Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Vänersborg - Monday, 29 August

Lake Vänern is Sweden's largest lake and the third largest in Europe (after Ladoga and Onega lakes in Russia). We were due to spend much of today crossing it, with a stop to visit a castle. However, all passengers were summoned to a meeting after breakfast where it was announced that, after much careful thought, the captain had decided that the weather conditions were such that he did not think that the passengers should remain on board the ship for the crossing. Rain and wind would have made it too choppy for safety and comfort. Therefore, we were to be bussed around the lake.

First of all, we walked alongside the canal for a km or so to Sjötorp and spent some time in a canal museum. There were reconstructed parts of a captain's bridge and living accommodation of how boats using the canal would have been in years gone by.

We boarded our coach here and drove for about an hour to Läckö Slott (castle), although first we had a leisurely lunch at the adjacent restaurant. It was salmon caught from Lake Vänern and it was so good.

We had an English-speaking guide for the castle. Originally built as a fortified castle in 1298 as a few houses surrounded by a wall, it was added to and built upwards at various times in its history. It is now a national monument. It looks so unlike any castle in Britain.

Leaving the castle, we drove for only a short distance before stopping for coffee and cakes at a cafe at Spiken, on Lake Vänern. This was a very leisurely stop as we had to allow sufficient time to enable our ship to reach our overnight stop at Vänersborg. It was all very pleasant. Our drive then continued and we reached Vänersborg at 7pm and the ship appeared 15 minutes later. It was actually quite a tiring day but really very well managed as a last minute alternative.

It was "the Captain's Dinner" this evening. Most people dressed up a little bit. We reach the end of our journey on the water tomorrow.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Hajstorp on the Göta Kanal - Sunday, 28 August

Leaving Motala at 7.30am, we very soon entered Lake Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden. It was vast. We went about 6km southwards and moored in the town of Vadstena, right next to the moated castle.

Our first visit, led by a local guide, was to the 14th century convent church of St. Bridget (Birgitta) and its adjacent buildings. Bridget never lived to see it built. She had quite an interesting life, though. Born in 1303, she married at 16, had some six children and her husband died relatively young. She then decided the contemplative life was for her and wanted to found the convent. She needed the pope's consent so travelled to Rome. Unfortunately, he was in Avignon so she stayed in Rome to wait for him. She waited for twenty years. The pope then gave her the consent she wanted and she conveyed this and the plans for the building of the convent to those she remained in Vadstena. However, Bridget died in Rome in 1373.

In the church were two medieval triptychs, both very intricate.

Returning to the castle, we went in and explored the various rooms. The castle building itself was constructed and added to over several centuries.

We then crossed Lake Vättern, about 20km, to Karlsborg, through a short stretch of narrow canal into another lake (whose name I don't know at the moment). We went north to enter a lock on the canal at Forsvik, where a welcome committee greeted us — a merry band of singers clutching fresh flowers and playing hymns on accordions and brass, a tradition started in 1915 by the late Henry Kindbom. His family continues to bless every ship that passes by.

Rain set in during the evening. The canal was extremely narrow in places. We came to a fork, where the right fork was the original canal, which is no longer used by boats such as ours as the bend is too sharp. We went to the left which is now the main route. However, we were able to see, a little way up the old route, a stone obelisk which marks the highest point on the canal at 91.5m.

We passed by a tiny ferry, for foot passengers only.

We have moored for the night at Hajstorp, immediately above the Thomas Telford lock. He was brought in to advise on the construction of the canal.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Motala on the Göta Kanal - Saturday, 27 August

We had an excursion this morning straight from the boat. We walked maybe 1km to the church and ruined cloister at Vreta, which dates back to around 1100. This was the very first nunnery in Sweden. There wasn't really very much left of the nunnery but the inside of the church was interesting. In particular, there is a chapel with coffins bearing the remains of various members of the Scottish Douglas family, believed to be mercenaries who fought in the Thirty Years War. It really is difficult to over estimate the effects of that period of upheaval in the heart of Europe. Although the main theatre of the war was what is now Germany, the Scots were in the pay of the King of Sweden.

While we were off the boat, it made its way up a staircase of locks. We were then on the boat for most of the day except for another staircase where it was fascinating to watch the boat make its leisurely way upwards.

We are moored tonight in Motala, a sizeable town. Here, there is a motor museum which we have visited this evening. Lots of interesting exhibits, memorabilia, etc. and there was also a separate collection of old radios and televisions. Very well worth visiting.

Berg, near Linköping, on the Göta Kanal - Friday, 26 August

After breakfast this morning, a local English-speaking guide took us around the ruin of a fortified small castle only a few yards from the boat. It was fascinating and very much tied up with the Swedish monarchy during the 15th and 16th centuries about we, of course, knew nothing. Personally, I'm atrocious at British history, let alone that of other countries. Having said that, I'm learning a little about the Thirty Years War (in a way) by re-reading "1632" by Eric Flint. If you want a serious study of this period then this book probably isn't for you.

At Mem, we entered the Göta Kanal. The weather today started sunny and clear and stayed that way all day, getting quite hot - up to around 30C, apparently.  The boat moored at Söderköping, a lovely town which obviously attracts a lot of visitors. The town was hosting a medieval couple of days and so there were many people around wearing period clothing. There were also many stalls selling leather, wooden and decorative goods with an emphasis on what might have been for sale in medieval times. It is an annual event.

The boat was stopping at Söderköping for a couple of hours. I took a walk up the canal towpath for about 2km. There were a number of locks along the way and I just waited for the boat to come along. I'd taken my Kindle with me to occupy me whilst waiting and dangled my feet in the water of a lock to cool them. I climbed back on board and the boat continued its journey. The canal is very attractive, certainly at this stage. It passes through farming country, mainly arable but we saw a few cattle and horses. There have been a few more locks and also a few swing bridges where roads cross the canal. There was also a lift bridge, carrying a railway.

