The Great God Oshit – 25 June 2012

Monday 25 June 2012

This is our first opportunity to keep you up to date since we were in Breskens.  Since then, we have travelled just a few miles and have ended up (today and tomorrow) in Dortrecht, the oldest city in Holland !!  Previous stops – Middleburg (2 days) and Willemstad (2 days).

Weather – fine and windy, but we have had two days of very heavy showers.  It has been Force 5-7 winds for the last week, due apparently to a low pressure over Scotland.  Hopefully, things should improve towards the end of the week – but they always say that.

The last two day’s sailing has been downwind all the way, and therefore we have just had the genoa up .


Apart from the normal aches and pains, I have had some sort of bug which gave me a very sore throat and has left me with a hacking cough.

I did injure myself the very first time we put the boat into a ‘box’.  This necessitated a rope on each stern cleat to catch the passing pile, and then I had to run to the front, leap off and secure the front ropes.  The first bit went fine (and we still don’t know how we got into a 4 metre box with all our fenders out both sides, when we are 3.7 metres broad!) and then I went to the front.

In the past, I have always jumped from the side of the boat –   but when I got to the front of the boat clutching the bow ropes, I realised that I had to climb up on to the pulpit and then jump up and over the anchor, which was jutting out below waiting to stab me somewhere.  The pontoon was very low compared to the height of the boat.  Suffice to say that as I glided (balletically and acrobatically I thought) from the seat on the pulpit to the pontoon, my forward and high motion carried me on past my landing point.  Luckily there was a brick wall in my path, and I collided with it using my arm as a fender.  Only a little skin was left behind.

We are eating lots of chocolate biscuits, for moral purposes, so should be as big as houses when we come back.


We knew we had to go through locks.  We are experienced bargees on the Kennett and Avon canal, so the locks in Holland held no fear for us.  However, what friends  who have been here before failed to inform us of was that there is a God…..The God of Locks.

The locks are HUGE – enormous caverns capable of holding maybe 50 pleasure yachts.  The commercial locks will probably hold 100 yachts.  They have such high concrete walls that one feels quite insignificant, and the lock gates are metal, unlike the English locks which are usually made of wood and leak – a lot.  These are very smooth beasties.

So – in we went to our first lock.  By a matter of coincidence we happened to be the first yacht in – approximately 15 yachts had been swanning about in the approaches and we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  In we went, confidence high.  I had my rope ready at the front – Hugh had one ready at the back.

The God of Locks is called ‘Oshit’.   His locks have niches in them, similar to those found in churches and usually inhabited by a saint or Madonna.  The lock niches have a T post in them.  The secret is to lasso your T post by throwing a noose around it.  Unfortunately my first lasso didn’t quite get the post, nor my second, nor the third.  I started  summoning the great God.  ‘Oshit’ I shouted, and again ‘Oshit’.  After six shouts, he (or she) finally heard me and I succeeded in capturing the elusive T post.

There are also ladders at frequent intervals along the lock, and Hugh had managed to get a rope around the ladder rung, so was safe.  Unfortunately, when he pulled his rope through he managed to pull the wrong end and we came adrift.  The back of the boat swung out, as I was on my knees thanking ‘Oshit’ for enabling me to use his T post.

As I realised what had happened, I prayed once more to the great God.  Unfortunately it coincided with a boat coming alongside of ours, thinking that we had secured ourselves he was taking the easy route and was going to tie up to us, but then he suddenly had to reverse when he realised what was happening – into the 13 others coming up behind him !!  Chaos ensued until Hugh also evoked the spirit of the great God several times.  Eventually the God of Locks decided that he had been praised enough, and allowed us to attach ourselves to the posts.

I lay awake all night worrying about the next day – there were two more locks to be negotiated.  I genuflected to the great God all night, hoping that this would placate him and we would have an easy passage.  I also came up with a plan that hopefully would enable us to attach to the T post easier – if we took a rope from the centre cleat, the widest part of the boat, then it would be easier to attach than if I tried to noose the T post from the bow approximately 4 feet away.  It worked a treat, and the next day we managed to get through the locks without any hassle.

However, I am sure that ‘Oshit’ is still there,  biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to remind us that he should still be venerated.


Onwards and upwards – 31 May 2013

From: Jenny Litton
Date: 31 May 2013 21:35:19 CEST
Subject: Fwd: Onwards and upwards

Our Navtex produces the following warnings, slightly different from the Solent ! :

Flensburger Fjord – 1 torpedo – shipping is requested to keep clear of the position.
Flensburger Fjord – Second torpedo found – shipping is requested to keep well clear of above mentioned position.

