The last place on earth

To all you world travellers checking in from Strange Shores(and everyone else) – welcome!

collection-whole

Before you come in, please remember to take off your shoes and leave them right there, by the front door. Because now you’re in Sweden, and no one wears shoes indoors. (Don’t worry if your socks have holes in: I won’t look!) After all, we wouldn’t want all those lovely wooden floors to get ruined! Don’t worry though – I’ve got underfloor heating to keep your toes nice and cozy.

I’m not Swedish myself – but British, although I have lived here for nearly 12 years now. And this is a bit strange in fact … because about 13 years ago, something like this happened…

Back then, I was a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in England, and had lots of Swedish students in my classes. Oh – how they loved to regale me with tales of their home country, where everything was quieter, cleaner, bigger and brighter.

They enthralled me with stories about how their mother’s meatballs were the best in the world; how it was normal to celebrate Christmas a day before everyone else; how appalled they were by the mere presence of carpets in British houses; and, more than anything else, they told me how dark and cold it was back home with nothing but enormous expanses of forests and snow for company.

snowy_sceneThat is when I burst out and said, “Sweden is the last place on earth that I ever want to live!”

A year later I visited Sweden for a three-month sabbatical. And I’ve been here ever since.

Yes – it is cold and dark in the winter. But it is also cozy to snuggle up in front of a fire with a string of candles lighting up the room with a soft glow. And nothing can beat going out on a crisp winter’s day, with the snow crunching underfoot and the sun shining from a gloriously blue sky.

Or wandering down to the lake where we live and watching all the skaters waltzing around on the ice.

And, sometimes, when it is very cold and clear at nights – so cold that your breath follows you like a veil of fog and your eyelashes and nostril hairs freeze (me – have hairs in my nose? Surely not!) – you might be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights (even as far south as Stockholm, where I live).

northern_lights

Believe me, it is an exhilarating experience! I once woke up my parents who were visiting us from England and made them come outside in their pajamas, dressing gowns, thick coats and winter shoes to catch their first glimpse of these mysterious and dazzling displays of wonderful-ness.

So, I’m grateful to escape the grey drizzle that is a southern English winter … although it is still hard to get up in the dark, go to work in the dark and come home – in the dark.

There are summers here (and often whole days of sun, too!), and then it never gets dark except for a slight twilight somewhere around two in the morning. My first year here I was driven nearly crazy (what do you mean ‘nearly’ – I hear you say) by these white nights. I couldn’t sleep at all and found myself up nearly all night long. This went on for weeks until I was exhausted and wild with sleep deprivation.

And then I fell asleep in the bright evening sunshine at 6 pm and slept right through until late the next morning. After that, I was cured!

summer_house

So, what is it that keeps me here (apart from the husband, kids and dog)? It can’t be having some of the highest taxes in the world! Perhaps it has something to do with equality of the sexes and the fact that both parents are paid to stay at home with their kids.

Or could it be the rather bizarre fact that everyone watches cartoons at 3 pm on Christmas Eve (which is the Swedish equivalent of Christmas Day)?

Or do I just plain adore dancing around a maypole in June when it’s midsummer and pretending to be a little frog?

sunsetstockholm1

Yes, all these factors have their charm. As does the stunning countryside, which is mainly – but not completely – made up of vast expanses of snowy forests.

And if this really is going to be the last place on earth that I live (I’m not promising anything, mind you!) – then I guess that this is OK with me. Because when I step outside my front door, I see this:

vallentuna_lake

And if you walk just a bit further around the lake on a cold, frosty morning, you might be lucky enough to enjoy the last place on earth.

tree1

87 thoughts on “The last place on earth

  1. Lovely story. It shows how life holds many surprises for us, doesn’t it? I’ve been to Sweden a few times, mainly to visit a dear and lovely couple who live on Ekero, outside of Stockholm. Maybe you’ve driven through there?

    I cannot imagine the winter darkness. Living in northern Germany is dreary enough. How do you stay cheery when it is dark by early afternoon? Still, I’m sure there are many wonderful aspects living there.

    Like

  2. Congrats on your BAtW day!! I know i’m early but you popped up on my reader! LOL

    I am so jealous that you’ve seen the Northern Lights! That is totally on my to-do list! Those photos are fabulous!

    I have to say that reading this has made me miss snow. I love winter!! 🙂

    Like

  3. Hey Lady Fi, wonderful story! It sounds like you love Sweden and are happy and comfortable there! I have been waiting for the Northern Lights to be active, usually by now..we have had some spectacular ones..not yet. We get dark now about 5:15 at night. But it isn’t too cold here yet. I have nose hairs too (honestly). 🙂

    Like

  4. I always thought it would be cool to visit Sweden. But the European visa people seem to hate me so very much, for now I will enjoy your blog indtead.

    Like

  5. Fabulous, magical, quaint, warm, cozy…all those words came to my mind as I read this post! I still can’t get over the sunshine all day and that parents are paid to stay home with their kids…no wonder the taxes are so high! Your vistas are exquisite. Thanks for sharing all of this with us!

    Like

  6. Lovely pictures! I’ve never been to Sweden, although my mother lived there for a little while and loved it. I’d love to go some day on vacation (except that I would miss the dogs too much!)

    Like

  7. The closest we ever get to Sweden is IKEA, but you never know. Maybe one day…….

    Great post, and regarding your comment on mine, firstly, so glad that you liked the shot.
    It is a beautiful little wind chime, doesn’t make much noise [ hardly anything], the best kind, from Pier One imports a few years ago. I adore it.

    Like

  8. These photos are gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights, I think that would so cool! I had no idea that Sweden had the days-of-night/nights-of-day thing, I thought that only happened in Alaska (shows how worldly I am, LOL!)

    Have fun on your BATW day!

    Like

  9. I was wondering how you ended up in Sweden. Thanks for the info! 🙂 It looks absolutely beautiful, although I’m not sure how I’d do with the lack of light. I’m a big sun person. Plus, you have the Japanese spas I’m still trying to find here! 🙂

    Like

  10. Hello from Hungary! Stopping by from BATW…and LOVED hearing you talk about Sweden…we take off our shoes too at the door, but your country looks much CLEANER than mine… thanks again for the tour…I want to make it to Sweden before we go back to America one day…my husband supposdedly still has relatives there…

    Like

  11. Happy BAWT day. I’m flying in from New York. Sweden sounds lovely. The northern lights must be a sight to see. I know the long winter days are dark. All those days of summer sun I’m sure makes up for it. Thanks for a great tour.

    Like

  12. I remember as a young girl living in scotland how in the summer my bedtime was well before darkness would fall 10 or 11. We had shutters on all the windows and thick curtains which would block out the light. thank you for the tour it was lovely, visiting from china where shoes are also left at the door.

    Like

  13. Beautiful. I was born in Alaska and I remember times in the summer when parents “forgot” to call us in until midnight, and winter days when we slept the whole time. I doubt I’ll ever make it to Sweden, but it looks like a lovely last place.

    Like

  14. the most wonderful post I’ve ever come across. Thanks to BATW that I found your blog 🙂 it’ll be cool if I can visit Sweden for a few days to really experience the lifestyle there 😀 really in a vacation mood right now hehe

    Like

  15. That is an amazing welcome. Thanks to BATW I have also come across your blog. How interesting your life must be and markedly different from the UK. I am Australian and was living in the UK but never made it to Sweden. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for the welcome!

    Like

  16. I want to come get a Volvo right now! 🙂 I understand you on the taxes. The German ones I have to pay are high enough. I can’t imagine Sweden.

    Happy BATW day! Thanks for visiting me for mine as well!

    Like

  17. Lady Fi, I enjoy your posts every single day….
    and now so many others get to know about your quirky quests too!!

    I will be in “your backyard” tomorrow when Mads and I head to our weekend in Gøteborg!!!

    Like

  18. Until today, I had no real interest in visiting Sweden. But now it’s on my list of places to go.

    You described it so beautifully, and the photos were amazing!

    I’m glad I came over from BATW.

    Like

  19. Wow. That was a great post! I would love to stop by Sweden for a visit. Your description of your home land is absolutely lovely. The pictures are gorgeous as well! Congrats on your spotlight!

    Like

  20. What a wonderful, exotic land you live in, at least for me….being from Paraguay.
    But the pic´s are very beautiful. It would be too cold for me, but for a visit it would be nice.

    Happy BATW day!

    Like

  21. Greetings from Canada. Myself, I have visited Malmo once last December and I enjoyed it. Although I hope one day I’ll make it to Stockholm to see what that city has to offer.

