Sunday 1st March
Our new workaway location…
Today we’re off to Floby, Sweden to our next workaway host. So,for the last 15 days we’ve been ‘on holiday’ seeing Norway and during this time we’ve spent 7 nights with ‘couchsurfers’ but it’s still been expensive:
(Prices for 2)
6 day cruise £1100
Train tickets £220
Plus food, bus and tram fares, and beer.
So, an expensive deviation from our plan and only possible because we still had full pay at the end of December and January. We know it’s not repeatable and this has really led us to question our plans. We had planned a workaway in Norway in June for 6 weeks and then Iceland for 6 weeks taking us to the beginning of September. But our Norway workaway cancelled and Daz thinks we’ve “done” Norway. So, Denmark or Iceland after Sweden? Chatting with Cato (our last C/S host) about his cycling plans has also fired up our excitement over our own cycling plans. So we’ll wait and see how Sweden works out before deciding where to go next.
We arrive at Floby and Christina picks us up from the railway station and takes us to the farm. We meet the other volunteers Merle (German), Ion (Moldovan) and Tiho (Croatian). We are in a separate cabin to the house (no bathroom!!!! No TOILET!!) and we’re sharing with Merle. We unpack and settle in.
Monday 2nd March
We don’t need to start work until 9am and we’re awake early so we go for a run. My first run in months and actually it’s not too bad and I manage just over 4 miles. And now I have my route for the next couple of weeks. After our run the horses are fed and put out in the fields. Then we come in for breakfast and then we muck out the stables, change the horses’ water and refresh hay bags. Once that’s done we go into the forest with Ion and Tiho and cut down some trees, chop them up for logs and then fill the tractor trailer.
We both get a chance to drive the tractor and I have a go with the chainsaw. Brilliant! That keeps us busy until 3pm, with a quick break for lunch.
It’s great here – when we’re not working we have a comfy sofa and TV ( yah!!! Moving pictures) and there’s wifi too!!
Late afternoon we remember the ‘boys’ paddock needs hay. This takes Tiho and Daz in the tractor carrying the hay bale and Merle and Ion to move the circular frame work to drier ground. I can’t get near because they are mid calf in mud and they have wellies and I only have boots. Even the tractor has problems in the muddy field.
After dinner we watch a movie – Vice with Bruce Willis (what a terrible movie!!) and then the last chore of the day is to bring the horses for the night at 9pm. This is no fun! It’s raining, dark and very, very muddy and we need to pick a sensible route to the horses so we don’t end up thigh deep in mud. Finally it’s done and we go to bed. We assume Merle is watching another movie but we find out that she and Ion spent an hour and a half helping an owner get their shetland pony, Yum Yum inside. He’s very nervous and a lot of patience is required.
Tuesday 3rd March
We are up early and do another run and then it’s usual morning chores: feed the horses and take them out to the paddocks. Muck out stables and change the water. Once this is done we help Ion dismantle the old greenhouse, salvaging as much as possible. Much of it is rotten and the plan is to build another one on brick foundations so it’s more durable. That takes the rest of the morning and in the afternoon because the weather is clear we take the horses out. We’re riding western style (like the cowboys!), with longer stirrups and loose reins. It’s not what we’re use to. We’re out for about an hour but it’s not my finest hour. Both of us are told to give a looser rein and relax and do everything slowly and gently. I finish my ride (well 2 minutes from end) by falling off but I’ve struggled to control Suega during the trot and each time she has run away with me. She is an Arabian mare so definitely not the type of horse I’m used to. Hopefully there’s room for improvement.
Wednesday 4th March
Another run and Merle comes with us and as a result I go out faster than usual and so I’m fading massively on the home leg. But already there’s an improvement and we’re only on day 3. After the run it’s the usual farm chores. We’re now beginning to recognise some of the horses and know most of the routine. After the farm chores it’s another session of tractors and chainsaws and wood collection. The aim is to cut down sufficient birch trees to fill 3 trailer loads for 10 days without dropping trees on fences, tractors or volunteers!. So basically 30 trailer loads and we’re not including the wood already cut. This should be enough for next winter.
About 3pm everyone goes off to Falkoping for shopping and to have a look round. Daz and I finish off the trailer load we’re on and then finish for the day – only the 9 pm bringing in the horses still to do.
Thursday 5th March
No run today. We have a lie in and start at 8am by taking the horses out. We fill the rest of the morning by mucking out the horses, the usual stable chores and then off into the woods to cut down more trees but the chainsaw seems to be blunt. So we need another chore so we use the industrial circular saw to cut down the seasoned wood into small logs which are for the wood burner in our cabin.
After lunch everyone’s feeling lazy and it’s a lovely sunny day so we all have some downtime after lunch but this just means playing cards because Ion and Merle seem addicted to ‘Noms’. We’ve been playing for 3 days and Daz is leading but Merle is close on his heels. Daz wants to teach them Hand and Foot (thanks Woo Allen) but we can’t persuade them!
