Swedish Countryside – My neighbourhood

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Swedish Countryside – My neighbourhood

Hi folks, I’ve had a few people asking about what it’s like where I live so I thought what better time to share a few photos. I braved the -25 Celsius temperatures today to take a walk around and get some shots. We’re finally getting something worthy of being called a winter here – a bit of snow, some low minus temperatures, and all the fun that comes with such weather conditions.

No recipe today alas – I’ve been quite tired from my studies so just didn’t have the motivation to start whipping things up in the kitchen, but I hope you enjoy the photos of the Swedish countryside, and if you happen to like any of the photos you can buy prints, canvasses, mouse pads or even paper-weights in my online store here. My store also contains all of the photos I previously shared from my road-trip to Sweden and I’ll be adding more to it over time.

It was actually lovely to be outside. It was cold, sure, but the important thing is to wear proper clothing. Thick socks, good shoes, a good coat, a hat (especially important when you have a shaved head!) gloves and, I’m perhaps a little embarrassed to say, long johns. It might not be “hip”, but to hell with being cool… I’d rather be warm.

Swedish Countryside - Snowy fields

In the end, the only part of my body which actually felt cold at any time was my cheeks, but I was lucky – there was no wind at all. On such a cold day, wind would lower the temperature even more and no doubt make you feel quite miserable. In case anyone is wondering what the lowest operating temperature of a Canon 60D is (the model I have), I can confirm that it works fine in such chilly conditions, although the auto-focus motor in the lens was sounding a bit laboured the longer I was out (though still working fine).

Swedish Countryside - Snow-covered trees

I’m lucky to be living in a place that is close to “civilisation” but I can literally go outside the house, walk for five minutes down the road, turn up a little lane and feel like I’m in the middle of the Swedish countryside. OK, perhaps it’s not as remote as many places but it’s surrounded by forest and fields and nature and that’s good enough for me.

Swedish Countryside - Little house by the road

If you stray away from the main highway onto smaller country roads you’ll find that they’ll usually look like this in the winter. A thick layer of packed ice covering the carriageway doesn’t make for awesome driving conditions and for that reason snow tyres are a legal requirement. You’ll also come across a great many houses such as the one in the corner of the picture here. Eva from KitchenInspirations was wondering what most houses were made from – wood is the answer. I don’t actually know where the nearest house made from brick or stone is around here (although there are many offices and hotels in the nearby city built in stone). You do see brick houses occasionally, but timber is the most common material in construction – even for supermarkets and churches.

Notice as well the stick at the side of the road in the foreground above. That’s so you know where the edge of the road is when there’s lots of snow, and don’t end up driving into the ditch (all the roads also have a deep ditch on either side for the snow to go into when it’s ploughed).

Swedish Countryside - Empty house

There are a few empty houses near where I live. This one has been uninhabited for 20 years or more and all the windows are boarded up. It’s hard to see from this angle, but it’s a handsome little house in a beautiful location. It seems so sad to just let nature take it over.

Swedish Countryside - Treetops

The sky was actually a lovely pale blue colour when I went out. Later, it became cloudy and started snowing a little again, so it was lovely to have a bit of clear sky and sun and see the trees covered in snow when I looked up, without getting a load of snowflakes straight into my eye!

Swedish Countryside - Snow covered grasses

It was the same with the dead grasses and bushes by the sides of the road. The snow was of such a type that, despite being very light, it wasn’t too powdery so it clung to everything it touched.

Swedish Countryside - The setting sun

On the way back I passed by some trees and as soon as I’d cleared the last one I was greeted by a beautiful, low, orange sun. Not really warming, but definitely a nice sight.

Swedish Countryside - Sun setting across the fields

Such is life though, and literally five minutes later the sun had all but disappeared down below the horizon, with just the top peeking out still. Further on down the road I saw someone taking their horse out for a ride. Notice the reflective vest she’s wearing – very important when you’re out taking a walk in the winter here. If the weather becomes bad then people in cars may have real problems seeing you by the side of the road so these help a lot. Even the horse had little reflective bands around its front hooves!

