During our time in Sweden we had arranged to stay with a family via the website workaway.org, It’s a great platform where like minded people can arrange to volunteer on farms, small holdings, hotels and various other projects around the world in return for accomodation and food. So we thought it would be a great way to experience Swedish life and learn more about the culture of Sweden.
Initially we were nervous, visiting a strangers home at the best of times can be filled with unknown dilemmas but when it’s a whole family who are from another part of the world who you will be staying with it sends thoughts running through your head and we had so many questions. Anyway we carried on and trundled our van down a steep snowy driveway to the farm house.
The scenery was beautiful there was a coating of snow on everything around and the view from the driveway was glorious, we knocked on the front door of the main house only to be greeted by a man with a huge smile and three rather loud barking dogs, it was Hans, we immediately was welcomed into the home and was put to work with helping him make a rather delicious lasagne.
Soon after the dogs were barking again and in walked Karin, Hans’ wife, along with their children Elliot and Jonathan.
The first day was a rest day, we didn’t plan to do much we woke up and decided to go for a walk to a small local waterfall, however the -17 temperature made us turn back to retrieve the van to enable us to drive to said waterfall, however this didn’t end too well, initially we got the van stuck in a rather precarious position, only for Robin to notice rather a lot of oil dripping from the underside of the engine, oh dear.
After much investigation in -17 temperatures by Hans and robin (spanner’s glue themselves to your hands in those temperatures) it was decided that it would best be remedied by the local garage and the van was soon picked up by the local truck driver.
The next few days were a bit more productive, we were given a couple of jobs to do each day and our main task was to demolish a rather old looking barn, which allowed us to let out some of the anger caused by the broke down van situation. We muscled on and took each day as it came.
Each evening we were invited into the main house from our cosy cottage for tea, great food was served each night, much of which originated from original recipes derived from a recipe book given to Hans by his mother.
Over the next few days we cracked on with our day tasks, walking a dog named Fred whom we had to look after, feeding and watering the horse and chickens, driving the tractor to clear snow along with repairing bikes and upholstering dining chairs. We had a great time doing so and nothing was expected of us which made the whole experience more relaxed.
We soon had our van back, the frozen temperatures had caused a outlet to freeze over this shooting oil all over the engine bay, so it was a quick fix and she was back on the road.
As we were staying with the family for the last two weeks of December we were also invited to spend Christmas with them which we were told they usually celebrate on Christmas Eve and treat Christmas Day more like our Boxing Day, eating left overs and lazing round the house. We didn’t know what to expect, but we had a great time, there was an abundance of food (a lot of fish and meatballs) along with plenty of Swedish alcohol and talk of times gone by, we was even gifted some homemade jam and a small leather pouch which Hans parents used to make in a factory near the arctic circle.
Christmas in sweeden seems to be more of a relaxed affair than that of the UK, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and spent the next couple of days eating too much and chilling in our cabin.
We left Hans and Karin's on New Year’s Eve, about 10km up the road there was a popular ski town named Åre, and we wanted to see in the new year there, overall we had a great time at Hans and Karin's, we gained experience working in Sweden, we spent Christmas in a totally different environment and robin got to drive a tractor!