Tuesday 31 July 2012

C for Charlottenberg (ABC Wednesday)

Just as with the letter Z, at first I could not think of any locality in Sweden beginning with C , but when I looked it up, I did find one:

Charlottenberg with about 3000 inhabitants is situated about 7 km from the Norwegian border and is the seat of Eda Municipality in the province of Värmland.

It was named after the wife of the founder of an ironworks there back in 1827.

Charlottenberg railway station is the last station in Sweden before the Norwegian border, and serves as the frontier point between the Swedish and Norwegian railway systems. The town is also situated on Swedish national road 61, which becomes Norwegian national road 2 at the border.

As a border town, Charlottenberg benefits from the border trade encouraged by the difference in retail prices between Norway and Sweden. The influx of Norwegian shoppers is so great in the period leading up to Christmas that many Charlottenberg locals prefer to do their own shopping in other towns that time of year.

Charlottenberg shopping mall (photo from an advertising site)

I must have passed through Charlottenberg when going on a mini-holiday to Norway from Karlstad way back in 1978. (I lived in K. then.) There is no photo from C. in my photo album – but there is evidence consisting of a small map glued into the album where I marked our route (the X added digitally now):

Norge karta 2

Just possibly we may have stopped at C. to buy food before crossing the border into Norway. More likely we bought what we needed before we started, but never mind… Let’s assume we did buy our tin of sausages in Charlottenberg, ‘cos that gives me a reason to insert this photo of our advanced roadside cooking (somewhere along the river Glomma in Norway):

Norge 1979_0001

Yep. That’s me back in 1978, aged 23. And below is a photo of my friend opening that tin of sausages with a knife, because we had forgotten to bring a tin opener…
Another C for coping! Winking smile


Sunday 29 July 2012

On Tuesdays, We Resurrect the Dead

It was seeing Paul McCartney at the opening of the Olympics in London (on TV) that reminded me: I have not yet told you about how I ran into his old buddies John and George a couple of weeks ago.

‘What?’ say you. ‘That’s impossible!’
‘Hush,’ says I. ‘Let me tell the story…’


If you happen to be passing by an old cemetery in my town on a Tuesday evening in July, you may notice a surprisingly large crowd of people gathering. If you ever do – please take the time to join them.


You see, these people aren’t waiting for a funeral, but rather for a resurrection.

Here they come, the team performing miracles:


A theatre group by the name of Ada.

(The name is in honour of a female journalist from about a century ago, whose stories they often use in their cemetery performances.)

I knew from before that they could act, but this time they proved to be quite good singers and musicians as well.


The first to rise from his grave was a man who once upon a time had a big influence on making choir singing popular in this town. Here they sing a classic song about spring and nature:


We also got to meet a female translator from the early 1900s, and a local poet.

CIMG9356-001  CIMG9364-001

Moving on through the town’s cultural history in the 20th century, we were also reminded of some of the great artists who may not have lived here – and aren’t buried here either – but who at some point in history visited this town and left a lasting impression...

On  Monday 28th October 1963, the Beatles played in Borås. After three (!) successful concerts in Gothenburg the day before, The Beatles headed for Borås; a short journey about 60 kilometres. The boys spent a couple of hours signing records in a music store in the afternoon. Thousands of fans had found their way there. The Borås concert in the evening was the biggest during their tour in Sweden. 2500 people saw it and the audience screamed and shouted so loud that it was nearly impossible to hear anything. (A common phenomena during The Beatles later concerts around the world…)

Just as we had been reminded (I think I was barely aware of The Beatles back in 1963 – at age eight), an old bus drove up close to us, and… Hello, who is that?


Hello Boraaaaas…



See! I told ya’… They’re back!

John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980)
George Harrison (5 February 1943 – 29 November 2001)

Afterthought: Linking to Taphophile Tragics

Saturday 28 July 2012

Well Done, London

Last night … er, correction … Early this morning just before I went to bed, I posted the following to Facebook from my phone, just before I tumbled into bed:

Believe it or not. I ended up watching the whole Olympic opening ceremony on TV. First time in my life. And staying up until 2am! Well done London. And good night... :-o

Some of you who read this probably know by now that I consider myself to be born with a ‘sports filter’. The way this works is that most sports news to me remain a distant mumble in the background, or induce me to automatically switch channels, or turn off the TV/radio. And when reading the paper, I automatically flicker through the sports section without even noticing headlines. It really has to be front page news to have the slightest chance of catching my attention.

