Saturday, 31 August 2013

Challenge of travel: Welcome to Bjäre!

Well, I didn't think I'd be able to make it in time with everything that's happened. However, Uggi (that's our youngest cat, who got very ill last weekend for those of you that don't follow my blog) is recovering fast and it's given me a big burst of energy. Or perhaps rather of happiness and relief, which could be turned into creative energy. So here it, my Challenge of Travel reveal!


First of all, before I forget, I must thank our hostess, Erin, for this fab challenge! Even when so much else took all my time and energy, I never wanted to give up on this challenge as it was so fun to work on. The 2nd Annual Challenge of Travel, which is themed Staycation, is a blog hop. To find links to all participants' reveals, please check out our hostess reveal post HERE.

This stop on the hop is an hommage to my hembygd (a word that has no direct english equivalent I can think of, but it's the area where you grew up and/or live and feel a connection to, the place where your roots are). I grew up -- and now live -- in a small hamlet located in the middle of Bjäre. A place you can see every time you visit my blog as the blog header features a view from home. Bjäre is a peninsula in the northwestern corner of the southern-most province in Sweden, Skåne (also known by it's latin name Scania) -- a province once called "a piece of the Continent attached to Sweden".

Making a long story short, the province became swedish in 1658 after long having been part of eastern Denmark. Half of Skåne sits on limestone bedrock, which makes it more like the countries of the Continent than of Sweden, which partially explains the quote above. We also have a distinct dialect and our own red-and-yellow flag. I guess we are also known for affluent farmland and the food. There are many regional specialities such as luad ål (smoked eel), äggakaga (a thick panecake-y thing served with lingonberry jam and bacon), skånsk äblakaga (apple pie), spickeskinka (dry-salted and cold smoked ham), kavring (sweet rye bread), mårtensgås (goose dinner on St Martin's day), spiddekaga (can't translate, please see Wikipedia for explanation), rabbemos (mashed rutabaga/swede and potato) etc. An old scanian saying goes "goen mad, möen mad og mad i rättan ti" ("good food, a lot of food and food at the right time").

Bjäre is part of what one scholar dubbed risbygden, a region "between the plough and the forest" ("mellan plogen och skogen") with a variegated nature and a landscape characterized by smallholdings. To the south of Bjäre is a second peninsula, Kullen, which you can see as a blue mountain ridge in the above photo, separated from Bjäre by the Skälderviken bay. Just off the the western Bjäre coast, by Torekov, is the island of Hallands Väderö placed in the sea called Kattegatt (which catlovers might be interested in learning that it is thought to mean "cat hole" or "cat gate" in dutch because it was so narrow it was difficult to navigate through). Like most of the Bjäre coastline, Väderön is a nature reserve.

In the north, you can see the ever present Hallandsåsen ridge and the northern half of Bjäre is characterized by the hilly terrain created by the ridge as it stretches from the inland out towards Hovs Hallar (the place where the knight plays chess with Death in Ingemar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal). The other half is more of a flat terrain spreading towards the sea. The two most famous towns here are the market town of Båstad and the former fishing village of Torekov (known locally as Torke).

I will however not dwell there, both as the places are already wellknown and packed with tourists and as they're too posh for a country girl like me. Well, at least they can be very posh during summer. No, despite interesting things I could tell (the attempted russian invasion of Båstad 1788, the tennis and Mr G, ridiculous upper-class party activities like vaskning, the Torekov compromise that created our current constitution, the first seaside resorts etc etc), I want to focus on the little hamlets and villages around where I live. The real countryside with hamlets, small-scale fields, grazing cows, bronze age burial mounds, small forests, strandängar, trails for ramblers, farm shops, miles of 19th century stone walls, local football fields, potato fields, art exhibits -- and a clog factory (yes, I did forget the golf courses on purpose). And trolls, you can't forget the trolls.

But first, let's place Bjäre and my hamlet of Svenstad on the map.

Click for a close up. Photo taken during spring, which explains this common sight.
If you want to check out Bjäre on Google Maps, here's a link to get you started.

