Category: Exploring Sweden & Days Out in Sweden (Page 1 of 3)

St.Lucia – Discover A Swedish Winter Tradition

On December 13th, all over Sweden, the day of St.Lucia is celebrated.¬† There are costumes, candles, lights, buns, drinks, and singing ūüôā

So who is St.Lucia?

Along with the celebration of midsummer, the celebration of St.Lucia is a very popular cultural tradition here in Sweden. The idea behind this mythical character is that she has the role of bearing light in the long, cold, dark, winters.  St Lucia was originally a young Christian lady betrothed  to a pagan gentleman.  She cut off their engagement, and he was not too happy, so he made the Roman authorities aware she was a Christian.  Consequently she was sentenced to death and became a martyr, and the saint of light.

How to celebrate St.Lucia:

  1. Dress up: The children are dressed in white gowns, with red sashes, and a wreath of candles is placed upon their heads.  There is often great competition for the role of St.Lucia, and whilst a lot of costumes will now involve electric candles, the main St.Lucia of the celebration is still known to have real candles on her head in most places.  She is accompanied by her handmaidens (tärnor) who wear white gowns and have tinsel in their hair.  She is also accompanied by star boys (stjärngossar), who wear white robes, cone shaped hats, and carry golden stars on sticks.  The processions now often include tomtar (santa like elves) and gingerbread people.  My double trouble are going to be tomtar this year. 
  2. Food:  No celebration would be truly Swedish without having a special bun or cake made for the occassion!  On this day you eat lussekatter.  They are made with saffron, so have a peculiar flavour to them, but are very tasty. Also on offer are the pepparkakor (small thin ginger biscuits), all swallowed down with yet more glögg!  Or if you are a child, the incredibly sweet drink of Julmust, or maybe just a coffee if you are driving.
  3. Sing Songs:  Most of these songs have a similar theme about the dark and about candles, but singing is a big part of the celebration.

We will be enjoying a little St.Lucia celebration in my twins’ class one evening around this time as they sing us some songs.¬† They are going to be a couple of tomtar ūüôā¬† Comment and let me know your thoughts on this Swedish tradition and if you’ve enjoyed reading about it below.¬† Don’t forget to share the post to let others know!

St.Lucia Discover a winter Swedish tradition, St.Lucia, Sweden culture, Swedish traditions, Swedish celebrations, www.mammasschool.co.uk

I have had a similar article published by the Newbieguide.se and it can be found by clicking on the following link http://www.thenewbieguide.se/st-lucia-discover-swedish-winter-tradition/

   

Skanör РVisit The Swedish Riviera.

Skanör, Sweden, Southern Sweden, Sweden Beaches, Skanör Beach, Sweden travel, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Summer seems so far away now, but I wanted to share a beautiful place with you that we visited during our long, lazy Swedish summer ūüôā¬† Skan√∂r is right down in the southwest corner of Sk√•ne, Sweden, and you can see Denmark and the famous √Ėresund bridge connecting the two countries. ¬†There is a pretty town, surrounded by long stretches of white sandy beaches and beautiful blue clear seas.

I took the trio on a camping adventure to Skan√∂r over the summer. ¬†It was only for 2 nights (I was the only adult with 2 five year old’s and a 9 year old, and camping is hard work!!), but we could have easily stayed a lot longer (in a hotel!!) enjoying the pristine white beaches, clean clear seas, and stunning views. ¬†We pottered a little around the town of Skan√∂r to get a feel for the place, before heading down towards the sand dunes. ¬†Nestled in the sand dunes are lots of very pretty beach huts, painted an array of all the colours of the rainbow, making it such a fun place for the children to play in. ¬†Nature, once again, presented them with a really exciting playground ūüôā¬† We even managed to locate a geocache in the dunes too.