The journey hasn't been all canal. There have been a few large lakes with the canal joining them up. I assume that the lakes were there before the canal was built. We have moored tonight at Berg, a small village near the town of Linköping.

We have got to know a number of our fellow travellers. At lunch and dinner, we sit at the same table which is shared with four other English-speakers. They are an elderly couple who live in Halifax, Nova Scotia although they are Scottish. They have lived in Canada since 1965. The other pair are sisters, older than us, both widowed. One has been a teacher and has led quite a normal life. The other worked for the Red Cross all over the world and is quite an intrepid traveller.

For breakfast, we sit anywhere. We shared a table this morning with a German couple from Leipzig.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The ship Diana, on the Göta Kanal - Thursday, 25 August

This morning, we went by taxi to the quayside on the island in Stockholm where Gamla Stan is. Unfortunately, the taxi driver was unable to get us as far as we wanted to go as some roads were closed and the traffic was chaotic. He was most apologetic. The reason was due to a state visit by the US vice-president, Joe Biden. So we got out and walked the couple of hundred yards or so.

Our destination was a boat on the quayside, the Diana. It is not a big boat. It was built in 1931. It is 31.66m long and has 28 cabins on three decks. They are small cabins. A lot of them have bunk beds. Think railway sleeper compartments and that will give an idea of their size. Ours is a little larger and has two single beds (which are very comfortable). Each cabin has a wash basin but certainly no en suite. On each deck are loos and a couple of showers.

On the middle deck is the dining room, in one corner of which is the ship's library, comprising a selection of books about Sweden and the canal, mainly in Swedish but some in German and English. There is a walkway around the middle deck and, at the bow end, an almost vertical set of steps up to what is called the shelter deck. There is seating up there and it is under cover. However, we can't walk all the way round as the captain's bridge is at the stern end.

We set off from Stockholm this morning and will be travelling for six days along the Göta Kanal, arriving in Göteborg (Gothenburg) next week. We had a stop for one and a half hours this afternoon at the coastal village of Trosa, the old part of which was rather quaint. We cast off again at 6.30pm and we are due to moor for the night at Stegeborg around 1.30am. We are out in the Baltic at the moment and don't actually enter the canal until the middle of tomorrow morning. It is quite choppy and I'm feeling just a little bit queasy!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm - Wednesday, 24 August

There is now to be a total change for the next week. We have left the camper van in what we hope will be secure parking. We then caught the fast train service into central Stockholm - it took only twenty minutes. Tickets are bought from a machine. The single adult fare is 280SEK and we nearly bought two but thankfully didn't rush. On closer inspection, during the summer a ticket can be bought by two people travelling together for only 300SEK, a massive saving.

Arriving at Stockholm station, our hotel, the Clarion Sign, was only a few minutes walk away and we are on the fifth floor. It is very modern and mainly glass. I took a walk this afternoon to see where the next part of our Scandinavian odyssey will start tomorrow. It took me through the Gamla Stan (old town) and by the royal palace.

We have been out for a pizza this evening at a restaurant called Giro on Sveavägan and it was excellent. I'll say nothing about the cost of the two glasses of red wine - it was very nice but back home we'd have expected the whole bottle for the same price. On the way back to our hotel, we passed by the Adolf Fredrik Church, a very large building in gardens. Lights were on inside so we went in and caught the last five minutes of an organ recital.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Wäsby Golfklubb, Upplands Väsby - Tuesday, 23 August

Our night was very peaceful but there was noise around 8am over the nearby road. It was an articulated lorry and trailer shunting about. I assumed it had come on to this road due to a satnav error. However, I went over to see what it was about. It was a Swedish registered lorry but the driver was Dutch. He was delivering a house for assembly on a site nearby but access was limited. Therefore, he unhitched the trailer, left it and went off with half the house. Then he came back, switched trailers and went with the other half. He drives to the UK at certain times of the year delivering flowers from nurseries in The Netherlands.

We drove first to the small town of Heby in search of a tourist office (and their wifi) but couldn't find it. Therefore, we went on to Uppsala which was our main destination today. Satnav directed us to where Pocket Earth told us the tourist office should be but it wasn't. Making enquiries in a travel agency, it moved about three years ago to near the rail station.

Uppsala is a university city, evidenced by the number of bicycles. For a city, there didn't seem to be much traffic.

As it was convenient, we had a look round the cathedral which, apparently, is the largest church in Scandinavia. It was certainly big. The wall paintings were attractive, although a couple looked rather Laura Ashley. In the cathedral was the tomb of Emanuel Swedenborg. I had heard of him but Amanda hadn't. I knew he was the founder of Swedenborgism (or ... borgianism) but couldn't remember what that was. Sad really.

We then went to find the tourist office where the wifi was super fast. On the way we visited The English Shop which sells foody things from the UK, albeit at higher prices. We just bought a tube of Colmans English Mustard. We thought a city break here would be worth doing.

We stopped for lunch on the edge of woodland a few miles out of Uppsala. A
A path going into the woods had a sign for the Upplandsleden, presumably a walking trail.

We set the satnav for Sigtuna, a small town which we liked the look of and was mentioned in Lonely Planet. There was a camper stop at the marina but it had no electric so we went on to another that has, which is where we are now. It is a golf club with ten places for camper vans. There are decent shower facilities and even a restaurant. There has been a golf tournament going on with a barbecue (until rain brought it to an end) and live music. It's 9.40 now and all is quiet.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

In a road loop, north east of Heby - Monday, 22 August

We were very sorry to leave the excellent site at Färnebofjärdens. It was just about perfect, although the showers were a bit odd (I can only speak for the men's, of course). There were two showers next to each other. There was a plastic curtain and then a little outer area where the clothes hooks and coin machines were. Then, there were individual curtains to pull across the shower cubicle. No great amount of privacy. It wasn't a problem; the arrangement just seemed a little bit odd.

