Tag: Sweden (Page 1 of 2)

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 🙂

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 🙂  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/

   

A Sunrise Picnic – Don’t Wait Too Long To Watch One.

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them” – Jo Walton

The winter makes it a lot easier to watch a sunrise.  With it rising at the moment here in Sweden just before 0815, it is at quite a civil hour!  It allowed us more than enough time to wrap up warm against the freezing temperatures, grab our supplies for a breakfast picnic, and take a short hike to a little secluded cove – lovely to watch a sunrise with just us, but also on a Saturday morning we wouldn’t be waking anyone else up!

We have already seen many sunsets this winter (and they never fail to impress with their rainbow light shows), but not a sunrise together yet, or a sunrise picnic.  So, with the light just creeping into the day we did a 30 minute walk through the woods to find our secluded little cove.  The children set about playing with the ice, frost, and frozen sand, while I took charge of getting the Kelly Kettle going, and Dadda took charge of making a fire (so nice to split the chores for once and have him out with us too).  I had made apple and cinnamon porridge to eat from our food flasks, but we could have hot drinks and keep a little warmer with a fire lit.  We could also then toast marshmallows for a breakfast dessert.

We ended up staying for around 2 hours, just being together and connecting as a full family and enjoying the moment.  The children were happy playing, Dadda and I were happy chatting sitting on our rapidly freezing backsides, and the day had a really tranquil calm start to it – one of the best things in a hectic and loud large family life.  I have to say it was totally worth packing up the night before, wrapping up warm, and a mini hike through the dark woods to do it, and I thoroughly recommend this to anyone.  This is the second year running we have to done this, and I hope to do it for many more years.  We did it last year and it was lovely, but about 10 degrees colder!!

I have written a lot in the past about the benefits of getting getting outdoorsnature therapy, and nature play and you can click the links and have a read.  However, there are benefits to specifically watching a sunrise.

9 Benefits to Watching the Sunrise:

  1. It is a calm and peaceful way to start the day together.  It makes for generally happier moods all round and a better day.
  2. It is connection time together.
  3. It is physically good for our bodies providing melanin and vitamin D (especially good in the winter with the shorter days).
  4. We stop for a minute and intentionally notice the beauty surrounding us and appreciate it.
  5. We become more aware of our environment and surroundings.  It instils a sense of wanting to nurture it, and for our little people helps them foster a love of it.
  6. It teaches us and our children to live in the moment and enjoy the simple things in life.
  7. Certainly for my three it instilled a sense of adventure and awe.
  8. For everyone it provides memories that will be cherished.

This is a really easy mini adventure that I think all children should experience every so often as part of their immersion in nature.  So do you think you would do it?  With or without a picnic, set out to watch a sunrise one morning this winter?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

A sunrise picnic - don't wait too long to watch one, sunrise, sun rise, sunrises, nature, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Country Kids
 

Children’s Winter Outdoor Clothing – From Tiny Trolls Of Norway.

We received a very exciting parcel in the post from Tiny Trolls of Norway.  They had very kindly kitted out my double trouble for the Swedish winter with a whole winter outdoor wardrobe, and popped a few surprises in there for my little lady (their sizing only goes up to 8 years, and she’s a very tall 9 year old).  Tiny Trolls of Norway is a high quality children’s outdoor clothing company for ages 1-8 years.  The main aim of the business is to motivate and encourage families and their children out into the great outdoors. So, you can see similarities between my blog ethos and their’s already! Their motto is “There is no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing”, and by making such high quality winter outdoor clothing for children, they are ensuring that children can play outdoors whatever the winter weather throws at them!  So what had they sent us?

Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:

  1. Trollungen Winter Jacket:  They had kindly sent us this in 2 different colours as I like my boys to be able to tell at a glance whose coat is whose, if possible.  This jacket is waterproof to 10000mm!!  That is a serious substantial amount, meaning they can play outdoors in the snow or winter rain for hours with no discomfort.  It is 3000G breathable, and is also windproof.  It is lined with the softest cosiest fleece ever. It has reflective detailing on the outside (very important in the long dark winters so the traffic can see the children), and the hood is detachable.  
  2. Trollungen Winter Pants:  These are made to the same high spec as the jackets.  They are 10000mm waterproof, 3000G breathable, and also windproof.  They are warm and padded, but so the child can still play and move, they have an adjustable waist and over the shoulder straps, there is a snug elasticated fit for the boot area, with a popper to undo to make it easier to get on and off, and there are stirrup straps to pop under boots, to prevent trousers riding up and letting the elements in.  These also have some reflective detailing too.
  3. Tommel-Liten Winter Mittens:  These gloves are again 10000mm waterproof, 3000G breathable, and windproof too.  They are lined with the same softest, cosiest lining as the coats, and have large cuffs so they fit well either over the top of jackets, or underneath (which would prevent that unpleasant cold snow up the coat arm sensation).  
  4. Lykketroll Winter Hat:  These are so soft and warm 🙂  The outside of the hat is knitted, but on the inside it is lined with the softest fleece…plus they are very cute!  
  5. Lurvehette Neckwarmer:  As well as a hat for our little lady, they popped a neck warmer in as well for her.  These are so useful in the winter as you can pull them up high over your face as protection against the elements and more often than not the freezing biting wind.  They are very comfortable and soft.  The boys and I live in our neck warmers in autumn, winter, and spring, and I have a feeling she will do too now!

So, these beautiful clothes needed to be put through their paces, so off we headed into Swedish nature for our Friday afternoon weekly adventure.  I feel we certainly put the clothing through their paces as we spent three solid hours in driving rain with the children climbing trees, scrambling rocks, and crawling through very wet mud. So how did we get on?

Pros of Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:

  1. They certainly have not overstated the protection this clothing gives the child from the weather.  It was nothing short of fantastic.  The rain was just repelled by these garments and not soaked into the fabric at all.  The twins were so cosy too, they only had base layers underneath.  It was driving cold rain (only a degree or 2 too warm for snow) and blustery icy winds.
  2. The gloves are so easy for them to put on….a huge plus in mine and their eyes (twin 2 gets frustrated very fast with clothing that isn’t easy to manage).  Plus they too repelled the wet so well.  Often their gloves are soaked through by the end of a trip out as they are almost constantly touching wet objects…sticks, rocks, trees, sea water….but we might finally have found a pair that can go the distance (we haven’t before).
  3. We love the colours (not such a practical point!)
  4. They have such lovely detailing with the very cute Tiny Trolls embossing, as well as the reflective strips, and leather markings.
  5. They are very very warm, soft, and cosy.  
  6. The clothes are very cute and look good too.
  7. They are very robust and made to last.  My trio were climbing trees, scrambling on rocks and there was not a mark on the clothing.
  8. They dried fast from the rain and all the dirt seemed to just brush off, so they weren’t filthy after they dried.
  9. The hats were very comfy too.  I get frequent complaining about hats being “scratchy” so this is good, especially as they wear them for 6 months of the year.
  10. Our little lady found the neck warmer so cosy and she spent most of the afternoon tucked into it hiding from the weather.

Cons Of Tiny Trolls Winter Outdoor Clothing:

I have scrambled around to find some cons, but it wouldn’t be a balanced review if I didn’t 🙂

  1. It’s 2 pieces…..this is fine for 1 of them, but twin 2 will take any excuse to venture out without the bottom half on, so I am going to have to make sure that the staff are on their toes at school!  The all in one from Tiny Trolls don’t come large enough for my mini men.
  2. The trousers only come in the one colour….this won’t be an issue for everyone, but it’s nice for my twins to know whose is what at a glance.  Boys clothing is often so limited anyway that they do have lots that are the same, it’s just handy when it is different.  

Tiny Trolls clothing is fantastic and there really is “no bad weather” when you are wearing it 🙂

Children's winter outdoor clothing by tiny trolls of Norway, Tiny Trolls of Norway, Norway, Outdoor Clothing, children's outdoor clothing, winter clothing, children's winter clothing, www.mammasschool.co.uk

*We were sent the clothing from Tiny Trolls of Norway for free, to put through their paces and test, in exchange for writing the review.  All opinions are honest and my own*

 

Enjoying the Outdoors In Sweden – Get Out There!

