Category Archives: Travel

Starting fresh

‘Well, they couldn’t make a film of that!’ said the Resident IT Consultant as he came to the end of the book. That’s the same man who had exclaimed against authors who write their books as though they were films. ‘Don’t give it away!!’ I screamed, and he looked surprised. Had I not read it? No, I had not. Somehow this touring/visiting lark took all my energy and virtually no words were read. At all.

He went through two of my so hopefully packed books, while I… Well, eventually I read a couple of chapters of a book I first read a few years ago, but which has changed so needs my renewed attention.

School Friend suggested I read one of her ‘excellent’ real children’s books. I looked at them and came to the conclusion they wouldn’t save a non-reading travelling witch. Nor would the photo of a painted bookcase full of books which she offered me. Nice, but it was more art than literature. She also told me about, and showed me, the books she had read during her five weeks of holiday. And that made me feel so much better… (No, it didn’t. That was sarcasm.) As we said goodbye she was readying herself to finish the latest holiday book in the peace and quiet we hopefully restored by departing.

Anyway, all this visiting took a lot out of me, and I am now pretending to be normal, slowly getting re-started on things a Bookwitch ought to do. I’m already further on my re-reading of the changed book. I feel as though I’m back in the days when I was saved by Roger Whittaker and Ann Granger, 20 to 25 years ago. RW by singing so wonderfully that I slept better at night after Son’s birth. AG (lovely initials) for getting me reading again, a year or so after Daughter appeared on the scene.

Sorry about the sandwich yesterday. I am a mere prawn in a bigger game.

Pause

Have a prawn sandwich while you wait. Normal service is bound to resume at some point.

Prawn sandwich

What he got, what we got

Birthday flowers

Mr School Friend’s birthday went fairly well. What am I saying? It went very well. Mrs School Friend gave him a book, and so did I. Mrs SF also gave him a CD, which we sat and listened to on the by now blissfully normal-temperatured deck.

Pizzabella brought flowers that she just might have picked in the woods on the way. And why not? They matched the books nicely in colour. Which is all that matters.

Birthday books

We ate a lot of wild raspberry cake, also picked in the woods. The berries. Not the cake. Wasps were chased and the Brio railway suffered a mishap. People felt sorry for the Resident IT Consultant for being surrounded by Swedes.

The coincidental connection between my sister and Brother of School Friend has already been mentioned. I ended up chatting to Aunt B of School Friend. Strangely enough, she knew my sister even better. Sweden is such a small country, while seeming large on the surface.

I’d better stop talking to people. Possibly give up cake as well.

Sisters and Friends

Tant Brun

I know we did colours yesterday, but permit me to add a colourful, literary lady; Tant Brun. She is one of Elsa Beskow’s three tants, Green, Brown and Purple. This one appears to run a café in Sigtuna. I was so full of having been ‘thrown out of’ another Sigtuna café the other day, that I completely forgot to mention Tant Brun. I bet she wouldn’t dream of behaving like that.

Bokhandel, Norrtälje

‘All’ postcards of Norrtälje that I have ever received, have featured this bookshop. I found myself buying the same card myself, and sending it, despite there being many others. But the shop is quite pretty and as the Resident IT Consultant remarked, it grows inside and goes on and on. Rather like Blackwell’s in Oxford.

Norrtälje Bokhandel

Norrtälje has another bookshop, too. Not as cute, but still a bookshop. (Last time in Norrtälje I bought four plastic fish-shaped soap dishes. Not in a bookshop, I hasten to add.)

As you will know if you called in yesterday, we drove south. After enjoying another breakfast on the terrace overlooking Mariestad harbour, we went to visit my oldest sister. I have met her a few more times than her little brother, whom we saw last week. Unlike him she has no lake, but her flat boasts a larger garden than Bookwitch Towers, and much more forest. Very nice.

