabic and oddly accented Swedish.

While that was a highlight, the worst thing about class today was that the snorter was sat directly behind me. All class I had an almost constant phlegm recital. She really needs to see someone about it, if you ask me. No human should have so much gooey stuff up their nostrils. And who knows what it’s doing to her stomach.

The problem today was the size of the class. It took so long to go around the room, asking each person to answer a question that, by the time Arij reached me, I’d forgotten my name, where I was and why. It was all very frustrating. And loud.

The room was an almost constant cacophony of chatter, with students helping one another in a volume that was so far beyond 11, that it could be heard in Stockholm. I’m not being facetious. It was really hard to concentrate.

When the Tig hove into view outside, I happily left class for the day to join Mirinda, Jason and an unplanned pizza for lunch. It was the beginning of a much better second half of the day.

And the view wasn’t bad, either.

There was a lot of excited chatter as Jason recounted his journey. Apart from the horrible kids kicking the back of his seat and the man caught smoking in the toilet, it was pretty smooth flying. On landing at Arlanda he rather enjoyed knowing where he was and where he was going. Not to mention the how.

The rest of the day was spent in a lot of conversation and a walk. We then had a French omelette for dinner.

I am currently beta testing a French woman’s new cookbook, and the omelette was the first one I tried. I now have to provide feedback and a photo. Mirinda and Jason also provided their feedback. The consensus was that it was lovely, but not cheesy enough.

All in all, an excellent ending to the day following a rather ropey start.

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Not the only Aussies after all

The cry went up on the bus: “LOOK! ELLIE! A MOOSE!” Colin said it was his second sighting of one. Ellie was at the back of the bus so I have no idea if she saw it. I was on the other side of the aisle, so my moose count remains at zero. We were on our way to Stockholm, for a tour of the rikstag. That’s parliament for the non Swedes reading this. ‘We’ being the SFI students.

There were 25 of us and, in the second-biggest surprise of the day, three members of my class arrived before the bus left. Given their usual appalling punctuality, I was amazed.

I’ve seen the outside of the rikstag many times, but this was to be my first look inside. Obviously, there was an obligatory wait outside while the tour guide was found.

I felt sorry for poor Arij who was feeling quite cold due to the wind, whipped along by the canyon between the old parliament building and the new extension which was once the Bank of Sweden. I offered her my jacket but she refused. To be fair, she’s quite tiny and it would have looked like a marquee on her.

Eventually, armed with a tour guide, we headed inside, through security and to the lockers. Here, there was some confusion when a couple of my fellow students didn’t understand how keys work. They’d placed their stuff in lockers then left the keys in the doors. This was followed by a bit frantic gesturing and frenzied instructions in how to lock up valuables.

I have to say, right here, right now, that the guide was excellent. Okay, I didn’t understand the vast majority of what he said but he said it with great aplomb.

Therein lies the problem. Being the dumbest in the class meant I didn’t get a lot of information out of it. Well, maybe a desire to go on an English tour one day soon. Fortunately, there were brochures in English.

One describes how the parliament works but the other, a small brochure which, more or less, follows the route we took, was an excellent aid in explaining what I saw but didn’t understand.

For instance, the room, featured in the photograph above, was the 1905 Chamber and is now called the Second Chamber. This replaced the original rikstag, which was on Ridderholmen. According to the brochure, it had become ‘cramped, draughty and outdated.’

Then there’s the grand staircase in the old building. This is where, the guide told us, Emmanuel Macron entered parliament when he visited a short time ago. It’s also how the king gets in when he opens parliament each September.

Incidentally, apart from the opening, during which he wears a suit and no crown, the king has nothing to do with the running of parliament. The monarchy used to, but this soon stopped when the Swedes realised that kings were just ordinary citizens like the rest of us and not emissaries of god.

We walked around a lot of the old building, seeing lots of interesting rooms, paintings, gavels and busts of pompous looking men but, for me, I really loved the new building. It is quite amazing. We got to sit in the visitor’s gallery for a short while, watching and listening to the proceedings.

