The question “What kind of name is Ylva?” was famously posed by Kate Hudson in the 2003 movie Alex and Emma* (the actual movie scene can be viewed here). The exchange, with Luke Wilson, goes on:
Luke: “It’s Swedish.”
Kate H: “That’s not a real name! Who made that one up? Jacques Cartier?“
Luke: “It’s her name okay.“
Luke is absolutely correct with his answers, the name is indeed Swedish. I would add that Ylva is the very best kind of name, for the very best kind of person. It being, in fact, the name of my fabulous friend.
I have known Ylva since our University days. I did straight Science and she did Science-Arts. It was during our Honours year in 1999 that we got to know each other really well, as part of the School of Botany Honours cohort. One of the photos attached to this post is a photo of Ylva, Ruth and me in 1999 – Ruth was the third member of our little botanical gang that year (and she has subsequently run away to live in Gippsland). Ylva and I also shared a house in 2004-05 with Cary (see the photo of us resplendent in pink) and Ryan.
She speaks Italian, Swedish and, I think, can more than get by in Spanish and French. She knows about art, music, architecture, film and science. She is good at crafts, and understands the significance of the first day the temperature rises above 20 degrees in Spring each year. She does trapeze and rides a bike (and likes the combination of bicycles and doing good so much that she is actively involved with the charity Bicycles for Humanity). To sum it up, she is one of those freak-over-achieving people and one day she will be running the world. I think she should also be an ambassador and she is incredibly tolerant of my need to make frequent jokes about having another Ferrero Rocher (and you either get this reference immediately, or you don’t). Alternatively (or perhaps concurrently) she may also run a circus, or become a best-selling author after moving to a country property with a big, rambling garden.
Ylva has been on maternity leave over recent months, following the birth of her son Paolo (huzzah!), and she has also moved to the north side of town (this seems to becoming a big trend amongst people I know). So during my recent week off work around the time of my birthday I locked in a visit. Her new neighbourhood is friendly and her new house is wonderful. It was also an opportunity for me to give Ylva her birthday present which I have been forgetting to give her for many, many months – yikes!
I tried a recipe for a Frank Camorra raspberry and yoghurt loaf that was in the Age newspaper in March (I have included the web link, although I had actually saved the newspaper clipping old-school style), of course using my new KitchenAid. It worked out really well, I had no cause for concern about using frozen berries (the recipe says to use fresh ones). I was able to match the loaf with some clotted cream (you can read about my recent and first experiment here).
I arrived late morning, just in time to enjoy a piece of cake and a few cups of tea. There was a house-tour, excellent conversation about everything under the sun and plenty of Paolo time. Paolo had a lot of important information to impart (often when his mother was saying something) and activity to show me with great earnestness. As the sun was shining, we decided to amble out and go to Ceres for lunch. Ylva is fortunate to be within walking distance from Ceres, a community environment park with excellent gardens, a nursery, a grocery store, market, education facilities and a café called the Merri Table. Being an environment park, the café menu is organic and locally-produced where possible. The food is hearty and the facilities are child-friendly. I had the black bean tacos (see photo) and these were great.
We wandered back home in the afternoon sun, just in time for a little more tea and cake… but where had all the time gone? Why doesn’t time fly like this when I’m in the office? There was still (is still!) so much to talk about. However, the every day practicalities of our lives could be ignored for only so long, and it was time to leave. Ylva also had a lovely gift for me, one that she’d actually purchased whilst living in London for work for a few months last year (how organised is that?). A beautiful botanical history book (Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History). True story – whilst returning to Australia, Ylva’s suitcase somehow ended up on the tarmac and a plan ran over it. This book was in the suitcase and Ylva was able to point out a couple of war wounds on the book (if you looked closely). Many other things in the suitcase did not fair as well as the book!
* The sad reality is that I don’t think many people have heard of this (seminal?) Hudson-Wilson film, let alone seen it.