Friends


I’m a bad, bad blogger. I’ve forgotten to tell you about the main event this autumn. The earth-shattering, sky-rendering, all-time freaky fun event of the St Jacobs Chamber Choir Baritone Bash of 2008.

For those of you not familiar with the event… Er… That’s not very strange, since we invented it this year. Since the 1st bases of the choir have always been the pinnacle of male beauty, intelligence and loudness, we thought we’d celebrate it by: 1) eating A LOT; 2) drinking A LOT; 4) slaughter a few male choir parts at the piano; and 5) be “almänt självgoda”.

In attendence, yours truly, E2, Herr Mürberg und the Castle.

And I’m happy to report that we succeeded admirably on all points. I wont be able to give you a blow by blow report, so you’ll have to make do with some documentation of the food.

And if you wonder: Yes, E2’s a very good cook.

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Introduction
The normal gang, ie. yours truly, Marc, R+V was complimented this year by a man called Gustav to Fulufjällen. You never now what the cat drags in, but Gustav was actually a fairly normal person, and kind of cool too, which was a relief…

This year I actually know there will be people reading this little travelogue, which means… I don’t know, perhaps I’ll keep it shorter than normal i cheer protest? Anyway, I had no new equipment this year. I was a bit strapped for cash, and really, I do have most of the things I need, it’s the wants that’s the problem, and those can be overcome by determination. Or so I’ve heard. I do want to change my mattress to something else.. *grumble grumble*

This was the 3rd time I went out with my Akto tent. And by damn, it just gets better and better. Marc and Gustav shared another Hilleberg and R+V went in their Nallo GT.

The plan was simple, we’d go by car to Mora to Marc’s parents small cottage in Sörsjön, park one car there and another at Njupeskär, and then walk “between the cars” over Östra Tangen and then north.

This is what it ended up like:

  • Day 1: To Sörsjön
  • Day 2: Sörsjön -> Tangådalen (over Östra Tangen)
  • Day 3: Tangådalen -> Tangsjöstugan
  • Day 4: Tangsjästugan -> Rörsjöstugan
  • Day 5: Rörsjöstugan -> Njupeskät -> Home

Day one; Luxury start
Me, R+V started off from Stockholm by car in the damn eraly bird morning. As an added bonus, all public transport buses in Stockholm where on strike, meaning I had to simply walk to the train station (which would take me up to R+V place north of the central town). Mmmm, early morning walking. Mmmmm.

Anyway, I survived that, and Rolf expediently drove us up to Mora where we in short order: 1) met Gustav who’d come down from Umeå; 2) got stuffed on burgers fresh of the grilli; and 3) finished off the shopping and got under way to Sörsjön.

Sörsjön is… A nice place. Sorrounded by water and stunning nature. It does however have mosquitos. A. Lot. Of. Them. And at this point a curious pattern emerged. The otherwise animal-friendly and soft Gustav turned out to hate mosquitos with a vengence. He only wanted to kill them. Hard. And brutally. While the mosquitos loved him, wanted to cherish him, stay close to him, and ultimately, bite him.

The evening ended with a brilliant wok performed by the ever surprising Rolf. In fact R+V took care of the cooking this trip, and did so brilliantly. And there was a bottle of Shiraz involved as well. Penfolds Koonunga Hill I do believe it was.

Day two; The heat is on
Some of us woke early. But that I mean, I was up quite some time before the rest of the pack. The mosquitoes in the cottage drove me mad, untill I surendered and moved out in the early morning sun instead.

It was a brilliant early morning though.

Also, we had good weather almost the entire duration of the trek. And it started here. As we made our way up the woods towards Östra Tangen it quickly became apparent that this would be a hot trip indeed.

Starting with woodlands was also a nice warm up for the walk and as we closed in on the mountains the woods were nice and varied. Although slightly rough the last kilometer or so, climbing very quickly upwards giving your muscles a final rough down. Compared to the dramatic ending of the woods, crossing Östra Tangen was eventless, and to be honest, rather boring.