All waters are now free from ice.  A large number of buoys are still missing or damaged as a result of the severe winter.  The yearly maintenance is not yet complete.

From Bagenkop we went to a tiny wooded island called Vejro, which was supposed to be developed into a holiday island but that development seems to have been put on hold.  There has been massive investment in a marina, skipper’s house and hotel, and enormous glasshouses growing organic vegetables but there are no people,apart from two staff.  There were also horses, pigs, and chickens kept.

There is only boat in the marina (ours) !!!  It may have something to do with the fact that it cost approximately £45 a night to stay there, but included in that was electricity, free washing and drying, free bike hire, and we actually stayed for two nights so looked on it as a landing fee !

We stayed because it was raining, rode around the island on the borrowed (men’s) bikes over very muddy tracks, but managed to see hares boxing for the right to have a hare(m), whilst the lady hares looked on indifferently, deer scattered before us, and there were lapwings and swallows around.

We happened across an airstrip, built to bring people in, and the swathe which had been cut through the grass for planes to land was covered in sea pinks, just a stunning strip of pink flowers.

Next to the airstrip was a sort of Wendy house, which we sheltered in, but it turned out to be the airport waiting room.  Inside was a book which requested visiting pilots to put their name and aircraft Identification code in.  There was only one, dated 6 May this year.  Kindly, the staff had left two bikes outside the Wendy house as any visitors would have to pedal to the skipper’s house to pay their landing fee !!

On to Klintholme, which is hardly worth mentioning, and whilst writing this we are on our way to Ystad in Sweden.

I would just likely say a word here about the inequity of plumbing, and the difficulty of using the said plumbing whilst at sea.  In the natural state there is no problem with opening the stop cocks when necessary, but put on a pair of pants, some sailing trousers, foulie bottoms, a jumper or two, and a foulie jacket, and the inequity of male and female plumbing becomes all too clear.  Hugh even had a zip on his foulie bottoms which you can use from the bottom up, or the top down. Do I have that ?  No.

This is what I have to do …… All the while the boat is jumping up and down and leaning over at an improbable angle :

Hold on to contents as long as possible.
Take off foulie jacket.
Take off jumper worn over foulie bottoms.
Stagger to the heads, counterbalancing whichever way the boat is leaning.
Open door.
Door slams shut behind me, due to boat leaning over.
Wedge myself against the door as it is the only wall type thing available, with knees against the sink.
Take foulie bottoms to knees (for the benefit of non-sailors these things have shoulder straps) whilst leaving the comfort of the door to bump away from it whilst getting foulie bottoms over bum.
Ditto with trousers and pants.

Then, of course, everything had to be done in reverse before I can get out of the toilet.  This is all so exhausting that I have been thinking of alternative procedures.

The she-wee seems a start, but there would have to be some way of holding it in place, or getting it in place, before it can be used.  I won’t go into details, but I am not sure that there is an anchoring point close to hand.   The most sensible solution would be a catheter, with a pipe which ran down the leg to a collecting point.  Then one would just have to empty it occasionally, when appropriate.  (My goodness, I have just had a flashback to Hugh’s father !!!)  If anyone has any good ideas I would be very grateful for them !

Several days on and I finish this from Hano, an island in Sweden which bizarrely has a monument to Sailors who died on Nelson’s ships who were buried there.  It is beautiful, though, with no cars, lots of birds, and instead of cattle grids to keep horses and cows out they have grids to keep the deer our !!

We know that we are in Sweden because the showers are communal …. Just a line of showers and people.

There was a flurry of activity on this island this afternoon when the Search and Rescue helicopter landed.  We thought the there must be a reason for it, and rightly so there was.  The four man crew of well built Swedes had dropped in to the local cafe for something to eat !!

Such is life.  Apparently ‘the season’ starts tomorrow on 1 June.  To us it probably means the all the prices go up.  We shall see.  All good so far, even though the winds are a little strong for my liking, but as the local havnkontor in Klintholm said …. The wind always blows in this direction at this time of the year ….!

We are still working our way up to somewhere on the Swedish coast that Liz and Gary can get to when they arrive next week, anywhere with a train service will do although it will probably take them all day to reach us from Stockholm, then we will keep sailing up towards Stockholm so that they can return from there without too much trouble.

Much love to all
Hugh and Jenny xx

The bicycle saga – 14 August 2012

Date: 14 August 2012 19:00:16 CEST

Next instalment ….  it may be a long one !! Probably to be read over several days …..

