I would like to mention/describe a few people who have recently impressed me along the way.
Eva: passing on her tricycle along the cobbled street in Trosa, she is now mobile after 2 strokes and epilepsy. She beamed at me in her joy at the freedom this gives her, then sweetly tidied my collar, with “I am a social person”
Marin with her beautiful 11 month baby boy: she lives in a truck and single handed, she built the carriage over the chassis. All clinker with wood, iron bolts and shapely windows, I thought it was a work of art, both inside (all cosy and curvy) and out.
Jessica: meeting her was like an encounter with the film set and wonderful mischief of ‘Chocolat’! Sublte decor, and perfectly blending french background music in the Kultur Konfect, we inhaled deeply over the chocolates, murmering with delight over the erotic, whisky-filled marzipan and exchanged lively ideas on life. …. and, Jessica, thank you for your uplifting message. (but o woe, I have snaffled the one I was saving until later!)
Then it was out into the rain and a bit of a dismal couple of hours at the end of a long ride! I have had no trouble finding camping spots or hostels so far, and having been in the heart of the countryside, rather forgot that the suburbs of Stockholm might be different. Tumba, my first hope was little more than a busy bus/railway station and somehow the alarm in my bum bag went off, making me think that the whole of the industrial estate was being set off. It took a quarter of a mile or so before I caught on that it was in fact me making that dreadful din! Fortunately nobody took the slightest interest… (so would it be any good as an alarm??!!)
I was just too late for the Youth Hostel that did show up, so wearily settled for the notion that I would be putting up my tent in pouring rain close to the ferry in Slagsta. The next problem was to find my way out of the nearby housing estates in Hallunda, which was a bewildering maze of high motorway fly-overs and the inaccessible plains below. Finally I got down in a couple of dubiously ponky lifts (hiss) and eventually after several false starts (I am HOPELESS with direction in towns when tired) I turned round for the umteenth time to see a Motel… thank you travel angels.
The last person I want to describe for now is the gorgeous ‘chamber maid’ to whom I expressed my gratitude the following morning as I was packing up Sir Galahd (he had spent the night, stabled peacefully in my room and I wanted to reassure her that he would not make a mess on her impeccable floors)
We had no language in common but I know that in Ukrainian, she told me how beautiful were my eyes, how alive in my body I was to her. That she would be a grandmother in 3 months, that I must go to Odessa. That I too am a grandmother and that we blessed each others’ children and grandchildren. A soft hand to each other’s cheeks and hearts and a long embrace in the dingy corridor.
After a wonderful day and evening with Gunell, Anette and Gunnar (thank you all so much) who sang and hugged me off the next morning with “may the road rise up to meet you…” I rode away feeling huge liking also for Gunell’s son, whose comment on my journey/distance so far was a very rewarding “O Shit!”
I am now staying with Nell’s fascinating great aunt, Barbara Baron on the island Adelsö, just a little to the east of Stockholm…. but I now need a book just to cover a fraction of her stories. Born in Hungary to extraordinary parents, just before the 2nd world war, Barbara is treating me not only to to living experience of history in the making, but home grown, home baked produce from every corner of her garden. I am about to settle down with some ironing, which she dislikes and which I am pleased to offer, given how hopeless I am in the kitchen!
Eva with her trike, Trosa, 18th august.