Position: 56°02’58.1″N 12°41’08.5″E
This week we raised the Q flag. The Q flag is the international maritime flag that represents the letter Q (Quebec in NATO-speak) and whose meaning has flipped in the past 200 years. The simple yellow jack, or small flag, used to mean that a ship in harbour was riddled with pestilence and under quarantine until a clean bill of health was given by local authorities. These days it means the opposite. It means that we are hale and hearty and want to enter your country. (I talked more about this in an earlier post: Local Customs).
This week, however, was the older, more traditional use of the Q flag. A plague was visited upon Aleta. Two days after arriving at Helsingborg, Carol came down with a summer head cold that knocked her out. This is the first time she’s been really sick since she contracted Covid about a year ago. Despite being vaccinated at least four times, a variant put her in bed for 10 days and diminished her sense of smell for months afterwards. According to our tests, Carol’s cold this week was not another case of Covid, but a good old traditional sommarförkylning.
It’s not surprising given everyone here is complaining it is the worst summer for years. We’re happy we’re not baking in the Mediterranean, but we get their point. Low pressure system after low pressure system blows out of the Atlantic keeping temperatures low and the ground soggy.
Nor is there an Indian summer to look forward to. Fall in Sweden normally turns wet and damp with shorter days and chilly nights. If conditions permit, however, there is a period of Golden Autumn where the sun dips and ‘golden hour’ stretches long. The rich orange and red glow of autumnal leaves from the millions of aspens, silver birches, ash and maples around the country deepen dramatically.
Like a good husband I took advantage of Carol’s infirmity and hopped on the ferry for Helsingør for a gander at Hamlet’s castle, Kronborg (aka. Elsinore). What I discovered, besides the castle, was Helsingør’s history as a shipbuilding town. From 1882 for the next 101 years the town produced about four ships a year, including a yacht for Saddam Hussein that he never took possession of.
After the yards shut, the town redefined itself as a cultural centre, including amping up the Hamlet connection. It also plies visiting Swedes with cheap booze. A round trip from Helsingborg takes 20 minutes each way and costs about 12 Euros. That much is easily saved on a couple of bottles of vodka. Perhaps that’s why the strait is the busiest ferry route in the world, with over 70 crossings a day.
My reward for bugging out on Carol was a short bout of D&V, a few photos, and the chance to spend one more day asleep. Hopefully we will be back on our futtocks and underway again in the morning.