So, one month after the Carl Larsson museum, we were still hanging around Sweden, and we embarked on a multi-day Bicycle Ride, with our friends Tommy and Irene. This ride was so wonderful and inspiring that now, 7 years later and 7 years in the planning, we are about to conduct 30 Melbourne riders on a similar ride in Sweden, 12-28 August 2017, which will be fully written up in this blog, oh yes.

We hired bicycles like this one. Bear with me … it had 3 gears, and no front brake; the rear wheel had only the hub brake (you brake when you back-pedal, which I found very annoying). The frame was heavy steel and it weighed about 30 kg. But – but – the Swedish Army uses these bicycles! Imagine them going into battle on heavy pink bicycles; I bet that would terrify their enemies. A fighting soldier, of course, carries a very heavy pack – a First World War British soldier carried 66 lbs – so he/she would not need a 27-gear racing bicycle. These bikes had a top speed of about 15 kph and that was all you needed, what with only one hub brake. Anyway, here’s Irene, Tommy, and myself at a Swedish youth hostel –

And as we rode around Småland – a southern part of Sweden known for its forests and glass works – in that hazy summer of 2010, wonderful things happened, as they do, one of which I will here and now relate.

We rode into a ghastly industrial town one morning, and headed for a cafe, desperate to score some coffee’s. But the town had only one cafe for its 500 inhabitants, and this for our greater convenience and enjoyment had just been sold off to some Arabs, and it was permanently closed. What to do … it was miles to the next town. Now this town also had only one shop – a small supermarket.

So we headed in there to see what there was. Luckily, this shop sold almost everything, including plastic tables and chairs. Which we earnestly tried out for size.

As we relaxed among the chairs for sale, we saw that across the aisle there was a metal stand for putting hot pastries and croissants on. This stood empty, but hope springs eternal in the human breast; and indeed, the stand bore a Helpful Sign which said that hot pastries would arrive every day at 10 o’clock … and it was 10 o’clock! And sure enough, some hot pastries were forthwith delivered and were placed upon the stand, where they sat for about 5 seconds because, unlike the chairs we were sitting on, we actually bought these.

Now, we thought some coffee would be nice and would go really well with the croissants … but the manageress said sorry, the shop did not sell coffee. (Plan B would be to buy ground coffee, a coffee filter with papers, and a kettle). However they did sell coffee cups, and we were welcome to borrow some off the shelving, whereupon she poured us the coffee from her own thermos flask!

Imagine our delight! This was further enhanced when we left, as she came outside and showed us the best roads to ride on (which were not as marked on our map), recommended some cute places to go when we came to the forest, and told us what was worth and not worth seeing on our way.

O, what a glorious morning – the care and love of the shop manager, good coffee and fresh hot cakes, and some useful tourist information. And all at the only shop in town. Now you might wonder, what was the name of the town? We passed its railway station on the way out.

Skruv, is the town name. It means “screw”. Reflecting the dark, industrial nature of the area.

A town called Screw. Screw. I’ll show you a Swedish one:


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