Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Chill Wind

Temperatures, whilst still above average, have now started to drop, courtesy of a chilly north wind. We’ve had to start allowing a little extra time before driving, in case we have to scrape ice off the windscreen. However, yesterday we did eat on the veranda and sat in the sun for an hour or so before some clouds came to spoil things. Here are an assortment of pictures from the last few days and nights.


Vassbruna is the highest peak in Lenvik Kommune, where we live, and on Firday, after many attempts at finding a mutually convenient day with good weather, I finally climbed it with a fellow kantor, Fredrik Lantz.

We set off from Tårnvatnet, a lake near Rossfjord, on the short, but steep route. It’s about a 10 km / 7  mile round trip, and the peak is at 1203 m / 3946 feet. The walk initially took us up through the woods and then beside waterfalls, almost to the ‘saddle’ between the 2 main peaks. We enjoyed mostly sunny weather, but high winds which made for an ‘exciting’ time stood both on the narrow step path on the way to the saddle, and later, on the summit ridge! What at first sight looks like the sun reflecting off the lake below is actually white crests on the waves – quite unusual here:

Once we reached the saddle we had a gentle walk to the foot of the main peak. Vassbruna is named such because, unusually in northern Norway, the top has a lot of earth (dirt), as opposed to just stones, and it was almost like walking through a field. We had great views back over Lenvik and Senja, with the Kisterfjell and it’s iconic TV transmitter tower, and on the other side, to Malangen and the mountains of Indre Troms. The path also took us next to some very precipitous cliffs, plunging well over 1000 ft straight down, although it’s difficult to really capture the height in photos!

As we crossed the saddle, the looming peak seemed daunting, especially as the red way-markers  seemed to go in a straight line towards what looked like a near vertical cliff! However, as we got near, we were able to make out a zigzag path, which, whilst steep, was manageable. The very highest tiny blip on the first picture below is the summit ‘cairn’. Once at the top, the wind was very strong, but not so bad we couldn’t spend half an hour taking pictures, looking over the edge (it’s a very long way down), signing the visitors book and eating lunch. Pictures below and a 360 degree panorama here.

Having checked the visitors book, we found we were the first people there in a couple of days, although a few steps away were evidence of another visitor – a high altitude hare. We then headed for home down the same track, putting less strain on our lungs, but more strain on our knees.

And finally here was the view from the lake to where we had walked.

Green Rain

Last night there were Northern Lights, again (do tell me if you get bored of hearing about them). No where near as strong as last week, but I decided to take some pictures uansett (anyway).

Apart from a few well defined clouds the sky was really clear – lots of stars, a bright moon, and just the faintest remains of daylight, despite it being between midnight and 1 am.

Taking pictures on long exposure can generate unexpected results, including what appears to be green rain:

Green_Rain_00and a green rainbow (if that’s not a contradiction in terms):


Here are some more pictures:

And finally, I also experimented with humans. I now understand why Victorians look so odd in photos: it’s really hard to stay still for 30 seconds. However, it’s for a reason. I wanted a picture of my Farm Africa sweatshirt, given to me as a gift for helping with a fund raising concert at Skipton Baptist Church in England. Yesterday Rob Harris, their newly retired pastor was in touch, and I wanted him to see how far their ‘advertising had reached’!


Autumn Colours On Senja

The days of autumn colours are coming to a close, hastened by a strong wind which has been blowing the leaves of the trees for the last three days. Sadly the days I’ve had time take a photo tour have coincided with rain, so I think I’ve missed the best of the colours for this year.

Today I was in Botnhamn on the north of Senja and took a bit of extra time on the way back for pictures. I began with a detour to Baltsfjord which lies at the end of a side road near Botnhamn. I’ve often seen the sign post and been curious about what was there, so I today I took time. It turns out to be a hand full of houses at the end of a dirt track – definitely a very peaceful place.

Having returned to the main road, these were on the journey home:

However, I didn’t take pictures at the police ‘road block’ near Finnsnes where they were checking driving licenses and carrying out breath tests. I passed the breath test with flying colours, but caused some consternation with my very old English driving license. Having checked both sides and turned it upside down, the nice officers enquired:

“Where’s the picture?”
“It doesn’t have one, but it’s legal”
“You can swap to a Norwegian license – it’s valid all over Europe”
“That’s OK”

I quite like my old one – it’s a talking point.

Nordlys 2

Yesterday evening the northern lights (nordlys) were forecast to be even more spectacular, but clouds and rain rather spoiled the show. Nonetheless, here are a few pictures. The aurora are green and the orange is cloud little by street lighting giving a very different view.

Return Of The Northern Lights

Last night we got a spectacular display of the Northern Lights – I think the best I have seen yet, lasting over an hour. Most often they are just faint traces of green, perhaps moving slowly, but this time there were curtains of light moving quickly, almost as if in a breeze, and the colours varied to red at times (a sign of much more intense and penetrating radiation).

It’s very hard to take good pictures because with the long exposures required to capture enough light, much of the definition is lost due to the movement of the light, leading to pictures which look like blobs of green. So, here are some wholly inadequate pictures:

Identifiable Remains

As reported earlier I played in Skaland church at the weekend. Skaland is in the neighbouring parish of Berg, on the outer edge of Senja.

I have added a page about the organ in the organs section of the blog.

There are 3 interesting features to note:

  1. The instrument has a continuously rotating crescendo pedal which helpfully has a gauge to tell you how much crescendo is in use. The gauge goes to 16. This is presumably an ‘homage’ to the film Spinal Tap in which the guitarist wants an amplifier that goes to 11. how could the king of instruments go to less than 16?
  2. There were some interesting nutritional remains on the console. 3 are in the picture: can you identify them? Sadly, I could – just.
  3. For some reason, the ‘Blue Peter’ ship is painted on the ceiling.

Racing The Sun

Sunday evening was beautiful, so I thought I’d have a quick walk up Varden again (our local hill), given that Sarah and Susanna have been up more than me this year. Normally its approximately a 2.5 hour round trip and I was a bit concerned about getting back in daylight, so I walked up faster than usual (45 minutes as opposed to 1.25 hours), then decided to try running down some of it.  In the end there was plenty of sunshine left and I ran the whole way back (450m / 1476 feet of descent and 4km / 2.5 miles) in 27 minutes – not bad for an old grey guy. Maybe it was the new haircut and running shoes that helped.

There’s 360 degree panorama thing here.

Running With Reindeer

This is the first of our busy autumn weekends. Half of the new group of confirmands began their year with us with ‘superhelg’ (super weekend) – including a walk with teaching and worship on Friday evening, a day of introduction to the church and worship on Saturday and worship and a meeting parents on Sunday.

In addition, today I played for a wedding in Skaland on Senja. It’s not in our parish, but the couple had requested that I play. It was also the last wedding of 2013. The bride arrived suitably late (20 minutes) and the I was further delayed on the way back by a couple of reindeer who ran down the road for at least a mile! I think reindeer must be some of the jolliest animals – they seem to have a permanent smile.

The Return Of ‘Proper’ Nights

We’ve returned to nights which are actually dark. Whilst summer is fun with 24 hour daylight, it’s actually a bit of a relief to return to ‘normal’ nights.

With darkness come the more dramatic sunsets too. And next week there is a good Northern Lights forecast, so we’re hoping for clear skies so we can watch.

Return_Of_Proper_Night_02 Return_of_proper_night_01