Bonus Sommar

We tried to squeeze in as much outdoor time as possible during this streak of amazing weather in Skåne.

Here is our hike on a section of Skåneleden Trail near Barsebäck strand, site of a 6,000 year old settlement, now preserved as pastureland, restored with native plants. The 1712 Stenbock’s ramparts were maintained (but never used) so the land wasn’t farmed or developed.

Stenbock’s rampart in the background, built circa 1712 to protect the coastline

Bry had yet another birthday celebration when friends invited us to Malmö for lunch. I didn’t get many photos… but we were treated to some yummy ice cream and had a nice outing together. We also ate out a couple times in Lund now that covid cases are very low. Finally were able to get reservations at the Skissernas Museum restaurant offering a twist on traditional Swedish ingredients. The kids didn’t love it, but they were good sports. It was fun trying new things. Lots of unusual flavors, most of which were a hit. Bry and I loved all of it. Better for date night than a family meal perhaps.

And we went to the Falsterbo Bird Show where I joined the Swedish Ornithological Society and a women’s bird watching group that meets in Lund. We watched Red Kites and Honey Buzzards (up to 1000 per day during this week each year) while an announcer called out tips and sightings (in Swedish) over a loud speaker- it was a blast! They say it’s one of the best places to watch migration in all of Europe. We didn’t know to bring chairs and kaffe, ha!

Then to the apple orchard for lunch…one of my favorite places. And we got our first batch of apples and bottled juices. Finally had my coffee because we could not find a cup anywhere in Falsterbo. All the birders brought their own thermos. We even tried the grocery store (which opens at 8:15) but no luck. Oh yes, L got her glasses and tried special contact lenses which might result in better vision, but she needs another appointment to practice getting them in on her own.

A Grave in Grove

Remember when they were replacing the stairs to part of the cathedral and discovered a mysterious corpse last Fall?! The new staircase is finished, and now I’m wondering if archaeologists have learned anything more about the man who was buried beneath. I’m booking a tour of nearby Uppåkra, a major dig near Lund, where I may be able to find out more about it.

Lund translates to Grove, so that is the name that comes up whenever we translate a web page into English. Strangely, it appears in the “L”section of any pull down menu or list, even though it reads “Grove”…Not much new to add to this story, but the construction project on the back of the cathedral finished over the summer so we now have new views to admire sans portable offices and heavy equipment!

We had drinks at the Cathedral Wine Bar just across the street . Fantastic people watching and the traffic noise wasn’t too bad even though it’s on a major bus route. We also discovered fresh currants, which I’ve seen at the farmers market but hadn’t tried yet. They make a nice cocktail!

Island of Ven: Mors Dag 2

We lucked out with one of Sweden’s Top 10 Weather Days of 2021, I’m sure. Sunny and warm with a very light breeze. Caught the 10 a.m. ferry from Landskrona to Ven where we had a little snack at the harbor, then rented 2 tandem bikes and headed out to tour the island.

It was the best mother’s day ever! The riding was pretty easy after a bit of practice. Lily went swimming while I hiked a section of the Skåneleden Trail. We had ice cream, rhubarb cake, sandwiches and delicious pizzas. Next time I’m going to sign up for Alpaca Trekking!!! Enjoyed the Island’s history and the fascinating Tycho Brahe Museum.

The entire island can be covered on 12 km of road/trail. The scenery is spectacular, but I didn’t even get most of the views because it’s impossible to take pictures from a tandem bike! I’d like to go again and stick to hiking. But the kids loved the biking, and I know that a day like today doesn’t come often to the “Isle of Hven”

The ferry is a fun adventure in itself, at least in good weather. It takes about 30 minutes, and it’s possible to see all the way to the Öresund Bridge and Turning Torso in Malmo, Helsingborg and Landskrona up the coast of Sweden plus across to Denmark where even Helsingor and Elsinore Castle are visible. It’s still high on my list once we can travel to Denmark. I chatted briefly with a group of Spaniards from Lund University (heard them mention Minneapolis so I had to say something) Such a great day!

