Naked ice skating is not advised

Geoffrey Palmer died today, aged 93. A wonderful actor who managed to crop up in just about every British TV programme at one time or another. According to Judi Dench he was the naughtiest man she ever worked with. She should know. They worked together for 13 years in As Time Goes By. He didn’t die of Covid-19; he died of old age. So it probably doesn’t count.

And I was 65 today. For the first time.

To mark the occasion, we went to the coast. Mirinda asked me where I wanted to go and I found Saltsjöbaden. It’s just over half an hour from where we are living. And it was an excellent choice.

Saltsjöbaden was developed as a resort by Knut Agathon Wallenberg from around 1891. He built a railway from Stockholm which was completed in 1893 and then watched as people flocked for his much raved about salt baths. To accommodate the many visitors, two luxury hotels were built. One of them, The Grand Hotel, is not only still there but we had a drink on the balcony.

Our drink was at the end of our walking tour of the town. Being such a gorgeous day (I assume because it was my birthday) we walked from the station car park to the very tip of the little island opposite the hotel.

We passed many other people, most with dogs, as we promenaded. It was absolutely delightful.

Of course, before we promenaded, we had to have a coffee and something to eat. I can highly recommend the Station House Café. In particular the extra shot latte with vanilla syrup is pretty good.

I had a meat quiche. When we asked what they were, the helpful chap behind the counter pointed at the three and said “cheese and spinach, cheese and meat.” They all looked pretty good, but I was keen to discover what the ‘meat’ was, so I ordered a slice. It was delicious.

Mirinda had a sandwich which was fresh and tasty. We both loved the Station House Café. And not just for the food and drink. The dog welcome was excellent.

Sitting opposite us was an aged American couple who had arrived by bicycle. They were discussing the election result by reading a text message from a friend. They were laughing. Clearly they are either ex-pats living in Sweden or Democrats. Or both.

I realise I haven’t said anything about the US elections. So, since it’s my birthday AND my blog…It seems to me that for a country which thinks it’s the greatest democracy that has ever existed, it sure sounds like a fascist state. To top off the insane stand up comedy act that is Donald Trump, Fox News has just announced that, like a little bubby, it is going to refuse to call Joe Biden, president elect if he wins. I mean, seriously, WTAF?

Anyway, that’s it for the Stupid American Circus.

Back in Saltsjöbaden we walked around, admiring the views over the Baltic.

Actually, I should state that we didn’t see the open sea. Saltsjöbaden is at the end of an inlet from the Baltic and it curves around a headland. It’s still the Baltic but not as wide and beach ridden as we saw down south. In fact, Saltsjöbaden is basically one big marina.

Lots of lovely boats for the birthday boy and lots of water for his wife.

Speaking of Mirinda, she went to a hairdresser this morning. Regular readers of this blog will know that she doesn’t take too kindly to hairdressers. To say I was a bit worried for the Swedish one she was visiting today would be a huge underestimation.

Mirinda (like me) hasn’t been to a hairdresser since February. Not only did she desperately need a colour but also a bit of a trim. I feared the worst. I didn’t need to. All went very well and her hair looked fantastic. In fact, she got on really well with her hairdresser, and they parted great chums. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

But, back in Saltsjöbaden…having completed our wander around the island, we stopped at a statue of an ice skater. It was created by Christian Eriksson in 1910. Originally it was naked with a beard but, having seen a preliminary sketch, someone decided that was just wrong. The statue now has clothes and no beard. And looks a bit shocked.

We then headed for the balcony on the Grand Hotel for a drink. Mirinda had a gin and tonic while I had a wonderful local pilsner style beer. Very, very tasty though I don’t know what it was called. We joined another couple, also with a dog, and drank in the amazing view across the bay. It was just about the perfect birthday drink.

Eventually, we headed back to Max and then the house. It had been a very good day.

By the way, the meat in the quiche was bolognaise.

Today, this happened

Here, in Sweden, today is not celebrated because it’s my birthday. It is celebrated because it is Gustavus Adolphus Day. And to celebrate like a native, it’s important to eat cake.

It commemorates the death of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. He died at the Battle of Lützen during the Thirty Years War.

Actually, it was on November 6, 1632 in the Old Style (Julian calendar) which is actually November 16, 1632 in the New Style (Gregorian calendar). It’s all very confusing so the day is celebrated on November 6 and to hell with the style.

Gus was a leading light in making Sweden a big player in the world. He was also considered to have had one of the greatest military minds of modern history. Given he died in 1632, I’m not sure when ‘modern history’ started. To be fair, he is known far and wide as the “father of modern warfare“.

He was also pretty handy in peace time. He managed to reform a lot of Swedish government by making it easier to tax and conscript the poor. I haven’t found anything to indicate what the poor thought about this but the noblemen were delighted.

Oddly, Gustavus Adolphus Day is also celebrated in Finland. It has been since 1908.

Sadly, we didn’t find any Gustavus cakes today. We are heading into Stockholm tomorrow, so we’ll be on the look out. The traditional cake bears the king’s head and appears to be smothered in chocolate.

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1 Response to Naked ice skating is not advised

  1. Mirinda says:

    I even learned a new Swedish word from the hairdresser: slut. It rhymes with soot and means all over or all finished – like milk or a relationship

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