Friday, July 31, 2015

Webcam action...

Spotted last night. I love that my phone in Texas can alert me that something is walking by our house in Aspö!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Weather station Aspö

I had posted over a year ago about the Netatmo weather station. Sooz bought me one for my birthday a few months after that post, and I've used it this past year in Texas.

I decided to bring it with me this visit, and as I had forecast, there's now an internet weather station on Aspö:

The one problem is that it needs internet access to work, and I usually only pay for a connection while I'm there. I think I will keep my router plugged in over the winter. I'll pay for connectivity for a week here and there, to get it reconnected and get an idea of what it's like at the house.

It's nice to see there's a similar unit on Nämdö, so even if mine is offline, I can see the weather close by!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hello from Arlanda

It's early Thursday morning. We are at the airport, waiting for our flight to London.

Yesterday was a fun, if long, day. We took the afternoon boat to Saltsjöbaden, which gave us lots of time to relax and tidy up the stuga at our own pace. As usual, we had over-shopped at the grocery and had lots of leftovers for Olle and Annika!

The Saltis boat was nice, we've taken it a few times before. It was different this time around, as we'd been over part of the route in our own boat! That gave us a different perspective.

The big difference for us was connecting to a Stockholm boat at Saltsjöbaden. That was an hour's trip through a whole bunch of beautiful areas. Even the weather cooperated, becoming clearer through the day. The trip ended in the city centre at Gamla Stan, just under 4 hours door-to-door. Very civilised, indeed!

We walked through the city, had an ice cream, and caught the train to Marcia and Rutger's house. Only Camille was home, but she was an excellent hostess. I took advantage of their super-fast internet to upload 56 more photos and movies to the Flickr page.

Now it's time to board for the first leg of the long trip onward to Texas. I see it will be over 100° (40°C) there today. I wouldn't mind some heat, but maybe not that much heat!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lots going on!!

It's Tuesday afternoon, and I have now found time to write about the past couple of days.

Winding back takes us to a super dinner at our house Saturday night with our neighbours Peter and Jeannette, which ended quite late! This led to a lie-in Sunday morning, but Olle asked if I'd like to set out fishing nets that afternoon with him and Bosse. Of course I said yes! We took my boat and put out gill nets in 4 different spots. Bosse piloted us through lots of little nooks and crannies in the nearby islands.

Monday morning, we went to retrieve our nets, with a disappointing haul: only 2 sea bass and 10 flounder. We detangled and hung the nets to dry, and Bosse cleaned the fish with a skilled hand. I took home the sea bass for lunch, which Sooz prepared deliciously.

After my fish lunch, we were invited to a fika at Annika and Olle's with friends and relatives. We filled up on lots of sweets cooked by the lovely ladies of Aspö— although Bosse contributed with delicious raisin cookies too!

We capped the evening by decamping with Olle, Annika, her friend Lena, and Bosse and Gun for a picnic barbecue on the nearby island, Lilla Alskäret. Bosse brought along the flounder he had smoked, which was delicious. The little island was beautiful, and the evening turned out sunny and calm. To say it was perfect doesn't do it justice. I took a whole bunch of photos, but it'll take me a few days to post them all. It will be worth the wait!

This morning, I needed to put my boat up for the season, and it was Olle to the rescue yet again. First, we took off the motor. I made a stand for it in my shed, but it was a heck of a chore to get it up to our house. It was also a lot of work to get the boat up on the shore at a neighbour's land. Olle towed us over to the spot, which was a wild ride! We had to navigate shallow water and a reed bed, plus lots of muscle power, to get the boat high enough to be safe. (Lots of fun photos are on their way!)

I am very sorry to have worked Olle so hard! As he said, we can't do this every year. I have to come up with a better place to put my boat and motor which isn't so reliant on muscle power.

Tomorrow, sadly, we have to leave in the afternoon. I don't want to think about that just yet.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Östanviks Gård

Our neighbouring island of Nämdö is known mostly (to me, at least) as the home of Guns Livs, the grocery store, and its beautiful church.

But Nämdö is much more than that, of course. It's been inhabited since the 13th century and farmed since the 16th. Today, about a hundred people live on the island full-time. It has a number of great walking trails and even a few gravel roads along its length.

There is a big barn on the east side of the island at Östanvik, visible from the sea on the way to Guns. It's the site of a farm which has been on that site for many years, now operated under the auspices of the Skärgårdsstiftelsen.

