Sunday, June 4, 2017

May's Weather

As expected, May showed a warming trend. We got lucky with the weather on our weekend visit; they were the warmest days of the month! We even avoided the rain perfectly.

We could use more rain, though. It's been quite dry on Aspö. In fact, all of southern Sweden is dealing with a growing water shortage. Since our water comes from a well, that's a worry.


I left in the readings from the sound meter. It's pretty easy to see the days we were at the house.

We're less than two weeks away from our next visit. Can't wait!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Happy Birthday, Ollie!

My furry boy has become an old man! He is 14 today. He's darned slow these days, but he still remains as happy and handsome as ever.

I've made a little slideshow of his birthdays over the years:

Ollie's 14 birthdays!

Who would've thought what the future had in store for us when we brought our little puppy home all those years ago?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A bank holiday visit


It still floats!Ollie's dog sitter was able to keep him for the bank holiday weekend, so we decided to do a quick trip to the stuga. Our biggest job was to get the boat into the water. I also wanted to trim the posts for the deck railing. I'm pleased to report we were successful on both tasks! (The posts I managed to do myself, but the boat needed Olle and Annika's help).

We had a bit of trouble getting the engine started but it was all fine in the end. I was particularly happy with the way my wood posts worked out. I plan to install them on our next visit. I'll be bringing along a length of polyester hemp rope I found from Amazon. It looks just like old-fashioned rope but is resistant to rot and weathering. We will see how well it holds up.

I have a Flickr album of the weekend posted; it's also on the photo list along the right side too.

I have one special photo to show, though. Long-time readers with keen memories will remember Johan, my Cinderella provider. I needed a new back-up battery for Cindy (as we call her these days). Marcia gave me a lift to his store in Bromma on my way to the harbour.

I have to give Johan credit; he recognised me immediately, after almost a decade! We had a nice time catching up. So here's a "then and now" photo for old times' sake.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Rope railings

I've posted last year about my desire to add a railing to our deck.

Originally, I thought of something more temporary but the more I think about it, such a big deck needs something substantial.

I have some leftover 95x95 posts (equivalent to an American 4x4) which would make perfect stanchions. The internet has provided me with plenty of information on how to fasten such posts.

I've also bought a few rope samples from Amazon. I plan to do a bit of experimenting on our next visit and will advise my progress on the blog.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Portugal is the winner

For the first time ever, Portugal has claimed the Eurovision title. Salvador Sobral's fey ballad was a convincing winner, in both the the jury and popular votes. It wasn't my style, especially Salvador's overwrought performance, but I'm not that good at picking winners.

However, Sooz and I heard the song on the radio earlier in the day, and the song itself without the visuals was pretty darned good. Also, in the final performance of the night, Salvador was joined by his sister, who was the songwriter, and a good singer herself. I enjoyed their impromptu duet:


Next year, Lisbon!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The final is tonight!

We're hosting a party as usual this evening, lots of old friends and new ones, too, including one Eurovision virgin! There will be 15 people jammed into our little flat, which will be interesting.

As for the show, I'm looking forward to it. The first semi-final was terrible in my opinion. Belgium somehow made into the final with an insipid song. But what do I know? The bookies have Blanche singing "City Lights" at fourth favourites:


The act that is making me smile, though, is Moldova. It's a perfect Eurovision song in every way:


The fake saxophone, the backup singers becoming brides, the rubber-leg dance... all perfect.

An advantage for both the UK and Sweden is that they go late in the show: the UK is in lucky 18th spot, and Sweden is 24th of 26 performers. Going later is better.

All the chatter today remains around Italy and Portugal. The bookies agree with online polls that it's a race between those two. But it's Eurovison, so literally anything can happen! I can't wait.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A few more Eurovision videos

Lucie Jones was chosen to represent the UK this January in an one-hour BBC show (as opposed to the six-week extravaganza held on Swedish television. The good news is that Lucie can sing, and she has been working very hard on promoting her song. The bad news is that it's a minor key ballad. Those don't typically do very well:


I rather like the Netherlands' entry. Or I should say I admire their efforts to create a diverse girl group:


Denmark, Finland, and Germany all have blond divas belting out their songs. At least Norway tried something different:


That's enough for today. I'll be back after the semifinals.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Eurovision 2017

We're exactly a week away from the big show in Kiev. As usual, Sooz and I are hosting a viewing party. It's going to be interesting cramming a dozen people into our tiny flat, but that's part of the fun!

The hot tip is Italy, believe it or not. (The Italians last won in 1990 and have participated infrequently over the past 20 years.) Francesco Gabbani is the bookie's and critic's favourite right now:


Another hot tip is Portugal's Salvador Sobral, although it's not my style, neither the falsetto ballad, or the haircut. My gosh, what hair.


Sweden's own Robin Bengtsson is also doing well, and I have to admit this song is growing on me. Goodness knows we heard it often enough on Skärgårds radio over Easter!


And if you want a song that is both perfectly daft and yet also a possible winner, you can't do worse than Romania. Be sure to watch the whole song:


Yes, yodelling is still alive and well, at least in Eastern Europe. And that belt buckle! It's worth 12 points all by itself.

