Archive for Jonathan Davies

Following undergraduate studies in Australia, Jonathan relocated to take his Master of Architecture in Umeå. When he's not gently sobbing over impending deadlines he can be found drinking tea, reading pretentious novels and otherwise inventively avoiding using his twelve month gym membership.

Norbotten & Norrland

Our route from Umeå to Luleå, Luleå gammalstad, Boden Tree Hotel, Kiruna, Abisko National Park and the fantastic scenery along the E10, Narvik, the very different scenery along the E6, Hamarøy and Hamsunsenteret, Bodø, Røkland, Svartisen, through Tärnaby and Hemavan to Vilhelmina and back to Umeå.

 

Well. Just over a month ago, at the beginning of June and the end of term, my family and I set out on a loop from Umeå that crossed the Arctic Circle, continued north into the topmost regions of Norway, followed fjords south to the – relative – darkness of Sweden’s subarctic interior, across the country and back to Umeå. In eight days we covered over two thousand kilometres and spent more than twenty four hours in the car but were richly rewarded for our efforts.

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Cykelturen Skarume

And now, some catching up. The following post was planned for publication a month ago but mitigating factors (primarily the rush to complete my final presentation for the end of term) forced its postponement. So, without further ado, here’s my May in Umeå (with a little bit of June thrown in for good measure).

 

Unfortunately timed in the final throes of consistently unpleasant ‘spring’ weather, Cykelturen Skarume was an event planned and executed by members of UMA’s LIAI with the support of Umeå2014 (their grants for local initiatives are well worth investigating for anyone planning a contribution to the cultural capital). Bringing together topics from local food production and distribution to an interest in Sweden’s boating, it celebrated the cycling culture alongside the Scandinavians’ antisocial disposition.

 

In practical terms, it was a great success.

 

The event poster for Cykelturen Skarume.

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Valborg, första maj och Gijrra.

To celebrate Valborg take one part Swedish reservation, two parts alcohol, and mix thoroughly with a generous helping of bonfires and barbeques.

Whilst in Germany Walpurgis Nacht is when witches were said to gather for their annual general meeting (say what you will, those are some well organised satanic servants) and welcome the coming of spring, Valborg is when the Swedes traditionally celebrated the end of the administrative year (…coincidence?) with a spring festival. Whereas the larger – and warmer – student cities of Lund and Uppsala celebrate with a champagne breakfast on the lawn, followed by extensive drinking and excessive partying around huge bonfires, celebrations up here are somewhat more subdued.

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Umeå Open 2014 & wood workshop.

Spring is well and truly here. The ice on the river is a distant memory, a few of the hardier plants can be seen sprouting, the sun has even – just occasionally – come out and made it possible to lunch outside and enjoy oneself, not freeze. However, let us catch up on the last few weeks, in which:

- our cohort built timber staircases without the aid of nails, screws, or glues

- festival madness visited in the form of Umeå Open

- both of the previous points occurred in the same week, followed by

- preliminary presentations (I still wake in a cold sweat)

 

And so – belatedly – Umeå Open!

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North of the wall.

Last weekend, on a whim, a few friends and I piled into a car and drove north for an adventure.

 

One of the truly remarkable things about Umeå is its proximity to the sea, lakes, and forest: in short, the amazing possibilities to engage with nature whilst there. One of the other incredible things is how close it is to the Arctic Circle and Lapland – only a few hours by car, as we put to the test.

Arctic Circle.

Our intrepid exploration team finally reach the Arctic Circle. Photograph courtesy of Chris Voss – http://chrisvossphoto.tumblr.com/

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