Tuesday, June 30, 2009


We are here on a walk at Nämdö. The weather is great and we are looking to rent bikes later. This is a museum/church on the island.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Back in London

It was a close-run thing, though. The taxi boat missed the usual bus connection to Slussen so we had to wait an extra half- hour. Then the bus was packed with people and crawled into the city. In the end, I took the fast (and pricey) train to the airport and made it with about 15 minutes to spare. Phew.

So back to work tomorrow for me and back to the sunshine for the rest of the family...

PS. It will be sunny here in London, too. Hooray!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oh noooooooo!

I have to leave today. I can't believe it. I scarcely remember what life was like 'on the mainland', so to speak. Sooz feels the same way.

I'm taking the 17:30 taxi boat and then it's public transportation overland (bus, subway, train) to Arlanda for a 20:55 flight back to London.

The weather is spectacular again today, we've had a solid week of perfect blue skies and warm sunshine. The forecast looks like more of the same!

I'll be back in two weeks for a long weekend and Sooz, Grant and Ollie will stay here, enjoying island life. Hopefully, Sooz will blog from here, but she and Grant might just be too busy having fun!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garbage Day

The big summer trash pickup was fascinating. The boat arrived at 10AM and it had a full set of recycling facilities onboard; it was a mini floating landfill.

We had a big pile of building scrap, of course, but I was astounded by the huge array of junk that people had to throw out. Furniture, appliances, boat anchors, you name it, people were toting it to the dock. Just like the size of the crowd at the midsummer meadow, the amount of stuff on the island is at odds with the isolation and calm we feel here.

Thankfully Nick and Grant made a number of wheelbarrow trips (and he and Tim did lots of sorting earlier in the week, too). The job couldn't have been done without them. Our pile is now about half the size, and it's mostly wood and paper, which we can burn in October.

There's another trash day in late August and I'd love to come out for that, we'll have to see if I can swing it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The day after the day after

On yesterday's noon boat, everyone left except Grant and Ollie. Sooz had a long list of errands and shopping to do, and she also went to pick up Grant's friend Nick, who arrived from the USA.

That left us boys to do a few chores on Thursday afternoon/Friday morning and so we water-treated the bathroom floor, framed the windows on the little stuga, and oiled the teak furniture, among other tasks. Ollie was completely knackered from the day before and he snoozed heavily most of the day.

Nick, Sooz, and a whole lot of new stuff arrived successfuly today on the 3:30 taxibåt. The boys hauled some trash for me and then went swimming (!). Tomorrow is the big island trash pickup day, and it's also Janne's birthday. We'll have work in the morning and then hopefully a quiet afternoon.

FYI, both webgalleries have been updated today.

(In totally unrelated news, my favourite blog ever has restarted from a year's hiatus and I am completely thrilled. Check it out.)

Michael Jackson, RIP

Heard this morning that he died of a heart attack, aged 50, just like Joe Strummer. (My dad had one when he was 50, too, but he survived his.)

It's too bad Grant knows only "Wacko Jacko" and not the artist he was. I'm playing "Thriller" this morning to try to educate the boy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What a great day!

Sorry for the long delay in posting, I was so occupied with celebrations I didn't have time to report! Anyways, here's what happened:
  • Sooz and Grant arranged for everyone to write me a birthday card here on the island, so when I went to the dock to pick up mail, there were tons of cards from friends and family, many of whom are frequenters to this blog, over 60 at least. It took me a long time to open and read them all.
  • Being a gadget man, I got a Kindle from my mother and sister and a iPod stereo for the house from Sooz and Grant.
  • Sooz gathered us all up for a 11AM mystery boat, and we were joined by Marg, Janne, and her son Callan (who I haven't seen in a few years, and is now sporting a fetching bohemian look).
  • The eleven of us went to the island of Sandham and had a fantastic lunch in absolutely perfect weather at the famous Sandhamns Värdshus. Some of us boys went swimming in the bracingly cold water, and we all perused the yachts and other sailing shops.
  • Late in the day, our own boat took us straight to Marg and Janne's. We fortified ourselves with a gin & tonic, and then all trooped back to our place for birthday cake.
  • The evening ended with a slapstick tick removal process as Tim found one on Ollie. I wish I had a movie of all of us chasing him around with the tick pluckers!
All in all, I cannot imagine a better way to spend my day. Much love to Sooz, Grant, and all my friends. Photos (way too many actually) are on a birthday webgallery now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm 50!

Well... I made it to a half-century. Sitting now on the deck of another beautiful morning.

