Monthly Archives: July 2011


It’s been women’s week this week. That’s apparently why it rains. More.

Sweden has its namedays and usually there is enough of a mix that you don’t get single sex weeks, so this week of women’s names – which as luck would have it is only six days long – is the only one. We call it fruntimmersveckan, where fruntimmer isn’t as nice a word as women. It’s more like biddies, perhaps? Correct me if you have a better equivalent to fruntimmer.

Today it’s Kristina, and she is last. Before her we had Sara, Margareta, Johanna, Magdalena and Emma. To complete the week we tend to borrow either Fredrik the day before, or Jakob the day after.

As a young witch I had two complaints about my name, other than the fact that I found it a boring one. It was not the name of a Swedish princess, and it did not come in fruntimmersveckan.

Cakes for 'fruntimmer'

One nice thing for those who have a ‘proper’ name, is all the cake eating that takes place. The magazines are full of cake recipes, and July being the holiday month, people have plenty of time for celebrating. And eating cake. Preferably all week.

One of the – very bad – ideas for a novel I had all those years ago, featured six sisters named Sara and Co. There might have been a brother or two. I don’t think I ever got past the naming of my characters, which is probably just as well.

Another Thames blob

Make the most of this. You are not going to be treated to swimsuit photos of me just any old day.

Bookwitch in the Thames

But I was inspired by the charity Thames blob I told you about, and wanted to offer up the blogger’s version. This one didn’t exactly take place yesterday. It’s more like 45 years ago, in Henley.

That’s where Mother-of-witch took us on my first English holiday. We’d never heard of it. Henley had a small ‘pool type’ swimming place just outside the town, where the pool was the river itself. Grass to sit on, huts to change in, river to swim in.

It’s where I bought my first packet of English crisps. By myself. (Which obviously contributed to my added blobbiness.) It was an important milestone. First I learned they are called crisps. (We call them chips. Good old Swedish word, that.) Then I learned they come in handy individual little packs. Had never seen the likes of that. And I went up to the counter and asked for them on my own, and handed over the three pence it cost. (Does that sound about right? Or was I swindled?)

I’m guessing this place can no longer exist. Not only would people be less interested in the dirty wildness of rivers when you can go to the Med and swim in a pool, but surely Henley property prices have made it an impossibility? Please put me right! I’d love for it to still exist.

As another history lesson, I need to mention that this was taken with my very first colour film. Expensive, they were. I was only allowed one, with twelve pictures. After some initial care, I wasted the rest on the penguins at London Zoo…

Doing swimmingly

Some people are too modest for their own good. This here, is a photo from a charity swim in the Thames for the Alzheimer’s Society, earlier this summer. I know that wild swimming is an ‘in’ activity these days, but this is a step wilder still. (Although I’m puzzled by this ‘wild’ term. I have apparently been wild – swim wise – all my life.)

Charity swim in the Thames

Anyway, modesty. Someone who works in the children’s books world is in there. That’s all I’m allowed to say. He/she is the blob in the bottom right hand corner. I mean, how can anyone tell? You can’t look at this photo and go ‘hey, there I am!’ One blob is much the same as another. No offense intended.

But as sponsored charity events go, I’m impressed by this. Bathing in baked beans is nothing…

A blog card

This tree looks like I feel, except I’ve not been standing out in the wind off the sea for years and years.

Seaside pine

I’m not a massive fan of pine trees generally (if it’s not December and covered in lights), but have always loved this kind of seaside pine with its long needles which look so good against a blue sky.

If you’re small you can climb on it and pretend it’s a horse…

Cough. Not that I’d want to, or anything.

The descent of a novel into black hole

You know how nice it would be to actually be published? Most of us can only dream of this happy state of affairs, but some of you know. Some of you might even have found that your book gets sold (which is sort of what one imagines happens to books), whether it’s fifteen copies to your friends and neighbours, or even 15,000 to those with a great many friends and neighbours. The latter is obviously to be preferred, but I imagine that both scenarios feel ‘normal’, once you’ve been published.

And then there is Mike French who is in the situation where you find out that amazon takes people’s orders, but can’t be bothered to order in copies of the book to send to the customers who placed the orders. Right now it seems you can buy anything on amazon, except The Ascent of Isaac Steward.

President with Mike French's The Ascent of Isaac Steward

Which is a shame after all the hard work Mike has put in, writing not just the novel itself, but a number of letters to our online giant. For those of you suffering from a phobia of giants, I can tell you there is no need to worry, because it’s a very feeble beast, unable to do anything much at all.

Not sure where this chap got his copy from. Maybe he’s a powerful man?

Here we go

Back in the days when the Resident IT Consultant was not yet the Resident IT Consultant, we once went to the pub. Well, maybe we went more than once. But there was this nice one, with good food, in a garden setting somewhere in Oxford.

We were just settling in over lunch, when one of his research colleagues turned up, accompanied by a full complement of family; Mother, Father and Sister. They joined us at our table and we chatted.

Before long Father discovered I sounded a bit odd, so asked where I was from. ‘Sweden,’ I said. To which he replied that his daughter had recently been to Norway. (Somehow people have always been to Norway.)

Trying to be polite, I then interrogated the Sister a little on her trip to Norway, because you have to at least try. She was a bit stiff, but gave the conventional answers people offer.

Then she turned to her embarrassing Father and told him not to be so stupid (and they were such a proper and well behaved family, too), because ‘she (that’s me) said she’s from Swindon!’

That explained it. I had to break it to her very gently that unfortunately Father had been right. He, on the other hand, was very happy pointing out that he might be old and hopeless, but that didn’t mean he’s always wrong.

And that’s where we are heading. To not-Swindon.

Rinsed off

I cleaned up the Solar System this week. It needed doing. I carried it to the bathroom and showered it very carefully. It’s almost as good as new.

Another lovely side effect of the witchy upheavals is that the Astronomy textbook has been found. The Resident IT Consultant had been accused of losing it. And worse, your witch had heard it insinuated that she’d given it to Oxfam. There’s many a bad thing I will do, but there are limits. Even for me.

Although the Solar System is only so big.

The Solar System