A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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10 April 2017

With Janecki to Kalmar....

... has the ring of a Boy's Own Paper adventure; a stirring story of a campaign in the Polish - Swedish wars of the 1600's, derring-do and so forth (Henty missed a trick here) but it isn't. Janecki was, on this trip, my fellow magneteer.

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Everything was going swimmingly at work until Bjoggs put his socks in the toaster and the whole operation ground to a halt - result: a couple of days of R&R for the Magneteers; time for a bit of culture.

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We didn't have far to go. Just like Karlskrona, Kalmar, some 40 miles north, boasts architecture in the Classical style. In the old town, the Domkyrkan (Cathedral) sits at one end of Stortorget, bordered by handsome buildings and facing the Rådhus (town hall - the building on the right).

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Continuing our tour south past the Rådhus, brought us to the marina and turning right to get to the Tourist Information Office (usefully closed on this Saturday morning) afforded a view of Kalmar Castle which, for us tourists, proved irresistible.

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It was a good walk in a brisk wind coming off the Baltic - I could still taste the salt several hours later - but well worth the effort.

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Gaining the courtyard by way of the drawbridge and a tunnel with a painted ceiling, the Swedish taste for trompe l'oeil was first revealed and continued throughout the castle.

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It was once used as a women's prison and there was a gruesome exhibit showing several methods of punishment handed out to transgressors. Part of the display comprised contemporary re-enactments of these punishments captured on camera; the photo's were extremely powerful.

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The streets of the old town were charming and (obviously) distinctly Scandinavian in style. There's something particularly homely about wooden houses; a warmth and coziness lacking in most bricks and mortar constructions. I remember remarking about my trip to Drammen in Norway that it felt like Mr Hornby had had a hand in the laying out of the countryside; just as easily he might have contributed to Sweden's vistas - there's something perfectly modelled about them. For some reason I keep expecting to encounter some brutalist style of architecture imported as a result of Sweden's proximity to Russia. So far, I remain happily disappointed but, thinking again, although Finland (not strictly part of Scandinavia) hasn't fared so well, maybe the hotel we Magneteers stay in near Pikkala, which resembles a Soviet style airport building, will one day achieve the status of Trellick Tower.

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Back in Karlskrona I revisited the railway which runs right under the centre of the town. Long since abandoned and rather sinister, I read that it was built in 1887 to supply the Naval dockyard and was expanded to include a network of bunkers during World War II. I haven't discovered if you can get down there to have a look round - I'm sure there'd be plenty of people who'd like to visit.

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All too soon, our impromptu break came to an end and we were back in the dark satanic soup again....

....... and then with Janecki to Luton Airport.

Doesn't have quite the same ring.


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