Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fiskpudding and fun

Swedish fiskpudding
 “ARE YOU having lots of fun?” someone asked me on Twitter today. Fun? On a six-week gruel-a-thon of a holiday-cum-extended work trip? Knocking off three countries in a car? With two small children? Now there’s a question.

What’s odd about being away for so long, and trying to squeeze so much out of such a large chunk of time off, is that sometimes it seems as if fun is about the last thing you remember to have. Experiences, yes, by the bucketful. But fun, when the Volvo’s speaky lady keeps telling you the time it will take to reach your campsite halfway across Norway is increasing; or when yet again there’s no hope of glimpsing any sun, let alone midnight sun; or when you realize it’s gone 7pm and the only restaurant in sight for under £100 a head is McDonalds; well, that’s a tricky one.

It’s not that I don’t adore being away. And certainly not that Scandinavia isn’t living up to my – admittedly exalted – expectations. And most definitely not that I’m not loving the chance to be with both small people, and their Dad, 24/7. But sometimes it seems like we’re so busy being on the road that simply having fun falls by the wayside.

The beauty of this trip, though, is that magical moments just creep up on you. Some, like today, are pretty clear-cut. Our day out on the Weather Islands, Sweden’s most westerly point, reachable by boat from the coastal town of Fjallbacka, was always going to be special. And despite the unpromising weather, we all had a ball: the highlight being a tie between the unfortunately named “fiskpudding” for lunch, and a rocky scramble around the largest of the 365 islands in the archipelago.

Other times, though, creep up on you. Like a pitstop by a snowy road in western Norway, when the half-hour it takes the saucepan of water to boil for tea is the perfect opportunity for a then still three-year-old boy to magic himself into Lightning McQueen out for a drive in his snow tires. Or that time when two brothers are so engrossed in the wonder of each other that they’re utterly absorbed while you pack up camp. 

Those, yes, are the moments when you realize that this trip is special for a whole mountain of reasons, fun most definitely being one of them. And that’s before we hit Legoland, our next destination – provided we make our 9am ferry from Gothenburg tomorrow. 

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