Rowing Woes on Lake Mälaren

“We were thinking of rowing to that island.” YK says, pointing across the lake.

“No … you cannot, I think.” The Dutch man holds his hand above his eyes. “It is private.”

“Oh …” I see a small one in the distance. “How about that one?” I say.

“That one is too far away.”

We’ll see about that. YK, Lorenzo, Joe, and me climb into the boat. YK rows.

The place where sky and water meet are ribboned with indigo and orange. The water reflects its palette like glass, perfect enough to walk on, reaching into the sunset. As we row, ripples cover the surface. They glide beyond where we can see.

Sunset Ripple Lake Malaren

“What time is it?” Joe asks me.

“22:45,” I say.


Paddle Sunset Lake Malaren

It’s not technically the longest day of the year. That was the 21st June: 3 days ago. Midsommar’s Eve is cherished in Scandinavia. I’m not too sure what everyone is celebrating. Some people say it’s the summer solstice. Others say St. John the Baptist’s Day. Either way, Swedes don’t need any encouragement to schnapp a holiday away.

The lake house we left has been getting smaller for some time. We look at our destination.

“I don’t think we are any closer.” Joe says.

“Mmm …” YK smirks then rows furiously, eyes popping like a maniac. “We must—” Puff “—get there!” Puff. After a few strokes he stops and laughs. “Seriously guys, it’s as small now as it was when we started. Shall we turn round?”

“No!” I say, “It’s not that far—look! We’re nearly halfway.”

“Whaat!?” Lorenzo, who for the last few minutes has been muttering away practicing an Irish accent with a hood pulled over his eyes, now sits bolt upright, looks to the island and back at us and exclaims, “No, guys! Why would we turn around?”

“OK.” YK tilts his head in acknowledgement and starts rowing again.

Twenty minutes later, the leaves on the trees and the rocks around the island become visible. We slow.

“Eurgh …” YK studies the terrain. “If we go close then the rocks might make a hole in the boat. We don’t know if there’s anywhere to moor it too.”

We all look on. I bite my lips. Lorenzo stares blankly. Then …

“OK.” We’re in agreement. Joe laughs at our determination to row so far. There’s a risky wobble as him and YK swap as rower.

Postcard Lake Malaren

Lake Malaren Evening Sunset from BoatA Stockholm factory we made out in the distance on the way is now shrouded in dusk. I breathe in as the breeze plays with my hair, and the cool of night descends around us. Whether we got there or not, spending time on the waters of Lake Mälaren was worth it.

Check out YK and Lorenzo’s latest single, Surviving, featuring Joe Cleere. It’s pretty epic, and very popular with the Swedes. (Purchase)

If you like ‘Surviving’, check out Sondr’s ‘Tropical Tunes’ Spotify playlist!

Est smiley

It’s Midsommar: The biggest party of the Swedish year!

Boat Malare Ekero Sweden MidsommarAnd I’m a gate crasher.

“Hej! YK, Lorenzo, I have name places for you!”

Our two friends smile. “Oh, thank you. You shouldn’t have. This is great.”

The red faced host turns to us. “And you?”

“I’m Joe.” Joe holds out his hand.

“J … Joe!?”

“—Yo,” I cut in, knowing the ‘J’ sound isn’t familiar to the Swedish tongue. Unfortunately, ‘Yo’ means ‘Yeah’ in Swedish.

“Yo!?” The woman’s flower wreath falls over her eyes as she descends into a laughing fit. “What kind of name is this!?” she manages to wheeze. “Yo!?” She claps her knees and her eyes ball.

“Like Yoseph,” I say. Her floral dress threatens to split.

After a moment, she calms down. “Uh. Okej … And you?” She turns to me.


“Well that I can understand!” she cries, giving me a hug. “Not like Yo!” She screws up her round face again and walks away, muttering, “Yo … Yo?”

Midsommar Lake Malare

I zip to the homemade bar and pour myself a wineglass of schnapps. At 40%, it burns going down, but I’d be breaking tradition if I drank anything else at a Swedish Midsommar fest. It’s actually quite tasty; To the untrained drinker, it could be a fruity sting of strong white wine.

Lake House Midsommar Malare Sweden

Oar Lake Malare Midsommar Sweden EkeroWe are on a lake house’s decking, overlooking the edge of Mälaren, Sweden’s third biggest freshwater lake. YK and Lorenzo are music producers, songwriters, and artists (Sondr). Their manager happened to clinch a private island for them for a week of songwriting, and we were lucky enough to be offered a visit. Their escapades led them to make friends with the locals, who insisted they join them for their Midsommar party. I just rowed us across the water to get here. After arriving in one piece, I’m feeling pretty badass (and a bit toasted).

The woman’s husband comes up to me.

“You need some of this.” He flicks a yellow cream tube at me and nods at my legs.

I glance down. Nice. 7 mosquito bites, fat like swollen bruises.

“Thanks,” I say.

YK and Lorenzo join us.Midsommar Lake Malare Sweden

“So, you live here?” I say to the man. He looks down at me, tanned wrinkles of 60-year-old skin crinkling as he smiles.

“Yes.” He says. He squints at YK and Lorenzo. “What do you think of the Brexit then? Silly British yes?”

“Well, I don’t know much about it.” YK shuffles. “I wasn’t allowed to vote.”

“If you want freedom, you have to move forward!” The man raises his glass and sways towards the dark red planked walls.

“Actually, if you want freedom, your opinion has to count for something.” I say. “You have to have a voice.”

He looks at me again. He tilts his head. “Wow. You are very British.” He says. “But it’s good.” He scratches his chin. “Now I hear another opinion.”

We jump into discussion.

YK and Lorenzo decide they need to get something from the car and tiptoe away.

Behind me, I hear Joe entering into debate with an Irish born pharmaceutical worker. I smile. The sun will barely set, and neither will this topic of conversation. We need more schnapps to get us through this one.


Est stick tongue

Ideas Island Ekero Malare Sweden