The beaches are so vast here that there is more than enough room for everybody, and you feel that you are in your own bit of paradise even though it is the middle of the summer and peak holiday season.  My mini men loved running along the beach (a game they did for ages), and I could let them run way into the distance as I could see them easily with it not being busy.  They also got a great sense of freedom.  The three also enjoyed running in amongst the dunes, hiding in them (I enjoyed that bit slightly less as they were vast!), and making up games using the slopes of the dunes.  If you are ever in the south of Sweden, Skanör is a must visit place to experience.

Country Kids
 

Ronneby Naturum – A Nature Based Learning Haven

Ronneby Naturum is set inside Ronneby Brunnspark Рa huge outdoor nature area, with many walks, woods, play parks, ponds, and a swimming pool.  The nature centre itself literally took our breath away.  It is filled with fantastic exhibitions for both young and old, but what grabbed our attention and made it so great for the trio, was that it is so interactive, hands on, and there is nothing out of bounds to little fingers that like touching everything!  We have been to Ronneby Naturum a few times now, and one rainy afternoon we spent the entire time in there together with our nature journals, merrily sketching away.

As you enter Ronneby Naturum you immediately come across a very striking and visual exhibition (see the photo!) about lynx in Sweden.¬† My three just stood their gawping!¬† We have moved to a country with wildlife that really grabs their imaginations; bears, wolves, wild boar, √§lg (moose), and lynx are just some of what is here.¬† However, these are all very hard to see in real life, especially with three young children who give the wildlife plenty of warning that they are approaching, with their noise levels ūüôā¬† So, to walk in and see this life sized lynx was fantastic, and really brought it home to them what is lurking out there.¬† We spent some time learning about them and looking at the areas where they live around and near us before being drawn further into the centre.

Another favourite was a transparent operational bee hive, which had an entrance/exit to the outdoors.¬† This was so good for the children to watch the bees so close up.¬† The emphasis is very much on being able to interact with exhibits.¬† This may take the form of sticking your hand into a container “blind” to work out what’s in there with just a written clue, feeding the fish in the tanks, pressing buttons to hear various animal/bird sounds (twin 1 can never resist a button so he was in his element), or just picking up and handling various exhibits that are laid out.

In our county (Blekinge), we are surrounded by water, with islands everywhere making up the archipelago we live on.  So, naturally there is a big exhibition about the coast and the marine life around our area.  The older ones can learn more about the geology, the biodiversity, why it is such a sensitive area of nature, and how we can fish or sail whilst protecting it.  Part of this exhibition is a sail boat which the children can board and pretend to sail the high seas.  It has moving parts to handle, sails to move, and benches to lift, under which reside very cute and fluffy cuddly mice and seals.  This was a revelation to us being allowed to climb on board such an exhibit, and when the staff saw my good old English reservation about children clambering over exhibits, they came and said the children must climb all over it!

The “lab” is another highlight of Ronneby Naturum.¬† This is a separate little room that you can lose yourself in for a good few hours!¬† It is full of stuffed wild animals from the forests, and exhibits you can pick up and handle.¬† Anything from snake skins, to stag beetles, to animal bones, animal antlers, and a whole heap of samples you can examine under one of the microscopes in there.¬† There are also a couple of aquariums in there.¬† It is such a lovely place, with so much to see, and it is also very cosy!

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Ronneby Naturum (but check the opening times first as they alter drastically day to day, and season to season).¬† You can easily spend a day in the park, with a visit to the naturum as part of it.¬† You can wander the woods blueberry picking in the early autumn, have lunch on one of the fire pits, and feed the ducks also.¬† There is also an ice cream kiosk serving delicious tasty treats too ūüôā¬† Plus there is no charge for the park or its naturum.¬† Ronneby Naturum is a place we will be returning to many many more times.

Ronneby Naturum, Ronneby Brunnspark, Nature based learning, nature, home education, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

R√§ntem√•la G√•rd √Ąlg Park – See the Beautiful Elk.

