Midsummer night

Monday, 23rd June 2003

SK1552/20jun AMS ARN

The Swede next to me is in the mood. He is exited about the midsummer night party in Sweden. The 727 of the SAS has just taken off and he has already finished his first Bloody Mary. He enjoys it. A second one follows swiftly. A vodka is next. Dinner comes with a bottle of red wine.

He translates entire pieces from a Swedish newspaper to me. The centre page shows drinking songs. The Swedish word jokes about Íll (beer) and All (eal) are lost on me, but the message is clear: Midsummer night means serious drinking.

The stewardess shares his enthusiasm and supplies a steady flow of alcohol. He's well on his way to getting drunk. His mood is excellent. He does get less steady. His desert, a double whiskey, slips out of his hand. Helpless he stares at the pool of whiskey on his table. What a waste!

His mind is far from clear now. He realises though that we'd better hide this accident from the stewardess. There is an outstanding order for some more Bloody Maries. So, the table must get dry quickly.

Like two brothers in mischief we use his drinking-songs-newspaper as a towel, absorbing the whiskey. It works. A bit later the stewardess delivers a plastic bag filled with the remaining Bloody Maries stock. Content we sit back for touchdown. It is time to start the midsummer night.

Edsviken, midsummer night 20-21 June 2003

Weber BBQ The Weber does a fine job of burning charcoal. This is going to be a BBQ party. There are no Swedes at this party, so I'm spared the drinking songs. Yet the speedy consumption of alcohol does match the Swedes. Can't eat on a sober stomach, can you? These Dutch and Germans work hard to get rid of the mountain of Carlsberg cans, laying a steady foundation for the numerous sausages, hamburgers, chicken, bread and salads. All kudos to the hosts.

At half an hour past midnight the night is at its darkest. The sun just went down, with reluctance obviously. It does not get really dark. Amazed I stare at dawn at the trees around the lake.

At one o'clock dawn is approaching. The Weber is still unstoppable. The last round of perfectly smoked chicken tastes excellent.

At two the sun threatens to rise. I'd better head for bed if I wish to get a bit of sleep.

At four I am woken up by the singing of birds. The morning sun is quite strong. I push some earplugs into my drunken head, deny daylight and sleep till six.

Edsviken, Midsummer day 21st June 2003

The party crowd sleeps. I manage to doze a bit till 7:30 until the bright sunshine wins. My head is far from fresh, but further sleeping is impossible.

During a short stroll through Edsviken I'm struck by the tranquility and space. The detached houses overlook the lake. It would cost a fortune in the Netherlands. Here it looks standard, plenty of space in this large country with only 8 million inhabitants.

Same story in Stockholm centre, quiet everywhere on this Bank holiday. The city seems to take a break and is happy about it. Confused tourists walk along closed shops. Most Swedes are now sobering up in their holiday homes, somewhere in the forests outside Stockholm. This sobering up will take time. Isn't it good that the shortest night is followed by the longest day?

Till next nut,

Kudos to Ron and Edith for a perfect weekend