15th June 2016. Naturreservant Tjuraviken/Slätthammar (Almo) via Kristianstad, Sweden.

I woke in the early hours of the morning just before the sun rose to the sound of sea birds having a feeding frenzy (it was strange to hear so much noise because I’d been commenting to Darren on how quiet the sea birds seem to be) when I looked out of the window to see what was going on I saw a deep red sky and decided I’d go outside for a few minutes to take some photos, I didn’t put a coat on and just slipped my flip flops on my feet but the view was so beautiful that I stayed outside taking photos until the sun rose and by the time I came indoors I was shivering.  It took me ages to get warm again but I’m glad I saw the sunrise.

We decided to move on today and low and behold it was a bright sunny day!  Just as we were packing up to leave Darren started talking to a Swedish man who had parked next to us, also in a Frankia motorhome (we haven’t seen many of those), he and his wife had a beautiful Leonberger dog (Hovawarts, the breed of our dog Inke, were bred from them) she was a big softy, she leaned against my legs while I was stroking her and I noticed later that my trouser legs looked the same colour as they do when I’ve been stroking my friend Janet’s dog Reilly!

The Swedish couple were very helpful, they gave us names of apps to use and places to visit locally, the man also made a throw away comment about Swedish miles being different from UK miles and we laughed thinking he was joking but we discovered later that he definitely wasn’t!  The couple told us they live in Gislövshammar (a village where we stayed) and were on their way home.

We drove back to Kristianstad because time constraints had meant we’d had to by pass it on the way up, it was mentioned in the Dream Routes book that we’ve been loosely following so we decided as it wasn’t too far away we must visit it.

As we drove up the road from Tosteberga hamn we were really pleased to see the beautiful house we’d raced past on our way to the harbour, although it did mean I had to eat my words, it quite obviously wasn’t miles away as I’d insisted when Darren suggested we cycle there to look at it!  My mistake!

Of course we had our usual problem parking when we reached Kristianstad but having just missed the car park we’d programmed in the SAT NAV we accidentally found a side road by the hospital which was nice and wide, we bought a ticket and cycled into the town, hoping we’d find our way back, easy peasy as it turns out!

The town was lovely although I was rather overwhelmed as we reached the town centre.  We came to an area that we needed to cross in order to get to Tivoli Park and as I was cycling across the railway track there was a sudden deluge of people, cars and buses (and the possibility of a train) all coming at me from different angles, “Aaaargh!”  My heart was beating ‘nineteen to the dozen’ by the time we reached the park.  We were there long enough for me to get my wits about me and to decide that we should have a picnic there, that involved cycling back into the town centre to find a bakery or somewhere to buy stuff for lunch.

We left the park by a quieter entrance and stopped at a deli.  The Swedish owner, who came from Åhus, was lovely (we discovered we DEFINITELY weren’t pronouncing the name correctly so unfortunately it put a stop to us singing Madness’s song ‘Åhus in the middle of the street’), he let us try so many cheeses that Darren had to suggest he stopped or we’d be so full we wouldn’t need to buy any for lunch.

We bought a loaf of bread and when he heard we were having a picnic he cut a few slices from the loaf to make it easier for us to eat with the cheeses and olives.  We also bought some very nice crispbreads (I wish we’d bought some more, they were scrumptious!) and Darren chose some liquorice (disgusting!).  The deli man said that Swedes LOVE liquorice which may explain why they sell liquorice ice cream.

With the food in my basket we went back to the park and settled down at a table outside an intricately carved wooden building which looked like it came from the fairy story Hansel and Gretel.  It must have been very special in its day but now it was just a very large room with an ice cream/coffee kiosk inside where we bought ice cream and coffee to go with our picnic, there weren’t even any tables or chairs inside, just cobwebs hanging from the carved ceiling.  It was both beautiful to look at and sad at the same time.

After our picnic we cycled round the park past the fancy theatre building, round the lake, stopping briefly to look at the birds in the aviary (and to try to photograph the peacock on the roof who stopped posing and wandered off as soon as I turned my camera on!) then we cycled along the towpath and over the long wooden bridge to the nature reserve where the deli man had suggested we cycle.

At one end of the bridge there is an interestingly designed modern timber clad building which houses the visitor centre, I was disappointed that we didn’t have time to go in because we needed to get to our next stop further up the coast but we did cycle through the nature reserve stopping to pick up a HUGE snail and move it to the side of the path so it didn’t get squished.

Cycling through the nature reserve gave us a different view of the town roof tops over the trees and we had a lovely view of the theatre where the trees had been cleared.

We left the nature reserve on a different path and followed the cycle path beside a brand new road (the tarmac was STILL black!) over a bridge crossing the Helge River and back into town.

We spent a little while photographing an imposing church which had been built in the 1600’s and carried on making our way back to the van in case the ticket had run out.

Not far along the road from where the van was parked I saw a sign for a barber so Darren took the opportunity to pop in for a hair cut which turned out to be rather more difficult than we’d foreseen.

The barber didn’t speak a word of English (not that we should have expected him too) so we had to mime how short/long Darren wanted his hair to end up.  The man just did his own thing in the end but the end result looked good.

Once we’d put the bikes back in the van we made our way to Naturreservat Tjuraviken/Slätthammar at Listerby on the island of Almo which was about 12km away from Karlskrona (a UNESCO world heritage site).  We were staying the night in the nature reserve and driving into Karlskrona to look around the next day before we carried on to an island called Öland and our next stop there Lindby Boden.

The nature reserve ran along beside what looked like a beautiful lake but was actually the Baltic Sea.

We parked in a grassy car park which was surrounded by ancient oak trees there were two motorhomes and a tent there when we arrived but there was a lot of room between each of us which was perfect.

We sauntered along the footpath and as the path left the woods we were greeted by the sight of sparkling crystal clear water, it would have been idyllic if we hadn’t had to pick our way through cow pats, not that that was a problem it just added to the rural experience!

We wandered down to a little wooden jetty (and felt obliged to sing Dr Feelgood’s ‘Down By The Jetty’ as we went) it was a little bit rickety but we warily walked out to the end of it and watched fish swimming in the clear water hoping all the while that the jetty wouldn’t collapse while we were on it and making sure we didn’t lean on the railing which was VERY rotten.  Once we were back on solid land I had to have the obligatory paddle, that water was quite a bit colder than everywhere else I’d paddled on this trip.

Eventually we carried on along the path intending to explore much more of the nature reserve however we had to cut the walk short because we were suddenly besieged by midges so we took a different route back to the van at a significantly faster pace, in fact if the truth be told it was a jogging pace, we sat and had a drink in the sun when we reached the van and sat listening to the birds.

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