Another birthday in Sweden!

Our 14 year old (yikes!) says we need to do something different for her birthday this year to distinguish it from the photos of previous b-days in Sweden. She’s right- it’s hard to tell since she requests the same cake, gets similar gifts in more or less the same setting. So this year we changed a few details and though Bryant had to work the 3 of us headed out on a little adventure to Malmö by bus rather than train. It was easier than train and more pleasant except for the lack of AC on an 80 degree day. I think this was largely due to the kids choice of riding in the upper deck which they deemed more exciting. Luckily we had an abanico (Spanish fan) with us and I tolerated the heat.

I made the Birthday Girl’s favorite breakfast and after hearing about a bunch of cancelled trains due to an accident, we decided on the bus option. The bus stop is out on the highway entrance, which seems odd, but is really quite practical and safe for pedestrians due to thoughtful planning. There are speed bumps, sheltered pedestrian lanes and crosswalks. And of course the round-about keeps traffic flowing but at low speed. Even with all train traffic being diverted to bus, it was on time with plenty of space. Our new place is close to all bus routes and the train so I plan to start using the bus options more often. I think they might be more practical for certain trips.

We strolled though Malmö, stopping at the Saluhall (food court) for picnic lunch and continued on to the King’s Park where the kids played a new card game after our picnic while I took a quick spin through the botanic gardens and castle grounds. This time I noticed a new AnonyMouse installation and some pigeons nesting inside one of the arrow loops in the barbican (Barbican: an exterior defense or small castle defending a gate or approach to a castle).

Then back to Lund for sushi and beloved Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake. The Birthday Girl played a new video game all evening and has already made plans to celebrate her day with a school friend next weekend by doing some “tree walking” at an obstacle course near Lund. Fingers crossed for a continuation of this gorgeous summer weather!

Sunshine Island

Rønne harbor and the church where our 2nd great-grandparents were married.

The Danish island of Bornholm, called the sunshine island because it has, on average, more sunny days than the rest of Denmark, lies in the Baltic Sea near Sweden’s southern coast. We’ve been planning a visit since we first arrived since it’s an easy ferry ride away, but somehow it didn’t happen. With our first visitors, my brother CJ and his husband David, in town for Easter break, we decided to book our tickets for Bornholmslinjen, the ferry from Ystad.

I’ve been working on a family tree for ages and wanted to find out more about our Bornholmer past, so I contacted the tourism board and found a local tour guide and historian who enjoys genealogy. He was quite enthusiastic about the project and discovered a booklet in the local library documenting the story of our 3rd great-grandfather. This treasure included names and addresses of the families descending from said grandfather and led me to meet one of our 4th cousins, who happens to live in Lund! Anne and I met for fika a few weeks ago and arranged to see each other again when more of her family, including her father, the one who authored Åke Andersson’s history, would be gathering for Easter in Bornholm. Such an amazing series of events! So we spent a couple of fantastic days in Bornholm exploring our Danish Bornholmer (and Scanian) roots.

After several hours of lively conversation, getting to know each other and trying to fill in some of the blanks from the years since our branch of the Åkessons left Bornholm, we explored the beautiful town of Svaneke. Per and Hanne showed us some of their favorite places and shared Danish candies even sending some of these delectable treats home with the girls. What a generous, warm welcome to Bornholm!

Per’s grandfather and my mom’s great-grandfather were brothers. They both grew up in Sweden but married women from Bornholm after emigrating to the island for better work opportunities. Several of Åke’s children left Bornholm for the US while some stayed, Per’s grandfather being one who remained in Bornholm. Åke remarried and remained there until his death in 1897.

Next, Hans, the genealogist, was able to assist us with the research he did on our 2nd great-grandmother and her family since obviously Per did not know about that part of our history. Hans was able to find many locations where family members had lived and some of the places were still much the same! The first location was a tiny row house which was once right on the harbor, with the wind mill on the street behind it. Coincidentally, the hotel we booked was directly in front of the house. Our 2nd great-grandmother, Anna, lived at #26 Møllegade/ Millstreet, the blue one, with the front of the house facing the windmill. There it was, right outside our hotel window! She was 3 years old when she lived here in 1860 with 2 sisters and 2 brothers.

