Saturday, 31 July 2021

Read/Listened to in June (2021)


Read in June

Back in May, I listened to the latest book in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, The Consequences of Fear (#16). I have read all of the books in this series, but I don't own all of them;  and of those that I have, some are in print, some on Kindle and some on Audible... In June and July I decided to add two more to my Audible collection: The Journey to Munich (#12) and In This Grave Hour (#13). (I also re-read/listened to them.) This means I now have the last six books (11-16) as Audio. I'm not sure I'll bother to collect all the earlier ones, but I do like a bit of "order" in my library, if possible... ;) The Journey to Munich I think is one of those in the series that stand out as most memorable to me in retrospect (previously reviewed here in 2017)

I also bought the 6th book in the Yorkshire Murder Mystery series by J.R. Ellis: The Whitby Murders. Like the previous ones in the series, I got this one too as a very affordable Kindle+Audible deal. Besides rather likeable detectives, two characteristics that I enjoy with this series is that they're all set in typical Yorkshire environments, and they also focus a on good old-fashioned "mystery" (rather than forensics). This time, the background is a gothic festival in Whitby; a Yorkshire coastal town that also plays an important part in the classic Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897).

True To Me by Kay Bratt. I bought this one because I really liked the Scavenger's Daughters series by the same author (set in China). This one did not really speak to me the same way, though. An okay novel, but to me not as special as that other series.

From the Publisher's summary:
Quinn Maguire has a stable life, a fiancé, and what she thinks is a clear vision for her future. All of that comes undone by her mother’s deathbed confession - the absentee father Quinn spent thirty years resenting is not her real father at all. --- Quinn embarks on a journey to Maui, her mother’s childhood home, a storied paradise that holds the truth about her mother’s past ...

The Truth in our Lies by Eliza Graham. I have to be honest: I've already forgotten the basic plot and characters of this novel, in spite of finding the background setting as such interesting. Not even the publisher's summary really brings it back to me now.

From the publisher's summary:
Anna Hall was a beautiful and skilled Second World War air force operative, guiding RAF pilots during the Battle of Britain - before a bomb killed her sister and left her disfigured.  --- Recruited into a secret unit broadcasting destabilizing propaganda to Nazi Germany, Anna finds new purpose in twisting truth with lies.  --- When her undercover work is threatened with discovery, Anna needs all her instincts to untangle the truth in the lies. But what will it take for her to break down the barriers she’s built around herself?

Friday, 30 July 2021

The Powers of Nature

The  mini air cooler I got 1½ week ago turned out amazingly effective: One week after my purchase, the climate changed completely - and not just indoors...!   ;-)

In short, the past week the weather has been totally unreliable, changing from one minute to the next: from sunny with a few light clouds suddenly turning into fast flashes of lightning and massive loud 'kabooms', followed by gusts of wind and torrential rain, temporarily flooding the streets.

We have not really seen the sort of drama here that's been caused by more serious flooding in many places further south in Europe though, so I'll not dwell too long on it. Myself, I haven't needed to go anywhere special this week, and have managed to stay safe indoors during the thunderstorms, and even to sneak out for a short walk in between showers now and then. Close call sometimes, but I've stayed pretty much dry-shod so far. 

The internet has been a bit wobbly on and off but that's about the worst of my personal complaints.

If the wi-fi agrees today, I thought I might share some more photos from my recent walk by the river close to the lake (last Wednesday). In town, boats on our river are a rare sight, because there are two waterfalls/dams (and several low footbridges in between) which make boating difficult there. But closer to the lake, people use boats, canoes and paddle boards a lot more frequently (as they can then also take them out on the lake).

So please note that these are not photos of flooding, but just people having a good time... (For my own part, I've always preferred just watching from land, though!)


Monday, 26 July 2021

Weekend Collage


My aunt and uncle were in town for the weekend; and we spent some time together on Friday afternoon, and again on Sunday. On Friday we went out to the lake, and went for a walk along the river (much the same walk as in my previous post, so I did not take a lot of new photos). On Sunday, we went out of town in the other direction, to a golf club restaurant for lunch. And then back into town again, to an art gallery (or actually two, in the same building). I also visited these exhibitions recently with a friend, but I don't think I ever got round to blogging about that (it was just before the last heat wave set in...) Both galleries have exhibitions related to the city's 400 years jubilee this summer.

One gallery is showing really large water colour views of the modern city.

The name of the artist who painted these is Erik Hårdstedt.

Above: "Pre-corona" image... For many years, it's been a tradition with free concerts in the town square on Thursday nights in July. Not last year or this year, though. (Personally I can't say I've missed them, as it's not been in my own tradition to attend anyway - not all that big a fan of crowds even in normal circumstances...)

