Flat Mountain Dispatches

🏴 Old house > Swedish forest > Flat mountain 🏴

May as well change the name of this blog to Berry Mountain Dispatches.. maybe Jam Mountain Dispatches...

These bowls represent about 15-minutes gathering in the bushes crowded directly around the house. Mostly blueberries, red-currants and raspberries. Probs some gooseberries hidden underneath too.

The majority of the dense 'berry rich' outskirts of the forest remain untouched, because right now we don't have the space to store them all if we pick them. And lets be real, you can only eat so many berries every day! Our precious kitchen space is limited, and the fridge is already filled with jam.. and my partner keeps making more jam. Jam jam jam.

“Gonna make some more jam today” they exclaim, as I write this.

We got electricity installed in the barn the other week. This involved a laborious process of digging a trench from the house to said barn so we could run a cable across, occasionally having to manoeuvre through the fucking granite bedrock of the flat mountain and its impenetrable compressed layers of ice-age rock. This kind of landscape is why this area of Sweden has traditionally been so poor.. it's really, really difficult to work and farm land that's shot through with the rocky deposits of ice-age glaciers — but it's also a big part of why I love the landscape here so much.

Anyway. We did it, so now we have power in the barn, which means we can install a freezer box in there, making it much easier for us to store and preserve things like soft fruits in the future.

#journal

We have a big pile of tree stumps over by the woodshed, and a bunch of uneven scrap wood in the barn. Lately I've been using them to make a whole load of these little benches and tables to scatter around the garden, meadow and forest. They give us plenty of spots to sit and hang out in.. acting like navigational points.. wiring up the land.

This knife — like all my tools — was left behind by the previous owner and family. It'll probably be one of the first items I officially catalogue for the museum, as it's one of the first objects I picked up when we first came to view the house.

My woodworking skills are the bare minimum, but even I can manage to sand and oil.. we're using raw linseed oil for this, which takes longer to dry but is the most traditional method.

#journal

We got cherries, blueberries, red currants, wild strawberries & wild raspberries from the meadow, which means it's time for a jam sesh my man!

Apples and pears are starting to appear around the garden and the meadow now. Soon be time to kick the cider operation into gear. Holy shit yes.

#growing #journal #meadow

We've hit that sweet spot where we can harvest most of our lunches and dinners straight from the garden now, but we aren't yet overwhelmed by having too much stuff to store and preserve.

~ Today's lunch!

#growing #journal #permaculture

Updates from our first two growing spaces. In general things are looking good, with no real disappointments besides some slow developing aubergines and broad beans that didn't survive the dry spell [update: actually it turns out that half of them did survive!].

~ June

In these two spaces we've sown a mix of garlic, onion, tomatoes, mangetout, broad/runner/french & soya beans, corn, cabbage, beetroot, carrot, parsnip, turnip, artichoke, celeriac, zucchini & kohlrabi.

~ July

Elsewhere in the garden we have a potato patch, a smaller area for more beans, and about 40—50 other tomato plants, root veg, aubergine, wild garlic, peppers, chillis, asparagus and artichoke planted around amongst the wildflowers, wild strawberries and rasperberries, shrubs, fruit tree's and old ornamental garden plants.

The Swedish for this kind of practice is “Samplantering”. It gives a dense, lush forest garden vibe to the space, and it's fucking killer for biodiversity and getting your shit pollinated.

#growing #journal #permaculture

Have settled on Sigurd Knight / Sigurd Claymore from the always wonderful Blaze Type folio as the typeface for the Sofiebergsvägen project.

The above is a combination of stylistic sets, trying to maintain a balance between the more ornate elements on offer. I'm not sure I've ever published anything that didn't use a sans-serif for the title — or at least a heavy slab — but I really wanted to work with a font with a different kinda display character for this. Sigurd is my perfect match, plus I love the design info behind it:

“Inspired by the hero of the Nibelungen Saga, Siegfried, Sigurd is a font family gathering its inspiration in the shapes of swords and feudal armours. It aims to be an elegant font family yet deeply strong in its design construction. The design process started from an old scrap of letters found in an obscure set of the Eda stories.”

Very minimal kerning applied so far. I'll come back to that later when I have the cover layout set for print.

#design #type #museum

Lately it feels like every blog, book, zine and podcast I consume has a reference to K-Punk, whether relating to hauntology or capitalist realism or more vaguely to the journalistic oeuvre of dub-soaked future-nostalgia.

It's nice that his work is being posthumously re-appraised as a vital contribution to contemporary British writing — as everyone reading it knew at the time — but I gotta say I find it deeply uncanny to encounter these pervasive references. It really feels like a time-shift. A transmission from my old ends.

I still think of Mark Fisher as that awkward dude in my mates kitchen, who I hungover chatted to about my theory of a Mithraic Sun Temple buried deep beneath Elephant & Castle shopping centre.. explaining how the labyrinthine underpass system was actually constructed as part of an esoteric walking ritual that held the key to unlocking the sunken Narthex. This was probably combined with something half-remembered about Druidic bloodshed along the River Neckinger — or, The Devil's Neckerchief — which marked pirate hanging grounds at its confluence, before intersecting the infamous Bedlam Asylum and the underground tracks of the Necropolis Railway of the dead. So many shadowy histories connected at this point.. their reverberations still filling haunted smugglers tunnels.