It was opened in 1983 and is modern, bright and must be quite the sight when it’s full. Today, it wasn’t full. There were about 20 people in the chamber. Two stood at the podiums and debated something in Swedish. Each speaker is given two minutes (there are timers behind them on the wall) to present their case and subsequent response. It was all pretty civilized. It felt a world away from stuffy old Westminster.

Originally, we were told we’d be let loose on Gamla Stan for lunch and souvenir hunting. This, however, was not the plan. As we stood, waiting outside the rikstag, Arij told me there was to be no lunch. She sounded very disappointed.

As we left parliament, heading back towards Gamla Stan, I figured we’d get an hour for wandering but, as I followed the rest of the group in my usual paceless fashion, I found myself herded back onto the bus which then proceeded to take us all back home. I could so easily have let them know I was staying in Stockholm and caught the train back. If only I had known…

Anyway, that was just a small blip on an otherwise splendid excursion. It was great watching the majority of other students seeing Stockholm. Some of them were like excited children visiting a playground for the first time. I found it quite odd that this was the case, though, given my experiences in class, I’m not completely surprised. There seems to be an entire lack of curiosity in some of my classmates. Even so, they seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

Oh, and the biggest surprise of the day was meeting a chap from another, more advanced class. His name is Colin and he’s from Brisbane. We talked Australian for a bit. His wife is Swedish, and they left Oz after the pandemic, along with their two kids.

I told him that my favourite sister-in-law lives at Mount Tamborine, and he smiled and said that was where he proposed to his wife. We both smiled at the memory of the Polish Place and the German clockmaker shop.

It seems that we were not the only Aussies in Trosa. Apart from Mirinda and me, there’s also Colin, Brad and Chris. Mirinda reckons we should form some sort of support group for Oz immigrants.

All in all, it was an excellent day out for all of us.

Even Arij, who survived both cold and famine. She’s the littlest person in the photo above.

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Blog title revelation

Swedish school kids started their summer break today. I noticed that Elsa, the youngest of the Perfect Swedish Family, graduated from high school yesterday, something that Sarah happily reported on Instagram. While they all enjoyed their first day of long term freedom, I was in class learning about body parts.

In one of those delightfully odd facts, the Swedish word for cheek is shin. (Actually, it’s spelled ‘kind’ but is pronounced shin.) The word for shin is skenben, which is difficult to write phonetically, while the word for chin is haka, which sounds a bit like hawk-a rather than a Maori war cry.

Another odd thing is the fact that the word for breast is the same regardless of whether it refers to a man or a woman. That’s not the weird thing though as it’s the same in English. No, the weird thing is that the quiz we did in class which shows two figures, a male and female, with arrows indicating body parts, had one pointing to the female breast and the other to the male.

That may not sound particularly odd, however, both answers were the same (ett bröst) regardless of gender. In fact, according to the list of choices, one was for a woman while the other was for a woman or man. Naturally, I managed to get the answers the wrong way round.

All a bit confusing. A bit like the fact that we had a mighty storm, complete with thunder, lightning, Biblical torrents of rain, etc, in Vagnhärad as the time ticked round to midday while Trosa remained completely dry. They are about eight kilometres apart. Fortunately, the wetness I experienced in one town was dried out by the sun in the other.

Weather and school aside, we had a very pleasant dinner tonight. We were invited to dine with KSP and Jonas in their very isolated house, where the beehives are growing. Actually, KSP told us that some years, they grow to ten trays high and resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

For dinner, Jonas made fläskpannkaka while KSP ‘prepared’ a deconstructed a cheesecake which we, basically, constructed ourselves. It was very simple fare according to KSP. Regardless of the simplicity, it was mighty delicious.

A bit like toad in the hole (which went well with the toad in the vacuum cleaner story related to us by Jonas), fläskpannkaka features a baked batter with bits of pork in it.

