Have-to’s and want-to’s

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Just got back from a two week holiday on another island, the Isle of Wight, and feel very rested for a change. I must admit I didn’t really want to come back home. I had this big dark cloud of “have-to’s” at the back of my mind but then my daughter asked -So mum what is it that you really have to do when we get back? Started thinking and realised that there wasn’t actually anything that urgent, it was all in my head. Now we’ve been back for a week and I’ve spent most of that time in the garden, not because I’ve had to but I’ve wanted to. Also the best thing I did before going on holiday was finishing the hammock! Tried it yesterday with a good book and it was perfect for doing nothing in. We have also extended our family. 7 new little chicks arrived a few days ago(sadly we lost one today) and they are irresistible! All different breeds so they will lay different coloured eggs, if they turn out to be hens. We’ve had a really bad turn out lately though. Peanut and Astrid we were quite sure were hens, then Astrid started cockadoodeling for hours day before we left so she got sentenced to the veg patch. Then gorgeous Peanut also started but at least he doesn’t do it that often so we’re keeping him on for now. The two younger ones Betty and Bert are great, so friendly! They come for us when Peanut bullies them and jump up on our laps or shoulders and fall asleep. Tomorrow we’re building a bigger chicken coop for the little ones so we don’t loose more. They are still too young to stay in the henhouse(this is Swedish summer after all) so we’ve been keeping them in the basement under a heating lamp apart from during the day when we’ve been taking turns keeping an eye on them(obviously not enough).

Building things

So, I began with a greenhouse, moved over to building a hammock and now I’ve started building a table. I really want the hammock finished but the table is essential for next week when I’ve rented out the gallery for a day. So my plan is to build at least one but preferably two. Now I keep the gallery open every weekend but it works out really well because I’m always out there all weekend anyways doing my projects. Today was a challenge though. I knew I was on a tight schedule. All week it’s poured down, yesterday we had a nice visit to Grötö with co-workers from the second hand shop and we missed most of the rain but mainly it’s been torrential! Grötö is still one of my favourite islands even though it’s true what everyone say, there’s not much there, no shops, no cars but oh so cosy. Norwegian weather(they are so much more accurate than Swedish weather that most swedes check yr.no instead) said sunny all day and rain tomorrow so my plan was to finish all my projects. BUT the cutest little chicks caught all my attention and instead I brought them out of the basement and, with my daughters help, built a cage so that we can move them outside without the other older hens pecking at them. Eventually it poured down but my table is almost finished. Now all I need to do in the week is cook a hell of a lot of snacks, cakes, bake bread(or buy? because my husband is still at work) and plan for 30 people eating on Tuesday and Saturday my neighbour has his record release in my barn, so counting at least 50 people then… I feel like YES has been the word of this month so wish me luck!

Summer is here!

Last entry spring had arrived but now it’s summer! Got back from a long trip, Malaysia, a few days ago. When I left we had 9°C and today it was around 20°C. Since I got back I’ve been trying to get back to Swedish time but keep waking up around 4-5 in the morning. I did worry because it’s the longest I’ve left the family ever but they survived and most of my plants did to. I was very excited for the chicks to hatch the 24th, Maggie has been cooped up in her nest most of the time. When she left the nest to eat I thought I would check on the eggs, there was none!! The crows and magpies have had a field day since I left and ate them all. So now we’ve ordered new eggs but we will put them in my neighbours egg hatching machine and I’m also getting a hen nest where the eggs roll down on a shelf you can pull out to pick them. The chickens, Astrid and Peanut, are keeping to themselves. The hens are really not very nice to them, even Nettie who adopted them is now picking at them as soon as she gets a chance. I think Peanut is an Iceland hen and Astrid i Wyandotte but most likely they aren’t pure bred because they both have feathers on their feet. It’s crazy how much the garden has grown in just over a week. The rhubarb I dug up half of what we had for the plant exchange day but now there’s a jungle out there! My green house is coming along nicely. I have to wait for the roof to be delivered so I started a new project today. Our hammock is completely rusted and broken, I am building a new one. Finished the main part of it now it’s just the legs and chains for having it, oh and oiling and painting. After all the sawing I was completely covered in saw dust so I cycled down the beach. They’ve put the jetty in now and the water was lovely. Summer is here!

