Saturday, January 13, 2018

A prefab home in Uruguay

I found an article in Dwell about a cool prefab house in the wilds of Uruguay.

It is designed by MAPA architects in Montevideo. Their website shares lots of great photos of the house and its construction. It's well worth a look!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

December's weather

It's only a partial report this month. My Netatmo mysteriously stopped reporting on December 15. The power and wi-fi were still on as I could see the webcams and the luftpump, but no weather reports, frustratingly.

The good news is that Olle and Annika stopped by yesterday and found that the power plug had somehow become loose! They plugged it back in and all is well again, so I will be able to share most all of January's weather observations.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Broadband is on its way!

This may not look too exciting, but it is to me. These are the contracts I just received from the Nämdö Fibre association.

My broadband internet dream is becoming real. The schedule is to install fibre on Aspö by the summer of 2019. All the funding is in place.

Our financial contribution to the work is 25,000 kronor. It's not cheap, but it is broadly in line with the costs I wrote about almost 6 years ago.

Although our current mobile internet setup is fine, it's still fairly slow and has a data cap I always seem to blow through.

Having fast, stable, and unlimited broadband will be a real treat. It won't be long now for live moose videos on demand!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

More wooden skyscrapers

Thanks to the people at, I found an interesting article about wooden skyscrapers, one of my favorite topics. The video above details a building recently completed in British Columbia.

Tall buildings made of laminated wood can be lighter, stronger, and more fire-resistant than steel. They're also much friendlier on the environment. A win all around!

There handsome building on the left is from a design proposed for a design competition in Stockholm, a 34 story mix-used tower made of tower made of the same wood as our little stuga.

Even taller ones have been proposed for London, and the home of the skyscraper, Chicago itself.

I'm sure we will see more and more buildings like these in the near future. Their advantages are too many to ignore!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Blocket Design

Marcia recently sent me a link to a dangerously addicting website. Blocket is essentially the Swedish version of eBay for online selling. The link she sent was for something even better, for "Blocket Design".

It's like regular Blocket, with people selling all sorts of stuff, but it focuses on designer goods. I've already seen all sorts of fantastic furnishings I'd love to have, but have absolutely no room for.

That won't stop me from looking, though. A bit of internet window shopping is a nice way to pass the time.

Friday, December 1, 2017

November's weather

Pretty cold and dreary this month. Most days had a little bit of rain, although the total for the month was just over an inch. A few days drifted below freezing, although the real cold has not hit just yet.

Monday, November 27, 2017

First Snö!

The webcam spotted the first dusting on Aspö today. I'm sure it will melt shortly. It is nice to see the island all nice and white, however!

Monday, November 20, 2017

The IKEA Museum

When Sooz and I lived in Stockholm in the late 80's, we used to go to the big IKEA in Kungens Kurva and spend our Sunday afternoons looking around (and having meatballs for lunch!)

As we've well documented in this blog, most of our house is furnished by IKEA. It makes perfect sense to do that: their offerings are cheap, cheerful, and stylish, plus they're easy to bring out to our island.

I read recently about an IKEA museum that's opened in Älmhult. It's packed with IKEA's history, with recreations of their furnishings through the years. I'd love to visit; I'm sure it would bring back memories of our Sunday afternoons nearly 30 years ago.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The health benefits of island life

My friend Chuck sent along an article from the Telegraph recently. The author spent 72 hours in the Gothenburg archipelago as part of a project to measure the health benefits of island life.

Readers won't be surprised to learn that time spent in the wilds has a measurable calming effect. For example, the group in the article had a collective drop in stress of almost 70 percent.

I can attest to the effect myself. We always have our best sleep over the calm, quiet, dark nights in the archipelago.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

October's weather

To quote Game of Thrones, "winter is coming". The temperature showed a steady decline through the month. We're getting pretty close to freezing by Halloween!

One good sign was that we had nearly 3 inches of rain this month. The October average in Stockholm is about 2 inches, so the extra rain is welcome.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Farewell, Ollie

I’m desperately sad to share that our beloved Ollie passed away peacefully this week. 

Ollie was handsome and strong and stubborn and smart. We will miss his beautiful face and his charming personality. 

Our family was blessed to have such a wonderful boy with us for so long.

