Sunday, 31 July 2022

Karlstad - A Walk Down 'Memory Lane' (1)

 Tuesday, 12 July

Tuesday of my holiday week was spent in central Karlstad, giving the car a rest. I had arranged to meet an old friend and her husband for lunch. Sadly she's not in good health, and we had to adjust to that. But I did not mind at all starting by going for a nostalgic walk on my own across the city centre to where they live; and then (on their suggestion), we went together to a restaurant nearby which they knew would work for them. My friend is in a wheelchair, but it was a nice day, and we could sit outside there, and be served at the table.  

On my way to their flat, I walked past the church I used to go to when I lived in K-d back in the 1970/80s. Back then it was a Baptist church. Since then, the building has been taken over by the Catholic church. In 2011, the Baptists joined forces with another denomination, nationally as well as locally. The new joint congregation in K-d decided to keep the other church and sell this one. (I think they were probably happy that it was bought by another church, rather than by someone else wanting to convert it for other purposes.) 

On the opposite side of the street, there is a building that used to be a market hall when I first moved to K-d. I've no idea what it is used for now. But in the little park nearby you can play outdoors chess! (The tower you see sticking up in the background belongs to another church. We'll get to that one later.)

It was also in this neighbourhood that I lived during my first year of secretary school in K-d. So I also went to find that building.

Somewhere up there it was, a few floors up... A tiny student bed-sitter: one room, one window, no proper kitchen (just a hob, a sink, a cupboard and a fridge in the hall). The advantage was that it was very close to my school, and right in the middle of the city. 

Walking on towards where my friends live now. Buildings on one side of their street, canal on the other. The buildings across the water in the background are all new since "back in my day"...  

This is the restaurant where I had lunch with my friends. It was actually there in the 1970s as well, and has even kept the same name. I think that back then it was only a pizzeria though, and now they have extended the menu a bit!

I'm not including photos of my friends as I have a hunch they'd probably prefer me not to. It was good to be able to spend a bit of time together with them though. I also went back home with them again for another hour or so after our visit to the restaurant.  

Before I left, I called my brother and asked him to meet me a bit later at the old museum, in the same park as the art gallery which we had visited on Sunday. 

I walked back along the canal in the opposite direction:


... To be continued ...

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Sunne, and Rottneros Sculpture Park

 Monday, 11 July (continued)

'Sagolika' Sunne  =  'Fabulous' Sunne

The small town of Sunne is situated in between two connecting lakes. The name is derived from the Swedish word sund = strait (narrow passageway connecting two bodies of water). And it's called fabulous because of famous local authors having preserved and continued  old folklore traditions from that area in Sweden. (Most famous of them all, Selma Lagerlöf - see previous post.)
Sunne was at the northern end of our Monday daytrip from Karlstad. We only made a short stop there, coming there from Selma Lagerlöf's Mårbacka to the southeast, and crossing the bridge at Sunne to then drive down on the west side of the lake. 


Not far from Sunne, on the other side of the lake, you'll find Rottneros Park, another famous place associated with Selma Lagerlöf. It is a sculpture park featuring a combination of formal park areas, natural parkland and 'creative horticultural design'. It all started in the mid 1950s with a man by name of Svante Påhlson, who designed a manor house there to match the fictional Ekeby in one of Selma Lagerlöf's novels - Gösta Berling's Saga.

The Entrance to Rottneros Park

They were selling plants at a stall close to the entrance/exit.

The park covers a very large area, and we soon realized it would be too much for us to walk around the whole park. So we concentrated on finding our way to the manor, and from there to a sculpture of Selma Lagerlöf that I remembered from a previous visit (back in the 1990s); but then skipped the more remote parts of the park, and just explored some of the various older 'garden rooms' along our way back to the entrance again.

Rottneros Manor

We walked downhill behind the manor to the lake, and finally found the the Selma sculpture - much further down than I remembered! (phew)

Walking back up again, seeking shadow from the trees when possible...

Refreshing sculpture fountain

Quite a long way to walk up close to this sculpture as well (even if on flat ground). And by now I've completely forgotten who it was on top of that pillar anyway! ;)

Diana (Roman) or Artemis (Greek), I think. (Patron of hunters.)

I felt sympathy with this little guy - trying to extract a thorn from his foot... I think it's a bronze copy of an older sculpture from 200 B.C. 

And the bronze horse below I think was a copy of an older sculpture as well.

Hello again, Selma! - Me with a another sculpture of the famous author... (This one sits in a little park between where my brother lives and the city centre, in Karlstad.)

Friday, 29 July 2022

Mårbacka - The Home of Selma Lagerlöf

 Monday, 11 July (continued)

Mårbacka is a manor house near the town of Sunne in the Swedish province of Värmland. The first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1909), Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) was born and raised at here. Later her family lost the ownership of the estate; but after Selma won the Nobel Prize she was able to buy it all back. And in her last will and testament she ordered that Mårbacka should be preserved as a memorial estate in the condition it was at her death, and shown to the public .

