A few days ago, we went to Sundvall on the east coast to get LPG and had rather a traumatic time. Just 18 months ago, it would have seemed like a perfectly normal day in south-east England, but it has been some time since we’ve seen so many roadworks and cars and lorries and TRAFFIC and we were traumatised. Fortunately we found our little parking spot with the sunset over the lake, drank wine and everything was better again.
I was relaying this story to Mum & Dad the next day and Mum said (only half-joking) that she was worried about how we would integrate again when we return to normal life. Of course, who knows what our normal life will end up being, but assuming it will involve other people at some point, we thought we practice integrating again.
So, we went to a Town. Since our last post, we’ve zigged across country again and are now on the shores of Lake Vänern – it’s the huge blue bit on the map of Sweden and at 5,600 square kms it is big enough to warrant its own shipping forecast. We headed into Karlstad, at the northern end of the lake for our integration experiment. The town has the same population as Woking, but it is fair to say that it is somewhat quieter. In fact, so quiet that, although most of D’s photos concentrate on buildings, even those which show ground level don’t have many people in them.
See the person in the ‘statue with cardy’ photo? That’s me.
Karlstad has suffered several major fires, the last in 1865 which destroyed all but seven of its 241 buildings, which makes the old part of town a pretty small area to walk around. The rest is a series of wide streets, deliberately built as fire breaks, plenty of parkland around the river and Sweden’s longest stone bridge. It is known as one of the sunniest places in Sweden and it certainly turned the sun on for us – we had a lovely day wandering around the town, stayed in the motorhome parking they kindly provided on the edge of one of the parks and even ate at a vegetarian restaurant. See, we can still be trusted to be out in public and not completely disgrace ourselves.
This is the Peace Monument, which was erected in 1955 to commemorate the peaceful dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway in 1905 – the negotiations leading to the dissolution took place in Karlstad. The lady in the tourist office told us that it was officially one of the ugliest statues in Sweden. It makes me wonder if the Swedes have a slightly different idea of peace than the rest of us do. You might want to click on the photo to enlarge it so you can fully appreciate its charms.
On our way further south, we stopped to see the Picasso sculpture on the shore of the lake near Kristinehamn. It is the largest Picasso in the world and I would like to say that it is the ugliest piece of modern art that I’ve seen, but I’ve been to the Tate Modern. Nice setting though.
Of course, we wouldn’t want to overdo all this integration stuff, so true to form we headed off down a little track to spend the night at a nature reserve, home to many oaks which are not a tree you see much of in Sweden. The notice board told us about the ecosystems that oaks support throughout their lives and said that ‘an oak grows for 300 years, stands for 300 years and dies for 300 years’. How lovely.