No doubt we also considered Austin Osman Spare, preyed upon by a lustful Aleister Crowley in a Walworth Road boozer, and soon to invent sigil magic in his blitz bombed flat filled with cats, and the ripples that set off that would decades later coalesce into the birth of Chaos Magick in a Deptford squat. At the time I was convinced that all this S.E. London occult power was spun-up around the immense E&C roundabout and was stored there like a psychic silo, channelled into the gleaming Faraday cube /slash/ Aphex Twin studio. I wrote several terrible zines now lost to time about it.. but it's basic chronological resonance shit innit.

Anyway, two of those things up there are gone now, in the physical sense. One was maybe never there.. or is still yet to be uncovered. Unearthed. Deciphered.

Actually, most of Elephant & Castle is gone now. Lots of Peckham and Deptford too. Wiped away by a disintegrating anti-matter bomb that finished off what WW2 started. A rift of social-cleansing and violent displacement. A tide of inner city post-Colonialism that just white-washed over everything.. buildings, streets, histories, communities, families. Now it only exists as a ghost topography, woven in a dream space. An urban landscape of discarded artefacts, positioned out of time. A place pushed so fucking far to the margins that it was erased entirely.

So it's all just Ghost-Box-Kodachrome memory streams then, broken in their recollection.. little more than faded and threadbare reference points. And I seem to float free inside this hazy, fractal present. Not quite in my own past and unsure of my future. Even here in tree's I can feel the city turning out there somewhere.. a deep rumble as it continues to sink down into its own subterranean groundwater, slowly being enveloped by layers of ancient time. It's a reliquary that's in my blood, shooting through veins, threaded like a circuit cable between my past and present and informing it all.

Yeah. I wonder if I'm haunted by Fisher's brand of hauntology itself? I wonder if that can that happen? Or do the two hauntings cancel each other out? Where's Derrida when you need him eh?

I consider that I did — in fact — get up at 04:00 this-morning and listen to the Burial Tunes 2011 to 2019 drop, whilst the rain fell outside. So I'm in hyper-London-nostalgia slick-street-future-ruins mode now. Which is probably why I'm flashing back to all this, and writing in this awful stream-of-consciousness mode.

Time for another coffee and maybe to forage some raspberries. Re-tune to the forest. Get some grounding.

#misc #london

Honestly, it's a struggle to get anything done outside once the wild strawberries are out. They grow everywhere and I swear that for every one you eat, three more appear in their place the following day.

The cherries have also ripened this week. Most of the treeline from the meadow up to the fence around the garden is dense with cherry tree's, so we don't have to fight the blackbirds too much to gather them. There's almost too many to go around!

#cherry #meadow #journal

Midsummer evening walk.. crossing boundaries.. walls and trails and tracks...

Divination customs surround Midsummer, appearing in folklore records across the European regions. The rituals are often variations on sacred flower gathering rites, involving the collection of dew drops, or the picking of a certain number of herbs and wildflowers, followed by a small ritual which promises to grant the practitioner a glimpse of the future. Given the fertility connections at the Summer Solstice and Midsummer, this is often divination centred on love, marriage, children and families.

Here in Sweden the most well documented custom involves silently gathering nine different flowers whilst walking backwards, then sleeping with them beneath your pillow. In some variations the flowers must be gathered over three different crossroads, whilst others involve the backwards crossing of a matching number of physical boundaries, such as streams, walls and fences. The more elaborate practices share similarities with the ritual of the Årsgang which is also recorded as being performed on Midsummer eve for divination purposes.

With all our nearby streams and paths, hedges and walls, old abandoned roads and local railway tracks — plus our abundance of wild flowers and herbs — I'm already thinking about how to construct a personal variant of the flower gathering walk; weaving a living tradition for future Midsummer celebrations.

There's a good article going into much more detail on Swedish Midsummer rituals and folklore here The Magic of Midsummer Night, Institute for Language and Folklore. The text is in Swedish but big-tech-translate does a passing job on it if you're interested in exploring the topic further.

#folklore #journal #midsummer

Our first Midsummer in the house was a small but enjoyable affair. There were six of us altogether: we skipped out on the dancing and the more energetic pagan frenzies, but there was food and drink and flowers and singing. We all went on a walk to gather wildflowers to make wreaths to wear, and we took down an aspen tree to communally decorate the Midsommarstången (Midsummer pole / Maypole). Traditionally you're supposed to use birch, but maybe we can start our own regional variation. Aspen leaves do give that lovely soft trembling sound in the wind.. like a warm background drone machine.

It was probably a good idea to take a relaxed approach, given how tired the both of us have been lately. Next year, when we're a bit more established here in the house and on the land, perhaps we can plan a more extravagant celebration.

#journal #midsummer