Boats, sandcastles and timelesness

Luckily – after all – all of our bags arrived at the apartment at the same time. After a quick re-shuffle of what we need for a few days on the island of Ljusterö in Stockholm’s archipelago, we pack our things into M’s dads new turbo Volvo and zoom out of the city, via a quick pit stop at the large ICA store on the way to stock up on g-free goodies for C. The choice is really good and I go back to the car laden with cookies, chocolate rice cakes and potato chips etc. We already have g-free pasta, bread and cereal and lactose free milk, so we are all set and ready to spend a few days without obsessing about trips to the supermarket.

The next few days are spent on M’s dads beach building sandcastles and either on the jetty watching the boats and annual classic motorboat race or rowing M’s dads wee boat. Rowing that is, until T demands the motor. C becomes an expert rower, T an expert at steering the boat with the motor on.  One the speed freak, one happy with the experience of feeling the ocean on the oars.

Daily trips to the kiosk in the small harbor have the boys branded as ‘Mr donut’ (T) and ‘Mr Zoo’ (C). Zoo’s being small red candies that C has developed a particular fondness for. We eat fruit and yoghurt on the jetty each day and fresh fish, meat, veg and yummy new potatoes for dinner.

On Saturday, I take the steam boat into the city to meet Martin from his trip across the Atlantic. I have a quick dash into H&M, but don’t find my usual enthusiasm for the kids clothes selection. I pick up a few t-shirts for the boys, having expected to find much more (not a bad thing – given the amount of luggage we have and the amount of traveling that we still have to do), and then head through the city, in the rain, to M’s dads apartment. I check to see whether M’s plane has landed in Arlanda and wonder why I haven’t heard from him yet. Did he make the flight?

It turn’s out that M’s phone doesn’t work over here and after a while I hear the swoosh of the old elevator outside the apartment door and am happy to see my husband appear out of it after over a month of having been away from him. He arrives longboard in hand (the latest craze, apparently) and we head back out in the rain (minus skateboard), to hunt down an open restaurant. Stockholm is pretty much closed for July and so finding a restaurant that has a table for us is easier said than done.

After about the 10th restaurant and my shoes being wet through in the downpour we get a table at Prinsen (an old Stockholm institution) and share a delicious Herring plate and some fresh shrimps. No sooner have we sat down, than we realize the time and that we haven’t got much of it left before the turbo Volvo will come and take us back out to the island. I wish for more time alone together, but am also conscious of how desperate the kids are to see their dad.

We get back to the summer house and whisk away C’s 1st lost tooth that came out that morning from under the pillow and play the tooth fairy. C is beside himself with joy when he finds that the tooth fairy has been when he wakes up the next morning.

Visitors come and go and one day rolls into the next and before we know it, it is time to head back into the city. The four of us take the boat and our bags take the Volvo. It’s a glorious day and the boat trip through the archipelago is spectacular. M comments that he can’t quite figure out right now why he has left all of this. I remind him that it is here for us whenever we decide that this is where we want to be.

Stockholm is glorious in the afternoon sun. We head up Kungstregården and before we get very far, the boys have whisked off their clothes and have joined the other children playing in the big fountain. It is a good moment. One where we don’t worry about the time, or about having to be anywhere else and everyone is happy. Once water play is done, we head into NK, where we buy a new suitcase (one has completely fallen apart along the way). We joke that T could fit in it. He takes this very seriously, climbs in, straps himself in and refuses to come back out. It turns out to be the perfect stroller and so T gets wheeled back to the apartment in the suitcase, peeping out through the gap that we have left open every now and again. We think this is hilarious and giggle all of the way, much to the consternation of the serious Swedes who pass us along the way. Very funny.

We do laundry, cook up a g-free pasta feast for the kids and re-pack (again), ready to head to the west coast. Once the kids are finally asleep we have take-away pizza on the balcony and take in what is left of the evening sun.