Two relaxing weeks of summer in Stockholm!

We’ve had two really nice weeks, just taking it easy at home, spending time with friends, and going on some outings…

At least three times a day, for what can be hours, all three kids, plus friends, bounce continuously on the trampoline. Fantastic! Best buy ever!

At least three times a day, for what can be hours, all three kids, plus friends, bounce continuously on the trampoline. Fantastic! Best buy ever!

Eating outside

Eating outside

Taking it easy

Taking it easy

swimming in the lake

swimming in the lake

Building sandcastles with pappa at the lake

Building sandcastles with pappa at the lake

Playing with friends (here is Lily from next door, whom Alfie loves to spend time with)

Playing with friends (here is Lily from next door, whom Alfie loves to spend time with)

Celebrating Leon's 8th birthday (with a "princess tarta" - that's what they call it in Sweden!!!)

Celebrating Leon's 8th birthday (with a "princess tarta" - that's what they call it in Sweden!!!)

Maya got dressed up for the occasion!

Maya got dressed up for the occasion!

Lego is the all time favourite!

Lego is the all time favourite (and consequently what the kids have spent a lot of time playing with this holiday!)

The stone slide by lake Malaren

The stone slide by lake Malaren

Walking along the banks of Lake Malaren in Stockholm

Walking along the banks of Lake Malaren in Stockholm

Cousin William's christening

Cousin William's christening

"Gronalund" fairground

"Gronalund" fairground

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In the paddling pool

In the paddling pool

Eating "pie" at Humlegarden playpark

Eating "pie" at Humlegarden playpark

Riding the lions in Kungstragarden

Riding the lions in Kungstragarden

Filing soap stone sculptures in Kulturhuset

Filing soap stone sculptures in Kulturhuset

And tomorrow we are off on another “road trip” for a week – this time to “Smaland”!

Dalarna

I havn’t written for a couple of weeks! Last week we went on a road trip to the south-west of Sweden, to Dalarna, about a couple of hours drive from Norway.

We had a fantastic time! Here is a short summary….

The first night we stayed with our friends Thomas and Helena. Thomas has recently bought an amazing old farmhouse, complete with barns galore.

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The kids were fascinated by all the different hidden rooms and spaces in the house, and just as fascinated by the huge number of seemingly giant mosquitoes!

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Even more exciting was Peter, the farmer from next door, whom after he had fed the cows, took all the kids out in his tractor!

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We also managed to visit some 14th century silver mines where we were able to go 60m down into the mine to see how and where the miners used to work.

So that was day 1.

On day 2 we drove to our rented cottage high up in the mountains of “Gronklitt”.

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In the winter time this is a popular ski-ing area, but by summer it is a wonderful place to go hiking, and spot wildlife. It is bear country, but wolves and lynxes can also be spotted.

We went to the top of the mountain where the highest ski run went from, and this is the view.

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Despite the rain, it was very beautiful, and when Leon and Maya fell in love with the giant ski-ing blueberry, we  knew we had to come back up for a walk  into the “blueberry forest”!

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Day 3.

We decided to go to the bear park. It’s a place where you can observe bears in a (relatively) natural habitat – they live in huge areas, and you observe them from over land platforms.

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We managed to spot quite a few bears, including a few cubs! There was also an extremely good exhibition about polar bears and climate change,  but for some strange reason the fake glaciers seemed to strongly attract all three kids…

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Day 4.

“Tomteland”. By winter it is home of Father Christmas, his elves, and the snow king and queen. By summer it is home to an abundance of fairies and trolls. Oh, and Father Christmas…

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Maya writes her christmas list...

Maya writes her christmas list...

So that's where all our letters go!

So that's where all our letters go!

And there's the man himself!

And there's the man himself!

Alfie got stuck in the toy shop, while Leon, Maya and I went off to troll school with the fairies...

Alfie got stuck in the toy shop, while Leon, Maya and I went off to troll school with the fairies...