Seven years from now

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…

On a tiny tiny island far far away

Today we had the pleasure to go visit Risö(translates as “Rice Island”). Risö is what I thought was a tiny island outside Fotö but it was much bigger than what you can see from the opposite shore. Leif and Göte picked us up at Fotö with their boat and 2 minutes later we set our feet on Risö. I had pictured in my mind that there was a large group of people working there every day especially after seeing on Facebook the impressive things they have built. Turns out most of the time it’s just them two. It’s completely funded by gifts of material and no one is being paid. There’s a beautiful cabin with five bedrooms, a well equipped kitchen and a large dining room with Leif’s gorgeous photos printed on canvas decorating the walls. After a day out there I do believe him saying he has thousands of pictures on his phone, it was so beautiful! We got shown around the newly built house where they plan to house people doing work rehabilitation, the finished B&B and there’s an awesome area for barbecuing and even smoking fish or meat. The only signs of past life is left by the army. Risö must have been one of their most popular hide outs. I remember when I was a kid it was so exciting to go into the dark caves they had left behind all over Hönö but a few years back they blocked them up for the safety of the public. After the grand tour me and my daughter ventured out to look at the island. The view was stunning and we found loads of drift wood perfect for future artsy xmas presents. We saw a mink, so cute, jet black and fluffy! Although I know that they are hated on the islands. There used to be one or two mink farms at Hönö and after they closed down there’s a lot of them left in the wild. They eat birds eggs and even hens I’ve heard… After our adventure at Risö we stopped at Fotö and visited our old chicks, the lucky bunch, who we gave away a while ago when I thought I had too many. If only I’d known. But it was a happy occasion, they have a great new home! Vera, Buffy, Captain Pugswash and Reneé Biggs, a huge garden to forest in and the goose Gizmo for company. Not that they seemed too keen on each other. Gizmo was so impressive but my phone had run out of battery by then so I couldn’t take any pics. I did bring my analog camera of course so I’ll post some when they are developed.
We came home hungry and tired after two hours it felt like a whole day. Not the last time I visit Risö though. Now I really feel like building stuff again! I will go back to offer my hands and one day perhaps bring my wet plate gear with me.

Don’t look down!

IMAG5103 IMAG5109Conquering my fears… Holy cow I’d forgotten how scared I am of heights. The scaffolding around the house is not ideal for painting situated a meter from the wall and nothing really to hold on to at the top. I tried to convince myself that I was acting silly and decide that I would stop being scared, that didn’t work. Started at the top, heart pounding, feeling dizzy, moving slow as a slug and after about one third done I started to seriously think about paying someone to do the rest. I kept going and my daughter came to help one floor below, it helped a bit keeping conversation up but I was silently compiling lists of the most scariest things I’ve done in life. Here it is: Number 1- giving birth, number 2- painting the house and number 3- killing the cockerels. We did finish it (without falling down) and I feel very proud. Not looking forward to a second coating though and then there are 3 more sides of the house times two…

My box is done!

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amazing what you can fit on a bike trolly

not easy to keep concentration when the barn turns into a zoo...

not easy to keep concentration when the barn turns into a zoo…

beginning of a box

beginning of a box

getting there and getting late...

getting there and getting late…

surprise visitor!

surprise visitor!

lost seagull

lost seagull

Did I do this?!?

Did I do this?!?

Inside, folded down

Inside, folded down

inside folded up

inside folded up

finished box! Wohoo!!

finished box! Wohoo!!

So I decided earlier this year that this would be a wet plate year, no actually, THE wet plate year. I also have a another great big plan but it’s too early to spill the beans… Anywho, I started out building my wet plate box with stuff I had but soon realised that I wanted the box to be long lasting, sturdy and nice looking so I took a bike ride to the wood shop. Bought big boards of plywood and while figuring out how to fasten it to my bike-trolly one of the guys working there stopped and asked if I needed assistance(the perks of being female is sometimes very rewarding). He was nice enough to cut the wood into the measurements I had in my head. I cycled back and started building. Only problem was the plywood was a bit bent but I just worked on feeling and didn’t mind the measurements too much. The chicks came to watch and then suddenly I see movement and look up, there’s a huge seagull there! Almost inside the barn. I followed it around for a while taking pictures and making sure that it wasn’t injured, it could fly so that was not the case, but it was not a bit scared of me or the hens. It got me thinking of the story my 96 year old neighbour told me about the seagull who used to steal peoples underwear from the beach, fly far out and drop them in the sea! I’ve spent most of my time lately working on the box but also clearing another wall in the gallery. Somehow I got that huge kitchen cabinet down and turned upside down, on my own, without being squashed. I do need some storage space so I’m keeping it but it needs a lick of paint and some textile where the doors were. As always when I get into these creative swirls there’s a moment where I stop and look around, thinking -did I create this mess?? My husband having a Frank Zappa-week has helped me heaps, forcing me outdoors. Oh well, tomorrow is the big day, trying out my new box!