Last week in Sweden

Monday 25th May

This is our last week on the farm and in Sweden actually.  On Friday we leave and will have a weekend in Marstrand and Kosterhavets before starting our new job in Tolne, Denmark.

Today Daz finished his bench whilst I cut the grass with the most ‘knackered’ petrol mower I’ve ever had the displeasure to use!  This combined with long wet grass,  uneven ground booby trapped with the occasional stone, meant I was shattered at the end and bruised by flying stones because the mower no longer has a grass catcher but sprays everything all over the mower operator!!

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Daz rakes the grass and Máté sands down Teepee poles because Christina will be erecting the Teepees for guests in June.  Manon seems pretty tired – she had a busy weekend – so we send her off for a nap.  We’ve realised that Chip is now using the ladder to look for eggs in the barn loft.

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For dinner we make Marko meatballs in honour of our warmshowers host in Gothenburg and they are as fantastic as they were then – I still can’t believe a simple meatball can taste so great.  Served with creamy mash potatoes and mashed carrot. Yummy!!

Tuesday and Wednesday

Daz’s bench is finished.  We do a final load of log splitting (Christina is very happy she says we have done enough for two winters!) and plant the cucumber plants in the greenhouse.

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Then we visit Herrljunga, taking Manon with us.  On the way back we stop off and see Anders and Hu and as usual their hospitality is amazing.  Within minutes of arriving Hu is giving us presents of honey and apple sauce; there are glasses of red wine and nibbles.   Hu comes back to the farm with us to see the animals – he really seems to love the farm environment.

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Thursday 28th May

Our last day on the farm.

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We tidy our room and pack. We’re supposed to be having a barbecue, and Hu and Anders were coming  but the weather is horrendous and it gets cancelled!  I hope Anders forgives us because he’d cancelled his bridge evening.  Sorry Anders!

Friday 29th May to 31st May

By 0730 we’re on the train to Gotenburg.  It’s been sad saying goodbye to Christina.  We’ve got a car hire arranged in Gothenburg and we drive up to Marstrand,  the sailing capital of Sweden.   The mystery about the shortage of accommodation is finally solved – there’s a sailing Regatta, boat show and herrings day here over the weekend.  We walk around the island.  It’s very pretty.

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Once we’ve seen Marstrand we drive up to Strömstad where we’ve booked a cottage.  Unfortunately the cottage is better described a holiday cabin on a huge caravan park.   There are no views and it’s very disappointing and not even close to Strömstad.  the disappointment continues when there’s so much rain on Saturday we don’t even bother to explore Kosterhavets – the actual reason for our visit.   And the final nail in the coffin -my Kindle is broken.

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 Sunday we clean the cabin and return the hire car in Gothenburg and find a replacement Kindle.   Then it’s on the ferry to Denmark. It’s been a disappointing end to our Swedish adventure.


Stockholm and our penultimate week in Sweden

Saturday 16th May – Stockholm here we come.

Today we’re up early so Ion can drop us at the train station.  We’re off to Stockholm for the weekend.  We arrive at 12.30 and walk what Daz said would be 1 km to our Connect hotel (very cheap, but the breakfast was really amazing and everything is fresh, new and clean… we had no window in our room, so it was great sleeping in the pitch black and waking late… so refreshing after the brightness of the farm and the cocks crowing!!) but turned out to be nearly 2 km after we came out the wrong entrance to the train station and had to circumnavigate it!  Once our bags are dumped we’re back out, using Stockholm’s equivalent to London’s Boris bikes to get around.

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 There are some geocaches at some major attractions so that’s where we head.  We visit the Town Hall, the Palace,  then into the Old Town- Gamla Stan which is really beautiful with narrow cobbled streets and then into Södermalm and finally onto Skeppsholmen(Daz notifes a fun Fair/ amuzement Park over the waters and gets V excited,  more later!).  The weather is fine and we enjoy finding the geocaches and seeing the sights by bike.  It’s great fun and quicker than walking.

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Sunday the weather deteriorates.  At first it’s light showers but soon this turns to torrential rain.  We spend over an hour looking for a cache at the Central train station.  Many of the tracks are undercover so our GPS doesn’t work.  We use various methods and attack points including Daz’s pacing method before finally locating it.

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At this point we’re soaked and at a loss as to how to proceed.  However after a couple of beers and an improvement in the weather we head to Gröna Lunds Tivoli – a fun Park with lots of rides that Daz spotted yesterday.  The poor weather has kept most people away so there’s barely any queuing and once I overcome my fear we do all the scary rides repeatedly!!  The best or ‘worst’ ride is ‘Insane’.  Daz just giggles nervously throughout whilst I’m giving vent to full on screaming.  We’re the only adults on the scene apart from the occasional parent and the average age is probably about 13.  I’m left wondering whether we should be seeking some culture and drawn by some museum or other but fxxk it – it’s really good fun!!!!