We drove a few miles to Gysinge where there was a nicely arranged visitor centre giving interesting (and just enough) information about the Färnebofjärdens National Park, its flora and fauna. I collected all manner of leaflets about it and the other national parks.

We then drove over two bridges spanning quite wide rivers on to a large forested island whose name, of any, I don't know. Looking at the map, though, it's shape is remarkably like that of India. We stopped at what seemed to be the hub, where there were a couple of loos, information boards and numerous walking trails. We did a circular one of 1km through the woodland. It skirted by a river at one point and was quite magical.

We rather had time to kill today. There was nothing particular to do. We didn't want to be too close to Uppsala as that is where we need to be tomorrow night. We pulled off a road and had a leisurely lunch in the sunshine. We thought about stopping there for the night but it was only about 3pm and the air was full of something like dandelion seeds being blown about. So we ambled on. We had identified a camp site not too far away but were quite happy to have a "wild camp". There was a possible spot by a lake so we drove about three miles down a single track rough road but it wasn't really suitable. Driving then past the camp site, we didn't really like the look of it (too big, for a start), we we went in search of the perfect wild camp. A longish loop road looked promising on the map but proved not to be. Along that same road, though, we have settled on a disused grassy track. Nothing will come along it as it is a loop off the nearby road. We obviously wanted to avoid stopping on a track which, to all intents and purposes was unused but then a vehicle appears apparently from nowhere (usually as it is someone's driveway).

Monday, 22 August 2016

Färnebofjärdens camp site, north west of Uppsala - Sunday, 21 August

There is forest either side and behind the site. This morning, before breakfast, I went off discovering. Immediately outside the site entrance, there was a path into the forest. After a few yards, it forked. I took the left fork and a clear path followed parallel to the road although out of sight of it. It emerged among some red painted buildings in a clearing. Outside one of them were some simple tables and bench seats. There was no-one around and I wondered if this was some sort of summer retreat or camp. I crossed the road and found a very wide track going back parallel to the road going back on the other side, although at a lower level. The road carries very little traffic and I met no-one.

Paul and Sheila left to continue their travels and we exchanged email addresses. Paul maintains a website, a real labour of love, detailing their annual trips in their camper van since 2003. The address is http://langford-associates.com. I have dipped into it and their 2015 trip to Finland looks as if it may be useful for when we get there in early September as we haven't planned anything and it's useful to have some recommended camp sites.

Around lunchtime, I walked to the neighbouring village of Österfärnebro, about 1.5 miles each way, as there is a little supermarket there. The main thing needed was milk. I was thirsty so bought a litre carton of lingonberry juice drink. Lingonberry sauce is traditionally served with the favourite Swedish meal of meatballs. The drink tasted very similar to cranberry juice.

After a lazy afternoon reading The Sunday Times, a walk was called for. I followed a waymarked trail for some way, over duckboards (as parts were boggy, being close to the lake) and through forest. The trail was indicated by an orange line on a map from the site reception and, on the ground, by orange paint on trees. It was impossible to get lost as the path was so clear and there was always an orange splash within sight.  The forest was so quiet and still. If I'd had time to walk the complete trail, after 5km I would have reached the village of Gysinge. Here, there is a national park information centre which we plan to visit tomorrow. Some of the duckboards were lethal and I measured my length on one that was sloping a bit. Slightly dirty trousers and my dignity dented but otherwise no harm done.

In all, I've walked 12km today, according to my pedometer, which isn't bad, although I'm not sure how accurate it is.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Färnebofjärdens camp site, north west of Uppsala - Saturday, 20 August

First thing this morning we chatted to a Swedish couple about ferries to Finland and they thought a good idea might be to get a ferry first of all to the Finnish island of Åland (which lies much closer to Sweden than Finland) and then get another ferry from there to Turku in Finland. We shall look into it. We haven't booked anything yet.

We don't seem to have done much today except chasing around trying to find wifi! Towns visited without success were Hofors and Hedemora but we met with success in Avesta outside a Swedbank. The blog needs to be posted each day if possible and The Times downloaded.

After a late lunch stop, we began to think about where we might spend the night. There was a camp site nearby which we drove a mile down the road to have a look at. It would have been fine, I think, but I mentioned that there was another one about half an hour away that averaged 9.3/10 reviews so we headed for that. It was a lovely drive along winding forest roads. It is on the edge of the Färnebofjärden National Park and looks out over the large Färnebofjärden lake. Once again, we have struck lucky. It is a site that is idyllically placed and just has the essential facilities. It is by no means full as the Swedish summer season has finished. Apparently, the children go back to school the day after tomorrow.

I didn't mention that, yesterday, I had chatted to an English couple at the Kopparberget Copper Mine. They had an Auto-Sleeper Trooper (the one with the pop up roof) a 51 plate, with a Cotswold Motor Homes sticker in the back window. We bought our camper from the same firm. Quite a coincidence. Anyway, I thought no more of it but they are on our site tonight! A further coincidence is that, they having owned their camper from new, it was sold to them by the very same man at Cotswold that sold us ours. They are Paul and Sheila from Leicestershire. They are on a multi week tour of Sweden and have made several tours of Scandinavia over the last few years.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Edskens camp site, nr Hofors - Friday, 19 August

I slept very well and wasn't disturbed by traffic noise in the Biltema car park. We headed for the Kopparberget Copper Mine just outside Falun. This mine, at one time, supplied two thirds of the world's copper. In the 17th century, it was the biggest copper mine in the world. It has been worked for many centuries although closed in 1992. The workings and buildings can still be seen and there is a visitor centre. For an additional cost, there is a guided underground tour.