Day three; What path?
We were lucky and stumbled upon a brilliant camping place right next to Tangån the day before; rushing waters, sunshine and a very nice woodland valley. We continued up the valley floor following the river. This seemed fine as an idea but quickly turned out to be slightly harder than we had anticipated. There was a path marked on the maps, however it was marked as “hard to navigate” and that was an understatement.

But hell, it was fun. And featuring a very, very beautiful, gnarly, wild and wondrous woodland. Here I did wish for a better camera, I didn’t even try to capture this part with my little Pentax, it just wouldn’t make it justice.

After much amazement and a very slow pace we arrived at Tangåstugan were we met the worlds tiredest dog tm.

Continuing up towards Tangsjöstugan, you’re again reminded that Fulufjällen, although reknowned for their variyng landscapes and flowers and wildlife and what not, offer a very uniform view on “kalfjället”. Not very inspiring, and since the first day of walking was kind of tuff for untrained rookies like us, the second day, ending as it did with a stretch of uniform “lets just get across this bit” of walking, I think it is safe to say that I wasn’t alone in being damn tired when we arrived at Tangsjöstugan.

We made camp close by, and collapsed for an hour or so. The evening featured, in no particular order: Yet another, by trekking standards, luxurious meal; a fire; some pipesmoking; a surreal d-day mosquito invasion across the lake; yours truly submerging his left foot in the lake (with the boot on) for no apparent reason at all (which, let me tell you, offers a very refreshing view on the intelligence of men in general and this particular man specificly); a very nice sunset; Lindemans bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon; and, some more whisky.

Day four; Re-la-la-laxing
We were all relieved that the last day apparently was to be relaxed. A nice short trek (10km or so). And the possibility of a sauna and some refreshments at the, or so the rumor said, well stocked Rörsjöstugan. And so it was. And personally, the first 5km will stand out in my memory; the weather was nice, I had no particular pains, and the path seemed to simply flow below me without me noticing. Really, really nice.

Rörsjöstugan did indeed have a sauna. And they sold beer. They also had the worlds most close mouthed mother of a host tm, but hell, given the sauna and the beer we didn’t mind too much.

Here I also lived through something which will settle nicely at 2nd place on my personal “amazingly surprising uncommon things to do”-list when I by accident almost stepped on a nest with a baby “ripa”, after which her mother literally chased me back to, and around, the camp. Brilliant fun for the entire family! (For reference, the 1st place on said list involves accidentially tripping on a rat).

Later me and Marc went to the top of Njupeskär to see if the passage north of the fall down to the valley was an option. Again, a very nice evening and now also a dramatic landscape. However, the bridge at the top Njupeskär was swept away in the spring floods and had yet to be replaced, so we decied to take the easy way down the day after.

After which the rain entered. And didn’t let go…

Day six; Home through the rain

We cleared the camp in hard rain which simply did not stop, went down to the car, walked up to Njupeskär to have a look, ate lunch at the restaurant and went home.

This was yet again a very nice trip. The weather was very nice until the end, there was no big hickups and, yes, we had not forgotten sunscreen this year.

Yes, we have pretty pictures!

Now I’m thinking of hitting the mountains one or two more times this year. One with a few friends who’ve never been up there trekking and one trip by myself. It’s just… er… that I’ve been saying that for 3 years straight. Well, 3rd time’s the charm, eh?

Oh, and the whisky for the trip was Caol Ila 12YO. And good it was too.

Damn, I love this stuff!

Introduction
Again off to Grövelsjön. This year R+V and I had really expected to go somewhere a bit north but time constraints (largely mine, due to a new company) made us return to Grövelsjön, this time to go into the Norwegian mountains.

Here’s some of the equipment I used for this trip:

  • Haglöfs “Solid” boots.
  • Hilleberg “Akto” 1 pers. tent.
  • Fjällräven “Råstu” 75L back pack.
  • Fjällräven “Siluette M5” sleeping bag.
  • Fjällräven “Vidda” trousers. New!
  • Icebreaker “Skin200” leggings/crewe. New!

