Glad Midsommar

Today is Sweden’s second biggest holiday and many’s favourite holiday, including mine, as it’s all about being together with friends and family, eating, drinking and having fun! Midsommarafton (Midsummers Eve) is part of an old pagan holiday and goes back some thousand years,  celebrating summer and light! It is always celebrated on the Friday closest to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. In majority of Sweden it doesn’t go dark during this time of the year.

Most people celebrate Midsommarafton in the country side, if you go to Stockholm this weekend it will probably be a bit quiet, there might even be some tumbleweed blowing down the streets. My childhood midsummers eve would start with strawberries in my breakfast cereal, eaten on the veranda listening to the birds singing. Then I’d go out and pick two large midsummers bouquet’s with wild flowers, one for mum and one for our neighbour. When we were little kids, we would make and raise a maypole too and do the silly little dances and maybe play some games. At an older age, there would be the sillunch, with new potatoes in dill, with pickled herrings in different flavours and ‘nubbe’ aka snaps. Followed later on by a BBQ in the early evening, finished off with strawberry cake – yum!  And the evening is usually spent sitting outside on the veranda, eating and drinking, chatting and laughing the night away, rudely interrupted by the pesky mosquitos. And best of all is the bright summer night. I still marvel at the light blue sky that never goes dark, it’s the most wonderful, magical and empowering thing the northern Swedish summers night, it just fills me with warm gooey happiness inside and reminds me of why I love Sweden so much.

So today I will have to go to work with a heavy heart and a strong sense of homesickness and totally against my cultural heritage and tradition, I wonder if I can apply for it as a day off…. Although I will pop into Scandi Kitchen and try to get a jar of pickled herring and maybe even some snaps and teach Mat some snaps songs, it’s about time he learns some more Swedish culture, so I’ll start with the most important ones.  Wishing you all a Glad Midsommar!

Here is a little fun video about midsummers and some of my own photos of it.

A day trip in Stockholm

For those that have a little bit more time to spend in Stockholm, you might want to widen your horizons and see something else than just the city. If that’s the case I know just the place to go to. In fact I can suggest two, I’ll share them in the order of favouritism.

The first one is Fjäderholmarna, a little island in the Stockholm Archipelago, located only a 25 min boat ride from the city, it’s described as where the archipelago begins. The boats depart either from Slussen (the boats from Slussen are my favourite as they are the old fashioned ones) or from Nybroplan every hour and half hour from 10 am. And will cost you around £10 for an open return ticket. You can buy your ticket on board, but they only accept cash. Otherwise you can buy in advance as well.

There are a couple of places to choose from if you fancy having lunch out there, or if you want to you can even take the boat out there for an evening trip for dinner. Fjäderholmarnaskrog, have a few different venues out there to suit all budgets. Or if you fancy a more budget friendly option, why not go to the shop before you jump on the boat and buy some food to bring with you and have a little picnic on the cliffs by the water! There are a few handicraft shops out there and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the glass blowers! A trip to Fjäderholmarna will not leave you disappointed and it’s also very nice to get to see Stockholm from the water front and you can not beat fresh sea air!

My second tip for a half day trip or evening walk is Tantolunden’s Allotment area.  If you fancy a little breather from the hustle and bustle of shopping and sightseeing, make your way to Skanstull tube station, from here it’s only a short walk to the wonderful area of Tantolunden, a large park and allotment area on the south west part of Södermalm.  If you’re anything like me when it comes to things in miniature, you’ll love this place! If you’re a keen gardner or maybe just like looking at beautiful greenery and gardens, this is the place for you! There are a ton of allotments here. And when I say allotment, you may think of the scrummie looking ones next to motorways outside of London, these couldn’t be further from it. They are more like a miniature of a Swedish summer house paradise, complete with little mini cottages and picked fences and gorgeous little miniature gardens!  You can continue your walk along the gravel path, lined with allotments and wild nature on one side and the water on the other, it’s hard to believe that you are in a European capital when you walk along here. It’s so serene and beautiful, like a little bit of countryside paradise in the city. You can even stop off for a fika at Cafe Rhodos. Check out this blog for lot’s of wonderful photos of what Tantolunden Allotments has to offer! 

View from inside one of the allotment cottages 

More photos here

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Today is the official start of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. As I’m writing this I can see the rain drizzle outside and hear the people buzzing on the street outside, in full go preparing. I’ve been up early baking scones and full of positive hope that the rain will pass and there will be, if not sunny, at least dry out there. For today is our Wilton Way Diamond Jubilee Street Party! Last year for the Royal Wedding  they had a very successful street party just outside our mews, there were a rumoured 2000 or so partying along down our street and it was a truly magnificent day! So I’m hoping that today will be just as fabulous too, come rain or shine!

In the last few weeks, I’ve seen Union Jacks everywhere I’ve turned and I love that people get so involved, there seems to be a real sense of community about the whole thing. I think that in this time of day, when the economy isn’t looking great for the country and we’re struggling a bit, I think that that we find a sense of comfort in that, after everything that has happened in the last 60 years, after all the changes that Britain has gone through, the one thing that has remained the same is the Queen.  Needless to say I’m a bit of a royalist and I think the Queen rocks! She also reminds me of my grandmother, maybe that’s why I like her so much, either way – I will be celebrating her this weekend. I will put my Swedish ‘crown’ aside and be truly British! God Save The Queen!  Here are a few pictures to get you in the spirit.

The Coronation 1952

Shop window on Earlham Street Covent Garden

Monmouth Street Covent Garden

Union Jack car on Regent Street

Union Jack house on Wick Road in Teddington

Silver Jubilee Party on Navarino Road, around the corner from our house.