Sweden is a truly beautiful country, and exploring the outdoors in Sweden is made so easy for people, yet it remains unspoilt, wild, and rugged.  One of the main reasons we moved here, was to be part of the way Swede’s experience their outdoors and nature, even through their daily routine.  Throughout my blog I am passionate about the need for outdoors and nature, it being important for so many reasons, for both us humans and nature.  You can read about this in the following places:

http://mammasschool.co.uk/outdoor-adventures/nature-therapy-seeking-calm-solitude/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/healing-nature-relying-beach-work-magic/

Here in Sweden, access is so easy that there are really no excuses not to be out there exploring and enjoying the great Swedish outdoors.  There are many ways outdoor exploring is made easy for everyone to do:

Allemansrätten

Here in Sweden, there is this fantastic ideal called “allemansrätten”. This is the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside.  However, there are a few responsibilities that come with this; you take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace that you have been there, don’t disturb and don’t destroy.  It is a very rare concept, allowing you to enjoy the Swedish outdoors in its full glory.  We have taken advantage of this through lots of hiking, and even taking the children for a wild camping experience.

 

Good Trails and Facilities

When we first moved here, I picked up this fantastic guide from our local tourist office.  It was completely free as well!  What I wasn’t anticipating was it to be crammed full of hiking routes.  Inside are around 50 detailed walking areas, showing trails, toilets (of the non flushing variety), fire pits to cook on, and lots of other good information.  It has been a bible for us when we’ve been exploring our local area and getting to know it.  Generally when you arrive at your destination’s car park, you have also got a map of the area, showing the same facilities.  This has been invaluable to helping us explore with young children. The provision of cooking areas in nature encourages you to be able to enjoy the outdoors even more and learn new skills, whilst enabling you do it responsibly….fire pits and toilets are helping to protect the environment from our impact.  We have enjoyed using the cooking areas a lot. The children are learning basic bush craft skills now, and how to use those skills responsibly too.  At least once a week they are cooked for on an open fire in the great outdoors in Sweden, whether it is sun, rain, or snow, and they love it….maybe less so when the food is a little (OK, sometimes, a lot) blackened!

 

Part of Daily Life

Being outdoors in Sweden is part of daily life here.  Which is good for us as we need the outdoors too.  My three children are often found in the woods next to the school with their class, doing their learning in nature.  Fritids (the after school care) takes them off into the woods, or to play parks, or even sledging in the winter.  I am often on the receiving end of a strop when I go to collect them (the twins go one at a time every other day to learn more Swedish) because they do not want to come home!  There is a steady stream of people power-walking, running, or cycling, past our house all day, every day.  The outdoors is a very important part of living in Sweden….and weather is no excuse either.  Just make sure you are wearing the right clothing, or provide the right clothing for your children at school (and lots of it…they will get wet and dirty!).

9 Ways To Enjoy The Great Swedish Outdoors

  1. Grill on the beach with friends on a summer’s day out
  2. Hike – use one of the many hiking trails around
  3. Use archipelago boats to explore an archipelago in the summer months
  4. Grill at the sledging slope with friends on a winter’s day out
  5. Take your bikes out for a long bike ride
  6. Have a sunrise or sunset picnic…we do this a lot 🙂
  7. Go wild berry picking in the woods – they are delicious!
  8. Try “wild” camping
  9. Try mushroom foraging – but make sure you know what is safe and what isn’t!

Our Instagram tells the story of our adventures in pictures, so if you like looking at photos of beautiful Sweden, head over and take a look.  Finally I want to leave you with one last thought that you need to remember when you are enjoying the outdoors; “take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints” – Chief Seattle

Enjoying the outdoors in sweden - get exploring!, Sweden, outdoors, exploring, exploring Sweden, 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/great-swedish-outdoors-get-exploring/    🙂

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Friluftsbyxor By RevolutionRace – Take An Adventure

