Weigh In and Weighing

I went to Slimming World last night, not expecting to be pleased with the result and I had lost 3 pounds so I was very pleasantly surprised by that.  I was over my daily syns or unable to calculate them so many times last week so I was pleased with the loss.

I worked from home today so I was able to eat very well.  Eggs, ham and mushrooms for breakfast.eggs, ham and mushrooms A snack of grapes.green and red grapes I used my new scales for the first time today and they are excellent.  They have a larger scale for standard weighing of items such as a mixing bowl you want to add baking ingredients to and a small scale which measures in 0.1 increments of a gram.  Perfect for weighing out 25g of Cheddar to grate in to my soup.

I haven’t been able to weigh anything recently which is necessary when counting syns and I am pleased with my new purchase.Precision scale I heated up some of the ribollita soup I had made on Sunday.  It is so good and was even better with some Cheddar.  Very tasty indeed.  If I have the energy, I will post the recipe tomorrow.Ribollita I love working from home as I don’t waste 3 hours a day commuting so I was available earlier to cook dinner.  Harvey wanted noodles and I wanted vegetables so we had a huge stir fry.

Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry with Chicken and Salmon (Serves 4 – 6)



2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp chopped chillis (optional)
1 tbsp brown sugar
juice of 1 lime

3 tbsp oil
Chopped vegetables ( I used sweet potato matchsticks, carrot matchsticks, French green beans, pak choi, red and green pepper, broccoli)
Fresh basil and mint
Pre cooked noodles
Pre cooked chicken and salmon (optional)


Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside
Chop up all vegetables.  I put them in 2 bowls: veggies that take longer such as sweet potato, carrots and green beans in one and everything else in the other
Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan
Fry vegetables in batches
add the sauce and heat through
Add the noodles, chicken and salmon
When it’s all cooked or warmed through, serve and garnish with chopped mint and basil

veg for stir fry 12-11-14 Stuff your face!dinner 12-11-14 2 I really enjoyed this and so did everyone else.Dinner 12-11-14


Today’s diary 12th November 2014

Free Foods

salmon, plain or smoked
Carrot Kale
Leek Mushrooms
eggs chicken
ham cannellini beans
broccoli peppers
spinach french/string beans
garlic Cubes
Healthy Extras

a 250ml semi-skimmed milk
b 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Basic, Sugar, all varieties 1
Basic, Honey 1
Basic, Honey 1
Basic, Dressing, Sweet chilli sauce/dipping sauce
Butter, full fat 2
Butter, full fat 2
Basic, Oil, all types excluding extra virgin olive oil 2
Cheese, basic, Cheddar, full fat 5
Total Syns 15½
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I was up very early and in London before sunrise today.  I went to London Bridge and walked over the famous bridge which I have walked over so many times.

London Bridge early Destination was the Tower of London which is just out of view of this picture, on the left hand side before Tower Bridge.tower I arrived at the tower just before 7am and it was peaceful and quiet.tower of london 2 First view of the poppies!  Wow!popies 12 For blog readers who may not be in the UK or have heard about the poppies at the Tower of London, this is an art installation called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’.  The poppies have been “planted” over the last 2 – 3 months and the last will be placed tomorrow on 11/11/14 to coincide with the beginning of the First World War, 100 years ago.  Each poppy represents a British soldier who died during that war.  888,246 British lives lost.Blod swept lands The ceramic poppies have all been sold and millions of pounds raised for various armed forces charities.poppies 12 En masse they were incredibly effective.poppies 11 poppies 10The very recently added memorials to individuals made me feel very emotional.   It helped make it real and served as a reminder of all those people who died then and who have died since.
poppies 9 It was quiet and peaceful enough at this early hour to be able to think privately about what it all means.  I personally dislike any loss of life through war, whatever side you fight on and wish disputes could be resolved peacefully before anyone dies.  I felt sad for everyone who lost their life and their families.  As someone who has enjoyed so many holidays in Europe, I find it incomprehensible that 100 years ago today we were on the eve of fighting each other.  But we were, we did and now we remember them.poppies 8 I think this bit is very effective.poppies 7 It is where the river of blood begins.poppies 6 poppies 5 popies 3

I don’t know of anyone in my family who has died in battle or anyone in photos such as these.  But seeing their young faces and thinking about what they possibly experienced with the numbers of their deaths so visually expressed by this wave of poppies was very powerful.  To think each poppy represented a person like this young man who died at Ypres and for each person who died, there was the devastation for the friends and families they left behind.Ypres soldier I was relieved I was able to walk away and experience another sunrise, unlike those who are represented by the poppies.  Alongside the sadness I felt for those who died, I was also in awe at the genius of the artists who created this incredible installation.  Powerful stuff.Tower of London 1 After all that I had a day of work to get through!

A small pot of mixed fruits with a latte for breakfast.fruit salad 9-11 14 A mixed salad from Wholefoods for lunch which was really tasty.Wholefoods salad 9-11-141 slice of bread and butter
bread and butter with home made ribollita soup for supper.  I made it yesterday and was pleased I did because it was nutritious and delicious.Ribolita Slimming World Totals for 10/11/2014 – not bad

Today’s diary 10th November 2014

Free Foods

salmon, plain or smoked
fruit, selection of fresh
Carrot Cauliflower
Kale Leek
Lettuce Tomatoes
rice eggs
chicken pearl barley
quinoa cannellini beans
broccoli cucumber
onions peppers
spinach garlic
Healthy Extras

a 250ml semi-skimmed milk
b 60g of any wholemeal bread

Dip, Tzatziki dip 1
Butter, full fat 2
Butter, full fat 2
Cheese, basic, Feta, full fat
Bread, Granary bread, 800g loaf
Total Syns 13



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Superfoods and Super Syns

I intended to flood my body with super foods today and get in lots of exercise.  I did complete both those goals but then the wine and pudding came out which was a disastrous combination.

The day started so well.  I often begin with a mug of hot water with honey (1 tsp) and apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp).honey and cider vinegar Before eating anything I wanted a glass of green goodness.  Lots of green algae and spirulina with kelp and matcha, blended with the juice of cavolo nero, purple kale and a bit of ginger to try and make it more palatable.green goodness and kale green goodness in pots I put 1/4 of a tsp of each powder in to the glass, made the juice, added an ice cube to chill it some more and then stirred to make it smooth.green powder in glass This tasted indescribably bad but I am hoping it did me a lot of good and I did manage to swallow it all!chilling the green To take away the nasty taste I had a plate of ripe and sweet fruit.plum banana and flowersOne very large and perfectly ripe black plum and a banana.  It was great.banana and plumWe all went on a walk of about an hour in Hemstead Forest which was lovely.  We were lucky to avoid the rain and we all enjoyed being outside and walking.

Back at home the others had sausages with crusty bread but I had prawns on salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and red pepper) with 1 tbsp mayonnaise and grapes.
prawn salad with grapes I really like the taste combination of prawns with grapes.  I am not sure why but they seem to really complement each other.prawn salad

Do you have a space in your house where you dump stuff?  We do, it is a large room in the attic and we have been chucking stuff in there for years.  This afternoon Lara kindly (and bravely) helped me start sorting and we managed a good 3 hours up there.  We found all kinds of treasures, loads of rubbish – why ever did we keep that ??? – and things that did belong there.  We have a lot left to do but it was great to make a start.

Having spent the afternoon tidying and sorting, my gorgeous girl, with some ‘assistance’ from her brother cooked us a fantastic dinner.  I was told to sit and relax and given some crisp and perfectly chilled NZ Sauvignon Blanc.  As I relaxed in to the sofa, so did my diet mojo !

By the time supper was ready, I was 2 glasses down and dieting was not in the forefront of my mind plus the dinner was so good I had to stuff my face.  Well done, Lara, it was awesome.

She did have a head start.  Yesterday we bought a boned and stuffed chicken from Hartley which required minimal preparation and when cooked, it was very tasty.  We all really enjoyed it, eaten with a potato salad and mixed salad.  We will definitely be having that again.

chicken dinner 9-11-14 candles and flowers I watched Australian Masterchef this evening and they made a dessert with roasted white chocolate, which I had never hard of before.  Well, would you believe it, while I was salivating over watching Masterchef Australia, my daughter was sticking white chocolate on the outside of the crumble so it would roast while the crumble baked. It was fantastic as it caramelises and goes slightly chewy and a bit sweeter.  Quite amazing.  The apple, plum and crumble topping were all wonderful too.

caramelised white chocolateCovered in custard it was amazing.
apple and plum crumble

So another day’s Syns blown and busted but today, every extra calorie was worthwhile.

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Syns Galore But How Many?

Slimming World is really easy to follow and calculate when you prepare your own food but I do find it difficult to calculate when I eat out, as I mainly did today.  Especially when eating at local places which are not on the syns list.

I am besieged by technical problems at the moment.  My main camera is not working at all so I have to use the little one so apologies for the inferior picture quality and my laptop keeps freezing so I usually give up trying to post anything.  I need to take it to a repair place but have not had time recently.

Watermelons are delicious at the moment – they are so sweet and juicy I really enjoy eating them and began the day with a plateful.

Watermelon 8-11-14We popped in to Cranbrook this morning and decided to go in to the new farm shop at Hartley which has recently opened.  It looks so different it is hard to believe it is the same place since being refurbished.  It seems much bigger, it is light and airy and has been knocked through to the coffee shop next door.Hartley shop interiorThe produce is beautifully presented but it does not have anything close to the range of Hartley Dyke.  The deli and bakery sections had samples of their produce and I tried 2 types of cheese and 2 cold meats.
veggies at Hartley I thought the butchers and Deli seemed particularly good, everyone was very friendly and it is a pleasant environment to shop in.  I will visit again but I will also continue to shop at Hartley Dyke.  I think we are lucky to have 2 good farm shops to choose from and I hope they both do well.

I particularly enjoyed bumping in to Catherine and James and Linda and Peter – it was very sociable in there.Hartley shop After shopping in Cranbrook we went to Cocolicious.  I did resist all the cakes but had a bite of Harvey’s cake and pancakes.

