Hej och välkommen till Sverige!
Following on from part four of this “adventure”, we left the Malmö area of southern Sweden at about 0930 on Sunday 19th December after a very good night’s sleep. Jenny was doing fine, the children not so good. The verdict was, quelle suprise, that it was too far to go by car! Simon and I were arguing on a reasonably regular basis and Julia was suffering from an upset stomach.
That aside the trip was going well. I had checked the oil and water while repacking the car – oil was fine but the radiator was down by a litre and a half, so I topped her up at the first service station we encountered.
The signs were saying 600km to Stockholm which meant we had about 400km to cover to get to Mormor (maternal grandmother in Swedish). The borrowed DVD player really came into its own today as it kept Simon entertained for 4 hours of the journey and stopped us arguing too much.
From Hjärup we headed North to Helsingborg and then up the E4 North East toward Jönköping and Stockholm. From the outset there was snow lying on the roads, in Hjärup it was hard-packed and the snow tyres were fantastic, a little wheel spin as you set off but then they gripped beautifully. I work on the basis that if you make no sudden changes of direction and give yourself plenty of room – on snow – normal speeds are fine. So, on the snow we were doing 40 to 50 mph, where there was obvious ice we were down to 30. The E20 then E4 generally had clear lines for tyres on the slow lane, but in the overtaking lane there was generally snow right across. Though no snow was falling there was plenty whipped up by trucks but generally visibility was good.
After filling up with petrol near Hjärup we barrelled along eating crisps and sweets (Julia apples and milk) until we got to above Jönköping and were running along by Lake Vättern. I had expected there to be a lot of ice on the lake, but a strong wind had kept it from freezing. There was a lot of snow on the roads by now, we had driven for 10km just before Jönköping in a convoy behind two snow ploughs that were clearing snow from the outside lanes (probably 2-3 inches deep) as you drove past you could see showers of sparks coming from the bottom of the ploughs.
We stopped for our last 1/2 tank of fuel at Grännä, famous for its “polka gris” – seaside rock to us – where we made hot chocolate in the snow to make up for not having stopped for lunch . . . who needs lunch when you have crisps sweets and hot chocolate? I had to try out the new camping stove I had bought as well. As I was packing the stove away it was cold enough for the aluminium to stick to my fingers, and Simon was furious that he spent ages taking photos and I wasn’t happy with the outcome. “I’m freezing my fingers taking photos and you are worrying about how you look!”
It was getting dark as we set off for the last 150Km, and there was a lot of snow on the road, we got caught up in another convoy of snow ploughs just before Linköping where they make SAAB jets. Between Linköping and Norrköping we turned right and followed minor roads to Söderköping. Julia had announced that she needed to get to the little girls room and that she needed to get there now – so our last 25km were driven on small roads at 50mph with packed snow under the wheels – exciting and nerve racking all at the same time.
At 10 past five Swedish time we arrived at Mormor’s house. She was out at a Christmas party, so having warmed up the spaghetti that had been left for us and failing to get the sauna to work we all collapsed in front of the TV.
As I got into bed I should have been thinking, “Great 8 days and we start the return trip.” I didn’t I just went to sleep.
Check back later for all the details of the return journey…