Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Not so Ho Ho Ho

Well the little minx has been at it again.

That's what we call Jewel.

Before Christmas she was attracted to baubles. And on a number of occasions stole some out of bowls. She even crunched through some, but fortunately she came to no harm. They must have been the plastic ones we had, and not the old glass ones.

We called her Pica pica for a while beause that is the Latin name for Magpie, and as we know, Magpies love anything shiney.

Then she took a fancy to a small Santa that we had had for years. It was on a long piece of elastic which when you jiggled it, it said,

'Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas,' in a funny sort of voice.

Mike started playing with it with Jewel and she used to get very excited. It couldn't be left out anywhere as she would take it to her bed and chew it.

The dogs do have their own toys, which they can take to their bed and chew as much as they like.

A couple of days ago Jewel took the Merry Christmas Santa off a shelf

(where Mike thought it was out of reach).

And the Santa is no more!
So no more, I don't have a photo of him.
Today when I came in from feeding the birds
Jewel had a Christmas rabbit family on her bed.
It's something I bought in a January sale when I was expecting my grandchild.
I bought it on a whim.
Nobody seems to like it particularly, maybe because it would be more suited to Easter.
Anyway I was attracted to it.
So was Jewel it seems.

So much so that she chewed it and bit one of their heads off!

Poor thing.

But it is easily sewn on again, and maybe I could get it looking more suitable for springtime and Easter.
With maybe an Easter bonnet?
And holding an Easter egg or two?

Later it was such a lovely day that we took a drive down to the village and the lake.
Where I took some photos.
It was so lovely,
I might post those photos tomorrow.
But here is Jewel out for her walk today, after she's chewed the bunny's head off,
watching a woodpecker!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Squirrels, Treetops and Birthdays

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, snow or no snow.

We had a white Christmas.
As it's so cold, -5 to -10 degrees centigrade, the snow that fell a while ago is still here. Sometimes we wake to a heavy frost making the trees all white again.

I think it's been so cold that we got a new visitor to our garden.

Or maybe two!

There are lots of squirrels in the forest but they often remain well hidden, and until this last week I had never seen one in the garden.

The first one comes and feeds under the kitchen window. He/she seems quite young to me, though I'm no expert.

The one on the little yellow house may be the same one or a different one, I'm not sure.

The weather has been lovely over the Christmas period. We already had the snow then the sun came out and made it all special again.

Yesterday, after Mike spent Boxing Day (UK holiday on 26th), in bed, we took a walk to a lake with the dogs (of course).

Jewel was straight onto the ice.
She has no fear and doesn't hesitate.

We both felt the benefit of the walk.
But then Mike wasn't feeling well again today.
So I've spent a quiet day, walking the dogs some, and taking a few photos.
It was too lovely not to, though the photos don't always do it justice.

I didn't stray far though.

This is the view from the back of the house.
The house sits in a hollow, on top of the mountain.
(It's a hill really).

And during the winter months, the sun doesn't make it above the trees.
And as we're surrounded by trees,
only the treetops
get the sun.

And they look lovely.

Later, the light was particularly special.
Sort of eerie.
But the dogs heard me getting my coat, and they came trotting up from the bedroom, where they'd been sharing it with Mike. Or in Rufus's case, came bounding up!
And by the time we had a walk in the forest where it was already dark, when we came out of the forest,
the sun was setting.

So we stood a while,
Paddy, Jewel and Rufus,
gazing about us.

Sometimes one would turn their head and look towards the forest, and I'd notice,
that they had all turned to look.
Something was there,
perhaps watching us,
a fox,
or a deer
or two?

And then we carried on back to the warmth of our cosy little house,
with the log fire.
In a beautiful forest.

And Mike, still not well,
but feeling a bit better.

A quiet end,
to a quiet birthday.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas from Bun Mountain Cottage.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Getting Closer

Isn't it funny (or maybe not), how, as a special event approaches, such as Christmas, the days seem to concertina? So we are left thinking where has the time gone?

For me, this year I don't have so much to do. At least that's what I started out thinking, then I keep adding on things to do, and before you know it... same as always, too much to do in too little time!

There's just the two of us for Christmas dinner.
Ooops sorry,
The three hounds will be having their share although they won't be sitting down to eat with us. Unless my husband has other plans!

We've had the Christmas decorations up for a while but only got the tree this week. Mike cut it down from behind our barn. He couldn't do it any earlier as there was too much snow, he couldn't see what he would be cutting! As it was the tree had to thaw on some towels to catch all the snow and ice melting off it before I could put the tinsel and baubles on it.

I made some mincepies. I often make them on Christmas Eve as I listen to the carol service on BBC Radio 4. But I made enough to eat some now, and the rest are in the freezer.

In the Uk we always celebrate Christmas on 25th, but here in Sweden the main day is Christmas Eve 24th. Mike and I will sit down together for our Christmas dinner on 25th.

Some of us can just carry on taking it easy until then!


Sunday, 14 December 2008


Yesterday was St. Lucia's Day here in Sweden. Today was the crowning of St. Lucia. So we went to the service which was held in our local church. St. Lucia is chosen, in fact voted on who it should be. This year it was the daughter of one of our friends.

We first went to this service 3 years ago and found it quite - moving, magical, spectacular, serene! Just lovely.

