Arriving in Ängholm

Bliss and I are both huge fans of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which, in gripping fashion, tells the story of a Scandinavian family (the Vagners) living on a small, remote, and largely uninhabited island (Hedeby), whose members have been feuding with each other for decades.

What we didn’t know, until recently, was that I am also related to a Scandinavian family (the Pippings, who are Swedish-speaking Finns) living on a small, remote, and largely uninhabited island (Ängholm, Finland), whose members have been feuding with each other for decades.  (No one seems to know how my father and I are related to the Pippings.  Lillis Pipping suggested that she and I were, maybe, third cousins.  My dad has promised to show me a family tree to clear things up, but the tree has yet to materialize.)  Ängholm is 3 km long and has six houses, all of which are inhabited (some during the summer months only) by my relatives.

In any case, my parents, Bliss, Jude and I went to stay with the Pippings on Ängholm last week.  More accurately, we went to stay with one of them, Lillis, as her two siblings, not on speaking terms with her, had left just before our visit, one to play golf in Spain and one (so he said) for the end of the summer season.  What wasn’t clear was just how much Lillis’ siblings’ reasoning for leaving the island was down to our visit.  One of them, Peter, showed up at the motor-boat dock to greet us, introduced himself, gave Jude a generous present and a very sweet card, and quickly drove away.  The other sibling, Marina, had left the day before, but boarded up the windows on her house, so there was no danger of us, or Lillis, looking in.

My immediate family has a connection to Ängholm that dates back close to 100 years.  My paternal grandmother, Margaret, used to vacation on Ängholm when she was little, before the First World War, and my dad had always wanted to see the island.  With this in mind, Bliss and I planned our trip to give us some time in Helsinki, which we could use as a launching pad for visiting Ängholm.  All told, it took approximately two and a half hours to get from Helsinki to Ängholm, a two-hour drive, including car-ferry, and then a short motor-boat ride to the island.  (A special note of thanks goes to my relative—again, specific relationship unknown—Isa who drove us both from Helsinki to Ängholm, and then back from Ängholm to Helsinki.  We hope to return the favor for Isa one day in the States!)

One of Lillis' delicious dinners

We are extremely grateful to Lillis for welcoming us into her home for the duration of our stay.  Highlights of the trip included a morning walk in the woods to look for chanterelle mushrooms (we found some, and Lillis turned them into a fantastic and—literally—award-winning sauce, which then went into a loaf of hollowed-out bread, topped with melted cheese—yum!); several really delicious traditional meals featuring local herring and salmon, black bread, boiled potatoes, and a Russian-inspired Finnish cheesecake; meeting Lillis’ daughter, Kira, and her son, Vincent, who played nicely with Jude; afternoon sherry (and ice cream for Jude) with Lillis’ aunt, Gita; and attractive nautical views.




  One Response to “Finnish Isles: Our Lives Without Dragon Tattoos, but Parallels Abound”

  1. Hello, My name is Alexander and i Come from Sweden and My mothers family name is Pipping! Please contact me and tell me more about yourself and The Pipping family.

    Cheers, Alexander…

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