Sunday, April 29, 2012


Sooz leaves for the UK a week from today so we're working out the details on how we move everything from Texas to Aspö.

She's spending a week in London before going to Sweden, so she'll need to take more clothes than we usually pack for a trip to our house. The good news is that British Airways will let her check two bags from London to Stockholm. But since she's on her own, Sooz can only carry as much to our house as she can manage on the bus, and most of that will need to be groceries. She'll have to leave something behind at Marcia and Rutger's house. The supply lines can get pretty stretched!

The good news is that Marcia and Rutger plan to visit her for the weekend, so we can prevail on them to carry out a left-behind bag or two. And then Grant and I arrive later in the month; strapping boys like us can heft quite a bit onto the bus at Slussen, and back onto the boat at Stavsnäs.

At least we have our friends we can prevail upon for storage and transport. It's a bit like a Himalayan expedition in that regard.

The bigger change will be our July trip; then, it's just Sooz and I, and we will be heading direct to Aspö from Arlanda for the first time. Anything we take to the airport in Texas will be our responsibility on the plane to London, the plane to Stockholm, the bus into town, the bus to Stavsnäs, the boat to Aspö, and the walk through the woods to our house! So we'll be traveling light in July, that's for sure.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Arvesund designer sheds

I stumbled upon the website for Arvesund, a maker of traditional but stylish stugas. They also have a number of interesting furnishings and fixtures too. Although the X-House is just what I wanted, these houses are also pretty close to my style.

Their English website is entertaining and definitely worth a look.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Broadband Internet in the Archipelago

I've been using a 3G wireless connection out at our house for a few years now. A little wi-fi hotspot above the fridge rebroadcasts the signal through the house so we can enjoy the internet on our iDevices. It works pretty well, although it's not that fast and is a bit fiddly. If I want to rent a movie on iTunes, for example, we have to decide in the morning, as the downloading takes all day! But it does work well enough, and it is pretty cool to have wi-fi out in the middle of an island. In fact, let's face it, it's not just cool. Internet access is pretty much a necessity if one is away for a number of weeks.

I recently received info about a plan to bring fibre-optic internet out to our archipelago. The Swedish government wants to have super-fast (100mps!) access to 90% of the country by 2020. There is money available for rural communities to apply for assistance in providing such service. As best as I can read, we in the Nämdö archipelago are being asked to join a broadband 'club' which will then apply to the government for assistance in providing access to our island.

The good news: internet that fast could open up a whole bunch of possibilities for living out on Aspö. I could easily have a few webcams set up to check on the house, the weather, and the moose. Heck, I could have a little weather station giving info on the conditions in real-time (I will admit I've already checked into that.) And a stable internet connection that fast would being all sorts of entertainment and even work opportunities out to our house.

The bad news: cost. It looks like being a member of the broadband club would cost about 15,000-20,000 kronor ($2000-3000), plus about 3000kr ($500) for the wiring and who knows how much for the monthly fees. And of course, there is the encroachment of the outside world into our little idyll that such technology would bring.

I've registered my interest formally with the club, and already received a charming reply from the organizing group on Nämdö. There's no commitment to do so, for now at least, and it seems from the documents that joining now would guarantee us access at a much lower price than adding it later. I would think that having it might increase the value of our property, too.

More news as this progresses.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Aspö Summer Calendar

Despite the late snow, the summer season is officially upon us! I just received the yearly resident's e-mail from Thomas Hansson with the Sommarguiden for 2012. It contains all of the key dates for island activity this summer.

We won't be there for the midsummer festivities this year. But, through the summer, there a number of different activities; a sailing school, a talk by Claes about the history of the island, jewelry making, weekday football matches on the meadow, for example.

Our timing looks great this year, as we'll be there for a busy day on July 28. There will be a sailing regatta around the island, and an islander's flea market in the afternoon. The evening ends up with dancing on the meadow's new dance floor. That sounds like a great day!

All of the new info is on the Aspö website.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A report from Aspö

Janne sent me an email this morning. In it, he says "Just got 2 inches of snow out here and the weather has been really bad for weeks. Hope it turns to spring soon."

Looks like winter is coming back for a bit more before it finally leaves the archipelago!

UPDATE: I video-chatted with Marcia. She showed me the snow cover at their house and said it was a proper snowstorm overnight. I tried not to let her see Ollie at the pool behind me when we talked!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eurovision Betting

Rutger pointed out to me the other day that Sweden was the bookie's favorites for this year's contest! I checked the website of Ladbroke's, a big betting firm in the UK, and sure enough, Loreen's "Euphoria" are 9/4 to win. The Russian grannies are 6/1 and Engelbert is third favorite at 10/1.

Albania are the long shots at 200/1. Their odds might improve if Rona Nishliu visits a stylist before the final...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tiny Houses

I found an interesting builder of very small houses: Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. They specialise in homes under 300 square feet (28 square meters), with one model as small as 65 sq. ft., or only 6 square meters!! The Tumbleweed people are part of a movement towards smaller houses that are less impactful on the environment, and help promote less materialistic lifestyles, among other benefits.

Our home on Aspö is huge by comparison, about 670 sq. ft. (62 m2). Plus we have the little house which is about 220 sq. ft. (20 m2), and now the shed! So we have, comparatively speaking, lots of space.

I do remain surprised at how much we're able to pack into our little house, however. We have everything we need, and plenty of room leftover. I think this is partly because we started fresh with a bare rock, and absolutely every single thing had to be carried in, and partly because we spend only a month or so at the house every year. But still, we're able to live quite comfortably and (if I may say) stylishly in a house that's maybe a quarter the size of the average home in the US. This efficiency of space, and of lifestyle, does give food for thought...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Marathon Training, part 2

I am exactly halfway through my training regimen; 9 weeks down and nine to go. The first half is probably easiest; I've run 180 miles so far, and the next nine weeks calls for an increase to 250. On the other hand, I spent a lot of the early weeks getting back into the groove and building up a bit of stamina. So, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I am better prepared to do it.

I'm starting to be more confident that I can beat my 1990 time of 4:23. To be honest, I like the idea of funning faster at age 52 than 30! I'll know better about that goal when I give my next monthly update.