I have been very lucky to have been sent a pair of RevolutionRace women’s Friluftsbyxor GPx pants.  So who are RevolutionRace and what are Friluftsbyxor?  RevolutionRace design urban outdoor clothing for ladies and men.  It is a Swedish company.  Their goal is to produce clothing that fits well, and can survive adventures in the wilderness (there is a lot of that here!), as well as be suitable for travelling around in the towns.  They “use durable lightweight materials in our outdoor garments to withstand all weather conditions.  The more you wear them, the better they get”.  Well that sounded like a little challenge to me, to put them through their paces 🙂  Frilufts translates from Swedish as “free air”, but means “outdoors”.  And friluftsliv here (outdoor activities) is a very important concept.  It means getting out into nature and connecting with it, and enjoying the great outdoors….we do this in our “fritid”….free time.  So, you can see how the concept of these friluftsbyxor fit into our lifestyle extremely well already.  I could put them through their paces in our normal everyday life.

What Are Friluftsbyxor GPx?

These are defined by RevolutionRace as a multi functional hybrid stretch trouser (the black parts of this pair are stretchy).  They are reinforced in places for extra protection and life (knees, backside, and lower legs).  They are made to be suitable for a broad range of outdoor activities, and the reinforced parts are also wind and water resistant.  The stretchy parts add both a further level of comfort and manoeuvrability, as well as some ventilation.

I decided there was no time like the present (she thought having just opened the packet!), quickly changed, and put them on for our adventure for that afternoon.  This involved climbing trees, hiking a little, and making a fire pit supper.  So how did I get on?

Pros of the Friluftsbyxor GPx Pants:

  1. They fitted so well!!  I have a huge issue with trousers (my behind is on the larger side, compared to a very tiny waist, so usually to be able to pull trousers up, I have to have a baggy saggy waist on them).  These trousers have the simple concept of a substantial elasticated rear part to the waist. So for people like me they fit everywhere…..well nearly, but you’ll find out about that further along.
  2. The colours are so funky.  A lot of outdoor clothing can be dull and dreary looking, but these come in a selection of colours that are guaranteed to brighten up your day, and leave you feeling fantastic, although you’ve dressed to spend the day in the freezing muddy Swedish wilderness 🙂  The men’s colour selection is just as great too.
  3. They were so comfortable to wear.  I was climbing in and out of a large tree, running over rough terrain after the children, and getting up and down lighting a fire and cooking on it.  I could move so freely in them.  The damp parts from kneeling on the ground also dried quite fast, and the biting Swedish winter sea breeze wasn’t allowed to turn my legs to ice blocks, despite not wearing my usual over trousers.
  4. There are lots of pockets…I love this.  Once we are out in the great outdoors doing something like lighting a fire and cooking, we seem to always need everything all of the time.  I was shovelling things into the pockets as I was using them for quick easy access at a later moment.  They were very handy and practical pockets.
  5. The adjustable Velcro, teamed up with the elastic around the ankles, made for a cosy snug fit over the boots I was wearing.  This was good as then they didn’t ride up exposing skin to the elements.  I can also see this being fantastic in the other three seasons as a tick defence mechanism!
  6. I wasn’t worried that the trousers wouldn’t be able to cope with all the scrabbling around as they have reinforced stitching.

Whilst I was happy they performed well in those dryer, if not a little damp conditions, I also know I can wax or treat them (as stated by the company), for a higher level of protection from the elements.

Cons of the Friluftsbyxor GPx Pants:

It wouldn’t be a balanced review if I left out any bad points, however, I did struggle to find any!

  1. The length was too long for me….however, at 158cm this is a very common problem for me, and was offset by the adjustable ankles.  I could tighten them up around my boots and my trousers weren’t trailing like they usually do.
  2. They do fade….now this is actually part of the garments marketing, but I know some people may not like that.  The garment is made to fade with washing for a “perfect authentic worn look”.

I would definitely recommend these trousers as part of your outdoor lifestyle.  They are so versatile, comfortable, and hard wearing.  I know a Dadda who is coveting them……but maybe in the male version and not purple camo!!!!  Do you think these would compliment your outdoor lifestyle?  Comment below and let me know your thoughts, and don’t forget to share to let others know!

Friluftsbyxor, revolutionrace, revolution race, outdoor clothing, outdoor trousers, hiking trousers, hiking, adventure, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

*We were sent the clothing from RevolutionRace for free, to put through their paces and test, in exchange for writing the review.  All opinions are honest and my own*

Burnished Chaos
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Twin Mummy and Daddy

Strawberry Cake – Traditional Swedish Midsummer Treat

So, what do you need to make your delicious strawberry cake?

