Baltic research

On the poster it claimed the walk from the ferry stop to the research facility was two kilometres. I think the printer left off a zero. It was a long walk that saw Mirinda, Nicoline and me, quickly separated from the other 12 visitors to Askö, an island in the Trosa archipelago. This was because everyone walked at a different pace which quickly saw the group stretched out of sight of each other. Fortunately, it was also a beautiful walk through woodland and fields, along a well-defined path and over three cattle grids.

As an interesting aside, when we returned home and told Jason about the cattle grids, he had no idea what they were. Our description was somewhat haphazard but, eventually, he understood. He claimed his ignorance was due to his not having attended an agricultural high school.

We were on Askö to visit the Stockholm University Baltic Sea Center, a lovely place set in idyllic surroundings.

Nicoline had alerted us to the fact that today was happening ages ago, and I booked our places as soon as she did. It was lucky I did because the tickets sold out in minutes. Raymond, from Lagnö Bo, organized it which meant a ferry ride then a bit of a tour with Eva, or, as I like to call her, the woman with the amazing eyes.

Like the Riksdag the other day, I once more understood just about nothing. Fortunately, we had an expert translator with us. Nicoline not only translated, she also only translated the important stuff and added helpful comments like “That’s a stupid question” and “I don’t know what that means. Something about metal.

Eva Lindell, the station manager, took us round. She had the most amazing eyes. I was standing next to her while we were in the tower and her eyes were mesmerizing pools of icy blue. Unfortunately, according to Nicoline, Eva didn’t know that many specifics of what was going on at the research centre. Well, apart from the fact that they are part of the University of Stockholm, they monitor the Baltic and often accommodate visiting scientists. I’m fairly certain that her lack of scientific detail failed to satisfy the eco warriors in our group.

Still, everyone seemed to enjoy it. We chatted with a number of people who have interests in improving the environment. Raymond, in fact, was a member of the Green Party for a while, back when he was a politician. I think it was that kind of group.

My favourite thing was a big blue box which sits on a concrete pontoon like thing. It is floated around to different spots and monitors the levels of gases rising from the sea bed. At least that’s what I think it does. It was a bit difficult working it out. Methane was mentioned a few times.

Whatever it’s used for, I reckon it’s an amazing looking machine.

Actually, my first thought on seeing the entire facility was that if I was a research scientist, I would love to work there. Of course, I am both a scientist and a researcher but, not the two combined. Sadly.

Equally sadly, R/V Electra was not in port. The research vessel is generally moored at the facility but was off doing something else. Or being fixed. I don’t know what. However, it looks pretty sexy in the photographs. Actually, the whole fleet is pretty sexy.

Over lunch, we spent some time chatting to Karin and Casse who live in Vagnhärad. After we told them the story of how we ended up in Trosa, they told us their wonderful romantic life story.

Karin & Casse from Vagnhärad, a love story for the ages

They were a young couple in love but were separated by their career choices. As the years went by, they both married and had families. Karin was in northern Sweden while Casse was down south, in Skåne county.

Both of them then lost their partners, becoming widowed. Then, in some mysterious happenstance, they met again, realised they were still in love and married each other. They now live in Vagnhärad, where Karin used to teach.

As Mirinda said, their life is the plot from As Time Goes By. Without the typist temp agency of course. Or the irritating Judith.

Speaking of teaching, Karin knows my SFI teacher, Ninni and agrees with me that she is great fun and a lovely teacher. As the party left the ferry, Karin and I vowed to see each other in Vagnhärad some day.

After walking the 22 kilometres back to the ferry stop, we gathered in a circle and, at Raymond’s urging, spoke about the day. In order to do this efficiently, Raymond employed the talking pebble strategy. For those that don’t know about this particular strategy, it involves each person passing around a pebble and only talking when they are holding said pebble. It reminded me of the talking cushion in Breaking Bad.

It was then a very pleasant ferry ride back to Trosa Guest Harbour. All in all, a great day out. Nicoline really knows the things we love to do.

Back at home, I made my second recipe from the French woman’s cook book. It was Spring lamb stew and was fantastic. There was nothing that could improve it. We all agreed, it should become a regular Chez Gaz meal.

Oh, and, finally, this is for Jason.

It’s a cattle grid, Jase.

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