Anna married Peter Augeson in 1878 at the Skt. Nicolai Church.

Photo from Per’s research of Åkesson/ Andersson families

Below is Nyker or new church, one of the distinctive round churches of Bornholm which retained many pagan elements and served also as a fortress. They were built as a community space that could be defended. Great acoustics, too! Photo- hourglass timer so folks would know how long the sermon would be. Easily barricaded doors. Women’s entrance over the bronze age fertility stone. Anna’s parents, Klaus Peder Pedersen and Kirstine Margrethe Busch, were married at the “new” round church in 1848.

We also visited more of Anna’s relatives homes in the area around Rønne, including a farm which is now a pottery studio.

Anna’s mother moved around quite a bit and showed up in other Parish records late in her life. The interesting thing about it is that from here, modern Bornholmers and Scanian Swedes just a few miles away can see one another’s lights. In a show of solidarity they flash headlights at each other on a designated night every Autumn. They say they have always had a love/ hate relationship.

Back to Åke Andersson for a bit. He lived in this yellow house, built 1875 near Aarsballe, with his second wife, a widow he married in 1877, along with the two youngest of his children. His first wife was our 3rd great-grandmother, Else, who had died back in Sweden in 1872.

Some photos from the area in and around Rønne and some prints from the museum.

Andra Julen i Sverige

Our second Christmas in Sweden. How time flies! We had more concerts, parties and events this year before new Omicron restrictions kicked in. On Monday I went to a concert at Lunds Domkyrka with traditional music of the season, including Lucia songs, ambient Celtic style vocals performed in the dark, acapella, candle light processional with chanting, and then more traditional music accompanied at times by harp, flute, organ, and other instruments. It was especially enchanting/ spooky in the dark with only the light from 4 advent candles and those carried by the singers. Later in the week we gathered with the group from Minnesota at one of the Malmo locations. The MN meets Sweden theme for drinks and appetizers was very clever and tasty.

The weather certainly has been colder and snowier than last year which made for some pretty snow covered scenery and lighter night skies …and slippery sidewalks. These have been some of the shortest days of the year at only 7 hours (most of which are cloudy) and we are looking forward to more light. But the dark doesn’t stop most people from enjoying the season. Kids play at the park, folks are out shopping, skating etc, in the dark, and the VinterLund programs in the center are still crowded most of the time.

We did our annual X-mas Eve bookstore visit in Lund just before closing, and it was pleasantly empty, with just a few customers and no lines.

Then home for duck confit, sweet potatoes, green beans and mushrooms, with Passionfruit Pavlova for dessert. Santa was very generous and everyone had some nice surprises, including JenJill who enjoyed her new sled. We haven’t found a snowy hill of the correct scale yet but here she is in the courtyard testing out her sled.

the younger one was done

Tonight we journeyed to Malmo to get our pre-flight covid tests. We enjoyed dinner out at a fabulous Lebanese restaurant, Occo, and then finished our packing. Hopefully travel to Rome will be smooth. It might be hard adjusting to full time N95 masks, even outdoors, but at least we are able to go. I feel like there is so much more to document about this week, but now it’s quite late so I must get to bed. Wishing you all a lovely, healthy holiday!

GOD JUL!

Julbord, Jul Dance Show

Last week we enjoyed a hike around the castle grounds followed by a Julbord (christmas buffet) with friends from MN. Check out Melissa’s blog for more about this fun afternoon!

After the Julbord, we drove in search of a Cut Your Own Tree Farm per request of the younger Noiceling. The older one was home recovering from a cough. Unfortunately it was rather difficult to find, and by the time we arrived it was pretty dark. So after looking around a bit we settled on a pre-cut tree. Now we know how to find the farm next year.

