Closeup on a woman with her arms full of freshly picked apples

The queen of Västerbotten comes home

Sven Burman
Sven Burman

- I've basically spent my entire life in my house, except for the years when I went away to study, Thea tells me and makes a gesture with her hand. 

We're in her garden in Bureå, surrounded with apple trees, raspberry bushes and mixed root vegetables. 

- As I kid I dreamed about the big city, so I chose to have my internship in Stockholm when it was time to get a higher degree. But wow, I did NOT like it! I dreamt about that life for so long, but I was like what is this? So when I was done with my studies I pretty much felt that yeah, I'm going home to Bureå, outside Skellefteå again.

One late summer evening Thea takes a bath in one of the surrounding lakes.


Thea Holmqvist is better known as Västerdrottningen. A play with words that relates to Västerbotten (drottningen is swedish for queen) and it's a name that Thea lives up to. She has spent years sharing tips for local destinations, enthusiasts, stores, creators and more from Västerbotten on her blog and Instagram account. 

- The idea behind Västerdrottningen started with me and my partner moving back home again. To the house where I grew up, and that has been in my family for four generations. It feels right. Like, this is the place we should call our home. This is were we're meant to be. 

Thea fills my coffee cup again, without thinking about it, and continues. 

- I want to buy as much locally as possible, and realized that there's no website that had collected local producers and creators. And at the same time I noticed how many amazing people there is, so I decided to make that list myself. Simple as that! And I named the blog Västerdrottningen.

It's early morning and the middle of September. The leafs are beginning to change colors. Thea has already picked half of her apples and together, before our cup of coffee, we managed to harvest two full bowls of beets and carrots from her crops. It's clear that Thea cares for the local life and seems to have a sustainable view as a piece of her DNA.

Thea is sitting outside, with her back leaning against the door of a small cottage.

- When my grandparents lived here, they didn't have a lawn. They grew vegetables instead, potatoes and strawberries, over the entire yard. Unfortunately, I haven't inherited their skills, but I try to grow crops so that we can eat our own food for atleast part of the year. For the other months I try to buy produce locally in stores, at markets or directly from the producers themselves. 

September is the time for markets, and our plan for the day is to visit a market in Lövånger. Thea already knows what she's looking for, and that she knows is usually available. 

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Red onions
  • Flat bread
  • Chanterelles
  • Eggs
  • Honey

And as for myself, I'm hoping to find cloudberries. Not yam, just the berries so that I can make my own yam, following a recipe my grandpa left me.

The love for home 

We chose to meet at her home, in Bureå. You see, I was curious about her relationship to this place and the house where she's grown up, and why she decided to move back home after only a few years in Stockholm. 

- Everytime that I went home to visit the family I just fel that this is what it should be like. Although the distances up here can be large, the time it takes to travel them are more reasonable. I'd rather travel 30 miles in 45 minutes, than 3 miles in the same time span. And, the contrasts between the seasons are so clear here, I love it. 

- What did you see when you came home, that you didn't see before you moved away? I ask and reach for an apple in the tree behind me. 

- I'd say that there are so much to discover and experience in Västerbotten, that I'd never heard of before. It's not hard to occupy yourself for an entire weekend, no matter what small village someone tells you to go to. Besides, I now see the genuine community we have here. Sure, a lot of this was already present before I moved away, but there's this new pride and belief that the future will be grand that I believe wasn't here before. 

- I want the poeple living here to know that you don't have to go far away to experience an adventure, there is so much right here! I want people to understand that the possibilities that they think only exists elsewhere also exists here. 

People who shop from the market stalls at the harvest market in Lövånger church town.

A spontaneous detour

Thea gets a basket and we walk to the car. We're headed to cale and locally produced honey in Lövånger. And speaking of time - even though Lövånger is 18 miles away we expect to be there in 30 minutes. Not one red light on the way. Not this long queue of cars that go on forever. 

While we drive south towards our goal we pass the sign to Bjuröklubb. The place that Laleh sings about. We look at each other, Thea and me, and she beats me to it. 

- It's still early, and the light is amazing. Should we make a quick stop at Bjuröklubb? 

- I was just thinking the same thing!

I slow the car down, make a turn and suddenly we're off on a different adventure. In the sun. By the ocean. I can't think of a better way to start a Saturday.

 On the stone slabs with the sea in the background stands Thea, crouched with a knee in the ground and the camera aimed directly at the photographer.