How to Expand the Mind.

Is your mind all bogged down with nonsense? All small and tangled up with thoughts? Of course it is. They all are. They say that travel is a good cure, so I decided to give mine a stretch and took a Short Break.

Stockholm from the air

This is Stockholm from the air. My family are down there waiting excitedly. Too late now for my Mind to scuttle home to its comfort zone, but it put up a good fight.

One Week Before

Mind: I am not sure I have time for this. Things to do, chickens to feed, sofa to lie on, and I was going to clean out some cupboards. Shall we have a day out instead? Torquay or something?

Me: Nope. we are going to the land of sparkling snow, elks, trolls and Hyggey things like ginger biscuits.

Mind: Some winter wonderland break this is going to be. Look at what global warming did over there. Bet it rains and it has just got sunny here.

Me: OK I will think about that all week. Let’s look forward to a few days of icy rain and kicking about in piles of grey slush left over from Christmas.

Taking Off

Mind: It could be icy though. Shall we think about ‘how planes land on black ice?’

Me: Maybe leave that to the pilot. They probably have some ideas on that.

Looking down over Stockholm

We get the first short break benefit as poor Mind stretches out a tiny bit.

Me:  Look see?  White bits

Mind:  Oh wow that’s snow. So glad I came.

Queuing for Passport Control. 

This was a long and slow for all the Brits, because we don’t have EU passports. Some of us got chatty and discussed ‘Bad things about Brexit’ in loud voices. Other people were suspiciously quiet so you had to wonder if they voted leave.  It helped to pass the time but Mind got bored and tried to pick a fight again,

Mind:  We should have had wine on the plane.  It is what you do on planes.

Me: I gave up wine months ago

Mind: Sod that. If there is wine when we get there I’m having some

Me: Good idea.

Fight over, and that was the end of the backchat, because minds do shut up on short breaks. Especially one with these ingredients.

It Looked Different
Swedish house in the snow

A fat dump of fresh snow was a shock to eyes that have only been looking at wet streets, a muddy garden and soggy chickens for months on end. 

Tree in the snow

It took a couple of hours to get over the fact that snow makes the world go completely silent, whilst making an interesting creaking noise when you walk on it.  And can turn every tree and bush into live Art.

Bush in the snow

So you have to flatten your phone battery trying to store it all up.

Mind got busy taking all this in and did not have a minute to think about anything else.

We did New Things
Cross country skiing on a lake

This is cross country skiing.  Anybody can do this as long as you have somebody to drive you to a frozen lake, fix your feet to the skis and show you how to slide one foot in front of the other.  Then you shuffle across the vast landscape and you are doing Winter Sports.

You get the sort of picture that would be perfect for your ‘my perfect life’ Instagram account if you had one. 

Mind woke up in alarm at the prospect of the lake though.

Mind: Looks like a deep lake under all that snow. Might be a good idea to stay near the edge I reckon.  And are you familiar with the sound of ice cracking when it starts to give way?  Just checking.

Another person:  Oh look.  There’s a tractor on the ice.  It is clearing snow to make a path for ice skating.

Mind went off quietly to compare the weight of tractors and human beings and draw up a pointless risk assessment about falling through ice, got bored and went back to trying to keep the skis going in the same direction as each other.

After 35 minutes of this extreme sport we were hot and exhausted. Time for the next mind expanding activity.  

Watching the Locals do what they do.

There were holes in the middle of the lake where fishermen hung around hopefully.

Hole in the ice for swimming

And this hole by the edge for anybody who fancied an ice dip.  Lots of people did because Swedes having been doing this kind of thing for a long time. Not sure how long, but probably before Wim Hoff invented it. 

They do it in a no fuss, matter of fact kind of way without any screaming or yelping at all.

Some of the family got in there but I can’t prove it. Swedes don’t bother with swimming costumes and have no problem standing around naked when it is minus four and they have just got out of a hole in the ice. But they are not so keen on being photographed, so that you can tell everybody else on the internet about it.

I thought it looked fun but Mind pointed out that I would certainly die if I tried it.  Mind was thoroughly stretched by now and fairly relaxed about this obvious fact. For once we agreed with each other.

A good short break always needs a bit of culture so the last day was full of that.

Taking in an Art Exhibition

Stockholm’s museum of modern art.  Mind started arguing the minute we went in the door with ignorant bigoted statements like ‘What is the point of just going to look at a load of pictures’ and ‘I want to go back to the lake again’.  But actually the pictures were not bad and you could get through it by playing ‘which one would I take home if I had to choose?’ and hurrying past the boring ones.

Stockholm museum of modern art

Notice that the person in this picture is looking out of the window instead of the Picasso.  Snow really is fascinating stuff.

Checking out Gift Shops

In the old town you can check out the gate where Greta Thunberg goes on strike sometimes and gasp at the prices of tasteful Scandi stuff.

Dalana horse

This Dalana horse is the ultimate Swedish gift.  Four inches high and £80.  You can sometimes find them in charity shops in Exeter for £2.50. That is a fact as I bought two last week, for fear or running out of wooden horses.

Mind got over excited about these prices and so I talked for quite a long time about my horse collection. That was not interesting for anybody else.

Getting Home Again

Mind seems to have grown new eyes.

Exminster marshes

So even a simple evening walk, without any snow, is a thing of beauty.

And the ultimate test.

Microwave disaster

You know you have had a good break when you forget something in the microwave, and Mind doesn’t start throwing a fit.

2 thoughts on “How to Expand the Mind.”

  1. What an absolutely gorgeous story and What a lovely short break, and your descriptions made me almost feel like I was there and relaxed! ❤️

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