Harvey had the chocolate cake with white chocolate icing and declared the icing to be the best he had ever tasted.  It was really good and did taste like white chocolate but with the consistency of a whipped butter icing.  I think i did well to just have one bite.Harvey in Cocolicious 8-11-14 The coffee was excellent, full flavoured, in a mug and not a glass and the perfect temperature.  The milk was thick but not too foamy which I like.Cocolicious latte They were selling cinnamon buns!  I did resist but had a bite of Lara’s so that makes 3 bites of cake!Cocolicious cinnamon bun Lara and I had an unplanned but extremely enjoyable lunch at Carluccios in Tunbridge Wells.

We shread their excellent bread basket and olives, all of which were not diet friendly at all but really tasty.Carluccio's bread and olives I had their Primavera salad which was crispy pancetta, Gorgonzola cheese, rocket, walnuts, spinach and radicchio leaves with a balsamic dressing and a generous amount of pepper.Carluccio's Primavera It was very enjoyable.Primavera saladIn late afternoon I took the dogs on a walk through the woods over the road with Lara and we walked the longer loop which took over an hour so that was a good walk.

Back at home I managed to resist the Chinese takeaway the boys chose and just had 2 glasses of lemon and mint water and 2 apples.
lemon and mint water

I have tried to estimate the syns I had today but I found it impossible so I guess the scales will tell on Tuesday!


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Trying Hard

I went back to Slimming World last night and had put on 2 pounds.  It is always annoying to put weight back on but actually, having had a good holiday it is not unexpected and it could have been much worse.

I vowed today to try harder so instead of going straight to the office I went to Wholefoods to buy breakfast.

WF basket They have a superb range of fruits prepared and ready to take away.  Their salad bar was ready too so I took away a pot of salmon, chicken and an egg.WF breakfast to go I bought enough for 2 days so I only ate half of this.breakfast things 5:11:14 I popped out at lunch time to go to M&S as they have a good range of salads and cooked protein dishes.  I walked past into my favourite shop and did buy a couple of things.plants in a chair At M&S I thought I would try a Nutty Grain and Vegetable Salad  which I have not had before and a small pot of white crab meat.nutty veg salad and crab This was delicious and only 6 syns!Nutty Veg Salad It tasted even better when I mixed the crab in too.crab meat Supper was a veggie stir fry.  Brown basmati rice stir fried with red and yellow onions, red and green peppers, green beans, purple sprouting broccoli and flavoured with ginger, garlic and soy.stir fry 5:11:14Simple, humble and satisfying.
stir fried dinner 5:11:14

Slimming World Diary

Today’s diary 5th November 2014

Free Foods

salmon, plain or smoked
crab, fresh or canned
fruit, selection of fresh
Dressing, Vinegar, all varieties
rice eggs
chicken broccoli
onions peppers
french/string beans garlic
Healthy Extras

a 250ml semi-skimmed milk
b 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Honey 1
M&S Nutty Grain & Vegetable Salad 6
Total Syns 7


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Stockholm Day 5 and Home Again

We both really enjoyed our trip to Stockholm and would like to go back again.  I would like to see more of Sweden and think it would be a wonderful country to visit in the summer.  Until then, this is how we spent our last day.

Every day I have had a huge breakfast but it has been healthy food, unlike my last day.  I have been surrounded by people tucking in to hot buttered and jam covered toast and pancakes but resisted until today.  I had 2 pancakes with chocolate spread, whipped cream and strawberry jam. That red devil sign was appropriate!Sweden pancakes They were so good I had 2 more, followed by a crispbread with cheese and egg.  I left about half the cream and jam as it was far too much even for me but I did eat everything else.  I loved those crispbreads.    Complete gluttony!  Time to go and get some fresh air and exercise.pancakes We spent the morning walking, pottering about and shopping and I found this cute shoe shop !

Zoe shoe shop

It was near a cafe I had been intending to visit all week - Cafe Pascaloutside Cafe Pascal One of my favourite blogs is Green Kitchen Stories , a vegetarian blog with stunning photography.  The bloggers live in Stockholm and they both have great Instagram accounts too.  Recently they visited Cafe Pascal and I decided to visit too as it looked like my kind of place.Inside Pascal Sunday It really was.Pascal counter I liked the decor, the layout, the vibe, the variety of food and the food display.  I only disliked my coffee served in a glass!inside Pascal Unfortunately we were both too full to want anything to eat so we had a drink, played cards and took out a sandwich and bun for later.playing cards in Pascal I was quite disappointed to leave the hotel.  We were very happy here at the Clarion Hotel Sign.

