Cake, Conversation and Conviviality

As many of our friends will confirm Lesley and I have for some time been members of the cake appreciation society. Whilst continuing our European research (can anyone top the French?) trying all things cake we’ve discovered the Swedish concept Fika, which translates as “a coffee and cake break”. Actually, it means more than coffee & cake. It’s more of a state of mind, to make time to slow down, to contemplate, to make time to be with friends. Oh and of course eat cake!

This then is clearly a light bulb moment. I’m going to apply to upgrade my (grade VII) Cake Appreciation qualification to take introductory (level 1) course in Fika, Boy am I looking forward to the practicals!

Today we had the perfect opportunity to practice a bit of Fika as we were going to cross paths (literally)with Lisa and Nick, who we’d last seen in Denmark 3 weeks ago. Café Petter was chosen as the rendezvous point and I’m pleased to report the cakes, coffee and conversation in the chilled retro atmosphere of the 1890’s teashop was Fika personified.

I can now also confirm the coconut topped mystery cake is the best cake in the whole of Sweden (if not the world).

Saying goodbye to Nick and Lisa we headed to the coast and an overnight at Hudiksvall. After much faffing in unsuitable spots in and around the town we found the perfect (Goldilocks would have been happy) parking place near a beachside picnic spot.

Hälsingland

When you travel Sweden, you see large mostly red-coloured farm buildings everywhere. Looking to further immerse ourselves in Swedish culture we decided to visit the UNSECO farmhouses of Hälsingland.

The 18th and 19th centuries were quite prosperous times for the farmers, blessed by the long fertile valleys within the Taiga forest landscape. These farms produced substantial incomes from both forestry and growing flax (linen). Enjoying independence from Swedish state rule, these farmers used their abundant wealth to build new homes with elaborately decorated ancillary houses.

Inside one of the buildings we visited had beautifully (for that period) decorated rooms with detailed stencilling on linen wallpaper! This extravagant show of wealth cost at the time an estimated in £20,000! just for the decoration and was used for a single wedding and lay untouched for several generations.

Now this beautifully decorated cafe serving coffee and cake, just cries out for Fika time, reminded me of our much loved National Trust tea rooms back at home.

Back down the E4

Margo has been doing a sterling job and deserves the downtime at the rest stop just south of Älvkarleö, after all the hard driving down from Abisko and is grateful to be back on the familiar smooth E4 highway as we continue to head south.

After 37 days on the road Margo certainly needed a wash. It took 4 lots of tokens to get her looking respectable. Perhaps without all the weight of the caked-on stone dust she’ll go even faster.

Uppsala

Uppsala is one of Sweden’s oldest cities. Today, Uppsala is one of Sweden’s four major cities and is world renowned for its universities, its magnificent cathedral and the legacy of Carl Linnaeus the famous Swedish botanist, who formalised the modern system of naming organism called binomial nomenclature. (For example, humans belong to the genus Homo and within this genus to the species Homo sapiens).. I bet ya didn’t know that?

The Uppsala sky line is dominated by the Domkyrkan Cathedral although one of the twin spires was under restoration that meant the view was spoilt a bit by the scaffolding and the crane. At the heart of the historic centre the Manchester style red brick exterior gave it an ordinary appearance but inside was, as you would expect, a more impressive space.

Like so many places we have been in Northern Europe cycling and the extensive provision of cycle routes is an integral part of town and city planning. The right of way of pedestrians over cars takes some getting used to, but when crossing the road it feels very safe, as all drivers are constantly aware that people walking, cycling or riding a e scooter take precedence over cars at junctions where there are no traffic lights.

According to the syllabus a suitably convivial venue has to be found to Fika. The Güntherska Konditori provided excellent cakes with an sheltered outdoor setting. Tick

The next day our cycle ride to us to Konditori Fågelsången where cake and much Fika companionableness was enjoyed.

Forgive me if the ditty below is not completely PC but seems appropriate for life in Margo 🙂

Sat nav

I have a little Satnav, It sits there in my car

A Satnav is a driver’s friend, It tells you where you are

I have a little Satnav, I’ve had it all my life

It’s better than the normal ones, My Satnav is my wife

It gives me full instructions, Especially how to drive

“It’s thirty miles an hour”, it says, “You’re doing thirty five”

It tells me when to stop and start, And when to use the brake

And tells me that it’s never ever, Safe to overtake

It tells me when a light is red, And when it goes to green

It seems to know instinctively, Just when to intervene

It lists the vehicles just in front, And all those to the rear

And taking this into account, It specifies my gear.

I’m sure no other driver, Has so helpful a device

For when we leave and lock the car, It still gives its advice

It fills me up with counselling, Each journey’s pretty fraught

So why don’t I exchange it, And get a quieter sort?

Ah well, you see, it cleans the house, Makes sure I’m properly fed,

It washes all my shirts and things, And keeps me warm in bed!

Despite all these advantages, And my tendency to scoff

I only wish that now and then, I could turn the bugger off.

Found on FB by Lesley

Right time to head for the ferry to discover whether Estonians have an equivalent to Fika…

Toddle Pip

Dave & Lesley

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