Day 2 in Sweden

Well, here we are, and it is not tomorrow morning by any stretch of the imagination – although photographs will have to wait until then!

This morning, Billy was pup-sitting a neighbour’s westies, so he, Jo and I took them for a walk round the island.

Tranholmen is not quite free from the internal combustion engine, but they are very much limited to excavators being used in construction, lawnmowers and possibly a tractor. Cars are banned, and bicycles and shanks’ ponies are the order of the day.

The whole island is wooded, with gravel paths, and the vast majority of houses are wooden. Many are now lived in 12 months a year, but at one time more would have only been summer houses. As I noted yesterday, Billy and Eva’s house is beautifully warm.

It is linked to the mainland in Spring, Summer and Autumn by a ferry to Ropsten, or your host’s boat. In the winter, they erect a bridge, and the lake freezes over anyway.

After the walk, Billy accompanied us on our first visit to Stockholm city, and took us on a long walk round Gamla Stan – the old city, and also the site of the Royal Palace.

The Royal Palace is quite curious – unlike, say, Buckingham Palace, the public can get very close to it physically. Hopefully pictures I’ll take during the week will show you how close. Perhaps if we’re there at the right time of day, we’ll get to see the changing of the guard as well.

Before we even got there, though, we had noticed a number of zombies around Stockholm C(entral). These undead followed us into Gamla Stan, but the good, or disappointing news, depending on your point of view, was that it was all an arts event as part of the Stockholm Festival.

Tomorrow we are pondering a canal tour and then the 6pm English service in St James’s Church (Sankt Jacobs Kyrka), Stockholm – but first sleep and a long quiet morning!

Oh yes…

Got the wireless connection working!

The other thing to mention is that never mind all the kids in Belfast going to meet Jedward or One Direction… we trumped the lot of them by running into Kieran Goss and Brendan Murphy (ex The Four Of Us) at Arlanda Airport. They had been on our flight from Dublin, and were heading to do some recording – we had enjoyed their concert with Tom Paxton, Eddi Reader (ex Fairground Attraction) and Maura O’Connell in the Grand Opera House back in April!

I expect that to be the end of the namedropping… for now!

Delayed by the need for sleep…

Well, yesterday I left the British Isles for the first time in my life.

We left the City North Hotel after a nice breakfast at 9am, checked in, and took the long walk to gate 105. Quite why the gate numbers are lower the further away you go from check-in I dunno, but we got there and settled down to wait.

We watched the 11.05 Copenhagen flight leave, and I helped a kid find Mater and a hydrofoil from Cars 2 which kept flying off the table between us (to my and his parents’ amusement) and then we left Ireland on the 11.50 flight.

The MD82 was nice and comfortable, and the raspberry muffin I bought was lovely- smelled great, tasted better.

We touched down in Arlanda ahead of schedule, and got our bags by 3.45pm local time (that’s 2.45pm real time). Our host Billy took us down the E4 to Stockholm and to the jetty where he keeps his speedboat.

Unfortunately, by then it was chucking it down, but he got us into the boat, and across to Tranholmen.

It’s a bit early for first impressions, but Billy and Eva’s house is beautiful – made from wood and actually very warm. Pictures will follow once I take some, but I’m having trouble connecting from my MBP to Billy’s wireless network and I’m writing this on my iPhone!

To cut a long story short, I was shattered and in bed and sleeping well before 9pm. It’s still raining outside, but I think we’re going to get a walk today, then hit the old town (Gamla Stan) after lunch. More later.

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