Showing blog posts tagged with: travel

Gotland part 1

by Hilla Duka - View comments

dreamy gotland landscape

So upon the good news of No New Growth, we packed our bags and together with my dad, his wife, their dog and my brother headed to Gotland, where we had rented a house for the week. Eight people and a dog did mean some challenges, but now that I'm safely back in my comfy sofa editing photos, I will claim we had a great trip. The weather wasn't great, but that only meant we got to drive around and see some stuff rather than simply drive from beach to beach.

Jacob by the coast of east Gotland

Gotland is of course famous for its Raukar (I don't honestly know if there is an English word for them, but they are sort of formation made of chalk stone) so we made a point to go and see them whenever we could. And as I found out, my kids are very prone to climbing things (especially rocks) and throwing things (rocks, though smaller), which seemed a very suitable activity while amongst the raukar. Here Jacob is exploring the raukar in Ljugarn, the eastern part of Gotland.

Klintehamn harbour by sunset

 


Sunset at Klintehamn, Gotland

The house we rented, though not the little cottage in the woods I had envisioned was situated in Klintehamn, a small town not far from Visby (say maybe 30 minutes by car), with a cute harbor we could walk to at night and watch the sunset from. And it did have a trampoline, and that outdoors/ indoors indifference that is always so typical for houses and impossible to achieve in flats, so kids and dog were happy.

Milo in the backyard of our rented house in Klintehamn, Gotland

As we came in the middle of the so called Stockholm week (when brats from Stockholm invade even more heavily than the rest of the summer, partying pretty much 24/7 and generally just being load and unappologetic) we tried to stay clear of Visby. We went twice though, to pick up some groceries (wine. In the rest of the world wine is a grocery and something you can buy in the supermarket. In Sweden, you have to go to a specific, state controlled shop, and thre are like two of those in Gotland. One is in Visby.) I tried to sneak some pics of how beautiful the little city is (whilst avoiding capturing vomiting Stockholmers on camera). It really is insanely pretty, the soil in Gotland must be so good, wine and roses grow like crazy.

Milo and the roses of Visby, Gotland

Alley in Visby with lots of roses growing on the walls

 

How lovely? Though I feel bad for the people who live in these gorgeous little houses and have crazy tourists misbehaving in their gardens...

 

poppy growing by the side of the road

 

Then in our at this point rather desperate attempt to get away from drunk teenagers and my kids picking up new and inappropriate words from them, we packed up and headed to northern Gotland and Fårö - in my mind, the most stunning, breathtaking part of Gotland.

 

the kids in front of the raukar of east Gotland

 

Raukar there as well, and crystal clear water with fish swimming in it, even by the shore. 

 

swimming in Fårö, Gotland

 

Sudersand, with this amazing sand and long, shallow beach. Even though not warm, the kids were ecstatic.

 

Milo by the beach in Fårö, Gotland

 

And this little man, who's generally quite fearful in the water, could bathe and enjoy himself without worrying as even twenty metres in the water still only came to his waste.

 

Lauters, ruin and restaurant, Fårö Gotland

 

In Fårö we stopped (on our way to see the Fårö raukar, of course) at this little laid back ruin/ restaurant/ chillax place playing reggae music and offering hammocks for resting under the trees. This happened to be my Holiday Goal - lying in a hammock under the trees and feeling salty wind in my face, so naturally I made the most of this, regardless of the fact that the others were quite eager to continue. 


View from the hammock in Fårö, Gotland

 

In our cottage (that we're still very much hoping to buy at the end of the summer) we will have hammocks. Lots and lots of hammocks.

 

And now we're back home, making plans for the rest of the summer. We have almost another month off, which feels amazing and so very luxurious. Maybe we'll rent a little house in the woods last minute, just to really get the feeling? The whole family is quite set on buying a little summer home for ourselves now, but for financial reasons that might have to wait until after the summer, when the prices drop. Right now, the kids are happy enough back with their books, toys, and a stable wifi. I kind of feel the same.


