Lyskväll, a farewell to summer.

Lyskväll, or in English, Light evening, has it’s origins in Finland, where the coast was illuminated by fires and candles, to remember the summer past and long for its return. Winter waits in the wings for his cousin to finally relinquish her merciful warmth, before making his way slowly westwards from the steppes of Russia into Scandinavia, plunging all into icy darkness.


Roger Lundqvist and I light the candles for Lyskväll as Free begins her long winter slumber.

It is not hard to understand why this festival has so much affinity in a part of Europe where winter impinges itself so savagely upon the land and darkness lingers deep into the following year. The folk of northern Sweden, long for the sun’s return and need her healing warmth to rejuvenate body and soul soaking up her light in this beautiful part of the world. I make no apology for my own heathen passion, for as a sailor who is used to living with, and harnessing the elements, the old ways are far more relevant than the theoretical musings of today’s proselytising religious movements.


The last night of summer, and the candles decorate the shore all around the vik.

The following morning, I could really sense that summer had gone and there was a curiously empty, forlorn feeling, augmented by the closed restaurant which I have visited nearly every day while Free has been out of the sea. Seeing Stefan, Micke, Sofi and the other happy young folk so frequently has highlighted a wonderful, lazy summer with a space to write, read and find company.


Stefan, Micke, Sofi and Poppy, at the counter of Borka’s restaurant. I shall miss the laughs and the free coffee! These amazing folk have been wonderful company this summer!

I have always been made so welcome and every day has been relaxed, reflective and throughly enjoyable. Curiously, it is another one of life’s great paradoxes, that the more one basks in such pleasure, the less pleasurable it becomes; I know it is time to sail again and to leave this very special place. It would be such a shame for the magic to be lost amidst indolent complacency and my memories will always be very special and a true reflection of a life well lived.

The day dawned with a ferocious sou’westerly gale blowing through the harbour, adding to that autumnal feeling and the approaching winter, but I have always found that the winds in these northern latitudes usually ease off by nightfall. It would have been such a shame to to spoil this charming festival.


A beautiful but very windy day greets Borka Brygga!

My suspicions were confirmed as the clouds slowly departed to leave a cool, crisp but beautiful evening, and as night fell, the whole shoreline around the vik, slowly revealed the mystical illuminated twinkling of hundreds of candles, so wonderfully pagan. The restaurant began to fill and Stefen and his young crew (even you Micke!!!) began to serve drinks and food, its aroma delightfully drifting around the harbour.


The restaurant fills with folk and the festivities are underway!

This is my third festival since arriving in the north of the Baltic; the first was in Stocka, a small village to the north, but I have to admit that Borka’s celebration was far more impressive, and this year’s the best of all.

The restaurant windows were opened so that the revellers could get a better view of the magnificent firework display and the brygga was full of folk, adding to a splendid spectacle as the night sky erupted into a crescendo of noise and lights. As always the best was saved until last and then all the energy faded away leaving the farewells and reflections on a marvellous Scandinavian summer.


The finale of a wonderful firework display!

The time has come to leave the viking lands, for dear old Free cannot sustain my life in the ferocity of winter, even with the heating that my friend Roger Lundqvist so kindly helped me install.

The nomadic life beckons once again…



About Viking Queen

I am a sailor, and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart. We have so little time in this precious life but what we do should define us, and our reputation is all that we leave behind.
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23 Responses to Lyskväll, a farewell to summer.

  1. Christian says:

    Lovely words about a special place so glad that have visited there and have memories tucked away and pictures to look at.

  2. Roger Lundqvist says:

    I love this post, you have a good sense how we feel abaut the darknes and the coold up here. And the evening in Borka was almoust magic, and I am wery thankful that I was there to witness it.