To quote Nordic Culture: “Traditionally, Fläskpannkaka is served with lingonberry jam, adding a sweet and tart contrast to the savory [sic] richness of the pancake. This blend of flavors [sic] is not only typical in Swedish cuisine but also a perfect example of how simple ingredients can create a meal that’s both comforting and sophisticated.

I agree. It was lovely. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I love trying traditional foods whenever the opportunity presents itself and I was not disappointed tonight.

A bit like the mealtime chat.

There was the story of the Lithuanian bee-man, who wanders around, hunched over, cigarette in mouth, speaking appalling Swedish while laughing at his own inability to communicate. KSP’s imitation of him was so good, I really want to meet him now to ascertain her accuracy of depiction.

Also, I managed to find out what KSP meant, back in May, by her tongue sticking to her palate. It was a reference to Ivanhoe, the 1982 movie starring Anthony Andrews. This may sound somewhat obscure to anyone but a Swede.

There are a few Christmas TV traditions in Sweden. One of them is to watch Ivanhoe on New Years Day. It is broadcast every year and, as was reported in Aftonbladet a while ago, actors Anthony Andrews and Sam Neill have no idea why.

KSP knows the film by heart and it was dialogue from the movie that she was quoting. I haven’t seen the movie (obviously I will watch it this year) but I have found the quote in the book.

“I could have pledged him with all my soul,” said Athelstane, “for my tongue cleaves to my palate.”

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

And, of course, I mustn’t forget the fashion show where KSP showed us her traditional Swedish outfits which her mother beautifully made and embroidered. She has two; one for when she was a maiden and the other for her married state.

It was an all round splendid night, enjoyed by all six of us (KSP had insisted that we bring the girls).

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Under the bridge

Husby Park is not far from where I have my SFI classes. There’s a road bridge that crosses a valley which has been landscaped with paths through it and small areas of plantings. If you walk down to the concrete pylons of the bridge and pass under it, you come to the river Trossen which, eventually, winds up in the Baltic, in Trosa.

From the river, if you keep walking, you will come to the Vagnhärad Runt, a kilometres long path through woodland and countryside that passes by lots of ancient sites. Burial mounds, rune stones and the like, crop up all along the Vagnhärad Runt.

Or so I’ve read. Mirinda has said she wants to explore Husby Park. I popped under the bridge to check it out during my half-time break today.

Class was actually fun. There were only four of us (including the teacher) and we played card games, learning new words and refreshing old ones. I’m happy to say that the snorter wasn’t there, so it was aurally very pleasant as well.

During the course of the class, we gave our ages, discovering that I was the oldest of my classmates. Ninni, our teacher, refused to divulge her age, saying only that she was older than I am.

Towards the end of class, we had a bit of karaoke. Well, Ninni and I did. The other two sat, bemused as a video played, with small children singing about the months of the year to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. It was quite surreal. And fun.

The song was followed by an odd couple of Swedish folk dances, one in which two men fake fight to violin music. It answered a question I had after the Swedish National Day celebrations last week.

I had asked Mirinda why Swedish women were quite happy to wear the national dress to all sorts of events but the men never did. Or not to things I’ve attended anyway. Well, I think I found out today. While the women’s outfit is attractive and flattering, the men’s is maybe not so much.

It features yellow trousers that stop around the knee, white stockings with red ribbon tied below each knee, a vest of varying colour depending on where you are from, an almost pirate shirt and, sometimes, a little hat. Not quite as bad as lederhosen but close. Here’s a picture of it on a mannequin.

I should say something about the weather as well. The last three days have been blighted by heavy bouts of rain. Yesterday and today, Mirinda took the girls for a walk and returned drenched. Both times, it was a bit deceptive with the sky blue and flooded with sun when she left the house only for it to turn black and flooded with rain before she returned home.

Fortunately, the weather was lovely when I walked down to Husby Park.

It would have been my turn to get a good drenching otherwise.

I also had some good news about Thursday…but more about that later.

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Is it better to die by accident?