After lunch, we drove into Falun and visited the Stora Kopparbergs Kyrka, a late 14th century church which is Falun's oldest building. It was big and the painted vaulted ceilings and wooden carvings were impressive. We then went on to the Dalarnas Museum. Our visit was necessarily rushed as I messed up the parking automat and only got parking for twenty minutes (because I haven't reset my watch, which continues to show UK time). There was a display of Hagstrom electric guitars (as played by David Bowie and Frank Zappa). Also a collection of paintings by modern painters. There was quite a bit we'd have liked to return to see and Falun looked a place we'd like to see more of.

We identified a couple of camp sites close by to enable us to go back into town tomorrow. However, the first was full to overflowing as it was hosting a rock festival. The second was full because of the effect of the first. Therefore, we decided to place a little distance between us and Falun. After some torrential rain along the way, on the E16 just before the town of Hofors, we alighted upon Edskens camp site, on the edge of a large lake that bears the same name. Virtually all of the units here are largish touring caravans that are probably here for the season as the site is in a lovely position. However, they found a pitch for us. The facilities are good and they have a small on site restaurant where, tonight, they were offering a Greek buffet meal. We opted for that, it being our wedding anniversary. I think it was our first evening meal out on this trip. It was very good.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Biltema car park, Borlänge - Thursday, 18 August

Today, we had something planned for the morning and another thing for the afternoon. First, we drove to the little town of Insjön. We visited the Clas Ohlson Museum. Now, I'd never heard of him, but his name is known in the UK, it seems. In 1918, he started in business on his own, selling DIY manuals and technical drawings. He had a bicycle repair shop and sold plans and materials by mail order for woodworking machines, kayaks, radio receivers, steam engines and grandfather clocks. Now, the name is known for large retail stores in several countries. I googled the name and there are Clas Ohlson stores in the UK, although some are currently closing as sales have been lower than expected. We went in the adjacent store and bought a few things, including a Multi-trimmer, which means that I will get a haircut maybe in the next couple of days!

Amanda navigated us to an interesting place for our sandwich lunch. We swung off the main road, over a railway and along a track uphill for a mile or so. The camper didn't like it! At the end of the track, was a little car park at the entrance to a nature reserve. I wandered off into the woodland, where there was a well used path with others signed off it to various places.

After lunch, we motored to Borlänge, a largish town not far away. The town's famous son is the Swedish tenor, Jussi Björling (1911-1960). We visited the little museum that bears his name, which is very much a labour of love. During his life, he toured Europe and the USA and made many recordings of operatic songs. We bought a CD of some of his music.

A visit to Sweden wouldn't be complete without a visit to an IKEA store, which is what I did this evening. We may pop in tomorrow morning before we leave Borlänge. We are spending the night in the car park of a Biltema store in an area reserved for camper vans. There are decent loos in the store until 8pm and again at 7am. There is some traffic noise but for a free overnight stop we can't complain.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Tällberg, on Siljan - Wednesday, 17 August

Just a short outing from the site today. We drove the scenic route through a few villages to the next town, Leksand. It hosts a large festival each June when some 20,000 people come and dance around a maypole (presumably not at the same time). We had come, mainly, to see the church, parts of which were built in the 13th century. It has an onion shaped dome. Inside was blue painted seating and much gold leaf. The organ was impressive. There was a young man playing the organ, although in short bursts and once, either he or another man, sang something.

We move on tomorrow.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tällberg, on Siljan - Tuesday, 16 August

Drove into Rättvik as planned. It boasts the longest wooden pier in Sweden, the Långbryggan. It doesn't have the width or height of the seaside piers we tend to have in the UK. I'd describe it more as a moderately wide jetty. Having said that, it is 625m long and so quite impressive. There is a long beach stretching either side of the jetty (sorry, pier) with a large camping site facing on to the beach. The town is quite a resort.

We hunted down another gem of a place, the Tunnbrödsbageri, a bakery and shop, established in 1957, which is renowned for its crispbread (rather like Matzos) and Tunnbröd itself, which is a thin bread which is very popular in the region of Dalarna, where we are. It's cut into oblongs, maybe 8x6 inches and chapati-like in thickness and texture. Anyway, it's very nice.

We also bought some Swedish blue cheese, obviously something we never see back home.

We've decided to stay a third night here, it's so nice, with such a beautiful outlook across Siljan. Of course, we've been lucky with the weather. I'm looking at a lovely sunset as I write this. We wouldn't want to stay longer, anyway. Apparently, there is a big live music event about to happen and this site will then be very busy and loud.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tällberg, on Siljan - Monday, 15 August

Amanda braved the earth closet loo this morning. I used other facilities nearby, doing a four mile walk before breakfast around the end of the island.

We left Sollerön and drove up to the next town, Mora, hoping to find some wifi but our co-ordinates for tourist information took us to a bus station. The town's main claim to fame is having been the home of Anders Zorna, an artist who painted pictures of ladies without clothing. We then drove down the eastern side of Siljan for maybe twenty miles to Rattvik, where the tourist information office provided wifi and info about things to do locally. We plan to spend some time in the town tomorrow as it looked quite interesting (the sun was shining).

We went on a few miles to our planned overnight stop, a camp site at Tällberg, on the side of Siljan. We've booked for two nights. Tällberg itself is very picture postcardy. It is quite spread out and doesn't seem to be a village with any kind of centre. It has some 200 inhabitants and eight hotels. These, and the houses we saw as we drove down towards the water's edge, we're all very attractive. The site we're on isn't large and we weren't sure that we would get a space but we were in luck. In fact, the front row nearest the water was completely free so we bagged one of these. Sweden seems to have a short summer season which ends around the end of August so this will be good for us, hopefully.

I managed a circular walk of about three miles along the side of Siljan, much of it through woodland, finishing with a road walk and back along the waterside path before supper this evening.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Kulåra Camping, Sollerön - Sunday, 14 August

Most of our driving today, which wasn't that far, was on the E45, a wide open road with forest on either side. The trees here tend to be more widely spaced than in the UK and so doesn't seem at all oppressive. It was really lovely, definitely nothing like anywhere in the UK but, although I've never been to Canada, I thought maybe British Columbia might be something like it. It wasn't a busy road.