Sofiero Castle in Helsingborg

was a summer royal palace, just across the Öresund from Denmark at the narrowest point. In the top picture below, the little darker grey rectangle is the castle at Helsingør Denmark, better known as Elsinore from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

King Oscar collected rhododendron from around the world and took advantage of the brook and ravine to establish unusual varieties.

While Margareta developed the rest of the grounds with many kinds of gardens, including an enchanted forest which made a nice photo op for Jen Jill.

One lovely, wooded section features “sounds” most naturally provided by birds and wind. The blackbirds cooperated astonishingly well by singing near their sign as if on cue.

A magical, musical soundtrack added another element to the sculpture garden. You can hear the violin music in the clip below, just complementing the rushing water of the creek.

Valborgsmässoafton Walpurgis

Lund is employing multiple strategies to stop large gatherings in local parks tonight. Saint Walpurgis night, originally a pagan, equinox (Beltane) festival turned folk fest, with singing and bonfires has in recent decades become a huge party for students who have just completed their Spring exams. Lund has possibly the largest (unsanctioned) party in the country. Authorities have been preparing for weeks. This letter from ISLK seemed unnecessary for an elementary/ middle school, but the kids say staff has been posted on the grounds in shifts all day to prevent gatherings. Maybe they learned the hard way.When I walked through town this morning, there were already big parties starting on the balconies. There are lots of bike cops out and bars close at 8pm so I imagine they will keep students from leaving private housing. Last year’s chicken poop on the grass didn’t seem to be enough, and this year they’ve added more barricades.

The grown ups are certainly hoping for rain!

Imagine 25,000 visitors in Lund (population 91,000) on the same night. The line for alcohol purchases has been around the block all day for the last 3 days. Maybe that means people plan to stay home. If not, I think the local gardens would be at risk!

The May Day parades and big events for organized labor are cancelled, obviously. Glad I made it to the farmers market today just in case!.

On the mend

Lily and I rode the train to Malmö for her Handkirurgi appointment. The hand specialist said the cast could come off- she can use a velcro wrap for a few weeks until it stops hurting and moves easily.Then we stopped in our old Hyllie neighborhood to have lunch at her favorite place from those weeks we spent near Emporia Mall. They have tightened up covid restrictions since then, so we had to eat at separate tables 10 feet apart!

Hyllie water park is known to have one of the best cherry blossom displays in Skåne. We checked it out, but it’s just started to turn pink. Skåne is about 3 weeks behind its average Spring. This photo was taken through the wind blown waterfall. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to stop by again.

This Good Boy entertained us on the train back to Lund

We enjoyed another stroll on Plommonvägen, still holding its blossoms in spite of wind and hail last night! Here’s Lily at the intersection of Plum and Cherry. Last weekend we went hiking at Cherry Dale but the blossoms hadn’t started.

Körsbärsdalen (Cherry Dale) meadow is supposed to be showy in spring.

The stage coach hotel stop from 1666 now features outdoor brunch in Dalby, on the way to Körsbärsdalen, just a few miles outside Lund. The bike trail from our house should be an easy ride.

And the parks have been really pretty with all the spring color.

And this is the last year EVER for the skunk cabbage! It’s been declared invasive (even though this yellow variety doesn’t seem to be) so it must be removed from the botanic garden. They’re letting it flower for the final time since it was added to the collection in the 1860s.

Greenhouse at City Park

International Citizen’s Hub (just a French lady named Carole) has been hosting a weekly walk around Stadsparken, a little over half a mile from our house. This is where I take most of my pond pictures. I like the view from the top of the rampart walking path.

We’ve had fairly low turn out for the Citizens Hub walks, maybe due to winter-like temps, at least from the point of view of many recent arrivals, who tend to come from warmer places! It’s probably better in small groups anyway, since we can get to know one another and talk more easily.

