Monthly Archives: May 2014

Jordan & Ruth Hunt

Congratulations to Ruth Hunt (ne Blamire) and her husband, Jordan.

They were married today in a simple ceremony in South Carolina. We wish them God’s richest blessings on their new life together.



Skål !!!


Ascension Day

Yesterday was Ascension Day, when we celebrated Jesus being taken back to heaven, 40 days after Easter in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (50 days after Easter). Whilst in many countries this festival is overlooked, or moved to the nearest Sunday, in Norway it’s a public holiday with church services.

Here in Finsness the Methodist congregation traditionally borrow our building on Ascension Day for their confirmation service (our building has much better space for the 400 or so people that came), so our service was held at Bjorelvnes, the old ‘parish church’ for Lenvik. We were blessed with deilig (lovely) weather, en fine blå himmel (a fine blue sky) and strålende (brilliant) sunshine for the 3rd day in a row, which probably accounted for the small number of people in church (also today was mostly a day off school, so a lot families have gone away for a long weekend).

After church we sat out on the veranda and snoozed in the sun, then treated ourselves to Thai food for supper.

A suitable amount of recovery time later, we decided on an evening stroll, so at a bit after 10pm we set off. A couple of minutes from home we were greeted by the sound of  a very large ship coming into Finnsnes. We hurried down to the quay, and saw the somewhat worryingly-named ‘Albertros’ heading out of the sun and rounding Finnsnes ness in a kind of aquatic handbrake turn on the wrong side of the buoys which mark the navigation channel, before  speeding off south towards Harstad (OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, but the captain’s navigational prowess was discussed at lunch by other staff who had also witnessed it). The ship seemed almost deserted, so we also discussed what might have become of the crew and passengers, although it seems from a news report today the cruise ships are less popular now than they were.

After that excitement we explored a short section of the coast with some amazing rocks: a mixture of slate and other sedimentary rocks, with a lot of iron, all twisted, erupted and eroded. Here’s a short selection, with more pictures for the geologists below:


So, it only remains for me to wish you a belated Happy Himmelfart! Sorry, couldn’t resist it . . .

Our Islands Are Back

Every summer Finnsnes Vann (the town pond) is graced by two islands, originally donated by the brother of my first Norwegian land-lady, who also owned the largest begravelsesbyrå (funeral directors) in the area. Now that we are ice-free, they were apparently towed out into positioned by 2 council operatives in a rowing boat.

Apart from their innate charm and fotogenicity (is that a word?) to tourists, they are prime real-estate for nesting arctic terns. As any good eiendomsmegler / realtor / estate agent would point out, they come complete with utedo / outhouse / privy and a conveniently located rock (in case the aforementioned utedo is engaged). Naturally the availability of such fine amenities leads to a degree of competition and even the odd squabble.

Meanwhile In Rossfjord

Whilst Finnsnes became ice-free last week, over in Rossfjord it’s a different story.

On Sunday morning we had our last confirmation services for the year. Sarah played at Lysbotn where it was standing room only, and I played in Rossfjord (conservative estimate was 300 people in a building designed for less than 200, so it was a bit of a squash to say the least).

These picture were from the drive out. The catkins are responsible for a lot of pollen at the moment so lots of people are sniffing and it has an interesting effect on some peoples’ singing voice!


Inside Rossfjord church:

On the way home. You can see that most of Rossfjord Vann (the lake which, unusually, has a layer of fresh water on the top and salt water lower down) is  still frozen, and doesn’t appear to have changed much in over a month.

Abbey Ro.

Yes, just think what the Beatles most famous album covered would have looked like if they’d taken the picture here in Finnsnes (not to mention the carnage as some of the world’s best know artists would have been mown down by speeding taxis, etc). How different pop music would be . . . .


Update: the next day they came back and painted the other half.

Black Ice

The ice on Finnsnes Vann (the town pond) didn’t melt before the big 17th of May celebrations this year, which is apparently pretty unusual, and not very patriotic either.  However, on the 19th the ice suddenly turned black, and then disappeared within a day:

We also got a temporary visit of some unusual ducks (they’ve gone now). You can see the ice in the background:

And the grass began to go green and the buds started coming out – at least in Finnsnes.

