Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Category: Living abroad (Page 1 of 10)

Våffeldagen – A Whole Day Dedicated to Eating Waffles!

Våffeldagen is a whole day in Sweden dedicated to eating waffles….nom nom!  Saturday 25th March was the day this year.  It is another way of celebrating the start of spring after the cold dark winter here in Sweden.  The name originally comes from “Vårfrudagen” meaning our lady’s day, which is on the same day, but said in a poorly articulated way , can be mistaken for Våffeldagen.

On Våffeldagen you make waffles and serve them with fruit jams, cream, cheese, or fresh fruit.  We have a special Scandinavian heart shaped waffle iron to make ours, and here is our recipe we use:

3 dl plain flour

2 x eggs

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

3 tsp butter

1 tsp cardamom

3 dl milk

We then serve them up while still warm.  Coffee is very good with them, but due to the time of day we were eating ours, it was wine o’clock!!

våffeldagen in Sweden, waffle day, living in Sweden, Sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Living Abroad-Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 4: Home is Where the Heart Is.

Living abroad in Sweden home is where the heart is www.mammasschool.co.ukLiving abroad in Sweden has given us a new home.  Our home is another thing that is really working for us.  Not only are we now the proud owners of a Swedish red wooden home, but it creates such a cosy atmosphere.  With the long and cold winters though, this is really important in Sweden.  Your home is your haven.  We have lots of windows to help get more light into the place, as well as light walls and light wooden flooring.  The whole of the living space is open plan, creating a more friendly atmosphere.  We also follow the typical Swedish living space habit of having lots of cosy lamps rather then harsh overhead lights.  Then there is our lovely wood burning stove.  A necessity here in case of power cuts in storms, but a centre piece for our family’s living.  The children have been known to just sit there and watch it, read books in front of it, and play games sat in front of it.  Our home really is warm, cosy, and inviting 🙂

So, you might ask, this living abroad has all been a bit one sided and too positive, there surely must be some downsides.  Well there are a few, but definitely not deal breakers!  You need to plan when you want an alcoholic tipple.  These are only sold in government run shops (called Systembolaget), in very few places, with limited opening hours.  But, on the other hand it is normal to bulk buy alcohol and store it 🙂 Our nearest Systembolaget is a 30 minute drive, so there’s none of this “I just fancy a bottle of wine tonight”!!  The language is another harder aspect of living abroad.  Dadda works in an English speaking office, with people from all over the world, so is not exposed to the language daily.  Our trio are now immersed in it during the week at school and pre-school, but they are still on a very steep learning curve.  It probably affects our little lady the most in trying to build friendships and communicate with others her age.  She has had quite a few friends back home after school, and has also been to someone else’s house, so whilst it frustrates her at times, she is making friends.

If this family adventure does end up being an expensive flop, at least there will be no “what ifs”, and so no regrets.  We have tried and given it a go.  The children will have experienced the world classroom, and a different culture, language, and lifestyle.  I think we have all adapted pretty well so far.  We seem to be integrating a little.  We have even had 2 visits now by close relatives, that whilst it was sad to say goodbye to them at the end of their trips, there were no tears and outrage from the children directed at their parents decision to move them to another country!  I can’t say enough though about how much we love living here, and I feel that maybe we have found our place in the world that we can call home 🙂








Living Abroad in Sweden Part 4 Making a home www.mammasschool.co.uk

Living Abroad-Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 3: Work & Snow!

Living abroad in Sweden work snow www.mammasschool.co.ukAfter a slight technical glitch this morning…here is part 3!!!  Living abroad here in Sweden, Dadda’s job has worked out very well too.  Back in the UK there is the practice of people not wanting to be seen leaving before anyone else (regardless of having done their hours), as it seems to be almost a competition of who can work the most (much to his unhappiness)!  Here, no one is staying beyond the end of their hours, and you’d be thought insane to do so!  This makes such a difference to one’s outlook on work, and puts it in its place, and family time first.  They also make sure fika is continued in the work place.  This is a Swedish concept, with no direct English translation, but generally translates taking a break with a coffee, a bun, and a chat.  They actively encourage you to step away from your desk and take a (paid) break.