R√§ntem√•la G√•rd √Ąlg Park, Alg, elk, moose, sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

R√§ntem√•la G√•rd √Ąlg Park is a haven for √§lg, each with their own story to tell. ¬†The √§lg (elk/moose) are very shy creatures, and despite me coming backwards and forwards to Scandinavia regularly for over 40 years now, I had never managed to see one of these beautiful animals. ¬†Even though we are out in nature a lot, and hiking off the beaten trail, the experience had alluded me. ¬†R√§ntem√•la G√•rd √Ąlg Park, offers visitors the opportunity to see these stunning animals in their natural environment.

√Ąlg first appeared on R√§ntem√•la G√•rd √Ąlg Park back in 1996, when an abandoned calf, called Helga, (they all have names), was found in a paddock and eventually made his home on the farm. ¬†There are many tales to tell behind the reasons for each √§lg being there, and they are so fun to listen too. ¬†There has even been an escapee, leaping over the fence, only to find that he returned during hunting season to never leave again….he wasn’t keen on hunting season!!

We headed up to R√§ntem√•la G√•rd √Ąlg Park one late summer’s afternoon. ¬†You need to check the website for opening times and months of the year. ¬†They work around the √§lg life. ¬†They like to eat in the late afternoon, hence the farm being open to visitors then, as you will see them. ¬†They know where there is good, easy, food and head up to the meadow to get some. ¬†It also closes to the public before the summer is finished, as although these lovely creatures are very tame (and we got lots of opportunity to stroke and feed them) they are still wild animals. ¬†Come September the males will be looking to mate and will become aggressive. ¬†In order to prevent anyone getting hurt, they close the farm to the public well in advance to prevent any randy √§lg causing havoc.

 

I totally and utterly fell in love with these beautiful animals, and it is safe to say I am now totally besotted with them!  We fed them bread (even bananas to one cheeky bull), and stroked their velvety antlers.  We rubbed their noses, and had a little chuckle about their gangly legs and interactions with each other.  They are amusing to watch together.  The farm owners did a very informative background chat, which was also funny, and we learnt so much.  It was very hands on and a very close up experience.  I would recommend it to anyone as a way to see these very shy, but lovely animals.  Our three were speechless, in awe, and although nervous at first, they were keen to get touching and stroking once they got used to their presence and size.  It was so lovely for them.

Country Kids

Our First Summer in Sweden-The Blog Returns :-)

Good morning!!! ¬†So the loony trio have returned back to school in Sweden, full of smiles and giggles…..the little lady at the age of 9 heads into year 3, and her first proper start of the swedish school year, and the mini men start their f√∂rskola klass which is 5 mornings a week….I feel like I don’t whats hit me after nearly six years of 24/7 double trouble!

This dangerous few free hours every morning has allowed me to think, in which direction I wanted to head with my blog. ¬†I have come to the conclusion that it will return, but on very different terms. My terms, not the numbers game terms of “getting you blog out there”, and everything associated with that. ¬†Life here in Sweden, and our big move here to Sweden, was all about adopting their way of living, and their slower paced, more nature loving way of living. ¬†I felt my work on the blog was contradicting this and I was drifting away from the original reasons I started it, and I do love writing it when the reasons for doing so are right. ¬†The blog is supposed to be all about trying to inspire people to reach for your dreams, get outside in nature, and educating children outside the box. ¬†So, with that in mind, I will now be posting just twice a week, on a Tuesday and Thursday. ¬†However, over on instagram we are making full use of the insta stories function almost on a daily basis and doing daily “mini blogs” with our photos….so head over to¬†https://www.instagram.com/mammasschool/to follow us on our one big Swedish adventure and see what we get up to. ¬†The stories only stay on there for 24 hours. We will also still share our instagram photos over on the facebook page too, so you can follow there as well¬†https://www.facebook.com/Mammas-School-1078629212158924/