I'll share a few more as the big day approaches. I'm getting excited now.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Slipcovers

I posted in March 2015 about Bemz, a company that makes custom covers for new and discontinued IKEA furniture in a wide range of colours and fabrics. Here, for example, is our old standby Kramfors sofa in shocking pink. (Don't worry, we're not getting pink.)

When we were at the house last, we both thought our couch was looking a bit tired. I visited the Bemz website and ordered a few fabric swatches in different colours and fabrics.

We will take a look over the summer and see what looks best. I wouldn't mind some colour, but Sooz thinks we have enough already. We will see who wins that debate! (Hint: It's going to be Sooz.)

Monday, May 1, 2017

April's weather

April was a typical Spring month in the archipelago: windy, wet (although not wet enough) and not that warm. I added the indoor temperature which shows very clearly the days we were at the house!

We'll be back at the end of May and I expect it to be a lot warmer then. At least I hope so...


Sunday, April 16, 2017

The week's wrap-up

We're back in London after a whirlwind week. We had a houseful of guests for a few days, which was nice. Rutger helped me with some chain-sawing and electrical work. The weather stayed dry but got increasingly colder each day. The mornings were frosty but our luftpump kept us all warm. Photos are on my Flickr page.

A couple of my deck lights appear to have burned out so I have ordered replacements. Rutger and I also spent some time talking about putting up a deck railing. I found some leftover wood for posts under the house so I may well do some work on a railing this summer. More to come on that.

We'll be back for a long weekend in May. Sooz decided to leave the fridge on until then. I've put the spare thermometer inside the fridge so we can confirm that it stays on all that time! I'll report back in my next monthly weather recap.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our new chair

Quick chair assembly

I posted about 6 weeks ago that Sooz was going to buy an Eames rocker for our house. We thought it would be a stylish and easy way to add guest seating.

She found a company in Amsterdam, popfurniture.com, who came through with flying colours. Our lovely chair was delivered to us on Aspö right on time and with minimal fuss. I made a little video of its unboxing and assembly.

Otherwise things are fine. The weather turned colder today but our heat pump is keeping us nice and warm. We're having Annika and Olle and Peter and Jeanette over for dinner tomorrow, and then Marcia and Rutger arrive on Thursday. Looking forward to the social whirl!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

We've arrived

We started our Friday in Slussen and decided to go to Gustavsberg for mid-day so we'd have lots of time to do our yearly shopping. We always seem to be rushed for time and so we made plans to avoid that by keeping the whole afternoon free.

Sooz loaded up at ICA and I visited the Systembolaget and the building store to pick up supplies. We ended up at Stavsnäs a bit early so we stopped at the harbour's pizzeria. News of the attack on Drottninggatan came through and we all watched it unfold on the TV. It's hard to put into words the disgust we all felt at such a cowardly act.

The taxi boat to Aspö was very quick if a bit subdued. However we were able to make it to a nice pre-warmed house easily and set about unpacking and setting things up.

The next morning, we joined Annika and Olle as they took their old boat to Stavsnäs. Olle decided to consolidate his two boats (one big, one small) into one that does everything: the Anytec 622. It is a gorgeous aluminium boat, filled with all the latest conveniences. And it is fast!

So far, so good. The house is in great shape and we are expecting fine weather tomorrow, although it looks to be getting worse as the week goes on. I've started a new photo page for this visit which I update through the week. Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

March's weather


The stirrings of Spring are visible. The temperatures are on a gradual rise, notwithstanding a big dip in the last days of the month. The majority of days were pretty windy, with gusts over 15 mph.

Although my rain gauge reported 0.6 inches (15mm) for the month, I have reason to believe it's not fully accurate. It may well be clogged by pine needles. I will check next week!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Returning next week

We'll be leaving in a week from for our usual Eastertime opening up of the stuga. We're going to have Friday in the city so we can be at our leisure, and take the later afternoon boat to Aspö with all the weekenders.

I have a few projects to work on, nothing too big, but I will have plenty to report on the blog, I promise.

Our remote control Luftpump should have the house nice and toasty for our arrival! We can't wait.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Great news on fiber broadband!

I received great news from Nilla at the Nämdö Fiber association last week. The news recently hasn't been great. My last post of many on the subject was not hopeful for the association's efforts to get further grant money.

However, Nilla's news was excellent. Thanks to everyone's diligent work, our association has received a 57.5 million kronor grant to wire up the remainder of our archipelago by 2020.

Looking back at my posts, there have been many ups and downs over the years. There's no question, though, that this news is a 'up'. I'm very thankful for the Nämdö Fiber association's work on our behalf. 

Who knows? Perhaps we'll have broadband in time for us to retire out to our little hus...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Robin Bengtsson is the winner!

The Melfest 2017 was a darned good show, in my humble opinion. The hosts did a great job, keeping the show moving, and hosting funny parodies and skits.