Then there is the white stuff….lots and lots of white stuff!  Don’t get me wrong, you need to like the cold, the winter, the dark, and wearing warm hats and 2 pairs of trousers for 6 months of the year, and enjoy a good workout digging your car out.  However if you do, this is the place for you.  I was even told tonight, they hadn’t had a proper winter this year!!  Well, we have been very happy with lots of sledging, dozens of snowmen, and hundreds of snowballs thrown!  I can see though, if you are a sunshine, warm weather person, this is definitely not the place for you!  For us though, having four clearly defined seasons is amazing 🙂

Tomorrow I will conclude this little series on how we have found life since living abroad in Sweden.  I will be looking at how the home is the heart of our family, and how Swedish our home and living has become.  Plus I will be considering what happens if we find out it is not for us…….

Living Abroad in Sweden work and snow www.mammasschool.co.uk

Living Abroad – Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 2: School and Go Slowly.

living abroad in Sweden school slowing down www.mammasschool.co.ukYesterday I wrote about letting children be children, and a big part of that is their schooling.  This time last year we pulled the plug on formal, conventional schooling for our then 8 year old, as we were seeing her shrivel up before our eyes.  It was one the best parenting decisions we have ever made.  Over the next 6 months she grew and blossomed in a way that was so lovely to see.  Living abroad here in Sweden, everyone has to attend school.  It might sound harsh, but the reality is very different.  First of all, formal schooling does not start until 7 years of age, placing priority on play for the years up to then.  The Swedes recognise that a lot of important learning and developing comes naturally through a child’s play.  Then once they start school, they are only there for the morning (this includes a mid morning break, lunch, and a lunch break).  So, as you can see, still ample opportunity for children run, climb, and play both within the school day and afterwards.  Our now 9 year old little lady does not bring home homework every week either.  She may have some every couple of weeks, but even then it shouldn’t take half an hour (it can take us a little longer as we have to translate the Swedish!!).  There are no standardised tests until well into their teenage years, so the pressure is off these young, curious, wanting to learn minds, and learning is there to be enjoyed.  Having left a pressure cooker education system behind that has children exhausted, in tears, and feeling a failure, we are more than happy to embrace this positive approach to learning, and we mix it up by carrying on with our own home educating journey at home 🙂  School is important to us here as a place for her to meet others her age and learn the language, coming from an English speaking household, so it serves us well too.  She calls her teacher by her first name (that is just how it is done here), and there is mutual respect between adults and children.  It’s such a lovely environment….oh apart from the no shoes indoors policy….I have to keep a better eye out for the holes in the socks situation!  But on the flip side she loves running and sliding down the corridors!  The lovely island school has turned out to be what we wanted for our trio, and more.  We never asked for them to give her any special resources/attention, but to help her progress in Swedish she gets some lessons when the others have English or maths (she’s been doing maths formally for 3 years longer than her classmates).  She has Swedish language workbooks too.  School has worked very well here so far, even despite her language barrier.  This week she’s brought home her first written Swedish work, about space, for us to look at, and even their workbooks are much more attention grabbing for them!  The mini men are at förskola, even though there is no requirement for them to attend.  They go three mornings a week (a total of 15 hours) to be immersed in the language and meet little people their own age.  They love it and have a lot of fun there.  They are outdoors a lot, and the environment really suits them.

With three children, life can easily start feeling like a hectic race from the moment you get out of bed, until the moment you collapse into it at the end of the day.  A huge reason for moving here was to slow right down, and commit to a much simpler way of living.  It just seems a lot easier to do here.  We have moved to a small island community (small communities are the norm), you can’t just pop to the shops to spend frivolously (the nearest are about a 30 minute drive, again not unusual), and there are no other material distraction, so life is lived at a more leisurely pace.  We’re no longer sucked into things like a weekend chocca full of children’s parties, activities, or shopping.  Instead it is full of family time, hiking, exploring, and lots of play!  We’ve even streamlined to one car (the bus route to Dadda’s work is very good and he enjoys chilling on the bus).  Even though we live in a remote area, public transport is much better than in the UK (even if the driving is a bit more haphazard!).  So we don’t need 2 cars.  We can get fresh fish by cycling down to our island harbour and buying whatever the catch is.  The post doesn’t come at all at the weekend.  No one rushes anything here.  At first, trying to sort out all our immigration paperwork etc, it was mildly frustrating but we have learnt to roll with it better now.  Even the bills only come after you’ve had something a while.  Everyone just accepts that everything will happen in the end.  The trust between people is huge too.  You can leave your bike unlocked or your house open, and the worst that will happen is you’ll find a friend sat waiting for you to come home for a chat.  As a British person this takes some getting used to, and I am not sure we’d ever get to the point where we’d leave the house unlocked, but it’s comforting to know that this is the kind of place we live.  As well as life being simple, it is less rushed and hectic.  This is a very large country with a smaller population than the UK.  The roads are not busy, speed limits are lower, the shops shut early on a Saturday for people to be with family and friends at the weekend.  I understand this would not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us and how we want to raise our family, it is perfect.

