Friday, August 24, 2012

Love Boat

After spending four wonderful days at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in the middle of Sweden, we moved on to more family, in the little harbor town of Norrtalje, about an hour north of Stockholm. If there was somewhere in Sweden that feels most like home, that I’m most familiar with, then it’s this cute little town. My Mum grew up on Vaddo, an island in the archipelago just outside the town, so the whole area holds a lot of memories and friends. My grandmother (Mormor) also lived here for the last 14 or so years of her life, after moving out of the big house they grew up in on Vaddo. As much as I wish my Mormor was still around, I am grateful to have a place to come full of so many happy memories and love.

After driving up with Mum and Dad, we drove to a nearby harbor to meet with my Aunt and Uncle on their beautiful ‘holiday home’- a boat. I was so happy Tim got a chance to see this side of Sweden, as it is best seen- in my opinion- from sea. We had a spectacular, sunny day, which was super lucky as they had been having a generally terrible summer.

The next day we went out to visit Mamma’s old house in Vaddo, a beautiful little island. We soaked up the sun, ate lots of smoked fish and icecream and visited old neighbors. The rest of the time we spent wandering the little cobble stone streets of Norrtalje and eating good food in great company.

Pretty Mamma x

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My favourite place in the world

My Aunt and Uncle in the Swedish countryside laughed at me a few years ago when I told them that their farm in Sweden's Östergötland was my favourite place. I guess for them, it just home. They love it of course, but it is everyday, normal to them. But to me- this place is pretty magical. Sweden in general holds a place in my heart as much of my family is Swedish and I have always loved visiting, but this farm in the middle of the woods is extra special as it holds so many memories and so much love, not just my own but generations of families. It is a place which radiates peace and happiness, where I can't help but smile as I pick wild blueberries, eat fresh cinnamon buns (made by my wonderful auntie, Lena) and drink my fifth cup of delicious Swedish coffee (which my uncle swears is good for me).

 Tim looking content in our cute little farm cottage

A day trip out to Blåvik

 Uncle and boyfriend doing some important man-bonding at the lake.

 I love birch trees. Probably because they remind me of Sweden- and there are plenty here.


 I even braved a dip in the Nordic waters! (Just so you know, Tim was too chicken)

The visit was made even better as on our second day at the farm, my parents also joined us. Sweden never feels quite right without my mum there with me, and it always makes me so happy to see her here in her home territory- no matter how many years she lives in Aus, she will always be truly Swedish at heart.
Beautiful wildflowers and a beautiful Mumma.

 Wild raspberries- there is nothing better!

We were also joined by my cousins, and this little cutie who is my cousin Daniel's beautiful little daughter, Martha. She is the funniest, sweetest little thing.

 Little munchkin!

We were also joined occasionally by sweetie Tassa

 Some of the old men and boys watching the olympics

Mum and Dad had borrowed (other) Uncle's car so we had another little road trip the next day, stopping off to see boats travel down the lochs on the Göta Kanal.

It was also the first time Tim has met any of my Swedish family, and he did exceptionally well- learning all the important (read: rude) words and charming everyone with renditions on his new guitar-lele (a proper guitar with 5 strings but almost as small as a ukelele) and increasingly aquavit-induced singing. This was particularly aided by the events of the second night, when we had a typically Swedish and typically hilarious "Kräft Skiva"- Crayfish party! There was a whole lot of singing, drinking, eating, singing and drinking involved, as you have to sing a 'snaps-visa'- a snaps song, before every drink and every Crayfish tail you eat. My family has been known to have imported this little tradition to our home in Aus, however with all my Swedish family who knew all the songs and enthusiastically drank their way through (almost) all the aquavit in the house, it was a pretty special night.

The Crayfish stuck to the window were hand-drawn by the Grandfather (Morfar) about 20 years ago, and are still pulled out every Kräft Skiva.

 Did I mention wearing silly hats is a non-negotiable part of the tradition?

A (small) part of the drink selection 

Unfortunately I have no photos as the party progressed, as I was too busy singing, drinking and collapsing at about 10. The sign of a good night, I think!

We had such a lovely few days at the farm, and as always, I was pretty sad to leave.