Sweden – week 7

Monday and Tuesday 20/21 April

More wood sawing and finally the pile of reclaimed wood is gone. It’s great – lovely clear area and more wood to burn.

P1050881 P1050880 P1050878                    We go riding which is lovely in the sunny weather.

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When we get back to the farm we try and clean the mares hooves up to their fetlocks where mud is dried and matted with their hairs and causing sores on their legs.

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Monday night Lotte arrives.  She’s a young girl from Finland and she’s here for about 3 weeks. In fact it’s her 19th birthday on Tuesday and Christina cooks a nice chocolate cake for us all.

Daz and I have started to build the new chicken coop.  Christina wants them out of the barn as they make too much mess and she wants the space for storing straw bales.  So that’s our new project, Daz is very excited to be building again.


Wednesday / Thursday / Friday

We paint the joists for the floor of the chicken house, find suitable planks for the floor and fill in large holes that Christina’s ex dug behind the barn as foundations. The planks are about 40cm wide by 18 feet long and heavy, we have to use the tractor trailer to help move them.  We also clear the mares field of broken branches that litter the ground because Christina says they could easily cause injury when the horses gallop up and down the field.  I also finish painting the bridge in the training ring.

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Friday night we go to Floby gastis which is open for drinks, buffet and music quiz. They only open once a month, so we thought we’d give it a go!  It’s quite busy and we start chatting to Anders, Hu and Lily.  Anders is a Swede and a linguist pathologist,  Hu is Chinese but has lived in sweden for 12 years.  He’s a lecturer in Gothenburg teaching Chinese and also he’s doing research into learning a foreign language from a language that’s not your native tongue.  And Lily is an exchange student here for a semester from China.  They are a lovely people and very interesting.  The music quiz starts but no one’s that interested and Anders invites us back to his house.

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So we spend the evening drinking red wine and chatting. Anders also cooks up some snacks, wild field mushrooms and sauted seeds, they are really nice. Some time later we decide we need to cycle the 6km home.  Once the cold air hits us we’re done for.  I fall into a ditch and it takes me half an hour to climb out.  The ditch is like the north face of the Eiger.  I get so far and then roll back into the bottom.  Daz is trying to help but actually I think he was just laughing himself silly whilst recording my inability to get out of a ditch.    Finally I’m out (we suspect this took at least half an hour to include hysteria and napping)  and cycling resumes but it takes us ages to get home.  The chain keeps coming off my bike and I crash again giving myself gravel rash across my face.

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Saturday 25th April

We’re a bit worse for wear this morning but manage to put the horses out and muck them out.  Then the 4 of us go to Falkoping for a car show.  To be honest it’s pretty rubbish and we don’t stay long but we do take Lotte and Ion to the cheese factory.

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 The rest of the day is spent lying on the couch waiting for Daz’s hangover to abate.

Sunday 26th April

Christina gives us a lift to Falkoping and we do 2 geocache series in the woods surrounding Falkoping.  Spring is coming.  Everything is in bud and the wood floor is covered in white wood anemone.  Beautiful small white flowers.  After geocaching we go to AroyThai, the number 1 restaurant in Falkoping and have a fantastic Thai meal and then we retire to O’Learys for a few pints.  Then we get the train home (once again without paying the fare) and walk home and Daz finds a shortcut through the forest which is a fraction of the usual distance.

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Monday 27th April

This morning we all do a ‘litter’ sweep of the lawns.  The grass needs to be cut this week and there’s stones, large pieces of wood and all sorts of other detritus that will cause problems for the mower.  Then Daz and I decide which planks will make the best floor for the chicken coop.  This takes us  about 2 hours – swapping their position for the best fit.  Once that’s finalised we paint their underneath and then they need to dry so we start the framework for one wall.

P1060046 P1060047 P1060048 P1060049 P1060050 P1060051 P1060052 P1060056                                         Fortunately we’re using 2 existing walls – the tool shed and the tractor garage so that should make life easier.  In the afternoon a new volunteer arrives. Her name is Manon and she’s Dutch and intends to be here 6 months.   She’s 23 and she’s also done workaway on a husky farm.  She studied graphic design but she doesn’t want to pursue this but wants to work in Sweden and is going to use her stay here to learn the language.

