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The Basics
In a nutshell


Sweden is a big Country. If the northern most tip was brought to the latitude of London then Malmö would be in the Mediterranean just off the coast of North Africa. This is an important fact to take into consideration when planning any journey to take part in an event there. The upside of this fact is that the population is only nine million; meaning there are very few cars occupying the roads except in the major Cities, even then; what to the Swedes is traffic congestion, is to the British driver a mild hold up.

The laws covering drink driving are strict and on the whole a Swede will not think of driving whilst under the influence. The biggest danger on the roads seems to be deer, elk and wild boars.

Historical re-enactment is alive and well throughout Sweden, the main periods being: WW II, The American Civil War, and the 30 years war when Sweden became involved (1630-1635). 

The organizers of events there have a lot of advantages that we in Britain would find appealing. Since the almost complete dismantling of a standing army the Swedish Government have made available large training grounds with vast tracts of open country and woodland available for public use. The place where I was a guest was at such a site. Bunkers, tunnel systems, streams and rocky hills occupied acres. We were warned to be in vigilance of unexploded ordnance yet none was found. Like other European Countries black powder is in ample supply and well organised in distribution. All the usual permits for taking guns into the Country apply in Sweden; their gun laws allow minors to use weapons as long as the parents have  given consent, so don’t be surprised to see twelve or fourteen year olds joining a firing line.

The camping is basic. That’s the way the Swedes like it. Not for them the portaloos or pre-cut wood piles. One is expected to head of into the forest with a spade and bring wood back with them.  All food is brought to the site and they do like to mess as one big unit rather than in smaller regimental groups.

  Washing to them is a jump in the lake. Usually of the skinny dipping variety. A word of warning here. The sun maybe out, you maybe very hot and sweaty but you are far north and the temperature of the water reflects this!

The other ritual I was introduced to was a nightly tick inspection. Deer and elk live in large numbers in the forest and both carry ticks which are very attracted to human beings; they can get into the most awkward of places! There are yearly cases of Lyme’s disease in Sweden caused by these insects. So it is well worth inspecting one another for the blighters as the bites can get infected. It is wise to have ankles covered and use a repellent. The mosquito population is also alive and biting in the Country too, I’m reliably informed that the farther north you travel the worse they get, and in Skåne, which is in the south, they are bad.

The Swedes have a medieval ‘Right of Public Access’ (“Allemansträtten”)   this allows one to roam freely in the countryside and forests and applies to camping too. Basically you are permitted to walk, cycle etc across peoples’ land without permission provided no damage is done. One provision is that dwellings and their gardens are not entered. The rule is: Do not disturb, do not destroy. Thus travelling long distances to an event is made easier if one wants to camp overnight.

They are the most hospitable of people and the Countryside is beautiful. The weather on the whole is warm in summer. The second site I visited was on the coast in Skåne (sco ner) near Kristianstad - an area of large fields and a coastline similar to that of Pembrokeshire.

 The Swedes don’t tend to go out to pubs or restaurants unless in the City or out for a celebration, as eating and drinking out is expensive. They prefer the gathering of friends and family around the table out in the open in summer. This is shown in their re-enactments; the evenings are long with a lot of aquavit and beer drunk to accompany a smorgasbord of delights.

A word about the language. I have always said that it is polite to at least be able to say basic words when visiting a foreign Country. The Swedes almost all speak some English but appreciate one using their language. I had along evening teaching a Swede cockney rhyming slang in return for some basic Swedish. Needless to say most of it was all forgotten the next day!


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What you should know








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