The place marked on the first two maps is our hamlet. Svenstad is a very small hamlet, has been since it was depopulated during the danish-swedish wars (over provinces like Skåne) in the 17th century. There is however one name that has made this hamlet a bit better known than most others of its size: world famous opera singer and hovsångerska -- and cat lover -- Birgit Nilsson. Birgit and her husband Bertil were occasionally our neighbours as it was her she grew up on a farm she later inherited.  After her death, the work to turn her family home into a museum started and our road was renamed after her. So one of our nearest neighbours are now the Birgit Nilsson Museum.

For a virtual view of the museum (and Svenstad), you can go to the street view at Google Maps here. A map of and info on the ancient monuments and historical relics -- mounds, stone carvings, culturally important buildings -- can be found on the Fornsök map at The Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) website. It's in swedish only, though.

Of cause, while this post is turning into a very long one, I still can't tell you all about Bjäre. If you're more interested, there are are few tourist websites for Båstad/Bjäre and Skåne. The official tourist website for Bjäre is and the official one for Skåne is Visit Skåne. Hallands väderö has its own website here while Torekov has a site in swedish here. If you're interested in hiking/rambling, there is a trail throughout the province called Skåneleden, which you can read about here. Apart from it there are several shorter, local trails. On Bjäre, it follows the coastline and there are two paths leading over the Hallandsåsen ridge towards the southern coasst. Upplev Bjäre is another tourist website, but it's in swedish only, but offer translations via Google Translate (in other words: do check it out, but don't expect great translations). The Birgit Nilsson website also have a few tips on this page, including the linen weaving mill in Boarp and Märta Måås-Fjetterström's studio in Båstad.

If you're interested in guided tours or hikes, there are many to be offered (though I'm not sure how many have english-speaking guides). Interested in local produce? So called "farm tourism" is booming at the moment and you can experience everything from farmer's markets and annual events (Day of the potato most notable here on Bjäre) to kosläpp (popular family event when the cows are let out on the pastures after a winter indoors) and culinary food hikes though the landscape. Completed with farm shops, farm cafés and countryside B&Bs. You can even pay for the opportunity to plant/set or harvest potatoes! Love of gardening? For example  Din Trädgård offer no less than four tours of private gardens and nurseries in Northwestern Skåne: Höstrundan ("the autumn tour"), Rosrundan ("the rose tour"), Månskensrundan ("the moonshine tour" visiting lit up gardens on an october evening) and Trädgårdsrundan ("the garden tour"). History and archaeology buff? Local societies like Föreningen Gamla Båstad and Bjäre arkeologivänner sometimes do guided tours in or around Båstad, talking about history and ancient monuments respectively. Naturskyddsföreningen do nature hikes, but I'm not sure if they're for members only or not. The tourist centres can also provide guide books and maps for your own explorations.

Oh, and by the way: Don't forget the artisan fair in Båstad, Hantverksmässan! An annual show during the last weekend of July where you sometimes even find a lampwork bead artist or two, but most of all handmade jewellery and kinds of other art and craft products from artists all over the country.

The most important question, then: are there any bead shops? Well, not exactly on Bjäre, but there are a few craft and bead shops nearby. On Bjäre you can find a craft/embroidery/yarn shop in Båstad and two fabric shops in Förslöv unless I'm mistaken. As for bead shops and craft shops with a bead range, I refer you to my website Svenska Pärlbutiker where you'll find a map of such shops in Sweden. 

For loads of photos of Bjäre -- Svenstad in particular -- please see the landscape photos label on this blog (you might have to scroll through a few pages to find the really good photos...). And for many more photos of the province of Skåne in general -- from the Turning Torso in Malmö to the iconic beech forests and yellow rapefields, from reconstructed viking cottages to the castles of the old nobility, from apple orchards to university buildings  -- please see my Skåne - Scania pinboard:

So from all this, where did I draw inspiration for my creation? For me, most of the things I love about Bjäre and Svenstad revolve around the nature, coastline, agriculture (cows, fields, farms, farmer families) and cultural history. Places like the burial mounds, which are ever present on the peninsula, often with troll legends attached to them , and Drottninghall with its prehistoric stone carvings shrouded in local folklore and overlooking Bjäre, Skälderviken bay and beyond that Kullen. I've written a few posts on local lore, from trolls to princess saints, which you can find here.