Swedish Countryside - Horse and rider in the snow

Back at home I was eager to step back inside for a cup of coffee to warm myself up but I thought you’d like to see a picture of the snow flakes I spoke about earlier, so I stopped to take this photo. It makes for very strange snow – really light and fluffy, and if you try to gather a big clump together it’s like squeezing a ball of plastic wrap – really pliable and elastic.

Snowflakes

I hope you’ve enjoyed these few photos of a small part of the Swedish countryside. I’ll be back soon with a giveaway, so do tune in for that! In the meantime though, take care, and stay warm. I know I will!

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50 Comments

  1. Oh Charles it’s absolutely stunning – you sound so happy! Thanks for sharing this with us :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Chica – it’s hard not to feel happy when you can walk around in such beauty!

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  2. Lovely photos! And there’s no shame in wearing long johns. Silly boy ;-)

    Reply
    • haha! All the “cool guys” interviewed in Norran said they never wear long johns! That’s how you know – youth of today are too cool for thermal undies!

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  3. Thank you for braving the world of snow to take those beautiful pictures. All those trees as well make it look like you’re living in the middle of the forest.

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    • Pretty much, but there’s a road nearby and some stores not 10 minutes drive away so it’s not isolated! :D

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  4. What a beautiful, beautiful place, Charles! How exciting to explore and live in such a place. We hardly ever see snow where I live, so it looks like a fairy tale setting where you are now. And the picture of the snowflakes is truly amazing. I didn’t know you could ever see the designs of snowflakes with the naked eye, but again, we’d never have snow like that here. :)

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    • Oh yes – when it’s really cold, individual flakes will fall since it’s too chilly for them to clump together in the sky. It’s fascinating to look at them, to see the individual patterns. They say no two are alike. I’m not sure how true that is. I suppose they all differ slightly, but a lot share the same basic design. So interesting though – how something falling out of a cloud can be so perfect.

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      • Those flakes are definitely magical…and perfect, alike or not!

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  5. Cold but beautiful! Amazing snow flakes! So magical! I enjoyed this post. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thanks Nipponnin – glad you liked it :)

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  6. It’s 33C here today and after looking at your photos I feel instantly cooler. :)

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    • Bleurgh – I remember my summers in France when it used to be 30+ degrees… horrible, horrible! I’m not a fan of hot weather, I must say :)

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  7. Just beautiful Charles! Do you know if that little abandoned house it for sale or open to squatters? I wouldn’t mind moving back to Europe :)

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    • Haha, well, it’s owned by someone… somewhere. The problem would be tracking this person down, but if you could – who knows?! Maybe they’d be amenable to sale, or maybe you could trade it for cake!

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  8. Who cares is there’s no recipe! It’s so lovely to see your part of the world and I’ve been so hoping you’d post some images. It just looks gorgeous and I’m very surprised your fingers were able to operate your camera in such conditions. Mine would have been snap-frozen and unable to work the operations of the camera. I can’t believe no one lives in that house – it’s so pretty and looks like it would be a beautiful place to live. I’m surprised the houses are made of wood – I would have thought brick or stone would be much better for insulating the homes against the cold but I am very ignorant when it comes to the cold! And I’d be in long-johns too – perhaps two pairs! xx

    Reply
    • Hi Charlie – I had some good gloves on! My fingers weren’t cold at all :). I can’t speak as to whether brick or stone would be a “better” insulator, but the houses are very well insulated. The windows are triple-glazed and the walls are very thick. Inside the walls is layer after layer of insulation so they don’t leech a lot of heat.

      Additionally, when you shovel snow in your yard, a good tip is to bank it up around the sides of the house, as snow is, surprisingly, an excellent insulator.

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  9. Beautiful photographs, Charles! Is it your son riding the horse? ;-)
    Your long johns story reminds me of Poland… when it’s so cold you don’t care for what you look like, what you wear, the most important is to be warm! Now in Switzerland I don’t even need to wear gloves (!), not to mention a hat. Well, I could maybe for one week at most if I sum up the days in winter when it’s too cold to have bare hands.
    Good luck with the photographs business. I think it’s an excellent idea. Also good luck with your studies! I hope you like it.

    Reply
    • lol, I think it will be a while before my son is hopping about on horses! :)

      I’m finished with my SFI course now, lol. After only starting less than 3 weeks ago. I took my national exam on Friday. I think I was a bit too advanced for it, but I needed to do it to get my certification!

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  10. These are beautiful pictures Charles! Specially the one of the snow flakes!
    I enjoyed this walk through your neighborhood from behind my screen as -25 degrees might have me hibernating! :)

    Reply
    • Haha, sometimes I feel like hibernation might be a good idea… especially on those damn mornings when you have to head out when it’s pitch black and freezing cold. How I yearn for my bed!

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  11. Oh Charles, I thoroughly enjoyed this post! What lovely pictures and what a gorgeous place to live. However, You wouldn’t catch me there. :) Way to cold for me! Love the picture of the sun peeking over the horizon. Thanks so much for sharing your new home with us! It’s beautiful!

    Reply
    • Thanks MJ – Swedish summers are nice. Not too hot… perfect for me because I hate hot weather. It’s just the winters which are a little brutal :). Glad you enjoyed the photos!

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  12. Beautiful photos, your neighborhood looks like a winter wonderland!

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  13. The pictures are beautiful and I am glad you love the countryside and the snow..:) I can’t bring myself to share the same kind of enthusiasm, but this post inspires me to look at the positive side of life.

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    • I can’t imagine living in a place which never (or rarely) has snow. I always think it can never be Christmas without snow… it just seems weird!

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  14. Hello Charles, you are a very brave man for going outside almost at dusk at -25 C. I absolutely love that photo of the close shot of snow flakes and well most of the other photos as well. Great photography. Beautiful countryside. Stay warm and toasty and back to studying… Take Care

    Reply
    • Thanks Bam – as long as your well wrapped up, it’s very enjoyable to be out and about in the cold air!

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  15. WOW!!!
    Minus 25!
    What made people ever think that a temperature like that could sustain life??? Especially before central heating :0!!
    Still the images are absolutely beautiful!!

    Reply
    • People are amazingly adaptable. Some of the first Swedes who settled up here survived through hunting and fishing combined with farming hardy crops and keeping cows for milk. But even before that, the sami people made a living out of their reindeer herds and fur trapping.

      These days people survive, in a very different sense of the word, by taking four weeks of paid holiday over the summer to enjoy the warmth! ;-)

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    • Thanks GG – I see my wife has ninja-answered your question already so I’ll just say ” ^^ what she said” :D

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  16. I’m happy you shared a little bit of your new world with us. It looks lovely and it sounds like you are happy. I hope you are enjoying your studies…good luck.

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  17. Charles, you really captured some beautiful moments here. The contrasting colours, the gentle light, the mood. I especially love the red house on white (will pin it today). This sequence, perhaps not surprisingly, is making me nostalgic for home. I really don’t like the bitter cold (who does?) but the snow, beauty and memories eat away at me…ok, enough of that tearful exploration. I’m so happy that you are enjoying your new home Charles. Thank you for sharing pieces of the beautiful Swedish countryside with us. (stay warm and have a double hot chocolate for me! :)).

    Reply
    • Hi Kelly! That colour of house is one of the most common colours in Sweden – especially in the countryside. The colour is called “Falu Red”, in case you were curious. Other common colours are a kind of cheerful mustard yellow colour. Occasionally you will see a blue house (I’ve also seen cream, green and pink, but those are quite rare). Blue just looks… weird though. Red is by far my favourite.

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  18. Those snowflakes are unbelievable! Love your photos Charles…so great to see where you are. Anywhere covered in snow with little red houses makes me happy :) xx

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    • Hehe, thanks Anneli – I love the red colour for the houses too!

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  19. Charles, lovely, lovely photos! I especially like the ones with the house giving a little shot of color in the midst of monochromatic winter.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jean – it’s a common colour for houses here. It’s called “Falu Red”, in case you’re curious, and it’s especially common because it traditionally has ingredients that aid in the preservation of the wood!

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      • Yes, I was curious! And I *love* that colour – Falu Red. I’m going to suggest it to my friend who has a cabin in the woods.

