31st July 2016. Lay-by On The Mainland, Norway.

We moved on again today, our aim was to start our journey South on the mainland. While we were eating breakfast we watched a family, mum, dad and toddler, on their way out for a walk.  The toddler’s mum had a baby bag on her back and the cute little boy of about 21/2 was walking along beside her.  His dad wandered off and while his mum was waiting for him she bent down to roll up a coat and unintentionally initiated a game of tug of war with her son.  She finally managed to get him to hold one end still while she rolled the coat up from the other end and put it away (although it took a lot of encouragement to get him to let go of his prize!)

When his dad came back they started wandering off towards the site gate with the toddler wandering happily along behind them until it appeared to suddenly occur to him that he was going to be walking a lot further than he had anticipated and he started lagging behind ‘looking’ at things.  When that didn’t have any effect on his parents he put his arms out in front of him asking to be picked up, his parents were way ahead of him by that time!  They must have finally realised they were missing something and went back and put him in his carrier.  Our youngest son Gethan used to do the same only he’d walk backwards in front of my feet with his arms outstretched until I picked him up and put him on my back in his baby bag, he’d be as ‘happy as Larry’ then.

When we left the site we turned left at the junction and drove down to the very end of the island, which took about a minute, we drove round the roundabout and back through the tunnel, and made our way to Nusfjord.

It was good leaving early because none of the coaches had arrived and the roads were virtually empty.  We’d been told that this end of the island was extremely busy and there would be lots of queuing on the main road because there is only one road down here but we were lucky and didn’t experience that.

The journey to Nusfjord was a very pretty one, little winding roads through mountains and past fjords with clear blue water.  We popped into Reine on our way there.

And just to make a great journey even better we had to drive through my favourite tunnels again!

And there were bridges to cross.

Nusfjord is an old protected fishing village, it costs 50Kr to enter it to help towards the maintenance of the village.  I couldn’t quite get over the amount of gulls nesting there and the huge amount of poop they have produced!

It was an interesting place to visit.  We saw a film which showed the village in its heyday when the waters around it were full of fishing boats.  The life of a fisherman looks extremely hard, apparently they throw a line over the side of the boat, there are hooks at regular intervals along the line.  Then they pull the line up and haul the huge cod (not as big as the fish our brother-in-law Kevin catches I’m sure) into the boat with a large hook when they break the surface.  It must play havoc with the fisherman’s back.

They showed the cod being gutted and the liver being put to one side for making Cod Liver Oil.  There were a load of dried cods heads by the fishermen’s cottages.  Yuk!

We had to try a waffle while we were there (even though we do keep moaning about the price of food here).  The waffles were very big, it was self service and I wasn’t sure what the procedure was, Darren later told me that’s why he let me go and get them while he got the coffee!  Thanks!  I had to ask the girl behind the counter whether I was supposed to take a whole one or whether she cuts them up (they were divided into joined together sections).  There was sour cream and strawberry compote to put on top, it was like having the Norwegian version of a cream tea, very tasty, I’d definitely recommend it.

On the way back to the car park I lost Darren a few times, he kept blending in with the cabins.

While I was looking out for him I saw a tiny dog lazing around up one of the lanes.

When we reached the car park we noticed a small shed hidden behind a large boulder beside the stream.  It turned out to be the old 1920’s hydro electricity generator they’d mentioned in the literature in the village.  Apparently it produced 15 kW of electricity which was enough to power one of the fish gutting stations.  It was looking rather forlorn with lots of rusty equipment in it, I hope they manage to restore that before it disintegrates completely.

We carried on towards Svolvær to catch the ferry to the mainland.  We thought there was a ferry leaving at 16.30 and the next one was at 21.30.  We didn’t have a booking for three reasons, 1.  We constantly change our plans.  2. We’d nearly missed the one from Rostock. 3.  It cost an extra 350Kr to book the ferry in advance and we’ve got better things to do with our money.   We’d been told there would be a very long wait for the ferry because there would be a lot of cars there so although we were hoping to catch the 16.30 ferry we didn’t really expect to get on it.  We were banking on it really and had decided to use the time to look round Svolvær and catch up on some work/blogging.

I’d been harping on about how disappointed I was not to have been able to go swimming since we’d arrived on the Lofoten Islands, the German vet whom we’d chatted to at Evenes had told us it was cold but worth doing.  As we rounded the bend to the junction for the road to Henningsvær we looked down on the clear turquoise blue sea and golden sandy beach and Darren asked me whether I’d like to go down there for a swim.  Uh! Oh! In that split second I decided I’d better say yes considering all the fuss I’d been making!  Consequently a few minutes later we’d pulled up in ‘our spot’, where we’d slept a few nights before, and walked down to the beach.

