Dates: 26th-29th August 2016
Bottles of Aquavit Consumed: 6
Meals eaten: 10 (the Moose was particularly notable)
Hikes enjoyed: 1
Crayfish consumed: Countless
Average temperature: 17 degrees. From glorious sunshine to pouring rain and everything in between.
Tumbles down the barn ramp: Undisclosed.
Most played song: #FreeTitties – Emmalyn Estrada
Our revellers were greeted at Stockholm’s Vasteras Airport and shuttled to our stunning lake house, just outside Ludvika in Sweden’s Dalarna County. The first two stories of the breathtaking main house were built in 1725, with a third floor being added in 1799.
The property has played host to several members of the Swedish Royal family, including most recently, the current King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. The lush grounds also host a guest-house, spacious barn (ideal for crayfish parties), caretakers cottage, grain-store and boat house.
After being greeted with wine and beer to quench their thirst after the coach trip, our revellers wandered down to the waters edge. Nestled among the trees and with the sun setting over Lake Skissen, G & T delivered their welcome address, and guests enjoyed (we use this term loosely) their first skål of Aquavit for the weekend.
After taking a few moments to make the most of the photo opportunity (Please note: No more than three people on the dock at once. It will sink), our guests headed off to ready themselves for dinner.
Seated in the main dining room, under the gaze of two of the house’s previous owners (in oil-painting form), we enjoyed a fabulous first meal, introduced by our gracious server, Lisa.
Conversation flowed as easily as the wine, and after a few obligatory introductory games, the dancing commenced. DJ Cal Pal delivered an exceptional soundtrack well into the night.
Revellers awoke the next morning and enjoyed a hearty breakfast. The atmosphere was a little dusty but guests were keen to explore the incredible grounds. While some took a walk around the property, the majority met with local hunting expert Einar, who helped us hone our clay-pigeon shooting skills. While some were clearly natural marksmen and women, others took a little longer to get the hang of it. The peaceful silence of the woods was broken only by cries of ‘PULL!’ and the following ‘BANG!’ of a well-aimed (if a little hesitant) bullet.
With the sun shining and our hearts racing from the adrenaline, we headed back to the house.
Lunch was served outside. Once again, Lisa and chef Pelle delivered a smorgasbord of local produce. For those who have never eaten moose before, imagine the most tender steak you’ve ever eaten- richer than beef, though not as gamey as venison. This was served with a creamy sauce made with chanterelle mushrooms foraged in the local woods, and a delicious fresh salad.
It would be rude not to take advantage of the stunning weather. While some enjoyed a beverage or two, lounging on the lawn, others dove head first into (the lake) the countless activities at their disposal.
Fancy a spot of tennis? Racquets and balls are kept in the mudroom.
Fishing rods are beside the barn for the keen anglers among you.
And if you’re not the strongest swimmer, please be sure to wear a lifejacket when taking out the canoe.
One by one our revellers returned, whiling away the afternoon with a cheese platter and several (more) bottles of rosé.
But time was ticking! Quickly- it’s time to get ready for the evening’s festivities. The theme for the night? All Things Swedish.
Swedish cocktails were served by Benny from Abba on the patio at 7pm. Party guests included crayfish, Vikings, Swedish maids and Olympic athletes so naturally, a photo-shoot of epic proportions ensued.
After dinner we delicately wiped the cream sauce from our braids and faux moustaches, and DJ Cal Pal returned for his highly anticipated second set. While some danced the night away on the top floor, a pool tournament of Norse God proportions unfolded below.
Rise and shine- it's hiking time. After our revellers were re-fuelled with breakfast, it was time to grab our water bottles and head off to explore.
It certainly is easy to see why so many fairy-tales have their origins in Scandinavia. Rolling mossy banks, sinister looking red toadstools, and a babbling brook around every bend. Several revellers lingered behind to pick wild berries while the more spritely of the group marched ahead. We hiked across paths and over hills that in winter would form a cross-country ski track. We made it back just in time for lunch, and thankfully, just before the notorious Swedish Summer rain kicked in!
Full bellies and tired legs call for one thing- sauna. What would a trip to Sweden be without engaging in this much-loved Scandi past time? A few brave revellers finished off their sauna with a freezing yet refreshing dip in the lake.
Once we were all feeling rested it was time to prepare for the main event- the Kräftskiva (Crayfish Party). August in Sweden is crayfish season, and it is a time-honoured tradition to celebrate the plentiful harvest by eating as many crustaceans (and drinking as much Aquavit) as possible.
Our guests made their way from the main house to the barn, where they found a storybook scene of glowing candelabras, twinkling fairylights and brightly coloured lanterns.
Our DJ and Toast Master Fanny explained the traditions, and gifted us all with our own Swedish Song book (though we are not sure Abba’s Gimme Gimme Gimme is part of the original repertoire…).
Before festivities could officially commence, all guests had to taste the traditional sill (pickled herring) and toast with the evening’s first (of many) 'skål' of Aquavit. Revellers donned their crayfish hats and sang along with gusto, laughing whole-heartedly at the seemingly never-ending innuendo of the crayfish songs.
Once we were full to the gills with our traditional fare, it was time to get serious. Fanny (DJ Fanacy) had us dancing like maniacs and singing our lungs out into the wee hours.
Revellers awoke Sunday morning, well and truly feeling the after-effects of Aquavit, and enjoyed a much-needed final breakfast. After scoffing our bacon and scrambled eggs it was time to pack up and head to the bus. The drizzly weather matched our moods perfectly as we said goodbye to new friends and a weekend we shall never forget.
Tack, Sweden. What an adventure!