From Julesminde we carried on to Ballen on the island of Samso, then to Llangor  and eventually Ebeltoft, where we were going to pick up Andrew and Susan, friends from Norwich.  They arrived at Aarhus Airport, fifteen minutes away by taxi,  but their driver took them to the next yacht haven along, so we had to rush off to retrieve them.

Unfortunately a gale also arrived, which kept us in Ebeltoft for two days but luckily we had access to a television in the ‘Sailorshuys’ and could watch the Olympics….and Ebeltoft is a delightful medieval town in any event.

We went to Aarhus the next day, which was lovely, because Andrew wanted to watch the 200 metre men’s Olympic final.
After a lengthy walk around the town, which is quite large and a University town, we found two televisions in bars, but failed to find the Irish bar where we had been promised they would be showing the Olympics.
The delightful barmaid in the bar we had chosen had been looking through her paper during the afternoon (after we said we would be back) to find out where she could show us the Olympics in English, but unsuccessfully.  It didn’t matter one bit – we saw Usain Bolt do his thing, even if the commentary was in Danish, after which Susan and I had a game of darts, the first one for about 20 years for both of us.
The weather held for the rest of Andrew and Susan’s visit.  We sailed back to Samso, where we went for a walk on the first day, when Hugh and I had to paddle across knee deep water to get back to the dinghy because we got lost, and then decided to hire bikes on the second day.
Bikes can be hired anywhere on the island, but we chose our local shop (where the lady offered me a job next year, so I might just go back) and paid £7 for a day’s hire for each bike.  They were ‘sit up and beg’ styles, but quite comfortable, and you brake by pushing the pedals backwards.  Some of you will know that I don’t cycle much – the last time was a trip from Hungerford to Bath along the Kennett and Avon Canal, and I ended up with a bruised coccyx and three months sitting on a circular pillow !!  The other members of the party are much more used to it.
The lady in the shop suggested we should go to the top of the island, a trip ranging from 15 to 30 miles, depending upon your point of view, and we punctuated the trip with various stops for drinks and eats.   At our first stop, by a little harbour, we left the bikes and went for a drink, sitting in the sun outside a cafe.
A lady walked past us, pushing a bike, which looked suspiciously like mine as I had a map under my rear luggage carrier.  Hugh said ‘that’s your bike’ !  I looked at it and decided that it probably was, so wandered after the lady, who had parked the bike next to one boat and continued walking to another.
‘That’s my bike’, I said, to the people on the boat next to the bike.
The people on the boat said ‘no it’s not’.
‘But’, I said, ‘it is.  I hired it this morning from Llangor’.
‘No it’s not.  You must talk to the lady who left it.  We are supposed to look after it’.
I waited until the lady came back.
‘That’s my bike’ I said.
‘No it’s not’, she said, ‘I’ve just taken it from the bike hire stand’.
I said ‘yes it is, I hired it from Llangor this morning.  We have a contract and the number of this bike is on it’.
She said ‘so why is it in the bike hire stand?’.
I said ‘where is the bike hire stand?’
She pointed to our (now) three bikes which we had inadvertently put in the only position in the harbour where bikes are left for hire.  You take your bike and put money in an honesty box.
The horror of the situation dawned on me.  She realised that we had made a mistake and very kindly allowed me to have my bike back, and then had to walk a mile to the next nearest hire place.
In the meantime, Susan’s bike had disappeared also, so we moved the remaining bikes to another place, drank our drinks, and waited for another bike to be put there so that we could nick that instead of Susan’s, on the premise that they all belonged to the same company anyway, so it wouldn’t matter.
We had just finished our drinks and were wondering what to do when a bike appeared, Susan’s bike, which someone had taken to the local supermarket and had now returned.  She grabbed it, and found in the basket a dog harness!    Off we went.
On the way back from the northernmost tip, I raced down a hill, but no-one else joined me.  After about 15 minutes of waiting, I decided that I should investigate where the others had got to, and walked to the top of the hill to find Hugh furiously pumping the tyre of a stranger, who turned out to be Ex Royal Dutch Navy Doctor.  He had a problem with his fold up bike and Hugh and Andrew were helping.
After another ten minutes or so, it became obvious that Hugh’s pump was not cutting the mustard, so we all agreed that we could do no more.  The man’s wife had been lurking on the other side of the road, definitely not getting involved with strange English people.  Hugh and the ERDND hit it off because they had been in the same places in the Navy, etc. so everything was very jolly and we got an invitation to go to his boat for drinks.
On we went, and stopped in Marup for an ice cream.  After a while we saw the ERDND pass by, running and pushing his bike whilst his wife rode hers.  We continued our journey and, after a few miles, came across them again, whereupon Hugh hit upon the wonderful idea that if the ERDND took one of our bikes to ride back to the marina on, giving his wife a dubby on the rear wheel, Hugh would push the damaged bike back whilst riding his own, and Andrew could ride the other fold up bike (the wife’s).   Oh, what a good idea that was.
The ERDND took this on board, loaded up his wife, and set off like a bat out of hell, leaving us to sort ourselves out – Hugh riding his bike and pushing the damaged bike, Andrew on the wife’s bike and Susan and I bringing up the rear, me thinking that being helpful was all very well, but this was going a bit far.
After a further mile, Andrew realised that his  (the wife’s) rear tyre had gone down, so we all stopped and out came the pump again.  Furious pumping failed to inflate the tyre, so now we had three bikes which worked, and two fold up bikes which didn’t, and the ERDND and his wife had disappeared with one of our bikes.   We ALL started walking, and it was a long way home.
Within about 50 yards we chanced upon the central bike hiring place,the place where the man who owned all 800 bicycles on the island lived and worked, so we wandered in on the offchance that he could help with the two bikes with flat rear tyres.
This man was not happy.  He had seen the ERDND go past on one of his bikes with his wife on the back, and was angry because you are not supposed to carry more than 25kg on the back of his bikes.  Once we had explained how we had ended up in this situation he was a little more happy, and inflated the two rear tyres (Hugh’s pump is not Danish and therefore could not be used with Danish fold up bikes).
Off we went again, but now we had five bikes which worked and only four people.  The solution – fold up one fold up bike and put it into Hugh’s luggage carrier, then he can cycle back to the marina (still miles away) with one hand on the handlebars and the other behind his back and over his ear holding on to the fold up bike behind him.
By this stage I really was not happy, but ever the English hero Hugh set off and managed to make it all the way back without falling off or dropping the bike.
The ERDND meanwhile had got back to the marina, and realised he was on his own (with his wife) and we were nowhere to be seen, so he then returned to see what had happened to us.
Unfortunately when he returned to the place where we had last seen him, we were inside the cycle hire shop getting his tyres blown up, so he went back as far as the place where we had first met us to make sure that he hadn’t passed us, before turning round and going back to the Marina once more.
We never did take him up on his offer of drinks.
I’d like to tell you another story, but maybe another time ….
With love

