Sand, sea and shivering solitude on Sandhamn

In Explore, Look

A wintry sun shines through the pine trees in weak columns, just enough to warm the mid-March sky on Sandhamn. A twisted trunk, onto which someone has fastened a bird-feeder, serves as a picnicking spot for the few tourists that venture out to the extremes of the Swedish archipelago. It is a different world, this far out. A tiny lighthouse, beyond which lies open sea until Riga, provides a picturesque view spoilt momentarily by a tanker passing by. The island on which it sits seems close enough to swim to, but with the chill in the air the temptation soon passes. 2014-05-04 11.50.47 HDR Out of the forest, the wooden summer houses that populate the small village look like something out of an illustrated book. The gravel tracks crunch underfoot, even the quad bikes used to move goods around the island are silent. 2014-05-04 11.31.57-1Down by the harbour, the jetties jut out into the water, small human defiances against a remote world reliant on the whims of nature. Opposite lie a handful of empty islands, too small and too empty to be sufficient for occupation. This far out, it is not us who control the land. 2014-05-04 11.32.05-1 The winds rise as we turn back, the ferry threading its way through the hundreds of islands to the east of Stockholm. We are two hours away from the capital, but the vistas make it seem a lifetime away. Storms rise, roll past and fade away, the wind whipping spray and harsh rain onto the upper deck and forcing passengers to seek shelter inside. 2014-05-04 10.03.37-1 Looking out at the deep blue water punctuated by pine topped islands, I wonder – is this place as idyllic as it feels, or just a contrast to our normal lives, where we have overruled nature and rebuilt it until our homes sit in land unrecognisable from its original form?

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