The youngest had a Jul NY Dance Show at Lunds Stadsteater. We were all surprised by how big and elaborate the show/venue was, so it was quite impressive that she was able to get past some significant stage fright and lead her small group in their two dances. She didn’t want pictures posted and we weren’t sure about the dance school photography policy, but a Swedish band provided some musical entertainment and made it clear that we should post about their music. So I only have a few pictures of the two hour extravaganza. The band was called PARi and they have some songs on Spotify. Some of the dance school students were their backup dancers. I’m guessing they are Melodifestivalen hopefuls!

We’re so proud that our kid pushed through the fear and supported her team. And the performance was fantastic. She got a big confidence boost out of the whole stressful event and intends to enroll again. I hope she doesn’t choose the pole dancing class. I’m not kidding. Those kids were amazingly strong and graceful, but I’m not ready to be the mom-in-the-audience for that part of the show, lol.

Before the 2 hour Show

Everything Jul except the weather! More photos from our walking and hiking. Open house in the neighborhood allotment colony, and the strand near Bjärred. The cloudy-meets-clear sky made for some interesting views. Lower left is the same apple tree from before.

After a nice hike out to see the swans…the immature mute swans being pushed around by some adults. They would bop them on the behind with their beaks and shove them! …Bry and I stopped for lunch at the former train station (1901-1938) with original floors and beams, beautifully refinished. Very good food. I had cod in mustard sauce, one of those Swedish things that I have grown to love. Also the Christmas rice pudding, which I have at every opportunity. I think Golden Grove Goods citrus marmalade would work well as a short cut to this dessert!

Femtioett

Since we recently returned from Athens where we maxed out our children’s travel energy and goodwill, I knew that my 51st birthday wishes should be modest when it came to their involvement.

My own celebrations started early in the week with a trip to Malmo to see Melissa and try out the Chocolate “Tea” menu at Peter Beier Chokolade. By the time I arrived after missing my intended train, it wasn’t really Fika time so we went to lunch instead, at my favorite Vietnamese place. Then we returned to PB where she treated me to chocolates and coffee for my birthday. And we managed a full afternoon of walking and shopping!

The IKEA cabinet that I’ve been wanting for years, is now back in stock! The stars aligned, and Bryant and the kids got it all set up for me to display my future knitting and craft projects. Now my yarn stash is elevated to art, and I can enjoy it without any feelings of guilt (for buying more yarns). What could be better for my birthday! Passionfruit is in season (I love it in yogurt, or salad dressing, or any dessert, but especially with chocolate) and I have been indulging in more ambient lighting with timers. And for the ones that do not have timers, IKEA has a new Smart System that Bryant will install for me to enable lights go on and off automatically and with dimming options!

My birthday weekend continued with a short visit to the history museum and fika with friends, and then dinner out at a nice restaurant in Lund. And Bryant willingly DROVE so that I could wear fancy shoes and not have to walk home in the dark chill of November. That means he couldn’t enjoy more than a few sips of alcohol and had to deal with city parking (we actually discovered a great place to park for cheap on the north side!) so this was a special treat. Then the big finale on Sunday, High Tea at the Grand Hotel! Though my British friends did not recommend it for the tea menu, I was satisfied with the novelty and tradition of the event. True, the scones were not the best, but good company and the Grand Hotel vibe made it a beautiful afternoon. It happened to be Father’s Day as well, so we didn’t get the private tea room I had reserved due to staffing issues, which in the end didn’t make much difference. There was a nice selection of sweet and savory tea goodies, and we had a lovely time.

Arctic Spring

We decided the risk of traveling within Sweden was minor and booked a trip to Kiruna, the northern most city in Swedish Lapland. It’s north of the Arctic Circle in Sàpmi (Sami cultural region) taiga forestland with long winters.