  3. Simon de Groot says:

    Yes it’s interesting the way that on the 1st of September, the day that the English tend to believe heralds Autumn, the wind can blow and a squall of rain can appear from nowhere to satisfy our preconceptions!….I seem to remember it happening on a few occasions, that very sudden end to summer!…..lovely post and thanks!….;-)

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Si, thanks for your kind words. Yes, I could actually feel the end of summer in a palpable way. My senses are so finely tuned to the elements, probably because I live in this state all the time. So much of modern life is divorced from this these days… a huge gulf exists between the rhythm of the seasons and the artificial ‘inside’ culture that has come into being. A part of me dreads the thought that soon I’ll have to become a part of this culture as my physicality declines in my sixties. I feel privileged to have lived this life, so out of the ordinary, away from the nauseating, sentimentality of modern existence with its false security and worship of all things cheap and nasty.

  4. Simon de Groot says:

    Oh no!!…I have so much to do I’m trying to fight off ideas about physical decline at that time of life at the moment…haha…I am knowing I will have the time I need…(didn’t we discuss this before?)…I am thinking of the fellow who retired at 65 and only then started building a big wooden yacht on which he then sailed long distance single handed….there always has to be someone doesn’t there? 😉

    • Viking Queen says:

      For sure! It isn’t me though… unless necessity dictates. This is why I started when i reached 49. So many folk i meet have all the money but are too tired to benefit from it. In hindsight I feel that i made the correct decision. Certainly I’ve been free for ten years now… free from the slavery that most folk call normal life.

      By the way, it’s lovely to have your feedback as many of of my readers seem to have lost interest over the past year. I’m curious how something so unusual gets so little interest… not because it is me necessarily but because so few folk live this kind of life. There have been times when i have almost stopped it because it takes a lot of care and dedication to apply this much effort. I guess it’s the good old Robert the Bruce determination… ‘If at first you don’t succeed… try and try and try again!’ In my case I just love writing too much to stop it, but if i get to the point where no one comments I’ll call it a day.

      • Andy Penny-Brown says:

        Please never stop writing! It’s magical and mystical with such humour, it doesn’t matter how many or how few read it… what’s within must be transcribed , vision is what is lacking in our society because ‘freedom’ isn’t there anymore but freedom produces an insight of the soul in its surroundings and therefore we are compelled to scribe the vision of what is felt and seen….

    • Viking Queen says:

      Also, on the subject of amazing people… There is always someone, somewhere who has done it more and better than you! That’s why it has to be subjective in the end, for one’s self and not to impress others. I remember listening to a man reeling off a list of amazing folk after he’d asked me who i was and where i’d come from. I almost felt that he had a need to make me ‘unimportant’ for some reason. He was unable to validate my achievement, instead showering me with other peoples amazing feats of endurance. I was exhausted after his tirade and asked him why he was telling me all this… He had no answer, just a blank look as if he didn’t know either!

      • Simon de Groot says:

        Haha…some people just seem to like ego worshipping in that way….they seem to feel bigger when they bask in the glory of some bigger ego that they have projected themselves onto….I shouldn’t say it but it seems to be very common in the Germanic, they have a particular cult of youth which is tiring…love to go on about some kid that’s exceptional in some way…yawn….
        But yes I think we are soul mates on a level so I was always interested your life…but don’t forget that we used to chat in Dutch on mail as well as me following the blog but that tailed off in the end!….I must admit I have noticed over these many years of “virtual friendships” that they often tend to tail off unless made “real” occasionally…if there is a real element it tends to make the relationship more tenacious and it often picks up again after a lull….I am fairly tenacious in my relationships though, I tend to keep friends like I hoard old junk!….normally friends drift away from me rather than the other way round, and that’s what seems to have happened because although I still have a few in theory I lack funds to travel to see them anyway….:-(

      • Viking Queen says:

        We are similar for sure… it’s definitely some kind of metaphysical link, especially as we keep ‘missing’ each other when our paths nearly cross! Probably Loki, the trickster! Fascinating insights Si!

