Last weekend the Tall Ships Race was in Stockholm, so I indulged my inner eight-year-old boy and spent the afternoon admiring the ships. The slightly weird Malaysian guy from synagogue tagged along; I feel guilty about not being more enthusiastic about his company, but at least he had an outing. There was a very cool Russian ship, the Shtandard, which was an exact replica of a ship built in 1700. And lots of organizations for young people to get the experience of sailing, which made me very tempted indeed to run away to sea.
Then on Sunday I got invited to a teaparty by my elderly Jewish neighbour, who is the sweetest woman ever. She introduced me to her daughter who lives in England, and we played Jewish geography, and had invited an interesting and eclectic bunch of people including BB. It was an extremely convivial afternoon; the only downside was that I managed to get caught in a torrential rainstorm precisely during the five minutes I spent walking home. It was almost worth getting soaked for the impressive double rainbow.
MF arrived on Friday, and we spent what was left of the afternoon eating at Örtagården and mooching. We were both sleep deprived so we had a lie-in Saturday morning. And spent the afternoon at the Pride parade; Pride this year was so badly publicized that I nearly missed it although I was specifically looking for it, but at least we caught the parade. It was incredibly endearing, just hundreds and hundreds of queer people of all sorts having fun and being coupley.
And then yesterday we tried to go to the fairy lake but got lost in the forest instead. In the afternoon we took a boat trip to the Viking town of Birka. The boat trip was beautiful, and the island was full of the best sort of geeky enthusiasts in period costume. We elected to take an extended tour with details about the ongoing archaeological dig; unfortunately it was in Swedish, and some of the archaeology got too technical for me to get more than the gist.
But Birka is cool. It seems to have been founded in about 800 with a monopoly on manufacture and export of certain luxury goods such as fancy combs. For a couple of centuries it had trading relations with the whole world, quite literally from India to Ethiopia, as the Bible has it. And then it disappeared and the population moved to Sigtuna, probably because the falling water table meant that it was no longer suitable for large ships. My favourite fact is that in the mid tenth century, they built a Viking long hall in the style that had been popular in the eighth century, filled with golden treasure and elaborate weapons. It was burnt to the ground some time after the main population had left Birka, but all the treasure was left alone, not only by the raiders at the time but by subsequent thieves and archaeologists right up until the end of the twentieth century. How weird is that?
We also got very sunburnt; by the time we realized we were catching the sun, we were in the middle of Lake Mälaren so there wasn't much we could do about it except watch eachother get redder. I feel a bit sheepish about that, but never mind.
Other than that we've talking our heads off about every possible topic, and I have introduced MF to The Armageddon rag, which she seems to be appreciating. I'm only semi keeping up with LJ, and I'm a bit behind on emails about logistics and stuff.