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        • Hi Jean – not sure if you’ll be able to find that exact colour – the ingredients in the paint are this:

          “Water, rye flour, linseed oil and tailings from the copper mines of Falun which contain silicates iron oxides, copper compounds and zinc.”

          However, you may be able to find a mass-produced paint with a similar artificial colour perhaps!

  20. Wow, I’m completely moved by these beautiful pictures of your neighborhood! I’ve never been to anywhere with that much snow! I’ve only seen on TV/movies… including those snow flakes! WOW!!! I’m going to share that snow flake photo with my kids tomorrow (they’re in sleep). Really, excited to see them.

    Reply
    • Hi Nami, this is nothing by all accounts. The level of snowfall this year has been very low compared to other winters. It’s a nice “welcome” for me though. This way I can adapt to life here without having it too bad all at once!

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  21. BRRRRR. It looks stunning but a tropical being like me is shivering for you already. I totally understand about the long johns; during winter I look pretty much like shit and cannot be bothered. “Get me to the heater! And get me a bowl of noodle soup!” (Sorry just finished a blog post and might have gone on too much about noodle soups so it’s all that’s in my mind) Hope you’re having fun with the cold at least

    p.s. check your email. can’t wait to get started on this project :) )x

    Reply
    • Mmm, noodle soup. I went to an Asian supermarket the other day (found sriracha!!) and bought some udon noodles. Gonna make some tempura udon soon… can’t wait!

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  22. Thank you so much for the shout out Charles, and the link is very kind of you. I can see the attraction of why you chose to live in this place, it’s truly a beautiful winter wonderland. The snowflakes are very amazing, who would have thought that they would be different than those in Canada, I don’t think ours look quite like that, but next time it snows I will head out with my little Rebel and try to take a photo for you. Thank you too for the lovely photos, so nice of you to brave the cold. We are in what the weather people are calling a Polar Vortex, frankly I think they just made it up to be news worthy, it’s just damn cold too. We also have Ice Quakes which are also a newish term for me, it’s when the temperature drops rather suddenly and the water in the ground freezes and sends out a boom, kind of like an earth quake. I personally haven’t heard one but JT had and it’s unnerving. I worry about what it might do to foundations and such. What are the housing prices like? And I suppose I should ask about the cost of living for perspective. Prices in our neighbourhood have been going crazy for years now, every year the forecasters say it will bottom out but it never does — there always seems to be more demand than supply. Our house is now 3X what we paid for it 12 years ago. I don’t know how young people will be able to afford a home in this neighbourhood!
    Will you also take inside photos of your home? I am curious as to how the rooms are dealt with. What type of heating do you have?

    Reply
    • Ice quakes? Holy crap… I never heard of, or experienced, such a thing! In the winter here the ground is frozen solid for about two metres down, naturally, and it will remain like this for many months. I guess you can’t get a quake in the ground if it’s already rock solid… is your ground not frozen too? Sounds very interesting!

      House prices… it naturally depends where you live. City centres and “sought after”, popular towns and villages won’t be cheap, but at the same time, the prices won’t be anywhere close to what they are in France for example. Here, you have the added benefit of usually getting lots of space as well. If you don’t mind living out a little bit in the countryside you can usually get a good-sized house with a massive amount of land for a tiny price… we’re talking maybe €40,000. The only problem is that it might not necessarily be connected to mains water and sewarage. In that case you might end up having to pay almost the same cost again to have it connected up, but it’s still a good deal.

      As for the inside of the house – I might try and get some photos of “details”, but we’re still living with my parents-in-law right now – I wouldn’t want to put up a load of photos of a house which isn’t mine, but I have some ideas, so fear not! :)

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  23. Very cool snowflake picture Charles! Mr. N is impressed too (he’s reading over my shoulder). I loved seeing the pictures of the Swedish countryside. So beautiful! And I love that you went out to photo in the cold. Our entire city shutdown when it got that cold here. LOL. I am glad to know the camera still works though. :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Kristy! It was a very cold day – we’re having a bit of a “warm snap” at the moment… temperatures hovering around -5 or higher… it’s actually nice! :D

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