Driving recently with Sarah brought to mind a line from the old English nursery rhyme ‘Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross’ – ‘and she shall have ribbons where ever she goes’. The roads here are now lined with what looks like a continuous ribbon of flowers, especially when seen from a moving car. It’s beautiful, with a range of flowers (weeds or ugress in Norwegian) in colours from yellow and orange through to blue and purple. Probably the only ‘man-made’ intervention in the process is that the seeds are most likely driven along by vehicles, providing very even coverage!
We were recently treated to a display of Norwegian flying: part of an airshow at the nearby Bardu air force base. Whilst not perhaps quite as spectacular as the Red Arrows (Royal Airforce) or Thunderbirds (USAF) it was still impressive as they flew jets in close formation with a slow moving propeller plane (I always thought jets had to fly faster because they have smaller wings).
Norway is a ‘small’ country, so I’m not sure if it was the entire Norwegian airforce . . .
We should be enjoying the best of the midnight sun (summer solstice, etc), but due to some rather cloudy and miserable weather the nights are a bit gloomy. Anyway, here are some midnight pictures taken earlier this week, before the rain arrived:
Last week, after a long run of hot weather, we were given a gentle reminder of where we really live.
Traveling back from a prayer and worship meeting a friend pointed out that it had snowed, albeit above about 500m / 1500 feet! Here are some pictures, including the midnight sun seen from the bridge between Finnsnes and Senja. Despite the warm glow, there was a cold wind on the bridge and without a coat I was chilled to the bone in about 5 minutes!
Hot on the heels of our Barnekor Tour came the staff tour.
On Tuesday we ‘car pooled’ to Botnhamn on Senja (about an hour away) and caught the ferry over to Brensholmen which is quite near Tromsø (but would take nearly 3 hours to drive). It was quite a blowy day, but despite a bit of movement on the ferry, thankfully no one was ill. The scenery was beautiful, despite rather dark clouds.
One arrival we drove onto Summerøy (via the large bridge in the pictures) and then over a smaller bridge to Hillesøya. Here we assembled initially to ‘kose oss’ with coffee in a dark hut with sheepskin seats and a wood burning stove (after all, it is almost the middle of summer), followed by various ‘team building’ exercises involving silly walks, blindfolds, building things and bows & arrows. Of special note was Sarah-The-Archer-Blamire who shot the only bulls-eye. As you can see, it wasn’t very warm out!
We all took ‘grill mat’ (food to cook on a barbeque), and after lunch the braver amongst us had a quick go on the high ropes course:
After our high wire excitement some people went off to walk up the mountain, others had a guided tour by an islander (. . . my great aunt lives here . . . over to the right you can see the sea . . . this is where my cousin’s cat likes to sun itself . . . over there you can see the sea . . . etc. all in a very strong dialect), and the rest of us sat outside the local hotel and drank coffee (most of the guests have their own ‘cabin’ arranged around the little cove – all rather reminiscent of the Caribean . . . ).
At the appointed hour we drove back to the ferry (past the half tractor and the heavily weighted ‘portaloo’ and then on home. The weather was sunnier by then, although still windy.
Last Sunday we took the Finnsnes Church Barnekor (Junior Choir) on tour. We hired a bus and about 20 excited children and 10 parents, plus Sarah, Solrun (our fantastic volunteer helper), Benjamin (one of our drummers), Glenn (clergy) and Mereta (our parish children’s worker) and I traveled first to Botnhamn and then on to Husøy to help lead family worship. The children sang in 4 languages, with the music ranging from regular hymns, through a variety of ‘all age’ songs, to Cesaer Frank’s Panis Angelicus – so pretty varied!
We also enjoyed coffee and cake in both places, and hotdogs in the fish factory canteen on Husøy. A grand time was had by all!
Sarah and I were pretty busy, so one of the dads took some pictures. Here was Botnhamn:
and this was Husøy:
We’ve had a long, full and varied weekend – for a change! The amazing weather has influenced our activities.
On Thursday evening the church’s “outreach” youth club Torsdagklubben met outside, for the second week. It’s amazing how the simple pleasures of music and drawing with chalk will keep teenagers safely engaged for several hours. However, with no imminent rain, we may need to hose down the church car park before a funeral arrives on Monday . . .
Friday was spent preparing for the weekend, including rehearsals for a wedding on Saturday. There was also time for sunning ourselves on the balcony, where the temperature (in the sun) hit 45C (113 Fahrenheit). Sorry for the poor picture quality – I think the camera was near melting point.
Saturday was ‘the big wedding’. Susanna’s local euphonium teacher got married, and it was by far the biggest wedding we’ve seen in Norway. The brass band she conducts played outside the church to welcome guests, before running inside to play a wedding march for the brides maids. Then the bride surprised her groom by playing her own bridal march. There were solos and duets as part of the ceremony, special hymn arrangements and then the band and organ played the recessional march together. It was a roasting hot day and the musicians were all up on the gallery which presented some tuning challenges, but the congregation were a bit better off because it’s one of the few churches with air-conditioning (well, one small unit on the wall) which helped.
After the wedding we popped down to the beach to cool off with a swim in the sea. It was OK once you were in, but it took about half an hour to get the feeling back in my fingers. Other than the snow in background, you could almost imagine being in the Caribbean, with beach volley ball, sunbathing, etc. Despite the sudden appearance of storm clouds and a short shower, the temperatures stayed high.
Sunday morning Finnsnes church was packed as we hosted a service for a region meeting of a ‘missions’ organisation. This was also rather warm because Finnsnes church does not have air-conditioning. After church, with the threat of unsettled weather on the way, Susanna decided we needed to conquer Varden (a local hill), which had eluded her several times last year. And we did. And the views were lovely: