On the day that the giant container ship, Ever Given, was successfully refloated and started making its way out of the Suez Canal, we decided to visit a very ugly and miserable looking town. Given the weather was likewise miserable and ugly, we felt it only right.
In the case of the ship, the build up of other vessels will be cleared in four or five days. In terms of clearing the vision of the ugly town from my mind, it will probably take a lot longer. In fact, it reminded us of Cinderford in the Vale of Dean, and it’s been very many years since we first clapped eyes on that place.
Unlike the ship, we were able to park the car and, as we realised how awful the place was, get back in Max and drive away.
The town was Hällefors. It was once famous for steel production. Then the 1970’s happened. Now it just seems to pride itself on noisy cars and men who look like grim, worn out versions of Joseph Stalin.
I found only two things to like about Hällefors. The statue outside the culture school called Ragtime and made by Niklas Göran in 1962. It was originally in Karlstad but poor Niklos died in Hällefors, so I guess they thought they’d move the statue to be closer to him.
The other thing was a strange bit of street architecture which may have been a half mile marker. It was an upright bit of old metal, marked accordingly but obscurely.
According to one tourist site, visitors are warned about wandering in the woods around the town because of the old, disused mine shafts dotted throughout the area. Falling into one could mean spending eternity in this town that beauty ignored.
Then, as if in some strange, yet unsuccessful, attempt to completely wipe the ugliness of Hällefors from our minds, we drove a little bit down the road and ended up at Grythyttan.
Grythyttan couldn’t be more different. It was quaint, cobbled and has an extraordinary church. In fact, Grythyttan is a Swedish church village. I don’t know what that means, but the church was remarkable. Sadly, it wasn’t open.
The exterior walls appear to be built with thousands of wooden drop tiles, like so many leaves. The building has bits added and various dates displayed on the corners of each bit presumably indicating when the bit was added.
The churchyard was well tended and worth an explore for the quality of its graves.
We were going to try and eat in the big restaurant called Cornelius but lunch is only served between 11 and 14 and we were well beyond that. There was no point waiting around for dinner because they are only open for lunch at this time of year. A pity because something that the village is well known for is food.
The very empty streets didn’t really entice us any further so we returned to Max and headed back to Nora.
And it was good to see that the roundabout in Nora has become home to three witches, in preparation for Easter.
It was a bit chilly on the roundabout but, I guess because they’re witches, they weren’t particularly bothered. Or, maybe it’s because their bodies aren’t solid and the wind just blows through them.
We decided to park Max and head for the Greek restaurant. Unfortunately, the Greek restaurant was closed so, after a stroll around a block or two, we popped into the Coop for the makings of pork and fennel.
On our stroll we discovered the old telegram office in Nora. A rather plain building but a very important one.
This was the telegraph office between 1880 and 1959. Back when Nora was famous for its mining, I guess communication with the outside world was pretty important. No doubt, the tap tap of Morse code would have echoed through this small, nondescript building day and night. The building itself was constructed in 1869 by Av Gustaf Wendin. I assume it is now a private residence.
And that was our day, apart from Mirinda’s hour trek through the mud in the morning.
Oh, and I have mastered the hob and the oven. And dinner was subsequently delicious.