More skids ice-fishing and playing with big dowgs
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
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With heated rump compliments of seat warmers in Olof's trusty Saab station wagon - a vehicle highly recommended if you're transporting large dogs - we cruised the country in style; crossing ice rivers, appreciating some of the crazy highway signage which abound, witnessing the wrecked aftermath of driving too fast in said chaotic conditions, and generally seeing first hand how Swedish towns, transport systems and people deal with the dulling effect of heavy snows at winter's height.
One highlight of this roaming was a visit to one of Sweden's oldest and best preserved towns - Sigtuna. I don't know exact details as anything resembling a tourist information booth or sign was closed and packed up for the winter, but I believe some of the current buildings date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and there has been a town here pretty much forever.
It's a pretty cute place - even in the depths of winter. A handful of ruined churches ring a quaint main street lined with historically significant single and two story buildings. These are mostly expensive retail shops now, which is probably good as it helps to preserve the heritage environment, so it's a pleasant wander up its length to the town hall.
Side lanes hive off the main street and most seem to contain other interesting structures that have been gracefully aging for centuries. A number are visibly warped and bowed which add to their rustic charm. Everything has odd art and appendages hanging off it and the 150 or so rune stones posted around the place add their dignified presence to the scene. When you get off main street, there are a variety of larger houses, old in their own right and interesting to compare architectural styles between. One might have a castle turret, the next looks very much like a big barn. Bizarre indeed.
Closer to home was a day out on the ice of a local lake to do some ice fishing. This is a pretty dangerous activity for obvious reasons, so it was with great care that we set out across the ice so I could try this national past-time.
We suspected the ice was much thinner than it actually turned out to be, so Olof tested the feel and sound of the ice as we moved across. The ice had broken and then re-frozen in large lumpy chunks so footing was difficult on the uneven terrain. Eventually we found a likely spot and Olof broke a hole in the ice, allowing me to settle down with my mini fishing rod as the wind howled across the bleak ice sheet.
Maybe it was because I was holding the rod the wrong way up, maybe I didn't jiggle it correctly, or maybe all the fish underneath were frozen ice cubes floating about in the current unable to blow bubbles or sink their teeth into my inviting lure. Whatever it was, I didn't get a bite (what a surprise) so after half an hour or so I was happy to head to solid ground for a second, daylight round of BBQ hotdogs ala Swedish style. We weren't so adept at keeping the korvs (sausages) on our sticks this time, having to retrieve them from the coals a number of times, but the charcoal tasted good in the frosty winter conditions.
That just left a naked sauna/snow roll combination (see next entry) and some final wandering in the woods around Olof's place to wrap up my time here. I loved the Aussie style outdoor dunny sitting there sadly in the snow and I saw my first woodpecker in the wild (crazy little bastard). Fittingly, the sun came out and milky rays shone through the undergrowth before setting gracefully on that final night. I have been invited back and back I will come for sure.
Thanks Olof, Anne, Elise and Robert for having me stay for so long and for showing me Swedish life in such a magic place.
Next entry -> VBs in the snow on Australia Day
Freak of the Week
I would have reserved this title for deserving humans but Balder here certainly qualifies as this week's friendly freak.
Being a 1.5 year old, 45kg Doberman pup, he is an adolescent until at least age 3. Contrary to popular belief he is about the friendliest animal I have ever met, bursting with energy and continuously wanting to play, be petted and to just to say hello.
Don't let the rather angry looking appearance in the photo above right fool you - he's just smiling as he bounds toward you in his usual manner of greeting. He's a great dog, full of life and uncoordination which can be a little frustrating at times but in the end is very endearing. With such a bizarre and lovable personality I think he'd be happy to be referred to as a natural born freak.
Til next time mate - be good to Anne and keep giving Olof a hard time ;-)