For the tourists, Bjäre and places like Torekov, Kattvik, Stora Hult and Båstad are places of summer and sunshine. Picturesque places of vacations. They only see one aspect of the peninsula. I see it and love it around the year. Love the changes in the landscape as summer turns into autumn, autumn turns into winter and winter turns into spring. For me, images like these are just as much my idea of Bjäre as a summer beach. Perhaps even more as that tourist summer thing is so ephemeral. The real Bjäre is easier to see once the tourists have returned home.

Now, this necklace didn't turn out at all like I wanted it to, but still showing it as it was the first idea I got. I wanted to use this hand-dyed silk thread for an autumnal design inspired by the apple orchards in Kattvik (which means "cat bay", by the way) and Båstad. Don't know if more than the one in Kattvik produce apples commercially, the rest are sadly abandoned -- on turned into a golf course. It also echoes of our own apple trees, many of which my dad has grown from seeds.

The bamboo charm is also a nod to our own garden -- I love bamboo and grew up with a couple of plants around the farm.

The second piece is also all about the flora. I chose the teal flower as it reminds me of the gardens, parks and farmland wrapped in mist in the late autumn when not much colour remains as the flowers wilt, but there's still a somewhat melancholic, serene beauty. Dew and mist drifting inland from the cold sea.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention the connection to the seaside park/public gardens of Norrvikens trädgårdar what with the sea-colour flower and beads. Norrviken have had some tough years, but in 2006 it won the award of most beautiful park in Sweden and went on to compete over the title of most beautiful in Europe, ending up in second place.

A small pic of its full length.

Then I struggled to create something with bronze. I have to include bronze as the bronze age is always just above or below the ground level here. But what to do? Not much bronze in my stash right now (had forgotten about a couple of bronze clay components I won ages ago), nothing but some round tags. But then this morning I got an idea and layered them with coloured copper tags on a flexible rubber bangle. Three charms on one bracelet, which might become three bangles with one charm each if I get more of those rubber bracelets.

As everything else is filled with symbolism, this got one too, apart from the bronze age heritage: the modern, sleek style and the colours stand for all our local artists (catlover? Check out the couple Ulla & Gustav Kraitz!). There's an annual konstrunda in Northwestern Skåne, an event where local artists open up their studios for the public, who will go around a route visiting as few or as many artists as they want. All artists are also represented in a collective exhibition in addition to the open studios. Arts represented include painting, graphics, fiber arts, sculpture, silversmithing, glass, photography etc. In 2013 148 artists were represented, at least 20 being in Bjäre as you can see in this map.

This piece isn't actually a challenge piece, it's just a test of my new Pébéo Fantasy paint, but I thought the result looked like one of our beaches on a sunny summer's day so it was a good fit here now that the test coincided with the challenge. The base is a 2x2 cm glass mosaic tile. I'll soon do a post on my first Pébéo experiments, which will include a close-up of this one.

Last but not least, the pièce de résistance. It took me a long while to come up with making this. I wanted to do something related to the stories I told earlier, the local legends and tales about Saint Tora, the stones in Hov, the trolls and Drottninghall. After a lot of thought, it struck me that a gold crown would be a possible common denominator: Tora is often depicted wearing a crown since the legends often portrait her as a princess, some of the stories about Drottninghall involve a queen and the trolls were well known for their treasures, which must've included crowns. Add to that my penchant for bridal crowns and I just had to give it a go.
It was a long time since I last made a crown and I'm afraid it shows, just as well as it shows that I just whipped this thing together yesterday, but I hope you still like it a little.

It wasn't my intention, but I discovered that it ended up being the same colours as our provincial flag, red (garnet) and yellow (brass)! Which perhaps was very fitting.

And so we come to the end. I hope you enjoyed my introduction to Bjäre, the place where I grew up and the place where I now once again live. Thank you for stopping by, taking the time to read and/or check out at my challenge creations!

