Ah! That’s better. Perched at the table on the veranda deck at Falla (aka Heaven on Earth) with my morning coffee. This place is so incredibly special, and it’s become ‘our’ place, for B and I. So many incredible memories here since we met. OK, many of them have involved large quantities of Sauvignon Blanc and sex on the lawn (last night was no exception despite the October chill), but beyond the fun and silly too. Every time I get here, I’m filled with emotions I can’t even explain – perhaps it’s just that my heart is here, this place that’s so special to my father and therefore to me too.
A 20-minute drive from my home town, so we’re away from everyone and get to have alone time when we’re in Sweden, which is great, but also it’s just so beautiful here. To be honest – and perhaps partly because I haven’t experienced autumn here for 20 years, having only been in Sweden in winter and summer to visit since I moved away – I didn’t expect it to be this breath takingly gorgeous. I forgot that in Sweden there are seasons. Hot summers, colourful autumns, snowy winters and springs with bird song. The trees range from a lovely yellow the colour of lemons, to fiesty bright orange and all the way through to a furiously sharp red. Mixed with the dark green pine trees, it’s absolutely stunning.
I thank my lucky star that I get to inhabit this little house in its glorious setting, with a huge lawn and fields around it, at the bottom of a little mountain. Who knows though, both B and I have started to suspect that my father has other plans for us in the not so distant future. This is my father’s escape, you see. The place he inherited from his grandmother and has renovated and looked after with such love and affection that it’s probably made my stepmother jealous on occasion. It’s here that he stays every summer, from May through to mid-August, and of course during the Holy Week (i.e. moose hunting season), and he’s here several times a week throughout the year too. It’s so dear to him. To give it up for us I imagine is something he is loathe to do, at the same time as he loves it that we love it there too.
However. Apart from the little additional house on the grounds that was once built as a little love shack for my dad and my mum when they first got married (can’t explain – it’s a Swedish thing, something families sometimes do, building little mini-houses for loved ones), he’s gone and renovated what was just a shed at the bottom of the huge garden down by the stone wall. The little hut built for my parents back in the 70s is beautiful, has a little fireplace and we’ve sat there on cold winter’s evenings with the fire burning drinking hot chocolate.
It’s really cute, and you’d comfortably get a double bed in there along with the existing little sofa and table group. However, now there’s a little red shed too that we’re increasingly worried is shaping up to be our new Sweden holiday retreat – with my father up in the main house so that he A) doesn’t have to stay away when we’re there (not that he does – he finds a million excuses to turn up) and B) gets to see us the whole time (which is lovely, but it’s nice to get a break from family time too). Every single time he speaks to either B or I, he’s mentioned this mini-house, how great it’s turning out and throwing in phrases like “you’d live like royalty there”. Er, no I won’t – I need a castle I’m afraid. Or Falla, rather (although same difference in my book).
“Just mark my words – it’s for us,” B said and laughed nervously.
“No way! He wouldn’t expect us to live there and have them around too!” I protested, but a seed had been planted in my head and sure enough, my father brought it up again.
He rang after we came back here last night after seeing them.
“It’s the key with the wooden key ring, you have to check it out!” he cheerfully told me in his booming voice when he called to make sure we’d got the wood burner going last night.
I finished the call after getting instructions for the wood burner and turned to B.
“Oh my frikkin Gaaaaaaawd, you’re right, the frikkin shed is for us!” I shrieked.
“I told you!” B hissed and made an oh-my-God face.
I love my father more than anything, but I couldn’t live with him for two weeks like that in the summer. The kitchen, bathroom and everything else is in the main house, and you know, four adults sharing would be trying in any circumstances. Now, add my father who is …intense. He is loud, full-on and his ex-wife (aka my mum) is convinced there’s got to be some kind of diagnosis there (she’d know, she’s a special needs teacher). His wife (aka my stepmum) agrees and I think they may be referring to ADHD. I’m not exaggerating. He is a handful. Full of energy, so positive it’s almost exhausting, ALWAYS happy and completely boundless. He’s my absolute hero, but he does take up a lot of room and Falla is where B and I have spent our evenings sitting on the veranda drinking wine and chatting, enjoying some time alone together in between spending time with family, friends and generally rushing around like you do when you go home to visit.
I decided that these plans need to be nipped in the bud, so I cornered my stepmother and asked if this was actually what he was up to. No more drinking wine on the veranda like that (awkward to stay up and especially to drink as he thinks I’m still 17 and shouldn’t) and definitely no sex on the lawn. Or on the kitchen table. Or the floor. Or anywhere except in that little shed, and if so, very quietly.
Luckily my wonderful stepmother assured me that she wouldn’t allow that, and that she’d make sure Falla is ours when we’re in Sweden. Bless her heart. Don’t get me wrong – I am very, very grateful to even be allowed to stay there one night, let alone hog it for two weeks, but I thought there for a moment that those lovely evenings would be confined to memory… And we can’t have that. It’s the Law that we have sex outside every time we’re there. And oh yes, we did at Christmas and it was definitely sub-zero. B’s scrumptious bottom nearly froze to the front steps. He’s a very brave man.