Into the wilderness

IMG_4301So 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.

Garden gold

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…

Risky business

What a lovely sunny day, feels like last day of autumn. Next week the temperature is supposed to drop below zero so I decided to make the most out of the sunshine. First I did some bike maintenance, my son somehow gets a flat tyre every other week. The hens kept me company. Nettie and Lottie are getting friendlier every day and Maggie seems to slowly get over her trauma from last weekend and isn’t as jumpy anymore. After that I took my daughter berry picking. We cycled to the cemetery and walked around the popular path in the nature reserve. There are so many sloes! At first we picked every berry we saw but soon got very picky and only chose the biggest berries. There is so much that the whole of Hönö could probably go out harvesting without finishing them off. Sloes are not the easiest berries to pick though, very thorny bushes, some thorns being a few centimetres long. Trying to get to the fullest bushes was like a game with death or at least like cuddling a very angry cat… After about 3,5 kilos we headed home to change and go swimming. To be honest I haven’t been for weeks, to the point where I’m ashamed to call myself a all-year-around swimmer. The sun was going down, no wind, absolutely stunning but freezing. As always we felt great coming out of the water and went home for a nice warm cuppa.

Stinky fish

Surströmming

Surströmming

Just back from a week in Iceland. Both me and the children came to the same conclusion, Iceland has amazing landscape but hey Hönö is the best no contest. Yesterday we had a very traditional Midsummer eve celebrated with lovely food, board games and midnight swim. We went to see people dancing to the frog song around the Midsummer phallic pole and made head wreaths out of flowers from the garden. I bullied my husband and guests into trying the Surströmming that I bought two years ago. It is really a Northern tradition, eaten on crispy bread with boiled potatoes, sourcream and red onion. It is fermented herring and known for it’s very vile stench which forces you to open it outside while making sure not standing too close or you might be sprayed with fermented herring gunk. Some people say it tastes like a very mature cheese and last time I tried it I could have agreed but this time it was just truly disgusting! Today has been a day of rest. My only project for the day was making elderflower cordial, luckily it is so easy it takes no effort! The flowers are almost gone so it was in the nick of time. The recipe called for 40 flowers, I lost count but filled a bucket, boiled water, sugar and poured it over the flowers with lime and lemon. Leave for 3 days and then sieve and bottle. The garden has gone crazy, only being away for a few days(luckily it rained a lot so my husband didn’t have to do his watering duty every day). There are tonnes of cherries ripening, red and black currants and my quince tree is full of fruit! Despite saying I would put extra effort into the roses I have been neglecting them but they are coming on great anyways. The flowers I planted in the veg patch to help germinate the soil are stunning and there are so many bees and bumble bees. It’s like a chorus of buzzing, maybe that’s why there are so many berries this year?IMAG5480 IMAG5473 IMAG5472 IMAG5484

Small trails leading to something big

IMAG5187After finally conquering my fears and finishing painting the house I’ve had a hard time slowing down to relax. Today is Sunday and even though we’re not believers I do try to live with Sunday being a day for rest. When my grandmother lived here she would never let us cut the lawn on a Sunday and there are still a lot of people who think the same way. I think it’s nice to have one day in the week where no lawnmowers or builders are making a noise. It’s not so easy though when you have loads of stuff waiting to be done, like the hedge being cut etc. So after feeling restless all day I took my daughter for a walk. We chose little roads between the houses where we rarely go and ended up down the harbour choosing a trail that I’ve never been up. We found some wild strawberries, my daughter saying what a shame we didn’t bring anything to put them in and I said when we were kids we used grass straws. Wow what a pleasure to see a child lit up with joy over something that is so obvious to me! She firmly decided that we weren’t leaving before the straw was full. After an hour we had four straws full with little berries. What a very happy proud girl! Perfect start of the summer holidays and for me the start of a two week holiday. On our way back we walked past a pond with some kids dressed in life jackets fishing in the pond. A mum filled us in with information and after a few minutes there where crayfish in the bucket! Apparently someone has planted them in the pond along with some red and yellow fish. The kids feed them bread, fish them up and let them back in every day. Tomorrow we will head out to my favourite place where we went as kids, for more berries and adventures. IMAG5210 IMAG5211 IMAG5216 IMAG5217 IMAG5222 IMAG5225 IMAG5229

No pain no gain

3 litres of hard earned berries

3 litres of hard earned berries

apple af blackberry jelly, a new favourite!

apple af blackberry jelly, a new favourite!

fruit leathers going in for 12 hours or so

fruit leathers going in for 12 hours or so

blackberry jelly and marmalade

blackberry jelly and marmalade

I picked three litres of blackberries yesterday morning. Started off in the nature reserve finding a few but as I ventured further into the woods I found loads! Strange that they seem to mature faster under the trees than when they grow on a field, you’d think direct sunlight would turn them black faster but seems to be the opposite. Most of them I found lifting the branches and in denser vegetation. It was all very painful. Even with wellies and a thick jumper my jeans were covered with blackberry needles and my hands cut to bits. Worth it though! Today I used some for an apple and blackberry jelly, a blackberry marmalade and yummy fruit leathers. I halved all the recipes because I wanted to make sure they were good enough before making plenty but now I wish I would have doubled them. The plan is to use the preserves for the opening of the gallery in two weeks. I’m going to order the best cheese in the world and serve with homemade crisp bread and husbands sourdough bread. After all the jamming I decided to do something about the surroundings of the gallery and dug and tugged up all the nettles under the x-mas trees by the road. It took quite some time and I managed to burn myself in all imaginable places plus a few more and covered my hands in blisters. Planted lots of narcissus bulbs so at least it will look nice in spring before the nettles grow back…

a mountain of pain

a mountain of pain

I found gold!

chanterelles, gold of the forest

chanterelles, gold of the forest

tasty free lunch

tasty free lunch

When I went running this morning I made a little detour through the woods. Apparently this year has been a “mushroom” year and people brag about all the tonnes of chanterelles they’ve picked on the mainland. Fat chance to find them out here, I thought, but I then remembered finding just a tiny amount a few years ago. So I went back to where I thought I remembered to have found them. When we were little and went mushroom picking my mum used to talk about putting “your mushroom eyes” on. In fall it’s not easy to see yellow chanterelles under yellow autumn leaves but as soon as you find one you will have your “mushroom eyes” and find more. I had brought a plastic bag with me in case the blackberries had matured but I ended up filling it with chanterelles instead! How cool isn’t it to go out for a run and come back with lunch?? Of course I can’t disclose where this place is, in case any islanders happen to read my blog, but I’ve made a clear note of it in my head. Back home I brushed them off, fried in butter with salt and pepper and had on homemade focaccia with mayo. Yummy!