Sweden: Smedsdorf

Arriving in Sweden I was greeted by my hostess whose name I couldn’t pronounce properly at the beginning because it sounded completely different as how I would have read it, anyway I learned it quickly.

She had arrived with another girl, a bit younger than me, who came from Manchester and had been staying as a helper as well. We were chatting on the way home while suddenly a small deer crossed the road right in front of us, making my hostess break hard and everybody jump in fright. Fortunately we didn’t hit it. After that we talked a bit about how important it is to be alert while driving through the forest.

Once we arrived I could see that the house was more like a small community with a group of big and small buildings and tons of interesting things lying everywhere. During one of my explorations of their gardens, I even found a katana. They had a big metal structure which they called “the gym” that had been built by the husband of my hostess but everyone liked to make fun by saying he had never used it in his life. I also found a big pile of sand, asked why it was there and they told me that in summer they had made a festival for their friends where they had had some sand sculpture workshops and decided to leave the sand there for future use.

During my stay I got to meet other members of the family and other friends who either lived there, stayed there for a long time or just came by for a few days. They visited each other almost every day so it was like we were all living at the same house.

For the first days I got to sleep on a small room in the first floor of a little house which was used as a tool shed on the ground floor and only had a comfortable bed and a window, as well as some candles for light as there was no electricity. Everything was quite nice except for one night that I woke up to a noise and found out it was a huge insect, kind of like a very big grasshopper or even a mantis which was stuck to the roof right above me. That freaked me out a little bit so I just took a shirt and swept it over the roof making the insect fall through the hole of the stairs. Not having it in sight calmed me enough to allow me to go back to sleep. Later on I moved to the room the English girl had used, which was a tiny wooden house where one of the family friends used to live when he was there, but who was away often because of work. I found that kind of small house brilliant and cozy, it made me want to have one when and if I ever settle down somewhere.

A few days before the English girl left, she made for us a big tea party, with several kinds of cakes and treats as well as coffee and tea, all arranged in a very fancy way, improvising with the aid of our hostess to make everything look very elegant, using all the kitchen items we could find. We enjoyed it with all the members of the family and friends who were there at the moment and everybody ate like crazy.

My hostess is an artist mainly doing sculpture in several different mediums such as ice, marble, stone and even sometimes wire and cloth to make costumes. I helped her once to make some moomin costumes she had been commissioned for a play and she had already advanced quite a lot, I was stunned by their quality.

She also took me to an ice bar she had helped to build and made some sculptures for, in Stockholm and told me about her project for winter which would be to build an ice church in the north of Sweden with the collaboration of other artists.

We were talking about music and showing each other songs on YouTube we liked when she told me that I should learn to play an instrument and that the perfect one for a traveler is a ukulele due to its size. She was thinking of buying one and almost convinced me of getting one myself although they were quite expensive according to my budget so in the end I didn’t get it, but she bought hers and began learning how to play it. Her husband already knew how to do it quite well and he used to play while his wife sang along, it was very nice.

One day she offered me a lift to Stockholm because she had to meet some people for a job so I could have a few hours to do some sightseeing. She asked me beforehand what I would like to see there, I was quite curious about Viking ships and asked her if it was possible to see a real one in a museum there, she said they didn’t really have any, as the Vikings that lived in Sweden weren’t as big sailors as the ones in Norway but suggested me to go check out the Vasa museum which is entirely dedicated to a huge ship from the XVII century which sank right after it was put afloat and was recovered about 98% intact in the 1900s. I was astonished by that and decided to go check it out. It was definitely worth it. After the museum I just had left a few hours to wander around the Djurgården island where it’s possible to find several other museums such as Skansen, the Abba Museum and Junibacken, the museum where you can find characters of children’s literature, especially by Astrid Lindgren such as Pippi Longstocking.

Sometimes I was left with no tasks to do for the day. One of those days was following another one where I sharpened a lot of chisels for sculpting, making them ready for an ice sculpting workshop my hostess had and for which she offered to save an ice cube for me to try. Everyone was gone during the morning and part of the afternoon and I was left to my sculpture experiment in which I created a turtle. I really liked the experience of sculpting in ice with the chisels as it feels very smooth and it was not too hard but I had to be confident and fast before it melted. I actually thought it would not last long under the sun in the open but I was surprised to see it lasted the whole day without completely disappearing.

My hostess’s two sons organized, with the help of friends, a one-day free dance workshop and invited me to join them. I had a lot of fun trying to follow the instructors steps on different kinds of dances, even trying to do some twerking next to one of the sons which I found hilarious and we didn’t quite manage to do it right.

The whole family was very spontaneous and creative, one day they thought about making a nice dinner where everybody would dress elegantly and would prepare each their most special dish for everyone to try. I helped my hostess with hers and that evening we ended up trying about sixteen different delicious dishes, while chatting and singing on the table.

They also got a new border collie puppy, to give company to their older one from the same race, which was incredibly adorable and loved to bite, especially shoes. I forgot to remove my slippers from the floor one night to find one of them almost destroyed the following day. We went out for a walk through the forest with them, a truly beautiful and enchanting place, and the puppy was really funny, running and disappearing behind the small bumps on the grass, stumbling with holes and rolling everywhere.

The whole way of living of this family was truly inspiring. As one of the close friends once told me  “I live among nature, with my closest friends and family around and lack nothing, it’s a good life.”

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