. . . the 17th of May, 2014

As noted, the 17th of May, Norway’s constitution day, was an extra big deal this year. Sarah and I played for 5 services (compared to only 2 for the biggest day of the Christian year, Easter), plus a concert.

The day didn’t begin very promisingly. The following pictures rather summed it up: strong winds and rain (hence the very small flag), ice on the pond, barely a hint of green on the trees, and a skip (symbolising all the rubbish left behind in the streets by the Russ – teenagers in their final year of school, for whom the 16th of May is party night, despite impending exams) :

After the first services the sun did come out, although it was too late for the town parade (no pictures because we were playing, but . The Ordfører (mayor) spent the day giving speeches and laying war memorial wreathes at various ceremonies around the area – I got to hear 4 of them. This was at Bjorlevnes church:

At Finnsnes church we had a big evening family service, with music led by our children’s choir (barnekor) who did a fantastic job, despite being low on numbers because of family commitments:

The_17th_Of_May_2014_07 The_17th_Of_May_2014_10


Afterwards there was the traditional singing, speeches, coffee and cake, and some rather chilly outdoor games for the children. Note the effect of too much sugar on one of the teenagers:

At 8pm we should have received a visit from the Anna Rogda – a sailing ship which is travelling from north Norway, all the way down the coast to Oslo, acting as a cultural and educational focal point for the 200 year celebration of the Grundlov (constitution). Susanna was asked to play in a fanfare to welcome the ship, as part of an elite brass group, and barnekor were invited to open a special concert and presentation during the boats planned 2 hour stop in Finnsnes. However, due to motor trouble (on a sailing ship?) neither the boat nor it’s flotilla made it, but the fanfare and concert went ahead anyway. Despite the best efforts of the professional brass group, the fanfare ( specially commissioned, and to be played at all ports of call), sounded like a Calcutta traffic jam (if anyone important is reading this, next time ask me or Ivar Jarle to write something, or even invite submissions from the primary schools). However, barnekor swept the floor with Fagert er landet (a ‘national’ hymn), Som barn i ditt hus (a contemporary worship song of intercession), and the toe-tapping, hand-clapping Haleluja, opphøye Jesus (a gospel Easter hymn). Sadly, no pictures from this event.

Here are some more pictures from around the area on the Troms Folkbladet website (our local paper).

Preparing for . . .

We’ve had a very busy couple of weeks, so sorry for the lack of posts.

A lot of our time has been spent on things relating to Norway’s ‘national day’, 17th May, which this year was even more important because it marked 200 years since the Norwegian constitution came into being.

In the run up to the 17th the town was ‘spruced up’ and spring cleaned. The highways department brushed the streets and filled in some of the worst holes, the fire brigade washed the streets, most people with a garden cleaned up after the winter, and Finnsnes church had a dugnad (volunteer day) when the grounds were racked of last years leaves, etc, resulting in a lot of black sacks of garden waste. Note: unlike in South Carolina where the city (kommune) regularly come and automatically pick up garden waste several times a week, here you have to call several times a week and then wait.

I thought I could get away with an hour of raking, followed by a Norwegian lesson, but in the end my tutor arrived and decided to join in, so it turned into 3 hours of raking, with time off for good behaviour (good grammar) to eat waffles and drink coffee:

Despite encouraging signs of spring a couple of weeks ago, temperatures dropped enough to prevent all the snow melting, and there was still some piles of snow, and the ice almost completely covered Finnsnes Vann (the town lake) – you could even see where the skating loop had been:


Today was the biggest confirmation service this year with 32 konfirmands and at least 750 in the congregation. Whilst it’s a luksus (luxury) problem, we only have seating for a little over 650, so a good number of folk ended up standing through the hour and a half service – in the church, the entrance hall and even in the car park! Thankfully today felt like summer (we sat out on our veranda this afternoon in shorts and tee shirts whilst the thermometer showed 22 C / 73 f in the sun), so we set up an out door relay speaker.

We are very grateful to all the volunteers and staff who have pitched in to help with the services, especially the band who have given up a significant chunk of 2 whole weekends!

And this was the sunset last night (just for a bit of colour):

Out For A Walk

Despite the Norwegian saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes, it is nicer going for walks in the sun. This was Finnsnes on Sunday afternoon.