Sunday, August 10, 2008


I often feel that I am bound to be disappointed in my holiday experiences. This is because the places I wish to visit are romanticised versions of the past: they don't exist now, but they probably didn't exist then either. I want to see the herringboats returning to the little villages where the fisher-wives hug their shawls about them, their needles busy with the need to clothe their families against the bitter cold. I want cedar chests of patterned bodices and knitted red braces, boiled wool jackets - that sort of thing.

So, now, who knew that Sweden is a hot country? Who could have guessed that we'd be grateful for air-conditioning in the alarmingly luxurious spa hotel where we found ourselves in Gothenburg? Who knew that the city was hosting a gig by Iron Maiden whose fans would arrive in their thousands just as we did?

We explored the Bohuslan coast and the museum at Uddevalla, hoping for inspirational examples of Bohus knitting. In fact, the kits in the gift-shop were strikingly more alive than the exhibits. Commmercial hand-knitting with very fine yarn - 3-ply, it looked like, is definitely a thing of the past.

On to Gotland, an island where the sheep features heavily. In Visby, a walled Hanseatic town, a brilliant museum full of Viking picture stones and silver hoards - one find per year still on Gotland, so rich they were, from trade in Baltic beeswax, apparently.

In the town centre, a shop full of pared down linen clothes and wool and linen yarn- Yllet - they have a website. And a different shop with this simple style:

Gotland itself is dry and gritty, at least in August. We saw many wonderful church interiors; there are 92 built prior to 1361. And more of the picture stones, some in the church-yards, some in the open-air museum at Bunge.

At Orebro, a spectacular Slott and very civilised public gardens full of sculpture leading to Wadkoping, a collection of wooden houses and craftworkshops.

Orebro, castle

Then, finally, to Stockholm, where the wonders of Internet booking found us on a motor-yacht, once, briefly the property of Barbara Hutton, given to her as an 18th birthday present by her father, just as WW2 broke out, it seems. Moored alongside Riddarholmen in Lake Mallaren, the equivalent of the Thames just by the House of Lords, it was ideally located. The restaurant, as the sun set, offered this spectacular view, of what is apparently City Hall, built 1915. Probably better not to know that.

Stockholm, sunset.


Callie said...

While you may have been disappointed, the photos look beautiful and it seems that you have expanded your horizons! I'm very sorry about the Iron Maiden fans, though! I don't know what I would do!

Raveller said...

Whenever we go out for a drive, my husband consults the brochure listing all the local festivals, etc. - not to attend them but to avoid them!