Tuesday 28th April

The farrier comes today to do the hooves of 5 horses and Daz and I continue work on the new chicken coop. The floor is laid and nailed down and we have the framework complete for 2 walls including 2 windows and a door. Today I get to use the small hand held circular saw and I’m even allowed to measure and cut some joists we need.  It seems to be going well.

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The vet is visiting today to check Peanut’s pregnancy. She’s a month overdue and Christina is really worried.


Geocaching – 50 caches to find!

Saturday 18th April.
Today we’re off geocaching. 50 caches to be found between Asarp and Falkoping along a disused railway. Christina has kindly agreed to drive us to Asarp with the bikes before she goes to work.
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So having put the horses out we’re off at 7.30 and unload at 8am. It’s a beautiful day and a lovely bike ride.
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Near the village of Hög we noticed loads of cars driving up the same track. There’s so much traffic that I need to know where they’re all going. So we follow and it’s a farm auction. The farm is being sold and today all the farm equipment etc is being sold. There’s a lot to sell so it’ll be a long day – there’s even a snack wagon.
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After looking around and watching the start of the auction we resume geocaching!
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When we get to Kinnarp we stop for lunch.
We finish the trail at 3.15 and only 2 we failed to find.
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A brilliant day which we finish with a visit to the cheese shop and then cocktails at O’Learys and then manage to evade payment on the train back to Floby. Daz is overjoyed. He’s turning into a ‘crim’ – first bike theft now fare evasion. Where will it end?
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Let’s not change a winning (?) formula – Sweden week 6

Friday 12th April

Strangely 2 days back at the farm after 4 days off has been painful.  I seem to ache all over and Daz seems to be suffering too.  Over the last 2 days we’ve worked on the greenhouse, planted some more seeds, tidied and pruned in the garden, painted wood preserver and constructed a wooden edge for the manure heap.

Saturday and Sunday

Both days we go geocaching.  On Saturday it’s just the 3 of us ( Daz, Ion, and me) and we do 15 caches and both the caches and the walk/scenery are stunning.

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On Sunday we persuade Christina to join us just for 3 caches just so she has an idea what we spend so much time doing.  One cache has 42 favourites so we’re expecting something special.

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I also watch whilst Christina works the horses.  It’s amazing how quickly they learn what’srequired!

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And I attempt to cut Darren’s hair after 3.5 months growth… Sorry Darren!

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Monday 13th April

Today we finished the manure heap: fully edged and now covered to prevent the chickens constantly scratching at it and spreading the mess everywhere.  The yard area has been raked and tidied – after a windy Sunday there was straw and hay everywhere.  And we’ve stacked the sawn wood by the reclaimed wood pile.


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After our work:

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We’re preparing for the resumption of sawing the beams which we haven’t touched for over a week. Christina has asked us to finish and clear the whole pile. We’ve also got the 3 bikes on the road; buckled wheel on the mountain bike significantly truer than it was and without a jig (well done Daz) and the other bike has 2 new tyres and inner tubes (the rubber had completely perished) so a bike adventure might follow shortly!



Tuesday 14th April

Today there’s torrential rain and although we start on the wood pile, rain soon stops play and we have a movie day instead.  Film of the day ‘ The Wedding Ringer’ – brilliant.

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Wednesday 15th April

More rain.  Daz starts work on the benches to go with his table.

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 Ion is recycling old windows to be used in the greenhouse and I help Christina repot the tomatoes, squash and cucumber seedlings.

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 In the afternoon I help Christina to trim the hooves of Sparky and Pinochio (so I hold the feet whilst Christina trims)!  The boys continue with windows and benches.

The rain has been constant and heavy today and the horses look miserable.  We bring them in early but Peanut is shivering and we put a couple of blankets over her.  Christina is desperate for the foal to come.  The due date is 11 months but Peanut is almost a month overdue.

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Thursday and Friday

The weather improves and it’s back to the log pile and Daz’s bench.  The plastic sheeting arrives for the greenhouse roof. Daz and Ion put the roof on the greenhouse – Ion says it’s nearly done but he’s been saying that for weeks!

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More wood sawing and we think another day and it’ll be done!

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We test the 3 bikes by cycling to Floby.  They’re pretty good although the mountain bike seat seems to be agony!  After pizza we return to the farm but pick up another bike.  It’s been lying against the same hedge for a month.  We check with the nearest house if they know anything about the bike and then we take it!

