So with Frances setting off back to Ireland we began making our way up to Kalmar with Kate working the next day. On our way was the IKEA museum. We weren’t sure what it would be like but it had received a lot of positive reviews so we decided it’d be a good stop along the way.
Pic. Saoirse loved the IKEA meatballs
The museum started out telling you about the local area. Almhult was an agricultural town in Småland province. Life was tough and a lot of people emigrated to America as there were few prospects there. Then we were introduced to the founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad. He was an entrepreneur with a knack for seeing a gap in the market and spotting trends. He founded IKEA when he was 17. The name comes from his initials IK, E for Elmtaryd (the farm he grew up on) and A for Agunnaryd (his hometown).
Then we were taken through how IKEA came from these humble beginnings to what it is today. Through ingenuity and sticking to its founding principles, it succeeded despite facing many barriers, especially in Sweden. I left feeling inspired… and full of Swedish meatballs and coffee… but mainly inspired..
Pic Our short lived careers as IKEA catalogue models.
On the way out there was a temporary exhibition looking at how people have hacked IKEA products. It partly showcased the people’s creativity but was also a bit tongue in cheek.
Pic. Cross, Shpank and stock – the new range from IKEA
So back we went to Knarrebo for a couple of days before driving back over to Öland for a night to see the southern part of the island. This area is dedicated as a UNESCO world heritage area. Over the course of the two days we visited Sandbyborg, the site of an ancient village that was attacked and its population massacred in the 5th century. It is the site of ongoing archaeological work. While the inhabitants were killed, it didn’t appear that anything was stolen which adds to the mystery of what happened and why? Some of the pendants and glass beads are from the Mediterranean area of the Roman empire which gives an idea of the level of trade across Europe at the time.
Pic. Our camping spot on Oland.
We had a good walk and some bird watching early on the second day at the Ottenby bird sanctuary. It is a hugely important area for migrating birds and seals. It is the first place that many birds visit in Sweden on their way north as well as being the last place they visit before flying south. Along the way there were remnants of the old village that thrived there mainly due to fishing. The outline of a few walls for a church and some houses are all that are left now. Again, wonderful displays helped to give you a picture of what life might have been like at that time.
Pic. Walk at Ottenby nature reserve.
On our way back we then stopped into Eketorp fortress. Now sometimes a site or activity can be built up and you end up disappointed. Talk to a local around Kalmar and they mention this fortress. Well, we were not disappointed. Eketorp originated in the Iron Age when local farming families got together and built the fortress so that they could protect themselves from raids. Some of the stone along the bottom of the fortress was originally laid by these people! During the Middle Ages the fort was expanded and acted in much the same way. Now it has been reconstructed to what it would’ve looked like during the Middle Ages. There were costumes for people to dress up for pictures so Kate did her best Monthly Phyton French Knight impression.
Pic. Eketorp fortress
Pic. The three Eketorps.
The rest of the week was spent planning for our longer trip that was coming up so a bit short on travel highlights although Saoirse and I took a boat tour around Kalmar. She loved being in the boat especially when it got choppy out at sea and her face was being sprayed and feeling the wind in her hair.
While not a highlight Saoirse and I had an eventful day out in Kalmar. I’m writing up my masters research project for publication and thought that if I took her into Kalmar library that shed play in the kids area while I use the free WiFi to get a couple of hours work done. Yeah, Nah as they say in NZ. Saoirse had no interest in playing and instead kept trying to stalk this other wee girl around the library. That meant I was following her out the door on multiple occasions so no work was getting done. I decided to use the WiFi instead to fix a problem with Vodafone UK using the online chat. Just as the guy was telling me what I needed to do I hear Velcro… Saoirse’s nappy! I look up and she’s happy out after figuring out how to undo her nappy under her dress. I didn’t put on shorts under the dress due to the heat so she’s now nappy free and charging across the room. I stand up from my laptop. She stops, turns and looks at me and then a puddle starts forming on the floor. I can now hear other kids in the library. Might they be coming to the playroom? This thought does not impede Saoirse’s flow but it gets me moving a lot faster. Wipes out to mop the floor. Nappy back on as best I can with a protesting (and surprisingly strong) toddler. Floor clean just in time then a dash to the toilet with the change bag. Saoirse fared pretty well but I can’t say the same for my shorts… At this point I decided to forget about my brilliant library plan and just head back home – smelling of wee and no further ahead with my journal article. To give myself a feeling that I completed at least one task on our trip to town I went to pick up some groceries. All was going well until I loaded the groceries in and went out to get Saoirse. Kalmar has a strong onshore easterly wind like Christchurch and this same wind released the side door from the holding pin and slammed it shut. LOCKED SHUT and I’d put the keys down when I brought the bags in. Long story short, Kate had left her Keys at home so I couldn’t go to her work to get them. The solution ended up being me borrowing a ladder from the supermarket and getting in through the roof. Our sunroof wasn’t locking into place so we’d had to secure it and bring it to the dealership on return to the UK. Lucky! My day finished with a whiskey and an early night!
Pic. Laptop out and baby entertained at the library. Totally nailing this parenting thing… Pride always comes before a fall
Hey group 1, this is an update from Sweden. It’s the week after my mother returned to Ireland. WE had a great trip to the IKEA museum and over to a UNESCO area close to Kalmar to see some ancient forts and a bird watching area. Difficult to summarise but if you’re interested in reading about a couple of parenting fails then the last paragraph is worth a look.