This afternoon the service began with a short welcome by the priest followed by some music played on 2 flutes and a guitar then a song, after which everyone clapped.

Then the lights dimmed and unacompanied singing began behind us. A procession of 7 girls (aged about 15) began walking down the aisle singing. They all wore a white long sleeved ankle length gown tied with a red sash. 'St. Lucia' led them. She wore the same white gown but on her head she wore a 'crown' of candles, which were lit! She held her hands together in front of her as if in prayer. She kept them like this throughout the service, (nearly an hour). All of the other girls carried a lit candle in their hand. They proceeded up the aisle to the front of the church where they then stood in a semi-circle facing the congregation. They sang songs together interspersed with most of the girls singing a solo, all of which were accompanied by the piano or sometimes the other instruments.

St. Lucia was given a necklace which the priest placed around her neck. I remember 3 years ago the same priest having difficulty with this and a lady stepped forward to help. He managed okay today, maybe he's been practising.

After the songs had all been sung, St lucia led the procession back up the aisle singing the same St. Lucia song over and over again. It was lovely.

What was noticable this year that apart from one young boy leading one of the songs, no other boys took part. They usually have a role to play and wear cone shaped hats. Perhaps it is something that even here is viewed as not 'cool'.

Traditionally St. Lucia would go round handing out cakes to elderly people. You can read more about the story of St. Lucia and how it is celebrated in Scandinavia and elsewhere here.

Sorry I don't have a photo to show you. You'll just have to use your imagination. A photo would not have done it justice.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Dynamite and Bling

"Contentment is the only real wealth."
Alfred Nobel

This is the Blue Hall, in Stockholm City Hall. It is the venue for the Nobel Prize banquet each year. It is always on 10th December the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.

We visited the city hall on the last day of our visit to Stockholm 2 weeks ago. You have to take a guided tour as it is used by politicians and civil servants so they obviously don't want just anyone wondering around. It is best to check beforehand whether the hall will be open to tourists as it is frequently hired by various groups.

I rather enjoyed our visit. There was plenty of 'bling'.

Courtesy of the Golden Hall.

I was taken with this image for obvious reasons.

We had previously visited the Nobel Museum which is situated in Gamla Stan, a lovely old area of Stockholm. One of the staff on the front desk was not only very knowledgeble about the city hall and the Nobel Prize, but also very interesting. She chatted to us for sometime sparking our curiosity.
Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and became one of the richest men of his time. In his will he bequethed most of his estate to establishing an annual prize, the Nobel Prize. He died in 1896 and the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901. The will was controversial at the time. It was unusual to leave such large amounts of money to scientific and charitable causes. It was also thought that the prize should be restricted to Swedes.
Alfred Nobel specified the institutions who should nominate the Nobel laureates. Since 1901 prizes have been awarded for; physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Since 1969 a prize for economics has been awarded in Alfred Nobels memory. Each prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma and a cash sum.
The Nobel peace prize is awarded in Norway in accordance to Alfred Nobels wishes.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Snow Pictures

This is the view from our front door yesterday.

The snow that fell through the night, clung to the branches of the lilac tree, splaying it apart, bending it low. Fearing the weight of the snow might push the lilac tree into this ungainly position permanently, I took a broom to prod the branches to dislodge the snow. It was succesfull and the branches each swayed back to their rightful positions.

As you can see here where I've cleared half of the lilac. The half that is cleared is now upright once again.
After clearing the lilac I continued clearing the hedge behind it. You can just see it in the first photo.

Everywhere we looked

was just

a treat for the eyes,

a magical winter wonderland for sure.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Sunset Snow

It's a veritable winter wonderland here.

So I've been out with my camera.

Not so very far.

Well it's not always easy,

in charge of three dogs,

and wearing mittens.

At least Mike was with me here, hence the picture of me,

tangled up,

trying to organise the dogs.

It's been snowing most days here,

and we've not seen much of the sun.

But there was a lovely sunset on Thursday,

in between the snowfalls.

Hope you are all enjoying your weekends where you are,

snow or no snow.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

What a tease I've been

This is where I've been:

Sweden's capital.
It was very cold.

Can you tell?

But the shops made it cheery,
and Christmassy.

We made a special visit to this one as it was a haberdashery. My friend knows I like anything to do with fabric, ribbons and such things. This shop although small was packed full of tapes, ribbons, cord, tassels; on the counter, behind the counter, round the walls, stacked on the floor and hanging from the ceiling.
Some of the biggest tassels I've seen.

I believe they supply the local theatres in the city.

Before we reached the haberdashery we peered into an interesting shop. We just had to call in. It was small but crammed with anything and everything connected with tea. Well it was the Tea Centre! Although I didn't take any photos, a couple can be found here. It was well worth calling in, and my friend made a purchase of some teas, of course.

I'd seen some of these on the internet and would have walked right past this one but my friend spotted it so I had to take a photo, pleased that we'd seen not one but two. I'm not sure of their purpose. To keep the poles warm in the freezing weather? I think it must be something to do with the Swedes whimsical sense of humour. I just wonder whether someone stands there knitting (or crotcheting) them from beginning to end. Or do they make them beforehand and just stitch them round the pole.
I suppose that would be the sensible thing to do?
What we were truly amazed at during our stay in Stockholm, was how friendly everyone was.