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#MySweden: 'On the very day we arrived there were neighbours waiting to greet us'

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#MySweden: 'On the very day we arrived there were neighbours waiting to greet us'
Edmund and Amber Hood Highcock moved to Sweden in 2016. Photo: Private
08:59 CET+01:00
Every week The Local's readers take over our Instagram account. Today, Amber and Edmund show us their village in western Sweden.

How old are you and what do you normally spend your days doing?

We are Amber (34 from Australia) and Edmund (33 and British). Amber is Gothenburg destination manager for Nova Fairy Tales (although will soon be getting back to her archaeological roots at Lund University), and Edmund is a senior data scientist at Greenbyte.

When we are not working we are concentrating hard on improving our Swedish, hunting for mushrooms in the forest with our dog Bodley, and playing board games with our friends. We love cooking and we also spend a lot of time working on our 100-year old Falu red cottage (which we love, but which needs a lot of TLC...! Fortunately it seems that we are not alone, and the nearby town of Varberg has an astonishing number of DIY shops).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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When and why did you move to your area?

We arrived in Kungsäter at the beginning of July 2016. Finding a place to live in Gothenburg with our pets seemed to be an almost insurmountable challenge, so we started looking on Hemnet, and after two months of looking we found a place that we both loved.

Two months later we settled our two rabbits and hamster (our dog joined our family a bit later!) into the car and began a drive across Europe, via Bruges and Lübeck, to a small village, surrounded by lakes and forest, in a country we had only visited three times and where we could not speak a word of the language.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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What do you love the most about your area?

On the very day we arrived there were neighbours waiting to greet us and make us feel welcome. They have helped us in every way you can imagine; teaching us Swedish, helping us find someone to buy wood from (standing outside chopping logs out in our garden is very good way to meet and chat with passers-by).

Our neighbours bake us fresh kanelbullar, help us to understand rules and regulations, and rescue our post when our old postbox starts leaking. They have helped us unload a great wooden chest from the roof of our car (we saw it in a second-chance shop and had to buy it), love our dog as much as we do, and they have helped us find our underground pipes and electric cables, which they saw being laid 20 years ago. We don't know what we'd do without them!

We also love the wonderful landscape surrounding our village: the three big lakes to the north, south-west and south-east, the fact that the forest is on our doorstep, and that wildlife surrounds our house. In the last year, we have counted red squirrels, nuthatches, blue-tits, tree-creepers, a Cooper's hawk, a doe and her fawn among the visitors to our garden (the deer did eat our rhododendron, but last winter was long and cold so we forgave them).

READ ALSO: Ten reasons why Varberg is the best place in Sweden

What annoys you the most about your area?

Sometimes it would be nice to be able to go out for dinner, or to the cinema, without having to drive a minimum of 35 kilometres. We also wish there were more buses a day to Varberg and we really wish we could get a bus to our nearest railway station in a town called Horred (it's across the border in Västra Götaland; apparently buses do not like to cross between Halland and Västra Götaland counties). But we love where we live and as you can see have very little to complain about!

How should I spend a day in your area?

On a day in late summer you should get up early and go for a long walk in the forest to the north, and see if the chanterelles have arrived yet. Or earlier in the year take a walk from Lake Oklången to Lake Fävren, stopping to admire the lupins, and to buy honey from the local beekeeper.

If it was a clear day you could drive to Helsjön, or Flahult, or the old burned-down lodge at Hyltenäskulle, to get some spectacular views of the lakes and the gentle rolling hills. In the village itself, there's the rhododendron walk, a well-maintained path strewn with the many-coloured eponymous rhododendrons, troll grottoes, and boasting a birds-eye view of Kungsäter and Lake Fävren.

READ ALSO: What to look out for when foraging in Sweden's forests

When it's hot, in the afternoon, everyone heads to the lakeside. There are many sandy badplatser (swimming spots) to enjoy, featuring jetties, slides and a lot of good picnic spots. In the evening in the summer you could go to Solbacken, Kungsäter's own (mini) take on Glastonbury, where there are regular summer concerts.

Last winter was a lot of fun. If you had come to visit Kungsäter then, you could have skated many miles along the frozen lakes and tobogganed down lots of hills. If that's too cold, the snow looks beautiful out the window when sitting in front of a roaring fire.

What's a fun fact not everyone knows about your city/neighbourhood?

Unlike those of many villages in the area, Kungsäter's medieval church is a ruin (they have a remarkable 19th century octagonal church instead, but that's another story). Close to the beautiful old ruins is a mysterious nearly three-metre high stone, weathered and covered in lichen. At least, it was mysterious until we could read Swedish. It commemorates the truce after the war of 1470-1 between Denmark and Sweden, after which Sweden, led by Sten Sture, asserted its independence from the Kalmar Union.

You can follow Edmund and Amber Hood Highcock on Instagram here. Do you want to be The Local's next #MySweden Instagram takeover host? Click HERE to apply.

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