Fun Friendship and Celebration - Sweden 2022

Highspot of the Rotary Year, the annual twinning visit to one of our linked clubs in Mainland Europe brings together Members from up to six different Rotary Clubs in four countries.

Double Triangular Visit to Karlshamn

A change to our usual reports, this page is a taster of the recent September 2022 visit to Karlshamn, through the eyes of “twinning virgins” Past District Governor Michael Dunne, Club Secretary Brian Wellman, experienced "twinners" International Chairman Malcolm Acors and Treasurer Les Sheppard.  A full report of the visit follows shortly.

Brian Wellman

Where was Michael?

"This was my first Double-Triangular visit, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Let me say immediately I found the whole experience a great delight, but with some surprises.  First, rose early for a 05.15 start with fellow club member Michael Dunne, and headed for Stansted Airport, duly checked in quickly and met up with travelling friends from Basildon Rotary Club.

Arrangements at Copenhagen Airport worked well, and complete with luggage we headed down to the train, meeting up with other members and wives - Malcolm, Sue, Les and Val.

Where was Michael!!! We were on the point of making a Tannoy announcement when he appeared with a Ukrainian lady (travelling to see her daughter in Karlshamn) but she didn’t speak any other language.

Fortunately, a young lady on the train managed to help her using a mobile phone to translate.

Sweden At Last

A longer than expected land journey as an earlier fire in the switching system meant a deviation off the train, onto a bus and finally back on the train, so we arrived late.  We were met by the Karlshamn Rotarians and taken to the hotel, dropped off luggage and then off for buffet and drinks followed by 18 Holes of very competitive Crazy Golf!!! Was this the norm I thought?

Thoroughly enjoyed Friday’s boat trip to Castellet but - did it rain! Soaked through, but were we down hearted? No, we’re British!

Chelsea Supporter

Fellowship at the lunchtime Rotary meeting, and interesting presentations before the afternoon visit to the Jonny Martinson art building and further visits including Karlshamn museum for a tasting of Punsch.

A most enjoyable home hosting evening by Lars Greiner and his wife, with Michael, two French friends and a Swedish rotary couple (a Chelsea Supporter!!!).  Saturday involved a boat trip to the Island of Tjärö, lunch followed by Orienteering.  I teamed up with Michael as I didn’t want him straying.  We succeeded and found all the clues.  A very enjoyable evening at the Odd Fellow Club for the Gala Dinner, and celebration of Karlshamn’s 70th Anniversary.  A great atmosphere.

Train home on Sunday from Karlshamn, Michael made friends with another lady with purple hair, and brightly coloured trousers!!  There seems to be a theme here.  He has a tendency to wander off (“Has anybody seen Michael – is he on the plane home?”) but a great companion, very caring person and likes a chat, or two, or three...


Very comfortable being part of this multi-national event, languages weren’t a problem.  Good fellowship which gathered pace as the days passed.  It is a shame the Italian Clubs were unable to take part.

Hospitality from our Swedish hosts was exceptional, Lars and his colleagues tried where possible to stay within the planned schedule despite the inclement weather.  My highlight was the Home Hosting where we had a treat - excellent food, fine wine, good company and carriages to and from the Hotel.

I do hope to go to Italy next year …God Willing!

Michael Dunne

Rotary is alive and well

No description adequately describes the few days we spent experiencing the hospitality, friendship and the sheer joy of our visit to our Rotary friends in Karlshamn.

Language was no challenge

Thursday—yet to arrive-- on the train journey from Copenhagen, true Rotarians we aided a lost Ukrainian lady en-route to Karlshamn--- just show the Ukrainian passport and all assistance and translations were offered by a Swedish young lady.  Thursday evening – met at the station, cases to the hotel, off to dinner, an evening game of indoor crazy golf—it was fun, and language was no challenge!

Good conversation and a memorable meal

Friday -- our visit to the Fort, ill-equipped for the rain, standing patiently during a presentation from the guide.  We got very wet, but our humour surmounted all!  Then the Rotary Meeting, with project presentations and a few meaningful words from the D.G. for Karlshamn’s 70th anniversary.  Lunch followed by our visit to the Art Gallery of Johnny Martinsson a creative artistic genius, verging on ninety and still working with stone, metal and paint and presently with five commissions.  Finally, to close the day, our home visits with more good conversation and a meal to be remembered.

Saturday, a sea voyage to Tjärö, the scenery much enjoyed, the island very special, lunch and then light walking with orienteering round the island.  To conclude, our evening Gala Banquet - the conversation flowed, the music played, the food and wine delicious.

A very special visit

Sunday—All good things must come to an end and so it was, a light lunch at a bistro and away.  No queueing at the airport, an attack of my sciatic nerve meant a need for assistance and in UK a quick exit through “Families” meant homeward bound without delay.

The Rotary hospitality of our Swedish hosts, the friendliness of the French Rotarians, the home visit, and to top it all we met a real, very young D.G.   A very special visit! 