Clarion front

The room was small but comfortable, dark (great for sleeping), very quiet with a super comfy bed.Clarion hotel room This may sound bizarre but bear with me.  The lifts were so much fun !!!  They really were.  Each lift was named Rock, Pop, Jazz or Lounge which described the music they played and the decor.Clarion loves music This was Jazz.jazz lift Pop was my favourite and it had a spinning disco ball.  It was not at all uncommon to see people dancing in the lift and in fact, on our final descent, Harvey had a boogie with the elderly lady who was in there with us – brilliant.Pop lift The large lobby area was a pleasant place to sit and chill.Clarion lobby 2 Clarion lobby Having packed we strolled down the road and hopped on the Arlanda Express back to the airport.  We sat up at the table this time instead of the comfy chairs and ate our sandwiches.   Such a lovely train.Arlanda Express table Yummy.Pascal sandwich Our flight was delayed but we had good seats in front of the telly.  Look what was on !!!Downton in Swedish Plus cinnamon buns from Cafe Pascal.  In fact today Green Kitchen Stories have the recipe to make buns similar to these ones.  They seem to be quite a national treat.  Look up the GKS recipe here.cinnamon buns So after my day of gluttony yesterday I was much better today.  A fruit pot for breakfast.fruit bowl 3-11-14 I walked through torrential rain to get to WholeFoods for a salad for lunch made with just tuna, egg, chicken, raw vegetables and a brown rice and edamame salad.  It was delicious.wholefoods lunch 3-11 Some of the blogs I read eat dried mulberries and I saw some in WholeFoods and bought them to try.black and white mulberries They are nowhere near as sweet as raisins but sweet enough and very moreish.  Too moreish actually as there are none left now!dried mulberries Supper was a simple home made vegetable soup with some Cheddar cheese – delicious and sufficient.vegetable soup with cheese

I will make myself go back to Slimming World tomorrow to see the damage inflicted by pancakes, cream and cinnamon buns.  I did do a lot of walking and cycling so hopefully that helped.  We actually walked and cycled everywhere for 5 days.  No public or private transport but we covered many miles and I felt better for it today.

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Stockholm Day 4: A Sunk Ship And Two Drowned Rats

We knew we had been lucky with the weather, especially yesterday, so we shouldn’t really complain that the weather today was dreadful.  But it really was terrible today !

We had breakfast first thing and luckily it wasn’t so busy in the dining room today.H eating breakfast at Clarion Muesli with 2 types of yogurt: mango and natural.  There wasn’t any fruit salad today which was a shame.Muesli 1-11-14 One plateful today with part of a crisp bread, butter, melon, pink grapefruit, sausage, bacon, boiled egg, tuna, cheese and sprouts.  The melon today was wonderful as it was so sweet and juicy.Breakfast 1-11-14 We had to take the bicycles back so we cycled, in the rain, to Djurgarden which took about 20 minutes.  Cycling in Stockholm is better than London as all the major roads have cycle lanes and there are virtually no pot holes so you can enjoy the ride more.  Harvey, who has rarely cycled on the road, absolutely loved it and found it quite exhilarating.  I was more anxious and much as I have enjoyed our 24 hours of cycling, was relieved that both we and the bikes survived the experience.

To get out of the rain I decided we should visit one of the many museums.  My Aunty had recommended the Vasamuseet so we went in, with only low expectations.  After all, how interesting could a ship that sank on its maiden voyage from Stockholm and was under water for 333 years be?

WOW!Vasa 9 It was fascinating.Vasa 8 The scale of the ship is incredible and to then think this survived in the water for so long is amazing.Vasa 7 The detail of the ship was incredible.  It would have been painted in bright colours in its day.Vasa 6 The scale of the ship is hard to comprehend as it is massive.Vasa 4 The museum building is 6 storeys high and you gradually climb higher and higher, seeing the boat from different angles and enjoying the exhibits on each floor.Vasa 3 Vasa 2View from the top.
Vasa 1 1 in 10 scale model to give you an idea of what it would have looked like when it was painted and with the sails up.1 in 10 model vasa The exhibits were fascinating too.Vasa exhibit This is one of many models showing how they raised the Vasa.flotating the Vasa H at Vasa I really liked this wooden relief map.wooden map It helped explain why the King of Sweden commissioned the building of the Vasa as Sweden was involved in the Thirty Years War in the Seventeenth Century.wooden relief map of 30 years war H acting Hard to see but this is Harvey in the diving bell.diving bell One of our favourite exhibits was the recreation of crew faces.  There were skeletons and personal possessions from the crew who died when the Vasa sank and these incredibly life like models of what their faces are calculated to look like.Vasa crew This was a fascinating and incredible exhibition and we would not have seen it if Aunty Marion had not recommended it so thank you Aunty M. for that.Vasa painting We then went on a ridiculously long walk in the rain to Sodermalm, an area of Stockholm I thought we would enjoy walking around.  We actually tried to get a bus but you have to buy bus tickets from a shop, not on the bus and I never worked out which shop to go to.  So we walked and walked in the wind and rain.

We went to Mellquist Kaffebar as it was recommended for its cardamom buns and coffee.Mellquist Kaffebar The coffee was weak, served in a glass which I hate and I didn’t like the bun either !  Cardamom bun We did both enjoy the sit down in the comfortable chairs which looked like they came from a theatre as we were both very tired today.H in my glasses We were not in the mood for pottering about Sodermalm in the rain so we headed back to the hotel.Gingko Sodermalm kiosk in Sodermalm Stockholm is still pretty in the rain.  Just not as enjoyable.church in Sodermalm mural in Gamla Stan We weren’t sure if this was a demo or a celebration.demo in Stockholm We stopped at Vete Katten, a traditional cake and tea shop but we were so wet by then we took cakes away to have at the hotel rather than sit inside in our wet clothes and shoes.  I know I shouldn’t but it was a cake kind of an afternoon, enjoyed in bed while watching a film.  Philomena was on the TV so I was happy and Harvey enjoyed some time on his iPad.Vete Ketten box This was a large (actually huge) delicious crunchy pastry and sugary something.sugar pastry This cake was incredible.  I have admired them every day when we walked past and had to have one today.  It is made of sponge, berries, whipped cream and covered in marzipan and it was just as good as I hoped.marzipan cake We went out for a late supper to Cloud Nine near the hotel.  Bread baskey Cloud Nine It is a French restaurant and cocktail bar.H in Cloud Nine We just had one main each and I treated myself to a glass of wine as it is our last night here.  I had a Boeuf Bourgignon which was good but such a small portion.Bouef Bourgignon About £60 for 2 small meals was expensive.  Thank goodness we had cake earlier !!Cloud Nine bill

We have really enjoyed our time in Stockhom.  It is a lovely City and we would both happily return.

