Saturday 31 December 2022

New Year Around the Corner


Some "leftover" hoarfrost photos from my Christmas Eve walk... The weather since then has been very "up-and-down", as in thawing and then freezing again, causing icy streets and roads (with a lot of traffic accidents); then more snow, which soon turned to rain and slush etc once more. So I was only out for very short walks at the beginning of the week, and on Wednesday not at all. On Thursday it was raining heavily all day, washing away the last of the snow. I went out for a short walk to the recycling bins, but did not feel tempted to prolong the walk further. Friday (yesterday), the rain had stopped, though, and the streets were bare, and the temperature as high as +7°C. So I grabbed the opportunity for a "safe" walk into town for a pharmacy errand. (Not urgent, but it served as a goal for my walk.)

As usual the days between Christmas and New Year have also been a bit "jumpy" because of firecrackers going off every now and then, as some people (I assume youngsters) seem unable to wait until the evening of New Year's Eve. (Not allowed, but that doesn't help when they're never caught...) On Thursday (the very rainy day) around 11 am someone also lit a cracker of the "series" kind indoors down in the entrance where I live. I got scared by the noise but didn't see anyone. When I ventured out a bit later I noted that it had left a series of sooty marks on the floor (and a smoky odor). There was nothing really that could catch fire down there; but I reported it by email to the housing company when I got back in - mainly in case there should be more similar incidents. 

Remains to be seen how the actual New Year's Eve celebrations turns out. It's another grey and +7°C day here. For my own part, and for various reasons, I'm not having any New Year party this year either (as was the tradition before the pandemic, with a handful of friends). But I have set aside a new film for myself to watch tonight (Downton Abbey, A New Era)...  

For us all, at the top of my wish-list for 2023: Peace on Earth...


Wednesday 28 December 2022

Bookish Challenge 2022

Last year  (or rather, back in January this year) I posted my answers to a 'bookish challenge', answering a number of questions using the titles of books I'd read over the past year. I decided to try that again, using this year's list of books I read/listened to. Some new to me, others re-reads.  

The links attached to some titles go to reviews of those books here on my blog. (I normally only write reviews of books that I read for the first time. I'm not really consistent in writing a review of every new book either, though.) 

As usual, quite a few books I 'read' this year have been audio recordings of favourites from the past. Some of those don't even get added to the list I keep on my computer. Depends a bit on how long it's been since I last read them - and also how much I kept falling asleep while listening! (I tend to listen old favourites as 'bedtime stories'...)

From my answers below, readers may be able to deduct that some 'old favourites' repeated this year have been: a collection of novels and short stories by P.G. Wodehouse (read by Stephen Fry); Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy; Mary Stewart's 'Arthurian' series about the wizard Merlin (four books, starting with The Crystal Cave); and also (for the umpteenth time) the Harry Potter series (also read by Stephen Fry - one of my favourite audio narrators).

The Last Correspondent (Soraya M Lane)

"in my prime" (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark)

The Locked Room (Elly Griffiths - Ruth Galloway 14)

Blandings Castle  (P.G. Wodehouse)

Once Upon A Wardrobe  (Patti Callahan)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)
The Fellowship of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Heavy Weather (P.G. Wodehouse)

* Joy in the Morning (P.G. Wodehouse)

Those who leave and those who stay (Elena Ferrante)

Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury)

As you sow [you will reap] (
Michael Hjorth & Hans Rosenfeldt)
(Swedish: "Som man sår" - Swedish detective novel, part of a series)

This Time Next Year We'll be Laughing (A 'Memoir' by Jacqueline Winspear; author of the Maise Dobbs series that I've been following over many years.)

The Last Enchantment  (Mary Stewart, #3 in her "Merlin" series)

Surprised by Joy (C.S. Lewis, autobiography - reread)

The Return of the King (J.R.R. Tolkien)


* N.b. None of the answers above is to be regarded as
"the whole truth and nothing but the truth"... ;-)

Sunday 25 December 2022

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the main day of Christmas celebrations in Sweden. That's also when 'Santa' (Jultomten) comes knocking on the door here... (well, at least where there are children...) (As we're rather close to the North Pole, I guess it's only logical that he stops by here first, before he goes on to drop things down chimneys in other countries...) 

Yesterday, I woke up to find a much nicer day outside than expected: Bleak sun shining, a very thin layer of powder snow on the ground, trees white with frost again, and temperature hovering around -5°C (~23°F). As I also woke up fairly early, I decided to walk into town and resume my (sometimes) tradition of attending a short 'nativity' service in the old 17th century church there, at 11 am. The time suits me well when spending Christmas on my own (and if it's also a nice day for a walk). Now I hadn't been since 2019, though, because of the you-know-what...