I'm going to wrap up this long, long post the same way I started it:  

Welcome to Bjäre!


  1. Thank you for sharing the history. Loving all that "greenery" in the photos. and the apple inspired piece.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a lovely blog! The pictures are just stunning and your jewelry is lovely! Thank you so much, I totally enjoyed it!

  3. Wow - love all the history you shared through your tour! Your pieces totally match what you shared with us! Love the last piece - the crown! Wonderful!

  4. Thank you for sharing your favorite place with us. It sounds like a wonderful place to live. Your pieces are beautiful, and I'm stunned by that fabulous crown!

  5. Thank you for really sharing your home with us. I would love to visit and play tourist. I really like the second necklace. The blue beads on the chain really make it stand out.

  6. I very much enjoyed the tour you gave us, Sweden is such a beautiful country. Those pictures really make me want to go there ... Loved your jewelry, and, wow, there's even a crown? That's amazing.

    And guess what I ordered a while back? That's right, Pebeo Fantasy paint. Stumbled across them by accident, thought they looked amazing. I have yet to try them out though.

  7. I love all of those, but I just adore the second necklace. I love the focal and the chain .. it's just lovely. The crown looks like it was so much fun to make.

    Thank you for the tour of your city. It looks lovely.

  8. Enthralling and fascinating - beautifully written post and a fabulous tour, thank you for sharing so much of your home. Your designs are lovely.

  9. Thank you for making me go back to Sweden, I spent fabulous holidays there a few years ago. I loved it.
    Your pieces reflect the blues, greens and bronze you showed in your picture. I admire their beauty and simplicity.

  10. I love the crown! It was really fascinating to learn about your home. I've always seen your beautiful pictures but never knew much about where you lived. Fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Fabulous post Maneki. I so enjoyed reading about your hembygd...your soul place? The should be an English word for this! I loved the jewellery, particularly the teal flower necklace and the delicately beautiful crown. What a wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing with us all! Wendy

  12. Thank you for this fascinating tour illustrated by your lovely pics. I love your challenge pieces. The bracelet is my favourite, due to its harmonius forms and colours. But as I said, I love them all. I can imagine a troll princess wearing the lovely crown, stolen from Tora. Milka

  13. How wonderful that you have a word, hembygd that is so perfect for this blog hop. What a great tour guide you were. Your pieces are beautiful, as were the photos of the scenery. Andrea

  14. Oh I loved reading about your little corner of Sweden, and I love love love that crown! And the bracelet! And the necklaces! But especially the crown!

  15. Wow! You went all out! What great pieces representing different aspects of your home. I was most fascinated by your writing the historic past with mounds and legends of trolls. The crown is wonderful, so deceptively simple and spoke to my inner fantasy side but I believe my favorite is that flower necklace. I felt right at home with the landscape and rustic countryside and the uncluttered lifestyle of the country.

  16. Thanks for your lovely comments, everyone! I'm still blog hopping, though a bit slowly as I feel like I've caught some bug (hopefully not my sis' nasty cough). So I'm still less than halfway, but I will visit everyone. Just takes a little more time than planned.

  17. Thank you for sharing your part of the world with such vividness.
    Love the jewelry too!

  18. Miss Kristina! What a beautiful hamlet you live in! The colors of your photos, the sunsets, the water, the rolling hills are all so very lovely. It is clear why you love this place so much! You gave us such amazing details. I love that picture of the potato fields from space. And you made so many pieces. Each of them is just wonderful in their own way! I am very excited about your crown. So cool! You have made me want to come and visit, as it reminds me very much of the Door County area of our state, with the cow overlooking the water! I think I would feel right at home!

    I am so very sorry to hear that you are under the weather and that your beloved furry friend passed away. It is so hard to lose a pet that you love so dearly. Thank you so much for taking us on a tour of Bjare and for joining me on this Challenge! I am sorry that it took me so long to come and visit, I was so swamped with this three-day fundraiser last week and I wanted to be sure I had time to really enjoy my visit to your fair city. Enjoy the day! Erin


A few words can mean so much. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

PS! Feel free to email me if you don't want to comment publicly -- look under Contact (under the header)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...