Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Strange Goings-On In Aspen, Sweden
Like so many other of my fellow bloggers I am today writing to you from Aspen where I have come to attend Mr. Toast's first annual Christmas Tea. I arrived here a couple of hours ago and I must confess I am finding it a little strange for a number of reasons. In the first place it is rather an odd location for a Christmas Tea Party. I am sure that, to its inhabitants, it is a perfectly nice spot, the kind of spot that they are proud to call home. But with the best will in the world, it is nothing other than a rather bleak lake with a railway station, convenience store and filling station just off the main E20 road from Göteborg to Stockholm. As I traveled in a taxi from Landvetter Airport which is only about ten miles away, I did wonder whether I had been sent to the wrong destination by some mischievous blogging cabal, but when I spotted the signs proclaiming "Aspen" just outside the village I knew I was in the right place. I have now checked into the very reasonable - if somewhat underwhelming - Ibis Hotel and fully explored all the delights Aspen has to offer.
This did not take long as "all the delights Aspen has to offer" comprise of a walk by the lake, an exploration of the railway station, a trip to the convenience store and a tour of the filling station. When I eventually meet up with all my blogging friends I think I might suggest a trip into the nearby town of Lerum tonight because they have a Thai Take-Away Restaurant. And there's another thing, meeting up with all my blogging friends is proving harder than I imagined. Logic suggests that they must be staying here at the Ibis - they don't do rooms at either the convenience store or the filling station, I have already checked - but I am having real difficulty recognising them. Of course this is always the problem when you know people via their on-line personas : in the cold light of reality they do not always look like you imagined they would. Earlier, in the hotel bar, I spotted two delightful ladies chatting to each other and for some reason I assumed it was Willow and Betsy. I approached the first and said "You might be willow", only to be struck rather sharply across my face. "Perhaps you're betsy", I said to the second, and this led to a second blow about my person. Later, a gentleman entered the hotel dressed in a reindeer-skin coat and wearing what looked like a raccoon-skin cap. I immediately assumed that this was the famous Skip Simpson and I approached him and gave him a hug in a spirit of bonhomie and international friendship. I didn't catch all that he said, but from what words I did catch I can only say that in real life he is nothing like what he appears to be in his blog. And he has a thick Swedish accent. It makes you wonder why that Gretchen stays with him. And only a few minutes ago, I spotted a chap in the reception area making notes in a book so I immediate guessed that it must be Brian Miller. Well, I can let you into a little secret - English is obviously not his first language. Indeed he didn't seem to speak any English at all. How on earth can he manage to write those wonderful posts when he doesn't seem to understand the language? I suspect that he has a ghost writer.
And where is the host? Where is Mr Toast? When I asked at the Reception Desk they looked at me as though I was not quite all there and kept repeating "breakfast" in a very loud, heavily accented English. And where are e, Val, Dot-Com, Ronda and Poetikat? There doesn't seem to be that many people in the region, never mind in Aspen itself. And what about my band? I sent the Temperance Seven ahead and I haven't seen them once since I arrived. If that is them I can hear in the background, why are they playing the greatest hits of ABBA?
Ah well, I am sure things will work out for the best. I will go now because a fine looking lady has just walked into the bar swinging a tin and wearing a dainty little bonnet. That must be Baino, I must go and have a word with her.
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MR TOAST'S FIRST ANNUAL CHRISTMAS TEA : The only place to be today.
SHIBDEN HALL : Between the rain storms we go for a walk in Shibden Park