Mangan, that is.
You know how I want to be her. And now it looks like she’s me, too. Also, she puts it really well. I need say no more. (Except possibly to mention that I photographed her wise words from the Guardian.)
And I don’t even have a cat.
When I was a very small Bookwitch indeed, I travelled quite a lot. Mother-of-Witch travelled by train with me from when I was a week old.
At some point she got chatting to a kindly older lady who pointed out that she’d be much more comfortable if she didn’t drag my enormous brown bear with us. For travelling it’d be better to have a tiny bear, she said. Thus I became carer of a little pink bear, who was much more travel-appropriate.
I grew up with them both; the bigger brown bear and the travel-sized pink bear.
You will have gathered that I recently packed some of my belongings to come and join me at the current Bookwitch Towers. I told Daughter neither bear was coming. She was shocked. She said I should at least take pink bear. I decided I could do, and then I asked her to photograph the two bears together, one last time, to say goodbye.
When I looked at the photo I almost burst into tears. How could I do that to brown bear? He looked as if he’d understand, but still. It felt cruel. And separating them, too. Not kind.
So, well, instead of a picture of pink bear on his own, here they are, having travelled safely with The Hungarian.
Others do not. It may have escaped your notice – or not – that the Bookwitch clan has travelled. Not much. Only out, and back again. Both were fraught with worryings, as things are these days.
He’d got no further than the gate at our local airport before the Resident IT Consultant was stopped. His arms waved. I caught up with him and asked the British Airways man at the gate if there was a problem. This is not something I regularly get to do, being a mere wife, and a foreigner to boot. Yes, he was not allowed to travel to his destination. ‘It’s all right’, I said, ‘ because I am. And he’s with me. Here’s the marriage certificate.’ (Never travel without it.)
And if we had been short of lorries at home, I can assure you they were all over there instead. In the dark, in the rain.
Very nearly the first thing we did was to go and see the optician. You will remember we like doing this. It was lovely, and thankfully the other two bought new glasses, which excused me from spending money while still letting me see him. On our last evening nearly three weeks later he came to the house to deliver Daughter’s sunglasses, because what is a twenty mile round trip in the dark for customers having come all the way from Scotland?
Son joined us briefly, and on his first day we went to a favourite spot to eat lunch al fresco, because Sweden in October is so right for that… Daughter even paddled in the sea afterwards and that is so not normal that clearly something had changed.
I had brought gin to reward the neighbours. I believe it’s all the rage. The gin, I mean. And it was a change from whisky. But seriously, would you mow my ‘lawn’ for two years in return for a bottle of gin? Admittedly there was shortbread too, but still. I have better neighbours than I deserve.
That nice view I discovered at my friends’ house last time? Well, it’s gone now. Thankfully they asked us over for soup in the evening, so it was too dark to see the view that can no longer be seen. Honestly, people build new roofs on houses they should have no right to build. At all.
This time when we went for Sunday lunch, the ‘salmon car park’ offered a magnificent toadstool. I’m trying to work out if that’s a change for the better compared to the large cars two years ago.
And then we went for Sunday lunch the next Sunday, too. Same place I mean. So no change.
And because it would have been a shame to break a good tradition we returned for a third salmon Sunday, before running out of Sundays.
In between that we had three lots of visitors who all offered to buy some salmon for us to eat, but I managed to persuade one of them not to.
Don’t be alarmed. We also ate a lot of take out pizza, and might just have eaten at Max a few times where they do a decent selection of vegan burgers. All this saved me from virtually any cooking of proper meals.
But at least one can now buy the ‘vinegary stuff’ you put on insect bites again. (And I believe I spy face masks on the left, even if no one seemed to wear them.)
The wool shop in town was gone. In its place the next door tea shop had expanded. That’s tea shop as in sells dry tea, not tea in cups. And Marimekko stuff. You can’t have too much Marimekko stuff. So we didn’t even go in, just to be on the safe side. At the library Daughter was in raptures over the 3D printer, and the chap running the library café looked jolly pleased to have taken a selfie with Prince Daniel.
Daughter wanted to look in the bookshop. Good thing she did, or we wouldn’t have discovered her favourite clothes shop had moved [before it was too late]. The surprise pharmacy that popped up in the bank’s old premises? Gone. As for the bank itself, we popped upstairs to talk to them before giving up. The staff were mostly on their lunch break, and so were the customers. Hence the ‘queue’.
You still need change, if only to put into the supermarket trolley. No change for the toilets, but credit cards will do. (It just feels a bit extravagant using credit to spend a penny!) Although, one of the public toilets had gone. As in gone gone.
The local bus company has mislaid £150 of my money. That’s anything but change.
Returning home we flew SAS, but rather regret doing so. They have changed, and not for the better. They also changed our seats. Often. Partly because of a change of aircraft, which was not for the better. But the thing is, if I pay good money for an aisle seat at the back and to not sit near the Resident IT Consultant, that should still be possible. There is a back to most plane types, and many of them have aisles. Most of them also have enough rows of seats that we can each have what we prefer when we fly. Which is not the same. Having said that, considering how cramped the plane was, I dare say it was a blessing that the man whose lap I almost sat on, was my own husband rather than someone else’s.
They let me back into the country. The only change I’ve discovered so far is that the neighbour has a larger greenhouse.
The moment the Hungarian arrived in Sweden last week I offered him some tea, on the basis that a UK-based man with a van would be suitably adjusted to tea. (We had packed the coffee.) He declined, but upon seeing the two coffee machines on the kitchen worktop, said he’d have a coffee.
Hmm. Using my initiative, I cobbled together two pods of café au lait into a large mug, not inquiring whether he wanted milk [non-lait not being an option] or sugar. He drank it.
Daughter found this Hungarian online a couple of years ago, and liked him well enough to ask for a repeat move last year. And now there was me.
I have a pleasing symmetry, using Hungarians help move my stuff away from the [same] house in Sweden. It felt as if it must have been meant.
I was impressed with his willingness to drive long distances to move some paltry belongings in this day and age of difficult border crossings. Not to mention the red tape. And when I said I could do with him turning up in the next two weeks, he turned up, although just back from Italy. Perhaps sensing some slight hysteria on my part, he emailed me saying ‘all will be well’.
So tea was the least I could offer the man (who said he had eaten on the ferry so was all right). Except it turned into weird coffee.
He carried and he talked, and then sat on the piano stool filling in forms before driving off again.
Today he phoned to say he was a few hours away from the Scottish Bookwitch Towers, so we quickly cleared a path through the house for our junk. I instructed the Resident IT Consultant to do the offering of coffee and to make it proper coffee this time.
Not surprisingly he required no coffee.
And, erm, it seems he’s Bulgarian. 😳