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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Travel diary from 1894

Last weekend was also fairly long, three days, since the national holiday is June 6. We normally don’t celebrate it much. I usually go on a shopping trip to Denmark that day because the stores are open there, but the train strike is still going on, so I decided it was too much trouble. Instead I have done some short trips to different malls. I also spent Saturday at work, to avoid getting strange questions from my colleagues. I did some research for the biography. Other activities at home include a thorough cleaning of the bathroom, handwashing blouses, a minor reorganization of the wardrobe and some cooking. Today was very hot, 26 centigrades, and I did basically nothing. I went for groceries at 7 in the evening and almost melted away. We are not used to this kind of weather, I hope it cools down soon. Frequent readers of this blog (if there are any at all) know that Swedes have to complain about the weather, no matter what.

My grandmother’s cousin sent a very interesting document he had found in his father’s belongings. First an explanation: my great-great grandfather was a sailor and he seems to have been quite adventurous. He had actually lived in New Zealand 1872-1878, before his marriage. In 1894, then married with three children – one was Olga, he made the journey back to New Zealand, this time with his brother-in-law and his family. The latter family stayed there until 1908, when they moved on to Australia (we visited the descendants there in 1998). My great-great grandfather tried to urge his wife to sell the house and emigrate with their children, but she refused. She was very religious and was worried that the children would not get confirmed properly, as she did not think New Zealand to be a “godly country”. I have known about this story my whole life, but I didn’t know that my great-great grandfather wrote a travel diary during his voyage to New Zealand in 1894. It took a little more than two months by train and ship from Copenhagen, via Hamburg, Bremen, Southampton, through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, India, west and south coast of Australia, Tasmania and finally Wellington. The diary is an incredible account of the people they met, the sights they saw and even what they had to eat. He had sailed the seven seas since 1869, and you can tell he had been in those ports before, he commented on it. After three years in New Zealand he returned home. He never managed to persuade his wife to emigrate. If he had, this would be a completely different story…

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