We stopped in the next town along the way, Malung, although the tourist information office wasn't open. We found wifi outside a Swedbank and downloaded today's paper. Later, we stopped in a parking area for the Stogsmuseum. We're still not sure what a stog is - perhaps something to do with the forest. Anyway, we didn't pay the 60SEK to go in but just wandered around some craft stalls.

We thought the island of Sollerön looked a possibility for an overnight. It is reached by a bridge and is surrounded by a large body of water named Siljan. There are two campsites. The first one we came to, just over the bridge on to the island, was a big commercial site and didn't appeal. For a reduced price of 100SEK, we could have parked overnight in their Quickstop part of the car park (with hookup), but only from 6pm and it was then only 2pm. We went on to the other site, only a couple of miles further on. It is Kulåra Camping, a grassy area by the waterside. No hookup but water and basic earth closets. We moved form our first chosen spot as we were under a conifer tree and, now and again, a cone would drop on to the camper roof. It is very quiet with about six other units, all German. There are walks either way alongside the water in woodland. We have spent a peaceful evening, sitting outside the camper looking at the nearly full moon shining down on the water.

Parking area by Dutch Mountain restaurant, near Malung - Saturday, 13 August

We weren't sure what to do today, except that we were generally making our way eastwards. In a book I'd picked up a couple of days ago from the Morokulien information centre there was an article about the home of a famous writer who had lived nearby and in the reception of our last night's site I collected a leaflet about a week long literary and culture festival, which included a celebration of her work, in the nearby town of Sunne. She was referred to as being world famous but neither of us had heard of her. She was Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940), a writer and novelist who was the first Swede and the first woman to be awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Her best known work is The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, the story of Nils Holgersson, a farm boy who has adventures after being transformed into an elf. He and a gander on his parents' farm join a flock of geese on their way to Lapland in the far north. It has been translated into about sixty languages and filmed several times. It is a children's story that can be read on various levels. Her other books have had films based on them and one film launched the career of Greta Garbo. I'm not sure why I'd never heard of her and I'm sure someone out there will be suitably amazed.

We spent a couple of hours at Lagerlöf's house, Mårbacka, a few miles out of Sunne (although the house itself wasn't going to be open till later today for a guided tour in Swedish). Instead, we wandered around the gardens and in a couple of barns there were displays telling of Lagerlöf's life and career, together with the film and Hollywood connections. We also had lunch in the cafe.

Afterwards, we drove on to investigate a possible halt for the night, up a winding road which ended at what, in the winter, would have been a busy centre for skiing and cross-country skiing. The views from the top were far-reaching but it was all rather bleak and we decided to move on. After a pleasant enough drive, we have settled at a camper stop next to a restaurant. There are loos and picnic tables. We are the only camper van here (one that was he'd when we arrived moved off soon afterwards) but there is also a car and caravan. There have been a few comings and goings of cars but now, at 10.15pm, it is very quiet.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Gräsmarkslägret campsite, Uddheden - Friday, 12 August

Not a lot to say about today. An early morning walk in the forest was superb. I thought I was alone but, almost out of nowhere, came a man on a sporting pony trap going at quite a pace.

Before we left, three coach loads of Korean tourists called at the information centre. It must be on their route to somewhere or other.

Most of our driving today was on minor forested roads, not all properly maintained. We stopped for lunch by the church in the village of Gunnarskog, overlooking a lake. We are on a lovely campsite in a forest clearing. It isn't at all crowded and is very quiet. The forest tracks round about are delightful.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Morokulien services, Norway/Sweden border - Thursday, 11 August

We left late, having got some clothes washing done and treated ourselves to possibly the best ever Danish pastries from the site shop. We set the sat nav for Charlottenberg, just over the border into Sweden with the intention of refuelling there. Diesel (and everything else) is cheaper in Sweden. It turned out to be a very pleasant route across country, passing through very few villages. We stopped by a lake for lunch. There was so little traffic - maybe a vehicle passed us by every five minutes or so. It was a undulating winding route, through forest (Norwegian Wood?) most of the way, quite lovely. For maybe ten miles after our lunch stop, the road clearly had been metalled but at some point stopped being maintained, so was rough and potholed in places.

We had been intending to stay overnight at a site a few miles into Sweden but, on reaching the border at 5pm, we espied a camper stop so turned round and went to it. It is a gem of a place. There is an information centre where we took advantage of free wifi (and will do so again before we leave in the morning), loos and showers (daytime only) but a separate loo open 24 hours. One of the ladies in the information centre took a photo of us either side of the border (which passes through the building). The name, Morokulien, is a made up word. A notice board explains that the word "was formed in a Swedish/Norwegian radio entertainment programme called "Across all borders" in 1959, with the purpose of raising money for refugees in the world. The name is a word game composed of both the Norwegian and Swedish word for "fun" - "Moro + kul + ien" (fun + fun + into one)."

Nearby is a peace monument built in 1914 in gratitude for 100 years of peace between Sweden and Norway. It precisely straddles the border.

This point also marks the start of the Finnskogleden, a 240km trail through "a varied terrain of forests, marshlands and waters". I think they mean lakes as there are a number along the route. It seems quite a remote route which I've already added to my mental list of walks to do.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Ekeberg Camping, Oslo, Norway - Wednesday, 10 August

Today, we took the 34 bus from just outside the campsite to the Central Station. After visiting tourist information, we then took a 30 bus to the Kon-Tiki Museum. I'd bought 24 hour tickets last night at the campsite reception and this worked out very much cheaper than single tickets.