Weekend outings

by Hilla Duka - View comments

all my boys by the water

A few weeks ago, following one of Ilir's "I've lived in this country for years and I've still not {insert random experience}" rants, we packed the kids into the car, and headed out to Sigtuna, to go touristing. Being able to just go places as we wanted was one of the main reasons for buying the car, but we haven't really been around that much. Never mind all the romantic ideas I had of going to remote places at our leisure, enjoying hidden gems away from the city, the car is mainly used for transporting kids and groceries. So when Ilir and the kids wanted to go somewhere, I was easily persuaded. Plus, I figured, I could take the camera and get some nice pics of the kids!

Little boathouse in Sigtuna

As we drove there, I realised I hadn't been there before either. We'd planned on going there before Christmas, to see their Christmas market, but time just ran away. We came to a little cafe by the water, which Ilir had looked up and were supposed to serve great waffles. Only the kids didn't want waffles, they wanted ice cream. And I didn't want waffles, I wanted a glass of wine. So Ilir grudgingly ordered one waffle, three ice creams and a glass of wine, all the while mumbling about what a difficult family we made up.

Milo eating ice cream by the water in Sigtuna

 

Jonathan having ice cream by the water in Sigtuna

And for the first time in his life, Jonathan actually couldn't finish his ice cream. He left it on the table where it was soon consumed by this fearless buggers:

fearless birds at the cafe

 

Jacob enjoying an ice cream in the sun

 

After our little fika we went exploring, me with camera in hand, of course. The kids found a tree, and were uncharacteristically happy climbing in it.

 

Jacob and Milo climbing in a tree

Milo posing on a tree branch

All three boys climbing a tree

They were not thrilled as we tried to coax them to leave their tree and go exploring the little town, but eventually let us persuade them as we started mentioning an old ruin, quite possibly haunted and very old.

Milo with a map to the ruin in Sigtuna

Milo found a map, and the kids started finding their way to the ruin. As none of us really knew where to go, it was quite fun to task the youngest member of our family with the important job of finding our way. He took it most seriously too.

The kids following the map to find the ruin in Sigtuna

No, this wasn't it. It was however a spot where the kids read "Jaguar" on one of the cars, and decided to consult the map to see if there was a zoo nearby.

Exploring quaint little houses in Sigtuna

Both the kids and Ilir fell a bit in love with the cute houses on the way, and eventually forgot about finding old ruins.

 

By the time we found the ruin, I was too tired to go exploring, and the kids had kind of lost their interest and wanted to go play football instead.

views of Sigtuna in the spring

After playing with the ball for a while we decided on a second fika. Partly because I was tired and the kids needed something to eat and partly because, well - why not?

Jacob having fika

Jonathan enjoying a homemade strawberry drink

And then, the kids high on sugary drinks and sweets and us equally pumped full of caffeine, we headed back to the car, happy and tired.

Ilir happy in the sun


Adventures far away

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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We’ve had a truly wonderful week of sun, swimming, food and drinks, and are now back home again. Before I go into all the loveliness of the week, I want to direct a huge, absolutely massive Thank you! to all the people who contributed to make this week a reality! I really can’t thank you enough - but I hope that you can feel my gratefulness even though my words are inadequate. With all the madness of being on sick leave, insurance companies making trouble and refusing to pay, there really is no way I could have afforded to do this trip if it wasn’t for you. It’s a memory the kids will always have of a week away from this horror that has become their lives (and if they forget, I’ve taken about a gozillion photos to help them remember!). 

 

Jonathan jumping in to the pool

 

The kids swam in the pool non stop. Jacob (almost) learned how to swim - which is a huge step as he’s been quite scared of water before. And since he’s so skinny, we can’t really go to the swimming pool close by - he gets cold after five minutes (and by cold, I mean his lips are blue and he’s shaking non stop). Here, he could practise jumping into the water and getting his head completely under water, eventually brave enough to remove his arm pads and practise floating (not so easy when there isn’t an ounce of fat on you apparently), and eventually trying to swim. He can manage a few metres, and most importantly, he’s no longer terrified to start his obligatory swimming lessons next year. Jonathan, who’s always loved being in water had  an amazing time, jumping in and trying to do tricks in the water as often as possible. Milo’s still wearing his arm pads, but can move around and has finally stopped referring to getting his head dipped as “drowning”.

 

Milo by the pool side

 

When I needed a rest, Ilir took the boys to the sea, where they got to swim in the Atlantic, get splashed by waves and look for sea shells and pretty stones.

