My 50th birthday, though anticipated without much enthusiasm, has been very enjoyable so far. This has been in large part thanks to my dear wife who knew I wasn't looking forward to it, and took steps to make it a positive experience. (I would otherwise have curled into a foetal ball and waited till it passed.)

The weekend before, we went up to Stockholm together. Our first visit together to the capital in a very long time. Well over 10 years.

On the 25th July, after a long train journey, there was a stroll through evening streets, a shooting star to wish on (left), and a surprise when my sister and her partner showed up to spend the weekend with us.

On the Saturday, which turned out to be Stockholm's hottest day for 20 years, we walked around the old town and then took a boat out to Björkö ('birch island') to visit the Viking museum of Birka. Once upon a time Birka was the largest city in this part of Scandinavia - 700 people at its largest - about a thousand years ago. Now the island has a permanent population of less than 10. I took photos, but it was hot and I was not an enthusiastic photographer. Besides, the sun was so bright the contrast in most of the resulting pictures is ridiculous.

But on Sunday, when we explored Söder, I had more joy of my camera.

Stockholm City Hall towers Street on Söder 3 Street on Söder 2 Stockholm Reflections Mosque on Söder

Back in Gothenburg, on Wednesday 30th we went out to Gunnebo slott a manor house built for a rich Anglo-Swedish merchant (and namesake) John Hall in the 1790s. They have a restaurant - a very good one which serves food made, as far as possible, from the products of the gardens - and in the summer an open-air theatre. Excellent, front row seats, and a few photos to prove it.

On the stage at Gunnebo 1 On the stage at Gunnebo 2 On the stage at Gunnebo 3 On the stage at Gunnebo 4 On the stage at Gunnebo 5

The week ended with a quick visit to Gothenburg's Sjöfartsmuseet (Seafaring museum) which also has a little aquarium. The light was poor and the fish were quick, but I managed a few pics even so, and some of the poorer quality photos polished up very nicely in Photoshop (though I say it myself as shouldn't).

Fish Coral

And the celebrations went on. I just got back from England. Haven't had time to look at the pictures I took there yet, so there's another installment of this yet to come.