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Stockholm Day 3: A Cycle Ride and Abba

I think I have finally worn out Harvey.  I am comatose and doubt I will ever walk or sit comfortably again but I am pleased to tire out he who can go all day.

The breakfast hall was packed with people this morning and we had to queue so we only went round once.  I had a larger bowl than usual of muesli, yogurt and fruit salad with a large plate of what I had the stamina to queue for.breakfast 31-10 Boiled egg, sausage, bacon, melon, pink grapefruit, turkey, tuna in mayonnaise, cornichons, beetroot salad, sprouts, a large crispbread with butter and a coffee.breakfast 31-10-14 We walked back to Djurgarden (the island with Skansen on it) under a bright blue sky again – I did feel very lucky to be able to enjoy this beautiful city in sunshine.Stockholm theatre We walked past a design store I had read about in a blog my sister recommended to me so I popped in to have a look.Svenskt Ferm Not really my style.Swedish design 3 I did like this huge dark grey velvet sofa but not the price tag.Swedish desing 2 We had a quick look in the shop next door too.Swedish design 1 Swedish horses These paper lanterns were very pretty.  I would enjoy furnishing a house in Stockholm.pretty lampshade Harvey’s chosen activity for today was to hire bicycles.  I do confess I was thinking about hiring them for an hour or two max, but he had other ideas and before I knew it I was signing up for 24 hours !  Apart from a couple of weeks ago, I have not been on a bike for about 2 years so I was feeling anxious.  Not about whether I can cycle or not but about how far I would manage to go.  I should not have worried though as we had an amazing day and cycled all round the island and backwards and forwards over the middle too.  The cycle back through the city centre afterwards was more frightening, mainly because I was not sure about all the road rules and am not used to being on the right.  Harvey is not used to cycling on the road at all and is far too confident so I think I did well to get us both back to the hotel in one piece.

Our cycle route today was gorgeous.  When possible we stuck to the waterside as I like the views and the charming boat scenes.Stockholm boatsThere was a well laid track nearly all the way round which made cycling a real pleasure.

cycyle ride 10

We ocassionally came to a dead end but that added to the fun of the day.
cycle ride 9 cycle ride 8 There were lots of places to stop and rest or to take photos or just admire the view.cycyle ride 7 cycle ride 6The water’s edge tended to be flat too, for which I was very grateful as the middle of the island definitely was not.
cycyle ride 5 After a while we came to a long stretch of path which took us past some incredible homes.cycle ride 5 cycle ride 4 cycle ride 3 cyce ride 2 cycle ride 1 This was in the most South Easterly part of the island and was my favourite part of the cycle as the views were so lovely.  This area is called Blockhusudden.Blockhusudden 2 The smooth rocks were carved by glacial erosion during the last ice age.BlockhusudenThe water here was so calm.

glacier rock 5 glacier rock 3 glacier rock 2 A very pretty spot indeed.glacier rock 1

The next part of our cycle ride took us along a canal path that separated Djurgarden from the neighbouring island.

canal 5 It was pretty due to the almost perfect reflection on the water.canal 4 canal 3 We were lucky to enjoy the reflection as the kayak seen here on the left spoiled that.canal 2 canal 1 We went inland at about 3pm to Rosendals Tradgard.Rosendals Tradgard This is a garden where they grow lots of their own vegetables organically and everything is made fresh on site.  You sit and eat in one of the greenhouses.Tradgarden It was rustic, simple, busy and the food was delicious.  Just my kind of place.Tradgarden cakes As we were so late the only food left was a ribollita soup, full of vegetables and cannellini beans, served with a generous chunk of sourdough crusty bread.  I also had a cinnamon roll but it was not as good as the one I had yesterday at Skansen.  The soup and bread were good.Ribolita and cinnamon bunMy weary legs were very glad of a rest.
Harvey at Tradgarden Before getting back in the saddle we looked around the shop and the gardens.pots at Tradgarden Our next destination was the Abba Museum.  I used to love Abba and really wanted to go to the museum which is also located on Djurgarden.  Harvey protested but I over ruled him and he actually enjoyed it too.  He was surprised that he knew all the songs he heard in there and he was really interested in the mock up of a recording studio and this mixing console.Harrison 4032 mixing console I am far less technically minded and clearly more shallow as I was interested in the Abba story, seeing their many gold discs, memorabilia from their world tours and the clothes.  Name the song that Abba were seen wearing these clothes in.  They are apparently the originals.Waterloo outfits That is me between the catsuits.Zoe with cat suitsHarvey was astonished that men wore such high platform boots.

