Monthly Archives: June 2015

Staff Day Out – 2015

Last Thursday we had our staff and family ‘end of year’ day out. This year we went to Refsnes on the south of Senja. We booked a hytte – a hut, although in true Norwegian tradition, it was more like a small community centre, with some bedrooms thrown in for good measure: we were really slumming it!

The weather was at least as bad as last year, so no swimming, sun-bathing etc. However, we still had a ‘trivelig’ (nice) time, with grillmat (a barbeque), coffee and cake, board games, good conversation, the celebration of a significant birthday, musical worship, presentation of roses, appreciative speeches, and an opportunity to meet our new appointed kirkeverge (administrative leader), who starts at the end of August.


The Dark Side Of Sankthans

OK, it sounds a little dramatic.

Sankthans is midsommer, the celebration of John the Baptist (Sankt = saint, Hans is a shortening of Johannes = John). The Bible says that John the Baptist was born about 6 months before Jesus, hence the feast in midsummer (see Luke 1:36, 56–57).

As with so many things in Norway, the main celebration is on the eve (day before). Sankthansaften is traditionally celebrated with ‘campfire’, either on a beach, or a mountain top. And the traditional food is rice pudding!

The dark side? Well obviously after mid-summers day, things are getting darker, albeit not appreciably yet (we’ve still got another 4 weeks of the midnight sun, if the clouds ever clear).

Here is a midsummer picture from Rossfjord:


This was our sankthans walk up to Varden, although not at midnight, and with no fire. Most of the snow is now gone:

Still trying to find out what the ‘whispy’ stuff is growing on some of the trees. It reminds us of the Spanish Moss growing on the live oaks in South Carolina . . .

. . . but without the weird spiders . . .


. . . or alligators.



As we’ve written before, there is a tradition of giving roses as a thank you in Norway, especially after concerts and at the end of a semester / year. The last few weeks have seen a lot of concerts and end of year festivities, with a commensurate number of roses. Often, sadly, the rose is already wilting on the way home, and they don’t normally last more than a couple of days. However, we got a beautiful bunch as a gift at our children and youth choir party, and two weeks later they’re still going strong. Thank you Solrun!


1st Topp Tur – 2015

Yesterday we had our first ‘Topp Tur’ – walk to the top. It was ‘only’ our local hill, Varden (450m / 1476′), but it’s a start. Actually in fairness, Sarah as been out a few time before with a friend, and earlier in the week walked up Rubbestadfjell on the south of Senja, which is only a few feet lower, in the rain.

Thankfully we had lovely weather. This was on the way up, looking toward Senja:


Despite summer coming late and being rather cool, most of the snow has melted below about 500m / 1500′. Even so, there are still patches.


This is a long distance shot of Breitind on Senja: a ‘target’ for later in the summer.


Views from the top of Varden looking out to Senja (to the right of the pictures) over Gisund (the sea separating Senja from the mainland), and to the left, Sørreisa and more distantly Dyrøy, Målselv, Bardu and Harstad kommunes.

1st_Topp_Tur_2015_041st_Topp_Tur_2015_05 1st_Topp_Tur_2015_06  1st_Topp_Tur_2015_09

And here is Rubbestadsfjell (transmitter on the top) and some flowers:

Endelig Ferdig!

Endelig ferdig – Susanna is finally finished with high school. After 4 high schools in 3 countries, yesterday she ‘graduated’!

As with so many things here, it was a bit different: students graduate before they get their results, so there was a sense in which the final ceremony was a ‘hope-for-the-best-fest’. Thankfully the reports are good and due to another quirky Norwegian system – students are put into a kind of a lottery system to determine what (if any!) exams they will sit – Susanna avoided the ‘scarier’ exams.

The graduation ceremony comprised speeches from the rektor (principal / headteacher), some community singing, coffee and cake, and then each class took to the stage for a farewell speech from the teacher, after which pupils  each received a rose. Then it was outside for pictures, and off to a local hotel (minus parents) for a final meal (last supper) and a dance.


I was surprised and a little flattered yesterday to find out that this blogg is now an information source for the WeatherAction News Blog (News on Weather, Climate, Seismic Hazards). Click here and scroll down.

Fame at last!

Essential Summer Equipment

Should we be blessed with a sunny summer at some point, here are some gadgets which might come in useful.

Robot lawnmower: they are apparently outselling old-fashioned lawnmowers, in some cases by so much that at least one chain of shops are now only stocking the robots. Lazy? Not according to the shops, which cite the quality of lawn clipping as the reason. Read more here.

A solar grill. Despite being 300 times more expensive than a disposable grill, it is the green future – as long as the sun is shining.

An electric cycle. Lazy? Maybe. Illegal? Only if you want to ride it off road – but that could soon change, as long as you don’t disturb other people!

And if you’re looking for the next action sport, how about combining snow and water skiing?:

Read more here, including a video.

Nice Concert – Shame About The Shirt!

Saturday’s church summer concert went down well. The choirs sang beautifully, and Susanna premiered her 2 pieces with aplomb, even getting the ‘raspberry’ in the correct place (you had to be there to appreciate the visual theatre).

The weather was distinctly ‘unsummery’ weather, so in an attempt to bring some sunshine I decided to wear my ’80’s shirt’ (Top Shop if I recall correctly). Only afterwards was I informed I had put it on inside out! Here are some audience pictures:

After the concert one of the children’s choir parents suggested  suggested that we could auction the shirt, and possibly the ‘contents’, to help fund the choir visit to England in 2016. Hmm . . .

Summer Concert – Saturday

The last concert in our Vår Musikkfest is this Saturday. Finnsnes church’s summer concert, has something for the whole family.

The preparations are pretty much complete:

  • Finnsnes is plastered with posters,
  • Our local paper is carrying an article (thank you Reidar!),
  • Rehearsals are over,
  • Choir parents are busy baking cakes,
  • I’ve just about finished two new euphonium pieces for Susanna to ‘premier’,
  • and even the church’s new bank card terminal is up and running (just in case you forget your cash).


The music is a real mixture of traditional Norewegian hymns, modern songs and instrumental solos. Here is the program, which includes 5 pieces by local composers:

Shout it from the rooftops Band
Hallelujah, opphøy Jesus Barnekor
Oppstått er Jesus Barnekor
Fager er landet Barnekor og ungdomskor
Makten og æren Ungdomskor
Cannon of praise Ungdomskor
Kom Hellig Ånd med skapermakt Band
Piano and organ solos Jakob Elia Stellmacher
Kom sommarvind Ungdomskor
Din trofaste kærlighet Ungdomskor
Gud signe vårt Barnekor og ungdomskor
Sang om barnas rettigheter Barnekor og ungdomskor
Han er den høgste Barnekor
Ingen kan noen gang være Barnekor
Gud er så glad i meg Barnekor
Two new pieces Susanna Blamire
Du tar meg imot Band
Har du fyr Ungdomskor
Fager kveldsol smiler Barnekor og ungdomskor
This little light Barnekor og ungdomskor

See you Saturday!

Summer Weather

The weather this spring / summer, has so far been rather topsy-turvy in Norway. Here in the north we’ve had quite a reasonable May and June (no more snow, and only a few days of rain, whilst some areas in the south have had blizzards and unexpected unseasonal snow. All the following come from hundreds of miles south of us.

A ski lift, buried up to the top of the pylons in 15m of snow – early June:

A school bus blown off the road:

A mountain pass which should have been open:

And 10 meter / 30 feet high walls of snow: