Another day on my own, and with decent weather. I thought of hiking at first, but I needed to be back in time for Adrian’s swim school, and I didn’t have the use of the car, so I could only do something shortish or relatively local.

But: I did have my bike, so I went cycling instead. Tired of the local nature reserves – Judarskogen, Grimsta, Järvafältet – and inspired by a cycle trail description I found online, I decided to cycle all the way to the other side of town, to Saltsjöbaden.

(In the end Adrian came down with a stomach bug so the family returned home not long after I left, and Adrian did not go to swim school, but I found that out too late.)

I’m normally not hungry first thing in the morning, and I saw no point in hanging around at home while waiting for my appetite to appear. So I packed a simple breakfast and cycled away, and had breakfast in the little park beneath the City Hall. Hundreds of tourists were swarming around the City Hall itself, but not many were interested in the little park, so I almost felt like I was there on my own, as long as I kept facing the right direction.

The route onwards to Saltsjöbaden was pleasant enough but not very exciting. Saltsjöbaden itself had some interesting sights, including two old wooden open air bath houses.

I was feeling hungry again and thought I’d treat myself to a decadent brunch at Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden – but this place had apparently not understood the br in brunch and only started serving theirs at 12, at which point it’s a lunch and not a brunch in my opinion. I wasn’t interested in hanging around for another half an hour, so no brunch today. Just a simple soup lunch in a local café instead.

After Saltsjöbaden and Solsidan, the trail left built-up areas behind and went mostly through forest for a while. It also got close to the rocky seaside at times, which I liked. I had been hoping to get many more views of the sea, so when I finally got some views here I stopped for a long photo break.

After the forested areas, the way back home felt like doing my daily commute. Even the Tranebergsbron bridge was there like a dear old friend.

This trip was part experiment to figure out a suitable length for future day trips on bike.

I cycled about 75 km in total and felt that I could have done more. When I am out hiking, I tend to start feeling my legs after about 20 km or so. Cycling is a milder way of moving, and as long as the road is flattish and I don’t push myself, I feel I can keep going almost endlessly. (Which is probably far from true, really.) But I wasn’t feeling particularly cocky on the uphill parts at the end.

Hiking, I base my plans on an average pace of 3 km per hour including all breaks, and I’m never too far off. Cycling, my speed varied massively: from barely above walking pace on the twisty little forest paths, to “whoo this is nice” going downhill on straight, wide, empty asphalt roads. All in all I was out for nine hours, but I’m not sure if I can generalize all of this to any kind of average at all. I took longer meal breaks than I usually do on my hikes. And of course I cannot take photos while I’m cycling, or even look around as freely as I can when I’m walking, so I had to stop whenever I wanted to do that.

I’m on my own. The rest of the family is away, visiting Eric’s father.

This happens so rarely that I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

A sculpture at Uppsala Academic Hospital.

Because one can never have too many photos of green things growing in spring.

A shallot started growing in the vegetable drawer in the fridge. I saw it probably wouldn’t taste any good anyway, so put it in a tiny vase on the window sill and let it grow. Maybe I’d get some onion greens from it.

It didn’t produce much greens. But the roots it grows are fascinating. At first it sent out three or four white little roots, but then it abandoned all but one. All of the tangle in the vase comes from one single root that has then branched again and again.

Before I throw it out, I’ll take out of the vase and spread it out so I can see how much there is of it. I suspect I can only do that once, because once it’s out, there’s probably no way I can get it all in through the narrow neck of the vase again.

My orange merino wool Buff, or “multi-functional headwear”. One of my best buys ever, because it’s just the right thickness and incredibly versatile. Plus the nice orange colour of course. I use it throughout the entire cold season, from September to May – any time I’m outdoors when it’s cold enough that I want something on my head. Cycling, hiking, digging in the garden, skiing…

There are about a dozen ways of wearing it, of which I only use three or so, but those three are indispensable. It’s a headband/ear warmer, it’s a scarf, it’s a helmet liner. And it converts instantly from one function to another.

I thought I had misplaced it today and was in a slight panic – how am I going to cycle to work tomorrow? – and then I found it again. What a relief.

The whole family joined me for a walk along a circular route based on Sörmlandsleden, stage 15:2 and part of 15, between the old mine at Skottvång and lake Marviken.

The weather was cloudy and cool but otherwise fine. We saw blue anemones everywhere. The white ones were just starting to bloom, but they were camouflaged since their flowers only open in sunshine. I also saw a very early marsh marigold.


The kids did not enjoy the actual walking part too much, which was pretty much as expected. Luckily there was stuff for them to do and to look at.

At the beginning and end of the trail, near Skottvång, there were numerous works of art in the forest along the trail – odd constructions, plastic plants in unexpected places, funny road signs (pointing towards “tree”, “path”, “air”, “water”, “berries” etc), coffee cups hanging on trees, a modern rune stone, etc.

We stopped for lunch at a picnic spot just off lake Marviken, roughly at the halfway point, and made a fire to heat and cook our food.

There was no firewood at the picnic spot, but there was no shortage of dry branches in the forest nearby. I guess not many people had stopped there recently. The fireplace was a small one and we had no proper tools with us to cut the branches to size. I couldn’t find my camping knife when packing so I only had a little pocket knife with me, but that turned out to be enough for whittling down the thicker branches until I could snap them in two.

Our standard campfire food is “hike bombs”, a recipe I learned from Ingrid’s scout hikes: foil packages containing diced pre-cooked potatoes, vegetables etc. Easy to prepare, easy to pack, quick to cook, and delicious. Our version consists of potatoes, salmon, and broccoli. For dessert, we had “hike bananas”, which is also a traditional outdoor recipe in Sweden: bananas, slit and stuffed with pieces of chocolate, and then grilled.

Both kids enjoyed poking in the fire and putting on more branches, but Adrian was quite cautious about getting close to it. Somehow he nevertheless managed to get soot marks on his forehead, which Ingrid then turned into a war painting.

After lunch we passed and climbed a viewing tower. The tower was more fun than the viewing – the surrounding area is quite flat and all we could see was forest, looking the same in all directions.


The walk back felt shorter than the way out, because we made slingshots for the kids. Shooting and looking for projectiles kept them happily occupied almost all the way to the car.

We only had pieces of ordinary sewing elastic to work with, so the slingshots were neither powerful nor easy to use, but kids were happy as long as their stones flew a few metres. We’ll probably make new ones next time we’re out walking, so I’ll have to do some research to find a better material to use next time.

Normally Eric drops Adrian off at school in the morning and I pick up both kids in the afternoon. Once a week we swap, so I get a free afternoon/evening. Today was such a day.

I use these afternoons in various ways. Sometimes I go to a movie. I may go book shopping. Or I may simply work late, digging into some fun project.

Right now I feel no inclination whatsoever to invest more in work than I absolutely have to. I also don’t think I could focus on a movie. So I simply cycled home via a slow, scenic, circuitous route, through parts of town that I rarely visit.

The area around Bällstaviken is an interesting mixture of modern housing (including cool all-wooden modern apartment buildings), greenery that is still mostly dead at this time of the year, scruffy boat yards, and views of industrial buildings across the water.