Wind ! – 22 July 2013

From: Jenny Litton

Sent: 22 July 2013 11:26

Subject: Wind !

We are very jealous of your good weather.  Unfortunately, because of your high pressure the rest of northern Europe is suffering the consequences, especially us.  We have wind.  Usually it is ‘on the nose’. In addition, there is a lot of it.  If it is not in the nose, then we, or it, are going in the wrong direction.  In fact, the wind, or us, have been going in the wrong direction ever since we started.

Hugh thought long and hard as to which way to do the trip, and there was a lot of advice.  Basically you go up one side of Sweden, across the canals, and down the other side.  We chose to go up the west coast and down the east coast, but now understand that it depends on when you go as to which way the prevailing winds blow.  They have been against us from the start, and still are.

We were holed up in Helsingor for five days due to wind, and have now become stuck on an island called Sjero for the same reason.  It gives me the willies, listening all night ti the banshees wailing in the rigging.  It doesn’t help that Hugh hd to get up several times to ‘check on things’ like ropes and fenders.

The problem associated with being stuck in a marina is that there are lots of other boats which can’t move on either, so the pressure on facilities increases.  Boats find every available space to moor, and it is an entertainment to watch then come in, look around for ten minutes – just the way all the others have done – before deciding where to go.

Therefore …..

Slots, slots and more slots !!!  I am all slotted out.  Not the Las Vegas kind, obviously, but the various Slots or castles which are scattered along our route and which, when marina-bound, one feels one ought to visit.  The Swedish and Danish royal families obviously moved around a great deal during their summers as they are usually summer palaces. Presumably they couldn’t get around much in winter.

Along with the Slots are a potted history of the family lines, and I am now very familiar with the various King Christians and Fredericks we have come across, as well as Erik Forkbeard,  Harold Stoneheart, Victor the Viking and others of similar ilk.  We even bumped into the National Portrait Gallery in one, and became very disoriented in the casements (dungeons) of another where it was so dark that we had to use a torch to get around, and picked up a stray Chinese lady who appeared out of the darkness and asked for us to take her out.  Here is a picture of Helsingor, the setting which Shakespeare used in Hamlet.