Lagerlöf in 1909 
Selma Lagerlöf, 1909

Our guide

We went on a very nice guided tour indoors; but no photography was allowed there. 

The back of the house seen from the garden

Barns and rural surroundings

We had lunch at the Mårbacka garden café and chose their local specialty, filled crêpes made from skrädmjöl - a flour consisting exclusively of roasted oats (locally grown). 

Souvenir shop

The garden sculpture is from Selma Lagerlöf's famous fictional story The Wonderful Adventures of Nils  (or Nils Holgersson's wonderful journey across Sweden). This book was written (1902) on commission from the National Teachers Association as a geography reader for the public schools. As punishment for being cruel to animals, a small tomte (brownie/elf) shrinks Nils to elf size himself, and he ends up going on an adventure with a tame goose who decides to join a flock of wild ones. This takes them both on a journey across every province of Sweden, and learning a lot on the way. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

'Once upon a Time' - The Ruins of an old Paper Mill

Monday, 11 July - Deje, Värmland 

After having spent the Sunday in Karlstad (and immediate surroundings), on Monday it was time for a longer day-trip, further up north in Värmland. Our first stop was at Deje, a village about 30 km north of Karlstad. My reasons were nostalgic: I wanted to see what (if anything) was left there of an old paper mill that was my first place of work after graduating from three terms of secretary school in Karlstad - 45 years ago. I held a temporary position there for 2-3 months in January-March 1977, as secretary/sales assistant. In retrospect, a very short time - but I learned a lot from it, and still have memories both of the premises and of people I worked with there.

Deje in 1977 - my photo

The mill was built in 1906 to produce pulp and paper. In the mid 1960s it was one of the largest paper mills in the country. In 1977, it was struggling.

In an old post on my first blog, in 2009, I wrote down these memories from my time there:

"In the mid 70's, when I started working as a secretary, it was still pretty advanced to have an electric typewriter in the office. For copies you used carbon paper; or if you wanted more copies you could write on stencils, which were then put through a huge manual stencil copier, a messy process which usually left you with ink stained fingers.

One of the first offices I worked in was at a small paper mill. There we also had telex machine. When this started ticking, the whole staff used to gather around it, excited to see if it might be an order coming in. Sending was a more complicated process - you first had to use a special kind of typewriter to punch holes in a narrow strip of paper, then put the strip of paper through the machine (where it sometimes got stuck or ripped off and you had to start over...). But when sometimes after just a few minutes you got a written reply back from another country, it felt like a miracle."

In 1978, the pulp production was abandoned, but they continued making paper from pulp from some other mill. In 1985, the paper mill went bankrupt. Ownership changed, probably more than once. In 1997, the factory was taken over by a company recycling plastic waste. (I got these dates from a Swedish blog from a decade ago that Google found for me.) 

Now, in 2022, it's all in ruins; and whoever owns it, they obviously can't afford neither to repair it, nor tear it down properly and decontaminate the grounds, nor even put up fences to keep people out. The photographer in me found it quite fascinating to be able to wander around there freely with my camera - but had I been a parent living in the village, I would have been seriously worried about teenagers hanging out there and getting up to all sorts...

Sign pointing to --Office-->  


Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Karlstad - Sandgrund / Lars Lerin Art Gallery

Sunday afternoon, 10 July

After our visit to Alster's Herrgård (previous post), we drove back home and parked the car, and then walked to our next destination that day: a park area by the river, Sandgrundsudden, with two museums, and also some outdoors sculptures.

To get there, we walked along the street between the river and the City Hotel (which you saw in a previous post). There are also some modern sculptures along that street.

The woman to the left (standing close to the hotel) is supposed to be a waitress and innkeeper
from the past, who became a kind of symbol for the whole city.  Her name was Eva Lisa Holtz (1739-1818). She was known for her sunny disposition, and therefore called "the Sun in Karlstad" (or, in Swedish Wermlandian dialect: Sola' i Karlsta'). Which has in turn come to be connected with Karlstad being known as a sunny city also when it comes to weather statistics (compared to for example Borås, which is known as one of the rainiest). The other sculptures were new to me and I don't remember what they were called.

Looking back towards the City Hotel in the background.
Entering the park through a new wooden portal, leading towards the old museum, with a 'mirror pond' in front.


We did not visit the old museum on this occasion, though (but left that for another day). Instead, we went to another building nearby, which "back in my day" used to be a dance hall/ restaurant, but is now a museum/ art gallery, dedicated to the works of one famous contemporary local artist, Lars Lerin (born 1954). The building itself is unremarkable (so I even forgot to take a photo of that!) - but inside, it works very well as an art gallery.

Lerin is best known for his large (huge!) water colours, mostly landscapes (of various kinds, and from different parts of the world); but he has also painted  'townscapes', people, animals, objects... He's a very productive artist, and has also published books, and participated in popular TV shows.

Lars Lerin in Oct, 2014.jpg
Lars Lerin
(Photo from Wikipedia)



Please note: This is not a library, but a painted library...!



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