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Sunday 5th April – off to Copenhagen

Daz and I are awake early and try and quietly slip from cabin so Gav and Vik can keep sleeping. It’s 7am and a beautiful sunny but frosty morning.  It’s absolutely glorious – we’re so lucky to have this experience.  Ion is up too and the 3 of us do the horses.  It’s just going to be Ion and Christina on the farm until we return on Wednesday. We’re pretty sure the greenhouse build will be seriously advanced by our return because Ion has been building all of Friday and Saturday – he’s so driven he doesn’t even stop for food.P1050277 P1050276 P1050273

After a leisurely breakfast Christina drives us to Floby to catch the train to Copenhagen. A new adventure begins!  At Gotenburg we say farewell to Heather.  We get to Copenhagen at 2.30 and have a lovely Italian meal.  Then we walk to our hotel – it’s the ‘Wakeup Copenhagen’ which is in a great location.  We go to a few pubs including ‘The Moosehead’ where the air is thick with cigarette smoke and the barman looks like the lead singer from Dexys Midnight Runners and we keep expecting him to break into song – Come on Eileen!


Monday 6th April

What a glorious day.  It’s absolutely lovely.  We meet Gav and Vik in the lobby and discover Vik’s been out since 7.30 looking for coffee. She got lost and googled the Wakeup Copenhagen.  She wondered why it looked different but went to her room 237 and realised it was on a different side of the corridor.  There are 2 Wakeup hotels in Copenhagen and she’s gone to the wrong one and has to get a taxi to the right one which costs her £10!  We start the day with probably the most expensive breakfast ever.  It costs us £20.  We thought Denmark was supposed to be cheaper than Sweden!

After brekkie we visit the main attractions of Copenhagen; Rosenborg castle, the Little Mermaid, the Round Tower, Amalienborg Palace and the Marble  Church (which has the largest church dome in Scandinavia), Nyhaven (the 17th century waterfront). At each of these we collect a geocache clue.  There are 10 locations which will give us a clue to the coordinates of a cache.  Everyone’s favourite is the Round Tower originally a astronomical observatory.  At the top at 34.8 metres we can look out over Copenhagen.  The core of the tower is hollow and there’s a glass plate looking down 25metres to the bottom. We have lunch in Nyhaven on the waterfront and enjoy the sunshine.  Around 7pm Daz and I call it a day and head back to the hotel to relax (crisps n fine wine in the room!) leaving Gav and Vik to find a dinner venue.P1050297 P1050298 P1050302 P1050306 P1050314 P1050312 P1050308 P1050319 P1050320 P1050324 P1050325 P1050328 P1050333 P1050335 P1050341 P1050358 P1050363


Tuesday 7th April

The great weather we were expecting doesn’t materialise.  It’s overcast with a really cold wind.  Gav and Vik are suffering a little – aching from all the walking we did yesterday in shoes not as comfortable as our crocs. We continue our ‘croc’ campaign – yes I know they’re ugly but they are so comfy.  Today we want to visit Christania – the famous hippy venue in Copenhagen.  It’s resident to 1000 people but attracts 3/4 million visitors each year.  The area is only 1/3km2 on a former military barracks.  It used to be outside the laws of Copenhagen but this was considered inappropriate and political pressure resulted in a change.  There’s ‘Pusher Street’ where hash is sold openly although the dealers are sitting behind camo nets.  No photographs are allowed because hash is still illegal!!!

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After Christania we visit the Danish Parliament buildings and finally Tivoli, the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world. Whilst we are standing outside debating whether to pay the £10 entrance fee a gentleman approaches us and asks us to follow him.  He then walks to the ticket counter offers his ‘Tivoli gold card’ and asks for admission for 4 guests and we’re all in.  He wishes us an enjoyable day and leaves us!!! How very bizarre!  The park is lovely and Daz and I decide to have one ride on the Demon – the rollercoster.   We’d like to do more but it’s £20 for unlimited rides.  After the park we find a pub to continue our card games!


Wednesday 8th April

Sadly our last day.  Today we visit Torvenhalle food market and then watch the changing of the guard at the palace and then it’s time for us to get to the train station and for Vik and Gav to get to the airport.   It’s been great seeing them and Copenhagen.