Karlshamn Rotary is alive and well, as so are all our double triangular Rotary friends.

Malcolm Acors

Fellowship Enjoyed

I have been involved in the “Double Triangular” Rotary exchanges with our partner clubs for many years and continue to be associated and involved as International Chairman for Billericay.  I always look forward to these trips and meeting up again with old friends in these clubs with whom we have developed long-standing friendships. 

So Sue and I were delighted that after the frustrations of the “Covid” years, the exchanges restarted this year in Karlshamn Sweden and celebrated that club’s 70th Anniversary.  And we were NOT disappointed. 

A Fulll Agenda

As usual, we stayed overnight near Gatwick before a taxi to the airport early the following day.  However, the journey was not with out its challenges, what with fuel spillages at Gatwick, baggage problems at Copenhagen, “missing” travellers and luggage and finally train line problems in Sweden.  It was a very long day, but this didn’t deter us and we all joined in with our hosts and the other Rotary clubs in a Crazy Golf competition at a nearby Golf club – notable for an eighteen hole course inside.  We had so much fun!

Friday started with a very wet (the worst rain this year!) trip to the Citadel. We may have been like drowned rats, but happy ones!  Then return to Karlshamn for welcome by President Bo, a presentation by his DG for the 70 year anniversary, and then presentations by each Rotary Club.  I presented our Borewells project and thanked all the clubs for their support (It was unfortunate that the two Italian clubs were unable to travel to Karlshamn this year to hear the presentations).  Our presentation seemed to go down very well.  After this we had a fabulous lunch in the adjoining restaurant. 

The afternoon tour of the town in the pouring rain  was very enjoyable, especially the “Punsch museum with tasters”! The evening home hosting was a joy, although I was distressed to hear that our good friend Bengt Norman, who was such a major force in previous reunions, was very unwell – we all wish him well and a speedy recovery. 

Saturday’s weather was much better and we had a most enjoyable boat trip to Tjärö Island for orienteering and a very good lunch.  We had a brilliant day, full of fun. 

Gala Celebration and Joint Projects

That evening was the formal highspot of the reunion - the Gala Dinner, a most enjoyable meal accompanied by a Band with at least 20 accordion players!  There was lots of music and sing songs.  A great way to end the visit. 

Sunday was the President’s Meeting where we all discuss projects we could work on together (this is where three years ago all clubs voted to support our Borewells project with significant financial support).  This was a challenge because the two Italian clubs had to join remotely, by TEAMS, as did additional members of Beausoleil.  The lack of sound at the start of the meeting did not help either.
Mike Barrett’s (Basildon) project for Biolites at £100 each, was adopted with each club being asked to fund five.
(There was a special treat for me when Lars and President Bo took me to the local factory where they have installed technology to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, to power the process and machinery in the plant that manufactures sunflower seed oil.  They also hope to convert their delivery vehicles to run on the hydrogen fuel. The heat generated in the factory whilst processing this oil is used to heat much of the residential part of the town of Karlshmn.)

Les Sheppard

Wild Roving in Karlshamn

Val and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. Transport issues contrived to delay the start of the fun, but despite all this everyone had enough energy to enjoy the Crazy Golf on Thursday night. Nor could the rain on Friday dampen our spirits as we visited the Kastellet, learned the art of Fika and toured Karlshamn on foot in the afternoon.

Superbly Entertained

For the home-hosting, Val and I were paired with Peter Townsend and Maureen Allen. Pia Forsare and her husband drove us to the home of President Bo Gardesköld and his wife Ute in the village of Svängsta, about 12 Km north from Karlshamn.  Champagne on arrival set the scene and we were superbly entertained. As a fish lover I thoroughly enjoyed the classic prawn starter of Skagen and the wonderful marinated salmon (from the local river) for the main course. For desert there was another Swedish speciality – Princess cake – light layers of sponge with a thin spread of jam topped with whipped cream and all covered by a dome of thin green marzipan. To round off the meal, what else but a glass of Punsch! We were driven back to Karlshamn, with our drivers taking care in case there were any Elk loose in the road – a serious problem, we were told.

A Great Weekend

Val was in her element on Saturday, up on the deck of the ferry to Tjärö in the morning and then enjoying a walk through the woods for the Orienteering in the afternoon. We ended with an ice-cream while watching the kayakers play water polo.

At the gala dinner, when the accordion band invited everyone to sing along to the Wild Rover, I was taken back to my university days, as the Wild Rover was the unofficial college song. 

On Sunday morning we enjoyed a walk through the Harbour Park and saw the Emigrants memorial.  We were sorry to have to miss the farewell meal, thanks to EasyJet cancelling our original flight. However, we were provided with a tasty packed lunch for the train journey and we were fortunate to be on the first train to run direct to the airport without a rail-replacement bus. To round off the weekend, on take-off we had a very good view of the Øresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden.

Thank you, Karlshamn Rotary Club, for organising a great weekend.

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