The museum was great. It told the life story of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian zoologist, who, with five others, set sail in 1947 on a balsa wood raft from Callao near Lima, Peru across the Pacific Ocean to Polynesia in an effort to prove that the then residents of the islands might be descended from peoples somewhere in South America. Hitherto, it had been assumed that their ancestors came from somewhere to the west of Polynesia. As the trade winds and currents enabled Kon-Tiki (which had no means of steering), to reach Polynesia after 101 days, the crew proved their theory in the face of earlier incredulity. We watched a 1951 Oscar-winning documentary narrated by Heyerdahl. The Kon-Tiki raft was on display, as was the Ra II, a papyrus reed boat, which undertook another perilous voyage some years later. The Ra II was on display as well.

I read Thor Heyerdahl's book, "The Kon-Tiki Expedition", maybe forty years ago and, I think, "Fatu-Hiva", also by him.

We had a superb lunch in the cafe of the adjacent Maritime Museum, rolls generously filled with the most amazingly fresh shrimps and, I think, something like pieces of we call crab sticks. They were lovely. Apart from that, we didn't spend much money. Norwegian prices are horrendous - although we bought a smallish piece of Brie for about £6.00 and a baguette. Both were very good.

We had talked about doing the Norway in a Nutshell trip by train out to the coast at Bergen, some seven hours. A journey through a fjord by boat could also be included and we had thought we might manage a night in a hotel in Bergen so as not to cram too much into one day. The price was frightening (although we knew that - it's what is known as spending the kids' inheritance) but, in the event, all trips over the next couple of days were fully booked so that made the decision for us. The thought of seven hours on a crowded train had little appeal anyway. We are now planning to head back into Sweden tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Ekeberg Camping, Oslo, Norway - Tuesday, 9 August

This morning after breakfast, we took the free park and ride bus into Strömstad. We liked the place very much. The weather helped, as it always does. It is a coastal town with a large marina and ferries to take visitors to neighbouring islands. These islands can be seen from the harbour side. While there, we went into a cafe/bar for coffee/hot chocolate and pastries.

We changed our original plan of maybe staying here for a second night. The minimal facilities encouraged us to move on. We decided to go straight to Oslo, about 80 miles away. There is a toll plaza at the border but this wasn't operating and an overhead sign told us not to stop. Instead, we were channelled off the E6 to an area where border officials were possibly carrying out random checks. We weren't stopped and rejoined the E6.

There are two camper stops in Oslo. One is free with no facilities at all. The other is at a marina with basic facilities and 250 spaces. We upgraded ourselves and are at Ekeberg Camping, a large camp site only a mile or so outside the city centre with some 800 spaces. Imagine something like that close to the middle of London! All the pitches we have seen are on grass, which has the potential for trouble, especially as it has been raining most of the time we have been here. We have booked for two nights. The loos, showers, etc. are excellent and haven't seemed over used at all, far from it.

Tomorrow, we catch the bus into the city to sort out the things we want to do here. There is Norway in a Nutshell and the Kon-Tiki Museum. In one of the galleries is the original of Edvard Munch's "The Scream". Apparently, in the cafe there, you can buy a pastry or cake based on it. Might give that a miss.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Strömstad, northern Sweden - Monday, 8 August

A really good walk this morning before breakfast. I followed the Bohusleden trail alongside the large fjord which is close to our service area. Part of it was wooded and really nice. Then it got right to the edge of the water before climbing up to a road. I followed the road for a while and then took a turning down a lane which led to a boatyard and car park. After that, it was pedestrians only to a bridge over to an island. I'm sure the island must have a name but none was given on the map. It was small, maybe 400 yards by 300. There was a cafe and some holiday chalets and, at the far end, I came across a wooden bandstand with marvellous across the fjord. Not wanting to double back, I followed a winding path through woodland which eventually brought me out just above the cafe. Then it was road walking back to the camper, about one and a half miles. I got back minutes before the heavens opened with gusting, torrential rain which lasted half an hour.

We drove to Uddevalla this morning, a sizeable town, in search of a gas stove. The first stop was a large out of town shopping area. Bauhaus didn't have one. We went over the road to a camping store but they didn't have what we wanted either. On then into Uddevalla to Lidl. In the car park there an elderly gent came over to admire our camper, saying it was the perfect size. We agreed with him. In fact, we are seeing very few campers the size of ours. They are nearly all bigger, some massively so. We got to talking about our gas problem and he suggested a large store called Biltema, which was at the shopping area where we had started. It was on our way back to the E6 road so it wasn't out of our way. They had a camping section and, whilst they didn't have the particular type of stove we wanted, we ended up buying a rather neat little single burner camping stove with three legs that fold out. It uses butane gas, the cylinders being the well known Camping Gaz blue colour but they were Biltema's own brand (blue is their colour). We bought two of the larger size gas cylinders and so I think we'll be OK now, once our Calor gas runs out, assuming it does, as we've agreed that we won't use gas to operate the fridge from now on, just using the hookup when available and the leisure battery when we are on the move.

I thought at first that the new stove was faulty as the gas wasn't coming through but Amanda was a bit more forceful in tightening the screw fitting on the cylinder than I was and it works fine.

We then headed up the E6. Not long after a lunch stop, I felt a little sleepy so we pulled off on to a rest area. There were loos but no other facilities. After a snooze for half an hour, I wandered off to explore. It appeared that we had stumbled upon a World Heritage area. Here, there was a display of the history of the surrounding countryside where Stone and Bronze Age relics and rock carvings had been found. From the display building, there was a wooden walkway maybe 200 yards long which ended at a platform which afforded panoramic views of the valley and forests ahead, with the odd farm house. We could so easily have missed this. When I returned to the camper, Amanda was chatting up a young Norwegian motor cyclist!