Then we drove even more south and ended up at School Friend’s house. The weather continued fine, but it was the first time in over a week that I could sit still without breaking into a sweat. (I know. One shouldn’t mention perspiration. But sometimes it’s all a witch can think of.)

Today is Mr School Friend’s birthday. I’m hoping for cake. And a party. Coincidence is an interesting thing, and I am fairly certain I will see Brother of School Friend, who was once – a very long time ago, it has to be said – class mates with oldest sister (which is stranger than it might seem to you).

The road atlas

This is the book that brought us all the way north (well, more north than I am used to) and back again. Whenever the Resident IT Consultant asked how far it was to somewhere, I always replied ‘about an inch,’ because strangely enough, it always seemed to be. The atlas can rest now. We know the last part of the journey well enough to manage without help. Although it is a wee bit further than an inch.

Grey, green, yellow, orange

The Resident IT Consultant wanted to go on a train. A narrow gauge one. And then I said I didn’t. I said I didn’t mind being parked somewhere for the duration. After a few false starts when he suggested silly places to put me, he found the Stockholm botanic gardens. (My search criteria said somewhere with benches to sit on and access to toilets. You know, just in case.)

Bergianska Trädgården seemed to tick both boxes (never let it be said I demand a lot). So off we went and he dumped me and departed for his train.

Bergianska

I sat on benches until the yellow orangery café opened, where I made a quick move on some rhubarb pie and tea. (I hadn’t actually said I had to have food. That was a bonus.) And then the grey sky greyed some more and the heavens opened and I had to grab all of the above and take refuge in the orangery.

Bergianska

Was reminded of odd Swedish custom of signs telling you to keep off the grass. I find this excessive at times, but kept off the green stuff, just to be safe.

Bergianska

We journeyed on after my brush with the open skies and the Resident IT Consultant’s fun train trip. Attempted to have lunch at an Ikea we passed (it was perfectly fine last week) but everyone in Västerås had returned from their holidays and the place was packed to the rafters. (Would have been if it had them.) Obviously, the first thing I’d do after a holiday is go buy meatballs and furniture. It’s the way to quickly get into the crush of things.

Drove and drove and drove. Got here at last. Had to admit to hotel receptionist that we had stayed before. Last week. And then we dined at a lovely garden café the Resident IT Consultant had found. (It was the youth hostel…)

The RCL

Yesterday I saw the Retired Children’s Librarian.

That is a phrase I have so far been unable to say on this blog, which makes it noteworthy. Saw her the day before as well. And before that it had been eight years. Bookwitch is only seven, which is why I’ve never said it on here. The RCL doesn’t travel much these days, and I find that the town where she now lives is – quite frankly – on the wrong side of the country.

It is far and it is not on the railway. That’s where the Resident IT Consultant comes in, because he can be made to drive witches to places not so easily reached by other means. (Before you ask, the broom suffers from heat exhaustion.)

The town where the RCL lives is a lovely town. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s just not convenient. So, in-between lunch at her place one day and dinner at a restaurant the next, we went to see her niece at Växplats Nybyn, which is where the RCL does most of her work in the summer. My old mentor might be gasping for air in the hot weather, but she still helps her niece with serving coffee at her herby heaven in the countryside, almost daily donning a pretty purple pinny.

Växplats Nybyn and the RCL

If you think the photos look a little dark, I’ll just mention this was immediately before some magnificent thunder and lightning. Which did make it a teeny weeny bit colder. Not to mention wet.

It’s a lovely place, even if it does have a geranium room, which is a sort of witchy hell on earth (me and geraniums don’t mix). Beautiful, but smelling of geraniums.

Geraniums at Växplats Nybyn

With a Pippi Longstocking hut for children, the niece has clearly had the same mentor I had. She used to have – pet – pigs, who all bore the names of children’s literature characters.

Växplats Nybyn, Children's corner

The ferried witch

Friday was Furusund day. Well, Furusund morning, anyway. Furusund – which features in Evert Taube’s songs, as well as having been the holiday home of Astrid Lindgren – was smaller than expected. Nice, but there was no ‘downtown’ Furusund to speak of. You sit there looking at the sailboats, when along comes a monster boat.

