Our week in Sweden…

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This post is a little late but as I’ve been doing so much research in the last two weeks I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and consolidate. We recently spent a week in Sweden as part of our holiday and also for my research. I’m writing a case study on the Decorated Farmhouses of Halsingland. (Apologies to any Swedish readers I don’t know how to type the accents above the letters on my computer.)

We flew to Stockholm last Monday and since our final destination was a 3 hour drive further, I booked us a night either side at the airport hotel. We stayed at the Clarion Arlanda which was really nice. The room was really comfortable and they had a good restaurant and great breakfast so we were quite well rested and comfy. We also had a dip in the heated outdoor pool which was great fun. After a month in Paris it was refreshing to finally go to a restaurant where they had a baby seat! It’s a such a game changer when you’re eating out with a baby. Further to that, pretty much everywhere we went to eat in Sweden had a baby seat from Sally’s burger joint to a random local convenient store with hot pies. It was great!

On Tuesday morning we picked up our rental car and drove 3 hours north of Stockholm to Langhed in Halsingland to the BnB where we were staying. Our accomodation was lovely and quirky. It was one of those BnBs where the owner was a collector of all sorts of things and had put a lot of detail into decorating the space. This was a little tough to manage with Baby B who crawls everywhere and is fast becoming a force of destruction but we managed alright.

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Our BnB owner was so kind and even ended up being a translator for me for some of my research. One Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we drove out to Gastgivars, Erik-Anders and Kristofers farms respectively and on Saturday we went to both Pallars and Jon-Lars farms as they were only walking distance from our BnB.

I honestly think that we are so lucky to have visited this place. The decorated farmhouses are classed as a world heritage site by UNESCO but they were only inscribed on the list in 2012 and clearly don’t attract a lot of tourists compared to say, the Pyramids of Giza. However, they are really interesting and the families that own them care very deeply about them. We were such a novelty coming all the way from Australia. Even the local newspaper was interested in doing a story on me coming to do research on the houses. Unfortunately due to scheduling it didn’t happen but it felt special all the same.

Being in the country side and the nature of my interviews being with families in their own homes, I was able to bring the Husband and Baby B with me to all of my visits. This made things so much easier as I didn’t have to worry about breastfeeding etc and the Husband was able to sightsee too.

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I interviewed the owners at Gastgivars in the sunny courtyard created by the traditional style of constructing the farm buildings in groups of 3 or 4.

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I particularly loved that the family at Kristofers still use the festivities room at their farm for parties.

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I was fascinated to hear that the artists who created the faux-marble effect in some of the houses used to sneak in some little figures and motifs as a sort of signature – such as this gorgeous kissing couple at Erik-Anders.

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The beautiful main house at Pallars is still the family’s residence. I can’t even imagine living in a house like this one – how beautiful!

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The main house at Jon-Lars is also the owner’s residence but a few special rooms are set aside and preserved in their original condition. I was amazed to find that so much of the decoration in these houses was un-restored. It had simply been so well kept over the years that nothing needed doing.

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The people who live in these houses clearly have a lot of pride in them and in their history. So many beautiful little items have been kept over the years such as these little shoes. This adds something very intimate to this heritage site as you can really understand that these are not just museums, they were or still are family homes.

We were so fortunate to be able to visit these houses – definitely worth the trip if you are in the region but make sure to plan ahead as many of these houses are only open by appointment.

Sweden also turned on the beautiful spring weather for us. We arrived expecting icy Scandinavian chill but instead had glorious spring sunshine and were in singlets and t-shirts most of the time.

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The following Sunday we drove on back to the airport hotel. The drive was somewhat harrowing as B lost it about half way and I had to climb into the back and attempt to entertain him which was a bit double edged because once I was in the backseat with him he wanted to climb across into my arms. Although his increased waking hours are great for sightseeing they are not so great for longer drives but I guess that’s just how it goes. It was only a couple of hours and we all survived.

It also happened to be mothers day so once we arrived I was treated to another lovely swim and a decadent meal at the airport hotel restaurant once again with a sneaky glass of champagne – A lovely end to our  Sweden trip before our flight to Portugal the next day.

RM

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