Monthly Archives: September 2014

Svigermor 2 – Fine Art

This is the second post about Sarah’s mum’s visit in August (read the first installment here).

Being here during Finnsnes i Fest meant there were lots of arts events and music. In Finnsnes church this included Være i Stillheten (mostly classical music with video and images), and an Internasjonal Kafe with a concert. Performers at the IK included Odd and Geir (Senja’s  Simon and Garfunkel), our friends the Moldsvor family, Litt av kvert (‘A bit of everything’), and The Bonbons (3 local rising stars with their own brand of folky pop: they’re very good – see a video here). The concert went down a storm and raised a lot of money for Save The Children in Syria.

At the end of her visit came opportunity to combine two of her passions – art and flowers. The ‘girls’ traveled to Tromsø on Hurtigruter (the big coastal ferry), whilst I drove the support vehicle (car).

Once in Tromsø the first stop was the main art gallery which houses a fine collection of north Norwegian art, from classic 18th and 19th century oil paintings which vividly capture the toughness of life then, to modern pieces which capture something (money maybe?). There’s even a painting by Norway’s most famous artist – Edvard Munch.

After the art gallery we visited the botanic gardens. Thankfully the rain held off just long enough:

Then it was dinner and on to the airport. All in all a good 10 days!


A great inspiration for us during our time at Prince George in the US was reading the Bible in 90 days. It was hard work, but paid dividends in so many ways. A good percentage of the parish started, and most made it to the end (although some like me took a little extra time). Thank you Paul and Andy.

With that experience in mind, we suggested trying it here in Norway. After some discussion it was decided to start with the New Testament in 60 days, requiring a little under half the daily reading time of the whole Bible in 90 days.


So, on Sunday we started. To encourage people, we began with a meeting in Finnsnes, including parish members from number of our churches / chapels, as well as others from the Pentecostal church and the mission congregation. People took it in turns to read out loud the first days oppgave (task / mission / assignment) – the opening 5 chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. Afterwards there was time for reflection, questions and coffee. A good start.

There are already several groups which are forming for weekly discussion

Vil du være med? Will you join us?

If you would like to join in, you can download the reading plan we devised here (it’s in Norwegian, but it’s easy enough to work it out), or as a ‘picture’ at the end of this post. There’s also a short introduction to each book in the New Testament, again in Norwegian, here in PDF format (easier to print out as an folded booklet), or here in Word format (use this version if you want to copy the text into Google translate – it’s not entirely accurate, but reasonably understandable!).

By the way, ‘Kris’ means cross (i.e. tick / check when you have read).


Harstad Harmonium

For the last few months we’ve been on the look-out for a harmonium (also known as a pump orgel / trøorgel / reed organ, etc). Whilst largely consigned to the dump, or used as sideboards in other countries, the harmonium is almost ubiquitous in Norway, and can give a very evocative and expressive sound. We have a variety of these instruments around the parish, but none were available to move the church in  Finnsnes where we occasionally use one for our Våpenhus concert series.

My first encounter with a harmonium was in the choir room of the methodist church where we grew up: several of us used to enjoy seeing how fast we could pump the foot bellows and therefore how loud we could make it play. I don’t think we did it any good, and in addition some of the stop came off in ones hand (I don’t think we were responsible for that). It also had the classic wheeze caused by perished bellows.

Anyway, last week one came up for sale very cheap on (the Norwegian equivalent of ebay). Given that it looked relatively modern in the pictures and the seller assured me it worked, on Friday afternoon I set off with a friend on the 8 hour round trip to collect it from a small village near Harstad, south of Finssnes. I had constructed a trolley to save carrying the instrument, and before we set off I checked the dimensions to make sure it would fit in the car. In the event the trolley immediately collapsed (weak wood) under the weight, and it turned out to be about 2cm to big for the car. Thankfully the top of the case could be removed allowing it to fit: just!

Other than a couple of asthmatic sounding reeds, it plays well and it’s now residing in the ventilation plant room in our church offices, awaiting a little TLC (removing the ‘clean your teeth’ stickers from the case, and wiping the numbers off the keys). Here is the view the previous owner had across their fjord, and pictures of the harmonium in it’s new home (for the really geeky):


Some people may remember the ventilation room from a couple of years ago: Sarah used to practice there on a borrowed instrument.

It was also the venue for a couple of spoof classical music videos, filmed for the annual parish ‘revue’ known as mørketidsfest (dark time festival), marking the beginning of the polar night. We’ve hesitated about releasing the videos publicly (not necessarily our best performances), but here is one for now, and if there’s a demand, we’ll release another. Just remember: it’s not supposed to be serious!!!!!


After our summer holiday we received a visit from Svigermoren – the mother in law! Joking apart it was lovely to have Sarah’s mum with us on her first visit to Norway.

Being in Finnsnes at the end of July / beginning of August meant she experienced nice summer weather here, as well as the extra activity associated with Finnsnes i Fest.

The journey out involved flying from London Stansted to Oslo, passing directly over where we grew up, and then onward to Bardfoss (our ‘local’ airport). The final leg was the bus to Finnsnes: broad daylight at nearly midnight. It was a long day but great views from the plane, including some huge thunder clouds visible from over 100 miles:

After a day to recover, we took a sight-seeing trip around the tourist route on outer coast of Senja. Regular readers will probably recognise the locations:





Bergsbotn looking towards Skaland. As is so often the case, the weather is different in each fjord.


