Back to Stockholm and goodbye to our guest writers

(Written by Dave)

We are back in Stockholm, or at least we are at the Stockholm airport.  We are staying here tonight because Gretchen and Kathie have an early flight in the morning tomorrow.  We could have stayed in the city but wanted one more night with them.  I guess that means that the visit was good, no one is sick of anyone else.  It was nice to have some family time and in spite a few too many shopping marathons for me, overall Nancy and I really enjoyed the time with family and the break from cycling.

Gretchen did a great job planning the trip and we were once again spoiled by a much higher grade of accommodation than we normally experience on this trip.  We saw lots of things in Sweden that we would not have seen without their company.  We rented a car and I provided the driving services, almost 1,000k in 6 days, and managed finish without mishap – pretty good considering that I’ve not driven in almost two years.  It may have been all the backseat driving assistance – backseat driving is a trait that is not lacking in any of the Peterson girls – and a pleasure it is to have three helpers all the time – yup, a real pleasure.

We had a lot of driving today but still managed to slip in some sightseeing.  After an early brekkie at the hotel we hit the road for the three-hour drive back to Stockholm.  The girls shopping effort meant that the back seat tonneau cover would not stay closed.  Our main stop for the day was Carl Larsson Gardens, located in the village of Sundborn.  For those who don’t know who Carl Larsson was, let me fill in the details.  Carl and his wife Karin were very influential early 20th century artists in Sweden and wider Europe.  Carl focused on painting and interior design.  His wife liked to paint also but her duties as a mother pushed her towards textiles – it is easier with textile art to pause and pick up later when a young child requires attention.  Carl and Karin had 7 children.

They lived in what started as a small cottage – they expanded it extensively through the years.  The location idyllic, right on a pond at the end of a small river.  It was given to the newlywed couple by Karin’s father – for some reason he did not like it.  The house is a work of art itself.  Carl painted many of the walls with whimsical family scenes or portraits of the children.  Karin made pillows, wall hangings and curtains that are used throughout.  The grounds are covered with flowers and the surrounding street lined with “Carl” related spin-off businesses, all in equally quaint little red houses.

When Carl and Karin died, their children could not bring themselves to sell or split up the house.  While this is probably the case for many families, the Larssons, due in large part to the success of Carl and Karin’s works, were able to keep things intact while also turning the property into an ongoing venture.  The net result for us was a rare glimpse into the lives of an extraordinarily talented and influential couple – our good fortune for sure.

On the way to CL Gardens we found ourselves on a small country lane.  Just before arrival at the gardens we met an oncoming convoy of old tractors.  It was the weirdest thing, the first tractor was interesting but then they just kept coming.  We didn’t think to count them but we had more than enough time to pull over and get a few photos.  A couple of the tractors had passengers or even trailers but more than anything it was just a big group of old tractors – heading somewhere, we are not sure where.  We haven’t seen too many “bunch” bicycle rides like we used to do back in Sydney.  Maybe here in Sweden they go on Sunday tractor bunch rides, rather than bunch bicycle rides.

Tomorrow Gretchen and Kathie head back to Portland (at 4AM!).  We are heading back to Ystad and our friends Oskar and Julia.  We have to stop first in Lund, about an hour short of Ystad, to pick up our bikes.  We have been promised that the bikes will be done but we have not heard anything in two weeks.  We were getting hubs, BBs and headsets re-packed, plus we were getting my rear wheel re-laced.  If everything is done, we’ll be in Ystad tomorrow night.  Tuesday we head towards England – we are still working on which ferry/train combination that we’ll take to reach England.  Details to follow…

We had a great time with Nancy’s sisters and thank them for coming over and giving us a bike break.  It is always hard to say goodbye to family after such a nice visit and start riding again but I think we are ready.  Next up we are planning to ride Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG).  Or rather we are riding it the other way, JOGLE.  More later on this ride but it basically covers the Isle of Great Britain, tip of Scotland to the bottom tip of England.

Off to bed now so we can get up at 4am to say a final goodbye to the girls…

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