Category Archives: Travel

Some blue books with that?

The poetry collection I mentioned getting rid of was blue. I half thought of asking around to see if anyone was needing more blue on their shelves. The books would have added a bit of nice colour, had they been adopted.

Below are some colour-shelved books, including two blue sections.

Glommen books

The authors who took part in the Glommen literature festival two weeks ago met up the night before, in order to hang out and have fun and get to know each other. So they had to stay overnight, and this bookcase ‘lives’ at one of the hotels used.

Your Weetabix* goes down so much better with colour coordinated books. And don’t get me started on the trend of putting the ‘wrong’ side of books out, to avoid any offensive colour ruining your room.

*More likely to have been filmjölk.


What? You still have change?

Yeah, it’s me again, banging on about change again. Some things never change…

Well, actually they do. I have changed. I no longer relish shopping trips, which will be why it took the Resident IT Consultant and me two weeks to venture – reluctantly – into town for some essential purchases.

OK, so the street where the first shop was had become a dead end. Luckily for us the shop materialised just as the road ended. Light fittings have changed, so I needed to ask if they had any that worked like the old ones used to. They did. Phew.

Then I very daringly instructed the Resident IT Consultant to take us to a conveniently placed car park, instead of us making a long and hot trek on dusty town streets. The cost and the warm weather meant there was actually a free space. I went to pay.

Yep, you guessed it! It had changed. The future is digital. Apparently. The ticket machine had a natty new cover on, telling me you can’t pay with money. Or card. Because the future is digital.

Right. You could download an app. Or three, except you only need one. Obviously. It’s very convenient. Or so they said, because the future is digital. Discussed this with the Resident IT Consultant, and we came to the conclusion we are both not only really bad with apps – especially on street corners – but that we are both so foreign that the likelihood of the cash-free digital futuristic app not working for non-residents with funny foreign funds was pretty great.

I changed my mind about the town. Left the Resident IT Consultant ‘guarding’ the car and went off to the bakery for some bread, seeing as we were there, hurrying back and driving off without paying.

The only new thing about the bakery was that the shop assistant opened the door for me as I left, by pointing a remote control at it. Thinking about this, I hope it was to be helpful to an elderly witch, and not a way of only letting out those customers who have paid… Which I had, as they accept both cash and cards.

Popped into the supermarket on the way home, somewhere you can still put a coin in the trolley, but no doubt they will make that appen some other way soon.

And the beggar outside still accepts cash.

Meeting the author

Daughter’s recent trip to Cambridge, for conference purposes, inspired me to coin the term New Norwegians. I won’t explain this, nor were there – to the best of my knowledge – any Norwegians involved.

It was hot. And Daughter had sort of hoped to leave the Geneva heat behind and be cold, English style. This did not work. Her Gonville & Caius room was also hot, just under the roof.  There was football. I believe she even watched one match. In a pub. Just imagine. And then the Sweden vs England palaver happened. But you can network over football too.

Cambridge-based author Anne Rooney, who writes books on science, among other things, had promised Daughter a couple of her books, so they met up for them to be handed over. This was aided by ice cream. Very large ice cream, I believe.

The only bad thing about this, as far as I’m concerned is that the books are now not with me…

On her last morning Daughter found she was not the only planet person left in town, so chatted a little to some people (aka New Norwegians) at breakfast. These people talked about a new planet they’d just read a new paper about, and which they had found interesting. They politely asked Daughter if she’d read it yet. ‘I wrote it,’ she replied.

Not glum in Glommen

The pace in Sweden is slower. Not all book festivals have ‘their own’ beach, or the weather in which to enjoy it. Had we brought our swimsuits, that is. As it was, the Resident IT Consultant spent the time in the shade behind a bush on the beach…


Litteraturfestival Glommen had its very first outing yesterday afternoon. Yes, right slap bang in the football match. Not to worry. They merely started an hour earlier to facilitate the buying of books. Not that I did worry, having zilch interest in one of the two things. Guess which one.

Ulrika Larsson

To kick things off – that’s the book festival, obviously – local bookshop owner Ulrika Larsson talked about all 25 authors and their books, only muddling some of the characters and putting them in each other’s books. She’s part of the Larsson dynasty, meaning her father was a student of Mother-of-witch’s, back in the day, and I remember her grandfather from when I was very small.

There were children’s books, and there was crime – book type only – and lots of feelgood novels. That’s the very latest, I believe. Most authors were local, although I confess I didn’t see Lars Kepler, who’d have been very local indeed.

Erika Widell Svernström, Therese Loreskär och Johan Rockbäck

They sold books. They raffled books. There were free chocolates and biscuits and stuff. There was also pay-for buns and cakes along with tea and coffee – served on the shaded and just the right windy verandah with a view of the sea across the road – as well as hot hot dogs. Well, the weather was hot.


Two authors had book launches, and I swear I heard at least one champagne (?) cork flying. Or was it the over-excited pear cider?

