Category Archives: seasons

Winter is Definitely Here

After a grey November, and dry December, we’d been hoping for a wee bit of snow for when my sister and family arrive on New Year’s Day.

Well, looks like Santa was listening and we’ve been on the Good list, as that’s what happened over Christmas. It’s been below -5C since Christmas Day, and we’ve had frost and snow since the 19th.

Julafton at Skansen

One of the joys of Stockholm is that it is full of water and green space. Combining both is the island of Djurgården, which contains (as its name would suggest) Stockholm’s zoo.

Ah, but it’s so much more than a zoo.

Yes, it contains small but pretty naturalistic enclosures for many native species, including Wolves, Brown Bears, Moose, Reindeer and European Bison. But it also contains many typical historic buildings, either specially constructed in reproduction or disassembled, transported and rebuilt on-site. UK visitors may be getting the sense of Ironbridge or Beamish, and that’s about right, but going back to pre-industrial times too.

The peak season for this is summer, but on Christmas Eve, it’s open for free, which makes for quite a lovely family afternoon out and as it’s on a hill, it wears out the little legs and ensures a good night’s sleep awaiting Santa.

Continue reading Julafton at Skansen

Geoff the Gävle Get

Our family has been obsessively following the situation of the Gävle Goat (‘Goat’ is ‘Get’ in Swedish, and like all Gs followed by soft vowels like E, is roughly pronounced “Yevle Yet”).

It’s a thing both pitiful and hilarious: a huge straw goat erected every Advent in the major town square, but for many years has been torched, presumably as a witty student jape. Some cities have statues to add traffic cones to as their major drunken student temptation, Gävle has a huge flammable goat.

The history is truly awful, reading like an extended version of Swamp Castle.

 Burnt on New Year’s Eve
 Burnt, only six hours after it was assembled.
 Sabotaged & collapsed
 Hit by a car.
 Kicked to pieces.
 Burnt even before it was erected. A new one was built and fireproofed. It was destroyed and broken into pieces.
 Burnt on Christmas Eve.
 The legs were destroyed.
 Burnt down on 12 December
 Enclosed by a 2 metres high metal fence, guarded by Securitas and soldiers from the Gävle I 14 Infantry Regiment. Burnt down in January.
 Two goats were built, the Southern Merchants’ and the School of Vasa’s. The bigger goat burnt down the night before Christmas Eve.
 A heavily fireproofed goat was built. Burnt down a week before Christmas.
 Again, the goat burnt down before it was assembled. Financial contributions from the public were raised to rebuild a goat that was burnt down in January.
 Burnt down on Christmas Eve.
 The goat was burnt down eight days after it was built. Rebuilt, but burned down on 20 December.
 A Norwegian was arrested for attempting to burn down the goat. Burnt down on the morning of Christmas Day.
 Damaged by fireworks.
 Burnt down on 11 December, even though there was a major blizzard.
 Burnt down only a couple of hours after it was erected.
 Burnt down a couple of days before New Year’s Eve.
 Set on fire on 23 December
 Burnt down on 12 December.
 Burnt 21 December
 Burnt by unknown vandals reportedly dressed as Santa and the gingerbread man, by shooting a flaming arrow at the goat at 21:00 on 3 December.
 On the night of 15 December at 03:00, someone tried to set fire to the goat by dousing the right front leg in petrol.
 On 26 December there was an attempt to burn down the Goat but patriotic passers-by managed to extinguish the fire. The following day the goat finally succumbed to the flames ignited by an unknown assailant at 03:50 CET.
 A person attempted to set the goat on fire the night of 7 December. On the night of 23 December before 04:00 the goat was set on fire and was burned to the frame, even though it had a thick layer of snow on its back. The goat had two online webcams which were put out of service by a DoS attack, instigated by computer hackers just before the burning.
 One of the guards tasked with protecting the goat offered payment to leave his post so that the goat could be stolen via helicopter
Burnt down in the early morning of 2 December.
 Burnt in the hours before midnight of 12 December
 Burned down.

