Chanterelle joy! A feast for free! Photo: Jens Randecker
A gray day in the office. Perfect for summing up this long, hot summer, which in my case had many highlights. Let me share ten of them with you:
- The weather.
Sweden had the warmest summer in ages, with a record temperature of 35°C (95°F) in Målilla on July 11. (The highest temperature in Sweden since July 1994.)
- The people.
The hot, sunny weather made people more relaxed than usual and more inclined to talk about other things than the weather. I also had time to meet up with some of the favorite people in my life.
- The shellfish.
Spent some time on the Swedish west coast, in Hunnebostrand, where the mussels, shrimps and crayfish were fresher and more divine than ever.
- The fish.
Took the boat out among the west coast islands. Got four mackerels that were thrown straight into the pan to become a yummy lunch.
- The chanterelles.
The forest was also good to us. Found a large patch invaded by my favorite mushrooms, the golden chanterelles. Joy!
- The blueberries.
The same forest excursion also blessed us with enough blueberries to make a mouth-watering pie for dessert in the evening. (Although I must say that they are really boring to pick, tiny as they are.)
- The crickets.
The nights were accompanied by the constant “singing” of crickets (chirping?). Although quite annoying, it reminded me of how unusually Southern European this Swedish summer was.
- The grill.
Pretty much every night was barbecue night. There’s nothing to get the appetite going like the smell of freshly grilled food. And the crickets kept on singing.
- The new potatoes.
Our own teeny-weeny vegetable garden produced some delicious miniature potatoes that went very well with whatever was on the grill. And the crickets played on.
- The holiday.
Much of the above had not been possible without the generous Swedish holiday entitlement. As a state employee, 30+, I get 31 holidays a year. Thank you, Sweden! And goodbye crickets!
Having just started working after 5 weeks of fabulous holiday, I feel full of energy. However, all good things must come to an end:)! The office is still almost deserted and the rain is pouring down outside (perfect “going back to work weather”). Of the whole Sweden.se-team it’s only Andrés and me back. As most people still are away things are slow. It allows me to THINK about where we are, goals and how to get there. Normally working with the web it’s action action, action, action and not a lot of time for reflection. So despite being back at work – life feels pretty good!
Almost deserted office...our substitute Emma Larsson working hard!
In Sweden, the biggest holiday month is July, as opposed to August as in many other European countries. So where is everybody? Even the tube was fairly empty this morning. Maybe I missed some major event that forced people to stay home? Don’t think so.
I have received a lot of jealous comments about my long holiday from my friends abroad, and I realise that I should feel grateful that we have a system that entitles us to take some substantial holiday. Over and above the bank holidays (approx ten per year I believe), all employees in Sweden are by law (“Semesterlagen”) entitled to a minimum five-week paid annual leave, after the first year of employment. AND you are entitled to take four of them in a row. Collective bargaining has also played a central role in the matter, not only legislation. I personally love being able to enjoy long holidays, as it takes some time before I get into “holiday mood” and let go of work. I know, I’m lucky! Obviously, I’m well aware that reality looks very different in many many parts of the world.
So do I not love my job? Yes, I do. Do I believe that taking time off work is essential for my wellbeing? Yes, I do! The obvious reasons are of course to relax, have fun and spend time with my loved ones. In addition, I also think that it’s important to change scene and get some perspective on our everyday life. Living in Sweden with our loooooong winters, I need to take long summer holidays to really optimize our short but sweet Swedish summers. Now I feel 100 % ready to head on take another Swedish winter on, bring it on:)!…
Breakfast on board in the blinding morning light. The boat plowed so quickly through the quiet sea that we overtook the slightly larger (!) Viking Line ferry.
Imagine stepping off the boat from the archipelago and walking just a few steps to the office. Another thing to love about Stockholm! As I’m doing my best to wind down this last week before holiday, I spent a night on Grinda, one of the around 25,000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago. It was a spectacularly lovely summer night, with a heartbreakingly beautiful sunset. And despite the heat in the hotel room, I slept like a baby to the distant cry of seagulls.
But the best part of this excursion must have been the commute to work this morning. As a suburbanite myself, I’m used to commuting including a fight over seats on the tube or commuter train and getting rather annoyed with my co-passengers. Hopping on a boat on Grinda and gliding through the archipelago into town in an hour and a half included none of the above. It was sunny and warm, peaceful and quiet, and very, very relaxing. No wonder some people actually choose to live in the archipelago (like the Schiermans, who Sweden.se visited a couple of years ago)! Saw a couple of houses on the way that I wouldn’t mind living in myself. But I suppose it takes more than an editor’s wage to be able afford that, so I think I’ll stick to being a simple tourist in the archipelago.
I wish you all a great summer — see you in August!