Last night I saved from you the disturbing news that (brace yourself), my third pair of reading glasses spontaneously snapped. Bizarrely, this is exactly what happened to the second pair. I was just sitting there when… crack! Even stranger than that is that the issue for all three pairs has been with the right side of the glasses. The lens in the first pair cracked; I can’t say for definite, but that might have been spontaneous too. Bearing in mind that I am also on my fourth pair of sunglasses since leaving Tarifa, this is turning out to be an expensive area of equipment. However… (according to Michael Gove, incidentally, you shouldn’t start a sentence with the word ‘however’; this is interesting as I’ve always stuck to a Gove-related rule myself which is to never refer to the former Education Secretary, now Justice Secretary without also including the expression ‘complete arse’ in the same sentence. I wonder what he’d think of that split infinitive too… [Can we, however, get back to the cycling?]).
Back to the cycling. However… the spectacle situation was quickly remedied this morning with a visit to the excellent supermarket near the campsite in Myggenäs (which means, apparently, ‘midge place’; you’d think they’d change the name, if only for the sake of pulling in a few more tourists). So excellent was it that I actually stayed in there for about 90 minutes. Shopping for a few bits and pieces, including the glasses, took up only ten minutes of that time. The rest of the hour and half was spent drinking coffee, eating chocolate muffins and using the WiFi connection to update the apps on my phone and download the Swedish map for the Open Street Map (OSM) app. I’ve been using the web-based OSM site this week for the first time to follow the route north of Gothenburg. If you’ve read some of the comments written by 12steven / Steven Carmichael on here recently, you may be up to speed with what OSM can offer the touring cyclist. I have to say that the web version is excellent but of course does require a connection to the Internet. The app, however, allows downloads to be used offline. (Mr. Gove will be impressed.) This is what I was sorting out in the supermarket. Unfortunately, the cycle route that I’m following wasn’t on the map for Sweden that I did download so I didn’t in the end use it. Any advice? Steven?
I eventually got going by about 11am (albeit via a second return to the supermarket for cash) and headed off along the cykelspåret. Although overcast and quite cold, I couldn’t fault the cycling itself. It was Cinderella… WRONG!! Goldilocks (sorry…) stuff; not too easy, not too difficult, just right. The landscape was always pretty and ocasionally moved in the direction of being ‘spectacular’ although still at the modest end of the ‘spectacular’ scale. Many of the houses were now clearly occupied by people who actually work in this part of Sweden rather than those who just spend their holidays and weekends here; much more agricultural than further south along my route. Again, there were a few cycling tourists about, some who I spoke to, others who I didn’t and one that I wish I hadn’t bothered making an effort to try to speak to. He was German and he was sitting having his lunch overlooking a bridge that I’d just cycled over. I paused to exchange a few words. He was drinking wine and although he did speak English, he was quite impatient with my innocuous questions. I cut my losses and moved on.
A fair bit of island hopping was required later in the afternoon. Three ferries were taken, the first two of which resembled toy aircraft carriers and plied their trade across a couple of narrow stretches of water in the last 20 km of cycling. As I waited for the first aircraft carrier to set off from the other side of the channel, another cyclist pulled up behind me. Over the course of what remained of the day we cycled together, on and off. She was a university professor of environmental impact (so going cycling was a bit of a busman’s holiday for her I suppose) at Gothenburg University and she knew the route well so I followed her for much of the time. She was heading north to meet her partner to go off and do some kayaking and was interesting company. She explained how we didn’t need to pay for the first two ferries as they were considered ‘part of the road network’. How civilised! She also talked about the fjords and what makes a fjord a fjord. Apparently there is much debate in New Zealand of all places on this subject. She explained that for a fjord to be a fjord it needs to have been created by a glacier (that’s the easy bit) but also that the glacier should have left a deposit of moraine at the mouth of the fjord giving it a much shallower inlet channel that the fjord itself. Did you know that? I certainly didn’t. Next time you are at a dinner party with a New Zealander, broach the subject of fjords back in their home country and you will be able to impress them with your definition of what is a proper fjord. I’m not sure what you call a fjord that isn’t a fjord. An estuary, as in the Humber Estuary? It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? I can see why those New Zealanders are keen to hold on to their fjords even if they don’t have the moraine in place.
Professor Fjord (I never asked her name) disappeared on the third ferry of the day – this time a proper one that didn’t resemble anything Lord Nelson would have been comfortable standing upon (although what he would have made of a flight deck is anyone’s guess) – when it departed from the very pretty coastal town of Fiskebäckskil. I had paused at various points along the way through the narrow cobbled street leading to the jetty to take photographs. When I did arrive at the place where the ferry should have been, it wasn’t there. I could see it a hundred or so metres away no doubt with the professor on board on her way to her hotel in Lysekil. As I waited for the ferry to return about an hour later I returned up the cobbled lane and bought an ice cream. There are worse ways to spend time, especially when you are surrounded by such pittoresque wooden houses. I thought about fjords.
39 SK was the cost of the one-way trip to Lysekil. I was one of only four passengers although when we docked there was a large crowd waiting to get on board to make the journey to Fiskebäckskil. Perhaps they hadn’t found what they were looking for in Lysekil which, when compared to its neighbour across the water, was a bit of an ugly duckling. Via a trip to the supermarket I cycled the 4 km along the coast to the campsite, a rudimentary place that has clearly seen better days. I knocked on the door of the ‘reception’ (it was really the house of the owner) and the woman smiled when I asked if she had room for me and my tent. I think trade must be a little thin on the ground. The field for tents was empty so I pitched mine expecting to be on my own with my two two cans of 3.5% lager. About half an hour later I heard a familiar voice… It was Manfred from Freiburg! My German friend from last night had also found the campsite. The owner must have thought it was her lucky day…