This afternoon, with a gusty wind blowing squalls across the sky of Närke (our home county), we had a walk in the forest – not our local forest but one about a half hour’s drive away, southwest of Örebro. Set amidst rolling hills and fields of green, Trystorps ekäng is a little different to most of the forest in this part of Sweden. Ek means oak, and äng means meadow or field. Trystorps ekäng is a leaf-forest of linden and maple and birch, but most majestic are the ancient, gnarled and twisted oaks that are sprinkled amongst the other trees. It feels like the woods of old England, or like the forests of Skåne in southern Sweden. The forest floor is covered with soft green growth and tiny white flowers, vitsippor as they are known here, wood anemone in English. There are also the broader leaves of the liljekonvalj (lily of the valley) but they are yet to bloom, and here and there dandelions have blown in from the fields as well as the odd buttercup.
The “oak meadow”, though now preserved for public use as a nature reserve, belongs to a large estate called Trystorp, which, interestingly, is for sale. It has a long and chequered history, dating back to the 1300s. We drove past the house, which has the romantic name of Trystorp Slott – literally Trystorp castle, but it would be more rightly called a stately home – on the way home. We stared with amazement through the gap in a high hedge into the courtyard in front of the house, and tried to imagine living there. “Looks like something out of Pride and Prejudice,” remarked Samuel as we drove slowly away. A price has not been named, but rumour has it that it will be somewhere in the vicinity of 60 million Swedish kronor, around 10 million Australian dollars. Sounds a lot, but for a slice of history, a 600 hectare estate with a working farm, and a collection of barns, storehouses and other dwellings scattered around, it is perhaps not so much to be asking. Ten million dollars buys a lot less in Sydney these days.