Abba costumesAs well as all the Abba stuff to look at, there are many activities you can do such as dance with Abba, karaoke, films to watch etc.  We only participated in a few of those and definitely not the dancing with Abba but I did giggle watching a middle aged couple give it their all.
Abba Arrival It is a small museum, very expensive for what you get but I had to go and am glad I did and Harvey enjoyed it too.  Zoe with AbbaWe had a simple, cheap (relatively) and delicious pizza for supper in a place close to the hotel which my guidebook recommended; Pizza Hatt on Upplandsgattan.  I had the ‘Oktober’ pizza; on a sourdough base was red onion, rosemary, mushrooms, sharp Cheddar and chilli.  It was excellent.

pizza hatt oktober pizza The building looked like it should be condemmed but it was very friendly, packed with people eating in and taking away and very convivial.  The pizzas were good and this cost about half the amount of the other restaurants we have been to so I was happy with that.Pizza Hatt

This was a fantastic day.  It was a very tiring day but so much fun and we both loved the scenery and the cycling and ate well as we went along.  What shall we do tomorrow?

The costumes were from Waterloo, which Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest with in 1974.

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Stockholm Day 2: Spa, Sauna and Skansen

Today we immersed ourselves in Scandinavian customs and history and both absolutely loved it.

Another three course breakfast.  A small bowl of muesli with strawberry yogurt, fruit salad, nuts and seeds.bast 30-10-14 2 A cold course, with peppers, sprouts, cucumber, cornichons, beetroot salad, smoked salmon and herring.bfast 30-10-14 2 Herring three ways: pickled, in mustard and in a herb sauce.herring three ways The hot course: scrambled eggs, a small sausage, potato, bacon and Gouda cheese.bfast 30-10-14 1 On the top of our hotel, which is next to the railway line, is a Spa.train tracks Up the steps is a good sized and very crowded heated pool.  The air temperature was 5 ºC and the water was 35 ºC so as long as you stayed in the water it was extremely pleasant.  It was very steamy and great fun.  After a relax in the warm pool we sat in the sauna.  It kept me warm for hours and all day long I felt really clean which was a lovely feeling.Clarion Spa We were blessed with sunshine and eventually blue skies today.H with large statue We had a decent walk across our region of Stockholm, Norrmalm, through the City and Ostermalm to Djurgarden.  Where possible we walked along the waterfront which was stunning in the morning sunshine.walking to SkansenThese are some of Stockholm’s grand hotels which line the waterfront.

grand hotels 2 grand hotels

We were walking to another island, called Djurgarden.

Swedish flag This island is the location of numerous royal palaces, museums, beaches, a forest and the University of Stockholm.  This beautiful building is the Nordika Museet.Nordika Museet No idea what this one was but it looks like the Spiderwitch Chronicles.Spiderwitch houseAn old style telephone box.


Our destination for the day was Skansen, an open air museum founded in 1891.  It contains over 150 traditional buildings from all over Sweden dating from the 14th to early 20th century.  They were dismantled, transported and rebuilt on site.  The 75 acre site is also home to Nordic animals in a natural habitat and trees and plants from all over Sweden.  It is a living history and was quite fascinating.

When we walked in, and during the day, the air was filled with the smell of wood smoke as they were burning logs to provide places to huddle from the cold.  We were not cold until much later in the day when a cold wind picked up but I love the smell of a wood fire and enjoyed these fire pits as we came across them.Skansen wood burner

We relaxed with a drink when we arrived.  I had coffee and Harvey had one of these bottles of cordial.  He had the Lingonberry and really liked it.
Safteria and Kaffe resting at Skansen I had a traditional Swedish Cinnamon bun which was very good.Cinnamon bun and Kaffe Near the entrance was an aquarium and small zoo which I thought was going to be full of the Nordic animals so we went in.  It had nothing to do with Scandinavia so it seemed out of place but it was very interesting anyway.  You could get a bit too close to some of the animals for my liking!H with ring tailed Lemur

These were behind glass.3 baboons baby baboon green snake But these weren’t!bats The aquarium section was small but very interesting and easy to see the fish and other animals.Cuban crocs

This exhibit was fascinating.  They had about 20 skulls from different animals and once you had guessed what you through it might be, you lifted the flap to check if you were right.  Guess what this is !H and giraffe skull I am not sure which of these is the most scary!Harvey with crocodile Harvey touched the snake but baulked at the tarantular.  I stayed as far away as possible from them both.Harvey with snake We then began to walk through the extensive and beautiful grounds of Skansen.  This striking building is a belfry.

belfryThis is the Frammestad windmill; the top section rotates so you can turn the sails to face the wind – clever.

Frammestad windmill The Hornborga Cottage.Hornborga Cottage Most of the signs were in Swedish and English – phew!Virserum storehouse This is the Virserum Storehouse.At Skansen The soldiers cottage.  I forget the age of this but farmers were asked to provide a cottage for soldiers who in return helped work on the farm until they were called up for war.soldier's house The Nordic animals section was superb.

