Whistle While You Work

Sunrise/sunset: Up all day.

It’s been a busy week, but the days have been warm and sunny. The snow has retreated once again to the mountains and with barely a pause for spring, summer has arrived. I have taken so many photos that this will be an image-filled, whistle-stop tour of my week.

Last weekend, Anna, Triar and I went walking in Ånderdalen National Park. Regular readers will know it’s one of my favourite places. The ground was still brown, but the sturdy fir trees that cling to the shallow soil were bathing in the twenty four hour sunlight. For three or four kilometers, the path is maintained for wheelchair users, but at the end it is possible to go further, up into the hills or down towards a lake. We decided to go down and discovered that the path descended into a peat bog, carefully woven with plank bridges to walk on. As you can see, Triar decided that staying on the planks wasn’t nearly as much fun as taking a peat-pool plunge.

Because of the long winter, and because we were doing limited visits due to coronavirus, there is a lot of catching up to do. I have been blood testing goats with Ammar. We check them for two notifiable diseases: brucellosis and caprine arthritic encephalitis virus (CAEV). Brucella can cause goats to miscarry and can spread to humans and CAEV mostly causes arthritic changes in joints, but can also occasionally cause inflammation of the brain in kids. Ammar works in Tromsø and between us, by next week, we hopefully will have finished this year’s testing in both our areas. We tested two herds on Monday.

Tuesday began early with a trip to the abattoir. As I left the house at about five thirty in the morning, I couldn’t resist taking a picture and I took another of the harbour beside work as I changed cars. As you can see on the top picture, the leaves were beginning to appear, but hadn’t quite opened.

In the afternoon, there were more goats, but when Anna suggested a walk in the evening, I couldn’t resist. We crossed the bridge to Senja and walked down to a little harbour we discovered in winter. How different the little stony beach looked now. The water was so clear and it was so warm that we couldn’t resist going in for a paddle.

On Wednesday, I was back on Senja with Thomas and Håkon, who works with Dyrevernsnemnda. We were following up a welfare report from the public, but when we arrived, everything was fine. It seems to happen that way quite often, but we have to follow everything up. It’s better than missing something bad. There was wildlife on the roadsides, both reindeer and elk, and we stopped at a viewpoint for another photo opportunity.

Thursday was spent in an all day meeting on Teams. I worked from home, learning about the difficult job of dealing with farms and farm-parks who break the law over years. We have many tools at our disposal, ranging from advice at one end, to total bans on animal keeping at the other. Unlike in the UK, where animal welfare cases have to be taken to court, in extreme cases, where animals are suffering, we can remove the right to keep animals. It wasn’t a very cheery day, but important nonetheless. I spent Friday following up on some of the information and on some admin, that was badly in need of sorting out. And then in the evening, Anna, Andrew and I packed the car to go on a camping trip. John was meant to be coming, but in a frustrating twist, having stated at the beginning of last week’s blog that it was easy to get complacent about coronavirus, someone who works in the same office as me has tested positive. Though the risks are tiny (the over-riding rule is still for working from home wherever possible, so there was no contact between me and the affected person) John thought it better not to come this time. I hope my colleague is not too unwell and that nobody else gets it.

We had been planning to camp at Sørvika near the beach, but when we arrived there, several caravans had already taken up residence. We wanted somewhere more private, and so we drove on and found a little track that led up into the hills further around the peninsula. Wild camping is allowed in Norway. So long as you aren’t near houses or on agricultural land, you can pitch your tent anywhere. We found a field, which might be used for hay, and camped on the edge of it, under some trees. It was wonderfully green. We had hoped for a fire, but had to settle for the trusty little gas ring that John and I bought for driving up here last year. Triar particularly enjoyed the hot dogs.

We drove on round to Rossfjord after we’d eaten. Beautiful as it was, the mosquitoes were out in force and being eaten ourselves was not part of the plan. There, we found one of the most beautiful graveyards I have ever seen. On the hillside stretching up from the white wooden church, the gravestones were well tended and new, but in the little corner furthest away from us, there was a much older section, with only a few iron crosses and low grassy mounds marking the graves. It was wonderfully tangled and overgrown, slumbering in the evening sunshine. When I am gone, I hope my resting place is equally peaceful.

As we drove back, the air grew colder and mist began to form over the sound, gathering on the mountains opposite.

It wasn’t very dark in the tent, but somehow I managed to sleep well. I woke a few times and marvelled at the birds singing. Do they sleep in summer at all?

We came home this morning. Someone has to feed the guinea pigs! And as it’s late, I thought I would pop outside to get you a picture of the midnight sun over Senja.

When I’ve clicked on the “Publish” button, I shall go to my bedroom, close the blackout blinds and the curtains and go to sleep. Good night all.

1 thought on “Whistle While You Work

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