It is pretty quiet in the garden with only three chickens which is both good and bad. I love planting but the chickens sadly doesn’t see the difference between weeds and flowers… But as sure as I’ve already ordered new seeds I’ve started looking for eggs to buy. I am really happy with Hedemora and whatever mix race the new hens are but we’ve decided(well my daughter did) that we will be shallow and order fertilised eggs from hens that lay different coloured eggs. So now it’s just to wait for one of the hens to become broody. I paid a visit to Fotö where the 4 hens live that we sold before the fox came. So surreal, I think of them all gone, so to see Buffy, Vera, Captain Pugwash and Renee Biggs is like they’ve come back to life. They are very happy over there though! Sharing their home with the wild goose Gizmo. Gizmo was found as an egg(yes I know it’s illegal to pick eggs from wild birds but a kid found it and if they had put it back it would probably have been shunned). They hatched it in an egg hatcher and we saw him when he was just 2 days old, tiny fluffy thing with flippers. Now he’s huge! They are not friends but tolerate each other. Gizmo must like his home thought because his wings aren’t clipped and sometimes he’ll do a tour of the island but he always comes back.
I am naturally very careful with closing the chickens in now after our fox visit, they usually head inside as soon as it starts getting dark but the last two nights that I’ve gone to close the hens in they have still been outside. Tonight I watched Lottie try to fly up in the cherry tree but she failed. She is definitely Esme reincarnated! I know that in a few weeks when it gets warmer I will have to climb that cherry tree every evening to collect her. Wouldn’t surprise me if she learns how to cockadoodeldoo as well as Esme did.
I spent all day cleaning out Christmas and also because my husbands birthday happens to fall on the day Christmas is officially over(in Sweden anyways). Gosh I must say we are probably the messiest family I know but then it feels all the nicer when it’s done! I’m not the only one on the island being busy, all the youngsters on Hönö have their hands full. From day after xmas until Easter they are out, mainly boys between 7-25, looking for xmas trees. They ditch school, stay out all night and cycle around every nook and cranny on the islands(well the older one’s have Volvos). Last night I saw a light behind the barn, a car without the lights on and heard some noise so I thought I had to check it out. Of course it was xmas tree gatherers. I told them they are welcome to look around but please close all doors behind you. They were so friendly and helpful that something in the back of my head thought -hmmm maybe they weren’t looking but actually hiding? The next morning I had a look in “veboa”, a small shed behind the barn/gallery where I keep my wood, it was packed with trees! I’m really impressed with their technique, they’ve tied loads of trees together with ropes to fit in a small place. I told them that I would chuck out my tree Friday and they were very grateful. A lot of people think this tradition is a nuisance and should be stopped but I think it’s great. If you’re curious about where the trees end up read my earlier posts The big hunt is on! and You know you live on an Island when. It will be interesting got see how long they’ll stay in Veboa before another team finds them.
Every autumn I think next year I’ll calm down a bit with the planting but by the time xmas is fading my fingers start to itch. My first chilies are popping up and I’ve ordered some veg seeds and flower seeds who need an early start. A little while ago I received the new seed catalogue for 2017 and skipped happily towards the front door only to glance at the flower bed at the front of our house. 3 happy chickens sand bathing in where they had dug big holes in my flower bed. My happiness was momentarily quenched but now I’ve decided to not go through another summer without a green house and that makes me happy again! Just need to build one. As well as extending the henhouse and building a smoker. 2017 bring it on! Same with photography, I always switch off over the holidays but now new ideas are popping up like mushrooms without me even trying to think. Still haven’t spent any time in the darkroom since before xmas but today I played around with my phone, taking pics of the chillies(yes, all the people who know me as the most analogue person out there are laughing their asses off right now) with my xmas present. It’s a macro lens that you attach to the mobile with a little clamp. I must say I am quite impressed with what the phone can do with just a little add on and it’s a lot of fun. Only problem is keeping the phone still, never thought I’d say this as I don’t even own a digital camera but maybe I’ll have to invest in a phone tripod…
So Christmas just goes on and on. Xmas eve me and my daughter ventured into town (Gothenburg) to see my grandmother. Town was just full of stressed last-minute was shoppers, bad weather and street musicians playing jingle bells out of tune. We had a small version of the traditional Swedish xmas meal. Small sausages, meatballs, smoked salmon and of course Hönö bread. It was nice seeing my mum but even nicer to get back to the island. I must admit I’m slowly being converted to English Christmas. English xmas meal so beats Swedish xmas food! Christmas day we woke up late, kids had their stockings filled with chocolates and presents under the tree. My husband spends all day cooking until afternoon when we have the big Meal. Roast chicken or turkey, roast potatoes and veg, charred sprouts(cooked in bacon fat) and boiled sprouts, bread sauce, Yorkshire puddings and last but not least the most important ingredient gravy. We pull or crackers, read the stupid jokes out and wear the paper crowns. Then everyone hibernates for an hours or two and game time begins! Last couple of years we’ve stuck to “the Train game”, which is awesome but quite nervy, now we tried “King of New york”. We played it a couple of times while everyone commented on me looking extremely bored. There was one fantastic moment when I looked out the window thinking that I wasn’t listening to the rules(as always) but thinking about photography instead, snap! My husband says check out my wife looking extremely bored and obviously not listening to the rules… But as the days have moved on with movies, food and a few more attempts of the game I’m getting really in to it. All with the soundtrack from my son’s xmas present vinyl. He’s in to metal. Today was the first day that I decided to do something and ended up doing laundry , planting my first chili seeds, cleared the garden from rubbish(half a big black bin bag full of beer tins that people have generously chucked in our hedge). Then more time for sofa, books and more games. Oh did I mention homemade sausages, homemade bacon and freshly baked bred? I want xmas to go on forever.