Marcia is in the sky chair, watching the birds, and Sooz is making my birthday cake. Life is good.

She and Grant are up to something today, but I don't have a clue what it is. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A beautiful evening

Wille and two helpers showed up around 8 and hit the ground running to finish up the garderobe doors and the bathroom trim, among other tasks. He also left us a nice guestbook and a mysterious wrapped present for me to open tomorrow.

They finished around noon, just in time for our friends Jon and Anette to show up. We worked with them in Sweden 20 years ago, and now they live in Texas, a couple of miles from my old house (and I live in London, a couple of miles away from theirs.) Anette's Swedish and her family lives on Öland. They flew up from their visit for my birthday tomorrow.

The weather forecast looks great and we should have a really fun few days. Check out the midsommar web gallery.

Monday, June 22, 2009


...is Swedish for "owl". I posted yesterday that we saw one, (note this is not the first use of that word in this blog). But I didn't mention that Ollie was quite enthused at the sight of the owl. He normally doesn't pay any attention to birds, so we're assuming he thought it was a flying bunny, which would have explained his excitement, even still this morning. We think it was a barn owl. Personally, owls creep me out a little bit.

I'm digressing about owls because Wille didn't make it today; he promises tomorrow early morning for sure. We amused ourselves with small projects and card games. The weather was kind of funny, with high haze making it cool. But the forecast looks great.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Longest Day

...not D-Day, but the actual longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. (It's also my grandmother's birthday, but I digress).

It was a beautiful day today, clear, still, and sunny. We put jarn vitriol on the house, or should I say Rutger did. He loves painting, so he ran the sprayer and I masked the windows and doors. That stuff is insidious, though, just a drop turns the wood grey. We have a few drips in places they shouldn't be, so I will have to do a few touch-ups.

Willie comes tomorrow to finish up and I hope the big jobs will be done then so I can chill out over the upcoming week.

On a totally different note, I can tell there are many more people here during midsummer; there are voices all over from the paths and docks which I haven't heard before. It's still quite secluded, though.

UPDATE: More photos just posted on the web gallery.
UPDATE 2: Just saw a big owl fly by. Marcia says they're rare to see these days. She and Sooz also saw a snake earlier, which Ollie missed completely.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday update

The weather forecast was wrong and we've had a beautiful day today. Us menfolk put jarn vitriol on the little house and it looks nice and mellow silver-grey. Sooz, Marcia, and Ollie took a lap around the island and then worked on their tans. (Not Ollie, of course.)

We're all lazing in the sun now and will soon head over to Marg and Janne's for a midsommer evening.

More photos soon, I promise.

PS. The sun rose at 3:30 today and will set at 8:55.
UPDATE: I was wrong. The sun rose at 3:30, but it set tonight at 10:09.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Midsommar afternoon

Another fun day so far. Rutger and I worked on building a giant garderobe for the little house. It came in three boxes and had 52,000 pieces of hardware (at least that's my estimate.) Miraculously, we got Grant and Tim to shovel some of the excavated earth over the grey water tank.

We all enjoyed a lovely lunch of lemon chicken on the deck, and were then off to the Waxholms dock to watch the parade of boats as they circled the island. Next was the gathering at the midsummer meadow, and a surprising number showed up; I didn't think the island held that many people.

We met a few neighbors there, and Ollie was stroked by a dozen children. Then back for a lazy afternoon; as of this writing, Marcia and I are the only ones awake!

Lots more photos in the midsommar webgallery.

A busy day!

Sorry to be so quiet but we've been really busy with the house and all our activities. Here's quick "data dump":

Marcia, Tim, and Rutger all arrived at noon, and Marg and Janne stopped by around 6, so we had a nice full cabin!

I got a cool tool box as an early birthday present from M&R, and I happily filled it up this afternoon.

The shower and the Cinderella have been working great, and the washing machine is good, too, although we have to balance it as it's been walking all over the floor during the spin cycle.

The little stuga (referred by Rutger as the "love shack") is all cleaned up, although the fresh ceiling is dripping sap onto the sleeping couple. (Insert joke/pun here).

It was fairly cool and rainy yesterday afternoon, and this morning looks unsettled, who knows what weather we'll have for the big celebrations this afternoon...?

More photos will be up soon and I'll try to post more later.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Here at last!

We arrived safely with all our stuff! Plus the weather today is great, we have hot and cold running water, a beautiful bathroom, and a fully working Cinderella. What more could a man want?