As for the opening ceremonies of the Olympiad, I’ve never watched more than summaries or glimpses of that before either.

This year, however, since it was after all London (and I had just been reminded through the blog posts of British bloggers Scriptor Senex and Jenny Woolf) I decided to watch a bit until I got tired and felt ready for bed.

I should add that as we’re one hour ahead of London time, it started at 22:00 (10 pm) here; and my usual bedtime this time of year is around an hour later. The only night of the year I’m in the habit of staying up after midnight is New Year’s Eve (when I usually have guests to help keep me awake and alert, and the noise of fireworks all around the neighbourhood goes on until around 1 am anyway.)

I’m telling you this just so you’ll understand I had not expected or intended to remain glued to the opening of the Olympics for four hours in the middle of the night – which is what happened.

Firstly, I was absolutely fascinated with the first theatrical /historical /entertainment part of the show; so impressive! So after that I still felt wide awake, and decided to also watch a bit of the parade. This made me realize how many nations in the world there are that I know next to nothing about. And as Sweden was No 177 out of the … 208 or whatever, I just popped out into the kitchen for a while somewhere well before that to make myself another cup of tea and a midnight snack; and then returned...

And by the time all those people had passed by, in their fascinating variety of costumes, of course I could not  miss the climax of it all - especially since the commentators kept going on about how they still had no clue to exactly how or where within the arena the olympic fire was to be lit… So I just had to stay and see the finale as well. Once again I was mightily impressed. All in all, I found the whole opening ceremony an absolutely spectacular show. And I just loved all the British humour intertwined in it, soft-pedalling the pretentiousness.

Well done, London. Well done, Queen Elizabeth and actors and children and musicians and technical staff and whoever played their part in getting that huge show to run smoothly.

I probably (?) won’t be watching a lot of the actual sports games (well who knows, since these seem to be the days of miracles and wonders!) but I certainly enjoyed the opening.

Saturday morning here in SW Sweden has started with rain and thunder… I think I’d better turn off the computer for a while after posting this. I hope the weather in London is better – I haven’t checked!

Friday 27 July 2012

When And Where?

Booking Through Thursday Friday

Sorry, I’m falling behind…!
Two BTT questions this week about our reading habits.

GigiAnn asks:

Do you have a favorite season of the year that you read more? (Example: during snow storms, rainy weather, or sunny and warm weather)

Lisa asks:

Where is your favorite place to read? On the beach? Inside/outside?

I think I probably read more in winter and in summer than the seasons in between. In winter because I am stuck indoors more. In summer because I can sometimes sit and read on my balcony or outdoors!


Wednesday 25 July 2012

ABC Wednesday–Borås

I’m making it easy for myself this week… Or am I? The problem with choosing my own town is that I blog about it all the time. So how to make it interesting??

Ah well… at least I have plenty of my own photos this time!

The city of Borås received its privileges in 1621 by King Gustav II Adolf. The reason was to give local pedlars a legal place for vending their merchandise.


Statue of a pedlar at one end of a shopping street in central town.

After a century the town had grown to have over 2,000 inhabitants.

File:Suecia Borås.png

Borås circa 1700, from Suecia antiqua et hodierna.

Borås was ravaged by fires four times: in 1681, 1727, 1822 and 1827. The Caroli church is the oldest of Borås's buildings, and has withstood all fires.


Caroli church

The city arms depicts two sheep-shearing scissors, a tribute to the vast number of smiths in the town in early history.


Souvenir with the city arms from the Textile Museum

Borås has also been and is still an important textile  industry and mailorder centre. Nowadays the focus has shifted to design and delivery rather than production, though.

2011-02-19 textile museum

From the Textile Museum

We hold the Swedish record for the number of established mail-order firms.


Postoffice trucks at the parcel distribution centre

The city is gaining a new reputation as a city with many outdoor sculptures, and this summer we are having our third Sculpture Biennal.


It was “Walking to Borås”, a 9 m high bronze sculpture by American artist Jim Dine that started it, back in 2008.

In December 2011, Borås had 104 106 inhabitants.
It is the 13th largest city in Sweden.


The old town house / court house at the town square, built in 1910.