Arthur Henry Laird was an accountant. He was born in Poplar, London on 13 April 1878 to Andrew Brodie And Margaret Laird (née Barr). They had two other children, both boys. They were named Stanley Morrison and Andrew Oswald Laird. Their father, Andrew Brodie Laird died when Arthur was only ten.

Andrew Brodie Laird was a Marine Engineer who died aboard the steamship Gulf of Guyaquil. The ship was on her maiden voyage. She left Liverpool docks on Christmas Eve, 1888 heading for South America when a great storm wrecked her and all hands were lost.

While Arthur decided he wanted to be an accountant, his two brothers followed their father into the maritime life.

In 1901, Stanley was a draughtsman, having served his apprenticeship at Yarrow & Co, London (1895-1900). He continued working at Yarrows until 1903 when he left to join the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, a company engaged in laying submarine cables between the UK, Hong Kong and Australia. Subsequently, in 1904, Stanley worked for the Western Australasian Mail Steamers Ltd until 1905. By 1911, he was married and working as a manager of an engineering works.

In 1901, the youngest of the Laird boys, Andrew, was serving an apprenticeship. His apprenticeship was served between 1899 and 1902. He was indentured to the Glengall Ironworks in Millwall, London. He spent some time in the drawing office and working in the shops, fitting, turning, etc. Having completed his apprenticeship, he was engaged by Millwall Dock Co as an engineering assistant. By April 1904, he was working as the resident engineer and, in 1905 was promoted to assistant engineer of the whole company.

In the meanwhilst, Arthur was a Bank Clerk, having started work with the London and County Bank in 1896.

By 1911, Arthur was an accountant, still working at the bank.

He married Nelly Evelyn Fish on 1 October 1913, and it would be lovely to say they lived happily ever after and had as many kids as they could manage but, well, things don’t always go the way of the fairytales.

In his spare time, Arthur was part of the Royal Naval Reserve, presumably in some sort of accounting capacity. Anyway, as happens, at the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, he, and a lot of other reservists, was mobilized.

He was made the Assistant Paymaster for the Royal Naval Flying Corps (RNFC) and was stationed in Roehampton, Surrey. I would imagine he was happily working away, counting coins, being able to go home and see Nellie and, generally, having a great war.

Unfortunately, these happy days didn’t last for Arthur. On 28 March 1916, a great storm blew across south-east England. I have no idea how much damage it created in other parts but, in Roehampton, it blew a tree over. Arthur was under the tree at the time. He died as a result. His war pension card recorded his death as an accident.

Back in 1902, Arthur was initiated into the Freemasons, Lewisham Lodge. The only reason I mention that is because he wasn’t the only RAF and Freemason to die accidentally, during the war, by having a tree fall on him.

Captain Norman Preston Morris, RAF was born on 30 August 1876 in Streatham. After leaving school, he became a hop merchant. He must have done quite well at it because, by 1904, he owned two houses. He was also a Freemason having been initiated in 1912 at the Charterhouse Lodge in London.

Norman was serving as an Administrative Officer at Bude Air Station, Cornwall, when he was killed, aged 42, by a falling tree at Langford Hill, Marhamchurch, Bude, on 17 September 1918. There is nothing to suggest how the tree fell but, one assumes, it was because of a storm.

Interestingly, in 2022, during Storm Eunice, a ‘beloved tree’ fell at Bude. It was so beloved that the fallen tree was turned into a series of benches.

On 1 April 1918, the RNFC joined with the Royal Flying Corps to become the Royal Air Force so they both served for the same branch of the military.

Though they died by tree two years and a couple of counties apart, I like the fact that neither of them died in battle. Rather, one could say they died of unexpected natural causes. And that has to be better than the alternative.

Postscript: Andrew Oswald Laird also served in the First World War. He was discharged after being shot twice. He died in 1959 in Hertfordshire. I haven’t been able to find any war service for Stanley Morrison Laird. He also died in Hertfordshire but in 1937. It’s not recorded whether either brother was killed by a tree.

