Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Hungry Cailín Goes West - Part 1

One of my favourite things about Sweden has to be the ‘klämdag’ or ‘squeeze day’ tradition.  If a public holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, you take the day squeezed between it and the weekend off!  What’s not to love?

Last weekend, Mountain Man and I took advantage of Sweden’s National Day on Thursday 6th of June and the klämdag on Friday.  We ventured into the wilderness; setting off from Malmö on Wednesday afternoon and by early evening setting up camp in the beautiful campsite ‘Klättertorpet’ in Bohuslän, Western Sweden.  Run by climbers Hanna and Petter, this place is not a typical 5*campsite - there is no hot water or showers and there is no 24 hour reception.  To me though, it has everything that qualifies as 5*.  There is endless peace and quiet, beautiful views, great climbing in every direction, 2 affectionate cats, composting toilets, a fire pit with a shedful of wood and a barn with cosy couches, a fridge and cooking facilities.  Everything about the place is relaxed and informal…like most climbers I know.

On Thursday, Hanna took me out to a nearby crag (that’s a cliff for those of you who don’t climb and for people like me who are just learning the lingo!) to give me some one-on-one instruction.  I’ve climbed before and Mountain Man has been climbing since he was a teenager, but I’ve never felt 100% comfortable or confident when it came to knots or technique.  We spent 4 hours practising, I climbed some of the toughest routes I have ever attempted and even learned how to hand jam (that means putting your hand into a crack in the rock and basically using it as an anchor to hold you…scary, right?!)  There are very few feelings like the one you get when you abseil off a tough climb and one of Sweden’s strongest climbers (read ‘shit hot’) high fives you.  What a morning, I was practically levitating with joy. 

To celebrate our return to our climbing harnesses (it’s been a while for me and my Mountain Man) we ventured a little further down the road to ‘Stenugnsbageri’ a gorgeous little bakery sitting all alone on the side of the road, in the middle of the countryside.  The lady behind the counter heard us conversing in English and immediately asked if we would like to taste their breads, so of we course we took her up on the offer and dived into the little jars of bread samples, every ingredient listed on the blackboards on the wall.  As we tasted, oohing and aahing all the way, the owner appeared, covered in flour, drawing us over to look in the window of his kitchen, pointing out his enormous oven, fuelled with 1m lengths of locally supplied timber.  His pride in a 6 year endeavour radiated from his cheery face, as he told us about the suppliers of his lettuce, vegetables, herbs…his flour and cheeses.  ‘Everything is organic, it’s easier that way, than having to explain what isn’t!’  My kind of man…  We had the most delicious lunch, with super fresh ingredients and old fashioned lettuce full of flavour, unlike the baby varieties that are so popular now, but often taste of nothing!  Sitting in the sun, luxuriating in the feeling of spending all day outdoors, I really couldn’t have been any happier.

We spent the afternoon taking endless photos of the local countryside, swimming in the sea and soaking up the June sunshine.  Being outside all day long felt so good, I realised that while I love being close to everything in the city, my country roots love to ‘go wild’ as often as possible! 

We concluded our day with a gourmet meal of buttered asparagus (Kerrygold of course) homemade organic beef burgers, caramelised onions and a top notch salad…all prepared at the picnic bench beside our tent and gobbled down by two hungry climbers.  Who ever said camping food has to be basic?

Watch this space for Part 2...crayfish, crab & summer houses by the sea.