We’ve had an amazing 10 weeks of summer holidays here in Sweden, exploring our new home. ¬†We have camped, visited outdoor viking museums, had many boat trips around our archipelago (including one with a friend we have made on the island, in his own boat). ¬†We’ve hiked loads, eaten lots of smokey fire pit food, geocached, hidden our own geocache, made LOTS of various fruit wines (and food), been to our first music festival, taken a trip up the west coast, finally managed to stop the ice cream van (those that visited and live here will know what a challenge that is), I’ve repainted our cabin (a whole new lesson and steep learning curve in maintaining wooden living areas), grown, foraged, and picked lots of food, and celebrated midsummer’s in great style! ¬†We have been fortunate enough to see the coming and going of four sets of visitors too, and spent some really treasured times with these family and close friends. ¬†We hope they will return again. ¬†So, adieu until Tuesday, and I will leave you with “Our Summer in Photos”….enjoy ūüôā

Ales Stones – A Megalithic Monument

The last stop on our day’s adventure to Sk√•ne, was Ales Stones. ¬†This is an acient monument that dates back to the Iron Age. ¬†Ales Stones is made up of 59 huge stones, that are placed in a 67 metre long outline of a ship. ¬†They are located in a beautiful setting, 32 metres above sea level, overlooking the Baltic Sea and √Ėsterlen’s hilly landscape. ¬†The vista is amazing once you have completed the climb up to the monument. ¬†It is Sweden’s best preserved ship tumulus and was built around 1400 years ago.

This was our last stop of a long and exciting day.  The children were tired, but it still did not stop them competing against each other to get to the top.  The weather was now starting to get very windy and more chilly, so I think they were spurred on by the need to keep warm!  The walk up was not too long, but very steep, and the views back down to the harbour as we climbed up were nothing short of stunning.  As is so often the case here in Sweden there was no charge for the privilege of seeing this wonderful piece of history, and no barriers either.  This meant that once we had reached the top, the children could touch, feel, and move in amongst the large boulders, really gaining a sense of perspective of how big it all was.  There are sheep and cattle grazing in amongst the monument too, adding a sense of calm and tranquillity to the area.  I realise perhaps these monuments in Sweden are not as busy as some back in the UK (I think we all know of a similar one I am referring to), but to not have to pay extortionate entry fees, and to be able to wander freely amongst the monument whilst respecting it, is a very lovely thing.

So what are Ales Stones?

Some think it is a burial monument, while others think they were an astronomical clock.  They are placed so that the sun sets on the northwestern stone in the summer, and the sunrises on the exact opposite stone in the winter.  They are erected in a ship formation (67m long and 19m wide at the widest point), and it is believed to originate from the early Iron Age (500-1000 AD).  The views from the top were also stunning, and very large!

It was such a lovely place to be, so it was a shame it felt like we were in a bit of a rush.  However, the wind was really picking up, and temperatures were starting to fall quite quickly, and the children were tired after a lovely, but long day in the outdoors and fresh air (not to mention a LOT of walking/running).  So we descended down with the eldest having to get a piggy back from Dadda, as a stumble made her shed tears of tiredness, and got back to the car.  We strapped everyone in, and started the 2.5 hour journey back home through the Swedish countryside.  It was very quiet from the trio, and Dadda and I were left to admire the Swedish landscape.  Another time, it would be nice to dawdle at the top, and then enjoy the fresh fish restaurants at the bottom, but I think that is more a summer experience!!

Ales Stones, Ales Stenar, Iron Age Sweden, Sweden Monument, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Stenshuvuds National Park – A Biodiversity Gem

Stenshuvuds National Park is an area in southern Sweden that brings together many different natural environments within quite a small area. ¬†Stenshuvud is actually a hill located in a relatively flat area of Sweden, so the views from the top are magnificent. It faces the Baltic Sea. ¬†The Stenshuvuds National Park contains forest, meadows, open heath land, swamps, and beaches…you can’t get many more forms of environment in one area!! ¬†With the rich diverse environments, also comes a rich and diverse array of animal and plant life. ¬†Close to the top are the remains of a 5th or¬†6th century fortress (which we didn’t visit this time round).

