Long time no blogging, feel like it’s hard to beat my last blog post, the Island doesn’t get much more beautiful than that…no who am I kidding, it is a small paradise whatever the weather. That said I’ve spent most of today indoors baking. Second of advent I have a Christmas market in my gallery/barn and there is so much to prepare! Last year the gallery looked great but I didn’t put any xmassy decorations in our home until a few days before Christmas. Today I washed all the windows, put the traditional lights up and also had time to pimp the barn a little bit. I’ve started baking already, the traditional Swedish Lussebullar or Lussekatter as most people say. The are buns with lots of saffron, decorated with raisins and we also put sugar on top. We also made a ginger cookie and white chocolate cheese cake which tastes very promising!
The weather this winter has been as usual varied…we did have heavy snow for a day but then it rained away. That morning with the snow the chicks were so funny. They all queued to get out as usual but froze in their tracks and then desperately dove back in. Before when we’ve had only Hedemora(a traditional Swedish heritage breed) they haven’t minded it too much but this mixed race bunch did. Only Lilja(Lilly) dared to get to the food outside and then dove back inside. He(we hoped that is was a she when we named him) is so gorgeous, pitch black and the tail feathers are growing by the day. I had to kill two cockerels last week and it was the toughest so far because they were so big and strong. Now we are hoping that Lilly will get to stay all depending on how load he will be. Peanut the other cockerel born in spring is doing great, he is so goofy but still manages to keep the flock at peace. We caught him chasing his own tail feathers one day…but if any of the hens are mean to another hen he is right there to brake it up.
Peanut with his posse
Photo by Sibylla Törnkvist
Palladium print by Christer Törnkvist
Exhibition at the library, part of The art wave
Home smoked salmon and hubby bread
Glass by Rosita Ståhl
Preserves, postcards and photos by me
So the summer ended in an art bonanza. First The Artwave, when all artists on Hönö and surrounding islands open up their studios or homes. I shared my gallery for the weekend with a very talented glass artist but we hardly had time to see each other, on the Saturday we had a few hundred visitors! The weather on Friday when we set up was abysmal with torrential rain storms but the rest of the weekend was lovely. We sold lots of cakes and home made preserves and photographs on top of that. Then a couple of weeks later an exhibition with two photographers from another part of Sweden. They both do analog photography and a lot of the same techniques that I use. Great photographs and a lovely weekend! My husband smoked salmon and baked sourdough bread, I think I’m addicted to smoked salmon now, and we sold out most of the cakes on the second day. We were very generous with the opening times and I thought we would have to take turns or read books but the weekend past very quickly. On the last day it was more quiet and I took the opportunity to photograph my fellow photographers. Always nerve wrecking to photograph photographers but I hope I passed the test.
Christer and Sibylla Törnkvist
So I usually don’t blog about anything not concerning the islands but this is definitely worth it! A week ago I read somewhere about the “Windshelter map” of Sweden and immediately decided to try it out. It is shelters built usually by the scouts where anyone can stay all around Sweden. Hönö is paradise and I could not imagine living anywhere else but sometimes I miss the forest, we have forest here but I’m talking about big forest where you can easily get lost. So I just picked somewhere on the map that we could get by train and not walk too far. Me and the daughter set off yesterday around lunchtime. As soon as I got on the bus off the island I realised the map on the mobile wasn’t showing where we were heading. Got some supplies in Gothenburg then got on the train. The traffic app showed completely the wrong times and we ended up taking some silly detours because of it, should have just brought a compass, map and watch. Anywho, we end up on a bus and get off where I recognise some of the street names from my research and carry on on gut feeling. We came to a lake with a small beach and jetty so of course had a swim. Such a strange feeling swimming in a lake now when we are used to salty water! We start walking around the lake through the woods and high grass but realise the road next it is the one I looked up at home. Happy to be on the right track we start walking, to be sure we ask the first person we meet if we are on the right track to the wind shelter. She says yes but it is quite a walk at least two kilometers. We say thank you and carry on, finding mushrooms, blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries, wild strawberries and loads of animals along the way. After an estimated 3 kilometres we ask the next person who replies: Yes you are on the right way but about 2 kilometres away… At this point it’s really hot and we are quite tired from carrying all the packing(otherwise I would have jumped into the woods at every turn to pick more mushrooms) but eventually we get there, and find a bus stop. Then we find the shelter and it is so much better than I expected! We make a fire, start food. The daughter chops potatoes and chorizo up with the mushrooms we picked, blend in some spices along with some locally produced honey we bought on the road, fry eggs and we have it with some of my husbands sourdough bread. Best meal I’ve had in a loooong time. Then we go on a hunt for more wood, knowing we want fried eggs for breakfast. I had visions of us sat around the fire all evening but seriously about 9pm we where fighting to stay awake. Then when we settled into our sleeping bags my mind started running wild. No chance of falling asleep so I borrowed my daughters book and read until it got dark about 10.30pm. As soon as it went dark the forest went quiet but of course then you start hearing every small noise as loud as a fire cracker. Didn’t sleep much last night but it was absolutely worth it. Going past the bus stop yesterday we had checked the buses, that run 3 times a day so decided to get out of there with the 8am bus or we would have have to wait until 3pm. As soon as we got on the bus the rain started to pour down. Tired and happy we made it all the way back without getting wet. One of the best things I’ve done this summer! Getting back to nature, picking food and berries, seeing all the animals and buying honey from an honesty box and last but not least having a holiday not costing more than the bus/train fare. This is the start of a new tradition for me.