(source: Wikipedia)

This year, the town was determined that it should survive. So they moved it to be right next to the taxi rank, put a webcam on it (despite  2009’s experience) and set up a Twitter account to proclaim its ongoing survival, greeting the dawn of each new day of life.

In our house, we’re getting really quite obsessed. Lucy has the webcam open in a constant browser tab and checks many times a day. And we do a daily report at breakfast.

We decided it needed a name, rather than just being “The Gävle Goat”.  And I did my usual Eddie Izzard thing and plumped for “Geoff”. Because “Geoff the Gävle Goat” or “Yeff the Yevle Yet” is just funny.

And then this happened:

and then Geoff responded:

Year. Made.

Continue reading Geoff the Gävle Get


Hmm I started this post in October.

I reckon I’d better get it published otherwise it’ll be Christmas!

I can’t begin to describe how beautiful Stockholm is in Autumn. Because the city is so much open space, with so many deciduous trees, October is a riot of rich warm colours. Every tree has a little carpet of gold around it, stunning in sunshine, but still wonderful by streetlight after dark.

I haven’t even started to capture the overall power of this, but here are a few hints.

Season Summary

Our back garden through the season. Compare the difference a few weeks makes to the foliage in our garden.

And in between, the year’s first snow!

First Snow, November 6th
First Snow, November 6th

Continue reading Höstfärger

Lake Life

As we’ve written before, being so close to Mälaren is wonderful – it makes for a lovely afternoon walk down to the shore, even in the depths of winter.

What we didn’t realise in the cold, dark days is what a wonderful place it is for beaches and swimming, and equally so, on the other side of the city centre that is theoretically the Baltic Sea.

(Sidenote: did you know that the Baltic is technically a Mediterranean sea? And because its connection to the wider oceans is so narrow, it’s both much less salty – so it freezes more easily than most – and hardly tidal at all).

And so it is – particularly when you’re out with Secondus – that you suddenly get an impromptu paddling session. Which turns into an impromptu swimming session. So now we always take towels, goggles and swimming costumes with us, even if say going to Tekniska Museet.


Right in the city centre, but you’d never know it from the peacefulness of the scene.


Hässelby Strand

The lovely thing is that it’s all very chilled, all very quiet. Kids are left to just potter and run about, which they do without particularly disturbing anyone. The main reason for this is that it’s not too busy. You can always find a good space to sit in. And it’s utterly safe, both in water terms and personal safety. The water is cool, not cold (easily warm enough to swim in, and refreshing on a hot day), and is pretty shallow for quiet some way out.

There are BBQ pits, no-one will hassle you if you bring your own disposable one, as long as you do dispose of it, and there are special bins to do just that.

In Sweden, even BBQs get recycled
In Sweden, even BBQs get recycled

There are no huge sets of “THOU SHALT NOT HAVE FUN” rules beyond Swedish norms about recycling. No parents inflicting oil slicks of suncream on their pale blue offspring. No fences or opening times or lifeguards.

It’s all a relaxed, inside/outside atmosphere, and lovely and warm.

What kind of a summer has it been?

Continue reading Lake Life

Summer Is Icumen In… Maybe

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu;
Groweth sed
and bloweth med,
And springth the wode nu;
Sing, cuccu!

Middle English Summer Poem

Since Easter, the weather has been utterly gorgeous. Last weekend, the temperature was easily in the twenties. If it stays like this until September, that would do me just fine.


In Wickerman style, on the last evening of April, Swedes gather for bonfires and choral singing.

No nude jumping over fires, and no human sacrifice, however

However, the next morning…

Any white rabbits were snow covered.
Mayday Snow

Others in Stockholm had it worse!

And yet, a few hours later…

Mayday Sunshine
Mayday Sunshine

Spring Sunshine

Once again on our favourite walk down by Lake Mälaren, in 17C sunshine. Kids decided to hang out at home, so a nice calm time for us.

Very sad to see that our nice Sunday afternoon café at Riddersvik has closed down

Riddersvik Café is closing
Riddersvik Café is closing

Continue reading Spring Sunshine

Glad Påsk!

Or ‘Happy Easter’ på engelska.

Here are a few tweets and photos illustrating Eastertime in Stockholm