Friday, 25 July 2008

An unexpected summerhouse

This is the summerhouse of Carl Linnaeus,the man who invented the taxonomy system we use for the plant and animal kingdoms. I discovered today that he was also something of an ecologist, perhaps the earliest one in print.

The serendipity of finding the house at Hammarby is due to the winding path taken by cycle route Sverigeleden 15, which has taken me on a winding ride from the corner of Sodermälm where the Zinkerdamm hostel lies, to Uppsala, where I am staying tonight. It should be said that the route has also taken me through numerous parks and underpasses, to the extent that at times I've almost decided to give it up for the faster road beside it, but it has come into its own, now that I am out of Stockholm.

The house is announced only by a brown "historic monument" sign on the road with the name Hammarby, and by the pantiled roof of the old building by a bend in the road.

He bought the small farm to avoid the summer outbreaks of malaria in Uppsala, where he held a seat at the University from 1738. He may also have purchased it to provide an income for his family in the event of his predeceasing them.

The museum is small, but it is a bit of a treat really - especially to stand at the doorway to the old man's bedroom and find its walls covered from floor to ceiling with beautifully printed flower illustrations from one of his most beloved sets of books. He strikes me as being a man who discovered his vocation early in life and had the rare satisfaction of being the foremost authority in his world on his favourite subject, botanising.

It has been hot today and yesterday - 30° for two days now. I could do with something other than thermal wool tops and Ronhill Tracksters to change into when I get off the bike in the evenings!

The countryside here reminds me a little of Hampshire - quite a few copses, large fields of wheat and barley, and lovely little roads only wide enough for one car. It is flatter though, and considerably less populated. Difficult to photograph; I think Kansas probably looks similar too... too vast to fit into the viewfinder on the camera.

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