ABC Wednesday – B

Monday 23 July 2012

On the Trail of Our Ancestors

In September 2011, I blogged about my grandparents, both sets of them; with photos of the houses/cottages where they grew up.

Last week while my brother was here, we decided to try to find the respective childhood homes of our paternal grandparents. We knew they both grew up on the outskirts of the same village where they built their own house when they got married (also on the outskirts, but not the same outskirts).

We did have a rough idea where to find the farmhouse where our grandmother Sally was born and lived until she married our grandfather Gustaf. I’d even managed to locate it on Google before we set out, so that one was not hard to find at all.


▲  The farmhouse in the late 1920s.
▼ And this is what it looks like now:

CIMG9761-001 Storegården



I was less sure about the small cottage where my grandfather grew up. I had tried to locate that on Google maps too, but all I could find was a spot marked with a similar but not quite identical name. However, that place was not very far from my grandmother’s farm, so we decided to try and find it.

The map showed two alternative roads. The first one turned out to be a dead-end, only leading up to a farm. The second road also led up to a farm, but proved to go on beyond it. And then… There it was.



There was even a sign to remove all doubt. The Google map said “Johanneslund”. But the sign on a post at the gate says “Johannelund” which is the name I know from my grandfather’s notes and book. (He was a journalist with special interest in the old cottages in the area where he grew up – I guess it started with his own background.) From the book I know that it was named after a woman by name of Johanna (not a man called Johannes). I suppose Google did not read the book!


Back in my grandfather’s days, the cottage was not quite as picturesque as it is now. It was unpainted then. There is a note under the photo in his photo album saying “the grey cottage – the childhood home”.


They must have had pretty much the same lovely view from the front of the house, though:


And the road probably hasn’t changed much either!


View towards the farm the cottage used to belong to.

After this excursion, at least one question can be put aside. I’ve been wondering (as I’ve begun to look into the stories of their lives a bit more) when and how my grandparents got to know each other. But seeing now that they were almost neighbours (from a countryside perspective) they would have been aware of each other’s existence since childhood. However, since my grandmother was four years older, it probably took  a while for “romance” to grow… (She was 30, he 26 when they got married.)

The kind of cottage my grandfather grew up in was/is called a torp in Swedish. These were small farm units within the estate of a bigger farm. The inhabitants of a torp leased rather than owned their land. Sometimes they owned the cottage but still had to pay lease for the attached piece of farmland. They paid through working on the main farm as well. The system changed gradually during the late 19th and early 20th century. Nowadays the old torp cottages are popular as summer cottages.

In my grandfather’s childhood and youth, it was his maternal grandparents who owned the cottage. (The grandfather was an ex-soldier.) In Gustaf’s early years, his mother and her brother lived there too. I blogged about their fate in life here.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Comment Notification Problem

I happened to notice today that a comment dropped in on one of my recent post – but that I received no email notification of the same. Going back through my blog posts this week, checking the comment sections, this seems to have happened more than once lately. I have received emails for most comments just as usual - but not all. Can’t figure out why!

For now I’ll set moderation on posts older than five or six days, to make sure I don’t miss any comments. If the problem increases, I might have to switch to moderation on new posts as well but I hope that won’t be necessary.

It would be interesting to know if anyone else has noted the same problem!

Weekend Reflections: Water and Sky


A cloudy sky can sometimes be a more interesting background than a clear, blue one. /Monica

Photo from Hofsnäs, Lake Åsunden, Västergötland; July 2012.
(Link to my recent blog post with more photos from Hofsnäs.)

Linking to Weekend Reflections # 147

Touristing part II – Hofsnäs Manor

My brother and I have continued to play tourists this week (three days in a row). We both felt we could do with a proper break from the usual stuff for a few days. So I’ve got lots of photos from “out of town” for a change – enough for several blog posts, I think.

In this one it’s still Thurday afternoon and we have just left Torpa Castle, and are driving along a narrow little countryside road…


The landscape here consists of agricultural land and decidious forest. Even if we did not know, it would not be hard to guess that we’re on the land of some big old estate.


Huge old trees on both sides of the road give a clear hint that we’re approaching our next stop.


There it is, a glimpse of a big white house…


Hofsnäs, a former manor house, is now a restaurant and café. The estate is owned by the town of Borås since 1964 and serves as recereation area for town-dwellers who wish to get out into the countryside now and then.