At the other art museum, one of the current exhibitions is of old photos from the archives of the local newspaper - of memorable events and famous people from the past etc. My aunt and uncle both grew up in this town, so I thought they'd enjoy seeing those. (And myself, I did not at all mind going to see both exhibitions again.)

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Escape to the Country

This week so far has offered more pleasant summer weather than last week (which was too hot). More like Swedish Summer "should" be! (I think most people would agree, although how often it actually occurs, I would not dare say...) I.e. it has still been sunny and "warm enough", but no longer extremely hot. (This also means that the indoors temperature in my flat has gradually gone down to more normal as well - phew.)

Yesterday, I went on my first proper outing since my 2nd vaccination: I took the bus out to the lake and beach just north of the city. (Last summer, with the corona situation then, and no vaccine yet, I avoided the buses and hence got no further than my own feet would take me; which has pretty much just been to the city centre and back, for 1½ year...) 

The bus to the lake (weekday afternoons) passes by my nearest bus stop and takes me out there in 15-20 minutes.


I'm not really a "beach person" though, and especially not in a crowd; so I usually spend most of my time there (a couple of hours) going for a stroll away from the beach, and seeking shadow. I like to follow a small dirt road with the river on one side and an allotment area with small cabins on the other; and perhaps sit down for a while on bench and look at small boats passing on the river.


One of my favourite wild flowers grows here, along the river. In Swedish it's called Natt-och-dag i.e. Night-and-day. The Latin name is Melampyrum nemorosum (had to look that up again). I call it a favourite because I think I've only ever seen it at this lake - which is the same lake that is close to where my grandparents lived in my childhood, and my parents in their retirement years. (It's a rather large oblong lake and our house was close the northern end of it, while this beach that is easier for me to visit now is at the southern end.)


Sticking out into the lake, there is also a point of land with more woodland character, with tall pine trees and birches  - also reminding of the nature at the northern end.

(Who says there are no crocodiles in Sweden??)

Back at the beach, it's always nice to finish off with an ice cream at the café. In the most busy season/hours there is also a separate ice cream stall open. (The building in front of the picture is the café; the small one in the background is the ice cream stall.)


Barn across the road from the bus stop. (Nowadays home to a company of some kind.)

I stayed two hours at the lake, and the whole outing was only about three hours. Still felt like a mini holiday to a different world, after all the restrictions of the past 1½ years!


PS. (related to my previous post) Back on Monday, I walked into town and bought myself a "mini air cooler". It's not air condition, and it does not have the capacity to cool off my whole flat. But it's small and light and easily portable (and it was cheap). It uses water to increase the effect a little bit compared to an ordinary fan. It's not the kind of fan you leave on all day, but I'm thinking it may at least help to cool me off a bit temporarily now and then when it's too hot indoors. (Not really tested yet as the temperature has gone down anyway this week.)

Sitting on the window sill in my bedroom - quite close to the foot of my bed...

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Another Hot Week

 It's been over a week since my last post. The reason is that we had another heat wave here, with daytime temperatures up above 30°C (into the 90s in °F), and "tropical nights" (i.e. temp staying over 20°C / 70°F even then). Indoors in my flat the last few days it's been  27°C / 80°F. (No, I don't have air condition. Very few private homes in Sweden have it, and neither do most other places, except for the bigger grocery shops - as for the most part of the year, we have more reason to keep warm than to keep cool...) 

I have morning sun in my bedroom and kitchen, and afternoon+evening sun in my living room, balcony and study. (Sunrise 4:30 am and Sunset 10 pm, this time of year.)

I've been out for walks in the mornings, but even then seeking shadow as much as possible and still needing a cold shower when getting back home. Afternoons and evenings have been spent  behind drawn blinds and curtains, moving as little as possible, listening to radio and audio books (listen, nod off, rewind, repeat...) -  with a break now and then to drink and eat. Even watching TV has seemed too strenuous most of the time!

In between, I keep telling myself (repeatedly) It Could Be Worse, as at least I have a home, and although unusually hot for my part of the world, it's neither been as bad as for example west Canada (how does anyone survive 49°C??), nor flooded like many places in Germany and Belgium this past week, nor... a thousand other (im)possibilites...

And today at last the heat has broken (for now). It's cloudy, windy and 22°C / 72°F - a day  keep windows open to let in some cooler air and hopefully bring the indoors temperature down a bit before the next round. (Alas higher figures are predicted again for next week...) And even try to put a blog post in... ;)

More photos some other day, but here are a few flowers from the old cemetery, my most shady place nearby to walk...


Saturday, 10 July 2021

A New Walk

There is a long-term project going on in my town to create a 5 km long park area all the way through the city, by connecting existing parks with new green areas and footpaths along the river. The idea is for people to be able to walk from one end of the town to the other, along the river and through parks, without traffic. It will take years before it's all finished; but they're working on it. 