Lussekatter (typical Swedish buns with saffron)
Santa turned up!
Preparations have been going on for weeks baking and making pictures to sell. Last weekend we had a xmas market in the gallery and this Saturday it’s time to do it all over again. I baked loads of cakes, biscotti and meringues. My husband made Daal and surprisingly it was a best seller! We had potato and leek for the less adventurous visitors but most people still chose the spicy Indian Daal. For this weekend I’ve baked mini meringues (chocolate, vanilla and liquorice) and some more cake. We will do the Daal and also a tomato soup with focaccia. I’ll be making wet plates of visitors that they can buy if they are happy with the result. This morning I took a break from all preparations and helped out for some charity. Sometimes when you have so much to do your head is spinning it’s nice to just take some time off and do something else, the world will seize to exist. So for two hours I sat counting how many sacks, boxes etc that the second hand shop in the harbour Hönö Klova Second Hand have collected for Rumania. They do this 2-3 times a year but before xmas it’s a bit special. They send off boxes of food that the generous islanders have given, this year 63 food boxes. On top of that sacks of clothes, furniture, beds etc. Everything is named with either the names of the families who will receive it or villages. It’s all very organised and I think it’s good to know that all the help will actually reach the goal. I did feel a bit sorry for everyone carrying everything(while I sat counting), my guess is the average age is above 60 for all of them(hope I don’t offend anyone!). In spite of bad backs, shoulders etc they had after two hours packed a huge trailer with 200 sacks, 120 boxes, 14 beds, a freezer, 3 hospital beds, a wheel chair and a lot more. Very impressive I think!
There’s been a fight for the Kombucha lately. My husband has been cultivating it since this summer and our son has asked to try it every day for a week. His reaction has been -yuck every time until suddenly one day he liked it. I keep buying juice and it’s gone in a day, same with bread and cereal, everyone who has a teenage son will probably relate to this. So I could understand the look of fear in my husbands eyes. He took swift action and adopted my 6.5 litre large drink bottle with a tap, that I bought for selling lemonade in the barn, and divided the scoby. We now have a small Kombucha factory in the kitchen. I’ve tried the Kombucha but can’t get over the fact that the Scoby looks like a placenta so I leave it alone. Instead I decided to try a “new” thing this morning. This week has been crazy with preparations for the xmas market I’m having in the barn/gallery this weekend and I always when I get into my creative mode I forget to eat. Last night we watched an episode of Quarry and they drink Bulletproof coffee. Apparently it keeps you full for hours so I thought I’d try it. So far I can’t recommend it to anyone. Coffee with butter for breakfast does, not surprisingly, make you feel slightly sick…maybe I’ll try it again for lunch.
I’ve always had a little dream to run a small bead&breakfast. We rent out through Airbnb and have had guests from all over the world. This year has been great renting out and I’ve met so many wonderful people. We only have the upstairs apartment though. This week I paid a visit to another b&b on the Island for inspiration. It used to be a row of little fishing huts but two guys saw the potential and bought them 30 years ago, just in case they would get tired of fishing. Who would’ve known the fishing business would shrink that much? From being one of the largest fishing communities in Sweden there are now only a handful of boats left. The b&b is called Havskatten and they have done a remarkable job building it over the last 7 years. When I got there they were building a sauna upstairs but they kindly took a break and gave me the grand tour. There are 12(or was it 15?) rooms. All very simple, stylish and practical. Even if some of them were small it didn’t feel cramped. Two large conference rooms, kitchen and a wood oven for baking Hönö bread. The spa upstairs will be awesome and I can definitely see myself renting it for a few hours to sit in the sauna looking out over the harbour and then dipping into the outdoor bath that they are planning to build. Sometimes it’s good for things to take time and they have readjusted their plan along with demand. Now it’s almost fully booked already for next year! They also have a boat to take guests on lobster and seal safari and have Hönö bread baking evenings. It’s perfect for weddings, conferences, families you name it. I came away with so much inspiration. Even if I’m only one person, they are two and one of them is a builder, it makes me dream about how the barn will look like 7 years from now…