Traditional Sami foods, cooked over the fire in a làvvu reindeer, moose, lingon and cloudberries prepared in different ways, as well as many gourmet dishes awaited us at the resort hotel, which caters to foodies. So we enjoyed lots of caviar, smoked fish, meats (and even eggs) artichoke whiskey soup with cauliflower chips and freeze dried beets, pickled squash and shiitake risotto, and wonderful desserts and breads. Birch burl “kuksa” of coffee or lingonberry juice were a nice authentic touch.

Reindeer stew!

The weather was good, melting a bit during the day and freezing when not in direct sun, making for very slick surfaces. I couldn’t do much walking, but it made for some fast moving dog and reindeer sleds! This guy’s name means Power and he was running so fast that I missed a shot of him pulling Lily and Bry on the sport sled.

The sled dogs were extremely fast and on icy spring snow pack; they had to use a smaller team of dogs to prevent them from going too fast.

For me this trip was a lot of Type 2 fun, appreciated more after it’s over than while it is happening. I tried to embrace the opportunity to try some new things, including the outdoor spa, which I genuinely enjoyed and would do again! Usually hot tubs and saunas are too warm for me but the outdoor versions kept me from over heating.

Lily discovered an interest in snow mobiles and Hilary took to nighttime photography, more on those adventures later.

Bornholm

A Danish island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden, Bornholm is still closed to tourism.

It used to be a fishing community, but in recent times it is known for biking, hiking and culinary culture.

My great-grandfather, Fred, was born there in 1880 Fred’s mother’s family lived there for generations. His father, Per, was an immigrant from Sweden who earned his living fishing until the decision was made (with his Bornholmska wife and other family members) to leave Bornholm and try farming in the American Midwest.

The island has since become famous as a foodie destination and for its artisanal products, which always catch my eye in the food markets around Lund. I wonder what Fred would think of this development!

Per fled Sweden due to famine and a few years later immigrated again, taking his young family including Baby Sigfred across the ocean to farm. Now his great-grand daughter buys gourmet farm products from Bornholm…the latest being this basil pasta made from bornholmsk wheat and beer. We prepared it with Norwegian shrimp from our Fiskbil delivery- amazing!

We look forward to more gastronomical adventures when we can finally travel to Bornholm.

Tjolöholms Slott

Built by the wife of a British-Swedish aristocrat, who died just after building began, this castle has a relatively short history. The Dickson’s wanted a horse farm close to their Gothenburg home. They hired an architect and began construction in 1894, on a stretch of rugged coast just south of Gothenburg. It was a working port and farm which employed over 100 people. Today the “workers village” accommodates visitors. This is where we stayed in Mor Amanda’s Stuga. Just below the estate’s church, conveniently located to make sure the villagers had no excuse for lack of attendance.

More soon about dinner at the castle and exploring the grounds!

Mårtensgås

November 11 (or evening of the 10th) southern Sweden celebrates the goose harvest with a feast.

The kids had the day off from school so we decided to celebrate in memory of my Swedish/Danish Grandpa Augeson, who loved roasted goose, potatoes and vinegar cream cabbage.

The most interesting part of the story, and the reason for the “gås” of Sankt Mårten, is that the geese are slaughtered for their betrayal -exposing Martin’s hiding place in the goose pen with their crazy cackling! Martin was trying to avoid being made the new bishop because he preferred a solitary, monastic life, but the miracles he was rumored to have performed made him in demand. And the geese pay the price for his unwise choice of hiding place! The feast also marks the start of a 40 day pre-Christmas fast, which later became Advent. This is when people begin decorating for the Holidays. Lund will have 3 large trees like this one in the aptly named Mårtenstorget.

Several of Bryant’s coworkers said that this year is the first time they’ve ever cooked a goose; due to covid they weren’t able to go out for the traditional dinner at a restaurant.

We also made the traditional Apple Charlotte, which is a European version of crisp, using bread as the crust. It had a pound of butter and is served with whipped cream. The little jar and the Pyrex measuring cup are both filled with fat rendered from the goose. The recipe says I now have enough to last through winter. Bryant says this dinner might cause gout!