 

Jonathan and Jacob by the sea

 

Milo by the sea

Milo got to meet Bamse, though he was somewhat hesitant he finally gathered up his courage and went to say hi. He was fascinated, even though he explained several times that he knew there were people in the costumes, at the same time they were the characters from Bamse as well.

 

Jonathan was most impressed with the idea that someone would wash and change the towels and sheets for us, he thought that was a luxury quite beyond belief. And I realised that of course, they haven’t stayed at a hotel before: whenever we’ve traveled we’ve rented a flat, or stayed with relatives: this was all new to them. And even though they enjoyed the idea of always having food prepared, they all agreed that they preferred Ilirs cooking, saying how spoiled they felt for having someone cook such good food for them. So for tonight they’ve ordered him to make carrot patties for dinner!

 

I decided I might as well go scarf-less, since wether I wore scarf or not seemed to have little impact on the amount of stares, pointing and whispers I got, so I figured I might as well be as comfortable as I could!

me and milo by the pool

The flight, though a good five and a half hours, was a breeze, at least as far as the kids were concerned. And considering how the other kids on the plane behaved I was so proud of my calm, well behaved little ones. I was less happy with other kids on the plane, but I suppose there must be at least one baby screaming his lungs out on all planes… I’m just happy that kid doesn’t belong to me! Usually, I’m not the one with the best behaved children, they run a bit wild, are highly opinionated, and tend to get into arguments with each other constantly. But they do have good flight manners! No loud voices, no kicking the next chair, no wrestling for armspace or reclining your chair, and definitely no, absolutely no crying. Actually, I’d say they’re better than most fellow passengers on any flight!

And as we were heading home, the kids told me how happy they were with their holiday, how much fun they had had, and how pleased they were to be back home, and my heart filled with gratitude that I had been allowed to experience this with them. Again, thank you! Now we're safely home again, and tomorrow it's back to reality as I head in for treatment number six.

 

Dreaming away

by Hilla Duka - View comments

Dream-holiday

When the worries and fears of the next checkup, or just of life as it is these days, threaten to overtake me, I have a new weapon. I dream myself away. To after the doctor’s appointment, when she’ll have given me the news that I’m doing fantastically, that the results are better than they had dared to hope for. To a holiday in the sun, playing with the kids. The more real the worry, the more real I make the dream.

 

Yesterday it was time for the half time checkup I’ve been dreading and hoping for for months now. The checkup itself was done quickly and more or less painlessly (they just insert a needle and at one point give you contrast fluid through that), just lying down and then you get moved back and forth through a huge machine with a round hole. The day before that was the blood sample which will tell me if my all-time high of 112 was a fluke, or if my body really is producing blood on its own again (which would mean the cancer cells in my bone marrow are fewer), and tomorrow its time for another mammogram. And for all I’m willing my body to have done well, there really isn’t anything more to do but wait for the results.

 

So, I start dreaming away, to a holiday in the sun with my family. My lovely friend Heidi started a fund-raising when I got diagnosed, to send me away on a dream holiday. The fund-raising went through the roof, and it means I will get to take the kids on their first holiday in years.  I’ve some red tape to get through first, like getting OK to going on holiday while I’m still on sick-leave (Sweden has loads of rules on stuff like that), but my oncologist cleared me for travelling, just to go somewhere “safe and practical” as she phrased it.

 

So now I’m looking at holidays - the kind of chartered ones with preferably all-inclusive and pools and beach just around the corner. The kind I never would have looked at before having kids, and that always seemed too expensive or over-the-top once I did. This summer, I think, in the end turned out to be a good one for the kids. Thanks to the car we could go to fun places we didn’t really go to before, and all of us, Ilir, my brother and my dad, made an effort to take them out as much as possible, so that they could go swimming, or go to the really fun park across town. But we couldn’t go away, at that point. Everything about the diagnose was still so new, so raw, so dangerous. The year before that I had time off in the summer, but no money to take them anywhere, and the year before that I worked all summer, so they’ve really waited long enough for this. We all need this, I think. For one week, just to get away from it all, the morning stress and the homework that needs to be done and the constant, constant worrying…

 

Now, when I start to worry about the result and what it will show and I realise that it’s just one of those improductive worries, I start to think about our holiday instead. I know we will have an amazing time once we get there, and for that I’m so very, very grateful. But even before that, just now, it’s doing me a world of good to just have this to dream away to, as a counteract to those worries that will just lead me nowhere. I just start dreaming away to a place where I’m lying by the pool sipping goldfish-bowl-sized drinks and watching the kids splash around in the water. This trip will be another thing that I hope they can remember for the rest of their lives, something we did together as a family.