The farm shop at Östanviks Gård is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays during the summer. Since we have a boat now, Sooz and I decided to pop over to have a look. The weather today wasn't great, but at least it wasn't raining. We've decided that we can't wait for perfect weather whenever we want to take a trip!

We had a fun time. I'm happy to report that our boating skills are improving, and we made the journey with no fuss. The farm itself was really nice. We got to chat with Stina and Jon about their life on the island as farmers. We picked up some fresh bread, local spinach, and their lamb salami. Photos from the trip are on the July photo page.

Having a boat makes a big difference. To know that we can make a trip pretty much whenever we want changes the way we think about being here for longer visits. We're no longer reliant on the boat and bus timetables...or the generosity of our neighbours. Now we can live much more like the locals!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A moose festival!

Our mystery guests were indeed Margaret and Janne, who visited yesterday afternoon, bringing dinner provisions with them!

We invited Annika and Olle over, and enjoyed a fine meal prepared by our friends. The evening was capped by a visit by the mama moose, who was nibbling on leaves quite near the house.

This morning, the moose returned, along with her baby. All of us got an unprecedentedly long look, as they hung around all morning.

Marg and Janne took the mid-afternoon boat to Saltsjöbaden, which makes a connection all the way into the center of Stockholm. I think we'll try the same next week, it should be a beautiful ride.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sunshine, suntans, painting, and mystery guests

The weather's been super the past couple days, and we have taken full advantage! We awoke yesterday with pleasently few ill-effects of our marathon running the day before. Olle and Annika invited us on a boat trip to Stora Alskäret, their favourite secluded island, so we packed a lunch and hung out on the rocks. Olle and I did a bit of exploring and picture-taking; the girls topped up their tans.

When we got back, Sooz and I decided to start painting the little house. We started on the back, as that isn't much seen, so we could safely practice our techniques. It took us about 3 hours and turned out great. I'm sorry I didn't take any before/after photos.

I rectified my photographic omission this morning when we painted the front of the house. If it were only as easy as the movie makes it seem!

We'll leave the house sides to another day, as we're preparing now for evening guests. Any guesses who?

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Aspö Marathon

It was a wonderful day! I managed to last all 12 laps (14.6 miles) as I had hoped. Each lap around the island is about 2 kilometres (the official measure is 1960 meters. My Apple Watch pegged it at about 2150.)

We had a great turnout. Annica Bergman did a super job setting everything up. The race was held to raise money for a children's cancer charity. Her partner, Anders, (our resident priest), finished the full marathon distance. We saw lots of new people from neighbouring islands who joined in. It was quite the crowd!

Even more impressive, Sooz managed 7 laps herself. (I say "more impressive", as I run regularly, and Sooz doesn't.) We are both feeling fairly sore and worn-out this evening. But we wouldn't have missed a minute of today.

Annica and her fellow Aspö residents should be rightfully proud today. Photos have been posted, of course.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Sunny Saturday

Sailing race for the grown-ups The rain of the past few days seems to have passed at last. By midday, the sun started to shine, and it's turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. Thankfully, the forecast looks decent as well.

Today was the graduation day for the sailing school. The learning sailors all received a diploma. The day ended with a race by a few grown-ups, which was great fun.

We had a great dinner with Annika and Olle last night. Sooz made lemon chicken, and four hours passed effortlessly. They brought me a few boating gifts for my birthday; two lovely cushions and a waterproof pouch for my iPhone and iPad. All of those will be put to good use!

Tomorrow, we're going to the church at Nämdö, as our neighbor Anders will be conducting a service there. It's a beautiful little church, and it will be fun to see Anders "in action", so to speak.

We'll have pasta tomorrow night, as Monday is the day of the second Aspö Marathon, 24 laps of the island. I am going to try to do a half-marathon, myself. I do a few laps most mornings, and I think I can do a dozen! Stay tuned to see if I manage it....

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Monday was rainy, which was expected, but still a bummer after the gorgeous past few days. We decided to experiment by taking a Uber ride from Marcia & Rutger's all the way to Mölnvik for our shopping. It was a heck of a lot more convenient and quicker than the walk/train/tube/bus connection, although a bit pricey at 700 kronor. Still, I'd have no problem doing that again if needed.

Because of the speedy ride, we were able to shop at our leisure for a change, and Sooz replaced all of our spoiled frozen goods. Our bus ride to Stavsnäs was heavily-laden but uneventful.