Furusund

And when we had looked our fill at Furusund, the Resident IT Consultant – with little consideration for lunch – drove us to Kapellskär, which is near-ish, and where the big monster boats to Finland and Åland depart from. There wasn’t much there either, if you overlook three monster terminals for very very big boats. (Son and Dodo and Dodo’s family passed through a few days earlier, as Son day-tripped his out-laws.)

Kapellskär; the way to Finland

There was a beach we tried to look at, and a campsite we didn’t. And there was a ‘Loppis’ – a local flea market – which sold tea and ice creams as well as other people’s cast-offs.

I really wanted a wall hung telephone table, but ended up with a table cloth instead. (Will fit the suitcase better.)

Secondhand books, Kapellskär

Beach at Kapellskär

The Resident IT Consultant asked to be allowed to look at the secondhand books after he’d drunk his coffee. So we both looked at books. In the children’s corner they had plenty of Mårten Sandén novels. I didn’t need any more books, however, and the one sporting an English title on the cover which the Resident IT Consultant found, turned out to be in German.

Secondhand books, Kapellskär

Old times

How old I felt! How old I am!

(It’s really others who are too young.)

We stopped for lunch at a railway station. Ex-station. Very lovely. Even the toilet was lovely, and the camera came out. (No, you can’t see.)

My childhood milk bottles

They had ancient milk bottles of the kind I used to buy when I was a tiny witch-let. I mentioned this to the girl in the café. ‘Yes, someone told me it was in the 1950s’ she said. ‘1960s’ I replied, trying not to sound cross. But what’s in a digit? It was all long ago.

They had a train in the garden. (Well, actually I’m thinking it’s where the train would have been had the station not been a former station.) You could eat on the train. Or just admire it in a general sense.

It was hot.

Rälsbuss exterior

Needless to say I have travelled on trains like this one. And much more recently than the milk bottles. Didn’t feel like telling anyone that, though, as it might have made me sound older still.

Rälsbuss interior

Later we went to see my – older – brother. This was our fourth meeting. Here he is with the Resident IT Consultant after showing us his lands, and the pond he made himself. That was some pond. Had he not called it a pond I’d have said it was a lake. It even had an island in the middle.

Brothers-in-law

My sister-in-law and I agreed to disagree about Midsomer Murders. She loves Barnaby. I have decided that is fine. She thinks that Mikael Persbrandt (Swedish actor you are not – yet – too familiar with) is hot.

I think the weather is.

Gifts on a road trip

Why do children grow older so fast?

I have unearthed an embarrassing number of books, mostly children’s, that I had stashed away to give people in place of flowers and stuff. They last so much better than flowers. Or chocolate, or wine. Last better than the children, too. Or perhaps I mean they last better than childhood. The children are still here. Just older.

As for giving English language books to Swedish children, there is a thin line between the books being too childish or the English too hard. If I can’t give these books to someone now, it’ll have to be the Salvation Army next.

Or, possibly, someone’s grandchildren, if people could only acquire some and have them grow at a suitable speed. Actually, as I moan, I have realised that one old/new friend got herself a grandson three weeks ago. I hope he is a fast learner.

We are setting off on a road trip. I hate travelling, especially driving. But we have some people we want to see, who are best seen by driving, and too far away for a comfy day trip. Besides, we are being dis-located. Son and Dodo are coming, and they are bringing Dodo’s parents and siblings, which means the Resident IT Consultant and I have to clear out for a week.

The house is boiling. They are welcome to it.

Books I have eaten

I mean read. Of course I do.

The thing is, I have been let down twice in a row here, and I have nothing for you. Put one book on hold, and put one book down. Although not literally. I just saw no point in continuing.

So while I swelter in the summer weather, I can only offer you teeth. Not reviews.

Shark