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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

SWEDEN 5 THE COTTAGE

 
We finally set off on midsummer morning in the camper car to find my childhood summer home.  We parked in a village about 7 kilometres away and got out the bikes to use for the last part which was down narrow country lanes.  What a delight to be pedalling through the wonderful pine forests and beech woods, up and down the hills and past lots of pretty wooden houses.  Finally at the bottom of a hill and around a bend, there it was, just as I remembered it opposite a tiny lane leading to the lake.

 
We stopped and parked our bikes and walked along the verge to peep over the hedge.  The garden was full of trees and shrubs making it hard to see the cottage from the road so we walked up a track around the back of the house for a better view.  As luck would have it the owner was in the garden so I asked if he would mind me taking a few photos.  Of course, he said,  and when I explained the purpose of our trip he invited us in to see the interior as well.  He was very interested in my memories of the cottage 55 years earlier and in my impressions of the improvements he had made.
I picked the harebells in the sketch above from the grass outside the cottage in exactly the same place as I'd picked them when I was a little girl.

 
We toured the cottage and when we got to the main bedroom I was quite amazed to see the traditional heater still there.  We had seen one of these at Skansen in Stockholm and I had wondered why it had struck a chord with me, now I know why, it had been part of the furniture of my childhood!  It's a lot bigger than it looks in the sketch, being ceiling height and the owner told us that one of these in an older house nowadays can increase the value considerably. 
The water pump was still in the garden but now it was only used for plants, not like in our days when it was our only source of water and had to be collected for all our drinks and washing.

 
We said goodbye to our new friend and set off towards the lake, a short distance down the lane and on the way we passed the farm gates where I saw this collection of milk churns.  One of my morning jobs was to go and collect the milk from the farmer in a small billy can and this is such a nostalgic sight that I wonder if one of those rusty cans was there 55 years ago!

 
We finally saw the lake spread out before us with it's calm blue water and birch woods reaching to the edges.  When I was small we came down here to take our baths and I remember the sight of our little family with Mum pushing baby Rosi in the pram and Chris and I carrying our towels and soap.  The jetty still looked the same and the water felt just as cold!  We spent a little while here soaking up the atmosphere but as it wasn't too warm and starting to rain we decided eventually to set off to our next destination, but promised ourselves to return and park the camper here for a few days the next time we come to Sweden.
 
 
One of my strongest memories is of going into the woods with my father to collect different wild foods.  In summer there were wild strawberries everywhere followed by the blueberries and later on the canterellas appeared. My dad was very good at cooking the mushrooms with scrambled eggs and I can almost smell their wonderful fragrance as they cooked. 
All through my life, whenever we've gone to walk in the countryside I have been looking out for these three things.  I've been lucky on a few occasions and the children always used to joke with Bob that mum's gone off hunting magic mushrooms again or filling her mouth with wild things!


 
Here's a sketch of my Dad's photo of the cottage as it was originally.  The old walls have been replaced with new red painted wood, the porch has been enlarged and the outside stairs are no longer needed as the entry to the bedroom has now been opened up from the inside.  The woods behind the cottage have been cleared and more summer homes have been built, one of them is probably right on top of our old toilet that we had to use as there was no running water in the cottage.  Mum used to tell a story of going up there one night and encountering a moose in the dark!
I do hope you've enjoyed my trip down memory lane, it's been fun for me too, reliving this trip of a lifetime.