Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Sunshine On My Shoulders ....

It's been a while since I've been on this bloggy thing. But, we have moved 3000 Kms or so South in the interim and managed to get internet connected in France, despite the language difficulties (for me, at any rate, J is pretty Frogspeak savvy). So, all in all, not too bad, I'd say.

It's almost a month since I last posted anything - my, doesn't time fly!  I previously mentioned the Swedish art of using a Sparka - suggesting an explanation at a later date.

Well here it is, a sparka, with Rolf at the helm:

And another neighbour, Marianna, who uses it daily to assist in her circular keep-fitty outings

Basically, little more than a few strips of wood to hold on to, a few strips of metal to slide along on and a few layers of warm clothing to cope with the biting cold. Rolf is, admittedly, a master of the ancient art. The word itself means 'kick', as you kick start your movement forward and then slide along on the ice. They are used throughout the country by folk of all ages and come in all sizes to suit. J has one and enjoyed the odd foray with it. The older residents of Fun-City, (Junsele), our nearest small town, use them to support themselves while shopping and generally getting about.

And speaking of Fun City, here it is, in typically bustling, Swedish winter mode:

A true one-horse town

On one of my final visits, before heading South to France, I noted the town bakery was flogging off Semlar - huge fluffy, puffy cake-things, rich in colesterol, cream, marzipan.  Truly Viking sized patisseries. I bought two on the basis that, like Ian Botham and his Weetabix, nobody could eat more - save a Swede, that is. They are really quite good and almost a mini-meal in themselves:

A light dusting of non-fattening, icing suger on top - to represent the ever-present snow, perhaps ?

In the event, I only managed one of the buggers, forgot about the other and eventually Foxxy benefitted from it, as a sort of parting gift, to strengthen his reserves till the snow goes.

Having received my digi-camera-download cable from Amazon, I can now reveal Mister Fox as he snuffles around, ignoring me, albeit warily, searching for titbits:

And here is Charlie, virtual hunting from the kitchen window, thinking a nice haunch of Fox might be a useful dietary winter supplement:

I hope old Mister Fox is okay. I'm sure it would only have been a few days before he realised the 'gravy train' had moved on, leaving him once again to his own devices and instincts. Pity poor Monica's chickens, then!

The garden to the front of the house had been getting a bit busy, with huge Pine and Birch trees blocking out the sun to a large extent. I had asked Håkan if he could take a few down for us and he'd happily agreed. He likes nothing more than messing around with dangerous manly, power-tools; always beats a day indoors or in the milking parlour, for his Kroner!  I was plodding around, packing stuff and preparing for the move when I heard the buzz of a chainsaw outside. 

Håkan had arrived with tractor and the inevitable snowfall to help out:

He felled about half a dozen trees before deciding, in a typically Swedish way, that it was time for Fika!




Now this use of a tractor to support while cutting and push when ready to topple, is not something you'll find in any safety manual; elfansafety would have a fit. So not to be done at home, as they say!

The finished mess, which he then cleared up later:

 As we were on the cusp of leaving and had plenty of wood in the woodstore:

 We were only too happy to leave it to him. And the difference in light inside the house made it well worthwhile, even though it was for only a few days!

The move itself went reasonably well. The removal van was, of course, inadequate. It was unable to get up the snow-covered drive to the front door, neccessitating a bit of a heavy, tiring, manhandling of stuff in slippery, sub-zero temps to load up. The drive to Poiteau Charentes took about two days but we escaped the snow to emerge into double-figure PLUS temps and NO SNOW!

Although it's cloudy today, and has been raining, the difference is strikingly enjoyable. Charlie is outside - he now has a catflap - hunting like crazy. He brought a singularly agile mouse home as a take-away last night, chased it round the house for a while, before losing it as it took off, leaping into the air,  out of the back door. No doubt, he's still searching for it now. Persistent sods, are cats!

Charlie on his final foray in Sweden, heading home, little knowing he was about to be caged and transported by car for a couple of days.

And Jack, too, kept in the car for a tediously long time. Aware that something was afoot, but not sure quite what:

What about me, then?

Here is the general view from the front garden, looking vaguely South across the village:

And the village welcome:

And those temperatures.....Brrrr......:

I'll have to get some pix of the new gaff organised soon. Now, I'm off to the nearest Cave to buy some acceptable and agreeable plonk (Cotes du Rhone-type) at 1.50 Euros the litre, en vrac, at the pumps!  Sure as Hell beats the madness of Sweden!

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