 

I’m so, so grateful to everyone who helped the fundraising become such a success. Thank you so much, for caring, sharing, contributing. And a massive thank you to Heidi, who as always knows how to make stuff happen!

The image above is borrowed from fritidsresor


Whining

by Hilla Duka - View comments

London_bridge

tl:dr - I hurt myself again and it hurts like fuck. The rest of this post will consist of nothing but me blowing off some steam and complaining of how miserable I am right now. You have officially been warned. Pic's nice though?

I'll just complain for a bit, shall I? So last week I set off for London again, which fealt really good, since I haven't been there since November, and it feels really weird not to go as often as I used to. But still, my job responsibilities have changed, and I'm no longer in charge of finding the right product fit for UK, but for all our markets. Doesn't mean the UK doesn't lie close to my heart, but it does mean I don't get to go as often as before. 

 

Anyway, as I made my preparations for my trip, I really did think I was being responsible - I booked a really-rubbish-hotel very close to work, and as I set up my appointments I was very clear that I needed to meet close to work and hotel, as my knee was still acting up and I couldn't jet about as much as I normally do. Said and done, first day of getting up early, dealing with airports and flying and then work, I was done for the day and headed off to meet my friend at a bar nicely positioned some 500 meters from my hotel. Only problem, the loo was one floor up. And as I came down the stairs (very nice, pretty stairs they were too, you know those really broad, industrial looking ones?) when my knee decided it had had enough of getting around and standing and walking, and gave way. Me being as I am, I didn't think much of falling down at first, it happens, and I mainly thought it was rather embarrassing and undignified, but somewhere around the second bend, I lost consciousness for a bit, and came to with the staff standing around me looking quite worried. My only save at this point was that I wasn't drunk. And being as I am, I assured them I was fine, and it was only my bogy knee that was acting up, and got back to my table and my friend. 

 

I woke up the next day with an ankle that was larger than my thigh, a distinctly bad looking flesh injury and bruises down my back and in my head. Concussion, I hear you asking? Well, I thought it a possibility, and went to check my pupils in the mirror (told you, I'm no noob to falling over) and sure enough, my pupils were weirdly dilated. Only, I was in London, and have had my fare share of dealing with the NHS (let me tell you, not having a national insurance number doesn't help!) and I had a big ass meeting to go to (in Slough, of all places) so I decided I just needed to toughen up, and face the day. Off I went, at the amazing, and to passers-by's not very amusing pace of probably 1 km per hour (I'm not exaggerating, it took me 30 painstaking minutes to get to the tube 500 meters from my hotel) in rush hour. Thankfully, because of my knee injury (in case I didn't tell you about that, torn off ligament, disrupted kneecap, ugly story, still hurts like hell) I already had some codein pills, which I was taking like there was no tomorrow. They helped a bit, but not a great deal. Oh, and to make matters worse, I had - momentarily insanity and I blame it on the fact that it was spring in the uk at this point - only brought high heels with me. After over a month of living in wellies, I had had enough, and thought my knee could survive some heels. Only my knee didn't agree. Honestly, I have no idea how I got through the meeting, besides with pain, and no idea how I got back. I did somehow, but since then have been in constant pain. I can't really get through a full working day anymore, and yesterday, as I tried, I came home frozen to the bone, and spent the night shaking under the duvet. Actually duvets, as in plural, because I could not get warm for the life of me. Any time I walk about for a few minutes, my ankle swells up again, The scrape on my calf hurts all the fucking time, and as I can't support myself on the side where I tore a ligament, I have to support myself on the other side, where I've sprained my ankle and have the bloody scrape to the bone. I sometimes wonder what it was ever like to walk without pain, or indeed to be without pain 24/7, but the sad truth is that I can't remember. And even sadder, I don't wonder this all the time, which in my head would be a sign of normalcy, but only occasionally. I've become accustomed to being in pain all the time. I don't have more painkillers, and trying to get a new prescription feels too addicty a thing to do, so I just do without. On top of this, I'm working still. I don't have it in me to take sick leave, so I just keep working, from home and the sofa if I can't stay longer at work. 

