Sweden 2013 - Cycling Adventures
[Firstly I just want to apologise for the inconsistency in uploading these posts, I have been so busy working freelance since I got back from this brief yet wonderful holiday, I will try to keep them coming before christmas soon approaches. Thank you!]
In our new little home, it was pretty fantastic. It had everything we needed, all cosy and very quiet in the town which everyone had left for the coming Winter. The only thing missing was wifi and of course as any young adult, its like our life line. Luckily really close by was Hotel Skansen, which I had been staying at since I was a child and being more than familiar as a guest, I got away with accessing free internet.
It was a really beautiful day, so lucky for us who only had these bikes for 2 days and this was the last! We had cycled to the Skansen in the morning to talk to my brother, catch up with the world, before making it back home to cook up some lunch for the trip ahead.
Perhaps this is a bit déjà vu, but we were just making do with what we had and the pyttipanna from yesterday was delicious, so why not make it again? In the photos is Alan in our pretty wooden living room and the view from outside our doors.
Sweden 2013 - Cycling Adventures (prt2)
We left our home, cycling down the road and towards the sea to the left. Our path was simple, to follow the dirt road that rimmed around the beach, into another, but very different forest, then out onto the main road where the sand became rocks.
Alan was a bit nervous about cycling on a main road, but I assured him it would be almost completely empty and that there would be nothing to worry about. So we did the journey, and it was good. Alan tells me he thought the route felt almost like it belonged in America. Coming out of a grand forest, onto the road where we past trailer parks, I suppose its true we don’t see that in the UK at least.
We took a break to look at the view, the rocky beaches were always like a playground, hopping between rocks… but I didn’t have the right shoes for that. Sometimes I envy Alan’s big hiking shoes, where I can only wear flats. What we were really looking for was another ‘Rocky’ though. A few years ago, Dan and I made this same trip and upon the beach he found a rock with a silly face engraved by the sea. So we were hoping to do the same… where we wern’t exactly unsuccessful. We did find one, but its so wonky, its a bit special - his name is ‘Rook’!
Sweden 2013 - Cycling Adventures (prt3)
Happy with Rook, we made our way back into town. The roads were fairly empty, but I had to keep reminding Alan not to cycle in the middle of the road, as any car could appear suddenly. Luckily all went well and soon we were back into the dirt paths, past the forests, the babbling brooks, the rocky beaches, where I decided to de-tour a bit.
Instead of going back where we came from, I thought it would be good for Alan to see my great grandparents graves, in this pretty amazing cemetery. So we walked with our bikes up the hill, where all these very modern new homes sat, a little bit alien, facing the sea. At the top we were back onto the road, where we cycled past the roundabout, to where the cemetery as just up ahead. We saw them together and it was good.
We soon had to give our bikes back, but I wanted to make sure we would use them until the end of our needs. On the way, we decided to see my relative, who lives in the home where my family lived during my childhood summers. Alice and her husband are super interesting, they work on boats as chef and first mate. They have traveled the world and their house because of it is a Swedish but Japanese hybrid, full of antiques, artwork and prints. I had come here the first time with Bettan, but my camera had died of battery, which was a shame. But I made sure I wanted to see her again before we would be busy in the following week.
Alice has 3 cats, but they are so big I would class them as dogs or maybe mountain lions. One was bought but the other two were street cats, like Svea, who just decided one day to live with her. The biggest one is diabetic, but really likes getting his cat insulin because he gets treats after. We had a good time talking to them about their home, their cats, and generally getting to know each other, because I feel it is something that has been long neglected for too many years.
Sweden 2013 - Cycling Adventures (prt4)
The garden and the cats. You know I often tell this story regarding this house. During the time I used to stay here with mum, dad, grandpa, grandma and then Dan when he was born soon after, the bathroom used to be outside the house. Every day when I went to take a bathe, I would go in hand with my mum, to the basement where the only bath was, frightened of the dark and the cold. I would say of the daddy long legs that sometimes lived in the basement too, but I never really developed that fear. It seems so long ago to me, like a lifetime, but soon after we had gotten used to it, we moved to live in the hotel during our summers, which has been like home to Dan and I since.
I am glad I could show Alan these things, its so important to me to share my memories, my childhood and my heritage with him, so that he understands how these things have shaped me into who I am today. It is also wonderful for my family to finally meet him, we have been together for so long and at times the family have been protective and/or sceptical of relationships, so to break those limits and walk into new grounds was liberating.
Sweden 2013 - Cycling Adventures (prt5)
A vintage fabric print in Alice’s home, from Kisek. I think its amazing how my family and Kristina’s family have known each other once in the past, that even before I was born, it feels like we was destined to be friends together again.
Sweden 2013 - Cycling Adventures (prt6)
This is it. The end of the road. It is amazing how setlemental you can feel over an object in such little time. We had used our bikes for 2 full days and yet it felt like we had been with them for weeks. In this time, I had helped Alan learn how to ride for the first time, we had had adventures, been brave and cycled free, like flying!
I was pretty sad to have to give them back, but we had finished what I had set out to show him. We left the keys in the postbox and walked home, which sucked. Walking sucks and we hated using our legs all of a sudden. But we had to remember that we had big plans ahead of us. To see our dear friend Kristina in Halmstad and then much more to come, it was the start of a new journey and we were ready to accept it.
Sweden 2013 - Our new home
Swedish breakfast was something I had gotten far too used to when staying in Bettan’s home, so we had to go out after pizza the night before to get some. We bought milk, eggs, sweet bread, butter and fennel salami from ica and of course Alan brought tea over from England - Thank God!
