Östergötland: Norrköping Area / by Jennifer Leahy

Helene answered my call just two days before the Swedish Number came to a close, and I'm so glad we had the chance to connect. She and her family live in Ullevidsdal, outside Norrköping, in a home that she and her husband, Tom, designed themselves (she's an artist (check out her awesome blog here), he's an engineer, and they both appear to be expert Ikea hackers). 

When she heard I was visiting Sweden, Helene invited me to stay in Ullevidsdal. I would be driving northeast from Malmö, and she had two of her nieces visiting for the weekend, so we decided to all meet at Lövstad Castle, where she'd been touring them around (and visiting her daughter, who worked in the café).  Though I arrived too late for the official tour, we got to walk around some of the beautiful grounds, then met up with Tom for a late afternoon ice cream at a spot overlooking one of the many locks of the Göta Canal, which connects Gothenburg in the west with the Baltic Sea in the east.

Back at Ullevidsdal, Tom had a grilled feast waiting. Before dinner, Helene gave me a tour of their warm, beautifully designed home, which included many personal and environmentally conscious elements (such as geothermal heating, and extra thick walls for energy conservation in winter).  Examples of Helene's work in the fiber arts decorated the house, including a pillow made on an outdoor loom from yarn she'd hand-dyed with vegetable and insect pigments. After plates full of grilled meats, corn, and Haloumi, we (or at least, I) got schooled by the nieces ski jumping on the Wii, and stayed up talking into the evening.

The next day, Helene suggested we check out Bergs slussar, the remarkable series of eleven locks (a highlight of the Göta Canal) that connect to Lake Roxen.  Over a delicious lunch of fish, mashed potatoes, and lingonberries, we watched boats go up and down the lock right outside the restaurant, then took a walk to get a view of the rest of the staircase.