The skerries and islands in Bergfjord, out from Skaland, shrouded in low cloud:

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Then on to Tungeneset and The Devils Teeth:

Back on the inner coast of Senja, this was the view towards Finnsnes, and Kistefjell:Svigermoren_48

Summer Holiday 7 – Flowers

The day after the last post, Winter On The Way, we awoke to several inches of snow on the ground in Finnsnes and a good number of folk hurriedly trying switching to winter tired. It was a busy day, so sadly no pictures, and the snow has now melted, at least near sea level!

So, instead, here are some pictures from the summer. Mostly flowers taken in one of the local parks in Lowestoft, and some from Sarah’s mum’s garden (not sure about the grammar there).

From God’s sublime design in nature to a man’s sublime design using nature. Whilst visiting Hannah in the north west, we paid a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Among the textile displays we found this amazing jacket made from dandelion seeds. Apparently it is strong enough to wear!

And from the sublime to the ridiculous: moving houses on the motorway system, including over taking slower moving traffic!!!

Winter On The Way

Today – Sunday 21st September – winter arrived.

For the last couple of weeks our local council has been busy putting out the brøyte staver (the red poles beside the roads which help guide the snow plough drivers. It seemed almost incongruous driving to Rossfjord on Monday in glorious sunshine with the trees in their orange and brown autumn foliage:

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Tuesday was a trip to play in Tømervik Kirke in neighbouring Sørreisa parish – and the weather was still great:



The end of the week turned a bit cooler and greyer, but last night the forecast said snow above 200m / 600′. And so it was. Driving to Bjorelvnes to play for a morning service today, I could see snow falling on Senja, and in the distance, beyond Gibostad, the mountains around Tromsø were already bright white:



This afternoon involved a lot of driving – the classic tourist route on the west coast of Senja, first to drop Sarah at a pre-arranged meeting place to be driven on to Gryllefjord (emergency cover for another organist) and then on to Fjordgård to play for an evening family service. This was Bergs FjordØ




Then Ersfjord, with the view out over the Devilæs Teeth:


Medfjord, with strong autumnal colours, and Breitind, Senjaæs highest peak at 1010 m / 3315′:


After the service in Fjordgård, this was the view from the car park:


Several church staff have been planning to go up Breitind this year, but it’s a very steep and exposed path, so unless the snow melts and things dry up, the walk is now postponed a year (again):


On the return journey, I stopped for some pictures around Mefjord:

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This was Senjahopen, just as the light was fading:Winter_On_The_Way_41


Summer Holiday 6 – York

After the wedding we headed south to York for a day with mum and dad.

I love York, especially the jumble of architecture dating back over 2000 years! Walking around a part of the wall is a must, with it’s views over the roofs and gardens of the old city – grand and humble alike. The Minster (cathedral) is still undergoing renovations (I can’t remember a time it wasn’t!). The Tour de France cycle race had been in York the week before, and there were old bike painted bright yellow everywhere. I also visited a church I’d never really noticed before – St Martin’s. About 1000 years old, St Martin’s was badly damaged by bombing in 1942, but the remaining structure was made safe, whilst the bombed out area became a peace garden. There is a tiny ‘positiv’ organ in a glass case, given as a gift by a German parish.


Summer Holiday 5 – A Working Wedding

After our few days in south Norway, it was on to England, and back to work – playing the organ for one our nieces who giftet seg (got married). Details of the organ are here.

The wedding was a joyous occasion – the bride and groom are both very active Christians and the service included traditional and contemporary music – and lots of it! Congratulations Matt and Meghan.

After the service it was over the road to the park for pictures (don’t forget to keep smiling . . . ’til it hurts). then off to the wedding reception in a vintage Rolls Royce (well the happy couple anyway).

At first we were a bit unsure about what the reception might be – a barn dance at the live-stock auction market! It turned out to be very civilised – good company, delicious food, good speeches (?) and dancing.

The day after, there was a gathering of the extended clan (minus the bride and groom), with a barbeque in Andrew and Coral’s beautifully kept cottage garden:

At the end of a long weekend we returned to our caravan to what looked like a forest fire, but turned out to be just a sunset:

Summer Holidays 4 – A Bit More Swimming And A Cake

First up, I’ve corrected the video link on the previous post so you now see the valley, not a Norwegian band!

We enjoyed two lazy days on the beach in the valley. Here are some pictures from the second day.


There are huge blocks of rock dotted around, several times as large as a house. Below the lake and ‘lazy river’ the valley narrows and the river descends rapidly through a series of waterfalls.

A rather good 360 panorama is here, which gives a bit better idea of the the scale of the cliffs on either side!

Further down, the valley and river widen and things are much calmer:

Here’s a short video on YouTube:

And the ultimate taste of summer – a homemade cake, complete with sugared edible flowers from the garden. Yum!


Thank you Tim, Tracy, Andrew and Katie!!!!

Summer Holiday 3 – A Quiet Day In The Valley

Part 3 of our summer holiday update.

As well as doing some of the tourist things in the Stavanger area, we enjoyed a couple of quiet days in our hosts’ valley. With strålende vær (glorious weather) it was great to travel up the valley to swim in a lake and a ‘lazy’ river, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. In contrast to rivers and lakes in north Norway, it was possible to stay in the water for extended periods of time!


There’s a 360 degree panorama here, and a quick video clip on YouTube below: