What a bounteous first few days!!
For those of you who love the soul calendar, this week’s verse could not have been more appropriate….
Entry into Sweden was a bit of a rough landing, with the challenge of a huge city after all the peace of the countryside. I manged maps, replacement pedals and the route out quite quickly, but was very tired by the time a conveniently placed Youth Hostel showed up, 6 miles or so out of town. On account of the youth football tournaments the prices were steep and so I was rather grumpy as I left for the first proper day’s ride. Hoards of young footy fans in the fast lane with ghetto blasters blaring etc…
This was soon transformed by Claes (Clorrs) a youth of about my age in lilac shell suit who sidled along just as I was rolling downhill into Kungälvs. He told me about the castle which dominated the skyline and where to find the pretty spots and was generally so good-humoured that I began to feel a lot happier! Thanks Claes!
Camping by the river in bright sunshine was a treat and 2 lovely lads hobbled in. Alexander and Linus have been friends from the cradle, and new to hiking, they had briused hips, shoulders and taped achilles due to inexperience with so much weight on board. As they limped away arm in arm the next morning they were determined to make the last 20k of their 100k walk. I hope you made it guys!
The castle is a wonder. Cunningly built to compel would-be invaders to switch shield arms to defend themselves from their right, rendering their weapon arms (left) much less effective. In the big seige, the cow hides were cleverly displayed all round the walls to make the enemy think they had supplies to last… in fact they were down to their last cow! The towers were named ‘Father’s hat’ and ‘Mother’s cap’. They were about to hold a fantastic mediaeval festival there and so by the time I got back to my little tent, I was hemmed in on all sides by mediáeval enthusiasts. One couple had put up a jousting tent, which dwarfed mine. The very large gentleman showed me a picture of himself in the costume his slender wife had made. He looked magnificent!!
My next camp was 18 miles or so north in an idyllic setting by the river, with lovely bench and table to make cooking easy. Just as I was finishing my meal 5 VIKINGS showed up ready to party. It really could have been 700 years ago! 3 very well built, 1 huge and 1 mountainous, they proceeded to drink gin in cartons as though it was lemonade, tossing their chicken bones in an exuberant arc over their shoulders in true baronial style. They were delightfully friendly and happy to entertain me with tall stories singing ‘old men of harlech’ to “nyär nyär nyär”, trying to convince me they were devoted church-goers. By 10.30 i was dropping, so just keeled over and went to sleep amidst the bellowing and laughter. Around 2am, the vast Andus roared GOD NAT into my tent in the full beam of his spot light and off they went. The carnage on the table next morning was amazing. There was a vehicle still there, so someone will have to come back for it! I am genuinely flabberghasted at how little this disturbed me… all that fresh air?
I am now relaxing for a day before moving on from a delightful hostel in Trollhätton. Little vases of flowers on the handbasins and in the rooms make such a difference. It’s wet again, but there is plenty to interest, with drawbridges and locks ringing and flashing while tall-masted cruising yachts pass through to the huge locks down river.
Tomorrow I start towards the Göta Kanals, aiming for Lidköping then Mariestad over the next few days. Sadly I haven’t yet worked out how to add to my route with google maps. Perhaps I’ll get the hang of it a bit later on.
My consistent nourishment comes from the people I’m meeting and I think probably the little flowers everywhere/wildlife/colours etc. A deer ambled across the road yesterday and a little wag tail boinked in front of me for several yards, making me laugh. The Blo Cloker (blue hare bells) delicate against the massive masonry of the castle, especially endearing.
Finally, just what I’ve always wanted… for the first time in my short 50 odd years, well defined calves!!!!!
Time up in the library, so cheers for now.
My fine friendly Vikings!!!