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Thursday 9th April

Back to work

Daz helps Ion with the greenhouse and I do some painting and gardening.

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Sweden – week 5

Monday 30th March

So we’re coming to the end of March.  We’ve done a month here and it’s a great experience.  Today Christina has to work and she’s gone by 8.30am and she won’t be back until 9pm tonight.

So what shall we do today?  Well it’s pretty predictable – wood sawing for me, greenhouse frame prep for Ion, and Daz – well he’s making tent pegs for the Teepees so he’s back in the tool shed.

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He’s really enjoying making new things – I didn’t realise how good he was at this type of thing.  After a few hours he has to help with the wood sawing because there are some logs etc that are just too heavy for me to get onto the saw.  Heather is cleaning the house windows and repairing some of the horse coats.   About 3pm the rain we were expecting all day finally arrives and we stop work.  We decide to play cards and teach Heather ‘ Hand and Foot’ and then later play ‘Nominations’.

Tuesday 31st March

Today Daz and I start a new chore.  There’s a huge pile of wood next to our cabin.  It’s reclaimed wood from a barn that was dismantled.  Unfortunately it’s been sitting outside for several years and has seriously deteriorated.  It was going to be used to build new cabins but now it’s too rotten so Christina wants it sawn for firewood.

P1050062 P1050064 P1050067 P1050075 P1050089 P1050133 Unfortunately these beams are up to 18′ long and heavy.  So it takes 2 of us to lift the beams and feed them into the saw.  And to make matters worse they are riddled with nails and other metal work.  This is a really tough job.

Wednesday 1st April

Daz, Heather and I are just leaving the house to feed and put the horses out but Ion is heading in. We ask if he’s fed the horses but he says ‘No, one of the horses is dead’.  Heather is convinced it’s Peanut but I’m more interested in taking my toothbrush to the cabin to charge and wondering why Ion’s bad news lacked all emotion – of course it’s an April Fool.  Unfortunately Ion tries a similar trick on Christina ‘telling her that  her black cat is dead’. Christina is absolutely devoted to all her animals and rushes outside to see the cat.  She’s genuinely upset.  What a rotten thing to do!  This morning I go riding with Christina.

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It’s just the 2 of us – it’s to build my confidence and it’s a lovely ride.  A beautiful day with plenty of trotting and a couple of canters.  I do mess up when I let Sunny too close to Wichita’s rear and she tries to kick him in the teeth for his cheek, but apart from that a great ride! Back at the farm I help Daz change the winter tyres on the horse trailer and then it’s back to the saw and the huge pile of beams which ain’t getting any lighter and to make matters worse when we move the saw into position Daz’s fingers gets jammed and now his little finger has a blackened nail and is throbbing with pain.

P1050145 Of course Daz wants to keep working but we agree that special care will be taken to avoid further injury.  Of course within 20 minutes he jams the same finger again when I push the log forward, and then a falling beam catches his knee on top of an earlier scrape.  Poor Daz!  Late in the afternoon Christina wants to take out more horses.  I’ve already had a lovely ride today so decide to pass.  Daz is on Suaga and the others are on the ponies.

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Thursday 2nd March


Christina is at work today.  Today we put a hay bale in the boys’ feeder; we clean out the horse trailer; saw wood for our wood burner and then return to the reclaimed wood pile.

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A busy day and a lovely sunny one too: hopefully this will continue over Easter when Gav and Vikki are visiting.


Friday 3rd March

It’s Good Friday or Long Friday to the Swedish.  We’re off to Gotenburg to pick up Gav and Vikki from the airport.  We’re so excited!  Christina is going to work so we go with her to Falkoping and then we take her car to Gotenburg.  There’s barely any traffic but that seems typical here and we make good time.

There’s a minor dispute about parking which results in us driving around the block 4 times!!! But eventually we’re parked and soon waiting at arrivals.  It’s so good to see them – I think they’ve been up since 3.30 this morning!

We drive back catching up on all the news and at the farm we have lunch and introduce them to Ion and Heather.  We give them a guided tour of the farm and they greet all the animals.  Vikki instantly falls for Chip but he is a cutie!!

