Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hearing Voices

Do you remember how, not all that long ago, it took some getting used to, that more and more people seemed to be talking to themselves in the street, on the bus, or anywhere?

What I’m referring to is, of course, the introduction of mobile phones. Now, in 2012, I don’t think anyone reacts any more. The streets could be full of people just talking nonsense out loud to themselves, and we’d just assume they’re talking to someone on the phone, even if they’re not actually holding one.

So what’s next? I’ll tell you! It’s now the mobile phones that have started talking to themselves, all on their own. At least mine has! Maybe I’ll grow used to that too eventually, but I’m not so sure I want to…

Four or five times over the last few days, I’ve suddenly been alerted by the sound of talking. When one lives alone, it’s rather scary to suddenly hear voices coming from another room in the flat. If I had a clock radio that would be my first suspect – but I don’t.

The culprit is my Xperia mobile phone.
Or the app installed on it for playing mp3-audio books – Mort.

MortPlayer Music

Mort seems to like reading so much that he has now taken it upon himself to decide when it’s reading time, rather than leaving that up to me. He also doesn’t seem to like it when I abandon one book for another. Or else it is just that he’s really eager to finish one particular book for himself… Anyway, just now he seems quite determined to finish a certain story by Martha Grimes even though I chose to skip to another title.

I thought I’d be able to put a stop to the nonsense by removing that particular book from the phone yesterday. And I thought I had succeeded in doing so…

… until today at 2.30, while I was lying on the sofa in the living room, resting after a walk… suddenly, my handbag out in the hall started talking. It was reading aloud again. From The Man With a Load of Mischief. The book I thought I had deleted from the memory card…

The only way to stop Mort from reading on (when he has started by his own choice) seems to be to shut the phone off completely and then restart it. Then it kept quiet for two hours. However, at 4.30 it started reading again – where it left off. I’ve checked the alarm settings, they do not seem to indicate that I’ve set any alarm by mistake. Pressing the stop button does not help. And if I try to switch to another book – well, then Mort switches into multiple personality mode and manages to read both books aloud at the same time!

I guess I shall have to try some uninstalling and reinstalling of the app and see if that helps…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

X for eXcursion (ABC Wednesday)

‘Xcuse me please, but there are no places in Sweden beginning with the letter X. But the town where I live is part of a historically interesting teXtile industry district – and does it really matter where in the word the X appears?

Yesterday my aunt and uncle were visiting, and they wanted to take me and a friend of my aunt’s out to lunch. They had a place just outside town in mind. But as it happened, we missed an eXit or two, found no place to turn the car around, and ended up on an eXcursion further on into the teXtile district instead.

At Rydal there is an old cotton spinning mill that has been turned into a museum:

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The mill was built in 1853. Rydal is also where the first hydro-electric power station in the country was built, and this mill was the first building in Sweden to have indoor electric lighting.

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Just now there is an eXhibition of Swedish Design from the 1960s and 70s going on. This is an eXhibition I also saw last year at the Textile Museum in Borås. So I recognized a lot of the objects, but since they were hung and eXposed quite differently here, it still did not feel quite like a repetition.

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That’s my refleXion in the mirror to the right!

As eXtraordinary as some of the eXhibited objects were, we did not linger too long, because by now we were getting eXcruciatingly hungry!

As the inn across the road from the museum did not serve lunch eXcept if one had made reservations in advance, we had to go on to the neXt small town to find a place to eat. But when we finally found a café named Tailor’s Shop (Skrädderiet) in Kinna, it proved worth the wait.

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The eXterior of the place looked very inviting too:

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ABC Wednesday – X

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(I know, I know. There should have been Xs instead of pushpins on the map. I just didn’t know how…)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Raindrops on Roses

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For Straight Out Of the Camera Sunday

I intended to write something witty here about how tired I’ve been today, but then I realized it won’t work in English. “sleeping like Sleeping Beauty” – sounds just silly, and not related at all to the photos… While in Swedish, the sleeping princess is called Törnrosa, and in German Dornröschen = Thorn-Rose…

Anyway, my Sleepy Sunday comes from a combination of raindrops on roses (as well as on everything else) and having had a rather busy Midsummer Friday and Saturday (together with my brother), including cracking our own da Vinci code, and perhaps even (fingers crossed!) a first step towards the process of selling the House.