It's a short service with focus on the (Sunday school) children. Some traditional hymns and songs are sung, the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke is read - and then re-told again in simpler words for the children, who then also get to sit up front by the church's nativity set, and also get to help place the figures in the crib. 

I did not go up front afterwards to have a closer look at the crib this year, but I did in 2019, so here is that photo again:


On my way back home, I took a little detour along the river in the city centre. It was a perfectly still and frosty day. (Icy streets, but I had my studded winter boots on, and had also brought one of my walking poles for extra safety in tricky places.)

Looking back at the church I had been to.

 Looking in the other direction

 Walking along the river, on the opposite side from the city park, with the temporary art exhibition that I've also showed from other angles in a couple of earlier posts.


You can see the sun is very low here this time of year, even around noon!

My own nativity set at home. It sits on a shelf in my study.

Angelic choir singing on the window sill, also in my study. They're all gifts from friends. The second from the left I've had since early childhood, the others have come along one by one in later decades...

In the afternoon, I had a Skype video chat with my brother, as has also become a tradition (even before the pandemic) when we don't meet in person at Christmas. 

Today, back to grey and slushy weather, which I'll take as an excuse to just be lazy and stay in and read and watch old favourites on TV/DVD etc. 

Happy Christmas to all friends around the world, however you're celebrating (or not)!


Thursday 22 December 2022

Countdown to Christmas


One never knows with winter around here. The past few days we've been back to rain, and all the snow we had earlier in December has thawed away. They say it might get colder again tomorrow, though - in which case we might get a refill of snow for Christmas, but perhaps also difficult icy/snowy roads for those who have to be out and about. For my own part (not needing to go anywhere, and not having guests either), I just say "Que sera, sera" - "What will be, will be"... Had my usual bi-weekly (fortnightly) delivery of groceries today (and nothing essential missing); so am prepared to hibernate for a while if necessary! ;-)

The wall hanging (above) was made by my mother some time back in my childhood, and nowadays (at Christmas) hangs on the door between my living room and study; next to the corner where I'm also in the habit of displaying incoming Christmas cards (below).

Some cards that can stand for themselves have found their place on a nearby shelf instead.

The table runner on this bookshelf in the hall was also made (embroidered) by my mother:


My "forest gnomes" have moved into this corner shelf in the kitchen this week, as usual.

And Santa Claus + family are celebrating Christmas on a wall shelf in my living room. (Another example of my mother's handicraft.)

Back in my childhood, the Christmas tree (back then a full size 'live' tree) was always the final touch to the Christmas decorations, and not taken in until a day or so before Christmas Eve. In my own home (as a grown-up), I've never had a real tree, but this little one is celebrating its 36th Christmas with me. It's still always the last of my Christmas decorations that I put up; and not too long before Christmas. (This year I decorated it on Tuesday, in time for the Winter Solstice on Wednesday.)

I wish everyone a Happy Christmas (but since I'm not going anywhere, there's a good chance I'll be back to repeat that over the weekend...)

Monday 19 December 2022

Winter Fog (2)

 Walk continued from my previous post...

"Narnia" scene from the old cemetery (which I walked across to get down to the riverside).

I'm kind of fascinated with the 'skyscrapers' almost disappearing in the fog, until you start getting close enough...

 It had been cold enough for a while for the river to freeze along the shores.

"Hey, guys... I see a human on the shore... Maybe she's brought food?" 


"Pfft... No food... We turn our backs on you, then..."


Can you spot the birds sitting on top of the tree in the background? My camera was able to zoom them in... Crows or jackdaws, not sure which...

Closeup of hoarfrost on the thin hanging twigs.

 Railway disappearing off into the Unknown...

Sunday 18 December 2022

Winter Fog (1)

The day after I was out taking photos of "white open spaces" in the sun (previous post), we had a different variety of winter weather: It was still cold (around -10°C in the morning), but at the same time foggy. A rather unusual combination - which made me take the camera for another walk around the neighbourhood. 

It was very still, with everything covered in a layer of frost on top of the snow, and the fog made the distant background blurry...

My primary "goal" for the walk was the main post office down by the railway, to post my last few Christmas cards. Passing some streets with old houses on the way.

Someone had been cutting down or trimming a tree, but had not had time to clear away the branches before the snow came.

At this house, they always have a "Christmas Goat" made of spruce twigs beneath this tree.

My goal: The special red letter box, only for Christmas cards within Sweden. 

Our usual letter boxes are yellow. I also intended to take a photo from further away of the whole row of them (this red one standing next to three yellow ones) - but there was a never-ending queue of cars waiting to stop next to them (and blocking the view)... Never mind!

Frosty spider web on a fence

I noticed a nice new iron fence in front of one house

Getting back to the old cemetery, I decided to extend my walk by a turn down to the riverside as well. I think I'll save the rest of the photos for another post, though!

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