Our First Proper Swedish Yomp in the Countryside.

img_9986 img_0010 img_0012Well, last night our little lady made us very proud, and waltzed into her Sjöscouts like everyone spoke her lingo and didn’t have a care in the world!!  I on the other hand was a nervous wreck worrying what I was putting her through only being able to speak English.  As it turned out I had nothing to worry about. She had a blast, did a lot of playing outside in the dark followed by first aid (although I’m not going to rely on her understanding of her Swedish first aid lesson just yet!!).  She definitely wants to return next week.  When I mentioned to the lady in charge that our little lady had no Swedish, one of the dads dropping his little boy off, said she could definitely speak in English to his son, as that would help his son!!  So it seems that, as keen as we are for her to learn Swedish, other parents are keen she speaks English to help their children’s English!!  Driving home, she sighed contentedly in the back, and said “everything here is just more sparkly”….I’m not quite sure where that comment came from, but I wonder if it was the lights twinkling off the water surrounding our drive home, or a more metaphorical life in general.

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With nothing scheduled on the agenda today, we did a bit of home based learning before an early lunch, and then headed out into the countryside for a proper exploratory walk.  We had plenty of afternoon hours to indulge ourselves before we were due to pick Dadda up from his bus, and it’s been several weeks since we’ve been outside for a good few hours yomp.  I had picked up the Blekinge Excursion Guide on my first recce trip, at the tourist information back in July.  It’s a fantastic freebie, and documents 43 of the county’s most attractive areas for hiking on foot, and another 59 areas in summary.  There is a lot there to keep us out of mischief.  These are the nature conservation areas, there are plenty of other footpaths and areas to explore as well, but lacking in proper hiking maps or books, and not knowing the area, this publication has enabled me to get straight out there, off the beaten track, safely with the children.  We chose to investigate Almö today, which has a linear walk the length of the island.  I admit I didn’t check the scale out, but on paper it looked like we could walk north to south, and back up again to the car, no worries.  About an hour and half in, I realised we were in fact only half way through the route (probably a little over 3km).  We turned round and headed back up, agreeing next time we’d park at the south of the island and walk the southern part up to meet where we’d come down from the north.  So, during three hours, the children not only walked 6km, but they ran up and down hills, clambered over rocks, played with little creatures they found in the sea, and rolled around in the leaves…..deep deep carpets of brightly coloured autumn leaves.  I am really hoping for a fast bedtime tonight!!

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Not only did I think the free walking/hiking trail guide was extremely good value, but the trails enable everybody to get out there and enjoy the outdoors.  Once you set off on the route, every 50m-100m there are large wooden poles with orange tipped markers to guide you.  So even if map reading is the worst skill you possess (ahem), you cannot possibly get lost.  If there isn’t a pole for some reason, you will find tape/ribbon tied to a bush or a tree to guide you.  There are also signs at significant path junctions.  For example the one above signs the footpath, or tells you 0.5km off the route is a barbeque area.  There is also lots of information in the book about the route; it tells you in symbols where you can barbeque, swim, fish, park, toilets (of the drop-box variety – this is the wilderness after all!), fish some more, camp, bike, ride a horse, golf, find a bird watching tower, catch a ferry, catch a car ferry, viewpoint etc.

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The stag beetle is the emblem of the county due to its huge presence here.  The walking guide told us that at dusk in summertime you can hear the droning sound of the stag beetle.  Therefore, it was not a surprise that we came across vast amounts of beetles just out for a potter on the footpaths as well.  They had beautiful blue shimmery underbellies, with blue shimmery legs, and had us transfixed for a good while.  The nature reserve we chose today is a good mixture of pastures, heaths, woods, and beach meadows, so we saw a lot of diversity in animal and plant life, as well as scenery.  It was a fantastic walk and we are all slightly knocked out by the amount of lovely chilly fresh air we’ve had today, after being tied up packing boxes for so long in the UK.  I think this guide will become my best thumbed Swedish book, and will help us explore the place we have moved to much better.  I still can’t believe it was free!!

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