We arrived at Stenshuvuds National Park with the aim of taking a nice afternoon hike in a loop, taking in as many of the different environments as possible.  We started out in the forest, with a boardwalk over the more swampy areas.  The children loved trying to balance along the edges, and being the first real warmish day of spring, we were able to ditch the hats and over trousers, and enjoy the freedom of just being in thick jumpers and coats!

 

Once we had emerged from the wooded area, there was an open slope down to the wide and open stretch of beautiful white sandy beach. ¬†This area of Sweden is known for amber washing up ashore, so we were on a treasure hunt immediately! ¬†The rocks and stones were so beautiful. ¬†Many different colours and patterns, and soon the children were collecting them and stowing half of Sweden away in their pockets. ¬†They had a lot of favourite ones, and there were some tough decisions to be made about which few could come home with us, after they had lugged them a good way along the beach! ¬†Unfortunately we didn’t manage to locate any amber, but we did enjoy the stunning beach, its views, and the windiest part of the walk. ¬†The boys loved racing the waves in and out, standing on the verge of the water and then running backwards before the next wave could soak their feet:-)

After the beach it was up through the heath land and admiring the views on the way up, as well as the few hardy flowers that had been brave and already opened. ¬†Then it was back into the forest again to head towards the car. ¬†It was so nice to finally feel we were out in spring sunshine and the walk had amazing views. ¬†A truly beautiful place, and as the park describes themselves “a biodiversity gem”.

 

Stenshuvuds National Park, Sweden National Parks, Sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Kiviksgraven – A Bronze Age Monument

On our recent trip to Kivik, we decided to visit Kiviksgraven. ¬†This is a large Bronze Age grave monument, and one of the most remarkable bronze age monuments in Sweden. ¬†There is a very large cairn on the top of the ground, marking the grave’s location, that is 75m across. ¬†Underneath there is a burial chamber, with a passage leading into it. ¬†In the centre of this burial chamber are 8 slabs. ¬†It had always been thought that an important person or king was buried in there. ¬†In the early 1930’s there was archaeological work done inside the grave, and although they thought they had found the king’s remains, it turned out they were probably several teenagers buried in there throughout a period of 600 years.

The Kiviksgraven is situated where people had lived 6,000 years ago, living off what the forest and sea gave them.  Then 3,500 years ago, the place took on some sort of spiritual significance and the Kiviksgraven was built.  The stone slabs inside the grave are adorned with bronze age drawings of ships, horses, and people.  There are now a lot of other burial mounds and standing stones too in the area.  The Kiviksgraven was discovered when back in the 18th century workers started using the stones for construction purposes.  Whilst doing this 2 men fell down into the chamber and the grave was discovered.

We paid our 25 sek (£2.50) for each adult to enter (children were free) and headed on in.  We thought this was a bargain considering the expense going anywhere with all 5 of us usually entails.  Plus you could get right up to the stones, and look at them properly.  This is a lot nicer for children who are not much good at looking at stones from a distance!  The drawings were in really good condition and the whole tomb was a little surreal to be inside.  After visiting inside the tomb, we walked round the whole of the outside. We had some difficulty trying to keep the trio off the cairn as it resembled one giant fun play area in their eyes, but eventually they understood.

These monuments don’t take that long to visit, and after a 2 hour drive to get to it, we needed a little refreshment before we continued on our tour, so we headed inside to the very Swedish and very lovely wooden hut cafe. ¬†The children also had a little play in the garden area.

This was such an amazing piece of history to see, and really well preserved. ¬†It was lovely to be able to get so close to it as well ūüôā

Kiviksgraven A Bronze Age Monument, kings grave Skane, bronze age grave, skane, Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Sandhammeren Beach – The Carribean in Sweden!

Sandhammeren beach lies down in southern Sweden in Sk√•ne, and is one of Sweden’s finest beaches. ¬†The long stretches of white sand there can rival any Caribbean beach. ¬†On our recent adventure into this part of Sweden, Sandhammeren beach was on our “to do” list, and we were not disappointed. ¬†The beach stretches for miles and miles and miles, the sand is white and soft, the sea is blue and clear (and cold in late April!), and there are¬†the most amazing sand dunes as the back drop to this fantastic landscape.