Alan and I had slept soundly the night before, excited for the new day and what the week had planned for us. We were on a new adventure and this was Alan’s first ever time with me in Båstad, there was just so much to show him! First things first was to hire bikes from Svens, where Alan had claimed he would be rubbish at. I thought he was being modest… but I guess I was wrong.
So this is what happened. After breakfast we made our way to Sven’s Bicycle Shop, where you can hire bikes. Sven’s wife only speaks Swedish… as I had mentioned before in the past, and so I had gotten Bettan to write down what to say when I left. The plan was to get 2 bikes for 2 days and show Alan around the town, into the forest on the right and by the coast on the left. Alan had not cycled since he was a child, but I thought riding a bike was all about muscle memory, so I thought he just needed to get on and it would all come flooding back.
Sven’s wife gave us our bikes after I had embarrassed myself trying to say where we lived (Agardhsgatan… which sounded like Afghanistan to her) - she laughed! I was happy to be with my bike once more but Alan tottered and tittered his way out of the the shop. She was worried that the bike was faulty but I knew he was just rusty and so I said it was fine and we were off… or at least I was…
Sweden 2013 - Our new home (prt2)
We made our way down the mild slope to the park where I wanted to practice with him…but Alan was not doing so well. He could not sit right and constantly used his shoes to break. His handle bars violently jolting in one direction or another, where this should have been the clearest path. When we soon made our way down to the bottom of the hill, he finally told me what was up… apparently he was never taught how to ride without stabilisers in the past and had been so put off after epically falling (leading to his classic nose) that he never tried again… Bless him.
So for the morning Alan had to teach himself how to ride a bike. You know those scenes in movies, where parents hold onto the handle bars and run, letting go to watch their child accomplish this feat. Where in this amazing moment the child gains all confidence and life is suddenly so much more wonderful? Yeah that never happened. He didn’t want me to do that because I would lean in a direction and running alongside an adult is too heavy to push. All I could give are tips, tips where I wasn’t even sure how to explain, but he pursued it. He tried and tried along the path across the park, he was frustrated and upset, even defeated at times, but not long after, perhaps just 2 hours after, he could do it, it was good enough!
It was now noon and we were hungry, though after the bike fee we had just 50Kr (£5) between us for food for that day. We looked around in the nearest cafes and bistros but everything was so expensive! To get a sandwich alone cost 75Kr at most basic! So we were forced to go back to Ica, which as you can see is really where the holiday takes place. Food in the shop was fine and much easier to budget, and with just £5 we could get frozen pyttipanna, pickles, meatballs, gravy, potatoes and juice! Enough for lunch and dinner!
We went back to the house and cooked up some grub. This was the start of supreme budget living! We were happy to be home in the sunshine, where it had been so cold the week before! The pyttipanna cooked up deliciously and we laid the table outside all pretty like. We could only use 1 egg each, even if we were so hungry, but thats when something it happened - the double egg miracle! The first egg we cracked with 2 sunny yolks appeared, it was amazing. Then we prayed for another, just in that slim chance this may happen again - and it did! We were SO CHUFFED!!
We ate outside in the sunshine, the sun was so bright we could hardly see, we needed sunglasses, but as if I packed for all seasons in one holiday, forget about it! The meal was delicious and after chugging it down, and enjoying heart tarts I had bought the night before as well, we were ready to conquer the forest!
Sweden 2013 - Our new home (prt3)
Alan followed me closely as we cycled towards the forest. The pathway is past the park, up to the public swimming pool (thats closed all seasons but summer) then into the forest, across a bridge, by the coast and then into a weird suburbia before making it back home.
So we did just that. We made our way towards the pool carpark, where I could then get him to practice a bit more before we headed towards rockier terrain, Alans seat was wobbly to boot and so I had to make sure. It was here where I taught him the tricks of all tricks - hold the break before you move. He gained the extra confidence needed and so we headed towards the forest, It was very magical.
He didn’t crash or topple, of course I couldn’t zoom ahead, but it was really nice, just him and I in the silence of the forest. Towards the end of route it became really tough because of the path, which had gone from pavement to dirt to now wood chips, making it really hard to peddle. I had worried I had gotten us a bit lost but was relieved to see the bridge appear at the end of the route!
The bridge was above the mouth of the river, where water travelled back into the sea. We stopped to admire the sunset upon it before cycling towards the coast. I had done this before with Dan in the past where a similar scene had happened. And so I queued the music from my phone and indulged in the moment. Alan was so happy to be able to cycle alongside me so we could enjoy these moments together and I was so proud of him for overcoming his fear and learning so quickly, it was a wonderful moment.
Sweden 2013 - Our new home (prt4)
Alan and I went from the beach and through the weird suburbia. I call it strange because all the houses look like a set, in different colours with all the trimmings. Once I had even seen kids selling lemonade at an actual wooden stand during the summer! And I thought these were only the workings of american cartoons! We made it out soon enough, it was so empty and everything was so quiet, like a ghost town. Then we made our way back home and we were so tired!
When we finally made it to flat ground, it was so forgiving to our buns. We went down the no cycle path by the pier, like rebels, to see the boats rock in their spots and hear the sea slosh up against the rocks. The sun was almost down, we were back where we begun and the air was cold. It has been a good trip and it was strange for so much to happen to such a short time, but it was time to get back to our little wooden home, to make some dinner and take a rest.