No particular curated theme for this post, just a last random smattering of joyful times in Chatham. Big huge thanks and much love to the Van Vlecks for being such wonderful hosts and making our summer so fantastic! And also to the Pollard crew from Sweden – so great that we all managed to trek across the Atlantic to experience the Cape together this year. Let’s do it again soon!

What's a New England vacation without lobster? As you will see, this is a recurring theme...

What’s a New England vacation without lobster? As you will see, this is a recurring theme…

At the risk of seeming slightly obsessed to all those around me, I did in fact google "best lobster roll on the Cape" and voila, this is where it led us - Sesuit Harbour Cafe.

At the risk of seeming slightly obsessed to all those around me, I did in fact google “best lobster roll on the Cape” and voila, this is where it led us – Sesuit Harbour Cafe.

It was worth the drive to Dennis.

It was worth the drive to Dennis.

In case there was any doubt which country we were in...

In case there was any doubt which country we were in…

We had lobster on the homefront too! Here's Ben and Stefan preparing the traditional Van Vleck lobster feast...

We had lobster on the homefront too! Here’s Ben and Stefan helping to prepare the traditional Van Vleck lobster feast…

Lovely afternoon at Nauset Beach

Lovely afternoon at Nauset Beach

Fried clams at Liam's. There's just something perfectly right about eating deep fried dinners by the beach.

Fried clams at Liam’s. There’s just something perfectly right about eating deep fried dinners by the beach.

Not all our day trips were in pursuit of seafood! This is Goose Pond, a lovely freshwater lake with gloriously warm waters.

Not all our day trips were in pursuit of seafood! Here we are at Goose Pond, a lovely freshwater lake with gloriously warm waters.

Goose Pond - it was very well hidden and we got extremely lost trying to find it, but it was well worth it!

Goose Pond – it was very well hidden and we got extremely lost trying to find it, but it was well worth the effort!

Our house on Cranberry Lane - perfectly located just a 2 minute drive away from the Van Vlecks!

Our house on Cranberry Lane – perfectly located just a 2 minute drive away from the Van Vlecks!

Veronica husking corn on the veranda, like a true Southern woman. Apart from lobsters, corn on the cob was the other thing that we really maxxed out on! Sooo sweet and crispy and tender....

Veronica husking corn on the veranda, like a true Southern woman. Apart from lobsters, corn on the cob was the other thing that we really maxxed out on! So sweet and crispy and tender….

Lisa, Howie, Marianne and Robert relaxing on our porch

Verandas are the best! Lisa, Howie, Marianne and Robert enjoying some pre-dinner drinks…

This pink donut was a 2015 essential.

This pink donut was a 2015 essential.

Selfie!

Selfie!

The boathouse at dusk. So great to see this hugely significant building so successfully rebuilt after the brutal winter storm of 2013, which was devastating to the entire region.

The boathouse at dusk. So lovely to see this hugely significant building so successfully rebuilt after the brutal winter storm of 2013, which was devastating to the entire region.

We spent our last hours in Chatham playing ball, like true Americans!

We spent our last hours in Chatham playing ball, like true Americans!

We were pretty impressed - Ania has some real batting talent!

We were pretty impressed – Ania has some real batting talent!

Sammy gets in on the action too...

Sammy gets in on the action too…

An amazing summer. Hope to be back again soon!

What an amazing summer. Hope to be back again soon!

 

 

 

Thank goodness for photos, allowing us to prolong our summer just a little bit longer! Let’s go back to Chatham, shall we?

We made two trips to the Outer Bar – a long sandy stretch facing the open sea which is accessed by crossing the sheltered bay by boat. And what can I say? It’s one of the most stunning places on earth – soft white sand stretching far and wide, the windy and raw power of the Atlantic at your feet, acres of grassy fields, huge blue sky. And, have I mentioned that there’s hardly anybody else there? The hours slipped by with simple pleasures: splashing in the surf, playing in the sand, beachcombing for pretty stones, chatting, dreaming. It’s so beautiful that it deserves a post of its own, and as you will see, even then it was hard to edit…

Enjoying the boat ride

Enjoying the boat ride

P1100228_blog

P1100263_blog

Grass + sky

To the sea!

To the sea!