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We’ve also stopped to find another cache that has 945 favourites – it’s a false piece on the bottom of a art sculpture – ingenious!


Monday we take Daz to a barber’s to correct the damage I did to his hair a couple of weeks ago. The number 3 Daz asks for is definitely shorter than the no. 3 in England or does the barber need to go this short to eradicate the mess I made!

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After the hair cut we wander into the city centre and become seduced by retail therapy and buy a few things.  To be fair we have been wearing the same ‘shit’ for the last 5 months so it’s nice to buy something fresh and colourful.  Then it’s into the food market which was shut yesterday. And it’s packed.  Hotorgetshallen has loads of fabulous food stalls and the biggest queue is for Japanese fast food so that’s where we decide to eat.  Daz has spent over 2 and a half years trying to get me to eat Sushi to no avail so today he gets some spicy tuna Sushi dish but it’s not a patch on my pulled pork sesame tacos.  But of course he eats nearly half of mine whilst I just have a taster of his before realising mine is the better dish.

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 After lunch we head back into the Old Town before catching the train home.

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Tuesday, Wednesday 19th & 20th May

Work continues with the chicken coup and electric fences (these fences will eventually take until Friday to fix as first you have to check the integrity of the fence without electric running through it, then go back to the farm and plug it in to go check the current and find all the breaks!!! Tedious!)  Peanut and Little Nut get a temporary enclosure on the garden lawn made so they can enjoy the long grass and Daz is hoping for a dry spell so he can continue mowing the large lawns.  Ion flies home early Tuesday and will be away for 10 days.  Máté, he’s the new volunteer who arrived on Friday from Hungary, spends his time trying to start the chainsaw, maintaining it and cutting wood.


Thursday and Friday 21st & 22nd May.

Finally the chicken coup is completed and now all we have to do is let the chickens know they are moving and demolish their old house.  And so starts the great Swedish chicken round up… Squawking,  flapping, and running about, and that’s just Daz in his excitement!  It takes us a while to catch all the chickens and put them in their new home.

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Then we have a teaparty as a house warming.  Christina brings a little table and cloth and puts it inside the chicken coop with some special food treats for the chickens to enjoy … A little Swedish joke!  The idea is to keep the chickens in later tomorrow and feed them so that they get used to the new home, but it doesn’t really help as late on Friday we spend another hour with brushes herding the chickens from where their old house was which is now demolished and totally cleaned out across the yard to their new home.

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We miss a couple of roosters and can’t get them over at all so we decide to leave them.

During Friday whilst Daz is filling the water troughs with the hose he gets distracted and wanders off.   2 hours later Christina comes over whilst we are getting the horses ready for some clients and askes who left the water running! Unfortunately it’s more serious than we think as the well has run dry and we now have no water in the house!  Christina says it will take about a day and a half to refill and get water again!  OMG no flushing toilet so Daz tells Manon she must wee in the woods.  Later she tells me she’s desperate for a wee and I ask why she doesn’t just go in the house but she says she’s not allowed and must wee in the woods.  Bless her she believes the lies we tell her which become more numerous when we realise how gullible she is.

We have 2 lots of clients today, both for a 2 hour ride.  One of the young girls has never ridden before so Christina asks Hels to walk with her horse for the ride to ensure she has no problems… For 2 hours!!  Whilst out on the ride everyone is speaking Swedish and the next minute the front riders start trotting,  leaving Hels and her rider behind.  A little shouting later and they realise Hels didnt understand their chatter that they were going to trot… As it was in Swedish!! Anyhoo the message is passed and now Hels has to run beside her horse and young rider as they trot along the road!! Finally the fences are done.


It’s been a long and tedious job – my least favourite chore on the farm because it means switching off the electric in the barn, walking out to the furthest fields, making a ‘fix’ or replacing poor wire returning to barn to switch electricity back on then back out to test the new wires.  And so on each test showed poor current in the wires.

Later back at the farm the lack of water is taking its toll as people need to use the toilets so we decide to go get some water from the local riding arena and whilst we are out also get some pizza as it is our last Friday on the farm… Needless to say there is a queue for the toliets at the pizza restaurant!


Saturday 23rd May – more converts to geocaching – or are they?

