Reading Retreats #1: The Weather Islands, Sweden

It is a general rule of thumb that when any of us go away, avid reader or not, we always make sure we have some reading time scheduled in on our holidays, yet we never think of having a holiday that is simply a reading retreat do we? I have to admit I find it hard to find a quiet space to read in my own home so wouldn’t it be great to have trips away that were just ‘reading retreats’? Be they somewhere without readers and authors and booky types or somewhere completely out of the way, surrounded in almost silence where you can just read and relax in the remoteness. In the case of the later I might have discovered the perfect place, The Weather Islands. The furthest islands West of Sweden yet within 40 minutes of a boat ride of the mainland.

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Väderöarna is a protected marine nature reserve where one passed you can only see the horizon for miles, no sign of life apart from seals, gulls and the odd dolphin on occasional summers. It actually feels like you are on the edge of the world. On it however there are some holiday cottages and the wonderful Väderöarna Vardshaus Inn, a wonderful guest house that sits right between two of the bays that interlinks Storo Island and Ramno Island. These buildings were all part of a community of pilots from the 1750’s until the 1960’s. These were set up with a lighthouse on the islands as the amount of ships that were wrecked in the area was endangering lives at sea but also putting off trade on the land. It is like walking straight into the past.

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As you can see from the above pictured, the beautiful view from my bedroom, the Island isn’t teaming with people, in fact there are only about 10 or 12 buildings most of which are summer homes and so the silence is incredible. Perfect for reading! However even I can’t solely read for a whole day when there are such natural wonders around but fret not there are three options available on the island when you need a break from a book. The first is hiking…

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Sweden has reinvigorated my love of hiking hugely and it is thanks to a trekking in Fjallbacka, Valo Island (more on that in a few weeks) and The Weather Islands. Not only is the scenery stunning…

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Where you have to play ‘spot the posts’ as wooden posts guide you through rocky terrain, marshes and a woodland that suddenly creeps up on you – being the adventurer again. The wildlife is incredible. I saw seals, Guillemots and lots and lots of toads which live in abundance as there are no predators (bar the occasional gull) on the island, they are honestly everywhere…

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You also couldn’t feel more like you were walking in a Cold Crime novel if you tried…

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There are also a few of my other favourite pastimes on the Weather Islands. There is marvellous swimming, in some of the clearest waters (which in summer get to over 20 degrees) I have ever splashed about in and also the quietest. I had an entire cove just to myself like a private swimming pool, though I have saved you from the horrors of me paddling. There is also an amazing restaurant on the island, part of the Inn, where I had one of the best prawn starters of my life, seriously…

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They also have a bar where guests of the Inn, folks from the summer houses and boats and a few toads can all sit together, chatter, read or just ‘be’ and watch one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen in my life.

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Yes, I had a little weep as I have done before in Tel Aviv and Iceland when the beauty of the world hits you with a wallop (I have also since done this just down the road in Wales which I will share soon) and just leaves you speechless. A blissful place which for me was much more a ‘heaven in the sea’ than a ‘hell on earth’ which is what the folk of the past used to call it. A perfect reading retreat indeed.

Why is it that we go on holidays and schedule in time for reading yet we don’t just go away on a reading retreat? For example we schedule time by the pool or on a lounger on the beach if we are off somewhere hot, or we use the travel time as quality reading time. When I fly to America in a few days I am seeing the almost twenty four hour journey (three flights one long stop in Chicago) there as a day which I can dedicate to reading. (Forgetting the facts that I will have the panic sweats on the plane, possibly get sidetracked by a film or three, or be asleep – the latter being unlikely as I will be in a panic about being 30,000ft up in a tin can, though would be ideal as I have a horrid feeling I might be slightly over tired when I arrive in Asheville.) Should we not just take reading breaks away? If so where have you been that is a perfect reading retreat and where would you love to go?

This post is the fifth and final post in a week of Savidge Reads in Sweden after I was sent by the lovely people at the West Sweden Tourist Board to go on a cold crime adventure.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Reading Retreats #1: The Weather Islands, Sweden

  1. What an array of gorgeousness you serve to us, Simon – or should that be a smorgasbrod? It looks perfect for a reading retreat – which is what my holidays seem to turn to anyway, regardless of where I go – and it’s not too hot, I’m guessing, which sometimes spoils reading outside for me.

  2. It looks glorious Simon, and you’re quite right – we *should* treat ourselves to readings retreats. Anywhere lovely in Wales, or a remote Scottish island, would suit me!

  3. annieb

    First, I have really enjoyed your series on Sweden and fully agree about reading retreats. I enjoyed one last September for 9 days and plan to have one this September for 14 days! Heaven! Mine was and will be again on the coast of Oregon where I am renting a cottage on the ocean. Last year I read 8 books and will probably read even more this year. That left plenty of time for walks and cooking and eating. I highly recommend a reading retreat.

  4. pam

    holy crap! unbelievably gorgeous photos. i want to go there right now. this very minute.

  5. Wonderful write up. As an avid reader, now in Sweden, I appreciate this. Great photos too.

  6. Ooh. I really love the idea of a reading retreat. If you have a family of some description but you’d like to go away by yourself, how do you sell that idea to your loved ones without being rude? Is that possible? I’d really like to do that one day, pref. in a cool or cold place with a small house by the sea. Just reading all day would be bliss. Simon – have fun in America. It sounds like you will.

    liz in texas

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