Ingredients:

2 round,plain, sponge cakes.

1 egg yolk.

1 tablespoon icing sugar.

vanilla extract 1 teaspoon.

400ml whipping cream.

Punnet of strawberries.

Then the next step is assembling the strawberry cake:

Instructions:

First of all, find a recipe for 2 round sponge cakes, and make those.  Let them cool.

Slice up half your strawberries thinly, leaving enough whole ones to cover the top of the cake.

Whisk the egg yolk and the icing sugar together.  Then add the vanilla extract.

Whip 150mls of the cream and then fold it into the egg and sugar mix.

Spread the cream mixture over the first sponge cake (bottom layer).

Then lay the chopped strawberries over the top of the cream, covering the cake.

Place the second cake on the top.

Whip 250mls of the cream and then spread all over the top of the cake and around the sides.

Place the remaining whole strawberries onto the top, and there you have a very tasty Swedish strawberry cake 🙂

Swedish strawberry cake, midsummer cake, swedish midsummer cake, strawberry cake, summer cake, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Midsummer in Sweden – Party with Family and Friends

Midsummer in Sweden, Swedish Midsummer, Midsommar, Midsummer Party, Midsummer, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Summer seems so far away now, but as I was on a bit of a blogging break at the time, I still have some catching up to do.  Midsummer here is so lovely that I wanted to share it with you 🙂 Midsummer in Sweden comes quickly after the schools finish in mid June, kick-starting the summer holidays with a festive feel.  Everything in nature has suddenly burst into a riot of colour, very fast after the long winter, and the sun doesn’t set in parts of the country.  It is truly a time to celebrate, and celebrate in style.  Although, having chatted to our new friends around our island, it isn’t uncommon to be serving your midsummer meal courses between random rain showers, and indeed it doesn’t seem it would be a true midsummer’s without them, but you MUST still eat outdoors, or else you aren’t really doing it properly!

So, what does a midsummer celebration consist of?  Firstly, towns are deserted and everything is shut….this is a serious business…and everyone heads off into the countryside to party.  So, we embraced our new culture and got immersed in this festival.  We put our best outfits on and headed off to watch a pole being raised (similar to a Maypole in the UK) in a large open space with hundreds of people turning up with their picnics (with of course lots of coffee), to watch the dancing, and to take part too.  Oh, and don’t forget to put a garland of flowers in your hair.

After the dancing, there is some serious eating to be done.  A typical Midsummer menu consists of varying types of pickled herring, boiled potatoes, dill, sour cream, and chives.  This is often followed by some cooked meat or fish, and for dessert there is the famous strawberry cake.  We took the framework of a typical meal and tampered with it slightly!  We had a buffet style lunch going on 🙂 The pickled herring was there, but there was also smoked gammon, shrimps, smoked salmon, warm bread rolls, fresh dill, meatballs, pickled gherkins, boiled eggs, and potato salad.  We then followed this up with a very tasty strawberry cake.  I had followed a Swedish recipe, and I’m now hooked!  I’m not a great fan of creamy cakes like this, but the midsummer one had me re-evaluating my opinions!  It was so tasty and you can find out how to make this delicious strawberry cake .  This was all washed down with beer, wine, aquavit (a very strong spirit with a rather large kick to it!), and home made elderflower cordial for the little people.  Our little gathering would have been rather quiet compared to the Swedes’, who as they drink up enjoy singing songs, and the racier the better…but we don’t know any…..yet!

After your meal, it is time for more dancing…..I think we just laid down and felt a little sick!  The dancing continues on late into the night, and on the way home there is an old folklore, that if girls and women collect 7 different types of flowers and sleep with them under their pillows, that night their future husband will appear to them in their dreams 🙂  I really enjoyed this celebration, and I am looking forward to next year’s knowing a little more what to expect (for instance we shall have a picnic at the Maypole).