Some of the authors had a past on the local paper, Hallandsposten, and I learned about revenge blogs. Just to be safe, I don’t think I’ll engage in that.

Svensk flagga

The Dublin Ghost Story Festival 2018

No, I did not attend this Dublin book festival, but I am not above borrowing freely from others.

Helen Grant who is heavily into ghosts, as we know, was invited to attend, and she not only met Joyce Carol Oates, but she moderated her panel!!! According to Helen’s blog post about it, this was her first moderation experience. Well, to my mind they couldn’t have picked a better ghosty moderator. Or do I mean ghostly..?

Ray Russell, Helen Grant, Andrew Michael Hurley, V.H.Leslie by Diala El Atat

It seems that Dublin was wonderful and the bookshops were wonderful and the people attending were also a bit wonderful. And Helen shook the hand of John Connolly. (Beat you to that, dear.)

On the other hand, it’s not easy pleasing the fans. Helen had gone looking on Goodreads to see what people thought of the masters of ghostliness:

I can’t finish these.
Extremely overrated.
I had high hopes for this & all i can realy say is this book didnt meet them.
Sheridan Le Fanu:
a bit amateur-ish and poorly derivative.
Bram Stoker (Dracula):
overall, it was shit.
Don’t read this book. It’s awful.’

I suppose just because a book is old doesn’t mean it has to be good…

Das Schiff ohne Hafen

Aquarius. Reading about this ship, full of people who have left their homes and countries, and that turned out not to be welcome anywhere, until it was finally permitted to land in Spain. It’s an appalling situation, and one which reminded me of a book I’ve mentioned here several times. I’ve just not gone into detail, or reviewed it, because it’s not available in English, and now I suspect it never will be.

It is Lisa Tetzner’s Das Schiff ohne Hafen, or Skepp utan hamn, in Swedish. Ship with no harbour. Part of a series of books about the children of a tenement in 1930s Berlin, Mirjam and her aunt Mathilde have travelled through western Europe to join a ship that will take them to a new life in South America. They are Jewish, so know they need to leave Europe.

The Garibaldi is not a regular passenger ship, but is now full of paying, desperate people, hoping to escape. There are all sorts of passengers, from the wealthy and successful to the destitute, who have already suffered greatly. The children on board make friends with each other, as far as they can, due to class differences and personality.

Lisa Tetzner, Skepp utan hamn

The journey is eventful in various ways, but it’s not until they reach Brazil that it becomes obvious that things are not going to end well. There is illness on board, which means the ship is not given permission to land in some places. And where they do get to land, immigration officials are strict and refuse to accept many of them, sometimes because their papers aren’t ‘in order.’ Or they are ‘too old,’ or the single women ‘too single.’

The reasons given are the same we hear today for today’s unwanted. So the ship sails on, along the coast, with a few passengers allowed to enter their new home countries, but the rest have to stay and the ship gets all the way round to Peru before disaster strikes, and only a few of the children make it out alive, [conveniently] finding a desert island [where, in the next book, they try to live and survive].

Rich or poor, no one escaped this fate, and they have to make the best of things. Because this is a series of books shaped by WWII, there is much that is bad in them. But because the series ends after the war, Lisa Tetzner also lets there be much hope and friendship and belief in a new future for all. The last book is an inspiration, like a miniature United Nations.

Now, of course, we know a bit more about that as well. But when I first read it, my heart swelled with happiness and pride.

Just goes to show how the world works. If I’d written more about this series earlier, it would have been possible to still believe. I left it, hoping that someone, somewhere, would translate and publish the books. I also stupidly believed in a basic level of decency among people. Well, it exists, but the waves of hating your neighbour seem to be a necessary evil too.

A chicken house book launch

Ingrid Magnusson Rading och Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

Yes, another launch. One I didn’t go to, but I had planned my holiday flights before I knew Ingrid Magnusson Rading was thinking of launching her new children’s book Den hemlighetsfulla grottan (The Secret Cave) at midsummer. In the chicken house.

Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

That is much better than you might think. Haverdal, where the book is set, has an old farm which has been restored to be used for public functions, and you can hire all or parts of it. And Ingrid has a fondness for the chicken shed, which is where she launched her first book, the coffee table one about Haverdal.

Annies Gård

It doesn’t get much more beautiful, or typically Swedish summer, than this. The weather was gorgeous. Naturally. And outside her shed the men put the finishing touches to the Maypole (yes, that’s what it is, even in June). I’d like to think that every visitor who came to dance round the pole, also popped in for a book from Ingrid.

Ingrid Magnusson Rading

On the second day she launched the book some more from her own cottage. They don’t believe in being lazy, these authors. They write and they bake. Mini muffins, since you wondered. And on day two I spied Ingrid’s lavender crisprolls. Recipe in the book.

Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

So I’d say there was only one thing wrong with this launch. I wasn’t there.