I really needed new trousers and Fjällräven makes excellent stuff. I’m really satisfied with them. The Icebreaker layer one was bought on a whim, but damn! Good stuff. Hot or cold, they were just there: Day two I went to bed and got really surprised when I realized I still had them on. Excellent!

Oh, and yes: R+V had a new Hilleberg tent, a “Nammatj Nallo GT”. And… I think we’re all actually slightly in love with Hilleberg. Personality and details and low weight and… Here’s a fan photo.

Update 20070727: V herself pops by in the comments and corrects me, it was of course a “Nallo” and not a “Nammatj”. My Bad 🙂

The Failed Plan
This was the original plan:

  • Stay at STF Grövelsjön.
  • Day 1: Boat to Ryvang, walk north and follow the east/north east edge of Grøthögna. Sleep north of Sylfjellet.
  • Day 2: Cross over towards Svukuriset, strike tents, and take a trip to the top of Stor-Svuku.
  • Day 3: Go east past Rønsjøen to Sylen. Strike tents.
  • Day 4: Back to Grövelsjön on foot.

Now, grövelsjön (the lake) can be a bit rough in strong northerly winds. And of course: Day one there was indeed a strong northerly wind and the boat was canceled. Thus we had a quick change of plans.

STF Grövelsjön

Since we drove from Stockholm it was convenient to stay the night befor egoing out. Really nice place! Excellent breakfast! Nice staff! A good whisky shelf! Recommended!

Day one; Wind in our faces
The boat was cancelled, so instead we started off taking the track to Ryvang/Sylen and then continued onwards north west over Sylvola to strike the tens at Rønsjøen. Sounds easy, right? Well, there was just one problem here: we had the wind in our faces the entire day. Just ascending the side of Sjöhöjden with full packs was a real pain and when we arrived at Rønsjøen… Let’s just say we were pretty damn tired.

If not for the wind, it’d been a very good day. Just some small showers, and we proceeded to find a very nice camping spot south of the lake: flat, close to the lake, lush green grass and away from the wind. You can spot where I slept, right?

Day two; Stones, mosquitoes, pain and desserts
The wind was not as strong this day. And again just some very small showers. We followed the track west towards Svukuriset, but turned east again on the Linné path, and stopped just past Revlingsjøarne. The path past Revlingkletten was slightly stony. The birch forest around Revlingsjøarne was lovely and the sun shone down on us in the evening.

Any problems? Well, two major ones: (1) Mosquitoes; and (2) A bad knee. Normally mosquitoes are a part of the deal when in north Sweden. However, this time… It was a bit silly really. But one shouldn’t complain, we had plenty of Djungelolja (anti-mosquito oil), thank goodness. R’s bad knee was a bit more serious though. Apparently he had managed to hurt it in some unspecified way the day before, and at the end of the days walk he was in serious pain. What to do? I had some heavy duty bandage (to use for stabilizing knees, shoulders etc), but if that wouldn’t be enough? So we formulated an emergency plan: If R would feel better the next morning he and V would backtrack the few kilometers to Svukurisets Fjellstation (manned mountain “lodge”), I’d press on to Grövelsjön to pick up the car and then take it back into Norway to pick them up.

The evening was brilliant! Sunset over Revlingsjøarne. Very nice indeed. We also had a small cake (sockerkaka) for the evening coffee. That’s the sort of moments I live for.

Day three; Red noses and deserts
But thankfully we never had to try our emergency bad-knee plan. R decided to press on and at the end of the day his pain had disappeared almost entirely. We continued on the Linné track over Forborgen and struck an early camp on the plateau between Forborgen and Salsfjellet. As we’d drive back to Stockholm day four we decided we could make an early camp to safe the short distance back to the car for the next day. Also, the sky was entirely clear and having a few hours with our feet out of the boots felt like a really neat idea.

However, we had made the absolute noob mistake of forgetting the sunscreen. R and V made it through alright, but I had problems rather early in the day as my nose turned redder, and redder and… Hence:

  • Sunscreen attempt no. one
  • And attempt no. two (the winner)

A glorious day. Almost two much so, no wind and the air was standing still. It was very, very hot. And on a place like that, where there is no cover what so ever, the mountains started to feel like a desert with no shade to be found. But we’re not complaining, it was very nice.

