After our weekend in Tromsø, we discovered a new under-sea tunnel, enabling us to take a new “scenic route” home. This was great for getting some new scenic pictures – click to enlarge:
The weekend before Christmas we managed a weekend away in Tromsø, celebrating our wedding anniversary. Tromsø is known as the Paris of the North: something on which they play heavily, even with the Christmas decorations . . .
We stayed at the Aurora Hotel, right on the water front:
Admittedly the name sounds a bit cheesy, especially when one of the unique selling points is an outdoor jacuzzi for watching the northern lights. However, we jumped in, and were treated to one of the best displays of aurora in a very long time! Sadly due to the vapour from the hot water it wasn’t possible to get a picture with us and aurora at the same time.
The only problem was that the sub-zero temperatures froze my feet to the pool decking when I got out to take pictures!
On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me . . . absolutely nothing, at least in Norway. Here andre Juledag (the second day of Christmas) is a public holiday, so there are no deliveries and almost everything is closed, except essential services: hospitals, petrol stations, churches, etc. However, this year we had to take church off the “open” list, after rather a lot of snow closed the road to Husøy, along with most of the other mountain passes on Senja.
So, with an almost free day and no possibility of using our car (stuck in the underground parking garage which has 3′ / 1m of snow on the ramp), we took a walk to visit friends. It was a bit of obstacle course with snow in places nearly waist deep, and snowploughs working at full speed creating snow hills:
Still, at least we found refreshment on the way home:
We’ve also started new years wish list: a ‘selfie stick’, strong enough to support a proper camera!
Happy Christmas 2014 from the northern Blamires.
After a largely snow free start to the winter, and national concern over the possibility of a none-white ‘Jul’, at least here in the north it’s now begun to accumulate and today we woke to dark snow-filled clouds and a fresh covering. There’s something rather satisfying about being the first to walk through it:
Regardless of the weather, Christ, God incarnate is celebrated – in our case 6 times yesterday, twice today and once tomorrow!
Just a couple of days until the shortest day (or technically the night with the shortest amount of light). This year we haven’t had the spectacular colours of previous winters, but today was rather special with the dawn light above the horizon, the moon and a clear sky graduating to pitch black overhead with lots of stars. As someone pointed out, in the dark period the moon is visible 24 hours a day.
Here are photos taken on the way to work in the last week:
Sunday’s parish family Christmas concert went down very well. For us it’s already becoming a distant memory as we’re now well under way with a week of skolegudstjenetser (13 school carol services for 1000+ pupils) , 3 big funerals and hosting 2 external concerts (which means clearing all the equipment out of Finnsnes church and re-rigging overnight).
Here are some pictures from Sunday. Note the ever popular (and extremely hazardous) candle lit procession, the advent candles (which in Norway have no specific meaning) and the presentation of roses to the ‘key’ performers (the children got their ‘thank you’ at practice the day after). In fact the giving of roses is so strong that it even has it’s own verb å rose – to rose (or commend)!
This coming Sunday we have our parish Christmas concert, 6pm in Finnsnes church. The concert takes it’s name from the title of a Norwegian Christmas song Lys imot mørketida (light against the dark time) which draws on images of both the ‘polar night’ and Jesus as the light of the world.
With so large a parish the reality is that it’s not possible to involve everyone (at least not if we hold the concert to a reasonable length!), but we have a good cross section of people and musical styles:
Barnekor (the childrens’ choir):
Ungdomskor (the youth choir), who have decided to wear robes this year:
Ernst Norbakken is our classical tenor soloist:
We also have guest vocal group, the Tråsdahls:
The church band have a big supporting roll, together with Sarah and I on piano and organ, plus Susanna will play a bit of Euphonium.
Here is the program – music interspersed with readings from the Christmas gospel:
- Lys imot mørketida
- Tenn lys
- Rydd vei for Herrens komme (traditional carol with a ‘medieval’ twist)
- Min sjel synger til Herren
- Himmlens Ånde (Breath of heaven )
- I en natt
- Hør hvor englesangen klinger (Angels from the realms of glory)
- Ære være
- Betlehems stjerne
- Nå er den hellige time
- Himmlen i min favn
- Stille natt
- Hellig er din gutt, Maria
- Julsång (O holy night)
- Deilig er jorden (roughly Fairest Lord Jesus – every Nowregian carol concert finishes with this)
- Nordnorsk julesalme
Afterward the Barnekor parents are arraninge coffee and cake, with proceeds towards the choir tour in 2016. Yum.
We are now well and truly into advent, with a full compliment of services, plays, concerts and other seasonal activities.
This week we have our Julespill (Christmas play for nursery age children). Every year a dedicated team of staff and volunteers give a big chunk of time to ensure that the vast majority of children in our kommune hear the Christmas story. Yesterday we rigged (the second time in a week that we have moved almost all the chairs in church) and rehearsed. Today we had a dress rehearsal followed by 4 performances and a Christmas activity workshop for 3 year olds and their families. I think there are probably 6 or 8 more performances this week (haven’t checked the schedule yet!), plus a special touring version which visits nurseries which are unable to travel.
Here are some pictures from the performance this evening:
It’s advent again, which means it’s advent labyrinth time again! So, if you’re in the area with an hour or so to spare and fancy some quiet reflection, pop in to Finnsnes kirke. The labyrinth is open until 2pm on Wednesday.
This year Sarah has created 3 ‘tracks’, using the same stations but giving different emphases – liturgical, interactive and children. All texts are available in both Norwegian and English. Here are some pictures, but you’ll need to visit in person for an explanation of the various stations (or contact Sarah):