The manor house we see today is not nearly as old as Torpa, but already back in the late 1400s there was some kind of castle here. In 1552, King Gustav I (Gustav Vasa) gave the estate to his father-in-law Gustaf Stenbock (the third owner of Torpa). In the late 1600s, however, Hofsnäs had lost its significance and fell into disrepair. A new manor house was built in 1854, on the same spot as the original one. It got burned down in a fire in 1923, but was rebuilt in 1924.

It is beautifully situated, overlooking vast lawns and the lake. On a sunny and warm day the place will be swarming with people picknicking and bathing.


Not quite the weather for such activities on the day we were visiting, though. It had been raining heavily earlier in the day and was still rather chilly.


Personally, I prefer to just look at lakes and seas anyway, rather than being in them or on them…


The 17th century wooden farmhouse is now a crafts shop:


Below examples of wire craft also called hobo’s craft
(Swedish: luffarslöjd)


There is still also active farming going on at Hofsnäs:



We stared at the cows for a while, and they stared back:


Enough sightseeing for one day. Time to go back home!


Friday 20 July 2012

Touristing part I – Torpa Castle

My brother is here for a few days on his holiday. To be more exact he’s staying at our inherited house outside town, where we still have “things to do” before selling the place. However, we have decided to do a little bit of touristing as well this time and visit some places in the surrounding area where we haven’t been for a while.

So yesterday we set out to visit a medeival castle about half an hour’s drive from town (in another direction than our house). A very rainy morning yesterday first threatened to dampen our enthusiasm for the plan; but we decided to go anyway, since we would still be able to make the inside tour of the castle, and also have lunch in a café on the premises. And we were lucky - it actually stopped raining before we left town. The day remained cloudy, but we did not get wet, and we were able to walk about a bit outside too.


Torpa is a well preserved medieval castle at Lake Åsunden (in the province of Västergötland).


The first stone house was built around 1470 as fortress against the Danes. Reconstruction and remodelling took place during the 1500s and 1600s.


The castle has a well-preserved Renaissance interior. The chapel, which was decorated in the late 1600s, is in baroque style.


The castle is best known in history as the manor of the Swedish noble family of Stenbock. It was the residence of Katarina Stenbock (1535-1621) before she became the third and last consort of  King Gustav I (Gustav Vasa) of Sweden (b. 1496, elected king 1523, d. 1560).


The castle has never been sold but has been passed on through 18 generations by inheritance. As some of the heirs have been women, the family names of the owners have varied though.


When grand dinner parties were given back in medeival days, they consisted of no less than 60 (!) courses. And you had to eat them all. However, there was a break between every 10 courses, when you were allowed to go outside to throw up to make room for more…


There are steep, narrow staircases within the walls of the castle; used in the past by the servants (carrying the trays with all that food!), who were not allowed to use the main staircase.

The castle is said to have its own set of ghosts; among them a young girl who was sealed into a small room behind a wall by her father, because she was believed to have caught the plague. A few times through the centuries, attempts have been made to open that wall to check the truth behind the tale. But those who tried to open the wall all had fatal accidents. One cut himself on his tools and caught blood poisoning, another had a heart attack and so on. The last person who decided to try it some 50-60 years or so ago did not die from it – but he did fall and break his foot on the stairs before he could even get started. Since then, no new attempts have been made, and the present owners have decided to let the wall keep its secret, and its legend…


I’m not really supposed to be able to show you the interior photos included above. However, I’d already taken a few shots before the guide informed us that photography inside wasn’t allowed… And I have to confess I sneaked two or three after the tour too, on my way out. (A photographic variety of cleptomania?) I hope I made up for my transgressions by also buying some costly postcards afterwards! 


Safely outside, without having fallen down any stairs (or had my camera confiscated)!


After our tour of the castle, we strolled over to the café/restaurant in another building on the premises (the one on the right), and had a ‘royal’ lunch of venison and potato gratin. Only one plate each, though!


As Per pointed out, there would not have been any potato gratin on the menu back in the days of King Gustav Vasa. Potatoes weren’t introduced in Sweden until about a century after he died.

Today we’ll be off on another little tourist trip for lunch.

Definitions of Touristing from urbandictionary.com :

Driving slowly or stopping in the middle of the road while looking at the sights.

Walking and paying no attention to anyone else around you while looking at the sights.

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