January-February 2014

Mild winter in Sweden Mild winter in Sweden

Temperatures hovered around zero for most of the time I was in Sweden and there wasn't much snow. Swedes were very depressed that they weren't getting a proper winter and good skiing conditions.
Cosy retreat Cosy retreat

My cottage was pretty comfortable, though temperatures at floor level were a bit nippy. I bought myself a pure goose down duvet which was actually too hot some nights.
Sunrise in the garden Sunrise in the garden

My life does not feature many sunrises as I am usually asleep at such times. In winter Sweden, however, it's quite late.
A walk in the forest A walk in the forest

Close to where we live, this is always a delightful stroll at any time of year. Marie and Rafe are kitted out with their walking-cum-exercise sticks.
Goodbye to a great lady Goodbye to a great lady

You may remember Sigrid Kahle, who was the previous owner of the little Swedish estate where Rafe and Marie live, and I have my wooden cottage. My place was her writing house, where she left me the great oak desk she used to work at.
Paying our last respects Paying our last respects

She was a lovely, eccentric, talented woman who was a significant figure in the world of Swedish letters. She died at the turn of the year (well into her eighties). The disappointingly mundane funeral was held in Uppsala. In her last years she had had a serious love affair with an elderly Swedish Persian scholar. He spoke eloquently of her and read a couple of the published poems he had written about her.
Blossom in Chiang Rai Blossom in Chiang Rai

Back home, it was that wonderful time of year when the leaves are falling and some of the trees are bursting into flower.
Top of the trees Top of the trees

This is the tallest tree on the farm (you can just see tiny Mr Chai standing on the ground below it). I did not plant it, but it has grown enormously in the last twelve years. I'm thinking about building a tree-house in it, so we can have the grand panoramic view of the landscape which has been obscured by all the trees that I have planted.
Bananas for the boys and girls Bananas for the boys and girls

I often come home from the farm with far too many bananas to eat, so here are a couple of the boys from the children's home in the village taking a huge bunch back to their place. These are amongst the youngsters who might one day live on my farm, if our plans come to fruition.
Legal matters... Legal matters...

Breakfast at Chivit Tamma Da with Hans, my Dutch restaurant-owner friend, and Khun Aon, joint-owner of this lovely coffee house. They are signing my latest UK will as witnesses.
New coffee house New coffee house

Quite close to Chivit Tamma Da, this new place, Manorom, has recently opened on a huge site by the river. It looks as though they were imitating the style of Chivit Tamma Da. It's very pleasant, but not a patch on the best one just down the road!

Nightmare pavements Nightmare pavements

Very few pavements in Thailand are safe and flat. This is an example in town where the main road has recently been remade, yet the pavement has been left in a really hazardous state.
Nightmares! Nightmares!

This storm-drain cover appears to have cracked and almost fallen in - something I do think about occasionally when I am driving over them. The holes in the surface are more than large enough to swallow a bunch of keys or a mobile phone which adds a further hazard to strolling about.