Soon I’ve picked every berry in the garden! So far we’ve made black currant cordial, red currant jelly with mint, red berry syrup and red gooseberry marmalade. The husband has made “No mango sauce”, a hot sweet fruity chili sauce with lots of canned fruit but no mango(hence the name), and the traditional thai garlic chili jam Nam Prik Phao. It’s like Santas workshop in the kitchen. I’ve also been baking loads of cakes. Every weekend during summer we keep the gallery open and soon it’s time for the yearly “Art wave”. The busiest weekend for us of the whole year. We’re planning on selling plenty of cakes, garden goodness and hopefully some of my photographs as well. I’ve invited another artist to sell her glass artwork in the gallery. She thought it would be fun to combine our products so we did a little photo shoot of her glass vases and some of the little chicks. What is it they say? Never work with kids or animals…well we had a lot of fun but it sure wasn’t easy! I made some quick prints in the darkroom before the weekend, now they say it’s gonna rain for a week so I’ll have lots of time to make more without feeling guilty about missing out on the sunshine. The youngest chicks got rained on for the first time today, they weren’t happy at all! They all let me catch them without trouble to go under the heating lamp in the basement. Growing fast I’m pretty sure they can stay out in the henhouse with the rest soon but I’ll pamper them just a little bit longer…
After having two weeks of snow suddenly sun appears, everything has melted and every time you turn around a new spring flower has popped up! Yesterday I did loads of necessary chores but took some time in the sun just hanging with the chicks. Today started foggy but eventually sun broke through. I said last week we have to buy a proper pancake or crêpe pan instead of our big frying pans, this morning I went down the second hand shop in the harbour and Voila! The perfect cast iron pan. Love it when that happens! I had a coffee because they have the best coffee and it’s also nice to just sit there and look at people. At home I immediately tried out the great find and me and my daughter had pancakes in the sun on the stairs. Then she helped me clear the veg patch, chickens came to help to. They are so social and curious. I’ve spoilt them rotten so every time I go in the basement they come to beg for food. When I planted peppers Lottie actually came inside but left as soon as she didn’t find any food. I promised myself to not go through another summer without a greenhouse, problem is I want a really big one to sit in. Planning the year I realise that it’s not gonna happen without a budget and a holiday so now I’ve decided to build something in the vegetable patch or possibly attached to the henhouse. The veg patch is my worst enemy. There’s ivy and nettles taking over everything. I’m tempted to leave it but it’s such a valuable patch of land, perfect location, enough sun, shade and shielded by the worst wind. Maybe if I put five minutes every day on weeding I’ll be able to keep it in check. Think of all the vegetables we can grow and use for events in the barn/gallery!
In Sweden we have Sportsweek holiday week 7. We are probably the only family on Hönö that doesn’t go skiing. Not that I don’t want to, I have warm memories going along with other families to the north of Sweden and to Norway. Also memories from being kicked out of pubs, getting some poor guy beaten up and my friends parents forbidding her ever to contact me again. Lets not talk about that. Sooo we have had a nice lazy week but in some ways very productive. Today started with me mixing chemicals for the wet plates and husband doing a new batch of the chili marmalade Nam Prik Pao. This thai chilli marmalade is my absolute favourite. It goes with just about everything, especially nice with prawns or cheese. Also on Knäckebröd(Swedish crisp bread) with butter. It is so lovely, tasty, addictive but so stinky while you make it. Nam Prik Pao ingredients are: Fried chillies, fried onions, garlic- all ground together. Return in the oil with shrimp paste, tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar. Yesterday we had Focaccia with mozzarella, chillies, basil, garlic and serrano ham. Today sourdough pizza, the dough rested in the fridge for 2 days, with calabrese, mozzarella and Nam Prik Pao. If my husband was home all the time I would get so fat. He is set on baking mode so we’ve had to give bread away to neighbours, no more room in the freezer, and tomorrow I’ll do a round with eggs because the chickens have been very productive as well. I’ve been spoiling them with food so everytime I go outside so they come running up and run after me wherever I go. A little bit scary hearing their little claws and they peck more at my fingers than the food when I feed them but still nice to have company out there. I sat down in the hammock outside with my daughter and said -I hope it doesn’t collapse. Sure thing it did! It had rusted so badly on one side of the hammock that it just broke off but we stayed sitting there pretending we where sat in a ski slope. Fed the chickens corn and popcorn. This afternoon I re-planted all my chillies to larger single pots and moved them downstairs because we are getting Airbnb guests upstairs next week. The majority of the family took a walk down the beach and we chose a direction that me and my daughter discovered last week, full of mystery, great photo opportunities and not too long. Great to have lived on this Island for 6 years and still have parts to discover!
There’s been some fantastic sunny days and I should have been out taking pictures but as always I do things the wrong way around so I’ve been cooped up in the darkroom instead. I love experimenting but in some ways I’m a person of habit like sticking with the same film and developer, recently everything’s changed. I accidentally ordered the “wrong” film, a new developer and my Swedish retailer stopped selling the Lith developer that I’ve used for years so I had to try a new one from Germany. I’m glad for it! The Lith prints have a lovely “pop” to them and beautiful tones. Feels like I got my mojo back. What’s even better is coming up from the basement after hours in the dark finding out that my husband’s got his baking mojo on. Fresh baguettes, sourdough bread and a large dish of shepherds pie in the oven. My daughter got inspired and decided to try out the new baking book we bought. Also a change in life, I’ve been using the same recipe book all my life, once in a while trying something from the internet but we invested in a new cookie book. She is very pretentious so one type of cookie wasn’t enough instead she declared that we had to try three recipes. The kitchen looked like someone had dropped a flour bomb in there but the cookies were great! Especially the chocolate/almond/peanut ones, gone already.