Around here: A traumatic experience.

It can't be stressed enough: I am so not a nature person. Last night Per went to mow the lawn at the house for the last time. It was a beautiful evening and instead of wasting it on indoor activities I decided to head down to the Stensö nature reserve to photograph the lilies of the valley I knew I'd find there.

The forest was a stunning shade of green and at first I enjoyed myself. I found some lovely white flowers and crawled around in the grass trying to get a good shot of them. Then I moved on to the lilies of the valley. There were plenty of them and they smelled divine. However, there were also plenty of mosquitoes in the air and the ground was crawling with red ants so I had a very hard time staying still long enough to get an unblurry photo of the flowers. As if that wasn't bad enough, I suddenly noticed a tick on my arm. I decided I'd had enough of nature and promptly headed home.

You'd think this would be the end of this traumatic experience but as Per and I were having our evening meal on the balcony I noticed another tick on my arm. I panicked while he removed it. I decided to take a shower straight away and after I'd undressed I found another one of those monsters on my arm! I had to fight the urge to burn my clothes lol.

Then. This morning I figured that wearing the skirt I wore last night again should be safe. After all, I'd taken that off as soon as I got home. Surely any remaining vile insects would be lurking on my top and leggings in the laundry basket? No. A moment later I noticed a tick on my leg. I hadn't even put on the treacherous skirt yet, just pulled it out of the closet. Needless to say I am wearing something entirely different and the skirt now lies far away on the living room floor, waiting for Per to come home and decontaminate it. Ugh, I never want to go outside again!

Some more of the photos I got out of this ordeal...

Around here: My new camera bag.

I've hated my old camera bag since forever so you can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled upon Kelly Moore's camera bags that look nothing like traditional camera bags. This was everything I'd never known I'd always wanted in a camera bag. To my great disappointment the site that briefly sold these bags in Sweden was dead by the time I made this discovery. Its Norwegian counterpart first offered to ship the bag to Sweden but then went MIA. Of course I could have ordered the bag I wanted from the American site but there was no way I'd be willing to spend another $100 on customs and taxes. Finally recently it occured to me to look for a British site that sold these bags and I was lucky enough to find one that still had the bag I wanted in the exact colour I wanted in stock. I got the very last one. Of course this site would not ship to Sweden but with the help of my awesome English friend Holly I was able to overcome that problem and yesterday the bag finally arrived.

Per says that given the way I've been going on about this bag for months you'd think it'd be life-changing and while I wouldn't go that far it's definitely going to make my life a lot easier. I finally have a bag that will fit my camera and three lenses as well as my wallet and phone and other essentials that every girl's handbag is filled with. No more having to decide beforehand which lens I'm going to use, and no more having to carry both an ugly camera bag and my regular handbag. This was worth the wait :)

Around here: Travel plans.

With the summer months just around the corner, I'm starting to really look forward to my summer vacation. Just like last year and the year before that I'll be on vacation for three weeks in late July/early August. If you've been around for a while you know that I always try to squeeze in as much travelling as possible during my summer vacation.

On the 10th of August Per and I will be going on a trip to Norrland, i.e. northern Sweden. It's an organized bus tour, but we'll also spend one day travelling on the Inland train line (as pictured above). It's been a dream of mine for very long to visit the northern parts of my country, and I think this trip will be a good start. We considered driving there ourselves but it'd be a huge undertaking given how far away it is. This way we can just sit back and relax.

We're also looking into going on a beach vacation for a week before the trip to Norrland. We've considered France and Croatia but now we're starting to lean more towards someplace in Greece. Not sure where though, so if you have any suggestions I'd love it if you would share them :)

Around here: This was Wednesday.

This morning I took the time to actually notice all the new flowers that adorn the road I walk to work. The poppies (top right photo) are about to bloom and I can't wait! They were soo beautiful last year.

Work is pretty slow right now, but tonight was all the busier when I decided to squeeze in most of the weekly chores (cleaning, laundry, cooking) into one evening. I feel pretty accomplished right about now.