Our winner was Robin Bengtsson, the man who beat Loreen head-to-head last week, with "I Can't Go On":


Interestingly, he was not in the top two of the viewers' votes. The popular winner was Nano with "Hold On". However, the international jury counts for half of the total vote, and the experts pushed Robin to the top. I can see why they did that; Robin's is a more classical Eurovision song.

Frankly, I could have seen most of the songs being potential winners. Wiktoria was the bookies' favourite, but she faded on the day. I'm sure we will hear Ace Wilder and FO&O on the radio all summer, too.

Next stop: Kiev!!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February's weather


It was a mild and dry month. High temperatures were above freezing from the middle of the month, and we had only a few days of sprinkles. Even the wind was consistently calm.

The length of the day increases slowly in February, from just over 8 hours on the first, to 10 ½ hours yesterday. There's a strong link between sunshine and warmer weather!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Melfest recap

Last night was the end of the semifinals in Skellefteå. There was a bit of a bombshell in that Loreen, a previous Eurovision winner, only made it to the "second chance" round.

Wiktoria, whose entry had an elaborate light show last year, went very simple this time, and made it to the final easily:


I think Loreen's performance was a touch too art-school symbolic for the Mello crowd, although I have to give her credit for doing something differently:


The second-chance show is next week, and the grand final is in Stockholm on March 11. Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A new chair

Sooz has always wanted another chair for the house. When we have guests and it's not nice enough to sit on the deck, everyone tends to pile onto our couch.

She wanted to have a simple but nice chair we could easily move around as needed. The problem is the chairs we saw were too large or heavy to be as mobile as we wanted, and lighter chairs were not nice enough.

We had a brainwave recently, however. Our breakfast table here in London has Eames armchairs, which are very light and comfortable. Sooz thought we could get an Eames rocker which we could move around the house with ease.

I liked the idea, too. One problem is that the chair is a single piece of plastic, not like an IKEA flat-pack. The box would be too large to easily transport on our usual plane-bus-boat journey. It would have to be delivered to Aspö, or at least to the harbour at Stavsnäs.

I did a bit of googling to find a Swedish vendor of the Eames rockers, and found a few. Sooz has accepted the assignment of buying one and having it delivered to Aspö during our next visit. I will report on her progress.

UPDATE March 10: Sooz has placed the order, and the chair should be delivered to Aspö the week we're there.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Big Mac Index

It's been a few years since I posted about the Economist's Big Mac Index. I think it's time for a revisit.

To recap, the Economist started the index as a way to measure global currencies against the dollar. McDonald's is very good at making their Big Mac exactly the same everywhere. In a perfect world, the currency-adjusted cost of a Big Mac in each country would also be the same as the cost in the US.

Any disparity over or below the US cost would expose that currency as overvalued or undervalued against the dollar. Over the years, the index has become more sophisticated. Their most recent index is a lovely interactive website that allows looking at all sorts of data in a range of countries.

The currency we're most interested in is the kronor, of course. It has been consistently overvalued against the dollar; in fact, the Swedish currency has been consistently overvalued for more than a decade, along with the Norwegian kronor and Swiss franc.

The good news is that lately, the kronor has been much closer to its "true" value. The Economist calculates that the kronor should be about 9.5 to a US dollar. Lately it's been about 9.2. This is as close as its gotten to parity in almost 15 years. Now if we could do something about the Pound Sterling!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Melodifestival, Parts 1 and 2

We watched the initial show from Göteborg last weekend in Minnesota. My sister Kelly had her first experience with the madness that is "Mello". Ace Wilder was back again, and she made it to the final, along with new artist Nano. Kelly's favourite act was by Road Trip. It's a perfectly wacky Melodifestival song:



Tonight's show from Malmö provided pretty slim pickings. The two winners, boy-bandy Benjamin Ingrosso and dreadlocked Mariette, were far ahead of the rest of the pack. (Although Lisa Ajax's song "I Don't Give A" has a controversy over the word that you can probably have guessed that came next in the lyrics.)

I've also found SVT's Melodifestival page in English. I'm of two minds about that. It is much easier for me to get Melfest gossip, but I rather liked having to work for it!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

January's weather

Here's the January recap. It was a darned mild and dry month. There were a few days early in the new year below freezing, but the rest of the month was well above zero.

There were a few days of rain around the 10th, but that was essentially it.

I don't mind the warmer temperatures; it is good for the wildlife, although the lack of snow is another worrying reminder of climate change. It's the lack of rain that is a problem, given that all Aspö residents are reliant on their well water!

Friday, February 3, 2017

RIP Buddy

Ironically, I'm not far from Clear Lake, Iowa,  tonight. It's my mom's birthday and we're in Minneapolis to celebrate. It is darned cold. I wouldn't blame Buddy Holly at all for wanting to avoid a long bus ride on a night like this.

Today's picture is from his last concert at the Surf Ballroom. There aren't many images from that show 58 years ago.

I recently found a website collecting all of the songs found on Buddy's tape recorder after his death. In some of the recordings, the sounds of apartment life are heard in the background, which make them both charming and heartbreaking.

Today's selection is from those recordings: Buddy's beautiful version of Dearest.