P1100273_blog

P1100330_blog

IMG_9651_blogP1100283_blog

P1100333_blog

P1100291_blog

P1100362_blogP1100368_blog

P1100375_blog

IMG_9661_blog

“Surfing”

P1100314_blog

 

Ania made this necklace for me out of seashells and sea grass.

Ania made this necklace for me out of seashells and sea grass.

The boys

The boys

P1100300_blog

Beach treasures

Beach treasures

IMG_9671_blog

Magic!

 

We’ve been back in Stockholm for 2 weeks now and are sadly, officially out of holiday mode, back to routine. But luckily for us, the dreary, wet weather that we left behind in July has finally given way, and now summer is finally upon us! We were greeted with sunshine upon our return to Stockholm, and it’s been gloriously constant every day since. As they say, better late than never!

So now, having finally caught up with the jetlag (it hit us hard this time…), the laundry, and the general re-settling – I have some time to dive into my photos, and revisit so many wonderful moments from our holiday on the Cape! As I mentioned previously, this trip was significant because it was a reunion of 3 generations of the Pollard/Van Vleck family. This post is about the meeting of our littlest members – Sam (5 years), Ania (4 years), Nathaniel (2-and a half years), and Helen (1-and a half years).

Was it ever interesting to observe the dynamic of this little quartet! Since we began our visit with a few days in Boston, it was really nice for Ania to have some one-on-one time getting to know Nathaniel. The two of them hit it off right away – playing, eating, reading, and exploring the Museum of Science together. When we all arrived in Chatham, all 4 were together for the first time to enjoy holidays on the Cape – just like Stefan, Niklas, Amanda and Christina would have done for so many summers when they were kids. I think they all really enjoyed getting to know each other, despite the complexities of language and age differences. Sam and Ania are so close and they only speak Swedish to each other, which of course was pretty tough for poor Nathaniel to crack into! Ania was able to take up the role of translator/mediator to some extent, but understandably, that’s not something a 4-year old can really commit to. When it comes to interests and passions, Nathaniel and Sam are definitely kindred spirits: trains, cars, trucks, excavators – basically anything on wheels! And I think they could tap into that now and again, when they weren’t competing for the same toys. And cheerful little Helen definitely held her own amongst the bigger kids – happy as can be, joining in in her own way – not at all phased by being the youngest!

It was really nice for us parents too to get to know our nieces and nephews – with their personalities being already so amazingly distinct. Sam impressed us all with his burgeoning Lego-building skills, while Nathaniel amazed us with his masterful command of language, by far the most articulate 2-year old I’ve ever met! Ania is the little tadpole-Viking of the group – fearlessly jumping into the cold Atlantic waters and insisting on continuing to swim, long after her parents’ feet have gone completely numb. And Helen definitely had the biggest smiles!

I was really hoping to get all 4 kids in one photo, but alas, that proved more difficult than one might think. Ah well, maybe next time! For now, here they all are, in various happy configurations :)

IMG_9436

Ania and Nathaniel playing in the neighbour’s treehouse in Cambridge. Looks like a scheme is brewing…

 

IMG_9457

Holding hands :)

 

IMG_9471

Off to space at the Museum of Science!

Gathered in Amanda and Ben's garden...

Gathered in Amanda and Ben’s garden…

 

Chalk drawing

Chalk drawing tete-a-tete

 

Lisa, Howie and Helen

Lisa, Howie and Helen

 

Joint art project

Joint art project

 

Helen joins in

Helen joins in

 

Veranda life :) Enjoying their cartoon-lollipops...

Ania and Sam enjoying veranda life at our rented house in Chatham. Look at those cartoon lollipops!

 

A common scene outside the boathouse

A common scene outside the boathouse

 

Playing in their "airplanes", thanks to Amanda's creative sand-skills!

Playing in their “airplanes”, thanks to Amanda’s creative sand-skills!

 

Niklas and his 4 children :)

Niklas and his 4 children :)

 

This swing has been here for at least 30 years :)

This swing has been here for at least 30 years :)

Here we are, in beautiful Chatham! I’ve been quite delinquent with posting – but I am blaming it on having fallen blissfully into holiday-mode. As in, I barely know what day of the week it is, and my fingers have momentarily forgotten all my Photoshop key commands. But now it’s time to share some of the loveliness!

