In 1909, Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf became the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. She was born in 1858 at Mårbacka near Sunne. Her family had inherited the property but, following her father’s death, her brother took over and made a right hash of it. He lost the property and ran away to America. The prize for the Nobel gave Selma enough money to buy Mårbacka. She returned to her childhood home. And we visited today.
The house wasn’t open and there was no one there, but we could wander around the grounds, which we did. The place was closed as much because it was Good Friday as being the off season. And maybe a bit of plague as well.
There was a very chill wind following us as we walked around the main building and through the apple and pear orchard.
Having never heard of Selma before coming to Sweden, Mirinda has made up for lost time so, in coming to this part of the country, it was only right that she should visit this shrine to the great writer.
Our house, where we’re currently staying, is somewhat more modest than Selma’s place and probably far more comfortable for it.
First thing, Mirinda took the girls down the gravel road and into the woods, chatting to the locals and fording streams. She didn’t see any bears. Or elk. But she had a lovely long walk before we piled into Max and headed out.
Having established that there appears to be no dog friendly eating establishments in Sunne (Eva was not surprised) Mirinda found a restaurant in a small place called Tvällen (it has three buildings, one of which is the restaurant). The restaurant is down a long and winding road, passing ridiculously picturesque lakes and forests.
It’s like you could drive for days and find nothing then, suddenly, there’s Värdshuset Tvällen, a place not for vegans. A place where you can indulge in one of the best steaks, flambé in cognac and drowning in a creamy pepper sauce.
It is also the home to the legendary flying rabbit-headed unicorn fanged squirrel. Surrounded by witches and other various stuffed creatures (the witches weren’t stuffed) the flying rabbit-headed unicorn fanged squirrel reigned supreme over the pack of normal critters.
Clearly the stuff of a taxidermist’s dreams, it stared at me throughout my meal. Fortunately, I took my glasses off and avoided most of that evil glassy eyed gaze.
Ignoring this abomination, the restaurant was so good we booked to return on Sunday.
But we didn’t leave before chatting to an English woman, and her daughter. They were intrigued by the green mini in the car park and came looking for us. They’ve been living thereabouts for two years, having come from Crawley. We had a lovely chat, discussing the various pros and cons of living in Sweden.
The daughter, about 14, had easily picked up the language and was ever ready to correct her mother in shops. Her Swedish friends told her that her accent was very localised and didn’t have a trace of her Surrey-ness which was very clear when she spoke to us.
We all had a marvellous chat and parted firm friends. I assume the husband and son were sat in their car, waiting.
On the way back from the restaurant, and on our way to the lookout at Tossebergsklätten, we came across the beautiful church at Gräsmark.
The church was built in 1739 following increasing immigration from Finland. Prior to that there was a small wooden church on the same spot. Sadly the church was closed, so we didn’t get to see inside. According to the information board outside, we missed a real treat with paintings on the ceiling and a terrific altar screen.
The information board does not explain why so many Finns immigrated to Gräsmark in the 18th century.
Having walked around and admired the outside, we headed off for the lookout. Eva had told us that it provided the best views of Övre Fryken. And she wasn’t wrong.
Up a narrow, winding, steep road (fortunately not gravel) we climbed wondering how high we were going to go. There was still snow at the top which gives some indication of the height. At the side of the road at one stage were the remains of a car, burned out and rusting, which testified to the isolation. Eventually, we reached the car park. We had the place to ourselves. It was very windy and quite chilly. But the views were well worth it.
We slowly and surely made our way back down the mountain and headed home, hoping we’d reach our dirt track before dark. Which we did.
We were met by Eva who joined us in a bottle of wine. And we chatted away for a goodly hour or so.
She’s quite the forthright woman, is Eva. She works in security in the way that Carrie Mathison works in security. She had some stories about dogs in Kosovo as well as a lot of views on the pandemic. She shares our admiration and belief in Uncle Anders (Tegnell) and believes that Sweden is following the correct path. She also thinks that the human race should be eradicated, starting with all the men.
As I said, she has some rather forthright views.
I suggested to Mirinda, after Eva had gone, that I’d love to cater a dinner party with her, Eva, Monali and Masha. I reckon sparks would fly.