Photo -
Dagmar Veraksits

At Home

- in Northern Sweden

It was a disaster, really.

I mean before. I'd moved to Sweden to be head of music at a rather good college, and we simply didn't fit together.

But I'd moved everything I owned to Sweden, and I didn't have anywhere else to go. One good friend arranged things so that I could survive by teaching small-town evening classes in English and guitar-playing. And folk dancing.

Another good friend said I could live in her empty house, where the forest meets the farming land... Very soon afterwards I felt that this was a place to stay, and the Farmers' Bank found the money for me to buy a little farm - the repayments were cheaper per month than hiring even the smallest flat anyway...

It's called Löfsjö, which means 'Leaf-Lake' or 'Leaf-Sea'; you can read more about it here.


Photo - Robert Edwards

There Karin and I had our sheep and goats and span wool and knitted and sewed in sheepskin and baked bread and told stories and had lots and lots and lots of visitors.

During the 90's I was there about half the time, the other half in Estonia where I was professor at Tartu University, showing students ways they could climb out from under the appalling legacy of combined Lutheran and Stalinist repression and achieve things they'd thought impossible.

Since 1999 I've been able to live at home all the time, thanks to working with the people at the three local mediaeval churches, with a variety of jobs like producing a magazine, looking after a web-site, providing music with harp, synth and organ, leading a choir, leading the team which looks after visitors ... My philosophy is far more Taoist than Lutheran, but up to now that hasn't been a big problem.

It's still the most beautiful place I know and I own it. Whatever that means. You can't own land or trees or hills. But you can enjoy them freely and stop other people spoiling them