Travels

Go west young man. Oh, and get your bloody hair cut!

Tuesday 11 September. I decided yesterday to ditch my flowing locks as I was looking more dubious than dashing! Waking with the same resolution, I showered, dressed as smartly as I could muster, and drove the short distance to Åmål. I’d stayed on the nature reserve car park and had another blissful night’s sleep so it was a bit of a slow start, particularly as the rain started.

When I got to Åmål, the rain was pouring. I parked at the marina and found a barbers. He didn’t speak English but, hey, you walk into a barbers…

After twenty minutes watching my father appear in the mirror (there’s no way I’m losing the beard now!) I took my fine haircut, under a cap and hood, for a tour of Åmål through the heavy rain. Ten minutes covered in, it’s a very small place, and I was back at the van. So, what to do? I’d planned to overnight there, as it had water and a place to empty the thunderbox, but it was only lunchtime.

I found another site about 20 miles away that had all facilities, including laundry and, according to reviews, supermarkets close by. Ideal. Over breakfast I’d decided to head to Norway tomorrow but, as it is far more expensive, the word is to stock up as if going to the moon. I was planning to shop and fuel up, and now I could do this twenty miles closer.

When I got there, the motorhome parking sign at the marina pointed to what looked like a builders’ yard. I investigated and could see a row of charging stations along a low wall but there were piles of rubble and old trailers in front. I returned to my SatNav and the motorhome stop was showing a mile away. I drove there and it was just a car park, but now the motorhome stop was showing where I’d just left! Twilight zone.

As neither site had any facilities, I looked for another site and found one in a place called Ed, so I ‘eaded there. SatNav, which knows the dimensions of my van, tried to take me under a 2.5m bridge just after a bend, but I managed to stop, turn around in the narrow road and find another way. Another marina, another lake but payment was cash only. Thinking I was leaving Sweden, I had used the 200 SEK note I’d been carrying (everywhere expects card payment in Sweden) to pay the barber and give a generous tip. That note would have paid for the campsite (no good deed goes unpunished) so I drove to the nearest cash point, and drew 200 SEK. Hey ho. I’m parked up and plugged in.

Some observations on driving around Sweden. There’s a lot of classic American cars around. Must be a thing. Also, there are a lot of midlife crises riding around on very sedately on big growling motorbikes. The dominant speed limit is 50mph and, whatever the speed limit, people are pretty diligent about observing it and are generally happy to pootle along. Finally, everywhere else I’ve driven the road layouts have been like driving for dummies. Clear lane markings, plenty of arrows, lane separations and loads of time to run onto, and off of, roads on generous feeder lanes. Here, you’re on the junction right when you need to turn, no dropping onto a feeder lane and easing off over a quarter of a mile or so. There have also been some interesting road layouts, not helped by the seeming Swedish white paint shortage. Keeps you sharp.

That said, I’ve enjoyed driving around Sweden and the country as a whole. Depending on how my journey evolves, I should be swinging back along the east coast. We’ll see.

The rain has stopped at last, just time for a stroll by Lake Stora Le, which google translates as ‘big smile’.

A happy note to end on.

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