Unfortunately we found out today that the house we were going to look at next week has been sold already. I am nowhere near as disappointed as when that seemingly perfect house was sold in late April, but it sucks considering that there isn't a single house on the market right now that we are interested in. Just have to keep looking I guess.

Around here: My photo classes.

As you might know I've been taking evening photo classes this spring. I know that there are plenty of online classes that I could have taken instead that might cater more to my needs and interests, but I wanted an opportunity to meet new people and also know that I'd be more likely to thrive off of the accountability that comes with having a real life teacher.

I quite liked the first part of the course that ended just after Easter but I haven't been as excited about this second part that started two weeks ago. In fact I've almost regretted taking it now rather than in the autumn like the majority of my classmates from part 1. Now it's just me and three other people, and it makes me nervous when I can't disappear in the crowd. Plus the subject matter is harder. While part 1 was more about photographing things you can observe in your everyday life part 2 so far has been about wild animals, and macro photos of bugs/flowers. As a city girl I don't see a lot of wild animals and sure I might not have tried my hardest to find one last week - it's not like I was camped out in the forest for hours, but still. I sent in a photo of a sheep because it was the closest I got to an animal that wasn't a cat/duck, and on top of that it wasn't even a good photo. I had to miss last week's class due to work and only got there as it was ending. The teacher is still praising one of my monkey photos from Thailand so he said he'd ended up reusing that for last week's homework, which I didn't mind in the slightest of course.

After last week's fiasco I was a understandably nervous about this week's homework because bugs are my thing even less than wild animals, but, by a strike of luck, I stumbled across a shrub filled with ladybugs on Saturday. Ladybugs are one of the few types of bugs I'm not afraid of. And, with my close-up filter that I didn't even really figure out how to use properly until that very day, I think I got some good shots. The above photo is the one I sent in as my homework. It's not as good as the one of the monkey (which was a strike of luck too, it's not like the monkey posed that way just because I wanted it to) but at least I don't dread tonight's lesson. Next up is sports/moving subjects, which I am feeling rather unenthused about, unless I can find a nice waterfall to photograph with a long shutter speed, but hopefully I will feel a bit more inspired after the lesson.

Around here: This is summer.

I can't believe how little I've updated so far during the month of May! I knew it was little, but I didn't realize just how little until I checked last night. I promise to do better. I tell myself there isn't much going on in my life right now, but it's not a very good excuse. During a moment of brainstorming last night I was able to come up with a myriad of topics I could be writing about. My audience may be a mere fraction of what it used to be, but I am losing precious memories, and after all I established already on day 1 that I am here to preserve memories.

Summer is practically here already. When spring finally got here after that long winter, everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I was able to observe the smallest of changes on my street, every budding flower, how the barren branches of the trees slowly turned green again, how birds and bugs suddenly appeared everywhere. Then, bam, everything exploded and I don't quite know how nature could catch up so fast after such a slow start. Now everything's in full bloom, most of the spring flowers have wilted and been replaced with summer ones and there are days that are so warm that it feels like summer.

Saturday turned into one of those really warm days. The weather forecast predicted rain and thunder but we woke up to perfectly blue skies. We headed over to Emmaboda to watch my first ever drag car race in the sun. Obviously I am not very interested in cars, but I am enjoying learning about this whole world I never even knew existed before I met Per. I am more fascinated by the different colours and shapes that cars come in than their horse power and speed, and I probably always will ask him "stupid" questions on the subject, but I am proud to say that I have learned a little bit about it at least. Plus, these types of events tend to offer hot dogs and candy and if you know me you know I'll never say no to that.

Someone built a real Doc Hudson from Cars :)

When we came back to Kalmar I grabbed my camera and headed outside to take a closer look at the aforementioned flowers on my street and do my homework for my photo class. The topic of the week is macro photography which might be apparent from some of these photos.

Fanny arrived to spend the rest of the weekend with us when I was in the middle of photographing ladybugs by the train station. In the evening we put together some colourful skewers that Per cooked on the grill and soon after we'd finished dinner the Eurovision Song Contest started. I don't particularly care who wins or anything but I like the tradition of watching it. Per went to bed at eleven and by the time Denmark's victory was announced Fanny was already asleep. I'd been close to falling asleep several times, but I am proud to say that I made it until the very end.

Unfortunately yesterday was hopelessly grey and rainy. We were at a loss of what to do and ended up going to the mall, even though we didn't really feel like it. When we got home we had tacos for lunch and made a delicious rhubarb pie which was the highlight of the day. By the time Fanny was due to leave the weather had cleared up and today is much nicer again (although not as warm as Saturday). It's too bad because I didn't get any photos from her visit at all, but I hope she wasn't too bored and will come back someday soon.

Outings: Gullabo.

On Sunday we went to a cute little farm south of Kalmar to watch the farmers let their sheep out for the first time this year. Traditionally a lot of farms turn the day they let their cows out for the first time after the winter into an event and originally we wanted to go to one of those but since we couldn't find one nearby we went for the sheep instead. The weather was lovely and the farmer and his family were really sweet. There were hot dogs and homemade cookies. We had a lot of fun, even though we were one of the few childless couples in attendance lol.

Once we'd seen the sheep run off towards the other side of the meadow that was to be their new home for the next several months we went to look at a dugout in the forest near the farm. One of our fellow sheep watchers told us about it and we were intrigued. The dugout was restored in the 1970s and used to be home to as many as five people. The last inhabitant died in the late 1890s. It was so cold and dark in there, despite it being warm outside, and I can only imagine what life in such a place must have been like during the winter.

I have a feeling we'd be able to secure a property like this for very little money, should we be interested lol. No, but really, it gives you some perspective. Here we are, reluctant to get a house that has a kitchen and bathroom that haven't been remodelled in the last decade or that lacks a double garage, and little over a century ago people lived in a place like this? It's mind-boggling.

Around here: Long time no see.

There hasn't been that much going on in my life lately other than work, but the days seem to fly by and I find myself having little time to spend online. Can't believe the first half of May is practically behind us already! We had Thursday (Ascension Day) off from work this week, and May 1st last week of course, so the weeks have felt even shorter than usual.

The weather's been quite lovely lately overall, and we've spent quite a bit of time outside enjoying the warmth and sun. The world seems to be turning greener by the minute and so many flowers are in bloom. We go for walks in the Stensö nature reserve and last Sunday we even went to the beach south of Kalmar for a picnic. On Thursday we went to the garden centre and hardware store and Ikea and a dozen other places to stock up on flowers and lanterns and even an (electrical) grill for the balcony. Mum drove out here because she had some other shopping to do and it was so helpful having her here for the day. I learned two things: Gardening is expensive, and quite overwhelming. There were so many flowers to choose from, and we only needed a few. I can't imagine having an entire garden to maintain! Our balcony is so nice and inviting now and I'm looking forward to spending many warm summer evenings there. We (well, Per) used the grill for the first time last night and while it doesn't beat a real grill we managed to put together a nice little meal.

Today we borrowed Per's father's motorcycle and headed over to visit my family. It was my first time on a motorcycle but it really wasn't as scary as I expected. Of course he drove much slower than he would have on his own, but still. I quite liked it. My family was so surprised to see us turn up on a motorcycle haha (we hadn't told them in advance that we were going to stop by).

The beach. The water is still much too cold for swimming ;)

From our walk last night. I love that there's a magnolia tree right outside where I live.

Flowers on the balcony. I went for pink flowers, surprising huh?

Outings: Hossmo.

One of the things I love the most about this time of year is all the random holidays. Tuesday was Walpurgis Night which we celebrated traditionally in Per's hometown with a barbecue at his parents' place before we headed over to watch the town's bonfire. We spent the night there and woke up to a bright and sunny first of May. We weren't sure what to do with our day off but we ended up doing some geo-caching with Per's dad in the forest nearby and then we drove around the countryside for a bit, taking in the beauty of spring.

After the long winter we've had it's so refreshing to see the world filled with colour again :)