Wolverine.wolverine Wolf.wolfLynx.
Lynx The much anticipated Brown Bears.Harvey and bears

The enclosures were huge and from the location on top of the hill we had an excellent view towards Stockholm.brown bears and StockholmWe loved the bears and watched them for ages.

bears 3 Bjorn 1 late afternoon sun bear straddling log bear on rocks 2 bears

Brown bear

After lazing around and barely (tee hee) moving, they spotted a red fox and ran around chasing it.bears get up bjorn by water Bjorn on log

More historic settlements to look at.  This one was from Finland or rather, a part of what was Sweden but is now Finland.  Or was it the other way round?  I should have taken notes!Finn Settlement

Finn village 2 Finn village 1 Finn village

The Bredablick Tower which is on the highest location in Skansen and gives great views.Bredablick Tower I liked this house covered in wooden tiles.Nyloftet As the sun began to set we walked in to the Sami camp.Srockholm and Sami Sami camp sign

I didn’t know this but there are no wild reindeer in Sweden anymore, they are all looked after by Sami herders.reindeers timber dwelling red berries reindeer Sami village


Sami house 2 Sami house 1The reindeer are smaller than I was expecting.
Harvey with reindeer Skansen is a fantastic place for people of all ages and particularly children.  There were many rides, such as electric cars from the 1950′s which were aimed at younger children than a 12 year old but somethings he just had to have a go on.snake slide Swedish horse As the sun set fires were lit around the site and the Halloween fun began.  More fire pits were lit, some with grids for cooking sausages on and families who knew about the Halloween evening had brought food to cook which looked like great fun.skansen fireThere was no electricity in many areas of the museum so candles were lit along the main pathways.

candle lantern

There was still so much to see so we began to race around to see more before it was dark.  During the First World War, land was given to people for them to make in to allotments and they were provided with little huts to live in to encourage Swedish people to grow vegetables.allotment and hut This area is the Town Quarter and many of the buildings are furnished and decorated inside for their era.old town Can you see the ghost?  They had actors dressed up as creepy characters who appeared and disappeared, some silently and other with ghoulish screams.  It was really scary!ghost in old town This cosy fire was inside the kitchen of the print maker’s house.  There was a lady in traditional clothing from the turn of the century to explain about the house and the life of the printer who would have lived here.corber fire Crispbreads and apple rings drying on a rack.crispbreads and apple rings Sorry for the fuzzy picture but this is in the sitting room.  With long nights and no electricity, stories were read out loud.  Harvey thought life without electricity was much more sociable and I agree with him.  Two of the rooms in this house had fireplaces covered in decorated tiles which were warm so they were pretty and functional.  tile covered fireplace I think we spent about 5 hours in Skansen and we still didn’t see it all.  It was fantastic and I highly recommend it.  It was a magical place in a stunning setting and we didn’t want to leave. bridge back to Ostermalm The walk back in the dark was really pretty, especially beside the water.Stockholm 30:0 We had an early supper at Cafe Milano near Hamngatan.  A ciabatta roll with olive oil.Cafe Milano roll Spaghetti Carbonara.Cafe Milano carbonara A mixed salad.Cafe Milano salad Harvey wanted pasta hence we went to an Italian.  Unless I fancy a pizza I rarely choose Italian but he really enjoyed it and I was hungry by the time we ate and enjoyed it too.  No where near as much as last night’s Swedish dinner but it was quite adequate.P1020822

This was a fantastic day which we both loved.  Harvey liked the animals best and I liked the historical buildings.  We both enjoyed the swimming, sauna, sunshine, walking and being outside all day.  We are formulating the plan for tomorrow which so far involves a bike ride and the Abba Museum – I can not wait for some Abba immersion.

The skull answer was giraffe!

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Stockholm Day 1

For many years I have wanted to visit Sweden.  After all, what’s not to like from the country that has blessed us all with Abba, Bjorn Borg, Wallander, Stieg Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Peter Hoeg (Miss Smilla), Pippi Longstocking, the Nobel Prize, Ikea, Saab, Volvo,  H&M, Absolut, Ingmar Bergman and so on.

Harvey and I arrived in Stockholm last night and caught the Arlande Express train in to the city centre.  It was so luxurious I worried we were in First Class.inside Arlande Express It had lovely wooden trim, shutters and the seats were like arm chairs.  It was easy to find the station, buy tickets and board the train.   It only took 20 minutes to arrive in the centre of Stockholm and it was then a 10 minute walk to our hotel.  I would definitely recommend it as a way to get to the City centre from the airport.Arlande Express So far we are very happy with the hotel as it is stylish and comfortable.Scandinavian Design In the evening this area is part of the bar but by day you can enjoy lunch or breakfast here.inside Clarion Hotel Sign Breakfast is included in our room rate so we ate our fill and I had a 3 course breakfast.  Course one was muesli with mango yogurt, fresh melon, pineapple, pink grapefruit and orange with coffee.breakfast part 1 Course 2 was a small sausage, peppers, a potato, scrambled egg, cornichons, sprouts, cucumber, 2 types of herring, beetroot, tuna, smoked salmon, turkey and ham.breakfast part 2 Course 3 was 2 crisp breads, 3 slices of cheese, sprouts, cornichons, beetroot and tuna.  They were very small portions of each  but it added up to one huge breakfast, the intention of which was to keep me going all day.  Which it did !breakfast part 3 Harvey also had multiple courses.H having breakfast Stockhom It was drizzling when we left the hotel so we went shopping for a bit.Iris Hantwerk Scandinavia is renowned for its design and there were so many beautiful shops to look in.  This was one of my favourites.Inside Hartwerk If I had more space in my luggage our blankets at home would have been upgraded for sure.Swedish blankets Moomins.Moomins A huge sweet shop.H in Swedish sweet shopI have been enjoying the language here but I have no idea what most of it means.  A Puffar Jordgubb anyone?
Puffar Jordgubb Chocolate is more my temptation than sweets but I didn’t have anything although Harvey enjoyed a bag of sweets.Swedish chocolate We shopped and pottered about and then ended up in Gamla Stan, the Medieval part of Stockholm.  To get in to Gamla Stan, which is on one of Stockholm’s 14 Islands, you go over a bridge and another small island.

