Glory of Green
Stories from the Great Outdoors
It might stem from our general human lust for sensation - or it might just be me, wanting to wallow in the misery of the 19th century destitute. I do love Les Miserables. Whatever the reason - when I heard of an eco park with a tiny cottage where there used to live a family with seven kids in the second half of the 19th century, I had to take a look. It has to be added that the cottage is 14m2. Alma (10) and I made a day out of it, letting the green cultural landscape of Halle-Hunneberg transport us back in time.
Bike? Hike? Canoeing?
Eco park Halle-Hunneberg contains rich cultural, natural- and geological landscapes. Begin your visit at the museum shop and buy yourself a map - then you can have a chat with the lovely people working there and decide what you want to discover. We were there to see Adolf Rosts tiny cottage, but we also wanted a proper hike. The result was a tour of two old torps, Grinnsjö and Fagerhult, before we headed towards the main attraction.
Life at the Torp
A torp is a small farm with wooden houses, usually painted red with white window sills. In the 19th century there were about 100 000 of them in Sweden. Now many are turned into summer houses, but in Halle-Hunneberg the aim has been to preserve both the houses and the surrounding landscape.
As the name hinted - Grinnsjö was idyllically located next to a lake (sjö means lake). A million butterflies added to the enchanting spirit of the place. The torp dates back to 1640, but remains of cultivation have shown that people have been living here since the Bronze Age.
Alma loved to read about the siblings August and Ida, the last inhabitants of the farm, renting it from the Swedish crown until 1955. August liked to brag a lot and Ida was terribly good at ironing… Men! Gender roles! History!
From Grinnsjö we moved on to the torp at Fagerhult, passing through fields that once were farmed and lush jungleish vegetation.
On our way through the forest we found unmarked remains of a cottage and naturally had to make our own story, inventing a blonde girl named Alma who was born here in 1883 as the fourth of six children. She probably had long braided hair, a sickly brother who died young, a blue dress, loved to milk the goat and hated carrying heavy buckets of water.
When she was ten, imaginary Alma knew that Oscar II was her king, but she has no idea that a guy named Grover Cleveland was the president of USA - even though one of her elder brothers would emigrate to dig for gold in the land of opportunities in 1898. In Halle-Hunneberg these are the things you see.
Back to basics
After wandering down a hill covered in gigantic boulders and an obvious lack of farmable land, we came upon the tiny white cottage of the former soldier Adolf Rost. Tiny house dwellers - this is extreme even for you. Nine persons on 14 m2. How is that even possible?!
Oh the joy when we discovered we could actually go inside! First we had serious troubles figuring out where they all could have slept. Some of the children must have been servants in other households, that's my best guess. Then we made some other guesses about the utensils of times gone by.
Sadly, the Rost cottage is symptomatic for the general conditions of the 19th century. Agricultural resources and other means of sustenance were not able to keep up with the rapid population growth and people started living in places where they could not sustain themselves - or they did like imaginary Alma's brave brother and emigrated to the USA. The real Adolf himself made ends meet (or not), doing random chores on neighbouring farms and other enterprises.
My GPS-app kept disconnecting, but I assess our hike to be around eight or nine kilometres. The landscape is mainly flat. There are lots of lakes, so taking a dip should not be a problem. You need to cross a gravel road where cars theoretically can be seen, but otherwise this route was pure natural bliss.
Parking was no problem and marked on the map. The map also contains marked routes that you can follow, with signs along the way - but it's just as much fun to make up your own route, heading for the stuff you want to see and discovering the unexpected along the way.
Most people gather in the area close to the museum. Down south we were mostly all alone with our vivid imagination.
Questions? Wanting to share? Duke of Edinburgh or plain Jane? Feel free to contact me.