 

 

Skanör – Visit 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 🙂  Skanör is right down in the southwest corner of Skåne, Sweden, and you can see Denmark and the famous Öresund 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 Skanör 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 Skanör 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 🙂  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 – a 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, älg (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 🙂  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 🙂  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

 

 

 

 

 

Sweden – 15 Things I Have Learnt Living Here

We have lived in Sweden for 1 year now, and throughout that year I have been on a very steep learning curve.  I thought I would share with you the 15 main things I have learnt along the way so far 🙂

1. Everything takes time: 

The Swedes are very laid back and they rarely hurry.  This might be over a break at work (fika at work is very important), or installing a phone line and wi-fi (I think this took around 3-4 months after we moved in).  So, to avoid frustration, adapt quickly, chill out, and go with the flow….it’ll happen one day.

2. You can’t buy Marmite or spray furniture polish here: 

Plan in advance and get visitors flying out to see you to bring it, in bulk preferably, whether you need it or not.  Then you can guarantee an ongoing supply.

3. All food is delicious:

But you will eat your own body weight in cinnamon buns within weeks of arriving here, and you will still want more.

4. Candy: 

This is very important here in Sweden, especially on a Saturday (lördagsgodis).  To integrate fully here you need to take a bag at the pick and mix, and fill it every Saturday.

5. The seasons are all amazing:

But they can change rapidly – overnight!  One day you will be wearing your shorts, the next day autumn will have arrived, with no gradual run up to it.

6. The people are really friendly:

They want to help you, and you will need their help too in order to navigate some of the systems in Sweden.  For example, booking a doctor’s appointment or how to repaint your wooden home.

7. EVERYONE speaks English:

This is good when you are struggling with Swedish, but hard to learn if you are a little lazy.  They speak it very well too, but will apologise for not finding one word in a sentence, when I can’t even remember what I was going to say at all in English!!  They are very good at it.

8. Google translate will be your best friend:

You will have the app on your phone to read parking signs, help with the grocery shopping, and so that you stand a chance at doing your child’s reading homework.  You will use it on your computer to translate all the school emails, and other emails that come your way from various places.

9. Predictive text will become your enemy:

As your phone doesn’t know what the hell you are trying to write, and what language you are trying to type in. Until, that is, it starts memorising Swedish words along the way (no one wants to type out “Försäkringskassan” or “Länsförsäkringar” more than necessary!).

10. Hard cash is surplus to requirements:

(unless you need a trolley – 10 SEK coin, or a swim locker – 10 SEK coin).  EVERYTHING is done either by card or phone.  There is none of this 50p charge for under £5.  If you by a 1 SEK sweet (about 10p) you don’t need cash.

11. Hot dogs (korv med bröd):

Are a staple in your diet in Sweden.  Sunny day on the beach?  You make hot dogs.  End of school term?  You meet and cook hot dogs.  The Prime Minister visits the island?  Free hot dogs. You go out on a hike? You cook hot dogs.  You get the idea?!!  You always need an emergency stash in the freezer, it’s prevented me being caught out a few times now!

12. You need to bulk buy your alcohol:

The state run off licenses, Systembolaget, (the only place you can purchase it) are only in certain places (our nearest is about 20km away) so there is no “just popping out for a bottle of wine”.  They’re also closed a lot, especially at weekends and holidays….so stock up, or as I do, make your own!

13. Send all your children’s clothes to school (and more!):

They will need standard clothes for the day, they will need outdoor gear (I mean proper stuff, like full sets of waterproofs, or complete snow gear etc).  They WILL be going outdoors – both for play and lessons.  There are dryer cupboards, but it is helpful for them to have complete spare sets too…..and I mean complete…gloves (they get very wet through in the winter, even ski gloves with little people), socks….you get the picture! You will be taking a lot of clothes backwards and forwards, oh and boots!!

14. Fika: 

This is very important in Sweden.  It’s a chance to just enjoy each other’s company, but does usually involve coffee and a sweet treat.

15. Glögg and Pepparkakor:

Throughout December it is perfectly fine and normal to drink mulled wine (glögg) and eat thin ginger biscuits (pepparkakor) every day…..perfect and my idea of a cosy December!!

I hope you have enjoyed those facts, and learning a little more about Sweden 🙂

Sweden-15 things I have learnt living here, living in Sweden, moving to Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

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