  5. Simon de Groot says:

    Yes I would say I’m someone who likes to keep the door open for old friends….if there has been a falling out I often can’t remember what it was !!!….:-))

    • Viking Queen says:

      Yes, I felt that… After my disastrous sojourn in the Netherlands (Jörg) I nearly went off the rails and lost contact with everyone, and my blog corrupted (the one you were following) as it was an Apple app which they withdrew, so I lost all my posts. I refused to give up though and a friend of mine Harriet, told me about ‘WordPress’. The blog actually resurrected my faith in myself as a worthy human being and acted as a mirror of sorts; a chance to prove that I still had some courage and didn’t need a relationship to make me whole. Even when I am around big ego’s and ‘I’ve done everything’ type folk, I know what i have done and no one can take that away from me… no amount of ‘paper yacht masters’, or ‘sailory beard’ types.

  6. Simon de Groot says:

    “Happy in your skin” is what I would call that….I think maybe going through your “dark night of the soul” and living a dream or two can help to put you in that position. You get to the stage where yo have some real expertise and experience in some areas…feel secure about them with respect to others, and what you don’t know you don’t care about anyway!…;-)

    • Simon de Groot says:


    • Viking Queen says:

      I often wondered what that comment meant… Although it probably does apply, I do have to be very careful to avoid these kind of folk, as it doesn’t take long for me to feel invalidated and disrespected. Work to be done in this area maybe, or perhaps it’s a lesson in picking your company wisely? Who knows? I’m not ‘proud’ enough to sit in denial, pretending i’m okay with their attitudes; however, wisdom has taught me that you can’t fight everybody negative who comes into your space, so a more zen approach normally suffices!

  7. Sarah Noss says:

    I am paying attention even though I don’t often comment. Hopefully you know I think you are inspiring!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Nice surprise, Sarah! Sometimes it’s hard to know it anyone is ‘out there’! Maybe, as you say, there are some readers. Hope all is good at your end! Px

  8. Rosemarie Nitschke says:

    Hi Poppy,

    thank you for bringing the taste of the entry of the Swedish autumn in Borka to my living room. When I drove back from my crystal seminar last Monday, I had noticed yellow leaves on the ground and was feeling a kind of despair, ‘summer can’t be over yet, it’s hardly just begun’. That wanting to hold on to summer, not being ready for change, yet etc. I looked at that feeling and that part of me that wan’t ready to accept the ‘reality’ of change. Having a ceremony to be grateful for the warmth, the light and sunshine of summer and welcoming the inevitable autumn that is to come, is a great way of getting ourselves in tune with the seasons and the rhythm of life and nature itself.
    I think of you often and the statement you made about ‘the more one basks in such pleasures (being relaxed and reflexive and enjoying oneself), the less pleasurable it becomes. How true! We need change and challenges to bring out the new and unknown parts in ourselves. Thank goodness life has its own way of presenting itself to us and we don’t always get what we think we want! So the journey continues and no matter whether we are on land or on sea, it’s always an adventure. Your life and your sharing it with us is greatly appreciated wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
    Thanks Poppy for your brave heart and loving soul!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Rosie Lee! Wonderful prose and thank you! It is lovely to receive such thoughtful, insightful and heartfelt feedback! You are so correct about being attached to the seasons! Folk in the UK are forever wanting to experience something other than what is happening. Too hot, too cold etc. I love the changes, the new adventure and thoughts of friendships yet to be realised. Off to UK on Tuesday, then Liverpool and Glasgow. Hunting for my new apartment! Take care my friend and let’s meet soon.

  9. Renate Krappweis says:

    I´m reading this while sitting on the island of Hvar in Croatia in our RV with the Bora wind blowing, watching nature and being very grateful for spending time with my son and his family, watching the kids turn into thoughtful and kind adults and thanks to one of these kids am able to read your wonderful post. Thank you Poppy! Hope your hunt is successful soon!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hello dear Renate! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. How lovely to hear such positive things about Young folk! Enjoy the rest of your ‘voyage’ and thank you for your good wishes. I am in Arlanda waiting for my flight to London!

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