London – Art & Architecture 1

I’m hopping around a bit with date order now.

As part of our holiday in the UK, we enjoyed a few days in London with Ruth and Jordan. It was an opportunity to do some of the tourist things which we never did when we lived there.

We had a visit to the Tate Modern, housed in the an old power station. They are in the middle of doing some renovation work to the main turbine hall, but there was still lots to see. There’s a 360 view of the huge entrance hall here. And here are a few of the exhibits – I just don’t understand why I wasn’t famous, aged 4!?):

Later on we wandered the south bank (360 degree panorama here) and then to Tower Bridge to watch the sunset:







Være i Stillheten – tomorrow

We’re just back from our holidays, so a bit behind with news and pictures. We hit the ground running, starting with a wedding and Være i Stillheten tomorrow! If youære in the area, you’re invited:

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Være i Stillheten is more than just a concertt, it’s an evening experience with music and pictures. During an hour, the musicians will perfomr peaceful music and invite the audience to relax and find stillness. The pictures and video from north Norway are linked to the  music, together with fine texts form the Bible. There are also two hymns to sing together, and we will read a responsive psalm.

Ernst Norbakken is a well known local tenor soloist, and is always popular. Sarah Blamire (piano og mezzosoprano) and Jon Blamire (piano og organ) are employed as  kantor / church musicians in Lenvik pparish.

Music will include

  • Bach – Air on a G string
  • Beethoven – Pathetique sonata 2nd movt. (Op 13)
  • Grieg – Morning
  • Elgar – Enigma variations (extracts)
  • Gade – Im Blumengarten
  • Melchor Rodríguez de Alcántara – Hoja de Álbum
  • Schubert – Impromptu no. 3 (D899)
  • Brahms – Intermezzo No. 1 (Op. 117)

Friday 31st July, 2015. 8pm. Finnsnes kirke.
Coffee and cake served afterwards
Part of ‘Finnsnes i Fest 2015’.

York Minster

In York at the moment.  Several visits to hear choral evensong: wonderful.

For anyone who’s never been (or wants a reminder), I’ve uploaded a 360 degree view of nave here, and the chapter house here.

Here are some ordinary pictures:

A ceiling boss showing Mary bottle-feeding the infant Jesus (a ‘Victorianism’!):



The headless ladies with a semaphore message on the west wall (click to enlarge and decode):



The nave, a clock which chimes every 15 minutes when the two ‘soldiers belt the metal bars with their weapons, the view up the tower, the organ, and a sneak peek at the choir in rehearsal:

The roof of the octagonal chapter house – the largest of it’s type – unsupported:


Low Cloud At Husøy

Last week we had a funeral on Husøy (not a very common event). The whole area spent the day under low cloud, but after the service the sun came out over Husøy. We had a cup of coffee and a waffle in the local cafe (a relatively new summer innovation, and prices based on a virtual monopoly), then drove home. As soon as we were through the ‘tin can’ tunnels, the cloud was back.

Anyway below are some pictures, and you can click here for a 360 degree panorama.


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Summer Holidays

Apart from the weather, one of the main topics of conversation from about April every year, is summer holidays. Despite being an ‘eco-freindly’ land, the main aim of an awful lot of Norwegians is to jump on a plane to ‘syden’. Syden is a generic word for warm places in the south, by which they mean Mediterranean, etc. However, given the weakness of the Norwegian Krone (the currency here), this year many people are having to holiday in Norway.

One man has taken it to an extreme. Reported under the rather alarming headline ‘Moved from care-home to a tent in the garden‘, it’s not a story about an old person being kicked out, or overcrowding. Rather it about an 86 year old who saw an advert for a tent in his local paper. The advert sparked him into action: he put on his cycle helmet, and rode to the shop (which had sold out), and then on to another shop, where he a great deal on a tent and sleeping bag. Arriving back at the care-home, he pitched the tent in the garden, and moved in (or out, depending on your perspective).

Despite the somewhat cramped conditions, he says he’s stubborn and has decided to camp for the rest of the summer. He’s commandeered some cushions from the garden furniture which he says are more comfortable to sleep on than his normal bed. His only complaint so far is the lack of WiFi: “The care-home should have better coverage outside”.

The care-home staff says it’s a bit of an adventure for him, and as long as he doesn’t make noise late at night, he’s welcome to live in the tent as long as he wants.

Sounds fun!

Mixed Messages

We’re getting very mixed weather messages in Norway. On the one hand there are reports about 2015 being globally one of the hottest on record, Norway is having one of the coldest, which when linked to reducing sunspot activities is leading some pessimists to talk of a mini ice age! If that’s true, then we might also be about to loose the aurora – apparently in the late 1600s they were also ‘missing’. In all of his detailed nature writings, northern Norway’s most famous author, Petter Dass, doesn’t mention them at all.

Still, we’ve had some nice days. This was a couple of weeks ago (click to enlarge):


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This is possibly the nicest ‘tourist’ accommodation in Finnsnes – self catering units with amazing sea views, and in winter the possibility of seeing the northern lights reflected in the sea (see examples here):



Norway, along with many European countries, has a long history of Church Asylum (sanctuary), known here as kirkeasyl.

Even today there are many people living in church buildings, often for years at a time, hoping and praying to avoid being deported back to dangerous or even life-threatening homelands. Despite this form of ‘imprisonment’ (they cannot go outside and are entirely dependent on others to provide everything they need – no state support), they regard it as better than the fate which awaits them back ‘home’.

A couple of days ago word seemed to have spread to our local wildlife population that church is a safe place for them too. We do have a priest in the area who is a big fan of St Francis of Assisi, so perhaps he’s been out preaching?. Anyway, a pair of seagulls gently shepherded their pair of chicks to just outside our offices at Finnsnes church. This was a noisy, time-consuming process, as they called continuously to one another, and the chicks seemed more interested in sleeping than walking. Having eventually got the chicks to a place of safety (the windowsill of the staff kitchen), the adults took up watch positions on a nearby lamppost and the church roof, from where they could ‘dive bomb’ anyone who came close to the chicks. Good for the babies, not so good for humans.

On the upside, we’ve got front row child-rearing seats, whilst we eat our sandwiches.

Pictures taken from my office, as they passed on their way to the kitchen – they’re well camouflaged!

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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!