More to follow in the morning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reunited and it feels so good

Sooz, Grant and Ollie made it exactly as planned at 15:30, a little butt-sprung but otherwise in great shape. Marcia opened a bottle of pink champagne to celebrate Sooz's driving accomplishment.

I spoke to Anders, and he said everything was done, but there was a problem with the water pump yesterday, and the plumber was there this morning to fix it. He hadn't heard back from him, so he's assuming all is OK. And Wille sent me a text just now, saying he was still at work at the house and he will call later. Fortunately it's a beautiful day today, so work should be progressing well.

Lastly, I called the båt taxi people to reconfirm our boat tomorrow; I'm glad I did that, because they had me down for Friday, not Wednesday! Fortunately, we fixed that, so all is well now.

I've also started a new photo gallery; the 'midsommar' link is up on the right of the blog, too.

Final Hour!

This picture is of the GPS which is saying that we will get to Marcia & Rutger's in an hour! The last stretch couldn't be much better, the sun is shining and the roads are virtually traffic free. This will probably be my last blog post so; Over and Out.


We just got off the boat into Sweden!
Getting to the car was so flipping complicated, we were holding the line up getting out so we just threw everything in as fast as we could. I think that could have gone a liiiiitle bit better. None-the-less we are all fine and set to get to Marcia & Rutger's around 3.
Sent from Grant's iPhone

Monday, June 15, 2009


I am currently enjoying a Pripps Blå at the bar on the boat. I can't believe the systembolaget is out of Pripps, must be all on the boat!! Sooz is having a gin and tonic which she says is not as good as the ones she mixes up!

Kiel Kabin

This is our cabin. As you can see it's pretty small but it is very nice. It has a bathroom and a small window and a tv. The boat looks very nice and we are about to go out to shop/dine. We should depart around 7 and arrive at 7 to Göteborg. So 12 hours but we will sleep almost all of it.

Traffic Jam

Not a good picture, I know, but it was hard to capture such a huge
line with the camera on an iPhone.

Close Call

Right after we almost got rear-ended by a Porsche racing with an Audi, we saw on the other side of the road, a Mercedes that had been rear-ended and crumpled up because of that. There was a huge traffic jam where people had enough time to get out of their cars. On another note, we are about 10 minutes to Kiel. Picture of the jam to follow.

Sent from Grant's iPhone

Nordsee: Never Again!

Blech... We just stopped to fill up on gas and get something to eat.

We chose Nordsee because the line was short and we didn't want to eat at Burger King. Wow was that a mistake. I got some shrimp salad which was disgusting but I managed to eat almost all of it because, well... I'm Grant. Sooz got a cold breaded fish sandwich which she hardly touched. I think we have learnt our lesson... I hope Kiel has not disgraced itself with any Nordsee's!
Grant and Sooz

Builder's update

Anders says the electrician is on-site and the delayed Bauhaus sink and cabinet have arrived. We should be just fine for Wednesday.

Wille is coming out tomorrow, just to run things close! But he's bringing a couple of helpers so the day should be all he needs.

Marcia donated plasma this morning and then we've been shopping for household supplies. We also visited her vet to get a prescription for snakebite treatment. She thinks it's a good precaution because quick treatment is important should Ollie meet one of our local snakes.


We have crossed the border into Germany. So many people are just
flying past us in their cars on the motorway. The GPS is telling is
that we will get to the Kiel dock at about 2:40 our time. All is well
and we are looking forward to the boat.
Grant and Sooz

Sent from Grant's iPhone

Marcia's parents, Tonny and Jan

Now we can see where Marcia got her good looks!


The van den Kieboom's have been extremely kind and generous to offer up their home to us for a night. We went over to Rene's last night for dinner where we were served a feast of White asparagus and steak. Today we will continue on to the boat at Kiel and from what I have heard, it sounds like the boat will be very enjoyable.
Grant and Sooz

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Here in Stockholm

...writing from Marcia and Rutger's couch. The flight in was uneventful but it is cold and rainy here. Ugh.

Sooz and Grant report good weather and a lovely dinner at Marcia's parents in Holland.

Tomorrow, Marcia and I go shopping, and Sooz and Grant and Ollie drive to Kiel for the ferry. I will have a builder's update from Anders and Wille, so stay tuned.


We have crossed the border into the Netherlands. Whilst filling up at the gas station we had a scare, thinking we lost a credit card but we found it tucked in a passport. The weather is miserable here; solid and heavy rainfall.
Grant and Sooz

Sent from my iPhone


We are here in the train now. We caught a 6:50 train rather than our
scheduled 7:20 train. The train is just about to depart and I have a
feeling we are way ahead of schedule.
Grant and Sooz

Sent from my iPhone

They're on their way!