(I've mentioned this before, about a year ago, in a post named Walk a Mile in my Shoes.
On the map, I live in the vicinity of 5, and the city park is at 8/9.

This summer, they have been working on creating one new passage along the water, under a motorway bridge. Back in mid June, the work was still going on:

Yesterday, I found that the new footbridge under the overpass had been opened, and people were walking there. So I did, too.

Left: Seen from the south side. Right: Seen from the north side.

For me, this enables me to walk in park-like environment and close to the water almost all the way into the city centre now - except that I do still have to cross three streets on the way. Cross one street, then walk across the old cemetery. Cross another street, then follow a footpath along the river, including that new underpass. Cross a third street, and then through the town park to the city centre.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Rose Gardens & Politics

From a rose garden I passed by last week

♫ I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime
When you take you gotta give so live and let live or let go
I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden ♫

Lynn Anderson's old hit came to mind while I was pondering how to present this post, following up on the situation in Swedish politics. (Feel free to skip the politics, and just enjoy the roses and the music, if you prefer! Full Youtube video hopefully included at the bottom, if the link works out as intended.)

Today our parliament took another vote, this time with the result that our previous Prime Minister (recently resigned after a vote of no confidence against him in the parliament) made a comeback and was elected as 'new' Prime Minister. An outcome that was more or less expected - at least since Monday, when the opposition's candidate stepped down, declaring that he had not been able to find enough support to form a new government. 

The new government will be pretty much the same as before, i.e. a minority government consisting of the Social Democrats + the Green Party. However, their position now may be seen as even weaker, as old agreements have fallen, and one minor support party, the Liberals, has joined "the other side". And the two support parties that remain, the Centre and the Left, agree on very little except that they do still prefer this government to a right-wing alternative which would include the "extreme right" party, the Sweden Democrats.

Whether the government will also manage to gather enough support in the parliament to pass their budget later on in the autumn, still remains to be seen, though. Our PM Stefan Löfven is known as a skillful negotiator but this may be his toughest job so far. On the other hand, no one on either side is likely to be keen on a snap election only months before the next regular election in September 2022... So I suppose they're hoping to make things work until then somehow, with compromises, and by postponing the most controversial issues.

Friday, 2 July 2021

400 Years

On 29th June, Borås celebrated its 400th anniversary. 

(Continuing from my previous post:)
After having been to see the new sculpture Devil Whirls,  I went down to the park, where I discovered that the fountain in the river had been restored in honour of the jubilee. It's been out of order for a whole year or more, and I've been missing it, so was happy to see it again. 

From there, I turned back home again, though (did not go into the city centre). While walking home, I heard an airplane in the air above me, but it wasn't until I was close to home that I looked up to check what was going on. (It's not all that uncommon to hear a plane passing, but more so to hear them circling around back and forth...)

At first I didn't get it.
Then I did.

Not sure I approve of the environmental aspect, but visually it was good day for it!

Back home, I watched the official digital celebration ceremony from the park on my tablet, while having lunch. Part of it was sent live from the park; other parts had been filmed in advance.

(During my weekend with a broken tooth, "mixed salad" took on a whole new meaning as I pretty much had to run all my food in the blender to be able to eat at all... And on Tuesday, my mouth was still sore...)

 A fanfare was played from the top of the tower of the 17th century church.

A new tree was planted in the park

Every year on the town's birthday, they also appoint a new "ambassador" for the town for the next year - usually someone already nationally well-known. This time a former prime minister (Ingvar Carlsson) who was born and grew up here. (Follow the link to Wikipedia if you want to learn more about him.)


Speaking of former PMs, we're still in the midst of the national political crisis which I tried to explain here (21 June). After the parliament voted for no confidence in our PM (Stefan Löfven, leader of the Social Democrats), he had two options: Either to call a snap election himself, or leave it to the Speaker of the Parliament to try and seek another solution. The PM chose (on Monday this week) to step down and leave the process in the hands of the Speaker (while continuing to serve as interim PM, pretty much as before).

The Speaker then (quite according to practice) handed the 'ball' to the leader of the biggest opposition party, the Moderate Party. Meanwhile, one of the old government's support parties, the Liberals (at present a very small party) has declared a change of standpoint and joined the opposition. But at the same time, the Left (who kind of started the no-confidence thing) again declared they'd rather see the old PM back than the right-wing alternative. The balance hangs on one (1) vote in the parliament (175-174) but the leader of the Moderate party today declared that he does not seem likely to be able to win; and thus the 'ball' has now once again been handed back to the old PM to continue negotiations with those that still support him; and report back to the Speaker on Monday. They know how to keep the country in suspense...!

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