Alexey Moskvin

Baltic Exchange and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘umea

Umeå to Gävle

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The next day I spend exploring their house, sacrificing Sundsvall for a day of rest. I have to make up for it tomorrow but I think it will be worth it. The massive boiler dominates the bathroom, toilet paper roll on a stand deserves it’s on space in the middle, entangled cacti on the window cell, two chairs with baby shoes on the wall in between, chickens, cellar for fruit and veg, shed with a bread oven – have they ever used it? That would be a cool thing to do.

The day is spent catching one’s breath – surfing the net, chatting, photographing. It’s a sunny morning and we are outside in the garden but clouds come again in the afternoon and bring some drizzle with them. That’s when we decide to go out for a swim. The first lake isn’t usable, the second looks great, even if it’s getting rather cold and wet. It should feel warmer in the water. And it does.

Anders works in a travel agent, Tore is a gardener. They collect sand from all the beaches they’ve been to. In the evening, over another glass of wine we teach each other rude words in Russian and Swedish. I can’t remember what they taught me – maybe it’s for the best – there’s still a half of the country to go through.

Their gift is a box of seeds, the metal box was given to Tore by his father, it has a few compartments. The seeds are of different sorts of sweet chilli and tomato, as they go well together. Alongside with a note in Swedish and a couple of chocolates. Olle will be able to read it. I hope he likes tomatoes. But even if he doesn’t, it doesn’t matter – it’s a gift.

An early start the next morning – I have about 350 miles to go to get to Gävle, even if cutting some of the route. The guys give me a packed lunch and I roll the bike out of their garage. It’s been a wonderful day and a half.

To do the distance in reasonable time most of the way has to be on a motorway. But it’s ok – even the motorway has gorgeous sweeps as one comes to Sundsvall. I stop for lunch just before Höga Kusten Bridge – the tallest bridge in Sweden to look at the scenery. The temperature is dropping and the wind on the bridge is a bit scary.

In the afternoon I stop by what’s called an antique shop. A bric-a-brac rather. I drive a bit further, all the way to the water, around the warehouse building. The wooden platform that is bobbing up and down, making me produce a bunch of blurred photos with tilted horizons. That’s where I have some more fish paste and bread. The clouds are taking over in the afternoon again. Some museum, the ship, railway bits and the shop. I walk up and down the corridor, it’s stuffed with everything from mildly interesting to a complete junk, a smell of wood and mould. Small things I’m after, in one of the cupboards there are some shot glasses and other cutlery. I pick up one of the metal (tin?) mini mugs – it looks like it’s made out of metal, with a [sheep] embossed on it, some writing alongside. I take it and walk up and down again. And then again. And again, trying to find anyone to ask about it or pay for it.

When I get to Gävle it’s sunny again. Olle Oljud is shouting hello from his window on the N-th floor. Oljud means cacophony. He’s got a balcony and a great view.
Sound designer, artist, composer, however you call it, Olle is a talented creative. What’s your favourite sound? He thinks for a while. Steps on gravel. I’m listening to my steps, the sound never leaves me for the rest of the walk.

Gävle is small and charming, the river runs in the middle, some festival is kicking in, gathering a crowd in the middle. We decided to stay out of it. We agree that it’s way to popular for both of us.

Olle shows me a graffiti underpass, he left his trace there too.

It’s getting darker and I’m sleeping on the futon, in the same room. Funny how light changes, I’m only a couple of days away from the midnight sun. We listen to warped white noise, different frequencies and controlled clicks – all kinds of home made Olle’s sound boards – his neighbours must be amused. I’m thinking of those Tate live sound events with Ova, Scanner and those people as I’m falling to sleep.

Written by Alexey Moskvin

26 January 2012 at 01:00

Luleå to Umeå

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You know you’re in Sweden when people talk about driving snow mobiles and have mashed caviar spread for breakfast. But at least I learnt that å actually sounds more like o than a. After the loneliness of Finland and reservedness of Gällivare I am glad to be in the warmth of a friendly place. But saying bye to Cecilia and me and Jakob are setting off to see the Storforsen – a humongous current in the north east from Luleå. It’s not exactly on the way but well worth seeing.



Jakob’s object is vial of cyruped birch sap. It’s very nutritious and was done more as an experiment than anything else. He took it out of the freezer, the vessel has that white porcelain top with a rubber ring and a metal spring, but but the sap should keep for a while even if melted. That’s what makes the project go ahead – a little thoughtful artefact that tells a bit about Jakob’s thoughts.

In addition, Cecilia gives me a tiny felt rabbit she made. I’m not giving that one away.

We unwrap the gift from Santa Claus I give them – it’s a snowball. That anti stress thing that you squeeze hard when want to calm your nerves – it makes the sound of a real snow. It has a white rubbery slightly textured surface and Cecilia says it must be stuffed with rice. It’s pleasantly heavy and comfortable to hold.

Jakob’s bike is one of those dirt ones, caked in mud and with an extra large fuel tank wrapped around it. He kicks it into action. I’m thinking of ride we did with Jan in Pärnu along the coast as I avoid lumps of mud falling off Jakob’s bike and jumping on the tarmac.

Storforsen or ‘Big Stream’ (no shit) is a natural reserve. That landscape of polished stone and pine trees, where the rapid used to cover the entire area but now tamed and reduced to the stream. Nevertheless, it has an awe inspiring force. The wooden bridges and viewing platforms erected next to it are there to protect one but you can only feel it’s strength by standing on the rocks next to it. The energy, the unimaginable masses of water, the sublime natural force that makes you feel very small and feeble. The rock plateau underneath the clear sheet of water seems so near but completely inaccessible as the innumerable tons of water that pass there every minute would reduce you to vapour within seconds.

In the smaller streams and pools around the area people are swimming and jumping into from rocks. It’s extremely tempting but the time (and clouds) stand in our way – it’s about to start raining and we left our gear uncovered next to the bikes. We should rush back to the parking lot and cross the swimming off the list.

Some more palt stuff in the local cafe, followed by waffles. The rain really does it, we got there just in time. Books, films and the usual chat makes the time pass before we can set off again. On the way back we pass the village where Jakob grew up and say goodbye shortly afterwards.

I’m on my way to Umeå, wondering which way the clouds go and hoping we are not going in the same direction – the rain is still here. I’m getting quite late, so wouldn’t like to do much stopping. But do twice just to adjust my helmet, have some water and one of those pastries from yesterday.

The Myrbäck village consists of 6 houses, it’s about 20 miles away from Umeå. Tore and Anders are walking towards me with the dog as I clumsily ride up towards their garage. It’s a wonderful house, homely and stylish. We start with whiskey, just before dinner, later switch to wine, they even found some Kilkenny and I’ll have to think about describing the house tomorrow as tonight we are getting sloshed.

Written by Alexey Moskvin

25 November 2011 at 00:56