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Only six cars

I may have said this before but, this morning, due to the changes in my personal schedule, I discovered the absolute best time to go shopping at the ICA, here in Trosa. And, rather than keep it secret, I’ve decided to broadcast it to the entire world. Or should I? It could prove disastrous if everyone read this and changed from the worst time to the best, therefore reversing things.

I know I’ve definitely written about the worst time. That’s late on a Saturday afternoon when the traffic inside the shop is a hundred times worse than outside, on the main road. I avoid it like the plague. Not that I’ve seen a lot of plague recently.

Though I did see a lot of rain today. And while I successfully avoided it, the same cannot be said for Mirinda who took the girls for a walk, soaking all three of them in the process.

The rain came in strong, sudden bouts separated by beautiful, cloudless moments of sunshine. The wind up high was constantly blowing in the water-swollen nimbostratus, eradicating the warmth and dry.

Consequently, we didn’t get to eat on the deck tonight, resorting to the dining room. It was all a far cry from my walk into the ICA first thing when the weather was calm and pleasant. Which was how the streets were as well. I think I saw about four cars on the roads and, as for the ICA car-park, there were only six cars parked up when I arrived.

As for customers…the supermarket was almost empty of all but staff. The aisles were delightfully deserted as I pushed my trolley around. I counted four other shoppers. We all wore smiles. It was like we shared a common knowledge about the best time to shop.

Walking back, I noted that someone had started laying the red cable that has been lying on the grass at the side of the footpath for a fair few days. I like the temporary pedestrian walkway they have erected. I felt very safe walking beside the concrete blocks.

There were even handy ramps for trolley draggers.

Needless to say, we didn’t visit Emils Backe today.

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And then it rained

Every year the Lions organise a massive market in Trosa. It’s been happening since 1959 though, back then it was a much simpler affair. Since 1981, it has been a huge military style operation, with 10-12,000 visitors swamping the town. It’s held on the second Saturday in June or, today, as I call it.

The Lions claim that the town welcomes around 2,000 cars to the market, and it really felt like it today. Hordes of them, driving carefully down narrow streets, searching for the elusive entrance to the ever packing grassy spaces dotted throughout the town. Or, at least, that’s what they usually are.

I had suggested that we should walk into town, having attended other markets and knowing what the traffic can be like. However, Mirinda thought we might need the car for carrying all the stuff we bought, home. After tussling with cars, pedestrians and people in flouro vests, she agreed that that is what we will do next time.

Each year around 300 stalls are set up around the main streets of Trosa. As we walked up the road towards Boman’s, I remarked that the Lymington Saturday market could learn a thing or two from the Trosa Lions Club. The lack of traffic made for a much nicer shopping and browsing experience.

And we did buy things. Salami, a key holder, local honey, some green cheese, all very important and essential things.

Obviously, we took the girls and they were complimented by people who said how well behaved they were. We explained that they are used to crowds, thinking back over the many times they attended the Surrey County Show. To be fair, we saw a lot of dogs and they were all well-behaved. Possibly, the people with badly behaved dogs, leave them at home on market days.

In the end, we didn’t visit all 300 stalls. We looked into Tre Små Rum and Två Små Svin, but both were heavingly full. We decided to have lunch at Emils Backe instead. So, our purchases in hand, we spent a long while navigating the narrow way back home.

Emils Backe wasn’t too full but, the two women in Chez Charlotte were a bit run off their feet with orders so, after waiting for a bit, we decided to have lunch at home, instead. Hopefully things will be a bit calmer tomorrow. Or, Sunday, as I call it.

At home, I mowed a couple of times and Mirinda worked in the garden. We had dinner on the deck then, as we finished and the weather turned cooler and windier, it rained. Finally. We headed inside, relieved the market (and we) had avoided the bad weather.

Oh, and the green cheese was delicious.

You’d have to like pesto, though. Or, Pure Green, as Lord Percy would call it.

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