We do have some chores today and Vikki and Gav give us a hand – bless them.  Christina has clients coming on Saturday for a 1 hour horse ride through the woods and we need to tidy up because the farm is looking a bit of a mess.  We start by moving the large wire cages that hold all the plastic coverings from the hay bales.  There’s just a mass of plastic in front of the stable.  Daz and Gav move it all out of sight whilst Vikki and I tidy up the yard and the garden.  By the time we’ve tidied away all the mess from our current projects – wood cutting and greenhouse creation, the farm looks so much better.  With that task complete (very quickly thanks to the help of Vik and Gav) we decide it’s time for a cuppa and we decide to play cards.

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Then we all go out to the Floby pizza joint for dinner and then finish the day with more cards.


Saturday 4th April

Daz, Heather and I put the horses out.  We didn’t hear Vik and Gav so we’re hoping they’re having a well deserved lie in.  After brekkie we all muck out and it’s done in record time.  Daz needs to pick up Christina from work (she was on a 24hour shift) and we have a cuppa.  We’ve got an organised ride for 2 Danes at 12 so we need to prepare 4 horses.  Unfortunately Suaga won’t come but we get the other 3 and groom them.  Vikki and Gav are quickly becoming more comfortable around the horses which is great to see.  The Danes are really early and we have to rush to get everything ready.  Finally all is prepared and we wave goodbye to Christina, Heather and the 2 Danes.  I hope all goes well because the Danish lady looked really nervous. Whilst they’re out we have an early lunch.  Christina has asked if Gav and Vikki want to ride so they’ll be going out after the Danes and we’re so pleased they’re giving it a go.  When the Danes get back we all go out to assist.  They say they’ve had a good ride but Heather seems upset.  She was at the back on Silky who was really badly behaved and kept skipping and bucking. He’s upsetting Sunny by biting him – Sunny’s ears are back and he’s swishing his tail – this is a sure sign he’s not happy.  So the lady switches so that she’s in front of Wichita and all settles down for a bit but then Silky starts misbehaving again and poor Heather is unseated and comes off but her foot is caught in a stirrup.  She’s so upset about coming off in front of clients; the lack of professionalism and frustrated by not knowing how to handle Silky’s behaviour.  In the past when it’s happened the ride has stopped and Christina has insisted that Silky follow specific direction until his behaviour improves but this wasn’t possible with clients.

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When we hear this I wonder if Gav and Vik should go and I wouldn’t blame them.  But they’re still game so we prepare them to go.  Gav on Wichita, Vik on Sunny, and Heather’s going to lead on Suaga whilst Christina walks at the back with Silky.  Poor Heather – I can see she doesn’t want to go out again.  Gav and Vik mount up and we walk with them to the road.  They’re looking good!  They’re back after 90 minutes and they’ve really enjoyed it.

After the ride we take the car and visit Lake Hornborga.  We visited a few weeks ago but there weren’t many cranes.  Now there are 14800.  This is a main stopping point for the cranes who have wintered in France and Spain.  They will rest here for a couple of weeks before moving on to some bog or mire for breeding.  The cranes come to rest at Lake Hornborga thanks to the Swedish schnapps  (Brannvin) because the potatoes intended for the spirit were left in huge amounts in the fields near the factories in Bjurum and Dagsnas.  These were a source of high energy food source and when potato farming ceased barley was grown instead.  The cranes are famous for their ‘crane dance’; a skip, a hop followed by rubbing of heads.  This is thought to strength family ties and is performed not only by mating pairs but by all family members.  It can occur regardless of weather and time of day so if lucky we could have seen 1000s of pairs dancing at the same time but unfortunately we didn’t.  A crane will mate for life and family units often fly together.  The inverse ‘V’ formation adopted by cranes and other flocks of birds is their equivalent to drafting or using the slip-stream.  Everyone can conserve energy except the lead bird.  Daz wants to know if the lead switches as it does in pursuit cycling.


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The day finishes with a visit to Ullene – where there’s a bonfire and fireworks to celebrate Easter and the arrival of spring.  And that’s the end of Gav and Vik’s farm visit.  Tomorrow we’re catching the train to Copenhagen and Heather is returning to her student life.  I hope they’ve enjoyed their farm experience – they’ve joined in with everything that’s been happening and had some glorious weather.  We know they’re both shattered but in a good way I think.  They will sleep well tonight and it’s great to see them having time off.  In all the time I’ve known them I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen them away from work for more than a day!

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