Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 2/6/2003The day dawns bright and clear. And early: the sun's up before 4 a.

Monday 2/6/2003
The day dawns bright and clear. And early: the sun's up before 4 a.m., because I'm still in the rural wilds of the Kingdom of Sweden. For most of the past two weeks, I have decanted self, laptop and various items of radio gear to a farm in Sormland, about 70 kilometres south-west of Stockholm. The area is known as the Lustgard -- Garden of Eden -- of Sweden: it's certainly well-equipped with snakes. Also hornets, bulls, mosquitoes, horseflies, wasps and neurotic cats, all of whom have decided at one time or another to derive sustenance or sadistic pleasure from the portly bod of yours truly. The bull was particularly fun: "It'll be no trouble if you carry a stick and just yell at him," says the farmer's wife, and she was absolutely correct: the bull found it no trouble at all. As a result, I had to scamper for my life across the bottom of the cow pasture, which was sumptuously equipped with foot-deep furrows absolutely saturated with the various liquid, solid and intermediate states of matter that naturally occur in such places. Later that same day, my native guide and I find ourselves trapped in a forest with the sounds of cows all around, knowing that if one spots us and utters the special "Hey, Bull, they're back again!" moo our days on earth are over. Despite that, it's a beautiful place with much to recommend it. Ostensibly, I'm over here to write chunks of novel -- and to my surprise, it works. This has something to do with being well out of range of broadband, although other distractions are more enduring. It's a lot of fun to convert two whiskey tins to 802.11b high gain antennae and go clambering over the Svenska fields with a Linux laptop running war-driving software. The cows certainly enjoyed it.