21 Jun 2014

Another Rainy Day in the Lofoten Islands

The view a few steps from the cabin. A 5-minute exposure of the view across the fjord to Olstind

We finally arrived at our wonderful rorbu (old fisherman's cabin) in Hamnøy yesterday, on Moskenøya, the southernmost of the main islands of the Lofotens in Arctic Norway (there are a couple out to sea to the south-west). The view, as expected, is spectacular, looking directly across the fjord from two corner windows to Olstind, an impresssive pointy peak, and the massive Lilandstinden towering above to the north out of the other window. I chose the cabin after a thorough search (including TripAdvisor and Google Streetview), ensuring that I found a cabin with decent views out of the main windows. There wasn't a great deal of choice left, given that I booked it last weekend, but for some reason the cabin with possibly the best view was still available (it's not cheap, but nothing here is). So here we are, in cabin number 1 (Thomas-bua) at Eliassen Rorbuer.

This is the view from the east window, towards the next cabin, Lilanstinden on the left

But of course it's now raining! The long-term weather forecast before we arrived had been for cloud with a little sun, but as the days got closer, the forecast deteriorated, so now - on midsummer's eve - the mountains are only just visible through low cloud and gusts of up to 30mph rock the little cabin from time to time (the cabins are pretty robust, so we feel warm and safe inside!). It is forecast to improve, with sun by tomorrow afternoon, so fingers crossed...

This is the view from where I'm sitting right now (from the kitchen table)

Hiking today is out of the question. Going outside might even be. Opening the windows briefly to stick the camera outside maybe what I'll have to satisfy myself with. And reviewing the photos of the journey here and our arrival yesterday, when there was the odd shower but I was able to get a few shots.

The view from Eliassen on arrival

The kitchen table of Thomas-bua, with views across the fjord to Olstind and Lilandstinden (honest). They recycle here, hence the bins...
The sitting room part of the cabin and the "master" bedroom - only a wide single bed and two narrow bunks, but still comfy. No black-out curtains!

The sun was visible on the slopes of Olstind for a few minutes after we arrived - hopefully we'll see it again in the next couple of days
After we arrived we took a drive through the nearby islands of Sakrisøy - where we picked up some fresh wolf-fish for supper at Sjømat (fantastic fish shop, where we also tried a tiny piece of smoked whale meat - quite tasty!), and Reine, the biggest village in the area, before heading on to the end of the road at Å (the shortest place name in the world, perhaps?). I was glad we'd chosen Hamnøy instead of Reine, as it's peaceful and quiet.

Cod heads drying on racks on Sakrisøy - they're everywhere, and mostly exported to Nigeria
The view as you drive across to Reine (not actually an island)
We didn't stop for long in Å - just tried to figure out where the bakery was that sells delicious cinnamon rolls. We couldn't locate it, but will try again today perhaps (after a quick google search I discovered that it's part of the museum there and only sells its wares in the summer, which apparently is now!). We drove back and Murray cooked the wolf-fish, accompanied by baked sweet potatoes, while I stood outside getting a few long exposure shots before the next shower arrived. A tiny sea otter poked its head out of the water at me briefly; hopefully I'll see him again while we're here. Dinner was washed down with some tasty Nøgne IPA which we'd bought at the duty free in Oslo on the way in (booze is extremely pricey in Norway, so the queues in duty free on arrival are always very long!)
Another quick shot before bed - 75 second exposure at 10.30pm
 The curtains are a little thin here, but as it was a grey, cloudy night, there wasn't too much daylight to prevent sleep. We heard a loud bang, which at first we thought must be thunder, but then realised that it was a dynamite explosion from up the main road, where they're rebuilding the precipitous road along the coast (it's closed for most of the night while they work, and on-and-off during the day too, which made our journey here a little arduous).

I woke up early to the sound of the gusty wind and driving rain battering the cabin, but hopefully the forecast of better weather tomorrow will be right; some blue skies and midnight sun would be nice. In the meantime, I have to content myself with nipping out when there's a lull in the wind and the rain, and be glad that the cabin has wifi!

Not so easy to get long exposures when the wind is coming at you, bringing the odd spot of rain too!
Our temporary home - hubby is inside there in the warmth!
A lone seagull flies around in the rain above Lilandstinden

15 Jun 2014

London's Annual Open Squares Weekend

Each year a large number of private garden squares in London open their gates and welcome the public in to have a look around (for a small fee). I've never been to any before, so yesterday Murray and I met up with a couple of friends for a picnic at Cadogan Place gardens. There was a brass band (playing a little too quickly!), and the sun tried to peak out. A few white, middle-class, middle-aged people wandered about looking at the pretty flowers, or sat nearby enjoying their Saturday afternoon out. I didn't take my camera out with me, as it was grey and overcast.

Today we headed back out, even though the sky was still covered with ominous-looking clouds, this time taking the dog, as a few of them allowed your four-legged friends in. We started in Battersea Park, where some of the gardens were included in the list of open squares (although I think they're always open and free to visit anyway). We wandered through the herb garden, the Old English garden (Henry not allowed in that one, in spite of the booklet saying it was dog-friendly) and then to a Thrive visitors centre (an organisation that helps 200 disabled Londoners use gardening as a method of therapy).

After a few games of catch with the dog in the main areas of the park, we headed across Chelsea Bridge in search of Eccleston and Warwick Square gardens. They were both very pretty, with tennis courts, a huge variety of trees, including some palms, and beautiful, colourful flowers, teeming with bees desperate for pollen. There weren't huge numbers of people visiting, but there were some armed with cameras, and a few families, who looked as if they were probably residents and visited every weekend.

Eventually we got a bit cold and the dog got a bit whiny, so we headed home, crossing the Ebury rail-bridge overlooking Battersea Power Station in the distance, before getting one of the new No. 11 buses along the King's Road. There's a great vantage point from the front seats at the top, and the design is such that there's not much reflection on the glass - perfect for a few shots of the King's Road below.

The clouds still lingered over Eel Brook Common as we neared home - some of them looked like mammatus clouds (one of my favourite!). Hopefully the weather will be better next year, and we'll be a little more organised, deciding which gardens to visit a bit further in advance, as it's quite a unique opportunity to get some insight into the private little world of the inhabitant of these extortionate squares which we only got a tiny glimpse of this weekend.

1 Jun 2014

Celebrating 90 Years at Warr's Harley-Davidson

I don't know anything about the world of Harley-Davidson motorbikes. I do recognise them, and can certainly hear them as a few motor along the New Kings Road each Sunday morning. This morning the noise seemed a little louder and more frequent than usual (pretty constant, in fact, from about 10.30am), and I remembered that I'd read that it was the 90th anniversary of the local Harley-Davidson dealership - Warr's. So I wandered out to see what was going on, with the hubby and dog (who fortunately doesn't mind loud noises!). There must have been a couple of hundred bikes parked along the surrounding streets, and a few driving around, so I got my camera out and tried to capture a slice of this strange world and those that live within it. The detail on some of the bikes was incredible - the passion certainly shows through... Here's a selection of what I saw today.