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).
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!
One of those days! Started the morning going down the harbour to help out the Hönö Klåva second hand shop. A few times a year they have a lorry coming to pick up stuff to bring to Romania. They have been to Romania a number of occasions and everything is sent to a few families and then divided to other people in need. Today was the worst weather so far, it was grey, heavy fog and rain. Lucky me is only entrusted to count everything brought on to the lorry so I got to stand in a container watching all the guys carrying sacks, bags, boxes and beds.
Tomorrow is the first day open for my gallery this year and I have so much to do, left most things until the last day as usual. The weather miraculously turned around to sun and a warm wind. I cleaned out the barn/gallery for a few hours but then I had promised my daughter to go running so we did. -Hey lets jog around the corner to check out my hen-friends new hens. So we did and so one hour later we came home with the promise of three little chicks!
I did try to reason with myself but as always it just happened so fast… We picked up the little chicks and put them in a box in the hallway for a while until it got dark. One of our hens, Nettie, has been wanting babies for quite some time now so we let them into the catbox, where she’s been laying everyday for weeks, and covered it with a net. She seemed confused but happy and the little chicks snuggled up to her straight away. I really hope they are still alive in the morning! So tomorrow is the premiere for Camera exchange day in the gallery and at the same time I will have to build a cage or something to give the chicks more room and stop crazy hen Lottie getting to them. It seems my favourite motto should be “When you have loads to do best go out and find some more!”.
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!
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!
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…
So it was that time again, beer tasting down the harbour. We happened upon it by chance(on Facebook) last year and had such a great day! Here’s last years post. This year they sold out 100 tickets in a few days so the place was packed when we got there. 22 home-brewed beers to taste in 3 hours. It was a happy bunch of people and after 2 hours a very happy bunch! After spending a few years working in pubs in England I do love stout, my favourite was the Nitro Milk Stout but there were so was so much more. Yippie Aye Ale, The Brunette, Portmanroad Ale, Tractor DIPA and a whole lot with Swedish funny names. My favourite IPA was called Fem myror är fler än fyra elefantöl (Five ants are more then four elephant beers). They did give advice on what order to taste them, light to dark, weak to strong or bitterness but I didn’t read this until afterwards so I did like last year and tried them in order 1-22. You get a wineglass and they fill it to about a third and rinse it out in-between. After tasting the judges make their vote for the three best beers/brewers who gets a prize, then one beer is picked out of the judges six suggestions and the winner gets to have a batch of his beer brewed at Hönö Brewery. The people also gets to have a vote. I like it that some brewers take a chance and do something different like the fruit beers, especially when it’s berries from the Island. It’s a fantastic venue. Held in the harbour but opposite to all the shops and cafés, big fishing boats lined up outside and people arriving by foot, bike or boat. We had some English, Swedish and American friends with us. One guy actually flew here from London just for the occasion. After a while a couple of the guys asked about the bathroom, I replied there is none (luckily I have a great party bladder), maybe the best option is using the bushes or walk around to the pizzeria or cafés. We go to rinse out our glasses for the next beer and look out the window. The view is great, fishing boats, the sea and Vinga lighthouse…but lets just say that I wouldn’t go swimming there the day after. My international friends weren’t as brave they walked around the corner. They could probably find a bigger place, with a toilet, and easily fill it with triple the amount of people but I actually hope it carries on like this. It’s so laid back and friendly. I enjoyed it so much that I’m actually thinking about trying out the brewing myself. I’m definitely becoming a member because I think it’s a great thing to support and I don’t want to miss out booking tickets for next year!