RIP, Oliver Rhiwelli Blue Moon. You were a very very good dog.

Monday, October 23, 2017

"Hacking" Ikea

I've written over the years about the idea of customising IKEA products. (For example, see here or here.) The New York Times recently published an article about the growing community of companies that are using IKEA furniture as a starting point for customisation.

The Times even mentioned my friends at Bemz, who have received a few mentions on the blog. We bought a Bemz cushion cover this year and we love it.

Our kitchen has the standard white glossy drawer fronts. It might be fun to go to a company like Semihandmade, Dunsmuir, Kokeena, or even the high-end people at Reform to update our kitchen at a relatively low cost. A huge number of colours, finishes and drawer pulls are available. It would be fairly easy to order doors in the USA and check them on a flight to Sweden.

It'll be fun to think about what we might want to do! Our kitchen is smack-dab in the middle of our house, so any changes there would impact the look of the whole place.

Monday, October 16, 2017

"Ticks have found a way to get around the immune system"

We all know that Sooz is not a fan of ticks. I was surprised when she sent me an article recently about  research underway. New medicines may be developed that build on the survival techniques employed by the lowly tick.

It's quite an interesting article. It doesn't make me like ticks any better, but perhaps I will respect them a bit more.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

September's Weather

Although September looks rainy on the graph, the month's total was only 1.6 inches, well below the Stockholm average of 2.1 inches.

It's been fairly dry and cool all summer. We could use a turn in the weather; the wells in our area could use a refilling. There's also nothing like a good cold snap to kill the bugs, too!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Time to leave

We're leaving shortly on a taxi boat. I'm hoping it's not a small boat as it is blowing up quite a storm outside right now!

We had good weather over the past few days, though. Our own boat is nice and snug, so our main job is complete. It's peak mushroom season, so we spent lots of time investigating all the different fungi around the island. We weren't brave enough (or foolish enough) to eat any of them, though.

Photos of the visit (mostly photos of mushrooms, to be honest) are on the Flickr page.

We're not sure when we'll be back. We want to make a winter visit and take advantage of our new luftpump. In the meantime, I will have a few more tidbits to share on the blog.

Friday, September 29, 2017

We've arrived!

This was one of our rare trips in which we want straight from London to the house. We left Gatwick at 9:30 and were at the stuga before 5. We even had plenty of time to do a bit of grocery shopping at the central station, and have a beer at the new restaurant at Stavsnäs harbor!

The house was in great shape as usual. I was able to warm it up in advance with my internet-enabled luftpump, so we were cozy very quickly.

We're only here a few days. My main task is to cover up our boat, although Olle seems to have done a lot of the work for me already!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Back for a quick visit

Sooz and I have carved out a 4-day weekend and we will be back at our stuga next week. We'll close things up for the winter as usual.

We are hoping to use our new luftpump to enable weekend visits over the winter as well. I'd like to take more winter pictures like this one!

Stay tuned for another bunch of reports from our visit.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The perfect cartoon!

From now on, when I'm asked why I enjoy being out at the stuga so much, I'll show them this cartoon. Says it all, really!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

August's weather

It wasn't that warm last month. The high was 77F (25C), and the low 48F (9C). We got some much-needed rain, however. And it was windy to boot!

Cool, rainy, windy: sounds like late summer in Sweden...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Apologies for the lack of activity

It looks like I am starting out my next blogging decade at a snail's pace! I have been distracted by lots of happenings back in my "real life". My time available for Swedish stuga blogging is less than I'd like right now. Full service should return in a month or two.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ten Years of Blogging

Believe it or not, today marks the ten year anniversary of my first blog post. Over the past decade:

- I've made 1400 posts. The most viewed post was, inexplicably, about November's weather. The most searched topic is, of course, Cinderella!

- Over 355,000 different people have viewed the blog. The lovely people at Cabin Porn were my top referral site. Strangely enough, France is the home of my most avid readers.

- I've also posted nearly 2100 photos so far. A few of them are pretty good.

It's been fun to skim back through the years and see how the whole project has moved from designing, to building, and now onto living in our little house. We have made many great friends over the years, and it's no exaggeration to say that Sooz and I feel as home there as anywhere we've ever been.