An hour or so later, we arrived at Strömstad, our stop for the night being a section of a park and ride car park with some basic facilities. There are around twenty camper vans here. We may stay a second night. There is a free park and ride bus into town from here and there is quite a bit to see. The town is famous for its seafood.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Ljungskile motorway service area - Sunday, 7 August

I went off for a walk before breakfast, not too far, but I explored a path at the end of a residential cul de sac, which looked on the map as if it might be interesting. The path went over some smooth rocky bits, in front of a couple of weekend retreat type houses in superb locations. I almost felt as if I was trespassing as the path skirted the open gardens. Then there were some steps set in to the rock and then a concreted path around a rock face, leading to a wooden walk way across an inlet and then around a couple more houses. Eventually, there were more smooth rocks to go over and I was at the edge of the island, with water lapping at my feet, looking out to a number of islets. It was a magical sight and I was sorry to have to leave it.

We planned to have a short driving day today, thinking that we really needed to get to the bottom of our gas issue. We brought with us two Calor gas cylinders. I had thought that these might just last the journey with careful use but this was/is not to be. The first cylinder ran out four days ago, two weeks into our trip. It is the fridge that is using the most gas. Boiling water for tea and coffee and minimal cooking doesn't use that much. I've already asked a couple of other camper an owners what they do about gas but didn't get very far. We went into Göteborg this morning to see if the tourist information office might help. The young lady there kindly 'phoned a large camp site to ask if they sold gas cylinders but they didn't.

Anyway, with the situation still unresolved, we went to find somewhere for lunch away from Göteborg. It was in our Parkings app as a simple overnight stop and very pleasant it was too. I'd unloaded one of our food boxes to make room in the back of the camper while lunch was prepared and we'd driven a couple of hundred of yards when Amanda asked about the box. Whoops!

We pulled off the motorway some time later, having seen a large motorhome dealership, thinking they might be able to advise about gas. They were closed till tomorrow (Monday). Our next stop, some fifteen miles on, was the motorway service area at Ljungskile, which has a peaceful grassy, tree-lined parking area and loos and is known as a camper stopover. There is very little traffic noise. We thought we might go back to the motorhome place in the morning. However, with the free wifi at the 7-11 shop here, I found much information online and it seems unlikely that we will be able to get the gas we need. Calor is the market leader in the UK, CampingGaz isn't available in Scandinavia and it is likely that local gas cylinders wouldn't fit in our gas compartment. So, our plan now is not to use gas for the fridge at all and use electrical hookups where we can. We shall buy a butane single burner stove from a camping shop or Bauhaus (a chain like our B&Q) and use this for heating water and simple cooking. Our meals will be planned around this and we may just have to buy milk a little more often. We shall survive! I wish I'd researched this more before we started but life was a bit hectic with finishing work, etc. If we get really desperate, I have with me a Pepsi can stove and a bottle of methylated spirits!

So, we are staying in our service area tonight. There are two other camper vans (or, rather, motorhomes) next to us. As a long distance walking trail, the Bohusleden, passes through here, I shall go off exploring in the morning.

Hälsö, near Göteborg - Saturday, 6 August

Last night was fine in the car park, apart from some oick doing two circuits of it on a motor bike around 1am. Still, it was nothing compared to the place we left.

I went off walking around 7am. Seeing the area in daylight, across the road was a cafe and visitor centre. I walked up the road a bit and went down a long flight of wooden stairs to the shore of Skårsjön, a very large inland lake, if lake it was - I'm not sure if there is a maximum size for a lake before it becomes an inland sea. Or might it be a fjord, although I think maybe a fjord has an outlet to the sea.

Nearby, I explored the nearby area of heathland. It is a protected area. I hadn't known that heathlands as restricted to Western Europe (including the UK, of course). One small part of it had a large tombstone rising up from it with many much smaller stones, apparently the result of a cholera outbreak in 1834 when 48 local people died. There is also a Bronze Age burial site here. The views from here were far reaching.

We drove to Göteborg, our destination being the Volvo Museum. It is housed in a large modern building in an industrial area. We learned of the beginnings of the company in the 1920s. There were many vehicles on display, including early cars, buses and lorries, together with cars of the 1930s right through to the present day, including concept cars. We enjoyed it very much.

Our planned stop for the night wasn't far although we drove on to a ferry to get to it. The ferry was free and largely unmanned, boarding and leaving being controlled by traffic lights. The ferry took us on a short journey to the island of Öckerö. From there, we crossed by bridge to Hälsö , where we are parked on the shore looking out to various islands. It is a marvellous outlook. I have walked around much of the island this afternoon, clambering up to the island's highest point, Stuvö vale, with panoramic views from the top across the sea to various islands nearby. The whole area here is rocky, rising above the lower parts of the island. I was guided to the top and down the other side by someone who had walked the route with a yellow paint aerosol, leaving spots of yellow paint every now and then. Desecration maybe but it saved a lot of time. I also found my way to a tiny cove with a tiny beach, accessed via a path shown on my Pocket Earth map but not signposted on the ground. There was even a patch of grass where I could have pitched my tarp had I been here without the camper van. It was quite magical.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Parking area at 57.44492°N 12.18550°E near Fjarås Kyrkby, south of Göteborg - Friday, 5 August

I enjoyed a good night's sleep under the tarp, even though only some fifty feet from the camper. We got away quite early, planning to finish some way south of Göteborg, having identified a location. Although we like to avoid motorways wherever possible, it made sense to cover some quick miles by motorway and so did that for about one and a half hours. We then took off towards Falkenberg and then headed to the coast at Gommen, where we stopped for a lunch break overlooking the harbour.

The countryside was very nice and so different from Denmark. It all seemed so much bigger, which it is, of course. The roads were extremely traffic free. We found our overnight stop at Skårs Gård, Fjarås. There is a cafe, restaurant and holiday chalets, as well as a car park where camper vans are permitted. There are hook ups for electricity. We were told that we should pay in the morning.