At 3pm it’s time to take the horses out for a hack. After my sad performance on Suega the other day, I’m riding Wichita and my riding is better than the other day. Ion is on Suega and initially his more relaxed approach is working well but again once in the trot she just wants to go and does so overtaking the rest of us. He does much better to control her but I’m glad I’m not on her!! We return safe and sound.
Friday 6th March
Daz’s birthday and of course this means multiple comments during the day like , “I’m getting old”- all a bit tedious when he’s only 46 so has 3 years on me!!!! For his birthday – well what do you buy when you don’t want to acquire anything new to carry and there isn’t anything he really wants (although bless him Daz is a reformed shopaholic and whenever he gets near shops the ‘need’ to buy something new starts to overwhelm him, ” I think I might need more socks/ new boots / better gloves / oh and look at this merino top blah blah blah” is a typical Daz refrain and he must be able to feel the money starting to burn a hole in his pocket!!). So I bought him wine, beer and chocolate and Merle bought him his favourite chocolate – with salted liquorice.
Today we run do our usual chores and then tidy away the various elements from the old greenhouse we dismantled the other day.
We also dig up a few rows of old strawberries and replace with younger plants. In the afternoon we introduce Merle and Ion to geocaching – Tiho doesn’t want to join in and Christina is at work today, Saturday and Sunday. She works with the autistic and mentally impaired, she gets on really well with Daz!!
There are just 6 caches near to the farm and despite the hint being in Swedish we find them all. And they’re all off the main footpaths etc but the coordinates are really accurate and Merle and Ion enjoy it but the 2 dogs are pretty pooped at the end.
I also make an interesting discovery whilst out geocaching. I’d noticed that Merle is uber competitive at cards and is obviously card counting and calculating the odds (just like Darren but he’s much quicker at it and therefore it’s not obvious) and she’s desperate to close the gap he has in Noms. But she also walks like him (hands clasped behind back in true officer style); similar build physically (both tall and slim) and of course they’re both Pisceans. So Merle is now ‘Mini Me’ to Daz and she has additional brownie points because she bought him his favourite chocolate for his birthday and I
A. Didn’t know it was his favourite and even if I had probably wouldn’t have bought it
B. Know he loves crisps above and beyond all else on earth and didn’t bother to get him any of those either!
Saturday 7th March
Tiho is getting a lift off Christina to Falkoping and then he’s getting the train to Gothenburg. He’s spending the weekend there with a friend. We were going to cycle to Floby, get the train to
Falkoping and then do some geocaching but there aren’t any locks for the bikes so we can’t take them but we can get a lift with Christina too. So that’s what we do and we’re in Falkoping by 8.30 and then in a cafe by 8.50 ordering breakfast.
After brekkie we look round the city centre and once we’ve fulfilled Daz’s need to spend money (today it’s just a pair of bootlaces), we start geocaching. The first is ‘shop 2’ (well the Swedish equivalent) and it takes us to a jewellers. We then proceed to walk up and down scouring the area for 45 minutes!! I refuse to give in because it was only found a week ago. I even send Daz into jewellers to get the logs and description translated but no further clues are forthcoming and finally I agree to give up. Then it’s off to Mossberg park for the next cache and another 15 minutes and still no cache. So we head to the cache by the pond and it’s another failure. So we decide to attempt another series so off we go walking through the woods up a hill for 3km with me bleating most of the way. We end up 35m away but we’re at the foot of a cliff.
So now it’s ‘extreme geocaching’ but at the top Daz is practically on top of the cache and it’s the first of a really imaginative series which we really enjoy.
We finally get back into town for 4 (we’ve been walking since 10 and not eaten since brekkie) so we’re both very tired and hungry (and this is supposed to be a day off!). We’ve got 2 hours until the train to Floby and Daz wants to spend it in O’Leary’s.
He’s so happy – burger and chips, Kilkenny on tap and 11 TVs in his view showing football. Unfortunately it’s only QPR v Tottenham, if only it were Derby County he’d think he’d died and gone to heaven!! However it’s soon time for the train back to Floby, it’s only an 8 minute train journey but did I mention it’s a 6km walk from the station to the farm? More walking, and now it’s pitch black but fortunately it’s back roads and there’s not much traffic, just darkness, dark woods, strange sounds and Darren to keep me company!!! Fab!!! We get back about 1930hrs just in time for some of Ion’s home made fruit sponge cake yum!!
Sunday 8th March
After feeding and putting the horses out, Ion and Merle go off exploring and geocaching. Daz and I muck out etc and then we just relax in front of the TV and watch a couple of movies including ’71. It’s lovely to relax and have such a lazy day.