I can’t wait to get home now.  Hugh’s brother, Kim, joins us in Nyborg (if we get there on time) and Liz and Matt join us in Svendborg. Then we go back to Augustenborg, from whence we came.  This will be my last post.  I can’t wait to get home to my ‘family’ in the widest sense, all those friends who make life interesting and, of course, to children and grandchild who will have grown so much and probably won’t recognise us as we have been able to get an Internet connection so rarely to talk on Skype.

One last thing … In Sweden they have a special name for children which we call step-children.  They call them a bonus daughter, or bonus son, which I find very charming.

One more final last thing …. I had to include this photo.  I don’t know what it refers to, but it made me laugh.

Jenny xx

Ps. Since writing this the weather has improved dramatically and we also have wall to wall sunshine !!

Dalbergsa – 9 July 2013

On 9 July 2013 10:17, Jenny Litton ‪ wrote:

Sometimes you come across a place which sticks in your memory for all the wrong reasons.  We happened across a place called Dalbergsa en route from the Gota Canal to the Trollhatten canal in Lake Vanern.

It is one of those stopping off places, just an overnighter, an inlet approached through a very narrow channel where you hold your breath as the granite walls loom either side of you and there is maybe six inches underneath your keel (if the surveyors got their information right).

As we came through the channel there were people fishing and swimming from the boulders, backed by pine trees.  The ‘marina’ consisted of a jetty, long enough for about 6 boats, although they advertise that they can house 25 boats.  We moored up and before long a boat came along with an American Flag on it, registered in Delaware.

In the spirit of friendliness, we offered for them to come alongside us, but our offer was rejected by the skipper in a very unAmerican voice.  In fact, he sounded decidedly Russian or definitely Eastern European.  He insisted that he wanted to go alongside the jetty, and nosed in with his bottom sticking out.

We set off for a walk among the pine trees, headed back towards where we had seen people fishing and swimming.  It was dark and gloomy amongst the trees, but there was a defined path.  We came out of the trees to the granite boulders to be met with the sound of a child crying.  We skirted around the family with Hugh muttering things like ‘throw him in the water, that’ll give him something to cry for’ and ‘damn kids, should be seen and not heard’.

It became apparent that they had some sort of problem.  A fishing hook had embedded itself in the child’s cheek, and father was trying to get it out.  Hugh quickly changed his tune to ‘poor boy, that must be awful’, but as we are not medical, could not help, and were feeling particularly pathetic, we headed back into the trees.

Whilst Hugh and Andrew were fannying around on the beach, I went inland a bit, and came across some ELK DROPPINGS !!!  They were just like deer droppings but about five times as big, and they were quite old, but I was so excited, but then started looking round to see if any elk were looking at me from the dark pine woods.  Spooky!

So back we went to the marina, which was joined on to a campsite with mobile homes and camper vans.  They looked as though they were permanent, with gardens around and decks built outside.  The site was run by a family – grandma and grandad, then a couple of grandad’s brothers, their children and grandchildren.  I would think that they had been famers, but had now decided to farm people instead of animals.  They definitely had not been around much.  We were served an ice cream by a 10 year old,and a waffle by a six year old who said, in perfect English, ‘your waffle is coming’ when he brought a glass of water.

Meanwhile, the American boat had three people on board – father, spoilt son and possibly mother or she could have been new partner, as she kept being sent off with son in their rib while father had a fag.  We didn’t like him.  Several theories were put forward as to why his boat was registered in Delaware, the most popular being that it was a favour from an American to allow this person to use the boat whenever he wanted in exchange for some dodgy deal which had taken place.  Who knows ?

Whilst we were having our ice cream/waffle outside the cafe, something was happening at the back of it.  A group were going to perform.  You had to pay £3 to get in, but there was nothing to get into, just a field with the cafe seats on.  We lurked around at the front waiting to see what was going to happen, and eventually the band came out.  Five people led by a lady on an accordion.  We didn’t stay long.

Funnily enough, accordions figure largely in bands over here.  When we were in one place we even heard a young band of people playing a Rhianna song with an accordion and two violins !

Love from us both

Hugh n Jenny

Moans and groans – 7 July 2013

On 7 July 2013 20:43, Jenny Litton ‪ wrote:

Dear all,

You may have noted a slight navigational miscalculation on my last email. I said that we were going down the east coast of Sweden but of course I meant the west coast of Sweden.  Anyone would think that I don’t know where I am, where I am going, or what I am doing !!!