So what does the next decade hold? That's a good question. Our plan is to spend our summers on Aspö when we retire. What with the grocery deliveries from Mat Hem, the pending installation of fibre broadband, the new luftpump, and our own little boat giving us freedom, such a prospect is very easy to imagine.

Retirement is not that far away, either. I'm pretty sure it will be within five years, perhaps even a bit sooner. We've thought about how long-term living at the house would be different from the way we've been using it so far. Sooz is really looking forward to our growing our own vegetables; I'll be making a few planters over the coming summers. I'm also planning a new closet as we will need more clothes available. It's easy to wear the same shirt a few days in a row when all I do is putter about the house by myself. We will have to think differently about water usage, too. Being there every day will strain our well quite a bit more than 6 weeks' worth of visits.

We always use our house in "vacation mode," too. We're always anxious to get to Aspö quickly and not leave when we are there, to maximise our time at our house. Time won't be in short supply when we move from vacation mode to retirement, so we will have to re-adjust our thinking. We'll have to think of our house more as a base from which to do things, as opposed to a destination in itself. We will also have to change our eating (and drinking) habits from vacation mode to daily living!

All of that is a bit in the future though, although it is lovely to think about spending long, lazy days watching the seasons progress through our beautiful little island.

Here's to another decade as wonderful as the first!

Friday, August 4, 2017

July's weather

It was a pretty dry month. We could definitely see the impact on the island. For example, the blueberry crop is a lot smaller than usual, and a number of the traditionally wetter parts of the island were bone dry.

There was a huge rainfall this past Friday, over an inch fell that afternoon. We could use quite a bit more, to be honest. But selfishly, we liked having a nice dry time on our holiday.

I also left in the sound meter readings from the month. It's quite obvious when we're in the house!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's been a fun week!

Marcia and Rutger arrived on Friday afternoon, at almost the exact time as our Mat Hem delivery, so that was perfect timing. The Aspö Marathon was on Saturday morning. I'm not in full running condition, so I ran only 7 laps, which is one-third of a marathon. I am happy to report that our community raised over 30,000kr for a children's cancer charity!

We went out in our boat in the afternoon to have a picnic at a nearby skerry. Rutger is an experienced boater and he gave me plenty of advice. We also went to Nämdöbote to climb the observation tower. It was a great day.

We ended up having a family shift change: when they left, Marcia and Rutger's kids Tim and Camille came out to spend a couple of days with us. The good weather held, so we took another boat trip and the girls topped up their tans. Annika and Olle came over for dinner and we all had a great time.

The next day, Peter and Jeanette (along with their son Niklas and adorable granddaughter Noelle) gave us all a ride to Nämdö for lunch. We got to have one last visit at the venerable Guns Livs, the grocery store on Nämdö which has been sold to a still-unknown buyer. That's bittersweet for archipelago residents; Guns has become a bit tired over the years, so a bit of investment is needed. But it's been the the same family for many years.

Sadly, we have to leave a few days early as I had a work commitment crop up, so we are ordering an early taxi boat for tomorrow. But we'll be back for a long weekend as soon as we can arrange it.

Lots of photos of all this fun are now available in a Flickr album.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Settling in

We flew in on Sunday because Ollie's dog sitter was busy on Saturday (and we won't leave him with anyone else!) That gave us a nice evening with Rutger and much of the day Monday to shop in Gustavsberg at our leisure. The house was in fine shape and I started on my little projects.

One task was to install the new footstool cover we ordered from Bemz. It fit really well and is pretty funky, as you can see from the before and after photo here.

We also got the boat back into the water and I installed a new bilge pump that would turn on automatically when the water accumulation gets too high. I also made little tops for the deck railing poles (in Swedish, stolphatts, or "pole hats"). I was going to buy some at the building store but they were clean out. Perhaps that's a good thing because I found a whole new world online of deck railings and pole caps. That will be worth a blog post on its own one day.

Marcia and Rutger are coming this afternoon to spend the weekend, and tomorrow is the Aspö Marathon. I'm in fair shape, so I'll do a few laps, but not a full one! Stay tuned for photos and updates.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Our summer return

It's time for our official summer holiday! We leave this weekend for two lovely weeks on our island.

Ollie's back with his dog-sitter, and everyone's happy about that. I have a few projects at our bus, but nothing too demanding. Stay tuned for more updates on island life.