Fame and Good Fortune

Sign outside Soderkoping BokhandelSaturday 16th May – book signing day – the reason for our visit to Sweden. Surprisingly, we weren’t at all nervous. For our signing in W H Smith’s in Cardiff, we were terrified and wanted to cancel. We’re so much more relaxed in a foreign country. We should do all our signings abroad! Also, we didn’t have to do anything other than show up. Christina and Anders had arranged everything. We should employ them as our agents and managers! Pelle came home in the morning with the morning’s newspapers. We were on the front page! It was obviously a slow news day in Söderköping. Front page of the Norrkoping newspaperWe had a huge article in the paper. We never get this much attention back home. This may be the pinnacle of our career. Clearly, we’re in the wrong country. Move over, ABBA, Sweden has new icons. We dressed in our finery and arrived at Söderköping Bokhandel at 10:45. We found a sign outside, advertising the signing. A daughter of Christina’s friend collects autographs and wanted ours. She’d printed off a photo of us so we signed that. Christina bought her a copy of Silent Dawn.

full page article in Norrkoping tidningarWe’d barely put our rucksacks down when the first of the customers arrived. We cracked open a Red Bull and were ready to face the world. Fortunately, everyone spoke perfect English, so communicating wasn’t a problem. Everyone was lovely and impressed that we had learned to write our ‘darkest wishes’ signature in Swedish. Our written Swedish is so much better than our spoken Swedish. One woman saw the article in the paper and was curious, so came just to meet us. She bought a book. People seemed very excited to have us there. One man also saw our article and although horror scares him, he wanted to meet us. He was interested in hiking, so we were telling him all about our beautiful mountains in Wales. Everyone was fascinated with our stories about Wales and its mythology, the way we are with Swedish mythology. When we did the signing in Smith’s, only our awesome friends came to it, but here, we met so many new readers. To think, we thought no-one would come! For three hours, we barely stopped. We ended up staying an hour past our allotted time, and we sold more books than we did in Smith’s and way more than we usually do in cons. We bought another book, a beautiful one about myths and monsters, but this one is in Swedish. We’d spent the past two days in a book shop. It would’ve been rude to leave new friends behind. We’re now planning to have some of that artwork tattooed on us to remember our time in Sweden.

pushing a planeWe got back and were preparing to go exploring the nearby mountain, Ramunderberget when Christina got a message from Anders. A man named Michael had seen our article, where it says that we want to visit Stegeborgs Slottsruin. He came to the bookshop, but we’d already left. Anders told him that as Pelle’s car was in need of new brakes, we couldn’t go to the castle. He offered to drive us. Christina rang him and he arranged to meet us at the library. Most of our adventures start off like horror films and always turn out well, so we accepted. Meeting a complete stranger and travelling to castle ruins with him is how all good adventures start.

stegesborg slottsruinOn the way, we saw an unusual sight – two men pushing a small plane. We expected to see new sights in Sweden, but that wasn’t one of them. We also saw horses, cows, calves and alpacas. No elks,  wolves or bears. Duolingo made it seem like they were everywhere. Duolingo is a liar.

It turned out, Michael is a guide at the castle and a descendant of the Vasa Royal family who lived there. We got a special private guided tour. His brother built the herb garden behind the castle. So we were mixing with someone of royal heritage. That’s a first. The castle is beautiful. stegesborg slottsruinThe oldest part dates back to the 13th century. The top half of the tower was added in the 15th century and the king imprisoned his two daughters in it. Unlike Rapunzel, they didn’t have long hair to lure a brave rescuer, so they escaped using ropes from a wooden beam, then made their getaway by horse and cart. But the horses wore their shoes backwards, so it looked like they were going the other way.

stegesborg slottsruinThere are plenty of interesting stories with the castle, such as King Birger. When King Magnus Ladulås died, his three sons divided the country into three. King Birger got Stegesborg and Östergötland. In 1317, he invited his brothers, Duke Erik and Duke Valdemar to his palace in Nyköping for a banquet he threw in his honour. However, he imprisoned them in the dungeon then tossed the key into the river. They went there expecting a feast and died of starvation. His hospitality clearly needs work. Next time your siblings invite you round for tea, maybe claim you’re busy.

We found vegan sorbet in the gift shop, as well as a model of the castle how it used to look. And we befriended a small black dog. We came to Sweden with a lot of Kronor, as people warned us it would be expensive. So far, all we’d bought was ice cream and books. This is how life should be.

Day: 3 Number of elks seen: 0. Number of alpacas: 2

soderkopings bokhandel

with Anders, the bookshop owner

4 Comments

  1. It’s a beautiful castle, but what a horrible starvation story! “Move over ABBA.”:-)

  2. Hi, I enjoyed reading this and pleased you had a great time


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