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.
phone picture of drying contact print made from glass negative
I have a person doing work practise with me until March. It’s proven the best way to get productive! Monday we packed the bike trolley and ventured down the beach to do wet plates. It was very wet indeed. The air was so cold and clammy that the glass plates kept steaming up but we managed some good plates in the end. Back home we warmed up in the darkroom and made contact prints from the wet plate glass negatives that I made in the studio over the weekend. One is a definite keeper, I think I’m becoming addicted to tulips.
Phone picture of the drying contact print made from a glass negative
Today the plan was doing more prints in the darkroom but the weather was just irresistible. Sunshine and everything covered in frost. So we went down the beach and the nature reserve with some old cameras and my favourite pinhole camera. Just stunning! I got my mind set on a picture I wanted and ended up getting my feet wet. Haven’t developed the pinhole negatives yet but I’m sure it was worth the pain. Happy, sunny and hungry we returned to develop some rolls of film in Caffenol. This is my favourite way of developing using only coffee, washing soda and vitamin-C, no bad chemicals. Even though I enjoy working on my own it felt great to share the day and also having an assistent on hand. I have a feeling February will be a very productive month!
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.
Santa turned up!
Lussekatter (typical Swedish buns with saffron)
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!