It's easy to wake up at 4 when the sky is already light.

A few last-minute additions squeezed into the car, and the first part of our journey has begun! Sooz, Grant and Ollie are off to the Eurotunnel now.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

3-D Tetris

Loading up Sooz's wagon is proving to be an interesting exercise. We filled the roof-top carrier with soft stuff and dog food, and the back seats are filled with boxes of various sizes. We've been trying different configurations to maximise space.

Grant and I cleaned out the car as best we could. There are about 3 billion corgi hairs in Sooz's car and we got maybe a billion of the loose ones.

Looks like a 5AM start for the land portion of our trip. Stay tuned for an early AM post tomorrow...

Midsommar weather

The weather for the midsummer's weekend is a national obsession in Sweden. Margaret has told me that it rains more often than not on the big day.

So I took a look on the internet for historical data. First I had to calculate the actual date of the midsummer holiday, as it's set as the Saturday that falls within June 20-26. (It was on my birthday in 2000 and 2006; this year, it's early; the 20th.)

Then a look on www.wunderground.com gave me the Stockholm observations on the appointed Saturdays this decade. The results were:
  • Average high 18.6C/66F
  • Average low: 12.6C/55F
  • Rain: on 5 of the 9 dates
So Margaret's right. It rains more often than not on Midsummer, although, thankfully, it doesn't always rain.

NB: These are Stockholm observations and the weather is different in the archipelago, although I think the general trend is correct.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're in the home stretch!

A good list of accomplishments to share:
- The plumber is all done. Woo-hoo!
- Anders is going to install the Cinderella tomorrow.
- Göran couldn't come up this weekend to do the electricity for the plumbing and bathroom, so Tommy is having his electrician in on Monday.
- The sink and cabinet will be picked up from Bauhaus this weekend, and installed early next week.
- Wille will be there this weekend, too, to finish up and carrying the washing machine.
Things may not be done well in advance, but it's looking pretty good they'll all be done in time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wille calls- quite early!

Just received an unusual 6:15 call from Wille (he forgot about the time change, I think). But I'm an earlybird, so no problem.

Anyways, he agrees with Margaret's comment about the unceasing rain so he's waiting until the weekend to come back out to finish up. He has about a day's worth of work outside and maybe a half-day's inside so there's still time. He knows we are all out on Wednesday and sees no problem with completing if he can have just one dry day.

He also has our washing machine and will hook it up, since the plumbing will be done by then. Wille also reports that we'll have good weather for midsummer, which would be great! As Anders said, "keep our fingers pressed"...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The plumber is on the job!

Anders reported the good news that the plumber is on site today and should finish up tomorrow! He and Tommy are also water-sealing the floor tiles. The sink and cabinet are arriving from Bauhaus this weekend too.

We'll be very close to the wire- we have only a week left- but Anders still says we'll make it by our arrival next week.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First Aid

I posted about first aid a while ago, and nothing much since. But we have been thinking about health on the island.

The main point is we'll have only what we bring with us, so if we need a bandage, or sunburn cream, or allergy tablets, or any of a dozen other things, we'll have to had thought of it and brought it along. Of course, we can always run to the neighbors for help in a pinch, and there's the air ambulance for serious stuff. But we want to be well supplied for daily life, and therefore we've been doing lots of shopping and keeping inventories of all our supplies.

Ollie is part of this too; he's had his anti-tick medicine, and I have a contact for a local vet, and a back specialist in Stockholm, just in case.

Quick update from Anders

I called Anders to thank him for the photo, and of course to check up. They're back out today to grout the floor, which will lighten up the dark look in yesterday's picture. He's going to talk to the plumber today, but to quote Anders, "he will be out to you fine, I promise".

Monday, June 8, 2009

First photo of the bathroom

...came through about 15 minutes ago, courtesy of Anders. The turquoise corner is where the shower will go. Looking good!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Preparing for the drive

What a bonus! Our friends the Lidbacks had a cartop carrier they graciously lent to us for the Big Trip. It is HUGE so I imagine we can fit all sorts of stuff in there and free up the back a bit for Ollie. The biggest items we have yet to transport are six chair cushions, the Weber grill and a double blow up mattress. So fingers crossed we can cram it all in!