After doing the basic chores we borrow the car and go geocaching in Falkoping.  It’s the series we did our first weekend here in March when there was still ice on the ground.  Today it’s a lovely spring day and it’s a beautiful walk but whilst Máté seems to enjoy the challenge, Manon seems totally non-plussed even though most of these caches are pretty ingenious.

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 After the walk we show them the town centre which is completely dead on a Saturday afternoon.  This seems strange to all of us – why do the shops close at 2pm on a Saturday and where is eveyone – because they’re not in town.  After the tour it’s O’Learys for a pint.  We finish the day with a fab movie Kingsman.  Thanks to Daz’s brother’s ingenuity we now have access to all his movies.  Fxxking Ace!!! Thank you.


Sunday 24th May

We don’t do much today.  2 clients are coming for the 4 hour ride so Manon and Christina are out for hours and we watch some movies.


Gotenburg weekend

Friday 8th May

Today our little foal goes outside for the first time.  He’s a bit reluctant and keeps locking out his front legs but finally he’s in a field with his mum, which they will share with Skippy.

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Then we all muck in to finish the wood splitting and finally it’s done and the yard is clear once again.

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Saturday 9th May

We’re off to Gotenburg today.  We walk to Floby which takes just over an hour and catch the 10am train and meet Flo (a volunteer who came to the farm) at the station.  She’s with her friend Martina.  We’re going out to the archipelago and get the ferry to Vrango, the furthest island.

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Many of these islands rely on motorbikes and quads for transport and there are no cars on the islands.  One relies on wheelbarrows.   Once on the island we do a coastal walk and stop at Lotsutkiken church – a viewpoint for lunch.  Martina is a botanist as well as an environmental scientist so it’s interesting talking to her about the local flora.  The weather worsens and we return to the harbour and wait for our ferry back with a celebratory glass of wine!  Back in Gothenburg we leave the girls and walk into the city but now there’s torrential rain so it’s not much fun.  We look for a bike shop but the ones we find are shut.  At 6pm we meet our ‘warmshowers’ host Marko.  We decide to head back to his place stopping to shop for dinner.  Marko insists on doing all the preparation and cooking and won’t let us help.  But it’s lovely to be looked after like this.


Marko has certainly had an interesting life including commercial diving; recreational diving for a year in Ayia Napa and a 20 month cycling trip around the world. Again listening to someone’s cycling experiences makes us hanker to be out on the road instead of the rather static existence we have now.

Sunday 10th May

Marko cooks us a fabulous breakfast and then we get the bus into town.   We then get on to the river ferry.  We walk round town and take in the sights.

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We get the train home and pop in to see Anders and Hu.


It’s great to see them and within seconds we’re sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of red wine whilst Hu cooks us some Chinese food – yum!  We sit and chat and then they give us a lift so they can meet the new foal.

Monday/ Tuesday/ Wednesday

We spend the next 3 days building the chicken coop.  The roof is done thanks to Ion so we just need to build the walls.  So we measure and cut the recycled planks and make the outer walls.  Then we repeat the exercise so we can create an inner wall and fill the gap with rockwool – the insulating material.

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 It’s a hideous material to work with and we’re breathing in the dust and getting covered in the small fibres.  When we insulate the ceiling it becomes even worse as we try to fill the gaps with rockwall and then hold it in position with fibre board.  We’re now being showered in dust and fibres whilst struggling to hold the boards in place whilst tacking them in place.  We also take the light from the current chicken house and rewire and fix in the new coop and we have light.   Finally I scrape down the inside walls ready for painting.  We still have work to do but it’s a great new chicken coop and Christina is pleased with the results.

Thursday and Friday

Work on the chicken house continues and it gets a coat of rödfärg Swedish paint – the red paint seen all over Sweden.  This paint has the consistency of glue so it’s much harder to apply than I expected.  Christina also wants us to paint the ceiling white.

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Daz makes new nesting boxes for the hens to lay and hangs the door.  It’s almost done but we’re off to Stockholm for the weekend.  Lotta left on Friday and we’ve got a new volunteer arriving today.

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End of April/beginning of May

Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th

Our excellent progress on the chicken coop is rudely curtailed by hail and storm showers.  Instead we work on the electric fences… rain and electric?! Good idea!  Daz starts to feel poorly and this continues into Thursday so it’s ‘girl power’ as Manon, Lotta and I do more work on the fences.