As As soon as we released the trio from the car they ran straight for the dunes, and were racing up and down them for ages, giving Dadda and I ample time to take in the gorgeous view and use a leisurely pace to head towards the beach. ¬†The children were just running and running. ¬†The huge expanse of dunes, meant total freedom for further than they could have stamina for (a perfect win for parents!). ¬†Once we caught up with them, we headed onto the beach. ¬†Here the sand was so white, soft, and beautiful. ¬†We were there on a windy late April day, but in the summer the sea will be a lot calmer and warmer for swimming in. ¬†Today the children were happy just to chase the waves, and again run, run, run enjoying the freedom. ¬†We didn’t meet another soul along Sandhammeren beach, and could see either way along the beach for miles. ¬†Our little lady seemed to favour playing down on the shore line, enjoying splashing, running in and out of the waves, and writing her name in footprints on the sand. ¬†It wasn’t long before the wellies were discarded in favour of bare feet as the waves had gone in over the top anyway. ¬†Where we used to live in the UK we had a shingle beach, and whilst she was always to be found barefoot (the best way to be), it was always with an uncomfortable hobble. ¬†So, to say she enjoyed sinking her feet into the soft sand is an understatement. ¬†After a long winter of being all wrapped up in hats, coats, gloves, and second pairs of trousers, I think we all felt a sense of freedom with the shedding of the layers!

Meanwhile the mini men seemed to favour the dunes immediately behind us, running up and down them, before finally persuading Dadda to leap off them (he doesn’t need much persuading!!). ¬†They had so much fun going up and down, and in an out of the grasses.

An action shot of Dadda and our little lady jumping off the dunes

We spent a good couple of hours just exploring this gorgeous beach, and shoes and pockets were filled with sand by the end of all the fun.  We headed back towards the car through the heath and scrub on the footpath, meandering our way a bit more chilled out by now.  Once we were back in the car park, the children had a quick obligatory tree climb and play on the rope swing, before climbing back into the car, with a little less energy than they got out of it with!!  We will definitely be returning to Sandhammeren beach during the summer to have some fun in the Swedish summer sun here, as we have totally fallen in love with the place!

Sandhammeren Beach, Skåne, Skane beach, Sweden beaches, white sand, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Two Tiny Hands

Kivik – The Apple Capital Of Sweden

Since moving to Sweden, I have started compiling lists of where to visit and what to see.  Somewhere not too far from us is the county of Skåne.  This county is known for its huge expanse of sandy beaches, its proliferation of apple blossom in the spring, and lovely old villages.  So, with far too much on my list to achieve in one day, we chose 5 things to do on a bright but chilly and windy spring day.  First up was the village of Kivik, but we will no doubt be returning many times to this lovely county to do more exploring!!

Kivik has an old part of the town near the harbour and seafront. ¬†It has lovely old buildings and cobbled streets, and is very beautiful. ¬†It has lots of unique little shops, restaurants, and cafes. ¬†It is very early in the spring here, but we got a taste of how it would come alive in the summer months, and how people would be jostling for space at the fresh fish restaurants, and enjoying the sandy harbour area. ¬†It also has one of Sweden’s oldest cinemas there, but we did not locate that.

The area around Kivik is also very renowned for its apple growing.  The climate seems to favour this fruit here, and Kivik is the centre of Swedish apple cultivation; the apple capital of Sweden.  In fact, there is so much going on, that the blossom season is a sight to see in its own right, and we had set out on our adventure aiming to see this.  A month ago when we visited the UK the blossom season was in full swing, and I thought we may have been OK visiting it here in Sweden now, but I think we were a little early, but only by a week or so.  Some of the trees had started and others were ready to burst open with blossom, and it hinted at the spectacle of what was to come.  It was still very pretty, but we were a little too early in May for our visit.

Kivik - The Apple Capital of Sweden, Visit Skane, Osterlen, apple blossom, sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

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