Mr. Snickers Builds A Synagogue

Avid readers may recall periodic mentions of the adventures of Mr. Snickers. Mr. Snickers is the concrete block sculpture of a rabbit, made during my youth, which accompanied us to South Carolina, but had to remain there due to the possibility of concrete quarantine on arrival in Norway (and the fact that he weighed to much to put in hand luggage). You can read more here, and here.

Left in the care of our good freind David Collins, he has since taken on a new life, supervising David, supervising construction projects around the US.

Here are some pictures from his latest project: building a synagogue for an English rabbi in Charleston, SC:

David comments, Mr. Snickers directing the concrete pour for Chabad of Charleston and the Low Country, not to be confused with The Netherlands.  Mr. Snickers says; “Fresh concrete! Yum, yum!”.

I’m inclined to run a caption competition for the second picture. Here’s my entry:

Workers enjoy a game of musical status during a tea break.


Due to the viscosity of wet concrete, Moses ‘White Boots’ found out to his cost that you can’t just smite your way across all liquid obstacles . . .

The Back Road To Tromsø

Last December we had a wonderful wedding anniversary weekend in Tromsø. We came home via the scenic route although the second half of the journey it was dark, so we couldnæt enjoy the view.

At the end of September we had a day trip to Tromsø and drove the same route (in reverse), through Målselv and under a newish toll tunnel. It’s not as fast as the main route, but very beautiful, especially in autumn.


As we set off there were dramatic clouds over Gisundet (the sea between the mainland and Senja):


Autumn here tends to be yellow and gold coloured because the trees are largely birch. However, there is an occasional splash of red. These pictures are from close to Målselv:


Several people have told us about a local working water-powered saw mill, but the description of it’s location has always been a bit vague. We found it because a number of Japanese tourists were stood by the road taking photos – otherwise it would have been easy to miss. There are two water wheels: the larger one powers the saw, and the smaller one moves the trees. Very clever:




These views are around Malagen, a large fjord:




The next photo stop was a bus stop roughly in the middle of nowhere, but with a large parking area for taxis, there to meet the school bus. Overlooking Stålvikbotn, it’s a great place to wait, but probably rather cold in the winter:The_Back_Road_To_Tromso_035

This is Mestervik:


After Mestervik the road runs up and over the hills, cutting off a long drive around a peninsula, before dipping down to run along side Malongen again (this fjord has many ‘fingers’). On the way down to the fjord the hillside literally looked like it was on fire with autumn colours, which led to the biggest mistake of the day: not stopping for a picture!



Despite seeing Tromsø in the distance, just before the tunnel entrance, the winding roads and low speed limits mean it takes about 45 minutes to arrive!


We rounded out the day with a meal in the coop cafe, a trip to the cinema to see Everest (exciting but very noisy), and drove home in the dark. Very nice.


We’ve just arrived in mørketida (the polar night, when the sun doesn’t rise). It’s felt unusaully dark this year because until a couple of days ago we’ve had no snow. Now we finally have a little taste of winter, with about 3 inches of snow on the ground, but the forecast is for warmer temperatures and rain in the next few days, which means it wont last long.

Ever since we arrived here, Oddmund, one of our semi-retired clergy, has given us the advice that we should seize ‘good’ weather moments, because you don’t know how long they will last. He is a keen skier, so after church today, I told him I was following his advice and would leave, med engang (at once) to go skiing in Silsand (just over the bridge on Senja) where a website stated the ski trail had been prepared. This brought a slightly unexpected reply: “It’s only been prepared for the halvgal (half mad)”! “What, like foreigners”, I joked. “No, for the people who do ski training year round”.

Turns out, Oddmund was right. 3 inches of snow is actually not that much, so there were no proper pre-formed tracks, and the lights hadn’t been turned on (important when setting off at 2.30 pm and it’s nearly dark) . The only other skier I met had a headlamp.

Still it was nice to get out for some fresh, cold air.


An Alpha Evening

This blogg is now falling further and further behind: it’s now the middle of November, and I’m still working with pictures from September. Sorry!

Todays pictures were taken on a Tuesday evening, which here has become our regular Alpha course evening. Whilst sat in the prayer and briefing meeting, the sky lit up as the sun set. So, as soon as we were finished, I grabbed the camera and bagged som of the most colourful pictures this year:

Later, this was the very last of the daylight, looking out towards the south of Senja from our apartment block (sadly though not the view from our apartment!):