Day four; An easy stroll

The pass over Salsfjellet and back to Grövelsjön was an easy stroll indeed. We started early as we had a 6-7 hour drive ahead as well. All in all, the Linné track between Grövelsjön and Svukurisets Fjellstation is extremely easy to walk, it felt like a highway compared to some of the rougher paths we’ve encountered (the pass over Sølenskardet at Rendalssølen comes to mind).

As we came over the pass the touri… erm… the day trippers appeared again. Otherwise we encountered people only occasionally once or twice a day.

At the End
A very nice trip. The best weather we’ve ever had. No real hickups except the missing sunscreen. A nice total distance walked. No mountain top this time, but the weather more than made up for it. Sitting down in the car at the end was a bit sad, you felt like you could have continued for a while longer. And next year we’ll probably do just that and spend an entire week trekking. 7 > 4, right?

Marc wasn’t with us this trip. That counts as a big minus, but perhaps that’s why the weather was so nice, eh? 😉

The whisky for the trip was Bowmore Darkest.

Yes, we have pretty pictures!

I’m already looking forward to the next trip…

Sooo, yesterday Karin and Miklos celebrated their wedding. And yours truly acted as toastmaster. The actual ceremony had taken place privately a week earlier ar Thorskogsslott.

All is well and all went well. Some 63 guests and a number of children. The party was at Konstnärshuset in Stockholm. Lovely place.

I had been somewhat lax in the preparations for this one, which I felt keenly with one hour to go and I still had no real handle on the timing for the evening. Miklos and Karing would arrive aprox. 1730, does that mean we can start the dinner 1800? Or will it take longer? And, really, how many speeches will there be? And how much time do I have between the first course and the second? And what have I forgotten? However, it turned out alright, there was just the right amount of speeches and performances and I kept a running dialog with the cooks and the waitresses which kept the momentum flowing nicely.

I did, however, make the noob mistake of hitting the red Bordeaux, Chateuax de Seguin, a little hard, making me loose a bit of edge in the middle of the dinner. If nothing else apparent in my horrible, but rather fun, performance of the opening duet from The Marrige of Figaro which Miklos sister Noemi, pianist Bonita, and I slaughtered to general laughter.

There were several really god speeches during the evening.

And one really bad speech where I consciously lost edge and improvised a rather bumbling, rambling and strange “speech” from the Club of Mondays, supposedly derived from several disjointed SMS messages I’d received during the evening. All ending in an incorrectly recited version of One who is like an eagle, now formally re-dedicated for the occation, and the authentic quote “I once signed up for a dream interpretation course by mistake”, courtesy of the Matts of all Matts.

After desert the party slowly faded out when quite a few of the guests left rather immediately. I hit the bar, and its, frankly quite pathetic, whisky shelf, fairly hard and proceeded to enjoy the rest of the evening. A nice surprise was that I turned out to know quite a few guests, Lars, Marcus, Mio, Lina, Johanna etc. Nice seeing them all.

Yes, we have pretty, but mosly dark and out of focus, pictures!

All in all? A lovely evening indeed.

They came from north. They came from south. The came from west. And the came from east. They all came o the great “sammaträggandet” anno 2007. Representing Vimmerby, Denmark and Finland came Ingrid and Martin. Standing for Ödsmål and the west coast, Sara and Tommy. Marc was there for bloody well everything north of Upsala. Every cucumber had their rights represented by the über babe Heidi. The royal capital was represented by yours truly and the mysterious R+V.

In case you are at this point wondering, these amazing warriors formed the hard core of all hard cores at Luleå University of Technology, Piteå Scool of Music the years (aprox) 1994 – 1999.

The days schedule was, and indeed became, 1) lunch; 2) coffee; 3) amusement; 4) dinner; and 5) getting drunk.

Lunch was had at the café outside the dance museum and across the opera. R+V, Heidi and yours truly was in attendance. ‘Tis a decent café even though the prices not entirely match the quality of the food. But when the sun is shining straight down at you, with the royal caste and the opera in view it’s quite a nice place to sit down.