The big trolls houses..

The big trolls houses..

The little trolls houses...

The little trolls houses...

Some of the fairies we followed to find the...

Some of the fairies we followed to find the...

...trolls, who led us to.....

...trolls, who led us to.....

...the troll king!

...the troll king!

The whole theatre production, involved the audience, and was set in the forest, moving from place to place!

And then it was a quick drive by a viking ship…

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Getting tired...

Getting tired...

Day 6.

We decided to take the kids to an outside water park. Leon became obsessed with going down the slides on big orange rubber tires, Maya flew down the smaller slides, and Alfie point blank refused to go into the water after the first 10 minutes, because, lets face it, we’re in an unheated outside pool in Sweden.

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Day 7.

I decided to take Leon and Maya off on our blueberry forest walk today. It seemed to be a relatively easy walk downhill through a forest which was cleared for use by the ski runs, with giant blueberry and wild animal statues along the way, to ensure there would be no fear of getting lost.

Now just look at that beautiful sky...

Now just look at that beautiful sky...

The road looks pretty self evident doesn't it?

The road looks pretty self evident doesn't it?

What was it they said to Little Red Riding Hood?

What was it they said to Little Red Riding Hood?

Watch out, watch out, there's a bear about!

Watch out, watch out, there's a bear about!

And a wolf!

And a wolf!

Followed by a lynx, and an elk, and a tiger (true!), and a few more bears and blueberries…

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And this was our last picture. At the bottom of this road, way after the ski run had finished, we came to a fork in the road. Should we go left, should we go right? Let’s check the map! Ah, yes, that’s right, we didn’t bring one. And then the thunder started…

An hour later we left our little shelter in the woods, shaking with fear after experiencing thunder and lightening cracking over our heads, our eyes blinded with the flashes from the lightening, and trudged back the way we came through the deep puddles of wet wet moss and mud….

Very scary. We loved it!

Later we drove deep into the country side (okay, deeper..), where we came across a bunch of old-time farm enthusiasts. We watched some old ladies jojking (akin to yodeling), playing violins, ate some sour cheese sandwiches as we listened to folk songs on the guitar, and watched a cow wander into the vicinity.

Little house on the Prairie?

Little house on the Prairie?

Most definately..

Most definately..

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And Alfie made friends with a cow…

"No, we're going THIS way!*

"No, we're going THIS way!*

"She's not listening is she?"

"She's not listening is she?"

After which we went on another walk through the forest to see a waterfall, and pick some (rather early) blueberries.

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Day 8.

An easy day today. Among some other things, we went to the “samlar museum”. basically a museum started by an old lady who liked to collect things. Leon loved this as he is also obsessed with collecting things.

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Day 9.

The journey home. We went to the Dalarna horse factory to see how they were made. It was pretty wonderful, and each one is made by hand. Plus George Bush, Madonna and Elvis have all been given one as a gift.

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Bergianska Tradgarden (Gardens)

Today we decided to visit the Bergianska botanical gardens. We had a lovely time, and the kids was really interested by all the different plants – both by what fruits they produced (pomegranate, grapefruit, avocado, orange, etc) or what the plants were used to make (coffee, cocoa, rope, cotton, etc), and also by the different textures of the leaves and branches.

Here are just a few of our favourites..

Leon really loved all the fly catching plants!!
Leon really loved all the fly catching plants!!

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As I was taking a photo of the cotton plant, I actually noticed an even more interesting plant behind it…

Shocking!
Shocking!

Here is Leon’s favourite fruit – the pomegranate!

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And this one was very strange – the “fishtail palm” …

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Maya was keen on the rainforest area – here she is pointing at the fish in the pond!

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And here is Leon, telling us that this leaf would be big enough for a blanket for him!

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And of course, where there’s water, there’s Alfie!

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And some lovely photos..

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And then we went to the fantastic giant water lilies!