The water was icy cold but it was invigorating once I’d started swimming around and because we were trying to catch the ferry I didn’t stand around for 20 minutes trying to get the courage up to take the plunge like I normally do.  I felt rather sad that my swim had ended but when I walked back to Darren he told me his photos were too dark and wanted me to go back in again, RESULT!  I went back in for another dip.

When we got back to the van we saw a hiker unload his rucksack from a car and then wander round the car park with a water bottle in his hand.  Darren asked him if he’d like us to fill his bottle.  Apparently he’d been looking for a stream to fill it from, we were surprised to hear that but he said the mountain water was pure and safe to drink.  He’d hitched from Oslo and had two weeks left to make his way back down again.  He wouldn’t make any suggestions regarding places to visit on the way down to Oslo he didn’t like the idea that he could suggest something that we might find disappointing when we got there but he said the scenery was magnificent.  Very wise words.

He asked us whether we had stayed overnight and Darren explained that we were en route to the ferry but stopped so that I could have a swim.  When Darren mentioned to him that we’d just travelled up from Å, he looked puzzled until it suddenly dawned on him where he meant and told us it was pronounced ‘O’ as in ‘box’.  That knowledge totally ruined our infantile joke, we’d been saying “Aye?  Aye?” every time we mentioned it.  D’oh!  It also gave us a ‘lightbulb’ moment, we suddenly realised what the young boy at the Viking Centre had been trying to tell us when he suggested that we should visit ‘O’!  Aah!  The backpacker also asked me what the water had been like, when I said “Fantastic!” he said he’d never heard anyone say that before, apparently they usually said it was freezing!

It took us about 20 minutes to drive to the ferry port.  There were two rows for people who’d booked, they were already loaded on the ferry and the next four rows were for people who were winging it.  The first row was full.  They must have been there a long time because the motorhomers on the end of the row had their chairs out in the sun and the lady was sitting knitting. The second row had one space left large enough for our van so we pulled in there thinking we’d cut it a bit close but not as close as the people who arrived 15 minutes later and started a new line.

The ticket lady walked up the first queue selling tickets but stopped before the van next to us and went back so we assumed that we would definitely be waiting until 21.30 but then two cars left the line and drove out and the motorhome moved forward.  Minutes later a Land Rover started to drive up behind them but a man standing in the lane with his son refused to let them go forward (he was parked in our lane and let them know they were unintentionally queue jumping) so they did the reverse of shame past the cars in our lane and drove down the lane on the other side of us.

We were entertained while we were waiting by a helicopter circling for a long time before it finally landed on a big yellow ship not far away from us.

We were amazed when they managed to fit everyone from both lanes on to the ferry and even more amazed when the ticket lady came up to us, gave me a form to fill in while Darren was paying to save time however as he was paying another would be ferry passenger appeared and spoke to her, we assume he said that we’d queue jumped because she then asked us a few times what time we’d arrived.  Darren told her we were the last vehicle in our lane and there hadn’t been any other vehicles in the lane to the right of us when we arrived so she let us on.

We were so surprised to be on the ferry (which actually had a 16.00 sailing) that once we’d parked we bumbled out of the van  and up to the lounge then noticed that everyone else had brought books with them and we’d left ours in the van.  Damnation!

However the journey over to the stop at the first island Skrova was very pretty and after we’d eaten we went up on deck for the duration of the crossing.

When we docked at Skutvik we were amazed to be one of the first vehicles off.

The journey from the ferry to our eventual overnight stop was very pretty.

We stopped for diesel at Hamarøy and while Darren was filling the van I walked round the corner to take some photographs.  As I was walking back I heard someone calling to me in Swedish, I told the men that I couldn’t understand them so they started chatting to me in English and asked if I would take their photo, so I did.

When we left the petrol station we noticed a very unusual looking building, I’d love to know what it is. (Whilst I was editing the blog I looked it up, apparently it’s called The Knut Hamsun Centre at Hamarøy.  It’s a museum and educational centre dedicated to the life and work of the writer Knut Hamsun and designed by architect Steven Holl.)

Darren had programmed in a place to stop overnight but we didn’t like it when we got there, instead we drove on until we found a lay-by overlooking a fjord.

We thought we had two other vans staying with us but they left after an hour, I’m not sure whether it was a coincidence but they both moved moments after Darren hung out of the door, looked at them and exclaimed with great glee, “Ooh! We’ve started a trend!”.

We were extremely surprised not to hear any vehicles during the night.

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