Tomorrow I will be letting you know about how work is going for Dadda, and how we have found living with the white stuff!

 

Living Abroad – Reflections After Six Months In Sweden Part 1: Outdoors & Children.


It is now nearing 6 months that we have been living abroad in Sweden.  I felt that it was about time I reflected back on the move and the reasons behind them, and whether our dreams have become a reality.  I’m going to reflect back in four parts, so sit back and enjoy the update over the next few days!  It is quite a good point to be reflecting back on the move and the decision to be living abroad, as in a few short weeks we will be returning to the UK.  We will have a brief stay visiting friends and family, and then we will return back to our newly adopted place that we now call our home, in Sweden.

Since long before we had children, Dadda and I have always had the dream of living abroad in Scandinavia.  We had many reasons for wanting to do this, reasons that became more important after we had our children.  Suddenly our lives affected them, as did our choices, and for us, our dreams were to bring our children up with the experience of everything Scandinavia can offer them both in terms of ethos of living, and experiencing this wonderful part of the world.  Luckily for us, in the Summer of 2016, an opportunity finally came our way, and a move to Sweden was in the making….all I can say is never give up on your dreams as it took a lot of years, and a lot of goes to get here!

Dadda had left 7 weeks ahead of us four, as we needed to find somewhere to live, pack up our UK house, and then ship everything over.  Those 7 weeks were hard, not just because I was home educating, packing up a house, and trying to keep some sort of normal routine going for the children on my own, but also because at times it felt like we would just never make it over there.  House buying here in Sweden takes the form of a very difficult bidding process, and there were often so many people bidding for one property.  It was the one thing that was stopping us living the dream together (rentals aren’t really an option here like in the UK).  Dadda was over in Sweden, but we were stuck in the UK, with no sign of progress on buying a home.  Finally we got lucky, and found a gorgeous home.  So, early one morning, with four massively overweight suitcases, three car seats, four hand luggage bags, and three children, I herded us to Gatwick, and onto the flight that would start the next chapter of our lives.  So, why did we do it, and has it lived up to our expectations so far?

The great outdoors and the Swedish ethos of outdoor living was a huge attraction for us and for living abroad and moving to Sweden.  Don’t get me wrong, we did live in a beautiful part of the UK, but over here it is all much more natural, wild, and rugged.  Being a larger country, with fewer people in, the natural spaces and wildlife are left well alone and thrive without such a heavy presence of mankind.  There is wildlife and space all around you.  You know that while you are sleeping, the local älg (moose) are checking out the golf course up the road, or the deer are stealing the carrots from your children’s snowmen in the garden!  The public right of access allows everyone to roam freely, as long as they respect the land and nature.  Most of the population lives very close to a nature reserve or conservation area (we have four within a 5 minute drive in various directions!), and the Swedes have sussed that spending time in natural spaces reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and helps improve mental health.  They also learn to appreciate nature from a very early age.  The more time you spend in nature, the more time you will want to care about it 🙂  We have definitely adopted the Swedish approach of “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing”, and we have enjoyed exploring the local countryside around us.  We have got to grips with outdoor fires, and have started to enjoy using the regularly placed outdoor fire pits on our hikes.  The beautiful landscapes, the freedom to roam where we want to adventure, and the provision of fire pits in the wild, have definitely fulfilled this reason for moving here.  I think it is fair to say we have been taking full advantage of it all so far!