The code-cracking had to do with dad’s filing system. He did a lot of railway history research in his day, and in July someone from the national Railway Museum will be coming to have a look at what might be of interest for them to preserve for the future. Hopefully it will be of some help that we managed to figure out dad’s system for cross-references to his photos!

We haven’t yet officially put the house up for sale - but on private request we showed it to a young couple this weekend. Early days… but there were some ‘good vibes’ and we’ll probably talk again.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Turn

… to take a couple of days “off” from blogging.

Happy Midsummer to you all!

NASSEBLO


or as Christopher Robin would say:


GON OUT
BACKSON
BISY
BACKSON


Owl looked at the notice again.
To one of his education the reading of it was easy.

“Gone out, Backson. Bisy, Backson.”
Just the sort of thing you’d expect to see on a notice.
“It is quite clear what has happened, my dear Rabbit,” 
he said. “Christopher Robin has gone out somewhere
with Backson. He and Backson are busy together.”
 
 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

W for Varberg (Warberg) on the West Coast

ABC Wednesday - W

Varberg (in the past also spelled Warberg) is a town in the province of Halland on the West Coast of Sweden with around 27,600 inhabitants.

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The fortress at Varberg, seen from the south

A fortress called Wardbergh, "watch hill", was erected in the 1280’s as part of a chain of military establishments along the coast, in what was then Danish territory. In 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.

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The fortress seen from the other side

The original castle has been added to through the centuries, with a variety of buildings. Today within the fortress you find museums but also restaurant, café and Bed & Breakfast as well as private accommodation.

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The province of Halland south of Varberg is known for its vast sandy beaches. In Varberg the coast changes from sandy to rocky terrain that continues north into the Bohuslän archipelago. In and around Varberg you can find both types of beaches.

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In the 1800s, spa resorts were becoming very popular. Many people had strong faith in the healing power of water, both drinking water from certain springs supposed to have a particularly healthy combination of minerals etc, and/or taking hot and cold baths. Varberg was one of the places that thrived on that reputation. (There was a spring/well with mineral water too, back then.)

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The old open air bath-house just below the fortress
(seen from the south)

With steam boat traffic from Gothenburg in the 1850s, and the railway from Borås in the 1880s, Varberg’s popularity as a resort increased. In the mid 1920s, Varberg had the biggest sanatorium in Scandinavia. (sanatorium = hospital for recuperation and/or treatment of chronic diseases, especially tuberculosis) The old sanatorium is now a modern spa hotel.

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The beach near the spa resort (old sanatorium), looking south.

Varberg is still a very popular seaside resort in the summer, and many people from inland cities such as Borås (where I live) like to spend their holiday there; whether in cottage, caravan, bed & breakfast or hotel.

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Personal notes

Two or three summers in the late 1990’s I got quite well acquainted with the walk/cycle path along the coastline at Varberg, between the fortress (which is quite close to the town centre and the railway station) and the beach at the spa hotel. One summer I stayed a few nights at the hostel/B&B within the fortress; and one or two summers when I had very little money to spend I bought a season ticket for the train and “commuted” between Borås and Varberg every other day or so – spending the nights in my own bed, and yet many days on the beach. That was before my current neck problems… Couldn’t do that now. (I was very lucky with the weather too, that summer when I went back and forth every other day.) 

The photos in this post are all my own; from 2001.

Map picture

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Go Out And Seek Joy

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Geh' aus, mein Herz, und suche Freud
(Paul Gerhardt 1653)

Gå ut, min själ, och gläd dig...

Go out, my soul, and seek joy

German hymn from 1653; first translated into Swedish in 1725; still one of our most beloved summer hymns in Sweden. (The lyrics are basically on the same theme as How Great Thou Art, which is probably better known to most of my readers here.)

Listen to a choir singing it at YouTube
(I denna ljuva sommartid/Stockholms Kammarkör)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weekend Reflections: Time to Tear Down

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Since 1st March, I’ve been following the slow demolition of this old factory/office building, which is to be replaced by new apartment buildings.

Noticing this Monday (11 June) that there wasn’t much left standing, I went round to the other side… And happened to be able to witness the final blow:

http://youtu.be/6p3Fag1PN8w

In case you haven’t got the time to watch the whole video, here is the short version:

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There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

(from Ecclesiastes chapter 3)

Linking to Weekend Reflections
and Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

Thursday, June 14, 2012

BTT: Do-Over

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about books and reading habits. This week, Sally asks:

“Have you ever bought a book, started reading it and then realised you have already read it? If so, how far did you get? (Can you tell this happened to me for the first time ever this week!?!) And–did you keep reading??”

