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Smultronstället

An hour and a half from London’s Stansted Airport, the kindest couple picked us up in Gothenburg, fed us, and ferried us to the most delightful Smultronstället in Aneby, Sweden.

Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden

The family home was a former farmhouse built in the 1700s. Its painted timbered walls were a safe nest to rest from the year and prepare for camp. It was strange not to be able to shrug off the overwhelming sense of safety within its walls. I could not figure out whether it was the magnanimous Christian hospitality of the Swedish Boy’s parents (for whom “make yourself at home” really meant that) or the smell of a well-used but clean house or something else. We met his extended family and neighbours – all friendly and curious…

Aneby, Sweden…and the black cat who alternated between ambushing our bare feet as we walked through the door and purring with delight while cuddling in our arms.

Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden

There were delicious barbecues outside their summer house by the Black Lake and refreshing summery fish dinners in the gazebo, all washed down with good quantities of elderflower drinks from the bush in their garden.

Visingsö, SwedenAnd we were ravenous at dinnertime, because a whole week of sunshine meant: getting on a nose-flipping ferry from Gränna* for a cycling expedition on the island of Visingsö,

Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden

with its fields of rapeseed and potatoes, and picnicking by the old castle overlooking the Vättern lake while discussing the biblical imagery of the sea, and eating from cherry trees by the road;

Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden

boating up the Black River with its thick forest of reeds and its frogs under lilypads, lazily counting different species of dragonflies, chatting about the use of testimonies and the state of the Swedish church, and staring wonderingly at birds of prey;

Aneby, Swedencruiser rides in the sunset, safe in protective black leather and in the care of a strong bear of a man with a soft gentle voice;

Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden

berry-picking in the forest – where you stuffed ripe sweet fruits in your parched mouth as much as you added them to the basket. The wild smultron (wild strawberries), raspberries (in short supply due to the late spring/summer), and blueberries that we had the self-control not to consume immediately made for a delightful dessert, with cream and a sprinkle of sugar.

Aneby, SwedenHad some of the most well-rested nights in a long while. And it was so very very good to be able to have proper conversations about the application of Colossians and also about quantum physics and cosmological theories instead of having to bear the sneering that usually greets any attempt to broach these topics.

So very thankful to God for the worldwide church family, and a little glimpse of what our fellowship in the new creation might look like.

*Gränna, in Jönköping, is also home to polkagris – a peppermint candy. Polkagrisar shops line the streets, enticing tourists and locals alike with the smell of warm sugar spun into different flavoured crunchy sticks.

Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden
Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden

**much liquorice love, much of which was imported to London to replenish the depleted Copenhagen stock
Aneby, Sweden Aneby, Sweden

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