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Friday 1st May

We’re having a horse camp with Mikkel from Denmark who is famous for his horsemanship ( or Facebook search Mikkel Eron Angel Oster)

His aim to create a world of happier relationships between horses and humans.
“Through the power of education, inspiration and empowerment, we help people to make small changes in their attitude and actions, which make a huge difference in their relationships with their horses.”  He works towards creating a happier relationships between horses and humans.  He arrives late Thursday with his daughter and we’ll have other guests interested in learning from ‘the master’ arriving over the weekend.P1060145 P1060144 P1060146 P1060147 P1060141 P1060150 P1060151

I continue work on the electric fences whilst Daz returns to the chicken coop.  Whilst showing Manon how it is done I electrocute myself numerous times as I forget to earth the reading device into the ground and hold it in my hand instead!!


Then in the evening we take Lotte and Manon to Floby for pizza. Whilst there we meet Jon, a Dutch man who has lived in Floby for about 18 years and after pizza he takes us for an impromptu tour of some of the houses he has renovated and then shows us his garden…

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We notice he has got an infestation of Japanese knotweed that is already coming through the asphalt in the road opposite…

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Obviously the Swedes are not as stringent about its proliferation as in the UK.  In its native Japanese volcanic landscape, the climate and regular deposits of ash would keep knotweed plants small, while the plant survive thanks to energy stores in its deep root system. But in Britain, without these impediments, it grows unabated.  And at its most prolific it can grow up to 20cm EVERY DAY.  It can even grow through concrete and tarmac and its roots can go down to 3m deep.
There are no natural predators either meaning the weed can grow unabated, swamping other plants and preventing them from getting any light. And while it does not produce seeds it can grow from minuscule fragments of rhizomes – the underground network of stems and roots – meaning it spreads easily. It will easily knock vast amounts of the value of a house if there is an infestation!


Saturday 2nd May / Sunday

We have a nice lazy start to the day and then start working on the chicken coop only to be interrupted by Christina who is unhappy with the design as she thinks with 6 feet of snow in the winter the roof isn’t steep enough to shrug it off.

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We down tools and consider rework options available and then take the rest of the day off and watch Mikkel at work.   He is very impressive and makes it look effortless.  He works Rocco, an unbroken horse, firstly working bareback and then with a saddle. He lives in the south of Sweden, and all the guests are getting their monies worth from his tuition.  He has his own ranch with about 18 horses of various types and takes in rescue horses too.

On Sunday Daz is still feeling poorly but we muck out the stables and then watch Mikkel ride Rocco again.  Then we walk to an old cottage.  We passed it on a horse ride and Christina told us she wanted the stove that’s in it.  We would need some tools to free the stove from its surrounds.

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We check out all the rooms and outbuildings before continuing back to the farm.  On our way we see a farm with numerous sacks of firewood outside.  They are cutting up huge tree trunks into firewood with an amazing machine.  The tree trunk comes in on rollers.   It passes a sensor and when at the correct length it’s locked down and a chainsaw blade comes down and cuts it.  The log moves into the next section which splits it and then it goes up a conveyor belt into the trailer full of wood.   This machine is run by a man who controls all the different parts and manual intervention is required but nothing compared to the work it takes me and Daz to produce similar results at the farm!

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Monday 4th May

Daz is still poorly and the weather is terrible.  We muck out and then do some cleaning in the house and then wait for the rain to stop.  Rain has stopped and it’s back to the electric fences but it’s a frustrating business.  We’ve replaced loads of old wiring and we were getting good readings on the amp tester but today we do more changes but when we check the current the readings are pants.  More checking/ more work required.  Tomorrow I think!

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Tuesday 5th May

Daz is better today.  Ion has now taken charge of the chicken coop construction.

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Manon and I do some more work on the fences and then we show her how to use the circular saw and the wood splitter. We then start splitting the huge wood pile.

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 Today Peanut starts producing colostrum from her teats.  This is a really good sign and she should give birth in the next 24 hours.   Christina is at work today so we need to check Peanut every hour or so.  In the afternoon we have torrential rain which goes on all night.

Wednesday 6th May

Today there’s a reorganisation of the horses because Christina wants to put Nighty with the mares – Zoega, Wichita and perhaps Skippy.  We’re also expecting another mare – a lady from the horse workshop at the weekend wants Nighty as a stud.   We also do more log splitting.  Nighty services the new mare – it’s over in seconds.  The mare is then put in a field with our mares.   Nighty will join them tomorrow.

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Thursday 7th May

Finally Peanut has her foal. She cheated everyone by having him at 11pm last night when no-one was ‘on foal watch’!.  He’s lovely but so wobbly.  He won’t nurse for some reason.

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Nighty is put in the field with the mares but ours aren’t interested because they’re not in season and the guest mare who is in season – he’s only interested in biting and chasing her and finally he’s removed!

We start log splitting but the intermittent showers means it’s a poor day for outside work!