I know it has happened more than once with books I borrowed from the library; I suppose it may also have happened with some I bought, but I can’t recall a specific example just now.

If it happens with a library book, whether I continue to read or not depends on how I like it and how much I remember.

I quite often reread books on purpose though – and sometimes buy one that I first borrowed. With a few favourites, I bought them both as printed books and as audio books; or both in English and in Swedish translation.

I suppose the biggest risk for me to end up with two copies of the same book by mistake would be with detective novels by very productive writers like Agatha Christie or Ruth Rendell. I bought some and borrowed others; and some in English and some in Swedish translation. I couldn’t say off-hand which titles I borrowed and which I’ll find in my own bookshelf.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

V for Vänern and Vänersborg

ABC Wednesday - V33170194

Vänern (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈvɛːnəɳ]) is the largest lake in Sweden, the largest lake in the EU and the third-largest lake in Europe after two in Russia. It is located in the southwest of the country in the provinces of Västergötland (east side), Dalsland (west side), and Värmland (north side).

Geologically, Lake Vänern was formed after the last ice age about 10,000 years ago.

Lake Vänern covers an area of 5,655 km2 (2,183 sq mi). It is located at 44 m (144 ft) above sea level and is on average 27 m (89 ft) deep. The maximum depth of the lake is 106 m (348 ft).

There are 22000 islands of various size in the lake, and many different fish species. Along the shores there are also some excellent beaches for bathing in the summer.

The lake’s main tributary is Klarälven, which flows into the lake near the city of Karlstad, on the northern shore. It is drained to the south-west by Göta älv. Thanks to the canal and locks at Trollhättan, quite large freightships are able to pass between Gothenburg (Göteborg) on the west coast, and Lake Vänern. 

Map picture

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At the south-west end of Lake Vänern, at the river mouth of Göta älv, you find the town Vänersborg (see the red pin).  Having blogged about Trollhättan for T (my birth town) and Uddevalla for U, Vänersborg is sort of a given for V. For some purposes, these three towns form an administrative unit, and in that context they are often referred to as Trestad (Three-town).

The name Vänersborg means “fortress at Vänern".  There are no castle ruins to visit in the town, but there used to be an ancient hill fort at a mountain in the area - Halleberg. Nowadays better known as a good place for tourists to go looking for elks (moose).

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The plateau mountain Halleberg, Västergötland, Sweden.

Besides being a town of trade because of the position at the lake and river/canal, Vänersborg has long served as an administrative centre in the region.

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A Swedish poet in the early 1900s nicknamed the town “Little Paris”.

Personal notes

I don’t have any particular memories from the town of Vänersborg; but in the summers we would sometimes go on an outing to one of the beaches along the shore of Lake Vänern:

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Ursand, Vänern

Gardesanna, Vänern

Gardesanna, Vänern

The only photo in this post that is my own is the one at the top of this post, and that’s from the northern shores of Lake Vänern rather than the Vänersborg area.

I also lived ten years in Karlstad on the northern end of the lake, but that town deserves a post of its own (perhaps in the next ABC-round).

The rest of  the photos in this post are from Wikipedia and from badkartan.se

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Future and the Past

Friday (8th June) was Graduation Day in most schools here. 
Florists had a busy day…

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I don’t know anyone who is graduating this year but there is a ‘Senior High School’ close to where I live so I went there to snap some photos.

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Friends and relatives waiting in the school yard.

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It’s common for family and friends to carry placards with the name and often an old baby photo of the graduate. Supposed to make it easier for them to find each other in the crowded school yard…

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Finally here they come.

The graduates usually wear white graduation hats (old tradition) – and then people hang flower bouqets and balloons and whatever around their neck.

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Afterwards, it’s tradition to go riding around town on lorry platforms. Singing and shouting and whatever, celebrating “freedom”. Usually they have some placards or banners on the side of the truck. The one above had the cleverest messages of those that I saw: “Newly divorced” and “Cutting the umbilical cord”.

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Hopefully off towards a bright, independent future!

I got a little bit nostalgic watching them…
Traditions haven’t changed much since “my day”!

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New collage of some old photos from my album, digitally colourboosted to compensate for loss of original colour through the years… The green lorry in the upper right hand corner was ours (my class).