This is a very special summer because it is the first time that all 3 current generations of the Pollard/Van Vleck family are all together, with almost the whole Swedish clan having crossed the Atlantic to gather with the American contingent. And it’s only fitting that this reunion is happening here, in Chatham, where so many summers have been shared for decades – full of memories and traditions in this idyllic place so full of sheer natural beauty. As it’s also the first time that the 4 youngest cousins are meeting, already new memories and traditions are being created everyday, as we speak! Here is a first glimpse of what we’re getting up to – we’ll start with the basics: daily gatherings for meals, play, beach time, snacks, and swims at the Van Vleck home. And repeat…

P1100141-blog

Common daily scene: digging and excavating outside the boathouse.

Common daily scene: digging and excavating outside the boathouse.

Ania and Nathaniel building castles in the sand...

Ania and Nathaniel building castles in the sand…

Explorers....

Explorers….

Late afternoon drinks at the boathouse, celebrating Marianne's birthday.

Late afternoon drinks at the boathouse, celebrating Marianne’s birthday.

3 little rascals

3 little rascals

Ania and Sam, the swinging duo

Ania and Sam, the swinging duo

Hello from Småland! We always make sure to come down for a visit during the summertime, because it’s really the time of year when the countryside at its best. The weather hasn’t been the most fantastic ever, but also a bit better than expected. It hasn’t rained in 3 days! It’s above 16 degrees! Therefore we are rather grateful and making the most of it :)

Summertime here means visits to the local farmers’ markets, daytrip excursions, barbecuing and playing in the garden, and some lazy time watching cartoons on TV (a novelty since we don’t have one at home). Usually we manage to go swimming in the nearby lakes – but since it’s really just not warm enough right now, today we opted for a trip to Åsens By, a historical farm and village preserved as it was a hundred (or so?) years ago. We’ve been there once before, actually two summers ago, which is far enough back that it was a whole new experience for Ania again. Rolling hills and green fields, storybook red wooden houses, gentle farm animals to watch and feed – just a really peaceful, idyllic place with no one around except for a few other families wandering about and doing the same. We ate some waffles at the cafe and fed some hungry little rabbits, and talked about how, living in the city, we so rarely experience this kind of pure quietness, void of traffic and noise. Lovely to think this place looked just the same a century ago, as it did 2 years ago, and hopefully 10 years from now and long into the future…

IMG_9301

Don’t leave home without your pinwheel!

 

IMG_9315

Belated double birthday celebrations, 4 and 40. This would also be Ania’s 4th birthday cake this year! It’s all about the number 4 :)

Nothing like running down country lanes...

Nothing like running down country lanes…

 

IMG_9324

Feeding the bunnies at Åsens By

 

IMG_9327

They were SO hungry!

IMG_9341

Picking flowers and dandelion “puffies”

A big puff!

A huge puff!

Run, run, run...

Ania runs while Grandpa rests…

Pointing out some spider webs, I think

Pointing out some spider webs, I think

 

With Farmor and Grandpa

With Farmor and Grandpa

It’s finally that time of year again! The office is shutting down for the summer, likewise for dagis – and we have 4 glorious weeks of freedom and adventure ahead of us! First on the agenda will be a trip to Gränna to visit Marianne and Robert, then back to Stockholm for a visit with my good friend Amie coming from Berlin, and then – off to Boston and Cape Cod. Can’t wait to have a real summer (as opposed to the wishy-washy swedish summer that we’ve had so far) with sun and heat and sand and sea …. and to hang out with the Van Vleck family once again!

Here are some photos from a few weeks ago, when Ania made her fountain-swimming debut. When Ania asked to go for a dip, I immediately said no, because all I could think about were what sorts of nasty microorganisms might be dwelling within. But it was a warm day, the first in a long while, and a few of her playmates from dagis were already in there, splashing and laughing away. Too irresistible and no contest for my boring reasoning! She answered me with a very matter-of-fact and decisive, “Well, I’m going in!!” The clothes came off, she bolted beyond my grasp and before I could even think about protesting, there she was thrashing around in her underpants, grinning from ear to ear and squealing with delight. A clear testament to her growing boldness and determination – and the fact that at times, I really have to throw up my hands and face the fact that I have absolutely no authority over my child! What to do! For a second, I felt that helpless frustration of having been completely sidelined. But as her giggles got louder and she started shouting for me to watch her splash and dance – I could only surrender to the total joy that was unfolding right there. This was childhood at its purest and finest – when you don’t care one bit about things like germs or diseases or the chilly late afternoon wind or the fact that nobody brought a towel. All you know is that the sun is out, a fountain is bubbling in front of you, your friends are playing in there, and you want to be a part of it too. And it’s perfectly ok to strip down to your underpants and do just that. Oh, the joy and freedom of being 4! :)