There's been development at Stavsnäs harbour which makes a wait there much more pleasent. A nice pizzeria opened last year, with a bar as well, so it's easy to enjoy a beer on a sunny day. Even more exciting is this year's opening of Sytrarna Delselius, a branch of the famous and delicious bakery/deli in Värmdö. There's now an ice cream shop next door, too!

It was good we had these options, because the skies opened after we got off the bus. Fortunately, the rain stopped just as we got on our boat, and our walk home from the dock was a little wet, although it could've been far worse.

Yesterday was mixed cloudy and sunny. I was able to fix our ceiling fan with a bit of inventive thinking (and a spare part from Jula). I was quite proud of that! We also contacted our insurance company regarding the loss of all our food. Sooz completed the reports; she took pictures of all the spoiled stuff. We helped Olle and Annika take down a big branch near their house and Olle lent me his big gas trimmer to clear the path by our house. His made my electric trimmer look like a toothbrush!

It's rainy today so we're relaxing and doing indoor projects. It looks like the weather will gradually improve over the coming days, so we should be able to start painting the little house soon. A bunch of fun things are planned over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more updates.

Also the July photo page is updated on a regular basis, so take a look!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Grant's on his way home :(

We're here with Marcia and Rutger today. We came into the city yesterday as Grant had a 0630 flight this morning back to Boston. We're going to enjoy the nice weather today and go back to Aspö tomorrow after a bit of shopping.

A few more photos are on the Flickr page for your enjoyment.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Catching up

We had another beautiful day today (and it's going to be nice the next few days at least!) We were a bit jetlagged so it was a lazy day. We managed to get the party lights up with a little pulley system so I don't have to climb a tree every time I want to string them.

Grant and I also retrieved the boat from Bosse. He drove us around the island to point out the dangerous points of navigation, and then we tooled around on our own for a bit.

Today, we're going to make our inaugural trip to Nämdö in our boat. We're going to have lunch and do a bit of shopping to replace our lost food. I hope we'll be back from our sea voyage to post again tomorrow!

UPDATE: We survived. It was a lot of fun, although I got a bit wet there in the back of the boat. The journey took us about 25 minutes each way. The navigation (with Sooz's help) was straightforward. The only problem was the '3 Stooges' routine every time we went to moor the boat! But we managed to do it safely in the end, even if it might have been less than elegant.

It's nice to know we can get to Nämdö pretty much anytime we want, at least in times of decent weather. More photos available on the July Flickr page.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My gosh what a day!

Things started out with a problem right at the start. The flight Sooz and I were taking from Texas was nearly 3 hours late. This meant we were going to miss our connection in London. Grant was going to meet up with us on that flight, flying in from Boston.

I talked to British Airways, who put us on a later flight, but kept Grant on his original flight. The upshot was that we all met in Stockholm, just 2 ½ hours late. Our poor boy had to hang around Arlanda all that time, suffering from jet lag!

We rescheduled our taxi boat to 7PM, and took a taxi to Slussen to catch the bus to Stavsnäs. Sooz and Grant got off a stop early to shop at the ICA in Stavsnäs for fresh food. (Remember, I had stocked the freezer on our last visit.) I schlepped all the bags off the bus at the harbor and waited.

Everything worked out just fine, and we arrived the dock with all our stuff before 7:30. It was a beautiful sunny evening, and everything was perfect after a loooooong day.

That was, until we found that there was no electricity at the house at all! Sooz noticed the small first. All of the food I so expensively and laboriously brought the house had spoiled. Plus we had no water, no fan, no lights, and no Cinderella.

I asked Tony for help and we troubleshot the problem to my meter reader. He called Vattenfall (the power company) on my behalf. They told him a repair team would be out within two hours. Since it was already after 8PM, I thought this was optimistic, but then again, I'd never bet against Tony. The man knows his stuff.

Tony and Ann-Catrin gave us shelf space in their fridge, and also fed us, as we were starved. We went back to the house to await the repair team. Sure enough, they showed up near Tony's dock at 10PM. Two workmen, Albert and Stefan, hiked over and replaced the faulty meter. By 10:30, we had power again! We certainly couldn't have done any of this without Tony's help.

I've written Vattenfall about compensation for the loss of a lot of food, plus the trouble and smell we have to deal with. We'll see what they say about that.

But besides that wrinkle, all is well. Grant is with us, and the weather is perfect. The July photo album has started.