Coastal Romance- why the sea is in my blood.

coastal

The talented author Annie Seaton, who also  runs the  Coastal Romance Facebook page has organised a give away between now and Christmas Eve. You have a chance to win 26 great stories and a $100 Amazon gift voucher.

To be in with a chance to win, click on the picture, which will bring you to Annie’s site and all the giveaway details.

 

A Seaside Childhood

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I grew up in Stockholm, on the shores of the Baltic. This  city, built on islands, has often been called the Venice of the north. It does have the many waterways and canals in common with Venice,  and the feeling of a city floating on water with views and glimpses of the sea nearly every place you go. It’s a beautiful city to visit in the summertime but it has a special magic in the winter, when the mellow sunshine bathe the old facades in a rosy glow.

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 Venice has its own beauty but unlike its Swedish counterpart,  it doesn’t have the myriad of islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago. This is where I spent my childhood summers.

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The beautiful, unique Stockholm archipelago

This archipelago, with its 25000 islands, from large ones to tiny little rocks, has a truly unique beauty and atmosphere. There are few hotels and restaurants, no discos or fashionable beaches. All you see, here and there, are red summerhouses with their wooden jetties, sailing boats and bigger motor launches and islands, inlets, waterways stretching to the horizon and Finland at the other end, so far away it takes days to get there by sailing boat. It’s a well-kept secret that Sweden has wonderful weather in the summer, with temperatures that can reach 30C. The water is warm and often gets up to 22C.

Life on such an island in the summertime is simple and full of little pleasures; swimming, sailing, fishing, picking blueberries. I have vivid memories of my childhood holidays, when we didn’t wear shoes all summer. We used to wash ourselves by the jetty late at night with special salt water soap in the soft, silky water of the Baltic that is more brackish than salty and doesn’t sting your eyes. My sister and I had a little sailing dinghy that we used to sail to the outer islands, where we would camp, eating fish we caught and then cooked over a fire. (In those days, children were allowed to light fires and use knives to gut fish) The old summerhouse, a rambling villa built in 1919, is still owned by the family today, still enjoyed by us and the next generations. It’s a wonderful place for cousins, some of whom live in far away lands, to meet up in the summer.

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My childhood memories of my wonderful summers in Sweden inspired me to write Swedish for Beginners, a novel set in Stockholm and-yes-its archipelago. Here is what the heroine, Maud, experienced, the first time she took a trip out to the islands:

Cover finalFrom the moment the old steam boat chugged out of the bay and down the canal to the open sea, Maud was bowled over by the beauty of the Stockholm archipelago. They passed island after island, some small and quite barren, others covered by forest and some with a mixture of woods and meadows. The houses, mostly by the shores, were without exception made of wood, painted bright colours and adorned with verandas decorated with intricate fretwork. The smooth granite rocks were a mixture of pink and grey and sloped gently into the blue sea. There were sailing boats everywhere and the people on the boats waved as they passed.

And then later, as she comes to the family summerhouse and her first morning:

She’d woken up early this morning and lay listening to the birdsong and the waves lapping against the rocks until the sun made the room too hot for comfort. She got up, tiptoed downstairs and out through the heavy wooden front door. She padded down the path to the cove, pulled off her nightgown and slipped into the water, gasping at first, but then slowly getting used to the cold. The water felt soft and soapy against her skin, and she floated there, looking up at the blue sky and the few tiny clouds drifting across it. A seagull glided past, tilting its head, staring at her curiously as if it thought she might be some strange sea-monster.

When the cold started to numb her limbs, Maud got out of the water and sat on the warm rock, polished to silky smoothness during the ice age, and let the sun dry her. She was surprised at how carefree and safe she felt, sitting all alone, naked on a rock, but there was a feeling of total solitude here, as if the whole world was asleep and the bay and the sea and the rocks were, at this moment, hers and hers alone.

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28 November Annie Seaton
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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maureen Fisher
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 22:41:25

    Your post made me want to hop on a plane and visit Sweden. I had no idea Stockholm was a city built on islands.

    Reply

  2. Chanpreet
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 22:48:05

    I didn’t know Stockholm was built on islands either! Those are some beautiful pictures. There are pictures of me as a baby on some coast with my parents but we didn’t really visit the ocean or beaches on vacations. 😦

    Reply

  3. Shirley Wine (@ShirleyWine1)
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 22:59:30

    I never knew Stockholm was built on islands either! Wow I loved your excerpts.

    Reply

  4. Annie Seaton
    Dec 17, 2013 @ 03:54:27

    I visited Denmark a few years ago and Scandinavia was nothing like I had imagined. Flat, lots of islands and water but oh so beautiful!

    Reply

  5. Sherry Gloag
    Dec 17, 2013 @ 11:29:12

    Like the others, I had no idea Stockhlom was made up of so many islands, and I love the pic. I’ve already downloaded your gift of Swedish For Beginners and enjoyed the little bit I’ve already explored.

    Reply

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