Grant, Ollie and I leave a week from today; we'll head over to France via Eurotunnel, then make our way to Holland where we'll spend the night with Marcia's mom and dad, Jan and Tonny Van den Kieboom. Then it's off again Monday morning up through Germany to the port of Kiel, whereupon we will board the overnight ferry to Gothenburg. Then on Tuesday we'll make the final push across Sweden to the Wilhelmis! Rollin' rollin' rollin' RAWhide!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The ace in the hole

If you discount comet strikes and sudden global warming, then the worst-case scenario for us is that the plumbing isn't done when we arrive. That would mean no water inside the house, no showers, no clothes washing. We'd have to use the hose from our well to manage water by bucketfuls.

Our ace in the hole is the Cinderella. It's there, it runs on electricity that's already installed, and all it needs is to have its exhaust pipe put up. So there's no reason the toilet shouldn't be working. (For those interested, an English user guide is here.)

Bottom line: as long we have the toilet, we can live with outside water. Many houses on the archipelago don't have inside water (or inside toilets, for that matter). So we can handle the worst-case scenario. I still think we won't have to, but it's good to be prepared.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Still on the launch pad

Anders reports the tiling is almost done and says it looks great.

However the plumber is coming out next week; I had hoped he'd have been there today. That work should still take only a day or two at most, but now we're cutting it close. Then we still have to get an electrician out. Even though his task is simple, it still has to get scheduled.

Anders still tells me there's enough time to be done with everything by the 17th... but I am now officially nervous.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

T minus 2 weeks

We'll be arriving on the island with a (literal) boatload of stuff exactly two weeks from now. I just spoke to Anders and he said the tiling was pretty much done; they were doing the grout when I called (I could hear scraping in the background).

The plumber is still planned to come later this week, and the delayed sink and cabinet should be delivered to Bauhaus this weekend. One thing not yet firmed up is the electrician, who will need to do a bit of work in the bathroom for the cabinet light and towel rack, and more importantly, the final connection of the water equipment.

Göran provided all of the circuitry and wiring to connect that equipment, so it should be a straightforward job. I put Anders in touch with Göran, and he has his own electrician, too, so I think we'll be all right in getting that done. But it isn't actually scheduled just yet, and I'll be happier when it is.

Lastly was the washing machine, which Anders had ordered but was having trouble finding the time to get to the warehouse. So I called Wille who will come to the rescue and pick it up this weekend, and bring it out to the house on Monday when he's there next for his finishing-up.

As Anders said, "things should be OK, but keep your fingers pressed."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Helicopter lifts a Swedish Cottage"

It's all over the news this weekend, but, no, it wasn't ours. Apparently a local artist has put it on top of the Globen for the summer. Eventually he wants to place one on the moon!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The weekend's progress update

When I was at the house this weekend, I saw a lot of progress. The bathroom has been lined with waterproof board, and the floor leveled for the drain. The tiles and grout have been all brought up to the house, no small task, given how heavy it all is! The towel rack and shower doors are onsite, too. (As I mentioned before, the sink and cabinet won't arrive until this Friday.)

UPDATE: I just now talked to Anders and he said a lot of the tiles are up on the walls and everything is going well today.

The concrete pad underneath the house is completed, ready for the plumber to arrive later this week to install all of the machinery, which consists of an air tank to provide water pressure, a hot water tank, and a control system to automatically refill both tanks from the well whenever water is used. There's also a heating system to ensure the well and tanks don't freeze. (We didn't add a filter just yet; in fact, the water was running clear and sweet when I ran the pump yesterday.) Lastly, Janne has finished the grey water system, so it should just be a matter of plugging everything together and then we'll have running water!

Wille's work is also moving along. He installed the wood panel in place of the white one we had in the kitchen, and finished off the kitchen cabinets nicely. The garderobes are mostly done, only needing the doors, and they're looking good, too. He'll be back Wednesday to put the ceiling and insulation in the little house, finish the skirting, and complete a few other bits and bobs.

We'll be out two weeks from Wednesday and it'll be tight to get it all done... but I am still fairly confident.

Ollie's birthday

Ollie is 6 today, which makes him nearly 40 in human years (depending on the conversion method.)

It's also been 6 months since his surgery, and that's significant because his recovery is now officially over. Since my last post in March, he's continued to improve. Even in the past few weeks we've noticed the return of little behaviours that had been missing, like sleeping on his back, for instance.

(I've noticed improvements in my own behaviour, too, for example, I'm no longer worrying about him constantly!)

He still gets tired more easily, and his back legs remain a little wobbly, but he is 99% Ollie again. I'm tremendously thankful for that.