First day of advent

We came home to a present today. Hanging on the door handle was a long gift bag. Inside was a card, a small plastic bag and a bottle of glögg. By the door there was also a plastic crate with various lights and decorations. It was all from our landlady and her family.

It was a lovely surprise, and we ran around (not literally in my case) plugging lights in near windows and arranging a couple of tomte along with twice as many Santas, around a lighted Christmas tree. Our little house in the woods is starting to look very festive.

Glögg is a type of mulled wine. It has to be heated up. The small plastic bag contains a glögg mix which goes into the warming wine and gives it a distinctive aroma (and crunch I’m thinking). It looks lovely and will make for a tasty treat come Christmas Eve.

The biggest treat today, though, was the fact that it snowed. Not a lot, to be fair, but enough to make everything start to look a bit special.

And, unlike Farnham, it hung around all day given the temperature didn’t climb above zero. In fact, it was cold enough for me to wear gloves. For the first time.

The gloves were important given we spent a lot of the daylit hours outside in the pursuit and discovery of joy. Mind you, I could have done without having to pump up our tyres.

Max gives a warning when the tyre pressure falls below a particular level. When it flashes up on the in-car screen, it’s a bit scary. Everything else vanishes apart from a dire warning. It’s almost as if Max is saying that either we pump the tyres up immediately or we’ll all die.

As first warnings go, it’s very effective.

Of course, we had to immediately (if not quicker) find a garage. I then had to work out how to use the air hose. It was very different to the ones in the UK that I’ve had occasion to use. The biggest difference being that it’s free. Yes, air is free in the Sweden.

I had a go with the hose but didn’t have a lot of success. I read the instructions and noted the little pictograms. It seemed simple but I didn’t get it. Then another driver pulled up at the air station. I handed him the hose, and he set to work, giving all his tyres a blast of air. I watched and learned. It was remarkably easy.

The little drawings show the hose in a tyre then a head cupping a hand to an ear then a musical symbol then the hose being removed from the tyre.

And this is exactly what happens. After you’ve set the pressure you want you put the hose on and leave it for a bit. The compressor then gives a loud, high pitched whistle when the pressure has been achieved. You then disconnect the hose and go to the next one. So easy.

Of course, having to go through this didn’t make for the most joyful of starts to our day – there was some grumpiness. It also froze my fingers with all the valve removal and fastening in the sub-zero temperatures. Still, eventually we were safe to drive Max, the message having been sent back into non-existence. Until next time.

Things brightened up considerably once we’d arrived at the Christmas fair we’d been heading for.

Sara (of The Perfect Swedish Family) is a potter, and she’d been asked to have a table at the fair. We said we’d be there. She was only told on Thursday. She wasn’t hopeful it would be much of a fair. However, she did say there was an excellent café and a number of food vans so a trip to the fair would not be wasted.

Although there were only two tables at the fair, our trip definitely wasn’t wasted.

Not only did we see and buy some of Sara’s amazing pottery, we also tried våffla. This is a Swedish ‘delicacy’ which is basically a very thin waffle which has the consistency of a crispy crêpe. Jam and cream is plopped on top. I discovered I could fold it in thirds and eat it like a piece of pizza. While quite clearly carby, it was totally delicious.

We sat at a small table and ate our våffla while a British fish and chips van parked next to us played Christmas songs. It was delightful.

We bought three items from Sara. A beautiful pot with glass glaze on the inside, a small bird ornament and, of course, a tomte.

Sara has an Instagram account where you can see her other pieces as well as her process. She added a short video of the fair this morning as well taken before everyone else turned up.

Laden up with pottery and våffla, we headed across the island for our now traditional Sunday soup (this week it was kale with a hard boiled egg on the bottom).

We were worried there’d be no room inside the café because of the weather – everything was a bit cold and slushy – but there were a few tables inside while one intrepid family group were content to remain outside. Hardy lot, these Swedes.

We are really starting to be recognised by the staff. Even though our usual friendly waitress wasn’t there today. One lady, collecting plates and cups, walked by our table and asked where the dogs were. I pointed under the table and she laughed.

I have to say that, on the whole, the Swedes are very friendly. And cheerful. We feel very welcome here.

On the way back from Notholmen, we stopped at Ica for the week’s shopping. I loved the fact that the Christmas tree delivery had a light dusting of snow on top.

And just to end on a less than cheery note, David Prowse died today aged 85. I wonder if Sophie told Tom?

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