Friday, 23 December 2022

Annual report 2022


It’s time for the annual report, and I don’t know where to start or how to start. Last year, as the world was slowly emerging from the horrors of covid, we thought that things would get better because they couldn’t possibly get worse. It turned out, they could. I won’t dwell on it too long because there are really no words to describe the pain and the sorrow. My heart is with Ukraine, as well as with my friends in Russia who have lost their jobs and are branded as foreign agents with a real risk of getting arrested any day. My best friend says I will never understand because I am too far away. I am trying. What is inconceivable for me is that so many people who I believed shared my values have chosen the other side. I guess this is how Americans feel about Trump or the British about Brexit. Families are divided, and you lose friends.

I have done my humble share in supporting Ukrainian refugees in Sweden, but of course I could have done more.

The big question when the war broke out was whether to cancel every plan for indefinite future: everything felt pointless, almost sacrilegious. Yet most of us eventually decided that refraining from fun wasn’t the best coping strategy. After all, to be cynical, cancelling a party will not stop the war, and maybe we all needed some fun in the middle of general misery. So my oldest son’s girlfriend celebrated her 50th, and to her – and everybody’s - surprise he proposed to her in front of all the guests. (They married in a quiet ceremony a few months later). My daughter celebrated her 40th with a fancy-dress party. And I celebrated my three-score and ten with a luxury weekend at a countryside manor for family and closest friends. During this memorable event I was introduced to disc golf, which hasn’t become my new favourite pastime, but was a joy to try as an extra entertainment.

Similarly, I saw no reason to cancel travel. It so happened that I made two trips to Denmark, the first to a miniature fair, the second to a miniature summer school. The fair was disappointing, and I am not going there again, but I went with my daughter so we had a nice mother-daughter bonding trip. The summer school was amazing, and I am definitely going again. Excellent instructors, friendly atmosphere and good food. I was very pleased with the two miniatures I made: a 17th-century map book and a Louis XVII desk. I realised how much there is for me to learn.

Obviously, I continued making miniatures and participated in several shows, although I could not attend the main autumn show because I got ill – not covid. 

My probably best experience in miniature-making was a commission to make a set of Ukrainian food for a lovely bilingual picturebook. It was quite a challenge. 

Another related achievement was an article published in a dollhouse magazine. It wasn’t the first time, but I felt more proud of it than of my academic publications.

Going back to travel, I fulfilled my grand dream of returning to Camino de Santiago de Compostela, completing the final stretch of 120 km and receiving a pilgrim certificate. Read a full account here. I got to know my fellow pilgrims well, and we are already planning another pilgrimage in the coming year.


I also made a short trip to Gdansk which is a truly amazing city.

I continued leading nature walks during spring, but had to temporarily quit in the autumn because of a foot injury. 

I also continued with my urban walks, based on children’s books, and guess what? I was awarded a very prestigious prize for them! I had thought I was beyond all awards, and it was particularly gratifying to receive acknowledgement for something I was doing right now. The activity is growing, and more and more funding bodies are deciding it’s worth supporting so I am suddenly more involved than I had imagined, for better and for worse. It’s something I strongly believe in.

I also received my second diploma in ikebana, now working on the third and participating in some events apart from my formal lessons.

As I was unable to walk any long distance in summer, I compensated by going wild swimming every morning. 

I also did some climbing, not as much as I would have liked to, but my instructor, who happens to be my grandson, is impressed.

I continued cook-alongs with my Cambridge friend, and in summer we went on a virtual trip with Orient Express, stopping in Paris, Venice, Sofia and Istanbul. We read books, watched movies, listened to music and of course cooked food. Believe me, it’s a great way to stay in touch when you cannot visit in real life. We planned to go to Paris for real, but again I got very ill so sadly it didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

There wasn’t much to do in terms of home improvement, but my wonderful grandsons helped me remove the horrible carpet on the balcony and replace it with a lovely wooden deck. The balcony was once again a source of much joy.

I made substantial progress with Welsh, and I am now halfway through the course. In summer, however, I took a break and learned some Spanish in preparation for my trip to Spain. I actually could say quite a few phrases when I was there.

Like last year, I set a goal of reading thirty books, but I didn’t have any theme so it was a mix of contemporary Swedish and contemporary British, of the latter Ian McEwan’s new novel, Lessons, was probably the strongest impression, alongside French Murial Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

I have been an ardent moviegoer, thanks to my grandson who works in a cinema, but I have also watched numerous films and tv series at home, thanks to all great streaming platforms. The same grandson made sure I didn’t miss any important theatre, opera and ballet performances. Two highlights: Strindberg’s Miss Julie and Brecht’s Life of Galileo. Not to mention all concerts, both my subscription concerts and several on top of those. Occasionally I attended 2-3 events in a week. Quite recently I made a big musical discovery: Ethel Smyth. A good example of the benefits of subscription: I would probably never chosen this concert on my own.

I could go on, but I think I have made my point. It has been a very dark year, and no light any time near. And yet life goes on, and it’s a wonderful life that I wish everyone could enjoy in their retirement, although I am well aware of how privileged I am. Not least thanks to these lovely friends: 

Let's not lose hope! Happy 2023!

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