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And just to give you an idea of how big they really are, can you see the lady who works there in the background?

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Sigtuna

Yesterday we went to Farmor’s for the day, and ended up visiting Sigtuna, which is the oldest town in Sweden (1000 years old).

Farmor and Alfie by the lake
Farmor and Alfie by the lake
Alfie looking out to the lake
Alfie looking out to the lake
Leon and Maya climbing a (very) tall tree

Leon and Maya climbing a (very) tall tree

Rune stone (yes it's a real one!!!)

Rune stone (yes it's a real one!!!)

"Tant Brun"

"Tant Brun"

The above photo is of “Tant Brun” (Aunt Brown), who stands outside the old coffee shop. This was the town in which Elsa Beskov based the “Aunt” books.

The old town hall

The old town hall

Domesticities

In the last few days my children have been very domestic….

Baking a cake with Richard at 7am on Monday  – here they are decorating it at 8am!

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Baking bread with Richard at 7 am on Tuesday!

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Sewing frogs…

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Making things from leather (inspired by the Viking festival!)

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Whittling (I think that’s the word?!) – also inspired by the Viking festival..

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And picking wild strawberries (of which there are masses around!)

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Viking Festival

Recently we have been reading some books about the history of the Vikings to the kids, in preparation for this festival. It was absolutely fantastic! Lots of stalls selling hand-made crafts and foods, lots of crafts to take part in, and best of all a chance to watch some viking games -which were absolutely hilarious!!!

The festival was in Stallarholmen , and although many of the craft sellers were people from all over Europe, most people come from this town, and it has become an annual tradition to put on, and take part in this festival.

Perhaps we should move there?

Here are a few of the stalls..

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And a viking family I loved…

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And some musicians…

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And some of the kids crafts…

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Archeaology
Making coins
Making coins
Necklaces
Necklaces
Cleaning and washing wool
Cleaning and washing wool
Making bark boats
Making bark boats
Making dolls
Making dolls
Maya's doll
Maya’s doll
An inspirational doll!
An inspirational doll!

And here are some of the hilarious, and often painful (!) games we observed…

Can the man behind sneak up and grab the helmet without being knocked out by the blindfolded guy swinging the sack?
Can the man behind sneak up and grab the helmet without being knocked out by the blindfolded guy swinging the sack?
Last one to avoid touching the sword in the middle is the winner (while everyone else tries to push you onto the sword)
Last one to avoid touching the sword in the middle is the winner (while everyone else tries to push you onto the sword)
Leg wrestling
Leg wrestling
Can you drink the cup before your apponent (while the person you are standing on wiggles as much as possible?!)
Can you drink the cup before your apponent (while the person you are standing on wiggles as much as possible?!)
Who can be whacked out first? (While blindfolded and with one hand on the box)
Who can be whacked out first? (While blindfolded and with one hand on the box)
Can the man be pulled off the plank by having his ears pulled? (Don't forget there were a few men competing, so the ears would be pulled a few times...)
Can the man be pulled off the plank by having his ears pulled? (Don’t forget there were a few men competing, so the ears would be pulled a few times…)
Whoever can withstand the knife being dropped on your tensed arm muscle from a higher height - without drawing blood - is the winner!
Whoever can withstand the knife being dropped on your tensed arm muscle from a higher height – without drawing blood – is the winner!
Whomever can keep hold of the material the longest wins! Look at the face of the dark haired guy!!!
Whomever can keep hold of the material the longest wins! Look at the face of the dark haired guy!!!

Beats Twister  and Buckaroo any day!!!!

Richard is on holiday

One of the benefits of living in Sweden is that Richard gets 250 days paid “papa ledig” holiday – for being a father (this is for each child until s/he is 8 years old). So now Richard is in preparation for his 6 week summer holiday!

Here are Leon, Mattias and Maya listening to "Bamse" stories!

Here are Leon, Mattias and Maya listening to "Bamse" stories!