Monthly Archives: July 2009


Perhaps I shouldn’t have watched Inspector Montalbano directly after two hours of Rejseholdet. But I did, because it was on, at that precise moment, and I wanted to see what it was like. It was the last episode of the series, and I haven’t read any of the books, but I hoped it would be illuminating.

For those better informed than the witch; was it meant to be quite so cheesy? Or was that just me?

Is it more Midsomer than Rebus, so to speak?

iPod Torchwood, while we wait

Here I was, thinking that the only problem with leaving the country, just as the new Torchwood gets going on television, was that Daughter had to exercise patience.

She read a Torchwood book, which was not as good as it should have been. We have listened to a dramatised Torchwood which she just happened to have on the iPod. That was quite good, except I’m never terribly capable when it comes to telling voices apart on the radio. You’d think I can’t mistake John Barrowman for someone else, but I can manage almost anything.

And then to make matters worse, I’ve been advised to vet Torchwood first, before letting Daughter watch. I did suspect the worst, reading veiled comments of outrage on Facebook last week, but as to not letting her watch. Hmm.

What could possibly happen? That she doesn’t sleep for a week? That she too wants to kill Russell T?

Särdals Kvarn

Särdals Kvarn

We went for a walk the other day. At least that’s what it was supposed to be. Our visitors fancied a trip to the nearby windmill, Särdals Kvarn, which now is more of a museum piece. And a shop, selling local produce. So for some, the walk cost a bit of money. But it was still a walk in the sunshine. Being July, it was also rather difficult to cross the main road on foot, because far too many tourists were out airing their cars. They should have walked, too.

Don Quijote

It’s odd, because we have all been there lots of times, and we have all seen the statue outside lots of times, too. It wasn’t until this time that we all, simultaneously, noticed it’s dear old Don Quijote standing there  with Rocinante. When the mill ceased being a home in the 1990s, it was first made over for use as an art gallery. Hence all the art in the garden. They also have an indoor art exhibition most of the time.

Bottled fruit


A few years ago the art gallery turned into a shop selling jams and things from the surrounding area. So now you can buy lovely local jam and drinks made out of local soft fruit. There is a fruity tea blend called Särdals-blandning, which I love. You can buy crisps made from beetroot and parsnip. Local honey. And chocolate with odd flavours and gifts, and lots more.

School Friend isn’t the only guest who enjoys a visit to the mill. I dragged GP Cousin and Swiss Lady there once, and whereas GP Cousin stolidly sat in the car park waiting for us, Swiss Lady regularly feels the need to return with a freshly stocked wallet.


And they have a café. Naturally. May return to that later. Both to blog, and possibly to eat and drink.

(Photos by H Giles)


That – Rejseholdet – is the Danish title of what I ordinarily refer to as Mordkommissionen; the Danish police series that we tend to watch on holiday. Daughter soldiers bravely on, understanding a snippet here and there. I just sit back and enjoy the Danish-ness of it all, wondering if I could ever speak like that. Most likely not.

Felt so carried away with the Norwegian series on Wednesday, that to move on to the neighbouring country only made sense. Having tried to catch the same episodes on television every summer, I finally caved in and bought the DVDs on a Swedish internet auction site. So now we’ll work our way through all the episodes.

Charlotte Fich

It’s got an early Mads Mikkelsen as a sometimes troubled police officer. The one I really like, however, is the female boss, played by Charlotte Fich. And Daughter loves LaCour. He’s cute, and a bit psychic.

Rejseholdet is a word I don’t really understand. It sounds a little like a word for suitcase, but I suspect it’s the lorry trailer that they use as their mobile headquarters. I’m guessing that Denmark being a small country, the specialist murder squad is the one and only, so need to travel to where the murders happen. And unlike The Wire, they didn’t like being stuck in a basement somewhere.

Tom Hanks is older today

I have an understandable fondness for the babies of 1956. It’s a most excellent year. Today it’s Tom Hanks’ turn for birthday cake. I was going to make scones later this afternoon, but I’m sure Tom will have cake. Possibly not with 53 candles, but you never know. I’d been planning to mention his birthday for a while, but I obviously had to wait for the right day. Interestingly I’ve had several Tom Hanksy moments leading up to today, so it’s the witchyness at work I expect. Just before midnight it got even witchier, but I’ll have to tell you about that another day.

Tom Hanks

“What has the witch written about me now?”

Norwegian Hunter

It wasn’t until we began watching the first episode of Hunter on Swedish television this evening that I realised there could be language issues with Daughter and it. Norwegian thriller/crime series, with Swedish subtitles. But at least it’s easier than Danish… I think she coped fairly well, and one actress was almost impossible to understand even for a linguistic genius like the witch.

I’ve never really watched Norwegian television much, and certainly don’t think of them as producing exciting and fast-paced thriller stuff. But there is no reason they shouldn’t. It’s just that age old prejudice thing rearing its ugly head. Bad witch!

Hunter, episode one, turned out to be very good, and I’m looking forward to the rest, though I have to allow for the minor fact that the last episode is on after I’ve left. Drat. Where’s the illegal download button?