looking at Gamla Stan just inside Gamla Stan At this time of year, Gamla Stan is very peaceful.Gamla Stan 8 We wandered up and down most of the little alleyways.Gamla Stan 7 It was such a charming place.Gamla Stan 6 The only stop we made all day was for a coffee in Grandens Cafe.Grandens Cafe This was our little table.coffee shop in Gama Stan The sun popped out, briefly.  Very briefly.Gamla Stan building Most of the shops were fairly touristy but there were also many charming ones such as this handmade sandal shop.sandal shop One of the more tasteful touristy shops.Swedish stuff to buy Mainly we enjoyed being outside and looking at the buildings or cobbled streets.metal shutter metal shutters

H on ramp Street in Gamla Stan This is Marten Trotzig’s Grand, the narrowest street in Stockholm and only 90cm across.Marten Trotzigs Grand Osterlanggatan We came to the end of Gamla Stan, admired the views towards the archipelago and then wandered back to the city centre through different streets in Gamla Stan.

We spotted a Troll relaxing along one of the streets.Troll Luckily he was a friendly one!H and the Troll

statue and fountain in Gamla Stan On Osterlanggattan Bredgrand

One of many charming shops; this one sold wonderful fabrics.Hilda fabric shop We walked up to the Royal Palace and this is the view towards the archipelago.  This is such a picturesque city.outside Royal Palace Royal Palace 3 The statues in recesses in the palace walls were very detailed and I thought it was a shame they were so high up it was hard to see them clearly.Royal Palace 2 Royal palace 1Our last stop in Gamla Stan was Sotortorget, the city square.
Gamla Stan 4 Gamla Stan 3

Hard to imagine this quaint little square was once the scene of a gruesome bloodbath; in 1520, 80-90 people were executed here.

Nobelmuseet Stortorget 1 This is the Svenska Akademien which houses an exhibit about the Nobel prize.

Svenska Akademien Gamla Stan 2 We both loved pottering about Gamla Stan and intend to visit it again before we leave.Gamla Stan 1

Rather than risk being caught in what looked like a heavy downpour, we returned to the  city centre and pottered about in and out of shops.Bjorn Borg Stockholm knotted gunThis is Hotorget, a square with a fruit and vegetable market in it.

Hotorget All the stalls sold the same limited range of fresh produce.fruit and veg stall Stockholm Lingonberrieslingonberries Mushrooms.4 mushroom types pumpkins and gourds After a relax in the hotel we went out for an early supper.  We followed one of the recommendations in the guide book and went to Nalen Restaurang because the guide book said it was reasonable price wise  but mainly because it serves classic Swedish food.

It was AMAZING !!!!

We were given a complimentary mini starter of veal sausage on carrot puree and an interesting bread and crispbread selection with 2 butters: one was normal and the other had been fried and then whipped.  The flavour was incredible.Nalen bread basket This was ok.veal sausage This was fantastic.  We shared a starter of traditional Swedish food.   The portions were tiny and when we cut them in half, there was a mouthful of each piece each but it was a fun way to sample a range of food.  There was pickled herring on potato, smoked reindeer with horseradish, prawn mayonnaise on rye bread, a cheese pie with roe and some smoked salmon in a dill sauce (Gravadlax).  We both enjoyed them all.starters at Nalen I was very proud of Harvey because he tried everything and enjoyed it all too.  I doubt many 12 years olds would be so open minded about trying so many new foods.  He was delightful company and he looked very handsome in his new shirt and trousers we bought in the enormous H&M in the centre of Stockholm.Harvey at Nalen Our main was Swedish meatballs with a cream sauce and perfectly smooth mashed potatoes.Swedish meatballs Served with cucumber and lingonberries.  Every mouthful was an absolute pleasure. The setting was cosy and lively but not too loud, the service was informative and friendly and there was actually nothing I could have improved in any way.cucumber and lingonberries Even the bill wasn’t too horrendous although those big numbers always make me panic a bit.  So by no means a bargain but for the quality and the pleasure, it was worth every penny Kroner.Nalen Restaurang bill

So far Stockholm has been delightful and just as interesting and charming as I was expecting.  I should have visited years ago.

Harvey is choosing what we do tomorrow so I am getting our swimming things prepared as a Harvey choice will involve swimming and animals.

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