IMG_8973

 

IMG_8972

IMG_8971

IMG_8975

Although Gotland is probably most known for the rauks and the seaside and the medieval history – one of the things I love most are the farmlands that stretch all over the island. There’s something about agricultural communities that I find immensely appealing – probably largely because of the food culture that naturally goes hand in hand. Those living in proximity to nature and animals, with a daily appreciation of all that goes into growing and cultivating food seem to really understand what quality of life is all about!

So we spent the weekend at a place called Hotel Stelor, about 30 minutes south of Visby. Just from the website, I instinctively imagined it would be like the Swedish version of Mas Garganta in Spain where we got married. A rural farmhouse converted to a small hotel, run by a couple as a labour of love. And happily, I was right! Stelor is much more newly renovated with all the urban essentials (like excellent wi-fi and iPad minis in every room instead of TVs…) – but still filled with authenticity and charm like our beloved Mas Garganta. On the first night, we shared the house with guests who were all part of one wedding party – but they all checked out quite early the next morning, so for the remainder of the stay, we were actually alone there as if in a private villa, surrounded by green fields and sheep and forests. And because we were visiting before the real tourist season began, the hotel was only sparsely staffed – which it made the whole atmosphere incredibly informal and that much more personal.

Karin, the owner, was so earnest and warm and friendly that you could really immediately feel at home – the kind of woman who can effortlessly drive an industrial lawnmower with one hand, while holding her baby with the other. She also had what we called a real “dagis-teacher-vibe”, meaning Ania took to her immediately, and would have been perfectly happy just following her and her 1-year-old son, Sam, around the farm all day long. Together they’d go off to feed the lambs or play in the fields while Stefan and I finished our morning coffee, or went up to our room to get organized for the day. Free babysitting, what an unexpected bonus!

They also served excellent, fresh food – of course all locally grown or sourced. I love that this is prevalent all over Gotland: eco-focused, farm-to-table concepts that take pride in their local produce. We ate dinner one night at a lovely place called Lilla Bjers, a farm-marketplace-restaurant, where we dined on beautifully prepared seasonal specialities: lamb, asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb –  in a sunny greenhouse-type space filled with olive and lemon trees and flowers. It was the perfect combination of absolutely top-class food in a relaxed and easy environment, where kids were welcome and nobody batted an eye when ours decided she needed to play hide-and-seek under the tables in the middle of the meal :) I think this is what true modern luxury really is: to feel like you’re experiencing the best, while feeling totally at ease.

Our last day was spent in the medieval city of Visby, where we spent a few hours wandering around the numerous church ruins, having a tasty seafood lunch and just generally pottering around in the sunshine. We boarded the ferry home feeling like we’d had a really relaxing, soul-nourishing weekend away…. a good way to start a new decade, I reckon!

Hotel Stelor, rustic beauty

Hotel Stelor, rustic beauty

 

Sheep abound on Gotland! These were very gentle creatures that loved to be petted and played with :)

 

Ania and her new friend, Sam.

Ania and her new friend, Sam.

Getting a real taste for farm living!

Getting a real taste for farm living!

Dinner at the lovely Lilla Bjers

Dinner at the lovely Lilla Bjers

Don't worry, it was just fruit juice :)

Don’t worry, it was just strawberry saft :)

Gotland specialities: lamb and asparagus.

Gotland specialities: lamb and asparagus.

Happiness!

Cosiness

Beautiful and delicious baby beets

Beautiful and delicious baby beets with salted butter

Best way of getting around!

Sunny day in Visby, using the best mode of transport!

In the main square of Visby, Ania found this old water pump extremely fascinating.

In the main square of Visby, Ania found this old water pump extremely fascinating.

Happiness!

Happiness!

Visiting some church ruins

Visiting some church ruins

Overgrown, crumbling buildings are always so fascinating...

Overgrown, crumbling buildings are always so fascinating…

Stunning sunsets. Bye Gotland, we'll be back...

Stunning sunsets. Bye Gotland, we’ll be back…

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.