Our meeting point is the Greenhouse at city park. A couple of times only 2 or 3 people turned up. And it occurred to me that we may have been missing a few potential attendees due to a language issue, since the “greenhouse” is not green or a house. One day I told a friend from Cameroon that I would meet her at the greenhouse and she called me to say she was there, but she wasn’t. Turns out she was here…

Hard to see in the photo but the band shell is green ?

I wonder if we lost a few walkers for whom English is not a first language!? Or anyone who was looking for a green house, rather than a greenhouse.

Parks are amazing in Sweden. I read somewhere that it is considered a basic human right that everyone have green space and outdoor activities within easy access. Playgrounds are everywhere and most of them have at least one wooded area for nature play. We live within three blocks of several lovely parks. The newest is an “Out-gym” a quarter mile from us, behind the CherryBerry (körsbär) preschool. I try to stop by for a few exercises every day.The out-gym is on the back side of the trees. Preschoolers spend much of the day out here. They even have a vegetable garden that they “tend” They often call out and wave to me and other neighbors who pass by. The area is usually quite busy but these photos were taken early on a Sunday morning.

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.


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.

Face Mask Machinations

There is one issue in Sweden that has annoyed me from day 1. Sverige seems like a country that would put the public good ahead of individual freedoms. The leaders claimed they were following the science on all issues related to covid 19 so why are they ignoring the data on mask effectiveness?

We’ve been wearing masks in public indoor spaces and outdoors if there are space issues. There are lots of internationals here in Lund so it’s not uncommon, but the vast majority of people do not wear masks. It seems to me that people are choosing to misinterpret the lack of mask recommendation by the Swedish Health authority to mean that the “risks” outweigh the benefits. It’s not really clear what they think the risks are!

The story below cites a hindrance to communication as a reason for not allowing the student to wear one in school. I’m occasionally asked to remove my mask for identification purposes in situations where it seems completely unnecessary, but most of the time no one says anything. Once a person seemed to cough deliberately in my direction. Some kids at the mall made rude comments in English, and once a man in the grocery store talked to me animatedly in Swedish while gesturing to the distance markers on the floor. I assume he was trying to tell me that keeping distance is enough and that I shouldn’t be wearing a mask, but I don’t really know.

Our kids were questioned repeatedly by classmates and teachers about mask wearing at school, in a manner that made them feel they needed to defend the science and our choice, but no one asked them to remove the masks. A few teachers and kids now wear them regularly. And although Sweden denied any strategy of herd immunity, we do believe that a large number of teachers and staff at ISLK have already had Coronavirus, so the atmosphere is now more relaxed.

It does seem like they meant to “allow” healthy young people to get sick, making personal responsibility the main strategy for protecting the vulnerable. I think that message runs counter to Sweden’s stated prioritization of responsibility to society and raising good citizens.

This story got me “hotted up” to borrow a local expression (I think it’s British)

And below is an update to that story…

No, Swedish schools can’t send students home just for wearing face masks

Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT has spoken with Sweden’s Education Agency (Skolverket) after The Local last week interviewed a motherwhose 13-year-old son was sent home from school after he refused to remove his face mask. The school said it was following Stockholm’s coronavirus recommendations on face masks, but the infectious disease unit in Stockholm said it had issued no recommendations on masks in schools.

Skolverket told SVT that Sweden’s Education Act does not give schools the power to send students home for wearing or not wearing a face mask. “The only situation really where you can send a student home is if the principal decides on suspension, if that option is needed to secure other students’ safety and studies,” said a spokesperson.

Swedish vocabulary: suspension – 

I’m pretty sure the Health Authority determined that the potential divisions that would arise from any kind of mask mandate would outweigh the benefits. Instead, it seems like we have the divisions without the benefits. I also wonder if they decided to avoid any decision about face coverings in order to steer clear of the controversies surrounding religious face and head coverings. I guess I can understand that goal, but it’s so frustrating that a simple, common sense strategy to help people stay healthy is in any way controversial. People are stupid.