17th Of May Tour

The 17th of May, Norway’s national day, is always hectic for us. It’s the second busiest day of the year, after Christmas eve. We experience it in a different way to the majority, driving from church to church to play a variety of services. This means that instead of marching in the various local processions, we try to avoid them (so we don’t get stuck / delayed); instead of indulging in a lot of ice cream / cake / coffee, we run past the cake stalls and grab a bottle of water and a banana in the car; instead of eating a leisurely family middag (main meal), we have a left-over hot dog after the final services, at 7pm. Still, I guess it’s the reason we’re here – to serve. We’re not really grumbling  – it’s just different.

On my travels I had a bit of extra time, so here are pictures from my 17. mai.

After the first service, in Rossfjord, I heeded a warning about the state of the quickest route to my next appointment, and opted to drive the longer route, around the Lenvik Peninsula.


My first service was in the village hall at Rossfjordstraumen. It went OK, apart from the almost complete lack of light on the music stand (not good for the right note / wrong note ratio), and the lack of a bowl to take the collection. At least the clergyman had come in nordlands bunad (the northern version of Norwegian national costume) so he had his hat handy!


Just before the service, he had suffered the indignity of a conversation with a young girl which roughly went:

  • Why are you wearing stockings?
  • They are part of my bunad (national costume)
  • But, why are you wearing stockings?
  • Well, they’re traditional, a bit like socks. Do you like them?
  • No, they’re old fashioned. (Girl walks off looking bored)

Having managed to beat the local procession, I was soon heading north on the east side of the peninsula. These pictures were taken from Grønjord, looking out over Malogen. The weather was rather mixed: gusty winds, sunshine and wintery showers.


A few kilometers up the road, is the lighthouse at Krestenkravika:

These are the majestic cliffs below Blåruttinden and Klemmartinden:


The pretty little hamlet of Jøvik:


And this is Tennskjær, on the far north east of the peninsula:


Rounding the top of the peninsula (described by locals as lillenordkapp – the little north cape), there is a wonderful view of the sandy beach at Aglapsvik:



Here is a 360 degree panorama from above Aglapsvik beach.

On the west side of the peninsula the wind really picked up! Here are flags in Kårvikhamn, and the view over Gisundet (the sea) to the mountains on the island of Senja:



A little further on is Slettneset, with another light house:


Because my second service, at Bjorelvnes, was at the slightly untraditional time of 1pm, I was treated to a view of Hurtigruten coming up the sound, with Kisterfjell and the church in the background. It’s more usual for us to see the back end of the boat as we are leaving the church! I assume the slightly alarming starboard list was caused by passengers rushing to phtograph me photographing them!?


Thankfully, Kistefjell seemed sturdier:


After the service at Bjorelvnes, everyone went outside for the laying of a wreath and a speach by the mayor:


Then it was back to Finnsnes for the final service, which included music from our children and youth choirs (rather depleted numbers), and an interactive sermon.



And finally to the parish hall, for more speeches, music and singing of patriotic songs (led for the most part by foreigners!), coffee, cake and the aformentioned leftover hotdogs:


Swan Lake

On the island of Senja is the charmingly named Svannvatnet – Swan Lake. It’s right beside the main road, which runs on a short causeway, with the lake on one side, and the sea on the other. We pass it quite regularly, but have never seen swans there, until last week, And a charming sight they were, adding extra beauty to already wonderful journey to Husøy, last Sunday for confirmations.


It’s not just swans. There are curlews, ducks and seagulls:


This was the view on the sea side. The ship is the oldest boat in the Hurtigruten fleet of ‘coastal steamers’ which combine to serve as local ferry, tourist cruise ship and cargo transport:


On the subject of seagulls, our noisy neighbours returned to Finnsnes about 3 weeks ago and are now disturbing the peace 24 hours a day (we don’t yet have the midnight sun, but we we do have 24 hours of ‘useable’ daylight). But according to the government, we’ve got to love them, as they’re in danger of extinction!

For En Herlig Helg!

What a glorious weekend (For en herlig helg)!

Last weekend was the beginning of our confirmation season. It coincided with some of the best weather on record. Whilst a large chunk of Europe (and the south of Norway) endured unseasonal snow, here in the Arctic we basked in unbroken sunshine and temperatures more reminisent of midsummer.

We had confirmation services in Finnsnes and out on the island of Husøy. The buildings are always packed. This was Finnsnes on Saturday:


Afterwards we ate a late lunch out on the veranda. Whilst the official temperature was 15C / 59f, we recorded 22C / 72f in the shade, and 35C / 95f in the sunshine!

On Sunday, Sarah played in Finnsnes, whilst I did the trip to Husøy: