For a couple of hours in Skåne this weekend and in a gesture of spectacular personal effrontery, it snowed. Not much – perhaps 5cm – but enough to make the landscape look a little more like January than it did last week. I suspect that Skadi, the Nordic goddess of winter, was responsible for the irony of snow falling here while I was driving the 700km to Dalarna just to throw snowballs at the moon but, as I’d hoped, by the time we’d arrived at Villa Långbers the snow lay round about crisp and even, if not very deep. And it was cold. About -17°C cold. The cloudy weather and snow that was forecast clearly hit the country further south and so, adding surprise to the delight of spectacular frozen vistas, we had some delightful days with bright sunshine and cold, clear nights.
Tällberg is an interesting place and a smallish, pretty collection of houses hung randomly on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Siljan. The town has a wealth of old buildings and, for the most part, these are maintained well so that the overall ambiance is one of historic rural ideal. This appeals greatly to visitors and tourists – as it did to us – as well as organisers of corporate events. The seven rather cosy hotels are especially busy at midsummer but in winter they cater for Swedes heading for the ski slopes. Pretty as Tällberg is, one can’t escape the feeling that the majority of the two-hundred local residents – most of the youngsters escape to Stockholm as soon as they can – are well-heeled retirees and summer-house owners.
Skiing in Sweden is not the massive industry that we know from further south in Europe and comparisons between the short days on modest hills and the high pistes of the Alps would be unfair. It is, however, less pretentious and thereby much more relaxed. We managed some cross-country along excellent forest trails during the weekend but, like many of the more strenuous aspects to my life, I lack practice and spent more time on my bum than I need to go into here. Unscathed, I searched the local forests in vain for Three-toed woodpecker but got some good record photographs of an Eagle owl. Regrettably, there was no wolf action; the howling we heard in the distance at night turned out to be the local youth dealing with the long, dark winter as only they know how.