My last email was sent very quickly when we had Internet connection, which has become quite a problem.  Those marinas which boast that they have it tell stories.  I have been reduced to standing at a public terminal in Gothenburg railway station trying to transfer money, looking around furtively in case anyone is trying to see my passwords.

Another communication issue is electricity.  Many of the marinas share their facilities with camper vans, huge camper vans, and there are always 20, sometimes 50 or more.  I suppose if you have provided electricity to boats in the marina you might just as well provide hard standing for the motor homes.

We use electricity for our fridge, our water heater, and to charge up all those gadgets which we now need to keep us happy.  On board we have one Mac, one pc,one iPad, two phones. And one camera.  All need power.

The camper vans need electricity for their fridges, freezers, dishwashers I suspect, and their satellite televisions.  If the drivers are not behind the wheel of their vans, they are sitting in front of their vans in their deck chairs watching other people, and they seem to be an overweight sort of person.  Apologies to anyone who has a camper van and especially to Doris (the camper van) who is coming out to meet us in Denmark, but these are in a completely different league !


Food in Sweden is more expensive than in GB, but we don’t complain.  Except the other day, when we were in a covered market, and decided to buy six eggs.  The eggs were weighed, and the cost was £4.30 !!!  Must be THE most expensive eggs we have ever bought.  Then there were strawberries in the supermarket for £7.90, and this must be the height of the season?


We were going out one night in Vanersberg, meeting Andrew and Susan in a bar where the Blues Brothers were playing.  Not the real Blues Brothers, obviously, but a lookalike.  Anyway, we had just crossed the railway lines (no gates for pedestrians here but that may be because the lines are not electrified), and came across grandmother, pushing a three year old in a pushchair and carrying a bag.  Then came mother pushing a carry cot on wheels laden to about four feet high with bags, cases, and boxes.  Then, over the other side of the road were two more cases.  Mother had parked the carry cot on wheels on one side of the road, and had come back to get the other two cases.

As is his wont, Hugh offered to help with the two cases so at least the whole party were together. The mother was very grateful.  She had arrived home from Stockholm with her worldly goods and had to get them from the train station to a flat.  Hugh is such a gentleman, so then said he would help them by taking the cases to their home.

It turned out that they had a kilometre to walk !!  I said that I had better go to meet A & S as arranged, and he would have to join us when he could.  He turned up about twenty minutes later.  The mother had a mechanical engineering doctorate in nuclear probability, or something similar, a very powerful lady but one who couldn’t,or wouldn’t, afford a taxi.

Just as an aside, the entry to the Blues Brothers was £10, so we didn’t go in

The good news is that the weather has changed for the better – lots of sun and good wind to move us on our merry way.   Let’s hope that it continues !  There does not seem to be much about sailing in these notes, but then it tends to be a bit samey – water, water, water.  No tides.  We have a bit of a tussle when we go into boxes or booms, but it all turns out to be ok.   If you want something more technical, please contact Hugh.

Love Jenny and Hugh


Outa da Gota – 26 June 2013

Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:33:28 +0000

Subject: Outa da Gota

From: jenny litton

Inane quote of the week (whilst taking about leprosy, as you do)

Hugh – “I think there are two different types of leprosy, one is contagious, and the other one isn’t.

(Pause …)

I don’t know how you get the second one.

Perhaps I am talking shit.”


And that is how life is for us at the moment.  Nothing too strenuous, easing along, enjoying the beautiful Swedish scenery whilst meandering along the very shallow canal.

Coming up through the locks has been fairly easy for us, who have honed our skills on the Kennett and Avon canal, courtesy of Lorely’s barge, so the great god Oshit has not been called upon, so far.

We share the canal with a fair number of travelling Swedes, but also Germans, Norwegians, Dutch and the very occasional Brit.  The Swedes are a friendly bunch … In fact last night a man in a little fishing boat moored near ours asked us if we would like some crayfish, and gave us an ice cream tub full.

There are a few tourist boats as well, Juno, Ceres, Wilhelm Than, great hulks of a bygone age, a la African Queen,  and we try to avoid them at all costs as they only just fit into the canal and the locks, so passing them would be difficult to say the least, and they are bigger than us,  making stately and sometimes rickety progress along the canal.  Their fenders are made of wood staves, and they lose them regularly as they career from one side of the lock to the other.

They seem to have a variety of Swedish and American tourists on them, and every so often we would see a group of Swedes serenading the passengers from the canal bank with songs, waving flags of different nations, and generally making them feel welcome, which we thought was wonderful and wished it happened to us.    Yesterday, we witnessed it again, but were closer, and it now appears that this group of people are in fact spreading the word of God, singing hymns and praying for or maybe to the passengers.

We have today arrived in a place called Vassbacken, consisting of nothing except a caravan/camper park and a kiosk selling ice creams and teas. BUT it is midsummer eve, and all of Sweden celebrates, so this afternoon there was dancing on the village green around what we would call a maypole. Mums and dads and children all joined in, and one of the songs they danced to, with all the actions, was Incy Wincy Spider !! The little girls had headdresses made of flowers. It started at 2.30 and ended at 3.10, and all the oldies went home. There is also a bouncy castle, but it keeps deflating and eating children.

Tonight we have a rock band called Rox, so we are really looking forward to that !!! The other day we were in Soderkopping, and listened to a band of girl singers who had ‘Racks’ printed on their Tshirts, across their chests. Needless to say they generated a few remarks from the male member of our team ! – – – – – – –

– So, there we were just finishing our last bottle of Margaret River, when two expats turned up – Alan had married a Swede and then stayed on when it fell apart, and Paul had bought a house which was the best value for money in a place which had a high standard of living. They lived a few doors apart in the same village. Alan was short, with shorts on, and a hip flask full of Bacardi. Paul was big, bald, and had a cool box full of Kung beer. They came on board and had drinks, then we wandered over to the band, just as it started raining. By the time we had got there, all of 100 metres, the rain was worse and the band had stopped. It then appeared the they wouldn’t be starting up again !

Alan was as drunk as a skunk, and was supposed to be driving. Paul didn’t want to go home with him and wouldn’t drive either. He wanted to stay on board our boat and even arranged for a friend to pick him up the next day. Hugh thought he should look after his mate. Luckily they both disappeared off into the night, and so ended Midsommer’s Eve. – – – – – –

We are now in Sjotorp, at the end of the Gota canal. We will spend a day here before heading off to Lake Vannen and then Mariestad, where we will pick up Andrew and Susan Bell, who will luckily be able to help us through the Trollhatten Canal. More will follow in due course.

Love to everyone.

Jenny and Hugh

Subject: The other side ….

Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2013 22:11:28 +0200

The canals are over. No big deal. We went up, and then we went down …. Apparently 65 canals in total and no problems. We are now in Gothenburg, but leave tomorrow morning to start our descent down the east coast of Sweden.

Communications have been a big problem. Nearly every marina which boasts wifi for some reason doesn’t have it. The last excuse was that they had run out of the slips of paper which they give to people with their password on !!! As we were in Gothenburg, quite a big city, we thought we would catch up with emails and set off to find the local library, always a good spot to get free Internet.

I should mention at this stage that our friends Susan and Andrew have been staying with us for a week, and those of you who followed our travels last year might remember that we had a disastrous day with then when :

We hired bikes

One bike was stolen

Bike recaptured

We stopped to help a yachtie who had a flat tyre

Couldn’t help so they walked back to the marina (miles)

We stopped for tea and they walked past

We felt bad so offered them one of our hire bikes so that they could get back with wife as dubby and we took their fold up bike on Hugh’s shoulders and Andrew rode the other fold up bike

Stopped off at the bike hire garage to see if they could fix the duff tyre

Got told off by the bike man for allowing our ‘friends’ to ride two up and break his bike

Anyway, I digress. We all set off for the town to do different things, but one of the goals was to find an Internet connection. Hugh and I went to the bibliotek, marked on our map. It was closed for refurbishment. We then had to find tourist information, who told us that the library had been split up into different locations, and the best thing to do was to go to the Central Railway station, where they have terminals that can be accessed- for a fee.

Hugh came back to the boat while I went off to find the terminals, and eventually succeeded although the Central Station and the shopping arcade I had to go through to get there were so big that I got lost and it took me 3.5 hours in total to sort my emails and get there and back.

Meanwhile, Andrew and Susan had wandered into the City and were also on the lookout for somewhere to access their emails. They saw a likely looking building, with lots of terminals and people sitting in front of them, so walked in. They were met by a nice young man who asked if he could help them, and Susan explained that she would like to look at her emails. He sat her down at a desk, and helped her to get into the Internet as he said it was sometimes difficult. She spent a very happy half hour catching up on her correspondence. It was only when they went to leave that they realised that they had gone into the local tax office !!!

I am not sure when this email will be sent, but will keep my eyes open for somewhere suitable to send it from!!

Hugh has started coughing and spluttering, and it looks likely that he is getting a cold or, as he calls it, man flu. Andrew and Susan have gone back to the UK after a week of very mediocre weather. We plough onwards and look forward to Hugh’s brother Kim joining us, and Matt and Liz Clark, if their camper van (Doris) makes it up to Denmark.

Much love from this side of the Baltic.

Jenny and Hugh


Arkosund – 13 June 2013

On 13 June 2013 21:51, Jenny Litton ‪ wrote:

And so the trip goes on ….

Ystad, Smirishamn, Hano (walked to the English cemetery where some sailors of Nelson’s British fleet are buried), Utklippan (which is a pile of rocks in the middle of the ocean and lots of goose poo), Kalmar …. Where Liz and Gary joined us to lighten our lives and help the oldies.

Luckily they brought sunny weather with them, and we had a few lovely days sailing up through the islands.  It is quite disconcerting having 65 metres of water under your boat, and a blooming great rock several metres out of the water 10 metres away.

One morning, whilst it was sunny, it became obvious that Hugh was missing his normal morning swim, so having found out that the water temperature was 18.5 degrees, he thought it was warm enough.  To commemorate such a foolhardy exploit, I used my video to capture the moment and include it here.  BE WARNED … If you object to bad language or behaviour, please do not watch it.

We do not have a Swedish/ English dictionary and, as some of you know from our Dutch travels, it can cause problems if there are big yellow signs telling you to do something and you don’t know what it is you are supposed to be doing.  So we asked Liz to bring a Swedish/English dictionary and a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide to Stockholm.  She arrived with a book on Stockholm, with a very small guide to the language in the back along the lines of bus, train, how much to get to outer space, how do i treat a sexually transmitted disease, etc., and a Book on Sweden.

But .. She did have an app on her phone which could teach you Swedish.  It was great fun listening to the person on her phone tell you a word, then you have to repeat it, and then identify the word from others, and then you know it.  For example,

English.          Swedish

Arm.                Armen

Foot.                Foten

Hand.               Handen

Boat.                Boten

Yacht.              Yachten

Canoe.             Canoen

So, nowen I thinken that I knowen Swedishen, anden Ien canen talken toen anyonen.

On the last night of their holiday we all went to Stockholm by train and stayed in a hostel (all in one room), visited the Vasa museum, and absorbed the delights of the city.  Unfortunately we left the Stockholm book with Liz, together with any sensible words in the back that we might be able to use, she didn’t leave her app, and we still don’t have a dictionary.  The good thing is that ALL Swedes seem to speak English not just fluently but they sound more like us than we do, but then they have to speak English to the Dutch, the Germans, the Finns, Norwegians, and anyone else who comes to their country.

On 6 June, the Swedes celebrate their National Day, so we made an effort to get to a place where it was all happening.  The guide books made it sound as though Blankenholm had it all, so we arrived looking forward to the partying.

It was like Zombie City.  Doors were open at the harbour master’s office, but no one was in.  There was crazy golf (closed) a paddle land for children (closed) an Internet cafe (closed) and no one around. Even the shop was shut because it was a national holiday.

So we had our own celebration.  Firstly, Hugh dressed the boat overall (put flags up to the mast and back) and then we had cocktails.  There was debate as to what we should call them, based on famous Swedes …a Nobel Explosive, a Bjorn Borg Smash, a Sven Kick, Greta Garbo Kiss, an Abba Dabba Do???

We settled for Bombay Sapphire mixed with slightly explosive home made elderflower cordial (well it had been on the boat for a year) and soda water, or home made Sloe Gin and Tonic Water.  Liz and I had the gin concoction, but the trouble was that first it needed just a bit more cordial, then just a bit more gin, then a little water, then just a little bit more gin … Needless to say it ended up in a half pint glass instead of a cocktail glass.  After two we were feeling very supportive of the Swedes, so we moved on to Swedish meatballs,mashed potatoes and peas, served with Tittybaere jam, which we hope was lingonberries but were not sure.  I have a note in my diary that we went to bed early !

The upside of Blankenholm was that we couldn’t pay anyone for our stay, but then we didn’t have any electricity either.

Then to Overso, Arkosund, Ringsom, Nynarshamn.  Now we are back in Arkosund having dropped the children off, and will enter the Gota Canal (aka the divorce ditch) tomorrow.  I have already been praying to the great god Oshit for a safe passage, but I am sure I will be speaking to him more often on the way through.

Much love to all

Jenny and Hugh