I went off for a decent walk up through the forest behind. After only 200 yards, there was a path through the trees which had been decorated with lights along one side. This opened on to a clearing where there was a traffic light, switching from red to green and back. In the clearing, a small wooden dance floor had been constructed. A couple of fellows were putting the finishing touches to trestle tables and benches, the tables having been covered with colourful covers with candles. It was quite surreal. They told me of an annual dance where local people gather. It has been held for about thirty years and there would be music, dancing and eating into the night. Tonight was the night and the band would be arriving in a while. I was told that we would be most welcome. I thought no more of it and carried on through the woods.

I cut through between some modern houses along an unmade road and followed a vehicle track through the forest. It was quite lovely and I could have walked for miles although I had not the faintest idea where it went to. Although it was unmade, a couple of cars went by as if it was a through route.

Getting back to the camper, we had showers and ate our supper. Vehicles came into our car park from time to time, obviously bringing their occupants to the evening festivities. A coach then arrived, spilling out maybe ten young men. Then a couple of American vehicles came in, one a 1970s Lincoln Continental and the other a Chevrolet minivan, both extremely loud. One of the coach occupants had come over to say that we should go to the event and that it might go on till 1am or even 3am.

After a while, we looked at each other and an almost unspoken decision was made that we should do a runner imagining the inevitable noise in the early hours when the party ends and those 7 litre engines roar into life. We packed up in record time and, with light fading, we drove a few miles towards a forested nature reserve shown on the map. I thought we were bound to find somewhere to stop and, indeed, we have done so. Turning into a parking area, we were not the first. There are four other camper vans already here. Apparently, caravans and campers are forbidden but I don't expect us to be disturbed.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Naturreservetat Ängeholm strandskog, north of Helsingborg - Thursday, 4 August

Our place for last night's stop was OK but we only realised this morning when, going to dispose of grey water from the camper, there are some nicer designated places not far away on the other side of the harbour. Oh well.

This was to be our last day in Denmark. We made our way up to the coast road and followed it round to Helsingør, there having a good view of Kronborg Slot, Hamlet's castle. We'd visited the town the year before last so vaguely knew our way around. We called in at the tourist information for internet, had lunch on board the camper and then drove across the road to the ferry terminal. We then had a twenty minute crossing to Helsingborg - we are now in Sweden.

A half hour drive and we arrived at our stop for the night. It is a designated camping area in woodland, right next to the beach. There are loos and an ice cream trailer and that's all. There are a few other camper vans, two couples apparently car camping and three lads cycle camping (one of whom is English and we talked tents). I am planning to sleep out under my tarp tonight.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Hundested, Nordsjælland - Wednesday, 3 August

Well, it wasn't a perfect night. At 5.30am, we were woken by raucousness outside. It was a dozen teenagers arriving for a noisy early morning swim. They were harmless but I took the opportunity to finish reading yesterday's paper and then went for a walk of several kilometres, a circular route of quiet lanes and then a good path between fields back to Gershøj. It was a sunny morning, quite perfect.

Yesterday, we got a little confused about which castle were going to visit today. The names are similar and they are quite close to each other. There is the one at Fredensborg, which is now the Danish royal family's summer residence and open to the public. However, the one that we thought might be more interesting is at Frederiksborg, in the town of Hillerød. The building is magnificent. Lonely Planet describes it as a Dutch Renaissance castle spread across three islands. We went over a moat to the entrance. It was mainly built in the early 17th century. There were many rooms to visit, full of paintings, tapestries and furniture. The main large parts of the castle were the Knights' Hall and the Coronation Chapel, where Danish monarchs between 1671 and 1840 were crowned. All in all, it was well worth the 60DKK admission fee.

In the afternoon, we drove to the north coast for our nightly stop. It is at Hundested, in a car park by the harbour. It is quite busy. Adjacent to the car park are some small holiday chalets. There are many sailing boats, cafes, craft shops - and an Aldi. There is an end of the line train station and a vehicle ferry which goes back and forth the mile or so to the next place along the coast, across the mouth of a fjord. To travel round by road would take rather a long time.

We've had bouts of heavy rain this afternoon and evening but all is peaceful now.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Gershøj, nr. Roskilde, Sjælland - Tuesday, 2 August

We drove into Roskilde and went straight to the Viking Ship Museum (free parking there for the day). It was probably worth the 120DKK each. The centre piece is five boats that were discovered beneath water, having lain there for some 900 years. They had been filled with rocks and scuttled as a means of blocking the waterway against raiders. The boats weren't complete but metal frames had been made and those parts of the boats that had been salvaged were put in their proper place.

There were also a number of boats in the water that had been built in recent years by modern craftsmen to old Viking designs using tools identical to those used in Viking times.

We walked into the centre of the town, a place we liked very much. The cathedral was closed for a service but reopening at 3pm. Returning then, the queue for entry was so long, we gave that a miss, thereby saving 120DKK. It's quite gratifying, the amount of money that can be saved by not doing things, usually due to rain so far.

Leaving Roskilde, we went in search of a halt for the night. Today, we scored big time. We are at Gershøj, right next to a wide fjord. There is supposedly rom for ten camper vans. We were the third to arrive and found a beautiful spot, right next to the water. There have been families here during the afternoon and evening as there are picnic benches only feet away so it has been quite noisy. They have also been swimming in the fjord but it really is perfect for that. Now, it is totally quiet and peaceful. This may be our best overnight stop so far.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Ramsølille, Nr. Roskilde, Sjælland - Monday, 1 August

The plan was to go to Sagnlandet Lejre, a 43 hectare open air park, south of Roskilde. Here, there are re-created buildings from the Iron Age, the Stone Age, the Viking era and the 19th century. However, shortly after we arrived and had lunch in the car park, it came on to rain so we decided to give it a miss, saving the best part of £30. As it was early afternoon by then, we decided to call it a day and headed for where we planned to spend the night, not too far away. It's a farm that does B&B and there are three spaces for camper vans and there are now three here.

I've been out walking for a couple of miles in the evening sun, sheltering under a tree to avoid a brief shower. Tomorrow we plan to spend the day in Roskilde.