Let children be children!!  That was another reason for moving and living abroad.  When we had no.1, we thought we’d got parenting pretty well sussed out.  She was as good as gold, did what she was told, and wasn’t overly noisy.  That was until the hand grenade landed that is non identical twin boys!  They are a totally different story (but just as lovable!).  They were physical beings from very early on.  They can’t walk anywhere, they have to run. They NEED to climb on and up everything. They are extremely noisy in their play, and they move very very fast!  I rapidly learnt that I needed to change my parenting style with these 2, and it was probably no bad thing, as I was a little conventional.  I needed to let them run, climb, and explore, and have the courage to do this.  In the UK, this got me a lot of frowns (especially in parks) when I deliberately made a choice not to helicopter parent any of them, as well as letting them use apparatus how they wanted to (provided no one else was affected!).  Plus in the UK there are a lot of expectations of how children should behave, often making them suppress a lot of their childhood instinctive behaviours, and in turn dampen down their spirit, curiosity, and excitement about life.  Out here it is a lot different.  Children are expected to want to make a noise, run around, and climb.  It’s quite common for my little lady to climb the trees in her playground , whereas in the UK it was a definite no no.  They are outdoors in all weathers, not couped up because of some wind and rain.  The Swedes have clocked onto the fact that children don’t want to, and won’t sit still like statues, but instead they expect them to be moving.  The best bit….no one’s looking at your parenting skills or your child and seeming to be criticising them, as children are just being children.  The children have a lot of “down time” too.  School finishes at lunchtime (having had 2 big play times as well), and there is no real parental expectation of children to do clubs.  Our little lady has started sea scouts and loves it, and now does just one dance class.  The boys let off steam every other weekend at a gymnastics class.  This makes everyone happy.  The children get a lot of play time and the chance to just be, as well as a little bit of socialising, and I’m not a mum taxi!  Although back in the UK it is definitely your own choice whether children do activities or not, there is the fear of them missing out that makes a lot of us seek these activities out.  We worry that our child will be at a disadvantage if we don’t get them involved in things.  That is not the case here.  So, 6 months on, our children are definitely being just that, children. And I would say thoroughly enjoying the time, the freedom, and ability to follow their natural curiosity!

Tomorrow I will be looking at schooling and slowing down the pace of life, and I hope you will join me to see how things are different, living abroad here in Sweden.


Living Abroad in Sweden outdoor life children being children www.mammasschool.co.ukLiving Abroad - Reflections after six months in Sweden Part 1:  Outdoors and Children www,mammasschool.co.uk

 



Living Abroad-Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 3: Work & Snow!

Living abroad in Sweden work snow www.mammasschool.co.ukLiving abroad here in Sweden, Dadda’s job has worked out very well too.  Back in the UK there is the practice of people not wanting to be seen leaving before anyone else (regardless of having done their hours), as it seems to be almost a competition of who can work the most (much to his unhappiness)!  Here, no one is staying beyond the end of their hours, and you’d be thought insane to do so!  This makes such a difference to one’s outlook on work, and puts it in its place, and family time first.  They also make sure fika is continued in the work place.  This is a Swedish concept, with no direct English translation, but generally translates taking a break with a coffee, a bun, and a chat.  They actively encourage you to step away from your desk and take a (paid) break.

Then there is the white stuff….lots and lots of white stuff!  Don’t get me wrong, you need to like the cold, the winter, the dark, and wearing warm hats and 2 pairs of trousers for 6 months of the year, and enjoy a good workout digging your car out.  However if you do, this is the place for you.  I was even told tonight, they hadn’t had a proper winter this year!!  Well, we have been very happy with lots of sledging, dozens of snowmen, and hundreds of snowballs thrown!  I can see though, if you are a sunshine, warm weather person, this is definitely not the place for you!  For us though, having four clearly defined seasons is amazing 🙂

Tomorrow I will conclude this little series on how we have found life since living abroad in Sweden.  I will be looking at how the home is the heart of our family, and how Swedish our home and living has become.  Plus I will be considering what happens if we find out it is not for us…….

Vabruari – The Month of Sickness.

The lurgy has hit us!  It is a week off school so I’d expect nothing less really, and the little lady has been suffering with a high temperature and general aching, cough, and a cold 🙂  February is usually so bad for children being poorly here in Sweden, that they have a special name for it – Vabruari.  VAB is the name of the benefit you claim if you need to be off work to look after a sick child.  It is so common here in February, that the month has been named after the benefit!  We had nearly made it through to the end of the month as well, but we have fallen at the last hurdle.  Dadda, the boys, and I had medium to severe sniffles last week, but our little lady has really been laid low for the last three days, only doing anything when the Nurofen kicks in.  She has perked up this evening, and we have learnt another little fact about Sweden’s culture – VAB and vabruari 🙂

I hope this week you have been enjoying our craft and science posts.  We had planned an adventure to 2 islands a little drive away, but we have had to postpone these due to the illness.  Hence there being no hikes for us this week, but living life slower, tucked up (unusually for us) indoors making and creating.  We are rather relieved that she has turned the corner and picked up now, as in less than 24 hours we welcome our second lot of house guests in the form of my brother-in-law’s family and our children’s cousins who they are desperate to see and have fun with.  We are all looking forward to showing them our new home and around our lovely island 🙂

Enjoying the Snowy White Stuff That Comes With Living in Sweden :-)

It’s been snowing continuously for 2 days, and looks like continuing for another 2 without stopping.  So what do you do in Sweden on a days when all this snow tumbles out of the sky? You go outdoors and fully immerse yourself in it.  One big reason for moving to Sweden was to fully experience four seasons in a year.  Cold winters, snow, the lot!  We awoke this morning to it now coming above the doorstep, and when your door opens outwards, opening the door involves trying to push the snow away to get out!  I cleared the path twice this morning.  I then gave up as it was more or less instantly covered again.

