Monthly Archives: July 2009

Remembering the moon

As I hinted, there were more Tom Hanks related things happening chez bookwitch last week. By pure chance I happened to notice that television had his series From the Earth to the Moon on late at night. They are broadcasting two episodes back-to-back so we missed the first two, but the remaining ten should be manageable.

It was a bit of a marathon in front of the box, with more watchable things on a Wednesday night, but we are dedicated around here, so persevered.

The first (i.e. the third) episode was the one about Apollo 7 and Walter Schirra, ably played by Mark Harmon. That’s what we call luck, getting here just in time for that particular episode. We also watched Apollo 8, which is about as far back as my real memory goes as regards the Apollo programme.

For episodes five and six we were joined by the Resident IT Consultant, who seems to find space fun, too. Luckily Son and Dodo are people with real lives, so they were able to resist. It was the Lunar Module this week; the one on Apollo 9 and the Apollo 11 Eagle, which a few of you will have heard of.

Nerds that we are, we are looking forward to the rest. And I’m certain that most of the actors have done a stint on NCIS at some point or other.


You’d expect to find Astrid Lindgren, of Pippi Longstocking fame, over on Bookwitch, but Saltkråkan is primarily a television series. Last summer may well have been the first for many years when I didn’t watch the annual repeats on Swedish television. Not that I need to, as we now have most of it on video, but there’s a certain feeling of tradition about watching it in the summer holidays. This year I haven’t noticed whether it’s on or not.

Saltkråkan is a fictional island in the archipelago north of Stockholm. Tjorven (that’s a pet name; not even Swedes have that peculiar a name) is a seven-year-old girl living on Saltkråkan, with her family and their enormous St Bernhard dog Båtsman. The witch is the same age as Tjorven, which may explain the lingering affection I have for the series. And she’s chubby. The Melkersson family from the city come to spend their first summer on the island. Their youngest boy, Pelle, is a similar age, and he loves animals. He even loves the wasps that attack his poor, accident prone father. The house they’ve rented is a leaking old place, ready to collapse, but they grow to love it.

Not all that much happens, really. It’s simply a charming account of a typical Swedish summer; rowing, swimming, finding hidden treasure, getting chased by a bull, fighting off Pelle’s older sister’s suitors, catching fishing net stealing thieves, buying a rabbit, getting lost while picking berries in the woods. The Melkerssons return for Christmas, for some traditional style celebrations, and beautiful snowy scenery.

Later on they made a few films, including letting Pelle’s sister get married and have a little girl of her own.

I’m fairly sure the book of Saltkråkan came after the television series, rather than the other way around. And 45 years on we are still watching. For me it was one of the most important things to find for Offspring when they were younger. It was expensive buying videos at the time, but I still did it. Daughter still marvels over the way Tjorven and Pelle manage to buy the old house right under the nose of the rich city type who wants to build a bungalow, by offering the owner a deposit equalling the cost of an ice cream. That’s proper fairy tale material.

Knut or krona?

Who’d have thought that seeing Harry Potter would be such a challenge? Not only did I fail in getting to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo last time in Sweden, because it was on too late at night. Now I can’t see it at all, as it’s no longer on around here. But Harry Potter is, and contrary to Daughter’s fears that there would be a delay because Sweden is behind with things, The Half Blood Prince is out today, as in most places around the globe.

The timings of the film are fine. Buying tickets is a struggle, though. Went to town last week, intending to get them then. Cinema not open until much later. Home to phone. Phone number is for Stockholm and does not deal with tickets. Website is slow and badly designed, but try for long enough and you can work out how to book tickets.

First day sold out. Second day a bit iffy. Third day fine. Choose tickets. Give card details. Stupid idea. They don’t take foreign cards.

So, it’s square one again.

Me, I’m not too fussed when I see the film. Daughter would like to see it early. But I don’t want to spend half a day on the bus there and back only to buy the tickets. I suspect that the first available day will have moved further away by now, so it won’t be early.

Have decided not to think about it, and perhaps things will work out somehow. Best not try too hard.


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.