    Great post an thanks for sharing:)

    Like

  22. What a beautiful post! Makes me want to visit…but I’ll wait till there’s daylight all day long. : ) If I get too cold I get grouchy! Which is why I’ll probably never leave the Southern U.S!

    Like

  23. Oh I would LOVE to see the Northern Lights………I’m jealous!

    It looks like a beautiful place to live…except I’m not so sure about the all dark or all sunny days.

    Thanks for sharing all of this!!!

    Like

  24. I’ve always thought living in Scandinavia would be so lovely and romantic, and you’ve made it seem all the more true. Thanks for the great story and the beautiful pictures!

    Like

  25. How did you get to end up in Sweden, but I followed my heart to Detroit, Michigan? Something is wrong with that equation! Lovely blog you have! I am putting it in my favorites section 🙂

    Like

  26. Thank you for your introduction to your beautiful home! We have military friends who grew up in Sweeden, and they have spoken so fondly of their time there. The pictures you shared are absolutely beautiful, and I can’t imagine being surrounded by that every day…I’m surrounded by cars and smog! It would be so hard to sleep during the light times…I can imagine how hard that was getting used to!!!

    Like

  27. Thank you for your beautiful post!!! It sounds stunning, and I am not a fan of winter….so that is saying a lot!!!

    The picture of the Northern Lights is especially beautiful. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your BATW day!

    Like

  28. Hi from Edmonton, Canada! Thanks for that wonderful post! Beautifully done! Also love going for a walk in the crisp, crunchy snow, the trees all sugar coated and glistening and seeing the northern lights at play! It never ceases to amaze me! And I love the summer months where there is dusk for a few hours and then the sun comes up again! I’m a four season kind of gal. I’ll be back to read more of your blog. Off to work now!

    Like

  29. I loved your post! I learned so much that I never knew before (I really need to get out and travel more) and I loved your pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    Chanelle
    Utah, United States

    Like

  30. Yeah! Great post. You got a few giggles out of me. I actually just wrote something about Swedish meatballs on my new and revised blog today. I’m Swedish but I’m living in the US.

    Like

  31. wow! double wow! that is so amazing….and stunningly beautiful and i’ve actually had my nose hairs freeze as well as the hair on my head during a cold winter (in a little place that is called Rexburg, ID-US) that is truly cold!
    i think that you just have to feel at home to live in a place that would cause others to cringe in fear at the though…..though i’ve got the say that seeing the northern lights just once in my lifetime would be pretty awesome!

    Like

  32. Wow – loved your post. We take our shoes off too – also to protect the mahogany floors. I wish we had under-floor heating – we have it in three rooms (by accident -that’s where the duct comes through for our outdoor heating system). We should have let it meander through another few rooms! I can’t imagine living in your long nights in the winter and your long days in the summer. But the idea of visiting there is amazingly appealing. It might just happen. What kind of work do you do (still teaching?). And your husband? Did you meet in Sweden? Or somewhere else on your adventurous travels? So good to see you so faithfully. Every blogger aught to have a Lady Fi on their list!!

    Like

  33. So pretty! My husband’s family is Swedish and we keep saying how we’d love to get there some day. We have a traditional Swedish Christmas every year, on Christmas eve, with all the yummy food. We even do an annual pepparkakor bake the day after Thanksgiving.

    Thanks for allowing us to visit for a day!

    Like

  34. Wow! I’m simply amazed. You live in quite the beautiful place. I’m a little jealous, though probably not enough to move there (I don’t do cold well). 🙂 Thanks for the tour!

    Like

  35. Beautiful post. Like someone else said, the closest I’ve ever been to Sweden is Ikea but I’ve been there a lot, does that count? Oh and Hanna Andersson, she’s Swedish too right? Nonetheless, I enjoyed your photos and your post and hope to get to Sweden someday. I know I’d love the progressive values, thanks for sharing a little of your home with us.

    Like

  36. Oh my goodness! I had NO idea it was SO beautiful there!! I love it! I am in love with all those pictures! That is definetly on my list of places to visit!! It is nice to meet you by the way! 🙂

    Like

  37. I have never been to Sweden either. What beautiful pictures! They make me feel very calm and reflective. I suddenly have an urge to try living there after hearing your story. Maybe I will just move it up on my list of places to visit. Congrats on your BATW day and thanks for sharing! I think I will look around a little more. ;^)

    Like

  38. You know when I read this I could relate to every single word you wrote. I have experienced the northern lights, the cold frozen eye lashes and cold breath on a crisp cool winter day, I love a warm fire in the winter, it’s dark when I get up, dark when I go to work and dark when I get home…but it’s like you say, something you get use too…high taxes….don’t get me started…hahaha…

    It was great to find your website and be able to relate so well to what you are writing about!!!!
    Cheers!!!

    Like

  39. BATW is Great! I’m so glad Debbie had you treat us to a tour of Sweden. I would love to visit in person. I’m glad you love your adopted home. The pictures you posted are beautiful. Thank you,
    Joy from Texas via BATW

    Like

  40. I have a Swedish friend how lives in the north, and I love to hear her stories about life there. I’ve alwasy thought that living in Sweden woud be magical. I have to visit first, though, lol.

    I love your take on your adopted country. Thank you for a wonderful tour!

    Like

  41. awesome photos… and i’ll never forget my first northern lights… i was on a plane to Alaska in winter and watched them out the window for most of my trip from Seattle to Anchorage… amazing!!!

    Like

  42. Thanks for the tour. I never knew it was so beautiful in Sweden. It just may be the place for me. I love the snow. I’m a night owl and would love all that daylight, and all that water… I love it. Beautiful.

    Like

  43. Oh, those pictures are so lovely .. I’m sure it’s even better in person, as pictures almost never do the real thing justice.

    I think it would be an interesting experience, the constant light and dark. It’s easy to sit and think that here, but you never know what it would be like until you experience it I guess.

    Thank you so much for the tour. Your heated floors were lovely on my feet. Now if only I could find my shoes .. they seem to be somewhere on the bottom of the pile….

    Like

  44. What a wonderous beautiful area you live in..it’s wonderful and thank you for sharing the pictures. I am visiting via BATW from Texas and just had to tell you how much I enjoyed your site..I will be back. 🙂 . Come visit Texas

    Like

  45. Can I come? I won’t get in the way much? And in the winter I’ll just huddle on the warm floor with a natural light lamp.

    We lived in Germany for four years and one of the places we didn’t make it to was the Scandinavian countries. Therefore, I must go back. I am incomplete…

    Like

  46. Sweden is cold. But beautiful. I didn’t get to stay for as long as I would’ve liked, but living in the Mediterranean it was too cold for me – even in Ferragosto when I went. But I was taken aback but how clean it was. And peaceful.

    What a great tour! Thanks so much for playing hostess for us.

    Darcy
    (“the Janitor”)

    Like

  47. Great tour – an insight to what makes anyone, let alone a Brit live in Sweden. I can relate to why you stay. I had to move 12,000 miles to find the back view I would never tire of.

    Hope you enjoyed your BATW day.

    Like

  48. That was so beautifully written! Thank you!

    I can’t imagine the days/nights being mixed up like that – I think I WOULD go crazy! I guess your kiddos are immune to it since that’s all they’ve ever known?

    Like

  49. My throat choked up several times at your beautiful description of your surroundings. And, I’ve got to admit to a twinge of jealousy at the gorgeousness that is your home. The last picture of the tree…oh. Perfect!
    Thanks..this really is a great post!

    Like

  50. That was a beautifully written blog, Fi, and looking at the interest your post has generated- you really need to write your memoirs! As Dawn French recently said, memoirs are not the same as autobiography as you can miss out the boring bits! You have had a varied and adventurous life, you writing style is interesting and entertaining,and people love your stories about your life that you have posted so far!
    P.S Of course we all have hairs in our nostrils! they are called cilia and are what filters out dust etc for example when we sneeze!

    Like

  51. Hi Lady Fi, Love your blog. Yes, we too dont wear shoes in the house over here in Singapore. It would be very rude to wear shoes into anyone’s house. I guess it is our culture.

    Like

  52. You have HEATED floors? That is soooo wonderful. Sigh. My socks do have a hole in today and I’m late so I’m probably the only one here–can you still ignore my hole? Thanks. I didn’t know that you had the almost no nights in Sweden- that is so strange, but the skies and lights make up for it. Your pictures are so beautiful. Thank you for a lovely tour.

    Like

  53. I’m glad to read that someone actually do like our little country (that isn’t that small) I just hear people say as you did “I never want to live there” or “I would never travel there” but it’s kind of a nice country I like it. It’s fun to read about other people’s experience of our country. So yeah, it as fun to read 😀

    Like

Leave a Reply to Dog-geek Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.