Monthly Archives: January 2015

Soldag 2015

Soldag (the day when the sun first rises after the long polar night) is always eagerly awaited. As our deacon reminds people here, stakkars de som bor langt sør fordi de har ingenting å vente på, ingen forventning om en soldag etter mørketiden (poor people who live in the south who have no sun day to anticipate after the dark time).

The exact day / time varies depending on your location and the mountains on the horizon. The farther north, the later the date, although bizarrely the sun is visible in Tromsø three days earlier than here, despite it being further north. For us, it’s about 11.30am on the 23rd of January – weather permitting.

This year, the weather cooperated, sort of, and we got a rather weak sighting, at least enough to generate shadows. Roll on summer!

Finally Some Colour

So far this winter mørketid (the polar ‘night) has been rather grey, without the wonderful colours of the last couple of years. But with only a couple of days til soldag (the end of polar night when the sun first re-appears), this weekend has been different. Yesterday we got pastel pinks and strongly lit clouds on the horizon:


Today, Sunday, started off looking like a re-run of the same, so I was treated to a rose-tinted ride to play for an 11am service in Botnhamn (north on the island of Senja):


After the service though, the sky began to light up. This was Botnhamn:

Finally_some_colour_10Then heading back from Botnhamn, towards Gibostad, it got better:


Once at Gibostad, the view over Gisundet (the sea or ‘sound’ between Senja and the mainland) really open up. The colours changed minute by minute and necessitated frequent stops for pictures!

Finally_some_colour_16 Finally_some_colour_18


Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

There’s an English popular song entitled Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside. The verses elucidate the reasons for the singers love of the coast which focuses mainly on girls. We, in Finnsnes, have another reason – the gulf stream.

In the depths of winter, as most of southern Norway is battered by storms and the remains of hurricanes, with massive amounts of snow, etc. we sit here on a sheltered coast at a balmy -13C / 9f with a bit of a breeze (wind chill -25C / -13f) and a bit of snow, but none of the structural damage or power cuts experienced by the ‘southerners’, nor the bitter temperatures of folk at our latitude who live inland.

The Norwegian news today has carried a couple of northern cold weather stories, both from barely 20 miles north of us, but well inland.

The first concerned some reindeer herders. Not all could start their snow scooters, and the ones that could, ended up looking like this:


The full story is here, and if you scroll down there’s also a video of a lady making snow from a cup of water (apparently the more widely respected ‘water into wine’ was already taken).

The other story was an announcement from the deputy head at Karasjok school that pupils are obliged to attend until the temperature dips below -50C / -58f. This is only a couple of degrees warmer than the coldest temperature ever recorded in Norway (-51.4C in 1886, Karasjok). Unfortunately for students, it only got to about -40C today (as displayed on the petrol station board). However, those that could, had to walk, because the school bus wouldn’t start! Read the whole story here.Oh_We_Do_Like_To_Be_Beside_The_Seaside_05 Picture from NRK.

Actually we did get some snow between Christmas and new year, but apart from a few stretches of road on Senja, it’s been business as usual. This was the view of the picnic area and play equipment outside our apartment – going, going, gone!

But, looking on the bright side (pun intended), next week we should see the sun again, and the days are rapidly lengthening.


As a parish we’re beginning the new year with a new ‘offering’ – Alpha.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Alpha before, it’s a 10 week ‘course’ exploring the big questions of life and how Christianity addresses them. The first Alpha courses were run by Holy Trinity Brompton – an Anglican church in London – in the late 1970s, but has now been taken up by church communities all around the world, and now not least here, in the arctic! If you want to know more, you can visit the UK Alpha website here, and the Norwegian site is here.

We’ve already seen many very encouraging signs as we’ve been preparing. If you’re in the Finnsnes area, you’re very welcome to join us, each Tuesday from the 13thof January. If you can’t be with us, we’d love to have more people partnering in prayer.



Shortly before Christmas I oppdaget (discovered) a PR feil (problem). A journalist from Folkebladet – our local paper – popped into church and asked what time it would be convenient to be interviewed. I explained that his colleague had  already interviewed me earlier in the year, but he replied that was the Friday interview, but he wrote the Saturday interview, a different and bigger article, and we needed to meet later that day so I could explain my musical omnipresence (I’m paraphrasing). I was puzzled but agreed to meet that evening.

His first question revealed the problem:

On the service list for Lenvik there are many clergy who will officiate, but only kantor Jon Blamire who will play. Are you playing in all the churches this Christmas?


It seems that somewhere along the line there had been a misprint and on three occasions I was due to play in 3 places simultaneously (Christmas Eve), and I would follow that up with 1 x 2 places on Christmas Day. Impressive but wrong!

Anyway, having corrected that misunderstanding, we continued to chat about our work as kantors, how we came to Norway, and language.

Article in Norwegian is here.

For anyone interested, omnipresent is allestedsnærværende in Norwegian. Linguistically at least, I would rather be omnipotent – it’s easier to say allmektig!

Happy New Year 2015

Wishing all our readers a joyful and peaceful new year.

Hope your 1st of January was as ‘exciting’ as ours – up on the Finnsnes church roof in the rain until 1.30am, clearing snow and removing inches of ices from the round the drains so that melt water could run into the drain system instead of down the internal walls of the corridor!