First was the school run this morning, and with all the sticks under snow, the mini men just carried snowballs…as you do!!  These 2 lovely snowballs were made in the garden before we left.  They were then lovingly carried all the way to school and home again!  Once school finished at lunchtime (note no school closure for snow in Sweden!!) we headed out for a sledge.  Usually my trio would have made about five snowmen too by now, but the wind is making the cold temperature feel even lower.  It was also stinging a little, so sledging was enough of an adventure today.  They have left snowmen fun for another day.

I went down a few times with them, but that is quite difficult.  With four of us going in random directions all at the same time, I had to try not to take out one of my own children.  I would then also run the risk of being blamed for ruining their sledging!!  We lasted about 45 minutes, before we started back through the snowy peaceful woods on our 15 minute walk home.

It is so nice to be connecting the children to nature and the seasons by having the opportunity to do activities like this now here in Sweden.  Their experience of weather conditions is broadening, and they are learning to handle them and have fun in them.  They are addicted to the white stuff and will play for hours in it until gloves are soaked through, and toes are going numb.

#livinglifewild

Integrating with Swedish Language & Culture.

After a few hiccups recently, I felt it was time to write a post about how we are integrating into our new lifestyle, and a different culture with another language.  I wouldn’t say we are having a bumpy ride, but there have been a few little hiccups the last few weeks that need handling sensitively to make sure no one resents the move.  Our little lady is finding the communication barriers very hard to handle on occasion.  She is a cheerful sunny little lady, who where language is concerned, needs a lot of confidence before going for it (this happened with her English as a toddler….didn’t speak for ages and then was virtually long sentences and huge words overnight).  She is also someone who talks A LOT….and very fast….so to suddenly not be able to blurt out the first random thought that pops into your head, is quite restricting.  The school have been working very hard with her, and we have been trying to follow this up at home as well.  I think it is a matter of time and waiting….she’s absorbing the new language well (there’s a lot of evidence in the way she corrects us!), but I’m not sure she’ll go for it until she can say a whole phrase.  In the mean time, when this gets her down we just have to support her and listen to her.  The mini men have each other to babble away to at förskola so are not as isolated, however, I have noticed little things about them.  When they play, they will often shout “nej” rather than “no” as an impulsive action, and they have said a phrase or two.  So, I think something might just be sinking in, I hope! On the friendship front our little lady has no concerns as both boys and girls want to spend time with her. They wave and call to her when we are out and about on the island, and one little friend wanted to come back to our home last week after school.  Today, there was a little breakthrough with the mini men as mini man no.1 stated very matter-of-factly that mini man no.2 had made a friend….no name was known, but very importantly he owned a cuddly elephant!  All three are happily doing free time activities, although this week there has been a few surprise blips there.  Our little lady, who has danced since four years old, has decided to take a break from ballet.  Unfortunately, tap dancing was her favourite type in the UK but there are no tap classes here in Sweden.  The good news is a modern theatre dance place has come up at the arts college for her to start this week.  She really misses her UK teacher, and I am hoping these lessons will help lift her out of her dancing doldrums a little. As her Mamma, I am feeling really guilty about this part of the whole move.  It was our decision to move, and our choice to live so far from the capital (where these choices would possibly be more abundant).  However, this was about a lifestyle change too.  A lifestyle where interests can be followed, but children have time to be children as well…and not over scheduled.  It still doesn’t help with my feelings of guilt having taken her away from something she loved though!  This then sparked mini man no.1 wanting to take a break from his ballet too!  I am teaching both of them tap, so we shall see what happens now.  He can’t do the modern theatre dance until he is 7.  Otherwise she lives for her sea scouts, they now all swim (boys have lessons, and she trains with the club), and the boys do gymnastics and football on the island.

