Bleedin’ Sweeden!

Looking back on it, we had already struck gold once, wwoofing in france, so were were probably due a really terrible one. Fate did not disappoint.

We arrived in Smållandsstenar at 9:00, and it was already dark as pitch. Luckily for us, Marcus was waiting to meet us right by the station. He seemed nice enough, if a bit gruff, but being farmer what would you expect?

Back at the house we met his wife, Freida, and Mike, a friend of theirs. We were shown our room in a small prefab outside, although we weren’t sure why we couldn’t sleep in 2 of the 3 beds in the house. Oh well.

Our first day was a market day, so Laura and I couldn’t do a lot - we couldn’t really help sell the vegetables, because we couldn’t speak Swedish, so we had a pretty chill day poking round town, looking at all the red Swedish houses. Mark told us that this is because of the copper mining in Sweden; a by-product of the ore purification step is a coppery-red pigment, which is widely used in paint.

We were also introduced to a new breakfast experience (for us, at least), which was salad for breakfast. Was this normal? Was it just because they had heaps of lettuce at the time we were there? Who knows? I’m leaning towards the second hypothesis, because we had lettuce with every other meal too.

That night, another wwoofer arrived, Hannah a German girl just out of school who had come wwoofing to practice her English while deciding what she wanted to study at university.

The next morning, breakfast was delayed, as we first had to get breakfast for the animals. This entailed a trip to the local supermarket, where we thoroughly sorted through the dumpster for any nice rotten fruit (for the pigs), old meat (for the dogs or for us, depending on how green it looked), or anything else packaged that we might be able to eat. We managed to find about 30 jars of lemon curd that were only just out of date, so this was our new breakfast spread.

We got back in time to say goodbye to Mike and Freida, who were going to Belgium for a few days, then had breakfast and got stuck into our work. Most of the day was spent picking peas and digging up potatoes, so we finished up exhausted! We made a quick dinner where we learned (from a rather angry Marcus), that they never cooked on the electric stove, and that they used the gas stove on the other side of the house (we should obviously have guessed that), and that we were never to turn the gas up past the halfway mark.

I went to bed that night thinking wistfully of John and Joyce in France, who would actually compliment us on our work for the day and our cooking, and who didn’t expect us to know the ins and outs of their household right from the start.

The next few days passed more or less the same - maybe we would be planting seedlings or picking beans, and cooking whatever we could find for dinner. It was a bit rough, but not too bad, and I thought we could probably get through our 3 weeks. We had a nice day off where we went for a big walk to a nearby lake, which was nice.

Laura and Hannah at a lake A typical Swedish farm house

Then Freida returned.

At first I was willing to put it down to the long trip she had to take to get back - after a long journey none of us are in the best of moods. So I more or less ignored her stomping round shouting in Swedish, even when she got angry at us for not knowing where her dustpan and brush were (how should we know - we’d never seen the thing?). She also shouted at us because we didn’t speak Swedish, despite their wwoofing page saying that they welcomed English, German and French speakers. Our sins also included having put one of the pots away in the wrong place and not finishing the tray of ~30 courgettes that she had decided we would eat while she was away.

The next morning things didn’t look much better. Laura was shouted at in Swedish for a while, as Freida became increasingly angry, before she decided to try English: “Good Morning”. “Oh!” said Laura “Good morning to you too”.

Things came to a head when we set the table for breakfast, and brought out a big bowl of lettuce, for the salad that they seem to enjoy for breakfast. We had done this every other day and nobody had batted an eyelid, but today, as Freida saw it, she exclaimed “Do you think Marcus is a pig?”. “No” we all replied, but that was it, she was off! As she was lambasting us about being useless city-dwellers, Marcus walked in and told us that we should leave. Well that was fine by me, I think we had all had about enough.

We packed our bags and got ready to go, and Laura asked if we could be dropped off at the nearest train station - she received an earful of Swedish followed by “F*** you!”. So the tree of us made our way along the side of the road for a few hours until we eventually got back to Smållandsstenar, where we hoped to find somewhere to stay for the night. Unfortunately for us, the camping ground was closed, and the town hotel had been shut down and used to house refugees, so we got on a bus and ended up in Halmstad (a small city), where we collapsed into a Best Western for the night.

Hannah had met a fellow German wwoofer on the train, who was going to a farm near Stockholm. She got in touch and (after checking that it was a nicer place), set off for there the next day. We found a cheap (for Sweden) airbnb in Malmo, which is where we are hanging out for the time being!

Tags: The Big TripEurope