The Swedish habit of fencing off boulders

Cardamom is my favourite cake. Karen introduced me to them many years ago. She used to make me one for my birthday. From the first bite, I was hooked. This is one reason why I was upset that I’d missed out on a bun a couple of days ago. Well, my upset has turned to joy after we visited Norrbys Café for an unexpected lunch and fika.

Norrbys is in a sort of garden centre/garden and it’s full of greenery, as you can see. The food and the coffee (and the cakes) are marvellous and make for the perfect lunchtime diversion.

I had a prawn sandwich, or, as they say in Sweden, räksmörgås. Though, ‘prawn sandwich’ is not really what it is. Imagine a single slice of black bread, topped with a mayonnaise of some kind with a big lettuce leaf on top of that. The lettuce leaf is then filled with egg and shrimp (at Norrbys). That’s it. Simple, elegant, delicious.

We had popped up to Norrbys, leaving the girls in the kitchen, when Mirinda had a few meetings cancelled. I was waiting for the printer to arrive but decided to risk leaving a note in case the delivery happened while we were out.

The expected delivery was, according to Amazon, from November 5 to November 10, so it could prove a long wait. I figured a note was the best option. Particularly after considering how long the treadmill took to arrive back home.

Using the ever handy Google Translate, I wrote and left a note asking the driver to leave the parcel by the front door (Lämna paketet vid ytterdörren. Tack så mycket) and we left.

When we returned, about an hour later, the printer was sitting by the front door, waiting for us. An excellent use of technology, freeing me up from the chains of waiting for a delivery. And excellent because I had a cardamom bun.

I should explain about fika.

It’s a Swedish thing whereby people have a mid-morning or mid-afternoon break with coffee and a light meal, usually including pastries or buns. A latte and a cardamom bun definitely qualify. As I said to Mirinda after my first bite of the bun “I’m lovin’ the fika!

Back at the house, Mirinda went off to a meeting (virtually at least) while I set up the printer. Mirinda had the nerve to ask if I’d be able to do it if the instructions were in Swedish. I reminded her that for quite a few years I was the god of printers and I felt sure my powers stretched across the planet and ignored the bounds of language.

I was right. Pretty soon the printer was happily working upstairs.

Late in the day, or 3pm as other people call it, we took the girls for a walk around the neighbourhood.

One of the startling things we’ve come across is the Swedish habit of fencing off boulders. Quite often, rocks bigger than houses have been plonked down in gardens, giving the house a somewhat awkward vantage point to fence off. It’s like a swimming pool safety fence but in reverse.

I should add that the rocks predate the houses and gardens by a fair few millennia so it’s rather out of choice.

Anyway, there’s an impressive example of this not far from us.

The yellow house, with it’s equally yellow fence, is perched on some very strong foundations.

As we walked by, we both agreed that we liked the yellow house. Mind you, as lovely as the yellow house is, there are stairs up from the car park then internal stairs before reaching the kitchen which appears to open onto the balcony. We’d have to install a ski lift.

In finishing this post, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that we are currently watching The Last Kingdom on Netflix. It was interesting how they had decided to use weasel-shit as an insult. I was shocked to the core.

Today, this happened

This evening, in 1884, Samuel Langhorne Clemens began a reading tour. Sam was better known by his pen name, Mark Twain. His first venue was the New Haven Opera House where, along with George Washington Cable he read selections of his writing.

The large and cultivated audience enjoyed the rare treat presented by George W. Cable and Mark Twain in the New Haven Opera House last evening. All the selections were rare and finely rendered. The first selection, “Music of Place Congo,” was read by Mr. Cable in an apt style. The second selection, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain, fully sustained the admirable reputation of the other parts of the programme. “Scenes from Dr. Sevier,” by Dr. Cable and “Ghost Story” and “A Trying Situation,” by Mark Twain, deserve especial mention. The entertainment was a success in every particular and the public will be repaid at any time for making efforts to hear these two gentlemen who are now appearing together.

The (New Haven) Morning Journal and Courier 1884: November 6 TWAIN AND CABLE. Available online at: http://www.twainsgeography.com/content/november-5-1884

At the time, Twain said it would be his last tour. It wasn’t.

Twain was an amazing man. He didn’t just write fiction, and he also didn’t just write novels. He wrote many short stories, he wrote an autobiography and he wrote a book about my second favourite saint, Mad Joan.

But he also found time to invent stuff.

One thing that sold remarkably well was a self adhesive scrap book/photo album. The pages had been treated with an adhesive that became sticky when dampened. He is rumoured to have made around $50,000 from it. And, in 1875, that was some serious dosh.

He also, accidentally, invented the bra strap in 1871. Okay, he’d originally intended it to be used for any garment that needed a strap (pantaloons, vests, etc) but it was perfect for brassieres. And it is still in use. That’s pretty amazing.

Not that he was the brightest of businessmen. He invested in some pretty bad schemes which cost him heavily. Which is probably why he had to go on book tours all the time. In fact, he declared bankruptcy in 1895 and then set off to tour the world, figuring the US wasn’t big enough to solve his financial woes.

Fortunately, he was very popular the world over and managed to recoup his losses.

Well known for his writing, it’s important to remember, ladies, that he has also helped support you personally, for many, many years.

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