Meanwhile Dadda and I are trying to integrate as well.  This is easier said than done.  Dadda’s job is English speaking.  Good in that he can understand what people are going on about, but bad in that he has no chance to learn quickly to speak the lingo.  I thought I’d meet school mums and gradually learn that way, but mums don’t really go up to school here en masse like they do in the UK, so I rarely see another mummy.  Dadda last week started the free Swedish language evening courses that are provided by the state, which is a good opportunity to learn, but due to childcare, I am trying to learn at home.  I am far from a natural linguist, but I’m doing my best!  My understanding is a lot better than my speaking!

Settling into Swedish life and culture in general has not really been an issue.  We wanted to move here because many of their values about raising a family and having an outdoors lifestyle were important to us as well.  So in that respect we have felt much more at home than in the UK.  In the UK we were unhappy with the education system and how children were treated within it, and over here it is totally different and we are more than happy with it 🙂  A lot of traditions and lifestyle routines are very similar to Norwegian ones, and having been brought up on a mix of those and English ones, it is not such a shock to the system to be immersed in them, but finally have the chance to enjoy them on a daily basis.  The weekly food shop still has a lot of room for improvement though… I have always hated this job, and it takes a lot longer when you are trying to translate stuff as you go along!!  I am now getting there with that (weighing all your vegetables and bagging them yourself has made me rapidly learn that subject of vocab!), but it can still be a very frustrating job!  Otherwise, I don’t think it’s been going too badly……and then of course there is the amazing scenery, sunsets, and sunrises….I’ll never get bored of those 🙂

 

Dummy Trees and Love Trees.

I am going to start doing things a little differently regarding home education, and the blog 🙂  Each week we have a theme we follow from the nature curriculum.  We have been doing this as well as independent maths, Swedish and English.  I am now going to try and incorporate everything, plus some art and craft under that week’s theme, and then write about them in separate categories (I have now given the blog a category menu as I had written so many posts, they needed splitting up a little).  Then the week will be finished off on the blog with a nature curriculum overview (similar to what I have been doing), going through what we have been doing in our journals and reading.  The hope is both lives and blog will flow a little better and be less disjointed.  There will be other adventures in between, but this just helps me get my head around everything I want to do for the children….there is so much out there as a home educator and wanting to explore a new country, it can become a little overwhelming sometimes (well daily, when adding in the general amount of work looking after three children in itself entails!!).

So, this week our topic is winter trees.  Today, due to swimming lessons late afternoon, our plan was to do our weekly exploring hike of a new area, and at the same time collect supplies for the winter tree activities in the week ahead.  I am discovering I need to bribe the children outdoors for a hike (the walks tend to be freezing and long for little legs), but once they are outdoors they have a blast.  So the bribe of choice every time at the moment is geocaches!  So, off we set to an island called Dragsö, which meant that we could head back to the swimming lessons without too much of a problem.

We were totally unsuccessful in our geocaching quest, but that doesn’t matter, and isn’t really the point!!  The main thing is that we had fun on the way and also learnt a thing or two.  The first geocache in the hunt was near a “pacifier tree”.  We came across these on our first forest walks shortly after moving to Sweden.  We were deep into some woods one day, when we came across a tree with hundreds of brightly coloured dummies hanging from it.  I thought it was a rather a strange thing to find in a wood, and carried on.  Then when we started investigating the woods which we live by, we discovered one in there too.  On researching this, this is the way Swedish parents encourage children to sensitively part with their dummies.  It becomes a special adventure for the child and family to say “goodbye” to their dummy, and the child hangs it onto the tree.  So, that is one Swedish tradition we now know about that we didn’t previously.  However, we couldn’t locate the geocache.  What did happen though, was that all three children found the ice over the sloping rocks made a fabulous slide!!  So we stopped and played a while 🙂

The second geocache site was where we found a love tree!  A special love tree sculpture (by Lars-Erik Sundin) has been placed at the top of the north west lookout point.  Here, couples in love, seal their love by attaching a padlock with their initials to the tree.  Tradition says you throw the key away so that the love is everlasting. I have also read that a lot of proposals happen here….thankfully today my three didn’t bulldoze their way through one of those!!  We had a good look at the tree and a chat (my trio aren’t quite ready to comprehend that romantic notion so were all rather puzzled by the whole idea!), and then some tree climbing ensued after not locating the second cache either!!

So 0/10 for cache finding, but 10/10 for nature’s playground opportunities and 10/10 for learning new things!  That made it a pretty successful hike.  We got loads of supplies for the week’s activities………oh, but we were late for swimming!!  You can’t have it all though when steering three children through the day!

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