If only though the damned sightseeing buses would have departed from another place. Every 15 minutes or so a great damn bus would park straight in front of you, and be there for some 5-10 minutes. Not bothering to turn of the engine of course. Clouds and silver linings eh?

The lunch eaters met up with the rest of the gang at the site of 1520’s bloodbath and proceeded valiantly inside Stockholm Stadsmissions café to attack espressos and lattes and old memories in the sun.

Amusement was found at Gröna Lund. Strolling about, taking the occasional ride playing some games. Not at all a bad way to spend the time for some old friends.

Dinner was what everyone waited for though. at least, that was what I waited for. Apparently Freden is noted as the oldest restaurant in the world in original surroundings in Guinness book of records. In any case, that the restaurant has been at he same place, with the same name, since 1722 is quite fascinating. A selection of herring with västerbotten cheese and new potatoes. Ale braised brisket of beef with fresh onion and swedish “lappskojs”. And finally dark chocolate pudding, milk chocolate mousse, banana and vanilla ice cream. To the herring I had a Visby Pils (lager) and an accompanying snaps (Fredens own snaps none the less). To the brisket I choose, with the help of the nights excellent waiter, a Chilean red, Montes Reserva Merlot. Good choices all around, although the lager was a little weak. The merlot was very good indeed. For the desert I couldn’t resist a 25 YO Bowmore and a double espresso, thus starting the nights whisky drinking (more of which in another post).

The night ended at Akkurat bar where the friends slowly dropped off leaving, perhaps appropriately, me and Marc mulling over our final whiskys and then making our way, quietly through the night streets of Stockholm. Humming, perhaps in your imagination, an old Bellman tune as we made our way through the alleys of the old town.

Säg, är du nöjd, min grannen, säg!
Så prisa värden nu till slut!
Om vi ha en och samma väg,
så följoms åt… Drick ut!
Men först med vinet, rött och vitt,
för vår värdinna bugom oss —
och halkom sen i graven fritt
vid aftonstjärnans bloss!

Yes! We have pictures!

It is easy to critisize others. Easier still to critisize yourself. Point in question: this afternoon I sang the baritone solo in Corraddo Margutti’s “Missa Lorca” with St Jacobs Chamber Choir. And… I blew it. Normally I try very hard not to be self-critical ater a performance, if nothing else because it makes you look like a tweep. But this time, I sank back to a place and a sound where I haven’t been for… Well, I don’t, 2 or 3 years. I cracked the first F#4, and the G4 at the end was pure will and no tone. Think fucken screaming, ok? Although the tenors in the choir tells me we we’re more than a half-second off pitch at that time, so it was probably more like a Ab4+. But even so, I didn’t sing it well and it annoys me.

I really, really wanted to nail that solo. And I failed.

*sigh*

But no cloud without a fucking silver lining, eh? My dear friend Åsa Dornbusch (SV) was up from Germany, and was there listening. We had a nice dinner on Haga Deli and we had some nice DVD opera-nerdery at my place afterwards.

Thank goodness for my friends.

I spent the evenings this week working with Eric Ericson Chamber Choir. For those of you not in the know, it is one of the most influencial chamber choirs in recent memory, as well as one of the absolute best. In the world.

We did Brahms Requiem together with the Royal Philarmomic Orchestra. Peter Mattei (!) and Henriette Bonde-Hansen sang the solo parts. Marc Soustrot conductet.

Reviews here (in swedish): DN, SVD.

Peter Mattei was of course terrific. Splendid voice. And he sang it very straight, letting the music through and used only small effects to underline the text. Very nice indeed.

Working with EEKK was a lot of fun. I havn’t been in any so obviously professional choir since I left the Gotheburg opera. Being back in the ranks with the professionals was nice. They also had a very good rehearsal dicipline that I enjoyed. No small talk, lets just sing. Arne Almroth led the choir rehearsals. Nice chap, good work.

I also got to meet and sing with my old friend Eva again. Wheeee!

All in all: splendid stuff.

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