Gunilla is away and (unusually for me) I don’t make a rush for the exit. Instead, I went to Oxelösund, (it’s taken me 45 years to get around to it).
Like Kiruna, the town is there because of its industry. The centre has been moved to suit the steelworks’ needs, most of the buildings being from the 1950s and 1960s (presumably a lot of older buildings have been demolished although the town was never large and it’s not an historic town).
The centre feels glum. A few people drift across the square under a brave banner proclaiming “We are Oxelösund”. Business is slack for the duty beggar outside the department store and I see no money change hands. Together with charity fatigue, Sweden’s rapid abandonment of cash is bad news for beggars.
Fleeing to the more cheerful library, I find Klas Östergren’s “Gangsters” has been purged from stock and is on offer for 5 kronor. The cover blurb has words of praise from an Expressen review by Horace Engdahl (written a good few years before Horace E was given the role of Demon King in the Academy Panto). Klas Östergren is not one of my favourite people just now but I’ve never read anything by him and think I probably ought to. I also pick up a guide to Bulgaria so that I can use my ten kronor coin without pushing my luck and wanting change as well.
Worth looking at in the centre is St Botvid’s church built on a hill to look like a navigation marker. The architect was Rolf Bergh (the same architect who was responsible for St Birgitta’s church in Nockeby). It’s worth a visit but I decide to conserve my energy for the walk to Old Oxelösund, which is doable but some way off. Gränges, the company that later developed the steel works, purchased almost the whole of the peninsula between the modern centre and the coast, just leaving a small enclave of older buildings down by the water.
Although few in number, the old buildings are fine, some exceptionally fine. Oxelösund is a natural harbour and there were pilots living and working there. It’s still out of season though and the Archipelago Museum is closed as is the café, where a notice informs that, because of a burst pipe in the winter, they are not sure when they will open. My inner picture of sitting on a café verandah sipping coffee while looking at harbour bustle crumbles – no café, no coffee, no bustle.
Hardened by years in Sweden, I concentrate on enjoying sitting on a bench beside the water looking at the steel works. I learn a new Swedish word “båk” (beacon) which pleases me.
The sea is not far away but as usual in these parts, you can feel it but can’t actually see it as there are always a couple (if not ten) islands blocking the view.
Oxelösund is a bigger harbour than I expected. A ship is on its way in from Hull soon, returning there shortly afterwards. In a few days’ time, the Cyprus-registered Mynika, a bulk carrier (presumably coal), will arrive from Hay’s Point in Australia before sailing on to Luleå. I see that it’s now off the Canary Islands – it left Australia in March and must have gone around the Cape.
Retracing my steps is not as painful as I feared. At least I get a long rest at the bus stop waiting for Sörmlands trafik to rescue me while I mull over my reasons for wanting to visit Oxelösund.
We pass seventeenth century Stjärnholms slott on the way back to Nyköping. Owned originally by families of Dutch origin, Louis de Geer grew up there and was later involved in developing Swedish industry a bit further down the coast at Nävekvarn. Also worth a visit but it will have to wait until we can drive there.