A potentially lovely day here today. Were it not for the freezing, biting wind from the West - I blame Norway myself. A common complaint made by Swedes that can cover just about anything. I was up at around 07:15 this morning in brilliant blue-skied sunshine. Jack slumbered on in one of his three baskets - one in the kitchen by a radiator for daily use, and two in the bedroom, both of which tend to be annexed for use by one or other of the cats - enabling me to get dressed without disturbance/snouty, slobbering greeting.
By the time I was downstairs, it was reading plus eight degrees; pretty impressive for this time of year up here. I was going to leave the stove alone but when I let the menagerie out and stood on the porch, the wind was arctic, so wisely, I think, I retired indoors and lit it and made me usual breaky chocolate and fruit juice, a mixture of Apple & Pineapple - about the closest I can get to the great melanges of Andalucia.
Alex spends his time barking, whinnying and yelping. I feel sorry for him, he must be baffled by his current predicament and missing his German owner, Roger. Unfortunately, he's not been properly trained and is therefore a very difficult hound. But after breaky today, and about an hour of choral practice, he seems to have settled down in the sun, despite the cold wind:
At night, he stays indoors in our old Bagarstuga, where Roger has left his cage - this is usually in the back of his car and so Alex is familiar with it:
I think we could do with bird-feeders made from this stronger metal. A few years ago, after the Squirrels has eaten another few plastic feeders to get at the sunflower seed, I swapped over to metalware. Until now this has been a great success. But today I find one badly damaged, irreparably holed below the waterline:
I think it must have been the strong, greedy attacks of the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woody. He sure as Hell gives it a hammering at times! Sadly, I've left my best metal feeder down in the Spanish house.
Although we are now firmly in plus temps, both night and day, and have had days of downpour, the lakes are still ice-covered. It takes a while for the ice to give up its wintry grip on these. Some rash - or stupid, take your pick - Swedes will still venture out onto these with their fishing gear, chairs and picnics and spend a day gradually sinking into the slushy much in the forlorn hope of catching a whopper. And this, believe it or not, is one of the lakes just below the house today:
There's a small island in the middle of this lake, Storsjön, which, we've been told by locals, was used as a burial place for Sami infants who died at birth in past times. They used to come down with their Reindeer herds and winter here, using our Bagarstuga - the oldest building in the area - as a base/makeshift maternity ward. God, it must have been a hard life. The Bagarstuga is very basic, with a bread-oven and open fire in the main L-shaped room and another old cast-iron stove in the other. We use it for storage and it has got a good, big upstairs area too:
I often mention our neighbours, Håkan & Monica. They've been great neighbours, warm - in as far as Swedes can ever be warm - friendly and immensely helpful. We will miss them when we move away. They are dairy farmers and Håkan has a substantial chunk of forest which he also works/farms/manages. This is their place, a photo I pinched/got from their son, Tomas, who is just finishing his degree in film-making at Kalmar film school down near Stockholm. Håkan is quietly/secretly rather proud of him but also baffled about this choice of career when there is a farm to inherit/run! It is quite an idyllic place:
On our other side, to the West, is another neighbour, Sören, who runs the local Turistbyra/tourist office and only really uses the place as a Summer/weekend joint:
I'm expecting the other village Brit to arrive in the near future, though nobody seems to be sure when he'll arrive for his annual holiday break. He's an Irishman, lives in London and, until recently, worked at Heathrow Airport. He bought a house not far from us in the village a few years ago but we've yet to meet up. Should be interesting to get his take on things here. And maybe we can give him some sensible info about the place, the people and the area!
There are more and more Redwings around now, which is nice. I do like these birds, beautiful Thrushes with a nice stripey eye and that gorgeous red flash under-wings. It's great to see them in full summer finery rather than the drab plumage we get in UK. I first saw these birds, to my delight and surprise, during my first term at University in Sussex, where they were prolific on campus. But, as usual, I missed a piccy of one this morning. Instead I did get this lovely fellow, a White - rather than Pied - Wagtail. Difficult to tell apart, to be honest:
J returns from Blighty tomorrow. She's collecting Roger's car from the car-park by Sundsvall Station when she arrives and driving up. She flies into Arlanda this evening and will stop overnight in a nearby hotel before catching a morning train North. We've agreed to collect Roger at the same rail-station when he returns from his lovelorn trip to Tashkent next week. This way, we all benefit; it's cheaper than parking the car for another five days and J has reliable transport available on her arrival. In addition, and purely coincidentally, it means I don't have to hussle off down to Sundsvall tomorrow morning. A good result, I'd say!