Linking this post to Straight Out of the Camera Sunday
(please ignore the nostalgic photo collage! LOL)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

BTT: Favourite Secondary Characters

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question comes from Mervih, who wants to know our…

Favorite secondary characters?

Hmm… I’m not 100% sure about the definition of a secondary character...  How far “off centre” should a character be to be called secondary??

Doing a little inventory in my mind, my first conclusion was that for me to remember a secondary character, he/she/it should either be in a book I read several times; or appear in more than one book in a series.

But then I started wondering if perhaps it’s the other way round… that it is a memorable set of secondary characters that makes me want to reread a book, and/ or read the rest of the series!

At least I guess that’s one reason why I reread the Harry Potter books so many times. There are so many characters besides Harry himself whom the author bothered to give their own personal history. Lots of stories going on within the story.

So I could pick a whole bunch of favourite secondary characters from that series alone; but to go with just one, I’ll choose Luna Lovegood. She does not come into it until the fifth book. Eccentric and somewhat unnerving, she tends to see beyond the obvious and it’s not always easy to tell if she’s right or not. But she turns out a very loyal friend. Famous quote: “Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.” (And for those of you who have not read the books: Luna is nicknamed “Loony” by some…)

Another story with lots of characters to choose from is Lord of the Rings. One of my favourites is Treebeard, the Ent.  Famous quote:  “…my name is growing all the time, and I've lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.”

Trying to think of a different category of books than fantasy… Two secondary characters that come to mind are  Simon and Deborah St. James, old friends of Inspector Thomas Lynley in the mysteries by Elizabeth George. I was disappointed that the TV series left them out after the first initial episode/s. Actually I stopped following the TV series after a while. And now I find that Simon and Deborah haven’t even got their own Wikipedia article/s – outrageous! (LOL) In the novels, Thomas Lynley and Simon St James are old friends; Deborah used to be Tommy’s girlfriend before she married Simon; and Lady Helen with whom Tommy is in love (later she becomes his wife), is Simon’s assistant, and used to be in love with him... Quite an intricate relationship setup that hovers in the background of all or most of the books. (Actually there is also one novel in which Simon and Deborah are in the foreground with Lynley only briefly in the background and Barbara Havers out of the picture.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

U for Uddevalla

ABC Wednesday - U

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Uddevalla is a town of around 31 000 inhabitants situated on the West Coast of Sweden, in the province of Bohuslän. Bohuslän is known for its rocky shores, and the beaches of Uddevalla are filled with seashells.

Uddevalla has one of the largest shellbanks in the world, a remain from the last glacial period.  Subfossils from more than 103 species have been found. Due to the lime-rich soil there is a unique flora and fauna in the area and it’s a habitat of many different butterflies.

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▲ Shellbanks Museum

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Uddevalla got its city rights in 1498 but was probably a place of trade long before that. Historically, the town was often besieged and changed nationality several times between Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

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In the 18th and 19th century, Uddevalla's main importance lay in its herring fishing.

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Sometime around 1870-1880, Uddevalla began to attract industries. Uddevalla has a small port and once hosted a large shipyard. This was closed in 1985 in connection with general recession in Swedish shipyard industry.

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▲ The health spa resort Gustafsberg is said to have been the first of its kind in Sweden. The old bath-houses still remain and have been turned into a hostel.

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From the town, you can take a tourist boat to the old spa resort, or to islands off the coast.

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Children fishing for crabs

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In Uddevalla, you will also find Bohuslän’s Museum, which has about 300 000 visitors per year and is renowned for its generous opening hours and free entrance.

Personal notes

Most of the photos in this post are my own, from a holiday visit to Uddevalla in the summer of 2004.

Only the two pictures from the Shellbank Museum were copied off a tourist website, because I didn’t go there.

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I stayed three or four nights at a small bed & breakfast hotel, looking idyllic on the outside, but rather reminding me of Fawlty Towers. (I blacked out the real name here, since it’s been eight years, and much may have changed since then.)

I remember that when I arrived in the town (by train) the rain was pouring down. Only one of my three days was sunny (and even then not very warm). That’s when I took a boat trip to Gustafsberg, the old spa resort, and snapped the few sunny photos.

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The other days, I spent a lot of time inside the museum! - very thankful for the free entrance policy, which allowed me to come and go as I pleased… 

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This was before I got a digital camera so the photos were taken with my Olympus XA2.

And those were the days when from a three-day-trip one came back with only a dozen or so photos, rather than at least three hundred ;)

 

 

 

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