Without doubt Midsummer is the most important day of celebration in Sweden. Obviously due to the very short Summer season in Scandinavia, every opportunity to experience the light must be seized before the return of the dark Winter. For many Swedes this year there is a palpable disappointment in the air as the relentless cold nor’westerly winds continue to stream down their east coast. Two days ago this tough old viking actually put on ‘Bilbo’ her faithful old wood-burner, to take the chill off the air!
Despite the chilly, unpredictable weather and the endless mechanical headaches, I have been plunged into a state of eternal gratitude for the charming, friendly residents of this small Swedish community. Eva lives near the boat club and has become a good friend. She was determined that I wouldn’t spend Midsummer alone, so her and husband Mats invited me to spend it with them. We drove in their camper-van up to the charming little village of Hölick.
This lovely little village is typical of many that grace the coasts of Sweden, and like the North Sea communities in England and Scotland, they have lost their Cod fish reserves due to over fishing. This has left the villages empty to be rejuvenated for summer homes. One more sad example of another way of life disappearing into history.
And what of Free and the starter-motor saga?
Well, yesterday I finally received a replacement from England, thanks to the kindness and ingenuity of Barry, a gentleman in the company who managed to adapt a new one to be applicable for marine use.
Barry went the extra mile for me, even ringing back at his expense to get the item ordered. Once again my gratitude is immense for yet another angel. Barry and his company DFJ Automotive of Preston, Lancashire have solved yet another one of my mechanical problems. Of course, the saga still has chapters yet to untold, for once installed, it still has to work. Perhaps the problem lies elsewhere? Who knows? This is why I am so fortunate having the experience of folk like Anders, for example.
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, really applies to most marine situations, and it is always good to learn from those who have greater experience. Anders is a man who has all these qualities and I think of him as an engine-whisperer. He joins the list of angelic entities who have taught me so much in this seafaring life.
My aim is now to reach Sundsvall by the 11th of July to meet friends Tara and James from England. They will stay with me for a few days, hopefully to share a little of the beautiful Höga kusten (High Coast). Of course this ultimately depends on a final solution to all matters mechanical. More immediate is the impending visit of a Danish friend of mine, Bernadette, on Monday. We met in London in one of the Youth Hostels and shared many ideas and stories of travelling. She is very intelligent and I feel we are in for some interesting conversation on board Free.
Next week I am off to the north with Eva to take part in a local radio program about my travels, based on the Desert Island Disc format on BBCRadio 4 in the UK; so I have chosen my ten favourite pieces of music and will be interviewed about my sailing life.
Life is beautiful just as it is…
Wherever one finds oneself, and no matter how hard or desperate the situation is; the outer world is just a reflection of one’s thinking. You see what you project, and our power is in creating a beautiful story, no matter how humble or apparently mundane. We are surely all artists in this great cosmos, playing parts in the dance of the divine Lila.
I am so grateful that the values of hospitality are still alive in small communities such as these.
Eva has the last word in my missive:
‘We are a seafaring community and always care for those who come from the sea.’