 

There really isn't a happy end to this one, at least not yet. If anyone actually read my whole rant, I'm impressed and slightly worried about your mental health. I'm trying to take it easy, trying to listen to what my body's telling me and all the soft hearted bullshit I don't believe in. I think I'll get back, hopefully to normal, but at least to pretty good, in time. It just sucks ass right now.


Awarded

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Rather than showing you what's really preoccupying me right now, I'll show you these little ones. They're little friendly robots, that I made for Jacob's upcoming birthday, but then decided they should have a life of their own as well. Should I be showing you what's really on my mind right now, it would be a scary image of a swollen knee, dislocated kneecap and torn ligament... Yes, I slipped on some ice in Berlin. I walk as if I'm about a hundred years old, am in constant pain, and not best used to not relying on myself for everything. You can see why I take every opportunity to doodle and distract myself.

The event itself - a Rails meetup for Berliners, went fairly well, if you don't count getting up at 4 am and then hosting an evening doo. On my way back I slipped on an icy patch on the path, and the rest of the trip is some sort of blacked-out pain haze. 

Oh, and before we left, we had our very first all employee meeting, in which the annual awards were handed out - and I snagged one! One of the employee vote based ones, Mynewsdesker of the year, was for me, and with it came a nice little iPad mini with retina display. Why, thank you! Far be it from me to question the sanity of anyone who voted for me - I'll just think on it quietly in my head instead. You can read the motivation for the award here, and if you think it may just possibly be poor taste to refer to a short, sturdy person as a rock, well we'll just keep that quiet as well, ok? Ok. I'm of course very flattered, as well as happy for my new toy!


Quite forgotten

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Among my doodlings that I was planning to show you was this little guy. Don't know why I forgot to post him. I kind of got a Sinatra vibe from him, so I tried changing the background to look sort of like the cover to New York, New York, but that just looked bad, and the litlle guy sort of disappeared, so I just stuck with this one. 

In a few days I'm packing up for a short trip to Germany, to visit our office there and host one of our Dev Corner's, this time for German rails developers, and of course hoping to find some great ones looking for new employment. While there the dev team will be taking their lab days (you get two a month as a developer - unfortunately, as Product Owner you get none) so I will try to get some time to speak to the German sales reps and marketing people. 

I'm a bit stressed out at the moment, my first larger project is coming close to release, and I feel like I'm dropping the balls left, right and center. It's just so much to do, so many things, people to take in consideration... It's so much fun, but also really stressful... I'm looking forward to being able to sleep like a normal person again once we release!

Even if there hasn't been a lot of activity here in terms of writing or posting pictures, I've been very active "behind the scenes" of the blog. I finally decided I had enough of Twitter Bootstrap, and thought I'd try to replace it with Foundation from Zurb, just to see how that would go. It actually went better than fine - with a minimum of effort I got much the same result as before, and many things that I had done the CSS by hand for, like the social icons at the bottom of the page, I found that I could just chuck out my CSS and replace it with a few new class names instead. Likewise the navbar on top I could ignore my old CSS for and instead just alter a couple of the variables included in Foundation. I especially like how Foundation includes responsiveness in every class name, and then how you can alter the layout for responsiveness by adding more classes to the HTML. In the end, my CSS file was shortened by 2/3, and I took the oportunity to rewrite it in a proper SCSS way. (Yes, before I had basically just chucked everything in there with no real sense of order. Sort of like you do with a rarely used closet. I'll admit it.)

Also, while I was at it, I changed the layout a bit. I thought it seemed more intuitive to have the blog start page as the start page of the site - it's where the content is. The about me page doesn't seem that important, and if for some reason someone finds the blog without knowing me, it's available in the navbar. I like it for now, and it was fun to get rid of Twitter Bootstrap and try something new!