After leaving the womblike warmth and humidity of Curacao in mid September, we have had to wrap up and toughen up for Autumn in Sweden. The crisp mornings, piercing afternoon breezes, cosy candle lit evenings, and saunas are as far from the Caribbean as one can imagine. The contrast gently reminds us to appreciate the beauty of wherever we are, right now.
Whilst on land we have tried to “live lightly” to continue the frugal and sustainable habits honed on the boat – and generally speaking, this has gone well. Apparently it is a common experience among boaters to live more thoughtfully, simply, sustainably, contentedly, HAPPILY….needing less, consuming less, recycling more, and DOING more when back on land. (this even extended to ME cutting Magnus’s hair, maybe not our best idea ever!) However, despite our good intentions, we have found ourselves slipping occasionally….shopping at Ikea, and buying a car. Oops a daisy!
Some new experiences have included:
- Buying a Volvo, therefore becoming a “Volvo driver” which is a “thing” in some circles in Australia. Hmmm, I am ready. It was second hand, but of course well designed, practical, and full of features. Our favorite aspects of owning a car again vary- Magnus likes the freedom, especially from grocery shopping on the bike, and I like the heated seats. Priorities…
- Lobster fishing…..what a fantastic experience! We pulled up 16 (yes, 16!) lobster during our 3 hour fishing trip. We were a bit lucky I think, because the boat’s engine had been playing up during the week, so the fisherman had left the lobster pots unattended for a little longer than usual. Lucky us! The trip was shared with dear friends, on an island on the west coast of Sweden. We ate many delicious things (lobster, obviously) and a highlight must have been home shot moose, home cured and served with Japanese condiments. Talk about East meets west! (Or should I say north?) It was divine – thanks Anders and Lola. And of course we were obliged to indulge in the crazy Nordic pastime of roasting in a sauna, then plunging into icy cold water. (I must admit have actually grown to love this, and now stay in the water longer than some Swedes I know!) The island’s stark rocky landscape seemed like the kind of place that would coax a novel out of anyone, and very nearly did from Anki! I would not be surprised if she pens her debut novel here. All in all we had a fantastic weekend with some truly lovely people, eating decadently, and enjoying the chilly Autumn weather.
- “Svampplockning” / mushroom picking. A perfectly Autumnal activity, including a bracing ramble through the forest, eyes down, focus sharp. Those little mushrooms are EXACTLY the same colour as the fallen birch leaves that carpet the forest floor, and are all but indistinguishable. It was frigid in the shade of the birch and fir forest, but we got a good haul of Autumn Chanterelles, despite our frozen fingers and toes. We ate them in a cream sauce on toast. Delish!
- Celebrating my birthday Swedish style, with Princess cake in bed. Heavenly.
- Catching up with other fellow boat buddies right here, in person, in Sweden; and/or virtually when distance or pandemic recommendations required. You forge deep connections with others on boats, especially if you also have other things in common as well as the strong shared experiences of general boat life, hard weather, etc. Dinners, walks, coffee, chats – we so appreciate the ongoing friendships that we have made as an unexpected dimension of our cruising life. It was sooooo nice to talk to them again, as we quickly picked up where we left off – albeit with us wearing pale faces and long sleeves in Autumnal Sweden, and some of our besties still brown as berries and glowing with good health in the balmy evenings of southern Spain, Caribbean etc.
- Playing padel with some of our aforementioned new friends. Padel seems to be a tennis/squash hybrid, great fun and an efficient way to begin to recommission our almost superfluous legs.
- Visiting friends in Gothenburg, and engaging in ANOTHER bewildering Swedish pastime “taking a bath” (swim) even in the winter. I was very surprised to discover that stripping off and getting into the water when it was about 9 degrees is not so bad! It was actually a bit warmer in the water than out. I was even more surprised when a whole family; grandpa grandma, uncles, aunties, toddlers – the whole shebang, ALSO came down for a swim! They were obviously professionals, because they teamed themal hats with their swimwear. I shook my head in disbelief! I had hitherto thought that only a handful of particularly crazy people did this but apparently not. These Vikings are tough!
- Sailing in Lake Mälaren again! Our dear friends from Lazy 🐸 understood our deep yearning for the water, and took us on their boat to an island for a crayfish party! We had missed the traditional time of year for that kind of shenanigans, but they had especially saved some crayfish caught and prepared by the family for us! As always, much fun, laughter, good food, heartwarming chats and of course, sauna. And as a bonus, some ripping sailing on the way, minus waves!
- The simple pleasure of greeting back on the bicycle! I LOVE cycling around town doing the shopping, errands etc. So convenient, and feels good for me AND the planet.
- Cancelling a long anticipated get together with some boat friends. This was absolutely necessary due to strengthened COVID recommendations, so we caught up on zoom, but not quite the same.
- Our lobster fishing crew bursting into song often during our weekend away. This amused me and warmed my heart in equal measures; such unabashed joy!
- An impromptu waltz performed on the lobster boat, by Lola and the fisherman! Beautiful, and accompanied by spontaneous choral accompaniment.
- Being asked at the cinema if I would like the seniors discount. Hmm. After some discussion about whether I was old enough (which was more awkward for the polite young cashier than it was for me!) we established that I could, indeed, have the seniors discount if I wanted it, so I accepted graciously. A new opportunity!
Food and Bevvy highlights:
- Bistro Vinoteket. If you are EVER in Västerås, it is a must. We visited as a very belated birthday celebration (a gift from Australia) for Magnus, and the tasting menu was absolutely superb. Interesting wine from around the world, teamed with delicious tastes of all sorts of local produce. Have you ever teamed sake with cheese? Or tried Iranian wine? Me neither until now.
- A truly delightful meal prepared by friends of sourdough pizza, with Västerbotten cheese, creme fraiche, roe and dill, followed by a mussel and white wine pasta dish, finished perfectly with fruit salad, served with a secret creamy accompaniment. Mums! (Yum!) Thanks Alex and Annika!
- The Japanese style cured moose mentioned earlier.
- Lobster, obviously!
- Home caught and prepared local crayfish.
- Masala sauce made from scratch for the first time.
- Hamburger from a local burger shack. You know its good when juice runs down your arm!
Boat work: (remote)
- Mapping, research, arranging maintenance and works to be done.