Monthly Archives: June 2014


Stonglandseidet is a village on the south coast of Senja. We have driven through several times before, but never really stopped. However, on Friday I was asked to play for the funeral of a well known and well loved man (teacher, author, cultural leader, historian, politician, publisher . . . ).

It was my first opportunity to play the organ in the church, about which I’d heard mixed reports. It turned out to be ‘interesting’. It was built by a Norwegian company, Vestre, who are well known for their harmoniums (our parish has several), but not so respected for their organs.  In this case the console looked like a modified hamonium, the stops were really stiff to operate (one of them required full body weight!), and the whole instrument apparently is a little too flexible so when the wooden church moves slightly with both the wind and changes in temperature / humidity some of the pipes come out of their mountings and either don’t sound at all or are badly out of tune!


Oh, and you can’t see anything from the console, necessitating a crude periscope arrangement. Apart from that, it was OK!

Organ enthusiasts can read more on the specification here.

The building itself also has some ‘quirks’, including a gallery which is so close to the roof that you have to duck under the rafters to reach the pews (which have no view), and a rather over-sized model ship.

This is a 360 degree view of the inside of the building:


After the funeral I popped into the only shop in the village (Joker) to buy a cup of coffee. Most such shops act as a meeting point for locals, and routinely sell coffee. I asked the assistant where I could get coffee, I was initially directed to bags of coffee, and then after clarifying I wanted a cup of coffee, it turned out they didn’t sell any. However, the young man turned around, popped into the back room and came back with what was clearly a cup from the staff supply. Full marks for hospitality. Thank you Joker!

This is a 360 degree view of the village centre, and there is a proper panorama here:



And the weather was miserable – for a change.

The Adventures Of Mr Snickers – Part 1

Die hard followers of the Arctic Organist may recall that last year I came across a ‘sculpture’ of a rabbit which I carved from a thermolite (concrete) block when I was about 10. It traveled with us to South Carolina and lived as an ornament in our garden in Georgetown. Sadly he was left behind, but is now in the safe keeping of our good friend David Collins. David has named him Mr Snickers, and he now accompanies David on his adventures as site manager (I hope that’s the correct term) for a large construction firm with contracts around the US. Here are farewell photos from David’s garden:

Every now and again we get a photo update from David. Here he is checking out the demolition for the new Residence Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia (Nov 2013):

inspecting the job site from atop the snow in Charlottesville on Valentines Day 2014 (probably a good job Mr Snickers couldn’t find a lady friend as I don’t know how many traveling companions David can take):

helping with office admin (still in Charlottesville, April 2014):

and finally, assisting in the design of the new ‘Hammerheads’ logo at an undisclosed location in June 2014. Hammerheads is the volunteer maintenance team at Prince George.

Thanks for taking care of him David! More updates over time.

Children’s World Day

Last Saturday was busy in Finnsnes.

As well as our church outdoor family group organising canoeing on Finnsnes Vann and hotdogs in the gapahuk (literally open hut), the kommune (local council) hosted a Childrens’ World Day (as opposed to World Childrens’ Day): a cultural festival with guests from many indigenous cultures around the world. This included concerts, workshops, and the obligatory international food (yum).

As part of the festivities Susanna was presented with her drømestipend (Dream Prize arts scholarship) and opened the kultureskole concert.

Summer & Winter

We’ve had a bit of a swing in the weather the last few days.

This was the rather summery scene in Rossfjord last week:

and on Monday, we woke up to this in Finnsnes (in June!!!!).


One of our work colleagues had to travel to Alta on Tuesday (about 6 hours drive north east from here), and was alarmed to hear that the mountain pass on the main road was being snow ploughed, and the highways department was advising people to switch back to their winter tyres.

Oh the joys of living in the north!


On our staff outing last week I noticed something very interesting: the seagulls in seagulls in Mefjordvær on the other side of Senja have learnt the art of camouflage!

Take a look at the pictures. They choose to sit on rocks which closely match the colour of their grey plumage, and then they ‘decorate’ the surrounding area with patches of white so their white feather blend in too. Ingenious!

Mefjordvær Organ Page Added

A bit geeky, but I’ve added a page with the specification of the organ in Mefjordvær Kappel, which I visited last week. Not huge but a nice sound and leads a congregation well (which is the main point!).

The Devil’s Dentist

Last Sunday was Pinse (Pentecost), then Monday was Andre Pinsedag (the other Pentecost, also a ‘holy day’ in Norway), which led a lot of people to have a long weekend. However, taking a long weekend was not very realistic for the church staff, but on Tuesday we did manage our annual staff day out.

This year we had a tour round Senja. We took the classic tourist route, but having had a gloriously sunny weekend, on Tuesday we got light rain and low cloud, so many of the views were somewhat obscured.  The first stop at the observation platform overlooking Bergfjord only yielded a good look at the inside of a cloud (here is what we should have seen). Hence, no pictures.

The second stop was Tungeneset, with a view over the fjord to the promontory known as the  Devil’s Teeth. Unfortunately it seems the devil had visited his dentist (tannlege) for some extractions, so the view looked more like his gums! See the classic views here.

All was not lost though. It was very still, so the ‘reflecting pools’ yielded interesting photos:

Even the local flowers had reflections in the rain drops collected in their leaves:

Having some knowledgeable locals with us was interesting. They pointed out a wrecked ship on the other side of the fjord, and the entrance to the graphite mine (a long time source of local employment and wealth):

The geology was also a source of interest. After some speculation about the existence of dragons (there appeared to be claw marks in some of the rocks), we discovered a stone man! See for yourself:

After Tungeneset we drove round to Ersfjord beach for a grill (barbeque) and beach games:


During lunch some fishermen headed into the fjord, accompanied by the traditional gathering of seagull. As the clouds began to lift, the scale of the boat versus the fjord became clearer (not to mention the devil started regaining his ‘teeth’):

The final stop was Mefjordvær where we visited the church. Local poet and musician couple Trond and Ragnhild Hellemo led a short program with reflections on church life in the village, some local history, poems and a song (which gave me chance to try the organ).

Weather Equipment

As any self-respecting weather-person knows, you need an anemometer, and last week we got ours back. See this post for details of it’s operation.

The kommune (city council) actually put it in place at the same time as the islands, but didn’t turn it on for nearly two weeks, during which time ducks appeared to be trying to nest in it: they must have got a shock when it sprang into life!

Another Evening On The Beach

Warm evenings are beautiful on the beach!

Dream Prize

Earlier this year Susanna was invited to submit recordings and an essay to be considered for one of Norway’s Drømmestipend (Dream scholarship), which aim to help young artists fulfill their dreams. Each award is worth 10000 kroner (approx 1000 GBP / $1600). Yesterday she got the news that she had been selected! Well done Susanna. Here is Susanna with her instrument:


Here is an article about it from the local paper: Susanna_Blamire_Drømmestipend_Folkebladet