Suspected suicide bomber in Oslo underground station is killed by police . Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Then it seems he was actually intending to shoot someone instead of carrying a bomb. And as is the case these days, everything ended up on somebody’s mobile phone and from then it’s just a short step to television news and phone calls to the policeman’s wife.

Another five episodes to go, and Norwegian security in Brussels have just screwed up.

Allsång på Skansen

Daughter is parked in front of the television, enjoying some fresh Midsomer Murders. I’m honestly not keeping track of this, but I suspect Sweden gets MM before many other countries. So, what better way to start the holiday than to settle down with Barnaby and Jones? We’re dead tired, and exhausted, and just a little pooped.

After plugging the television in, the witch was fortunate enough to catch the last twenty minutes of Allsång på Skansen, which is a summer programme much derided by Offspring. Every week there is one hour live singing from the famous outdoor museum Skansen in Stockholm. People queue from early in the morning. And this to listen to Sweden’s big musical stars, and some minor ones, perform some of their own repertoire and also to lead the audience in communal singing. What’s not to like?

Allsång på Skansen

The compere is somewhat idiotic and some of the stars are as well. Some, on the other hand, are very good, and much loved by the general public. This evening I was just in time to see the Neil Gaiman look-alike Magnus Uggla take his clothes off on stage while singing an idiotic song. His backing singers took everything off, whereas he remained in his underwear. This on a family show, live, before nine o’clock. I have been away from Sweden for far too long…

The programme also proved a point made by the (British) husband of one of my fellow Swedes in England; namely that you can watch Swedish television for about five minutes before someone plays the accordion. I had watched for roughly five minutes when the accordion player appeared.

If that’s not a beautiful start to a summer holiday; I don’t know what is. And Daughter may ridicule the Allsång, but she is proud of the fact that she has actually been there, where it happens. So it’s not all bad.

Celebrating the nines

They forgot to mention Son. He is a nine, too. A 1989 baby. Other than that, I believe our weekend hosts had got their nines together. People came from Baltimore and Bangalore, and from Hungary and Dublin. They even came from Slough and Scotland. The hosts could offer up two 50-year-olds and a twentieth wedding anniversary and an 18-year-old and A-levels. The guests comprised at least another three 1959 babies, one 1929 baby, a 75-year-old, and quite possibly more secret nines hidden away. Oh, yes, and a second twentieth wedding anniversary.

Lains Barn 2

Oxfordshire offered up the kind of summer Sunday afternoon that people always think they are going to get in July, and hardly ever do. It was barbecue and barn dancing, and the chicken and the Halloumi weren’t the only things roasting. Most of us came away considerably more ‘done’ than when we arrived. Pimms and Pavlova were consumed in the grassy quad next to the old barn.


We’d started the previous day with family members nibbling Indian snacks, before a wonderful Indian feast for lunch. People took turns on the piano, and second cousins who hadn’t seen each other for years, got to know each other all over again.

Saturday's lunch

Did I mention the barn dancing? I suspect the hosts remembered the family do ten years ago, in Scotland, when we had a Ceilidh. So, this being England, a barn dance was the obvious solution. Great musicians and patient teaching of the intricacies of the dances. Even the witch could have managed the Gay Gordons at the end, had it not been for her Haggis-knee. And yes, I know GG is Scottish. It sort of turned Scottish for the finale, after the dancing master had insulted the Swedish people and their dancing. I suspect he’d got his Danes and Swedes all mixed up. If it’s one thing Swedes can do, it’s dance. And sing and play. Other than that; yes we are rather stiff and boring.

Barn dance

The witch being the exception. I’m stiff and boring but still can’t dance, sing or play.

More work for Director Vance

Gibbs and Vance

NCIS: Los Angeles, the NCIS spin-off, will get a dose of Director Vance every now and then, when the series starts in September. Rocky Carroll will be Vance-ing on both shows, which makes sense, as he is head of all branches and operations that belong to NCIS. Question is whether anyone else will turn up at all. When NCIS started out, there was the odd appearance from JAGS, but not many. The one we saw most of, Commander Coleman, was only introduced when NCIS piloted in series eight.

Wait and see, I suppose.

(Photo © CBS)

Ducky flies past

I knew he was coming this way, but didn’t really think to start chasing him. David McCallum made a flying visit to Europe recently, to pick up some prize or other, and swooped past his old country while he was at it. And some clever person thought to pin the man down for an interview. Lucky them.

David McCallum, from

We in this house have been in love with David from about age eight or nine. (Our ages, not his.) That goes for both females, handily enough. The witch fell in the mid sixties when The Man From U.N.C.L.E. arrived across the Atlantic, and that’s despite not being over-keen on blond men. A suitable interval later U.N.C.L.E. popped up in the middle of the night as summer entertainment in Sweden, and the young Daughter joined her old mother’s foolish infatuation with Mr McCallum.

So it’s no wonder that we continue to sigh over dear Ducky in NCIS these days. Aahh…